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Travel & Expense

Oversight’s Thoughts on the Top Travel Management Priorities of 2015

on March 17, 2015

Tnooz recently republished a great infographic by Carson Wagonlit Travel compiling priorities within the TMC world from over 1300 respondents. While Oversight is not a travel management company (TMC) we do work best when used to automate the compliance processes of travel program, so I have a lot of thoughts on the data presented.

Some background on Oversight: we offer a turn-key SaaS technology that automates the compliance process for T&E, P-Card, and P2P programs. By leveraging analytics to monitor 100% of card transactions, Oversight is able to alert customers to potential fraud, waste, and misuse within the program and detect patterns of behavior that might be missed by manual audit alone. Because we deal with highly sensitive financial data, we are particularly interested in furthering the discussion.

Keeping Data Secure

Not surprising in light of recent Target, Home Depot and Sony hacks, but keeping travel data secure is the biggest concern for travel managers. Intrusion Detection software that looks for hackers in network traffic was the inspiration for Oversight’s concept of looking for fraud and waste in business transactions, so security has always been a cause near and dear to our heart.

The first order to preventing breaches in travel data is to understand the value of the information to hackers. In Oversight’s case we don’t need the full credit card number (which is valuable to the hackers), so we can mask all but the last few digits. Credit card expiration dates aren’t useful at all for analysis and we never store those either.

The second order – keep the number of people who can access the data to an absolute minimum. The risk of information loss increases with the number of people with access to the information.  In Target’s case they had provided network access to many of their vendors.  An Air Conditioning vendor’s passwords were compromised and the next thing you know millions of credit card numbers were stolen.

Now that you minimized the value to the hackers and risk, apply multiple layers of security technologies. You don’t want a single point of failure. Finally achieve the appropriate levels of security certifications to both measure yourself and make it easy for customers to understand your level of security.

Leveraging Data

Additional priorities for travel programs included:

  • Leveraging data for predictive analyses and benchmarking,
  • Leveraging data to adapt the travel policy (Oversight’s “bread and butter” so to speak)
  • Streamlining expense management
  • Implementing a virtual payment solution
  • Using gamification to promote travel policy.

We think leveraging analysis should be everyone’s top priority as robust analysis is one of the few ways to both cut costs via benchmarking, and identify the problem travelers whose behavior needs influencing. The really sharp travel managers also use our analysis to find ways to improve the program by changing policies to better meet the needs of travelers, and changing policies to save money.

Our favorite example of this (and one we’ve used before) is the company that had a strict “no in room movie” policy for hotel stays. By leveraging analysis they were able to see that the travelers who went against policy and ordered movies spent less on the trip than those who instead complied with policy (and maybe went out to the bar.)

There is an interrelation between the top five priorities that we think demonstrates the strength and value of what Oversight’s platform, Oversight Insights On Demand™ provides. We’re able to leverage technology to automate analysis for the companies who need it better, faster, and cheaper than anyone has ever been able to do it before. People want to learn things from their data and use it to take action in their businesses. What was once the “future” of big data, has now arrived!

Patrick Taylor

Patrick Taylor is an authority in the convergence of business analytics, information security, and the implementation of technology to boost organizational performance. An innovator in his field, Patrick founded Oversight Systems in 2003 and served as President and CEO for 15 years. In this role, he helped hundreds of Fortune 1000 companies improve financial, accounting, and auditing processes. Previously, Patrick held leadership positions with Oracle, Symantec, and Internet Security Systems (ISS). Patrick has a bachelor’s degree Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.