ACT Fibernet, Indias largest fiber broadband ISP have announced its partnership with Chennai Super Kings [CSK], one of the most celebrated IPL teams, as its official connectivity and internet partner.

ACT Fibernet, with its extensive fiber broadband connectivity in Chennai aims to ensure seamless internet broadband connectivity for the ardent followers of the CSK team during the IPL matches. The company will be providing WiFi coverage to the entire Chennai stadium taking the in-stadium experience to a whole new level. Over 40,000 fans seated in the stadium will be able to enjoy HD quality speeds on WiFi simultaneously, access internet in the stadium, catch up on live videos, watch match replays, and indulge in social media activities.

Additionally, a whole range of fan engagement activities and contests have been planned by CSK-ACT Fibernet together to significantly enhance the in-stadium experience.

Speaking on the partnership, Sandeep Gupta, COO, ACT Fibernet said

We take immense pride in announcing that we are the chosen connectivity partner of the CSK team. CSK is not just a team but an emotion and passion amongst millions, and through this partnership we are going to significantly enhance this spirit by enabling the CSK teams and its supporters stay connected.

Commenting on the partnership, George John, Whole Time Director, CSK said

Chennai Super Kings is known for its solid performances and consistency, ACT Fibernet complements all of this and therefore is our chosen partner. Our aim has always been to enhance the experience of our fans and supporters. With this association with ACT Fibernet we are certain that we will be able to significantly enliven the in-stadium experience. This is the first amongst the many initiatives we have planned for the CSK fans in partnership with ACT Fibernet.

About ACT Fibernet

ACT Fibernet is India’s largest Fiber broadband ISP Headquartered in Bangalore, ACT Fibernet has operations in 12 Indian cities with 1.2 million customers. For more information, please visit ACT Fibernet

JetSynthesys, a leading digital entertainment and gaming company launched Where’s my Kitty Cat? a mobile game for iOS users who are cat lovers and puzzle enthusiasts. This exciting and quirky game promises to fulfill the player’s fun quotient as he/she tries to find KITTY, the naughtiest cat ever!

Kitty could be anywhere, hiding under cars, over the dining table, in the bath tub, on the neighbour’s porch, in the fish market; the world is her playground. The player needs to use the hints given and logic to solve the different puzzles and find Kitty.

Some features of the game include:

  • 160+ levels
  • Explore unique locations
  • Enjoy unpredictable moments

On the occasion of this launch Roopak Nair, Vice-President, Product and Marketing, JetSynthesys said

After the successful run of our sports and Bollywood games, we now tap into a more casual gaming audience with the launch of our newest game, ‘Where’s my Kitty Cat?’. We are confident that this new game will resonate with avid gamers looking for a fun experience, inspiring us to continue experimenting and developing vibrant and exciting games for everyone.

In ‘Where’s my Kitty Cat?’, the player will have his/her own cat who needs to be found through various adventures and collect toys for her to play with along the way. This intellectually challenging yet fun game is now available on iOS. This sweet little cat has the power to steal everybody’s heart and she will definitely become the player’s favourite friend.

Additional updates on the game and download link available here

About JetSynthesys

JetSynthesys is a fast-paced digital entertainment company with a portfolio of world class products, platforms and services, touching the lives of more than 100 million consumers in India and around the world. Through its diversified business divisions across gaming, music, digital & social entertainment, celebrity video blogging, AI & machine learning technologies, the company aims to digitally connect celebrities, brands and consumers and drive user engagement and monetization through personalization. In addition, Jet Ventures the strategic early stage funding entity and JetLabs the accelerator program, partners with passionate founders to build sustainable global consumer products.

In India, the company has innovated and pioneered celebrity gaming successfully with a catalogue of over 300 exciting games across HTML, Java, Android and iOS platforms featuring eminent stars like Salman Khan, Sachin Tendulkar and others. For more information, please visit JetSynthesys

The popularity of platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. has not only affected the manner in which people interact, shop but also how they socialize. Social Media coupled with Digital Marketing is a powerful tool that businesses use for marketing their products. With the rising internet penetration, growing popularity of affordable 4G phones and increasing number of Indians consuming local content, etc. users are always connected and hence they are able to access Social Media accounts when on the move!

Image Source – Social Media

With the e-commerce trend catching up big time in India, online shoppers are always on the lookout for some lucrative deals while they are shopping online. The deal could be in the form of a huge discount while shopping online or in the form a cashback from the e-commerce site or discount by applying ‘relevant’ coupon from a couponing website. It goes without saying that even while shopping online, we discuss with our family & friends before making a final ‘Buy’ decision!

