At the recent Concur Fusion conference where Oversight announced its partnership with Concur, I was having breakfast with a group of corporate travel and expense (T&E) managers. One of the members of the table asked one woman at the table, “How many employees do you have at your company?” Her reply was 3,500. “How many of those travel?” Her reply was 1,200. “How many purchase card users do you have?” Her reply was 250. How many people do you have on your team?” She replied, “Three – me, myself, and I!”
We all laughed, but out of a table of eight where there were six T&E managers, one software industry analyst, and one software industry person (yours truly). The six T&E managers commenced commiserating on their “three-person teams”. They had lots of ideas of ways in which they could leverage the travel data that they have, including ways to encourage and enforce policy compliance, monitor regulatory compliance in domains like anti-bribery and corruption and healthcare, evaluate policy effectiveness and utility, identify cost savings, and benchmark behaviors across roles, geographies, and departments. It struck me that they knew exactly what kinds of analyses they wanted and needed to perform yet they did not have the bandwidth to get it done and in order to do their jobs well needed to focus on higher level activities. As I quizzed them on their successes in performing these analyses they all laughed and one of them said, “Hey, we have a team of three. Doing analytics requires a fourth team member – my invisible friend the data analyst.”
I naturally asked why they didn’t look to IT or audit for help in these areas. Universally, they agreed that IT wasn’t an option due to other priorities and that while audit was interested in some of the same things, they really don’t have time to support daily business requirements.
Constellation Research Industry Analyst R Ray Wang (@rwang0) has said the big question with big data is, “What is the question?”. And while T&E data may not be seen as “big data”, it certainly incorporates a lot of data that comes from sources outside of an organization – airlines, hotels, restaurants, retailers, etc. And travel represents 6% of corporate spend and is the second largest discretionary expense, on average.
When you know the questions you want to ask, it’s a lot easier to leverage data and analysis to arrive at answers that can make the business better for people like my breakfast companions last week. Through Oversight’s new partnership with Concur and its integrated travel and expense management solution, we can provide answers to the questions that the teams of three that I had breakfast with were describing. The best news is that we do it in a way that delivers answers to those questions without bogging down IT, needing a data scientist, or making serious investments in hardware and software.
There are many big organizations that have lots of teams of three with responsibility for big, impactful portions of their businesses. Based on my conversations about transaction analysis and monitoring over the past ten years, these teams generally know the questions. They need help finding answers