A View into the Future: Adopting New Technology

Corporate Meetings Summit General Session: Steve Singh's View Into the Future

On March 1, 2012, Cvent hosted its first-ever Corporate Meetings Summit. Steve Singh, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors at Concur, kicked off the event with a keynote presentation focused around technology and change management, and the importance of being able to effectively leverage new technologies to drive value for the organization (and your meetings and events program). His presentation started with this thought-provoking quote by Charles Kettering:

The world hates change yet it is the only thing that has brought us progress.

Change is the single biggest variable in our world, but it's so hard to embrace change because it challenges us and forces us outside our comfort zone. Today, technology is a central part of how we operate. It touches every part of the organization. If you’ve been in the industry for 10+ years, did you ever think you would be able to automate the meeting and event registration process? Probably not, and in the beginning, you probably even pushed back a little. This is just one example of the dramatic changes that have taken place within the meetings and events industry over the last several decades. I expect the curve to accelerate dramatically over the next few years. In fact, I think the scenario Steve outlined at the Summit is only a few short years from becoming the reality:

You need to fly from Seattle to London at the end of the month. Instead of going through methods available to you today, you pick up your phone and speak "Book me a flight from Seattle to London." Your phone responds, "Got it, what date would you like to go?" Normally you would then expect to book your hotel, but, you don't have to. Your phone is taking care of it automatically. Your phone knows your history: it knows where you've stayed in the past, the types of features you like in a hotel, the price you're willing to pay. In addition, it can compare your itinerary and corporate travel policy to automatically book the hotel for you.

When you get off the plane in London, technology knows you've landed and starts the hotel check-in process for you. From the beginning of the jet way to the end, you will be completely checked. No need to stand in line when you reach the hotel after a 13-hour flight. You can walk through the lobby, head straight for the elevators and go straight to the room, using your smartphone as the room key.

Your phone will then create the expense report and submit it for you, including taxi fares to and from the airport.

Maybe you read this scenario and think, "No way. I want to control the travel process" or maybe you think, "Yes!! Where do I sign up? I want it now!" Whether you like it or not, change is coming. Steve went out on a limb during the event and predicted that soon there will no longer be a need to carry keys or a wallet, because the smartphone is always connected and has more computing power than the technology that put man on the moon. We will only need our phones to do everything. The smartphone is quickly becoming more than a tool to make phone calls, send email or surf the web, it’s becoming a procurement device. The question is: what do we need to manage that?

Going forward, Steve predicts the travel and meetings industry is going to become traveler-centric. The traveler, the person going to the meeting, is going to begin demanding change and to play a bigger role in the overall process. They will download a consumer-oriented smartphone app, and then they are then going to insist on similar applications for their organization. This is going to drive changes in behavior within the organization.

So how can you bring revolutionize your organizations' processes? First, you need to find the right vendors. For customers to thrive and succeed, there needs to be integrations across platforms. However, only the best organizations can invest in those integrations. Select the vendors with open platforms and open APIs.

This is exactly what Concur’s Connect platform is trying to do: open the application for others to plug in in order to meet their specific needs. Third-party developers are building fantastic apps on top of what Concur offers. Taking just one example, there are 2,000 travel applications listed in Apple’s App Store. No one company can innovate at that rate. To win, you have to innovate from everywhere.

Embracing technology is not an option. It never stops changing and our ability to drive value for the organization is dependent upon our ability to adopt new technology and change the status quo. Our advice: To be successful, you need to figure out how to harness technology in a way that drives value. To quote Steve: “It’s an exciting time to be in the meetings and travel industry! It’s a fun time to be in the industry.” 

If you missed the Corporate Meetings Summit and you're interested in learning more about how a strategic meetings program could result in additional cost savings for your organization, check out the Corporate Meetings Summit blog for all our session takeaways!

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