People spend a considerable amount of time on Social Media, but since there are a number of social networking apps, many of them spend time in hopping from one app to the other. Also, none of the apps incentivize their users for spending their precious time on social media. There is not a single platform where an avid internet user can perform all the above-mentioned activities. This is the problem that a Delhi based startup is trying to solve with their app Sagoon,  a multi-app platform. Today we review the Sagoon app on Android, so let’s get started…

Sagoon – Connect, Share and Learn

As mentioned earlier, our mobile device has so many apps and every mobile user would be spending a good amount of time in hopping from one app to another. This is where an app like Sagoon can turn out to be very useful since it is a multi-application platform and wants its users to build a rewarding life by following the innovative social path: Connect, Share and Earn.

Swati Dayal, co-founder of Sagoon came up with the idea of the app when she along with her other co-founders realized that there is a dearth of a good social e-commerce platform.  Sagoon intends to tap the market worth $300 billion by offering the users the best of social media and social gifting at one place.

In a nutshell, Sagoon enables you to share secret messages, strengthen your relations with family & friends and express your emotional state clearly. Following the social path Connect, Share & Earn, it intends to transform negative experiences on social media into positive ones [Source]

Sagoon – Detailed Review

Sagoon aims at untangling your life and wants you to be Smart, Productive and Connected. Currently, the app is only available for Android users however, users can log in to Sagoon on mobile using their mobile website until the time the app is not live on iOS.

On Android, the app is ~45 MB in size which is definitely not a deal-breaker for the target segment which is very active on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. Most of these apps occupy much more real-estate on the mobile!

Sagoon aims to be a one-stop shop for all your needs, be it setting reminders, sharing content, planning & scheduling, chatting and much more. Each product has unique features and a different customer presentation strategy; the purpose of each application is to strengthen true connections and be productive. This is evident from the feature set that Sagoon promises for its users.

My Day:  A few years back, if we had to set reminders than we used to pen the schedule in a diary and at the end of the day check how many of the planned tasks are completed. However, with the advent of mobile, scheduling & planning has got a new avatar since apps are now used for the same. My Day feature in the Sagoon app can be used for creating schedules, setting reminders, etc. It can be used as a smart organizer for your personal as well as official purpose.

My Day has the following features

  • Multi-Location Clock
  • Weather
  • Schedule
  • Reminders
  • Sharing of Calendar
  • To-Do List

The UI is simplistic and you can share your schedule with others as well. Though there are many To-Do List apps, we liked the sharing feature in Sagoon that makes ‘collaborative planning and tracking’ to a micro-level.

Story Sharing/Secret: Each one of us gets different thoughts that are dependent on our mood, surrounding environment & many other factors and you want a platform to express your feelings. Secret in Sagoon can be used to share your thoughts, learnings, experience with others, in anonymous & non-anonymous mode.

It also helps you e-meet and learn from like-minded users on the platform. Since users can post anonymously, Secret can also be used as a scratch-pad by many to just express their emotions online. You are allowed to use 220 characters and up to three images to post a story. As a user, you can post your story [photos and video] under the ‘Open’ category, allowing all of your contacts to view, like, dislike or comment on it. While posting you can also choose to hide your identity. You can also send one-on-one story messages which will vanish after they are read.

It also supports tracking/analytics so that you can check the post insights – likes, dislikes, shares, comments. Thus, the Open Secret feature helps in creating a transparent society and transforms users into change-agents.

Secret has the following features

  • Create Secrets
  • Set Privacy
  • Track Secrets
  • Attach Multi Images
  • Like, Dislike, Share or Comment
  • Hot/Trending Secrets

MoodTalk: It is very commonly said ‘Let your mood do the talking‘ but it is next to impossible to express different emotions – happiness, sadness, sickness, etc. online since you never know the treatment your mood talk would receive at the recipient side.

MoodTalk on PC

With MoodTalk from Sagoon, you can break those shackles of fear & anxiety and express freely as per your emotional state. MoodTalk is a simple chatting tool which lets your mood do the talking. If you are sick and set your mood to ‘Sick’, your near & dear ones would be notified about the same via an SMS and they can then re-connect with you and re-build long lost relations. Since our mood is dependent on many factors and is never permanent, hence in MoodTalk your chats also vanish automatically after 24 hours.

