All the talk of fiscal austerity and budget cutbacks makes one believe that the only way to reduce costs is through reductions in staffing and labor. There’s no doubt that labor is taking the brunt of the pain in today’s current economic environment. But creative companies are applying big data analytics to their spend management processes to uncover hidden costs where simple changes can yield substantial savings.
By deploying automated systems for expense reports firms are now able to receive data directly from travel booking sites and corporate credit cards that include a plethora of “meta-data” about the charge. Users can also snap photos of charges or forward receipt emails and modern systems extract the data, create transactions, and populate both hidden and visible data fields. This data can then be combined with other data and analyzed to reveal previously undiscovered areas of potential savings, efficiencies, or even fraud.
Once these data gems are exposed, companies can then utilize the automated systems to actually reduce costs and increase compliance by requiring additional information at the point of data capture. In addition to just capturing additional data, companies use the analytics to modify their routing and approval matrices to ensure proper compliance and oversight by using hard data to make decisions rather than subjective criteria.
The impact these systems have can be quite broad. It extends well beyond typical expense management and into general corporate governance such as fixed asset compliance and its associated inventory loss reduction, into library management as new subscriptions are evaluated for online access rather than printed renewals.
The message here is that when one peers into the crystal ball of Big Data, new ideas emerge that enrich and improve our lives – and may save us a few bucks at the same time. Technology trumps austerity once again!
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