Automation the next wave for Indian Travel and Expense industry

The travel and expense processes were analyzed for Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and other major Indian cities.

June 19, 2014 2:43 IST | India Infoline News Service
Concur, the global leader in providing integrated cloud-based travel and expense management services, commissioned a study CFO Innovation Asia  on the state of travel and expense process in Indian organizations.

The survey was conducted amongst Indian CFOs, Finance Directors as well as other C-level executives and business owners in companies having  over 500 employees with an average turnover of 500crore. The travel and expense processes were analyzed for Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and other major Indian cities.
Examining the expense data generated by 101 Indian companies, this report finds a high degree of dissatisfaction of the existing systems in areas of mobility, visibility and control. Thus, leading to the urgent requisite for technology aid to improvise the processes and deliver better data management.
A recent study by GBTA (Global Business Travel Association) revealed, India as the 10th largest travel business travel market in the world with a total spending of $22.1 billion with an expected compound growth rate of 13.5%. As the survey revolves around the need for automating travel and expense management, it reveals some interesting facts about finance and end-user challenges, the ideal T&E system and mixed feelings on cloud adoption.
The topline findings of the survey:
         The majority of enterprises  (74%) have 21 or more people in their organization who travel for business
         Manual, semi-automated and automated methods of processing are prevalent with 39% having automated system, 37% using manual and 23% using a mix of manual and automated system
         Dissatisfaction with the current T&E system is highest in the areas of mobility, visibility and control
         49% of the interviewees report 75% of the business travelers from their organizations travel with smartphones
         51% of the people are familiar with cloud services and are using for personal use, only 32% of their company are utilizing the cloud for business processes
Today, Indian enterprises are at a tipping point as companies look to embrace the adoption of modern technologies and bring more efficiency in their business processes, said, Mr. Ramesh Iyer, Managing Director, India, Concur Technologies. As enterprises look to enhance business opportunities, there is a significant opportunity to automate their T&E expense process where in cloud-based solutions are becoming vital. Indian Enterprises want the basics first, and the bells and whistles second.
Despite the rise of digital communication and virtual conferences, face-to-face contacts are still very important for enterprises in India.
         The majority (51%) of the CFOs say more than 50 people across all functions in their organization travel for business purposes in domestic and international markets.
         Eight out of ten of the executives surveyed say their people travel once a week (24%), once a fortnight (32%) or once a month (24%)
         One tenth of the companies surveyed are in the highest expense band; travel and expenses equate to more than 10% of organizational revenues for this group.
         A relatively large proportion (28%) allocates more than 4% of annual revenues to spending on travel and associated expenses
All travel and entertainment expenses typically represent the second largest controllable expense for a company, after payroll.  But, companies in India are spending more on their travel and related expenses.
         61% feel that their current T&E system does not allow the company to extract better rates from suppliers
         More than one-fourth say they are dissatisfied with the systems ability to request and approve travel and expenses anytime anywhere (31%), track who is spending how much, how frequently and where (27%), and act on spend before it takes place (27%)
         54% feel that their company does not receive updated information about the most frequented destinations, nights spent in particular hotels and seats booked in particular airlines
         The major problem areas mentioned by the respondents in descending frequency of mentions, are loss of time and productivity due to time consumed (39%), the lack of control over spends (30%) and issues faced during audit (30%)
A delay of 5 days in a travel approval can push up airfare costs by 10%. 68% of the respondents feel, by automating the process and receiving approvals faster, companies can save on increased airfare and other travel-related expenditures.
         99% of interviewees report that approvals are processed within 5 working days
         37% of the companies report that they use paper forms that are filled and then routed manually for approval
         23% say their processes are a mix of manual and automated, combining physical form filling with electronic/email approval
         39% are fully automated with an online approval form completed and approved electronically
         Among companies that have an automated or semi-automated travel and expenses system,
32% are using on -premise packaged software
35% the same proportion of respondents (7%) who describe their companys T&E process as fully automated say that all stages of the approval process can be cleared inside one day in their organizations
58% are using processes that have been developed in-house
Given that 23% report a mix of methods, this indicates that automation is catching-up in India.
         A large percentage of staff members who travel are equipped with smartphones
         About half (49%) of the respondents report that at least 75% of the business travelers from their organization travel with smartphones
         26% say that at least 30-75% of their travelers use smartphones
         51% respondents use cloud-based services in their personal life, such as for email and social media, but only 32% of their company are utilizing the cloud for business processes.
         Familiarity with the cloud at home may be helping make some executives open to using the cloud at work 34% say they are comfortable with storing travel and expenses data in third-party data centres, while 24% say they do not have any data security concerns about the cloud with regards to T&E
         34% say they dont know much about this new delivery platform
         24% express some concerns about data security on the cloud
With this report, the travel and expense processes in Indian organizations appear to set for a next wave of maturation as cloud based adoption increases, along with the use of smartphones by business travelers.

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