Me Page, Unique ID and more: Sagoon also provides a ‘Me Page’ which can have a mix of personal and professional information. You can customize your profile with a photo, description, interests, etc. since the Page is a reflection of your identity. It can also be used to meet like-minded people. Its functionality is somewhat similar to the offering by about.me

In order to ensure that the app is secure enough, Sagoon uses a combination of email-id and phone number to sync into one, instead of using a customary user-id and PIN. Along with security, the secondary intent of following this approach is to ensure that Sagoon user gets his/her revenue share when they introduce the Social Smart Card option in a couple of months.

Sagoon has a very sleek interface and the same philosophy is also carried forward on its offering for Desktop and Mobile Web. The experience was good on all the platforms, be it Android, Mobile Web or Desktop!

Sagoon – Earn Money by Shopping and Socialising

The Social Smart Card will enable the users to buy things online, send gifts and also buy from physical retail outlets. Every Sagoon user would get the card for free when they create their profile.

Sagoon Social Smart Card

Since social commerce is an integral component in the Sagoon app, each user will get 5 percent cut for the transaction they perform on the platform. This is loosely similar to affiliate marketing but this feature can definitely be a huge game changer! Along with that, Sagoon user would also be incentivized for the time they spend socializing on it.

We are sure that you also found Sagoon interesting as well as useful 🙂 Why to wait, you can download the Sagoon app for Android from here

Sagoon – Conclusion

Sagoon is a promising app, both for social media users as well as social media influencers. With promising features like MoodTalk and Story Sharing, it brings ‘human touch’ that was so far missing in social media. Social Smart Card is a very innovative manner to give back some revenue to the ever-growing lot of social media addicts and we hope that it is released at the earliest 🙂

If you are Sagoon user, please leave your feedback or suggestions in the comments section

The transformation in the world of technology is happening at pace which we have not experienced in the past. Implementation of new cutting-edge technology is moving out from a drawing board stage to being practiced by organizations across the world. As more and more organizations undertake the process of digital transformation to offer tech enabled products or services, IT roles and skills is undergoing radical shifts, something which we are already observing. This will affect the tech job scenario as we move into 2018 and beyond.

Image Source – Job Trends

In-demand IT roles have started to shift towards including positions focused on advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence [AI], Augmented and Virtual Reality [AR and VR], and the Internet of Things [IoT] along with exciting positions within cyber-security, cloud computing & network technology.

Through these observations we have identified the following as some of the key job roles companies require as they transform their businesses and processes for the future:

Cyber-security Analyst – This individual will manage risk for organizations through use of relevant tools and techniques to gather vital end-point and network host data with the goal of identifying vulnerabilities.

Network Engineer – This role will encompass coordinating between cloud and traditional networking resources to make a business’s communicate efficiently. They will need to know how to map technical network elements [e.g. router, an edge device, a micro-datacenter] to a company’s business needs.

Vulnerability Assessment Manager – The role of a penetration tester has matured.  Today’s pen tester does more than hack a server or use fancy security tools. Today’s pen tester takes a responsible approach and conducts strong, comprehensive tests to identify – and correct – unacceptable risks.

Technical Support Specialist – Gone are the days when the help desk professional fixed PCs.The world needs more tech support specialists than ever before: today’s tech support engineer helps manage increasingly complex issues involving data management, authentication and network troubleshooting.

Machine learning engineer – Machine learning use sophisticated programming such as R and Python to develop AI machines and systems that can learn and apply knowledge to perform tasks. These professionals will also work with complex datasets and algorithms to convert machines to intelligent machines.

Network Analysts – Businesses are investing more heavily in their networks as IoT is fast becoming critical to manufacture tech enabled products. A growing number of ‘things’ need to be connected in an efficient way, and that’s going to be a major driver of demand there. Network analysts in the coming years will combine their technical skill set with an understanding of how to apply it to provide real-time trending information on network traffic, and what those insights means for the business.

Cloud engineer – Almost all businesses are mobbing their on-premises systems to cloud and are choosing a hybrid approach, with multiple vendors. In the coming years, cloud engineers will need to create solutions which are mix of multiple technologies. Gone are the days when an Amazon engineer only worked on AWS or Microsoft engineers only knowing Azure.

