Managing technology expenses is often cumbersome and complicated, especially for large organizations with various vendors and information systems. Recent changes in how we all do business make the issue more pressing. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, business leaders are all re-thinking the processes, technology, automations, and business interactions that must now work flawlessly without direct human contact.
Why is TEM crucial to business success?
In recent years, many companies have begun to make big moves in their expense management plans. Advances in expense management include
- Digital transformation and automation
- Moving to the cloud (SaaS, private, or hybrid)
- Adopting more user-friendly software (including "point-and-click” capabilities)
- Spending outside of preferred channels and approved/vetted vendors
The adoption of new tools like cloud technology and SaaS creates the need for a more diverse range of expense management. This need has fueled the shift from "telecom expense management" to "technology expense management."
ETMA (the Enterprise Technology Management Association) lists the following critical areas impacted by technology expense management:
- Expense management (including validation and optimization)
- Business Intelligence
- Inventory management and change control
- Sourcing, procurement, and fulfillment
- Invoice management and bill payment
- Usage management and chargeback
- Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM)
Modern technology expense management supports a business’ success in these areas, helping to ensure effective operation and positive ROI.
How can cloud technology help my business thrive in the future?
One thing is sure to be in every expense management team’s future: cloud-based platforms. Cloud infrastructure is a necessity for the sustainability of expense management, providing access to real-time data and the ability to deploy content, data, and services in a scalable manner. Adoption of cloud infrastructure is a proven way to increase productivity, reducing the amount of time employees spend managing their expenses. In the end, the cloud will make data easily accessible to everyone, including those on the finance team.
Mobile and remote
The future of expense management is mobile and remote. Organizations today are more global, and employees are more mobile than ever before. Expense management tools must have mobile capabilities. Employees need to be able to submit reports, and managers need to approve items from devices beyond the desktop, including smartphones, tablets, and wearable devices.
AI-based technologies for recognizing printed and hand-printed text, barcodes, and optical marks are becoming popular among procurement managers and expense tracking departments. The adoption of optical character recognition (OCR) technology has helped reduce inefficiencies, errors, and costs associated with manual invoice processing. OCR can eliminate the need for data entry and the physical handling of paper, making it easier to keep the business running while remaining physically distant. OCR is helping to deliver worry-free document processing to provide fast and highly accurate results.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ml)
AI-enabled automation is expected to minimize fraudulent expense reports, featuring capabilities like natural language processing (NLP), process mining, and advanced data understanding. By applying neural network algorithms to operate like a human brain, which can quickly adapt to changing input, you can generate the best possible results for your business. These innovations can enable you to monitor, track, and approve expenses with an enhanced level of insight. Artificial intelligence can also flag compliance-related issues and alert your workforce to problems in real time.
AI and ML can automate large parts of the expense process by pre-filling information based on a user's previous actions and data. Cutting the time needed to submit expenses will increase your team’s efficiency and effectiveness, allowing them to focus more of their time and energy on their core tasks.
The California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) enhances the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). It enforces stricter protection of consumer privacy, similar to the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and adds requirements for businesses to protect consumer data and privacy. While most expense managers are not attorneys, expense management will have to include an increased focus on regulatory compliance and data protection. Platforms are emerging to help companies comply with new privacy protections by creating indexes of relevant information that can easily be audited.
TEM Help for Your Business
Technology is changing at a rapid pace, and your CIO must lead transformation to survive in the 21st century. Business technology isn't just a few phones and a projector anymore. Technology touches every aspect of your business and probably every employee. This places a heavy burden on your CIO to make sure your organization has the technology it needs to thrive in changing circumstances.
At LinkSource, we have spent years working with top TEM providers around the world to understand each of their software platforms' unique characteristics and capabilities. We are happy to explore how one of our trusted partners might help you do more with less this year. For more insights on helping your business manage expenses in an increasingly digital world, see our blog!