Large, complex travel programs often require significant data processing, integration, and analytics. Many integrate travel, card and expense data to understand expenditure, tackle off-channel spend and manage suppliers.
Sometimes travel managers will look to systems integration services and/or analytics tools for help. But TMCs – like CWT – can actually be a better option. To see why let’s look further at the example above.
To integrate card, expense and travel data and realize the full business benefit, you need to do three things:
- Physically integrate, consolidate and clean the data.
- Analyze the data – with respect to business processes, suppliers and actions taken by travelers and approvers.
- Turn your insights into actionable business process enhancements and change.
Large TMCs can help with all three:
- Data Integration – this is the technical work of getting data from your systems and those of your suppliers into the reporting and analytics systems. The core service here is data integration. That includes the consolidation of data onto a single platform for analysis, but also the cleaning, feed set-up and maintenance, data code dictionaries, error trapping and messaging, data extraction, transformation and loading. Data-integration service companies are often the go-to suppliers in this space. But they’re not travel industry specialists and will often struggle with the data, since they lack the domain knowledge to really work with it. A TMC that offers data integration services – like CWT – can combine those with their specialist knowledge. That’s likely to make the integration stage much more successful.
- Reporting and Insight – this is the data analytics, data science, predictive analytics, reporting and related software and services. Specialist analytics companies dominate this space. However, knowledge of the industry, travel manager needs and data knowledge are critical to get the analytics working properly. A number of TMCs are also starting to offer products and services here because their domain expertise is in demand. Some are even offering analytics software solutions.
- Operationalisation – by this we mean taking the results of reports and insight and turning that into new business processes, actions or their useful business activity. This is where a large TMC can be of particular benefit as they have the deep experience around the business processes needed to make the changes the data insights suggest. Larger TMCs have huge client bases on which to base their experience. This helps the travel and procurement managers to turn insight into successful business change.
TMCs are great data partners because they know you and what you’re thinking. Being right at the heart of the industry, they can help you avoid the errors, delays and half-baked solutions you risk in using “pure” data players.
The bottom line is this: businesses don’t buy analytics or data integration – they buy improvement. Choosing the optimal supplier or combination of suppliers is critical to converting your data into savings, happier travelers, and smarter travel programs.
Blog Author: Eric Tyree, Chief Data Scientist, Carlson Wagonlit Travel