About the Author

Pradipto Chakrabarty is the Regional Director, CompTIA, the voice of the world’s information technology industry. CompTIA is dedicated to advancing industry growth through its educational programs, professional certifications and public policy advocacy. You can view his profile here

Paytm QR now lets merchants accept Paytm, UPI and Card Payments directly into their Bank Account at 0%. Also, there is no monthly limit on accepting payments from customers. This will in turn make it easier for small and large merchants to accept mobile payments from a wider set of customers, and boost their businesses. It will also give more choice and convenience to consumers as they can now scan Paytm QR at merchant stores and pay using their preferred payment methods.

Here’s how to generate Paytm QR instantly

Give a missed call on +919004790047 or follow these steps:

  • Log on to Paytm for Business and click on Sign up for free
  • Enter Name & PAN or Aadhar Number

Fill in Business & Bank details, and Paytm QR is instantly generated

Merchants can print the QR and put it up in their shops, and start accepting Paytm

Paytm QR has eliminated the need for additional spends on POS machines for merchants and has been supporting them in their day-to-day business. Currently, Paytm offers customers the widest range of offline and in-store payment use-cases including parking, tolls, kirana stores, utility, temples, local transport, railway & metros, school & college fee and challan among others.

India currently has around 3 million developers and has the second largest Android developer community in the world after the US. As per a study from Deloitte, India will have the largest base of developers by 2019. Developers will be drivers of customers’ adoption of cloud and cognitive solutions. About 60% of the developers in India have been experimenting with AI [Artificial Intelligence] and machine learning, compared to 39% in the rest of the world. This shows developers in India are receptive towards AI, Cognitive and data science technologies.

Image Source – Cognitive Computing

AI, Machine Learning, Cognitive computing, Data analytics, etc. are some of the emerging technology trends and they are now  observing widespread adoption. Today, IBM stands at the forefront of a worldwide industry to lead the next phase of change revolutionizing the way in which businesses work and grow. With rapid changes in the technology landscape and open source movement, top-down approach is no longer being followed in organizations and developers are now playing role in the entire technology eco-system. Cloud related technologies are a boon for the developers and the barrier to entry has become limited.

IBM, as a part of the ‘Developer Relations Group‘ works with clients, students, developers, startups amd support them in understanding technology, helping them and get their job done effectively. Seema Kumar leads the IBM Developer Relations group which is a part of the IBM Digital Business group. We had a chat with Seems Kumar about IBM’s eco-system efforts, its involvement with startups, role of Watson in shaping up AI industry, etc. So, let’s get started with the Q&A…

Every organization is involved with top tier institutes, what are some of the steps that IBM Evangelism team is taking in order to connect with the student community in lesser known institutes ?

Every student is important to us, irrespective of whether the student is from IIT/IIM or from colleges that are located in tier-2/tier-3 cities. This is mainly because lot of innovation is happening from universities that do not carry the IIT/IIM tag. Students from these colleges are continually learning and the credit goes to the low barrier to entry. IBM has a developer platform called OnTheHub where any university can enroll, students get IBM Credits and they can also use IBM tools for software development.

In some colleges, we also have some development courses as a part of the curriculum where we train faculty members on Watson, Chatbots, AI, etc. and most of the association is with tier-2 institutes.

What are some of the initiatives that IBM is taking to connect with the startup and the entreprenurial community in India [be it TiE, NASSCOM, etc.] ?

Startup eco-system in India is very vibrant. IBM works directly with startups as well as with other partners. IBM has partnered with TiE, NASSCOM 10000, etc. where in some cases, IBM participates in community events.

In case of NASSCOM 10K, IBM works with startups where we monitor and mentor them. Our programme is called as Global Entrepreneur Programme [GEG], there are different plans namely Standard, Basic and Premium Plan. IBM has been actively involved in mentoring startups across different sectors like EdTech, HealthCare, etc. from technology, business expansion, market readiness, etc. point of view.

More than 200 startups are working with IBM  in the technology space. In fact, lot of startups are using Watson API’s for building meaningful apps around Chatbots. For example, a startup that we are mentoring built a chatbot named ValleyBot to identify fake news and they are getting good amount of traction.

There are lot of cloud solutions available in the market, what are some of the major advantages for moving to the IBM cloud [both from the developer as well as enterprise perspective] ?

IBM has various solutions for different audiences. IBM’s cloud offering is a combination of Public, Private and Hybrid cloud. As a matter of fact, lot of apps available in the existing data centers are not cloud ready i.e. Even if they are migrated to the cloud, they cannot capitalize on the benefits of virtualization, effective resource utilization, etc. Cloud solutions from IBM helps you build cloud native applications. Developers are always on the look-out for their own choice of technologies.

