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About the Author
SAP Concur is a leading cloud-based provider of integrated travel and expense management solutions. Our easy-to-use, web-based and mobile solutions adapt to each employee’s preferences and scale to meet the needs of companies large and small. No matter what size the organization, we help control costs and save time. As part of the larger SAP family, and through our experience, expertise, and partnerships, our solutions help every business run its very best.

Putting AI to Work in New Ways in the New Year

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the way people work, how enterprises operate, and how entire industries transform. The challenge of data’s explosion in recent years is providing necessary structure and interpretation to derive meaning and draw business value from what would otherwise be digital noise. At the same time, using this abundance of data to drive intelligent automation is increasingly important—especially with the accelerated digital demands brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and remote work environment.


These challenges increasingly require the use of emerging and advanced technologies like AI, which goes beyond just processing data. AI analyzes and extracts insights, creating a level of understanding and prediction that was not possible before. It also provides the ability to automate steps and spot patterns at scale, which can bridge the gap between in-office and remote operations, and relieve workers of tedious tasks so they can reinvest that time in more valuable work.


The SAP Concur team continually invests in advanced technologies that incorporate AI to help customers quickly and accurately analyze travel and expense information and apply automation to key processes along the way. We prioritize use cases that lead to the biggest improvements in customer efficiency, effectiveness, and cost savings. In turn, our customers can accelerate their AI deployment, reduce risks, and operationalize the technology more productively.


AI at work in T&E

When people are traveling, for instance, they produce a considerable amount of data that is often fragmented — bits that, by themselves, do not provide the necessary context to understand what really happened. This new generation of tools allows us to analyze the travel experience, especially purchasing behaviors. Our integration tools and various applications of AI allow companies to look at not only what happened but why and where it happened. We can interpret the entire context to provide companies with meaningful information that can improve compliance, identify cost savings, and more.


With AI, we can automate an enormous quantity of data and reduce human errors. This then leads to predictive analytics, allowing companies to take proactive action in making business decisions. This is not a little thing: It is a key component of the digital transformation drive that is fueling improvements in operational efficiency and profitability.


For example, the ability to extrapolate travel trends over multiple periods, destinations and modes of transportation can lead to powerful insights in aggregate. Our customers can use these to better plan and negotiate their expense budgets, while also developing early warning flags for fraud or other anomaly-based alerts, such as those in expense reports or on itemized receipts, to underpin the accuracy of their data and reporting.


Looking Ahead

Using AI offers more than just cost savings. It helps organizations predict and shape future outcomes. Significantly, this allows people to do higher-value work and create new business models that will help organizations stay ahead. The combination of AI-powered tools and knowledge works is also a powerful combination. AI is great at looking at massive data sets, identifying patterns, benchmarking, and sifting through information people might miss. Humans compliment this with the ability to look at a piece of data and determine if it's an outlier and contextually accurate, based on the AI analysis. In this case, it’s more about using AI to surface those higher risk scenarios for people to quickly adjudicate and resolve, and maintain focus on their higher value responsibilities, versus having employees in the trenches examining those high volumes of data.


In fact, IDC predicts that by 2025, AI-powered enterprises will see a 100% increase in knowledge worker productivity, resulting in shorter reaction times due to anticipating market and operational changes, greater product innovation success, and improved customer satisfaction.

Incorporating advanced technologies is a part of broader trends brought on by a complicated set of business challenges, including the increasing pace of business, volume of data, the growing scope of global commerce, and a multitude of risk factors. Enterprises are faced with the need to rationalize, modernize, and transform their application portfolio. All this feeds into the idea that AI and other advanced technologies are increasingly being used to create an intelligent enterprise that is more resilient, profitable, and sustainable.


The SAP Concur team is continually finding new ways to incorporate AI for the benefit of our customers. Ongoing technology improvements are rapidly enhancing the processes surrounding expense management. Expense reports and travel-related information needs are already far less challenging than they were even five years ago. We have made significant advances over the last several years through in-house development and partner integrations that help with everything from automating expense reports and workflows, auditing transactions against travel and expense policies and regulations, and ensuring tax compliance.


As we continue to work with AI, travel and expense management systems will advance at an even faster pace — and transform how we do business. 2021 will be an exciting year for new capabilities and SAP Concur solutions will continue to lead the way with advanced technologies that help businesses move forward.