It’s a little over 10 years since the iPhone was launched. Many things have changed in the business travel world since then. We’ve been through a major global recession that dramatically altered the economic landscape, groundbreaking aircraft such as the A380 and 787 have been launched, and several trailblazing companies have been launched to streamline business travellers’ lives. In fact, Chrome River also celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.
Back in 2007…
Given the other major changes in the industry, it’s easy to overlook just how much the mobile experience has changed for business travellers over the past 10 years. When the iPhone was launched, native web apps often had limited functionality, and were designed to provide a stripped-down, bare-bones user experience. In addition, websites were designed only to be viewed on a large desktop or laptop screen, so were often difficult to use on a mobile device. Last, connectivity speeds were also incredibly low. The first iPhone wasn’t even 3G network compatible, and although it included Wi-Fi, hotspots were scarce, and often required a costly subscription to access them. Add to this the high cost of mobile roaming, and it becomes clear that for the business traveller, although an iPhone was a cool gizmo, it was still extremely limited in its capabilities as a mobile business tool.
Compare that to today. The advent of mobile-optimized, cloud-based enterprise apps means that travellers can get as much functionality on their Android or iPhone as their laptop without needing to download an app (or have the software installed on their laptop). Mobile network speeds have increased more than 100-fold, and free, high-speed wi-fi has become ubiquitous. On the back end, travel technology providers have created deep integrations, allowing data to flow seamlessly between applications, so they perform as if a single app.
So, what does this mean for the business traveller? In two words – ease and productivity. It’s possible to book flights and hotels, and hail a ride, directly from your mobile. You can research and book travel on any device, even swapping between devices, without losing data. Transaction information flows straight from one solution to another, so that details of your airline ticket purchase will automatically appear in your expense management solution – even if you make changes to your itinerary after the purchase.
Related: Sabre and Chrome River Integration
When you’re on the road, you no longer need to worry about having to retain all of your receipts, in order to do your expenses. Simply snap and send a picture of your meal receipt to your expense solution, and it will automatically be read and converted into expense items, including all information about where, when and how much you spent. Expense claims can even be submitted and approved on the road. In short, the mobile phone has all but replaced the laptop as the modern business traveller’s computer of choice on the road.
Even though we’ve come a long way in the way that mobile phones can streamline business travellers’ lives, there’s still plenty of innovation coming down the pike to make life even more simple, productive and secure.
Examples of new innovations that are continuing to be rolled out to business travellers include:
- Greater use of virtual cards: Growing numbers of finance teams are moving to virtual corporate cards as a tool for on-the-road payments. These cards, securely stored on mobile phones, enable organisations to roll out payment cards to travellers on-the-fly, enabling them to more effectively control spend, while minimising the risk of stolen or misused cards.
- More deep integrations between complementary technologies: The ability for on-the-road transactions to flow directly from the merchant to the expense claim continues to make life easier for travellers. From airlines to ride-hailing companies like Lyft to food delivery services, travellers will soon be able to automatically create expense items for almost every element of their trip, without requiring a single click.
- More solutions moving from apps to mobile-friendly web sites: As the number of different mobile device types and screen sizes continues to grow, and organizations roll out technology platforms worldwide, it’s becoming increasingly hard for mobile app developers to continue creating solutions that will work effectively across every platform, in all of the languages that their employees speak. Look for more enterprise applications to shift to mobile-friendly web apps, which enable the full range of functionality and global capabilities across any device.
Related: 4 Ways to Escape Expense Claim Purgatory
While continued innovation means that the mobile phone in 10 years’ time will undoubtedly be vastly superior to those in use today, one thing we can all count on is that they will make business travellers’ lives even more straightforward than they are today.
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Our choice of Chrome River EXPENSE was made in part due to the very user-friendly interface, easy configurability, and the clear commitment to impactful customer service – all aspects in which Chrome River was the clear winner. While Chrome River is not as large as some of the other vendors we considered, we found that to be a benefit and our due diligence showed that it could support us as well as any large players in the space, along with a personalized level of customer care.
We are excited to be able to enforce much more stringent compliance to our expense guidelines and significantly enhance our expense reporting and analytics. By automating these processes, we will be able to free up AP time formerly spent on manual administrative tasks, and enhance the role by being much more strategic.