IBM Cloud is a Platform As a Service [PAAS] offering that has various API’s for different programming languages. Choice, flexibility to use what developers want and the way they want are some of the key differentiators. Most of the apps of the future would have some sort of cognitive capabilities built into it and Natural Language Processing [NLP], visual recognition features to build conversation interfaces would be some of the basic building blocks to build a cognitive application. These features are available in the Watson APIs and using these APIs, apps are enterprise ready from day one of development!

To summarize, choice of catalogue, breadth of services, flexibility to choose between Public/Private/Hybrid cloud and ability to build secure, cognitive, enterprise ready software on the cloud are some of the inherent advantages.

Image Source – Seema Kumar

Can you comment on Chatbots and what are some of the core ingredients of a Chatbot kind of application ?

Context of conversation and Intent are very important ingredients in building a Chatbot and hence, training & design of the oervall interface are very important factors when building a Chatbot. Watson APIs are very powerful and are specifically designed by keeping these important factors in mind. With every interaction, learning happens and it gets better with more data.

There is buzz about Blockchain, what according to you are some of the ideal use-cases where Blockchain might be useful for a ‘Digitally Growing’ like India ?

Blockchain as a technology is constantly evolving and it is definitely here to stay. Blockchain offers powerful Usecases for any usecase that involves multiple parties and multiple transactions. In a nutshell, it is nothing but a distributed ledger. Initial usecases have obvisouly evolved in the Finance sector but Blockchain would be relevant in other sectors as well.

Blockchain when used in conjunction with IoT, lot of powerful usecases would eveolve. For example, IBM recently worked with the Mahindra Group to build a Blockchain solution for supply chain finance across India. This solution improved the transparency of overall operations. IBM also announced a Trade Finance platform using the IBM Blockchain platform that can be used by banks. Blockchain can also be extended across other sectors like Healthcare, Insurance, etc.

Your comments on Digital India and how IBM’s involvement in the overall journey ?

There is definitely a robust infrastructure in place with Aadhar API’s, eKYC, India Stack, UPI, etc. have led to a huge thrust in digital payments in India. As far as IBM is concerned, we work closely with iSpirt where we also participate as an eco-system partner.

India is a country with rich amount of data and this is where the aspect of Data Science becomes very critical as we need to draw valuable insights from the data. IBM has also tied-up with NASSCOM and Government Of Karnataka to build Center Of Excellence [COE] in Data Science where IBM will be the core technology partner. IBM will not only groom talent in data science but will also work on Proof Of Concept [POC] and support startups in that category.

What are some of the certifications that a student/professional can opt for, in order to gain expertise/know-how in Cognitive Computing, Machine Learning, Cloud Computing, IBM BlueMix, etc. ?

IBM has partnered with an EdTech partner where we launched Cognitive Class previously called as Big Data University. IBM has also tied-up with JigSaw Academy where they use IBM’s Big data expertise for all their courses. In the area of certification, IBM has partnered with Global Knowledge that offers on Cloud computing, DevOps, AI, etc.

There has been lot of scepticism that AI, Robotics & other ‘Automation/Machine related technologies’ would wipe off many jobs in future, what are your thoughts on the same and how can AI [and other technologies] go hand-in-hand with human jobs ?

Ginni Rometty, IBM CEO believes in three principles that are applicable in the cognitive era – Purpose, Transparency and Skills. The purpose of a cognitive app is to augment human intelligence and not to replace humans. Products and Services from IBM are built with this principle in mind and human intelligence is a key aspect.

IBM is helping human beings being more productive, realize their potential and focus on more important jobs rather than working on mundane & repetitive jobs. You must be clear as you build AI platforms how they are trained, and what data was used in training. When we talk about transparency, IBM has always been cognizant of data. AI platforms must be built with people in the industry and companies must prepare to train human workers on how to use these tools to their advantage.

We thank Seema Kumar for sharing her insights with our readers and walking us through the awesome work done by IBM for shaping up the developer ecosystem. If you have any questions for Seema about Watson, Chatbots, how solutions from IBM can accelerate your development, etc. please share them via a comment to this article.

SharkID, the Smart Phonebook app, achieved 1 lakh downloads; with their network database zooming past 1,75 cr. A bootstrapped StartUp with capital investment of $ 2 million, SharkID is a joint venture between e-Procurement Technologies and Silver Touch Technologies, founded by Ramesh Sinha, a technocrat and serial entrepreneur.

