Francis Moran, Vice President of Finance at TripActions, offered insights into digital transformation and its impact on corporate travel during his presentation at the 2019 CFO Leadership Forum: The Evolving Role of the Finance Executive in San Francisco on February 6. In his presentation, “Digital Transformation in Corporate Travel,” Moran described how finance teams can identify the right digital technologies to transform their everyday operations.
Digital technologies empower finance teams to manage corporate travel like never before. These technologies help finance teams analyze corporate travel data and make informed decisions. Plus, they empower finance teams to automate processes and maximize time and resources.
Although digital technologies can provide significant value to finance teams, some teams fail to effectively use these technologies. In certain instances, finance teams lack digital technology training and insights. Or, in other cases, finance teams cannot properly integrate assorted technologies into their everyday operations.
“Despite our greatest collective efforts, we’re still pretty far behind the curve in terms of where we are and where we want to be (with digital transformation),” Moran said.
According to Moran, today’s finance teams must prioritize three areas relative to digital transformation: technology, talent and thinking. If finance teams evaluate the potential impact of digital technologies, they can find the right talent to implement these technologies, as well as revamp the way their respective organizations view digital transformation.
“You have to think about transforming your technology, transforming your talent and transforming your thinking,” Moran stated. “You need to approach [digital transformation] in an end-to-end way, including thinking about your talent and the way your organization thinks.”
Finance teams must identify digital technologies that deliver actionable results, but the right technologies vary from organization to organization. Meanwhile, a finance team must devote time and resources to find digital technologies that support an organization’s mission and goals. If a finance team evaluates an organization’s mission and goals, it can determine which digital technologies can help this organization thrive.
“The first step in transforming your technology is understanding the state of the art, and then architecting what you’ve learned to manage your teams and run your business,” Moran indicated. “The first step in transforming your technology is not about looking inward; it’s about looking outward.”
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are among the top digital technologies for finance teams relative to corporate travel. Thanks to AI and machine learning, finance teams can analyze booking times, costs and other corporate travel data. Then, finance teams can obtain actionable insights to make fast, informed corporate travel decisions.
“You should plan to incorporate a significant reduction in booking times using predictive search and other technologies,” Moran pointed out. “Because you can really bring down your booking times.”
Big data technologies are becoming exceedingly important to finance teams as well. These technologies enable finance teams to collect corporate travel data from a vast array of sources. Also, big data technologies help finance teams uncover ways to deliver personalized support.
“A modern travel platform should deliver relevant, customized and personalized results based on your preferences,” Moran said. “Because it doesn’t make sense for two sets of travelers to receive the same results simply because they’re going to the same place.”
Additionally, employing the right talent to implement and leverage digital technologies is crucial for finance teams.
An organization’s employees must embrace digital technologies and understand how to use them properly. If finance teams offer training and resources, they can teach employees – regardless of department – how to get the most out of digital technologies. This ultimately may help an organization automate everyday processes, reduce its operating costs and speed up and bolster its operations.
“You can’t take the old, same people, doing the old, same things and expect new results,” Moran indicated. “You really need to augment your teams with new talent and train [these teams] so they can be at the forefront of this financial digital frontier.”
It is paramount for finance teams to employ talent that understands the immediate and long-term impact of digital technologies, too. That way, finance teams can keep pace with digital technology advancements and help their respective organizations plan accordingly.
“If you’re going to put people in charge of the next-generation of technology, you need to make sure that they are next-generation thinkers,” Moran noted.
For finance teams that want to drive digital transformation, they should search for talent that is comfortable with ambiguity, strives for personal improvement and learns from mistakes, Moran indicated. These teams also should find talent that uses data and insights to identify opportunities to help an organization grow.
“At the end of the day, you have to deliver results,” Moran said. “You need your tools to work for you, and you also need people who are results- and metrics-driven.”