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Indian organizations prioritize digital transformation on in T&E but struggle with integration

Mani Ganeshan, APAC Engineering Head and Centre Head, Amadeus Labs

Amadeus Cytric Solutions, an arm of Amadeus, has released the findings from a study it had commissioned. Conducted by Forrester Consulting and titled, ‘Digital Transformation For Travel And Expense’, the study has found that while Indian firms recognize the need to modernize their travel and expense (T&E) tools, they struggle with the integration with other systems.

Amadeus commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct this survey of finance, procurement, travel management, IT, and HR leaders at large enterprises to explore the current state and challenges they face with T&E processes and tools. Each of the 525 senior decision makers questioned represents a corporation with revenue ranging from $100 million-$5 billion and from 1,000+ to 20,000+ employees. The study shows that accelerating the digital transformation of travel and expense (T&E) will further be vital to improving the employee experience and achieving corporate goals next year.

Mani Ganeshan, APAC Engineering Head and Centre Head, Amadeus Labs, said, “New digital technologies such as automation and machine learning have led business efficiency to emerge as a key focus for several organizations. Expense management is a critical aspect of digital transformation that offers new levels of efficiency and better ways of working. The promise of a single, integrated solution to manage all corporate travel and expense needs is, thus, enticing. It is no surprise that companies are now thinking transversally, looking to improve their T&E processes and tools across departments.”

The global study was based on a survey of 525 decision-makers involved in travel and expense management for large corporations across nine markets and five in-depth interviews. It revealed progress toward automation, with 80% of global respondents stating that T&E is more digitized compared to other processes within their companies. These findings are compared to a figure of 67% when the survey was conducted in 2020. But current T&E management still presents several challenges.

Globally only 52% of survey respondents’ organizations utilized fully integrated T&E solutions, while 44% used solutions that were only partly integrated. 4% had solutions that were not integrated at all. When addressing the main challenges of T&E processes in India, the survey highlights that 34% of Indian organizations face challenges managing compliance for travel, like visas and work permits. In India, 36% of organizations have privacy and security concerns, as against 31% globally.

Nearly 23% of Indian organizations say submitting, approving, and processing expenses as well as reconciling invoices and payments were still very manual tasks putting a strain on employees’ productivity as compared to a 30% global figure. On average, only 36% of systems integrate with organizations’ T&E solutions leading to sub-optimal performance and poor employee experience in India.

Worldwide only 8% of finance leaders reported being close to fully digitized expense reports. On top of this, some organizations (24%) still relied on spreadsheet-based solutions for managing travel expenses. The study reveals that the difficulties companies face with their T&E tools have implications on business and employee experience. Nearly half of respondents noted these inefficiencies resulted in decreased productivity, and 44% reported poor employee engagement and reduced employee satisfaction with technology. Low adoption of company tools was the top business impact, which might also lead to lower compliance to travel policy.

The study revealed that across all organizations, the top employee complaint was that employees had to pay trip expenses from their own pockets and then had to submit an expense claim – a situation organizations can overcome by deploying virtual cards and other integrated solutions. Firms with integrated solutions have less employee complaints – 6% of global organizations had no complaints. Survey results also show that improving the integration between T&E technologies and other enterprise systems was top priority for 72% of Indian organizations.

“The uniqueness of this study arises from merging three research areas for T&E solutions– employee experience, end-to-end integration, and virtual payments. These research results can help organizations understand the landscape better and transform their corporate travel program, deliver frictionless experiences for employees, and optimize travel spending. At Amadeus, we understand the hassles of managing travel expenses which gives us the edge to provide a new generation of fully integrated tools for organizations to leap-frog traditional T&E processes and rebuild a better corporate travel experience,” adds Ganeshan. At Amadeus, we understand the hassles of managing travel expenses which give us the edge to provide a new generation of fully integrated tools for organizations to leap-frog traditional T&E processes and rebuild a better corporate travel experience,” adds Ganeshan.

Successfully implemented, new solutions can increase compliance with travel management policies and ease reporting. The risk of not implementing digital solutions is also real, with 38% of surveyed finance and travel management Indian decision-makers in India stating they audit all expense claims – leaving more than half open to fraud, human error, and compliance concerns (Global: 41%).

“As we inch closer towards 2023, strengthening capabilities to operate in a hybrid world of work, accelerating the digital transformation of travel and expense will become a top priority for many organizations. Keeping employee experience in mind while fully automating systems can significantly impact employee satisfaction while driving engagement, contributing to a sustainable industry, and lowering expenses,” Mani further adds.

Conducted across India, Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Nordics, Spain, UK & Ireland, and the US & Canada, the survey was carried out between July and August this year.

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