SharkID is a smart phonebook app backed by a highly scalable Service-oriented architecture with full stack technology, SharkID deploys a Big data Database Mongo and Redis for storage and Encrypted streaming for data security.

Speaking on the occasion, Ramesh Sinha, Founder – SharkID, said

Crossing a lakh downloads is a defining moment for SharkID. It reaffirms our core belief; that, given a best-of-breed, secure and smarter technology, User migration is inevitable. Every smartphone User will migrate to a smarter, easier and meshed experience, if someone provides it. And that is precisely what we do.

When 50,000 network connections get added every day and they zoom to 1.75 cr, it validates our belief many times over and is testimony to our technical array expertise and user experience. SharkID stands committed to provide bleeding-edge technology support and a secure, user immersive experience.

Elaborating further, he added

SharkID is geared to provide an immersive experience – based on your usage and communication pattern, our data analytics pack will smart-search for you and refer people with whom you can network. Added to this, you can also check your connects to the persons suggested, tightening the reference cycle and generating productive conversations.

Currently the company plans to deepen the user experience and expand the userpool across India to 10 million by March 2019

About Shark Identity Private Ltd

Shark Identity Private Ltd is a JV between Silvertouch Technologies and eProcurement technologies. A bootstrapped startup founded by Ramesh Sinha and Jignesh Patel, SharkID aims to replace physical visiting cards with digital cards over the next few years.  For more information, please visit SharkID

With business processes becoming more human centric in their ways to deal transactions, it has become crucial for entities to invest in corporate travel – a key operational business activity for Indian enterprises as they visit clients, suppliers and investors and pursue the ongoing aim of building their business both domestically and internationally. However, a recent study done by the CFO Innovations Asia reveals that as large as 74% organisations have more than 21 people that travel on business purpose on a regular basis leading to a need for greater visibility and control over the travel and expenses process.

Indian enterprises are at a tipping point of technology adoption in terms of managing their Travel and Expenses [T&E] expenditure. Organisations deploying automatic T&E processes, have an in-house platform and are not linked to any cloud-based architecture. The present system for Travel and Expense function cites difficulties in obtaining more granular information on individual employee patterns of usage and compliance, and a lack of flexibility in obtaining best pricing for hotels, car rental and airline costs.

Compliance and showcasing information ready for the audit process happens to be other relevant challenges that this industry needs to overcome at the earliest. With successful cloud adoption, systems and processes for the travel business in organisation will see a streamline of operations, resulting in a greater compliance, visibility and control to deliver better data management to senior managers, and also into improving the audit process. This is where Concur, a SaaS company providing travel and expense management services to businesses is creating a dent in the T&E space. We spoke with Neeraj Dotel, Managing Director, India and SAARC Concur around the current challenges that is faced by the Travel and Expense industry in the market and how cloud adoption can act as a transforming wave in the T&E sector. So let’s get started with the Q&A…

Note : ‘I’ in the interview refers to Neeraj Dotel.

Can you give a brief introduction about yourself and some insights into Concur India

Am currently working as the Managing Director for Concur Technologies for its India and SAARC operations. Prior to Concur, I have worked with Compuware as their MD for a period of 3 years and earlier before that, I was associated with Microsoft in different roles for almost 11 years.

With more than 21 years’ experience in sales and marketing overall, my expertise also lies in financial services and technological transformations in the banking sector.  In my current role, I have been helping Concur diversify its business in India.

Concur, n SAP company, is a global leader in travel and expense management and is in its fifth year of operations in India. Our founder is of Indian origin and along with Mike Eberhard our President, we are very passionate about our focus in the country. We are continuously increasing our presence in India with stronger investments and in roads.

We have setup the Bengaluru delivery centre with over a thousand employees working there. India is an evolving market for the travel and expense segment and one of the top 20 markets for business travel globally. The estimated expenditure last year on business travel alone was $33 bn and expected to grow at double digit rates [Source]. Eyeing this opportunity, we have been planning several investments around business travel through booking websites, with the recent one being an equity investment in Cleartrip.

Concur has helped companies to recover Input Tax Credit taking companies of all sizes and stages beyond automation to a completely connected spend management solution encompassing travel, expense, invoice, compliance and risk. In India, post GST implementation, Indian companies have become very sensitive towards their employees and clients. Customer experience and bottom of the pyramid is the most crucial element here. Indian enterprises are looking out for methods to reduce investments and operational costs, at the same time provide a superlative employee experience. We tend to leverage this, and provide them with tools that cater to the aspirational needs of their employees and ensure business growth in the process.

