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Thursday, 16 November, 2017, 16 : 51 PM [IST]

‘Companies in India are now open to automate T&E management’

Five years after, Travel & expense management (T&E) software solution provider Concur forayed in India, the company believes that businesses in India are now devising their policies to ensure travel expenses are under control. Neeraj Dotel, MD India & SAARC, Concur, in an interaction with Disha Shah Ghosh talks throws light on their solutions, future of T&E management, and challenges of operating in this market.
Q In the past 5 years since Concur forayed into India, what kind of behavioural change have you observed in terms of adoption of T&E management solutions among companies?
It is widely known that APAC is a ‘mobile-first’ market. India, in particular is at a stage where companies are taking-up digital transformation initiatives and want to automate the processes that touch employees, T&E being one of them. That requirement is affected by the fast-evolving trends in the travel industry and the demography of India:

  • GBTA predicts that India will average double-digit growth in business travel spending over the next 5 years with domestic travel coming in at 11.8%.
  • In 2016, overall business spend crossed USD 30 billion. Domestic travel accounts for over 90% and cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad are leading domestic business travel.
  • This is further confounded by the increasingly younger working demographics of most APAC countries. We see the trend picking up in India too with businesses updating its travel policies to meet the needs of the modern workforce and rethink how to communicate with and locate travelling employees. Travel providers must also rise to the challenge of staying relevant to the modern traveller.
Today companies need global vendors such as Concur to support these evolving needs to stay relevant to these trends while ensuring budgets are in check, travel policies are abided by, and employees are satisfied. A vendor such as Concur, that has keen focus on innovating for the market while leveraging trends such as mobility, employee flexibility, reporting and insights can indeed be a true partner of such companies.

Q What are the challenges that you face in the Indian market?
India is a diverse and fast-growing market. On one hand it means limitless opportunity, but on the other it means that the ability to addresses these diverse and continually evolving needs are crucial to the survival of business. Concur understands this and we continue to grow our innovation focus for India. Of late, with GST and digitization, we have been at the forefront in responding to the needs of customers not just reactively but also in guiding the customers proactively on how GST impacts T&E, and how they can do more with their T&E budget in this new economic scenario. This can be by way of better capturing GST information on T&E spends to be able to claim ITC, by tweaking T&E policies, by vendor negotiations and so on. However, we see a positive outlook according to a report commissioned by the World Travel and Tourism Council, APAC has seen annual growth of 7.6% in business travel spend since 2002. The region is also leading at a predicted growth rate of 6.2% each year from 2017 through 2027. The report also stated that the fastest growth for the business travel sector is expected in the emerging markets, such as Indonesia, India and China.

Q With the launch of GST, how are your solutions being revised to meet the requirements of hotels and TMCs?
While GST brings simplification to the way you conduct business, ensuring that T&E process is GST compliant can be a complicated but an important need. Concur, as the leader in T&E management solutions has the offering to help clients be GST-ready not just from a systems, compliance and people point of view. We have solutions to that deliver on a three-pronged approach:

1. Configuration: Concur configuration to make sure clients are able to capture all the GST information they need in Concur Expense to stay in compliance and to claim ITC on their T&E spends
2. Policy with Tax Audit: Tap into third-party experts for efficiency, effectiveness and objectivity. Concur’s Audit service fills the gap and completes the feedback loop, so clients can make sure the receipts they use for ITC are GST-compliant, see the percentage of claims against policy and educate users or modify processes.

Reporting: Use reporting to understand the impact of GST on T&E spend, get visibility on how much can be reclaimed and make decisions on how to change the T&E policies to negate the impact of GST on spend.

Q The recently launched Concur Invoice is GST compliant. Please elaborate its features.
The government has laid down guidelines for more standardised and faster filing of taxes. There is a need to produce a compliant invoice with the mandatory fields captured. Companies need timely, compliant and more frequent filing to avoid penalties and fines and the potential to claim back GST credits is strictly dependent on availability of the right information in invoicing.

Concur invoice helps companies in capturing the mandatory GST information on invoices, while using Optical Character Recognition technology to reduce the manual effort. By faster processing achieved with automated workflows, mobilebased approvals etc, companies can leverage the full potential of Input Tax Credit levers to get more out of their spend. Not just this, companies get a view into spend at any time leading to predictable cash management, early-payment discounts, etc.
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