Research organization Gartner, Inc. made some very interesting predictions relative to IT for 2012 and beyond. Check out the complete list of prophecies here. But what struck a chord with me was the overall tone of the report — which suggested the continuing influence of the consumer/end user, and the power that impact will have on influencing IT Managers. This pull-out gives you the gist:
“The continued trends toward consumerization and cloud computing highlight the movement of certain former IT responsibilities into the hands of others … As users take more control of the devices they will use, business managers are taking more control of the budgets IT organizations have watched shift over the last few years. As the world of IT moves forward, CIOs are finding that they must coordinate their activities in a much wider scope than they once controlled. While this might be a difficult prospect for IT departments, they must now adapt or be swept aside.”
CarryingOn has talked about this trend towards consumerization in business travel in the past, and if we extrapolate some of the predictions Gartner is making, it sounds like the days of corporate mandates could be ending. Ponder for a minute: just a couple years ago, would you have envisioned your company not only supporting multiple operating systems, but allowing employees to select which devices and applications they use at work, or to store their data in “the cloud”? (Your 2009 self would likely be confused by the “cloud” and you would also have no idea the impact that Apple would soon have on your life.) It used to be: you started at a company and they provisioned you a desktop or PC, in some cases a smart phone, and in just about 100% of the cases, provided you access to the company’s “network,” a highly guarded environment that was vetted by security, sourced by procurement, maintained by operations, and used by 100% of the employees. Today, it’s becoming an entirely different ballgame.
The New York Times recently reported on the consumerization of IT: “[Corporate IT departments] are now in retreat. Employees are bringing in the technology they use at home and demanding the IT department accommodate them. The IT department often complies.” The Times reports that Forrester Research found that 48 percent of information workers buy smartphones for work “without considering what their IT department supports.” Apparently, flexibility = productivity. So, let’s extrapolate these trends to travel.
The fact is, the Managed Travel program has always been “challenged” by the end user. In the good old days before the web, it was fairly common to hear an employee say (and many times that employee was a “C”-Level type), that they had a friend “in the business”, aka, a local Travel Agent that they had dealt with for years, and they often avoided the company mandated TMC. Today, it’s “I found a better deal on the web,” but the point is that when it came to Travel, there has always seemed to be more of a willingness to challenge the company program in some way.
Today, technology innovation has created a more informed and demanding end user whose experience in their personal life shapes their expectations at work. They proudly suggest they can find something better, because they feel only they know what they want, need, like, or all of the above. And, on some levels, they are probably right. We’ve heard of entire Travel programs where the end user is given great latitude in making decisions, and in general there seems to be a trend towards accommodation that cannot be ignored.
The trends all point to a need to re-think some of the basics of your program to ensure the decisions you are making, especially those related to the technology you put in a users hands (think online tool and mobile travel application), need to be informed by what the end user thinks is best for them. Ignore the trend and face the potential wrath of a more informed and empowered employee. Remember, Business Travel is not their end game; it’s a means to a greater end. How they do it matters. How you build your program to accommodate for that matters as well.
I’m not sure if you caught the CNN article, but a number of airlines are checking out alternative fuel sources such as algae and cooking oil — and it struck me as intriguing. I’m all for anything that can reduce the general dependency on oil, given the dramatic impact it has on the Travel industry, but it sounds like we have a ways to go here before we should start getting too excited. The cost for alternative fuel sources is still somewhat prohibitive, but what CNN identifies as just as challenging is that there is no “supply chain” for these alternative fuel sources. So even if the industry can figure out how to get all the kinks out, they’ll still have a pretty big hurdle: there is no efficient way to get the product from producer to consumer.
That got me to thinking about a topic I’ve blogged about in the past, namely the concept of a T&E Supply Chain. In case you don’t want to hit the link and read the post, according to Wikipedia a supply chain is “a system of organizations, people, technology, activities, information and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer.” Think about yours, and when you consider game-changers like fragmenting content, new sources of distribution and payment (think Mobile), and new players and processes (think Daily Offers, Gamification, and Social Networking), ask the question “What will our new T&E Supply Chain look like in a year or two?” Which of these new processes or platforms are most likely to stick and become part of the new Travel Program? Which will attract users, and which will become distractions that fall by the wayside? Attraction or Distraction? That is the question, when thinking about your new T&E Supply Chain.
