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Winning Travel With Data In The Post Pandemic Era

ITILITE's 4th episode of the Top Drawer Travel Talks

Digitalization has made it increasingly easier for organizations to ensure data visibility not only for employee safety but also to streamline the internal processes. Real time data visibility in this post pandemic world can help us understand and track the travel spend while also safeguarding the system from any incidents of fraud. However, collating large amounts of data presents its own set of problems, some of which are data security, data silos, data localisation, data diversity and finally the challenges involved in the operationalization of the insights. Organizations are relentlessly trying to navigate these challenges while making informed choices using augmented analytics. 

The past 2 years have witnessed a multitude of changes in every field including supplier interactions, employee engagement among the others. In the travel industry too, there have been inevitable changes which have compelled travel managers to reshape their organizations using data visualization. 

In our fourth episode of the “Top Drawer Travel Talks”, we conversed with Lalit Singhal, Senior Vice President- Finance and Accounts at Lupin Limited about how data has played an essential role in reshaping their travel and expense management process post pandemic.

If you missed out on this thought-provoking session, here are the key takeaways:

Live tracking using data points :

Data points have gained predominance in the post pandemic world. Lalit advised organizations to have the ability of live tracking systems in order to obtain real time updates of employees. It doesn’t matter if you are putting it in use right now or not, the key is to have such visibility in place beforehand. It’s almost unrealistic for an organization to expect sustenance in the market without utilizing data points since they provide not only support to the employees but also help the higher management in determining the corrective actions and take an informed decision for the organization. These tools help the leaders to assess and take the appropriate decisions. 

Data visibility leading the way for smooth operations:

Lalit shared with us an experience of how the pandemic had transformed their manual finance process to complete automation. The team were quick to switch to digital process by eliminating the submission of hard copies of invoices and replacing it with scanned ones. They fine tuned all of their existing processes and achieved timely payment to their vendors in the peak of the pandemic. Their ability to adapt to the crisis at hand by way of digitising their finance process helped them avoid any major disruption. 

Once the visibility is obtained, it gives way to a better employee interface, boost in the morale and entire ethos of the organization. The employees are reimbursed faster since manual intervention is deleted from the system. 

Data for excellence in T&E:

Analyzing data points and taking action based on the insights generated have most often proved to be successful for the overall health of the organization. One such instance where Lupin used their T&E data visibility to their betterment was issuing corporate credit cards. Lalit shares that after careful investigation and understanding of the data points of travel and expense, they introduced a new modern element to do away with the age-old method of issuing advances to employees. 

In case of payment processes to vendors and faster reconciliation, numerous tools and software were employed to ensure reconciliation peace,optimize travel spends and avoid GST leakage. 

Creating “data lakes” to sieve out the usable data:

With business trends changing from a consumption as well as production point of view and technology being infused at every level, all of the information is tracked and put into a comprehensive resource known as “data lake”. Data lake starts with capturing the data, cleansing and protecting it, putting a layer of data visualization to filter out the usable data. The usable data throws out many interesting trends and insights which helps the higher management to take strategic decisions. 

Cost optimization through data:

One of the key saving opportunities which data visualization helped Lupin discover was by way of hotel contracting. The team at Lupin was able to generate insights on which were the cities that were most travelled to and consequently focus on contracting hotels in the same area. So, by analyzing the travel behaviour data of the employees, the organization was able to capitalize on such saving opportunities. 

The pandemic has opened our eyes to newer technologies and techniques for effective management of our day-to-day activities. The business travel industry has experienced a shift greater than ever and is constantly on the hunt to employ automation in order to optimize their otherwise manual processes. 

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