Even in large MNC’s in India, the Business Travel & Expense Management is not yet automated [i.e. still there is lot of paper work involved], how can Concur help such organizations so that they can take the Digital leap in the T&E process ?

Digital transformation is not just a process but a philosophy of business. It is a drive to make a complete paperless economy. It impacts a CFO’s job in terms of expense visibility, employee productivity and policy compliance. About 98% of business travellers in India feel that it is painful to not only deal with the stress of travel but also with the stress of claiming expenses.

We at Concur believe that digital transformation of an organization should be such that it is easy and intuitive to use and the people using it should be able to reap its benefits. We provide these CFOs with advanced solutions that automatically synchronise their financial data of the entire spend process. The automation of these processes enhances the experience of business travel, reduces time, and increases transparency and visibility. Our intention is to become the most preferred application for business travel and expense management. We abide by the philosophy that you cannot save what you cannot see, and try to deliver on the same lines.

Can you touch upon the current scenario of Travel & Expense industry, especially from an Indian perspective ?

The travel and expense industry is evolving in response to the growth of mobile technology. Travel professionals are realising that they need to modernize their tools and programs for improved efficiency. A study by GBTA foundation, explores that direct booking behaviour in employees is becoming increasingly popular, with nearly 40% of business travellers regularly contacting the suppliers directly. Employees are sometimes not satisfied with company-preferred tools and therefore they are adopting a self-service approach.

Companies realising this are now looking towards integrating mobile technology and corporate travel processes, realising the importance of implementation of streamlined solutions to cater to the needs and requirements of their employees, to ensure the safety and security of employees, especially those traveling on behalf of the company and minimise cost. When it comes to corporate travel, Duty of Care is an important business challenge. The Business Travel Show 2017 forecast reveals Duty of Care as one of the top concerns for organizations in managing business travel, along with curbing spends and enforcing compliance [Source]. Duty of Care is defined by organisational culture and the local context under which an organisation operates. In all of Asia, as also in India, relationships with co-workers are highly valued.

Another trend is that many business travellers are using ride sharing services – Uber, Ola and shared accommodation like Airbnb, while on a business trip. The sharing economy is a big push towards being business relevant. Through our robust travel and expense management solution, Concur is providing clients with greater control and application of travel policies, and enabling seamless processes through an integration of Concur’s online booking tool and travel request authorisation.

Concur now offers access to low cost carriers like IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir along with hotel options like Accor and Airbnb, all of which is absent in traditional channels. With disruption present in every sphere of business today, the relevance of a sharing economy is also growing considerably.

What are some of the major advantages of taking the T&E to the cloud [using solutions from Concur] and how would it benefit [in terms of savings] to the organization adopting your solution ?

The most basic advantage for companies to take travel and expense to the cloud is to reduce the cost of operations. The traditional methods of capex investments, building your own solutions, and customising is not just complicated,  but also consumes a lot of time and money. Concur’s idea is to make travel and expense management easier. Our innovative solutions improve customer experience for the modern business traveller. We integrate the T&E process to give managers visibility, compliance and control over expenses. It enables you to compare spend data, analyse cash flow and eliminate any errors. It’s not just about automation, we also care about the customer’s needs as well, understanding the relevancy of the approach to be taken.

One of the major issues that companies face while dealing with Travel Expenses is ‘Submission of Fake Bills’ from employees, how does moving to the cloud curb such malpractices by employees ?

A research conducted by Concur observed that 20% of expense reports submitted have some problem or other which might be a compliance default or a fraud or fake bill that caused it. In India the risk is higher because we are also operating with hand written bills, which are admissible most of the time. An employee can easily use this to get wrong bills into the system. So, the magnitude of the problem is huge and we believe that if a solution like ours is not adopted to manage those bills and eliminate errors for on the T&E process. Inflating bills or submitting forged bills which happen in every company, whether it’s unintentional or intentional which eventually exposes the company to litigation and fraud of things.

Concur captures expenses which prevents unintentional padding [inflating expenses] and there is no scope of inaccuracy. Additionally, certain things cannot be captured at source, especially fraud analytics, however, we have invested in a technology that analyses the patterns and numbers that people are putting in the expense reports with regards to the point of events.

