Travel and Technology: Are you ready for the future?

“This year will bring a renewed focus on how different businesses, applications and technologies can work together for the benefit of the end user.”


My interest in technology was realised when I was at University studying for my masters. I spent my time researching machine learning, data science and artificial intelligence. As a result, I’m always interested to see how technology is changing the way we do business. Of course, working for Concur, travel is a major focus for me. So, now the mince pies have been eaten, crackers pulled and presents unwrapped, I wonder – what does the future hold for travel technology?


Well, my biggest bet for 2017 is artificial intelligence (AI). Currently, AI supplements our working life by speeding up previously complex or manual processes. Although useful, is this really taking full advantage of what AI can do? Artificial intelligence has – wrongly in my opinion – been approached with trepidation. Worse case scenarios like the sentient computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey and the conscious humanoid from I, Robot seem to stick firmly in some people’s minds. Slowly though, this is changing as the benefits of AI in the workplace are being realised and the scare stories are being left behind in fiction.


And let’s be clear, it’s not about replacing people with machines. It’s about enabling people to be more efficient. For example, a recent study from Accenture and Frontier Economics found labour productivity dramatically increases when supported by AI. It’s one of the reasons why last year, Concur acquired Hipmunk - a leader in travel search, AI and personalised planning for frequent travellers. For us, it’s a fantastic opportunity to turn preferences into actionable insights and help business travellers be more productive.


I also believe this year will bring a renewed focus on how different businesses, applications and technologies can work together for the benefit of the end user. People want technology to work seamlessly together. I wouldn’t buy an iPhone if I couldn’t sync it with a Windows PC or run any Google applications on it. Businesses need to put their customers first and be willing to collaborate so their technology works in harmony with others. It’s why we have an open platform supporting an ecosystem of partner applications. This includes an app centre that unites innovative ideas from a range of technology companies, including some now using AI, for the benefit of Concur customers.


Ultimately, these ideas are but a glimpse into the future of travel technology. If you have ideas to share, or suggestions on what you would like to see from Concur Travel, please get in touch as I’d love to hear from you.



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