Automation in travel and expense management catching up in India: Study

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 percent. The study conducted by Concur and commissioned by 'CFO Innovation Asia' reveals the state of 'travel and expense' process in Indian organisations.

"Despite the rise of digital communication and virtual conferences, face-to-face contacts are still very important for enterprises in India," the study noted. According to the study, majority of enterprises (74 percent) have 21 or more people in their organisation who travel for business.

 Automation in travel and expense management catching up in India: Study

Image: Thinkstock

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, according to the study.

The majority (51%) of the CFOs say more than 50 people across all functions in their organisation travel for business purposes in domestic and international markets. While eight out of ten of the executives 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 percent of organisational revenues for this group, the study found. A relatively large proportion (28%) allocates more than 4 percent of annual revenues to spending on travel and associated expenses.

Manual, semi-automated and automated methods of processing are prevalent with 39 percent having automated system, 37 percent using manual and 23 percent using a mix of manual and automated system, the study revealed.

About?61 percent feel that their current T&E system does not allow the company to extract better rates from suppliers, whereas more than one-fourth are dissatisfied with the system's 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%). About 54 percent 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%).

About 49 percent of the interviewees report 75 percent of the business travelers from their organisations travel with smartphones; 51 percent of the people are familiar with cloud services and are using for personal use, only 32 percent of their company are utilising the cloud for business processes.

Given that 23 percent report a mix of methods, this indicates that automation is catching-up in India. "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, Ramesh Iyer, MD, 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."

"The travel and expense processes in Indian organisations appear to set for a next wave of maturation as cloud based adoption increases, along with the use of smartphones by business travelers," he added.

Updated Date: Jun 30, 2014 12:49:01 IST