Alaska Air is now testing alternative fuels, running test flights powered by cooking oil, which the airline claims is reducing CO2 emissions by 10 percent. Meanwhile, that fuel costs six times as much as conventional jet fuel. (It simply is not cheap to filter the fried bits out of cooking oil before reclaiming it to power a jet.) I see the attraction of trying to reduce carbon emissions from a corporate social responsibility perspective, but I fall down on the side of distraction on this one due to supply chain issues … because the idea of running a plane on fryolator grease is worthless until McDonald’s makes their drive thrus big enough to accommodate a 757. So the next time you are considering the latest and greatest idea, ask yourself – attraction or distraction?
I was saddened to hear of the passing this week of one my all time favorite athletes, Joe Frazier. “Smokin” Joe was a man’s man who never backed down or stopped moving forward, and that despite getting knocked down more than once, always managed to get up and fight on. His work ethic was legendary and he told it like it was, and while I never had the pleasure of meeting him, he definitely left a lasting impression on me. Prepare yourself as best you can, always give your best effort, never quit, and always conduct yourself like a professional. Rest In Peace, Champ.
OK, not sure if you all read the article about Whitney Houston going Diva on a Delta flight, but it caught my attention as silly things like this do. I guess she didn’t want to buckle up, which I found to be a rather strange Diva action. We’ve all been on flights where we’ve see normal people go a little Diva. It can be little things like the guy who wants his coat hung immediately because he can’t bear to hold it for another second, the guy who refuses to share the armrest, or the Entitled boarding line crasher, who had me fired up on my recent cross-country journey. Or how about my favorite… the dude who refuses to pull his pants up to a respectable level, and who just happens to be traveling with the girlfriend whose skirt looks more like a belt (and yes, I will admit had she been traveling alone she would not have made this list :).
They say Whitney’s sober, so maybe her Buckle Rebellion is how she gets her “living on the edge” thrills these days. Speaking of living on the edge, our old flight attendant friend Steven Slater just burst back onto the scene. He was sentenced to one year of probation for his Diva-like “spectacular exit” down the emergency chute, beer-in-hand, before “scampering home.” Slater became a national sensation for his behavior and a hero to downtrodden workers everywhere who have fantasized about quitting in a blaze of uhhh… glory.
What’s next? Pilots who fall asleep? Air traffic controllers who watch movies instead of planes? Oh right, those have already happened. I mean, come on people, let’s just get it together. Passengers, quiet down, buckle up and put on some pants. Flight attendants, pilots and controllers, keep your eye on the ball and make sure we get where we’re going without too much drama.
I’m headed to San Antonio next week to give what I hope will be an inspiring talk on technology at the CTD Conference. A flight attendant from the Miracle on the Hudson is keynoting at the same event, and it made me think “If that crew could keep its head on straight, can’t the rest of us?”
These days, everyone is looking to save some dough, even more than usual – and travel managers are no exception. We wanted to pin down exactly how critical cutting spending is to these guys, so at the recent GBTA conference in Denver – while I was enjoying the delights of the Mile-High City – Rearden took to the people with a survey to get to the bottom of this. And guess what? We found that 60 percent of travel managers said trimming costs for their companies is priority Numero Uno.
The challenge for these folks, however, is what to put on the chopping block. And they’re facing a tough choice – 42 percent of those surveyed believe the best strategy is to reduce non-essential travel. But when that’s not an option, others are focused on cutting specific travel categories like meals, entertainment or ground transportation. So now we’ve got fewer business travelers taking to the golf course (or in my case, the bowling alley), more that are eating less and many who are apparently walking to their business meetings. But we’re all still in a crunch to save.