There are various ways by which Concur curbs padding, such as manager and auditor approval, or keeping track of bills and tickets. Employees who do not have receipts will have to submit an affidavit which has to also go through the approval process. Lastly, we have app centre partners who provide sophisticated recording of journals and study and detect the patterns by tracking the actual number of miles travelled through synchronization with google maps. So, this is the sense of promise and vision we offer to our clients.

Neeraj Dotel, MD – Concur (India)

There are lot of fin-tech startups that are integrating payments, T&E, Insurance/Finance services, etc. into a single product, how does Concur plan to stay ahead of its competition in terms of innovation and adaptability ?

Mobile micro services is the next big thing with the ability to capture expenses at source and the ability to sync with your email and Outlook calendars. Gaining popularity amongst Indian enterprises, it will be the next big tool in business travel. Concur provides an integrated approach towards management, tracking and evaluating employee expenses. For example, hotels, airline ticketing and conveyance. We have partnered with 100 plus service providers globally and in India which includes financial integrators, payment companies, hotel and restaurants, travel management companies, cab aggregators and ground transportation companies to benefit our customers.

In the Indian context, we presume to have spreadsheets as our only competitor. Spreadsheets are typically adopted by companies who haven’t understood the concept of spend management and not figured out a way to optimize cost. Concur proposes an array of solutions to ease the management process: Invoice Capture using

SAP Leonardo

The tool helps to capture expense at its source, by letting the end user capture invoice data real time and provides a wide scale accuracy.

Expenselt Pro App

The tool has the ability to leverage several data points [card data along with OCR, user history, company history etc.] to analyse the type of expense when formulating expense reports.

Fraud Detection Analytics with Concur App centre partner Oversight

Oversight proprietary software applies multidimensional artificial intelligence techniques to monitor and report on the behaviour related to cardholders, merchants, spend categories and items purchased. The tool detects risk activity including unusual spend patterns, duplicate expenses, split transactions and suspicious out-of- pocket expenses.

Rocketrip: Real-time pricing algorithm technology

Rocketrip gives employees real time budgets and allows them to save from the estimated budget. The algorithm tracks actual prices for transportation and incorporates this information with the available budget. It provides the company with insights and analytics about travel spend, irrespective of which travel site used by the employee for booking.

Mileage Rate Service

With Concur Drive, employees will be able to automatically capture the routes travelled using GPS. The user can set days/times in order to capture their mileage. They are then provided a log of mileage that they can select the trips they wish to expense. This is seen as a huge time-saver for employees while granting approvers visibility into actual mileage and hence prevent misuse and padding.

Your views on Digital India and how that movement has paved the way for automation in Travel, Expense, Invoicing, etc.

India is in the throes of a digital transformation with digital adoption spanning all businesses across the corporate spectrum. IDC reports that work process automation in companies is leading to increased employee productivity, more cost savings and reduced time spent on expense management with a lesser propensity for errors. Automation is also resulting in better compliance practices in organizations through efficient management. A recent CFO Innovation Asia Study reveals that in India, about 39% organizations are fully automated, with online processes for employee travel and expense [Source]. Around 23% organizations use a mix of methods for travel and expense, indicating that automation is catching up in India.

Digital transformation is positively impacting the CFO’s job, in terms of value proposition, visibility, employee productivity and compliance. Concur is offering CFOs end-to-end solutions that automatically synchronize financial data across the entire employee spend process, from pre-spend approval to reconciliation. With Concur, companies can automate expenses and streamline business travel, save their employees’ time, and have more visibility into important line items, helping them focus on what matters most.

There are still lot of issues with GST [both implementation and understanding based], how does Concur support its customers to make their Bill Submission, Invoicing and other processes smoother and less time consuming ?

We have dealt with countries with similar tax reforms such as Canada, Australia, and UK and do understand the pain points associated with tax reforms. We have built experience of 38,500 customers across the globe in over 60 countries. We keep ourselves very well prepared and with the tax reforms.

With GST in India, we have been constantly responding to the need of our customers and guiding them on the impact of GST on T&E and the efficient use of budget. With end-to-end spend transparency, companies can uncover insights that lend to more effective spend management. As a result, business leaders can make smarter and more informed decisions.

We thank  Neeraj Dotel for sharing his insights with our readers. If your organization is planning to adopt the more tech-savvy route to T&E functions, please have a look at Concur. If you have any questions for Neeraj or the Concur Team, please email them here or share them via a comment to this article.