“We have given employees peace of mind while enhancing employer’s cash flow”
Neeraj Dotel, MD, India & SAARC, SAP Concur
Can you take us through the genesis of the expense automation solution from Concur?
When we started in the 1990s as an expense automated tool (Concur was independent then), essentially we gave business travelers a better version of Excel for reporting expenses and reimbursing the same. We turned 25 in 2018 and over this time, we were among the first to move business to the cloud system. This was back when people did not even know what cloud was. Our philosophy has always been to make life easier for people who travel for business and that’s been company’s overall journey. Then we came out with a desktop application which was very easy to use but connected to your system so that data once entered will go to the management. It has revolutionized the whole field. Year after year we just simplify life not just for business travelers but for the company. Our aim is to move from automation to optimization. We have close to 1,000 companies in India as our customers among which 100 are Indians and 900 are multinationals. Any large multinational you can think of uses SAP Concur (post the acquisition by SAP). For this automation, the average ticket size is $50,000 – $60,000.
How does this expense management solution benefit in the digital transformation journey of an organization?
The travel and expense management market is rapidly escalating with expectations of business travellers requiring more flexibility and personalization as the lines between work and life become increasingly blurred. Business travellers in India feel that it is painful to not only deal with the stress of travel but also with the
stress of claiming expenses. We at Concur believe that digital transformation of an organization should be such that it is easy and intuitive to use and the people using it should be able to reap its benefits.
For businesses who want to “Do Digital Now,” - the operative mantra is simultaneously reducing transactions while creating moments of delight. Travel as an industry has been digitally leading – starting from the simple step of consumers printing their own boarding pass. As India becomes the 6th largest business travel market by 2019 – business travel will a significant P&L area for customers of SAP Concur as well as a key part of employee experience. We are creating a premier process for companies to simplify expense, travel and invoice management for greater visibility and control. This is one of the key building blocks to helping our customers craft their enterprise digital experience.
Can you elaborate on how this will benefit both the employee and employer?
Most companies in India do not have cars on demand. So when employees go out to get business for their company, they end up spending their own money and corporates in India have made it so difficult for them to get their money back. Some people do give money on time but that is without checking for fraud, without checking for accuracy or any violation-- that’s like losing the whole money from the company perspective. That’s where expense management comes in-- you want to simplify from both the employee and employer’s perspective, the cash that is being spent. From the perspective of the companies, whatever is done by employees should be friendly to them and cost effective to the company. This will come from productivity savings, tax reclaims. For example, whatever is costing Rs 800 transaction fee can come down to Rs 150 in terms of airline fees. That’s the core value of the expense automation solution.
What we have done is to eliminate the expense report. We give the employees their weekends back, their free time. They are not oozing out money and you are not forced to make up numbers because you have forgotten. It makes life easier. If you are going for business, the least you must be guaranteed is peaceful environment when you come back and you do not have to stress upon this with so much of work, and stress of forgetting something. So it’s very boring mundane stressful task we have taken out from the point of view of the employee
So from the point of view of the company the two or three things that we give right if your organization use my tool what your finance would have is it would know how much money it’s exactly spent by all your employees at any given point in time. Remember this in the business world we always struggle with how much working capital we have on a daily basis do we have enough cash to cover our outstandings. It gives the company the real tag on information. It might be take weeks whenever expenses are made its real time information is with the company and the amount that has been spent. And it helps the company to take the right decisions.
Our aim is to move from automation to optimization. We have close to 1,000 companies in India as our customers among which 100 are Indians and 900 are multinationals.
Is it only the large enterprises who are going for Concur solutions or even mid-market organizations?
I think we solved a couple of critical issue-- for the employee we gave him peace of mind and enhanced productivity. From the point of view of the companies we resolved cash flow issues, enhanced savings, resolved tax complaints implemented management policies, helped prevent fraud. So there are a whole lot of benefits for different companies. Our clients range from Indian companies with more than 1 lakh employees to companies with 13-14 employees. So we have investment banks with 13-14 employees in India who have signed independently. We have startups with us, and there are companies with 10000 employees who use us. We have lots of customers in the manufacturing sector, we have huge customer base in professional sector, consulting, where ever there is large mobile workforce, involved in travel, they use our services. Surprisingly even in manufacturing where they don’t have too many sales guys, we still have fairly good presence in manufacturing as well. So I would say that our customers are the representation of our bandwidth to meet them.