A new study commissioned by SAP Concur about the business impact of Covid-19 and businessesâ€™ resilience has revealed that slowing economic growth, employee safety, and well-being, and increased or new competition, are the top three challenges as companies in Asia Pacific embark on business recovery.
The survey, entitled Ready, Reset, Grow, polled 250 enterprise-level senior business, finance and IT executives across various industries in Australia, China, India, Japan, and Singapore. It uncovered how these executives are leveraging the experiences of the past year to reinvent the way they will operate and remain resilient in the next six months.
Executives concerned about fundamental business challenges
Given the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, it is no surprise that APAC executives are worrying about and focusing on the fundamentals of their businesses.
The pandemic has highlighted a need for increased investment in technology with executives reporting greater spending, as a result of Covid-19, across a range of technologies, especially remote work tools (59%) and cloud services/solutions (56%).
New remote working patterns are here to stay. Looking ahead to the business recovery phase of the pandemic, 78% of the APAC respondents expected their company to increase reliance on remote work in order to meet business goals.
Over the next six months, the top three technologies APAC executives see their firms harnessing are artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) (52%), cloud computing (49%), and 5G (38%). They view these technologies, particularly AI/ML, as being capable of enabling their firms to make more informed business decisions and consequently, enhance growth and development within the organisation.
The respondents see substantial opportunities for technology to improve operations in the travel, expense and invoicing side of their businesses. About 86% agree that having good control over company spend is necessary for weathering economic uncertainty. They said the most important travel, expense, and invoicing capabilities needed for their company to negotiate the next six months are the abilities to identify cost-saving opportunities (73%), access to real-time data and analytics (72%), and accurately forecast and budget (72%).
Through these investments, APAC executives hope to boost business process efficiencies (37%), reduce operational costs (36%), and make smarter, data-based decisions (35%).
Employee health and wellbeing come to the fore
Given the omni-presence of the coronavirus today, it was also natural that employeesâ€™ health and wellbeing are uppermost on the minds of most employers, especially from the perspective of business travel.
Emerging expectations around personal and community health and safety will mean a new era of decisions, processes, and innovations across the travel industry. As travel resumes in a new way, employee safety will be of the essence.
Companies need to adapt and adopt, in part by harnessing technology that gives employees the ability to make safe travel choices while still keeping costs manageable for the company.
Travel management technology today enables companies to update travellers of hazardous situations, and locate and notify them in times of emergency, helping employers fulfill their duty of care to their workforce. With the integration of advanced analytics, both AI and ML are also well equipped to handle calamities impacting the company or the traveller âˆ’ travel information can be pulled into reports from travel booking sites, emails, and corporate credit cards. On the finance side, such intelligent technologies give greater visibility and control of travel spend before itâ€™s booked, and provide the data to strengthen negotiating positions with vendors.
For other findings, download the SAP Concur Ready, Reset, Grow report here.