Banking on digitizing the travel program

digital business transformation in global economy

By Gijs Swaans, Multinational/global field sales, EMEA

Digital transformation is a focus in boardrooms across the global economy. The concept has special relevance in the banking and finance industry. What does it mean to be a digital bank? It’s about how you interact with customers, of course. But it must be more than customer experience given the challenges banks face. In this three-part blog series I’ll explore how digital transformation is affecting this industry and what it means for their approach to business travel.

The global financial crisis of 2008 sparked a wave of scrutiny and tighter regulations by governments around the world. Banks now undergo strict compliance auditing on a regular basis which drives the need for data to be accessible at executives’ fingertips at all times.

Banks also compete for the best talent on a global digital playing field with millennials making up a growing segment of the workforce. Employees bring higher expectations for how they interact or use their devices and applications in the workplace — this is driven by their personal experiences with consumer-grade products, including business travel.

Digital transformation must address their needs for online tools and interactions. Payment and expense reimbursement is shifting away from credit cards and thanks to digital technology, moving toward managing money via payment apps.

Can travel management kickstart digital transformation?

It’s an important question since the banking industry is global in its DNA. Financial centers have been developed around the world over decades: New York City, London, Hong Kong, Singapore. Money flows through these finance capitols, and so do people. Travel culture and organizational culture are closely aligned, making travel management a key part of banks’ digital transformation strategy.

In research conducted by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, in association with Egencia, respondents reported strong associations between business performance and travel culture:
• 50% associate business travel and in-person interaction with customer loyalty and retention
• 67% believe they experience increased collaboration from face-to-face meetings
• 52% believe face-to-face meetings help identify new growth opportunities

The vast majority of respondents said that in-person meetings are the best option for meeting new clients (89 percent), understanding customers (82 percent), and negotiating contracts (71 percent).

These trends span industries. Banking and financial services have some unique needs layered on top of them. In my next post I’m going to talk about the battle for talent, innovation and how one idea can spark a transformation.

Want to learn more about the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services’ research? Download the full report here.