With the pressure to make the most out of the minimal, travel managers are taking on more and more responsibilities. More than 65 percent surveyed said their roles have expanded this year; nearly 30 percent said they’re now managing other procurement categories – like shipping, office supplies or relocation; and 24 percent reported having the added responsibility of expense management. Talk about taking the romance out of travel.
“But Tony D.!,” you say. “With more work and less money, what’s a travel manager to do?!?”
I am glad you asked, as we at Carrying On love to speak our minds. We have an answer for you – and it’s in the palm of your hand. That’s right folks – it’s time to go mobile. Mobile technology is a cost effective way to navigate the complex business of managing travel in today’s world. The most effective applications for managers will integrate with a company’s managed travel platform, make compliance with travel policies a priority, and will also serve the needs of the traveler – while curing many-a-headache for the weary travel manager!
So what’s the wait, people? Sixty-three percent of folks we surveyed believe that mobile tech would help their organizations reach their managed travel goals – like improving compliance and reducing spend. But they also said that they haven’t fully implemented mobile platforms in their organizations yet. In fact, only 25 percent of travel managers said that smart phones and travel apps were actively improving the travel functions of their organizations. Seriously folks, let’s get on the stick. It’s time to go mobile.
Managers need to take a hard look at the tools they are already using, and consider implementing ones that allow them to take advantage of their companies’ hard earned travel rewards and discounts, while matching the personal preferences and needs of employees on the road. Smart phones are for more than just Angry Birds, they are also for Overworked Travel Managers.
This Thursday, October 6th, my colleague Song Huang and I will be leading a GBTA webinar that will help travel managers understand the many benefits of mobile technology for travel. As with anything new there is a learning curve to embracing mobile technology – but investing energy into making employees believers in mobile’s benefits will ultimately pay off big time. It’s time to wake up and smell the mojo, I mean mobile.
Hope you can join us on Thursday at 2:00 p.m. ET.
For more information on the GBTA webinar, please visit: http://www.gbta.org/usa/ProfessionalDevelopment/Pages/MobilityforBusinessTravelers.aspx
As an admitted collector of miles (or points depending on the program), I read with interest a recent article by Randy Petersen, the Publisher of Inside Flyer magazine. Titled “Web tools for frequent flyers,” it described how venture capital is funding start-up companies whose value propositions are all about making you a more intelligent frequent flyer. Not only will the tools keep track of how many miles you have, but they will also help you determine which bonus offers are best for you, which offer delivers the best bang for the buck, and how you should plan your award usage over the years ahead.
Now, as I fly to Vegas for The Beat.Live conference, I’m reminded that I’m more a collector of miles at this point than a redeemer. And that’s not because I’m trying to get on A&E’s Hoarders (which, if you haven’t seen, is worth a look just for the shock value). Rather, my redemption tends to lag because I either don’t make the time to use my miles or I have trouble redeeming when I do want to fly for fun. Although I have to say, my daughters have discovered this new form of “free” currency and have made a nice dent in my stockpile as they jet back and forth to school or wherever, and they don’t seem to appreciate how hard I work to earn this stuff.
I’m not sure where you come out on this one, but a tool that shows me how to collect more miles and helps me use them better would be very cool. And it sounds like some people agree, including some VCs who are usually wary by nature (I’m guessing their inner “miles junkie” kicked in when they funded these start-ups). Anyway, look for a few of these to hit the radar including; MileageManager.com, UsingMiles.com, MileWise.com, and Superfly.com, because I’m guessing the frequent flyers in your travel program have already noticed.
As to why I bring it up, our industry has debated the pros and cons of frequent flyer points and their impact on a managed travel program for years, and these new entrants might prove a boon or an irritant, depending on your perspective. Whatever you think (and maybe you didn’t think), at Carrying On we take seriously our pledge to keep you informed (and thinking), so consider yourself warned. Because I’m guessing this will grab the attention of some of your most frequent travelers who might now have a new inventory management tool of their own.
As for me, I’m all for it. I’m not sure how these new companies plan to make money, but if they charge a small fee for their services, I figure I can use my credit card and collect some more points.