ExpenseMatters : The Source for Expense Management

Interview with CyberShift

By on September 29, 2009 in Interviews with 0 Comments

Expense Interview Series by Cary Strange: Interview #3 -CyberShift

Today, we have the pleasure of speaking with Craig Fearon of CyberShift. Craig, thank you for taking part in our interview series. To get started, could you provide some basic information about your company?
CyberShift is a leading provider of workforce and expense management software and services focused on helping mid-sized to large, complex organizations improve organizational performance and profitability. Our expense solution, CyberShift ExpenseTM, automates the processing and facilitates the management of employee business expenses such as travel and entertainment and helps companies improve compliance, enforce expense policies and procedures and increase visibility into operations. Through our integrated Workforce Management 3GTM suite, which includes time and attendance, advanced scheduling and reporting and analytics, companies can more effectively plan, manage and deploy their workforces, reduce costs and improve processes across business operations.

You are clearly viewed as one of the market leaders with respect to expense, especially in the enterprise space. What do you recognize as your primary and secondary target markets, and why?
We target mid- to large-size global enterprise clients for both our workforce and expense management automation solutions. In terms of the minimum number of expense reports, we look for several hundred per month at the lower end of the range and into the tens of thousands of reports per month at the higher end. The reason we’re an ideal provider for these markets relates to our product’s configurability. CyberShift Expense is so flexible that it allows us to meet the needs of large multi-nationals and smaller companies, all with one solution. It delivers the full range of features and functionality that companies in these markets require. Our solution supports very complex workflows out of the box so we have the support and capabilities to help large multi-nationals – especially those with geographically dispersed workforces across multiple, distinct business units – without customization.

It appears that there are quite a few players offering expense technology solutions. What separates your company from other companies providing similar products & services?
There’s no doubt about what separates CyberShift from other vendors. We’re the one expense management vendor that also has Human Capital Management (HCM) capabilities. By that, I mean we have a breadth of offerings that differentiate us from other expense vendors because we also offer workforce management. As a result, companies relying on CyberShift are able to better manage their two largest employee expenditures: labor and travel expenses.

Another key difference between CyberShift and other vendors is the depth and breadth of our partnerships. We’re very focused on our core functionality and forge long-standing relationships with best-of-breed vendors to round out our functionality. An example would be our receipts digital filing for receipts imaging – we’ve partnered with industry leaders to help provide that functionality.

CyberShift Expense was the first enterprise EMA vendor to offer support for mobile workers. We continue to maintain and develop our edge for the BlackBerry smartphone platform. We enable the untethered worker to do work wherever they are. CyberShift Expense Mobile Edition allows business travelers to create expense reports and approvers to review and act on expense reports directly from their BlackBerry smartphone. In the future, we will be supporting additional mobile platforms.

Very well stated. This approach is definitely different than what I have been exposed to by some of the other vendors in the interview series. So, what are some specific key product differentiators that provide you with a distinct advantage over your competitors?
From a product standpoint, there’s a long list of differentiators that provide CyberShift with a distinct advantage over other vendors. First, although there are a number of players in the expense space, few cater to mid- to large global clients. That’s because their solutions lack the depth of functionality, flexibility and scalability available with CyberShift Expense.

Second, we’re an open solution. We don’t force clients into a specific online tool or travel management company for travel booking. The way that we’ve built our travel booking integration enables clients to integrate with any online booking tool or travel management company. Our primary competitor forces an itinerary to populate an expense report. In theory, this model makes sense but in practice, it is a different story. For example, most companies encourage their business travelers to book airfare 2-4 weeks in advance to get the best possible rates. When this happens, the traveler is forced to break their itinerary into multiple expense reports – first for the airfare, which is expensed when it is purchased and then in a separate report the hotel and car rental transactions that are only expensed when they are incurred. The major issue here is that the population of the itinerary into the expense report makes the business traveler work more and think about what should be expensed when. Using our approach, the business traveler simply creates an expense report based on their actual expenses incurred on their corporate card transaction that are easily and quickly populated into CyberShift Expense. In the background, the data from the travel management company and from CyberShift Expense is consolidated, thus giving clients access to booked vs actual reporting. In working with our clients, prospects and partners, we consistently hear that the value created by travel booking and expense integration is access to the data for reporting and analysis purposes. Our approach has delivered to the market a solution to the business problem of analyzing what has been booked vs what has actually been spent.

Third, CyberShift Expense is a global solution; as a multi-currency, multi-language product, we have a wide range of support for different tax scenarios, as well as policies and rules for different local, regional and countries.

Lastly, we’ve designed our solution with the end user business traveler in mind. CyberShift Expense is easy-to-use and very flexible. It requires minimum keystrokes for expense report creation and minimum training for your business travelers. Business travelers will have a varying degree of familiarity and experience with web-based applications therefore providing these users with a simple intuitive and easy to use interface is key to adoption and success of the implementation.

What are the most important questions that a company (looking for a solution) should ask before selecting an expense management provider?
When selecting an expense management solution provider, make sure to ask the vendor if they can give you a product demonstration with your own data. Some vendors have “canned” demos that don’t provide buyers with meaningful insight into how the solution will really work for them. Also, checking usability is crucial; the business traveler will have to buy into the solution to ensure a successful implementation. The ease of use and intuitiveness of the selected solution should be evaluated as closely as the feature and functionality that the solution offers. Lastly, it’s important to understand how holistically your vendor is able to view major business expenditures such as expense and labor costs. Selecting an expense management provider with workforce management capabilities can help maximize the reach of the expense solution.

One of the most frequent questions we receive involve how the products are licensed and installed. What are your thoughts regarding the traditional licensing model versus the software as a service model (SaaS)? Which does your company provide and recommend?
Well, CyberShift is one of the few remaining vendors that offer both SaaS and on-premise models. Both of our models offer identical features and functionality – the only difference is where the application and data is hosted. In much the same way we have an open solution for travel booking, we believe in giving our clients a choice in terms of how the product is licensed and installed. The bottom line is that every decision should start with a financial and needs analysis to determine what the better option is for the respective organization. It’s not something that should be forced by the vendor.

Do you have any new customer or partner wins that you want to share with our audience? If so, why did they select your company or product?
We’re really excited about sharing the news of our alliances with MasterCard Worldwide and BMO Financial Group.

In the case of BMO, the partnership tackles a fundamental challenge in managing travel expenses – getting employees to submit accurate and timely accounts of what they have spent. By combining BMO’s corporate card solutions with CyberShift’s best-in-class expense management solution, employees can significantly reduce the time and effort required to complete their expense reports. This timely submission of expense reports drives immediate improvements in an organization’s ability to quickly and accurately monitor and control travel expenses.

With MasterCard, the alliance gives MasterCard issuers a compelling travel and expense management solution that they can offer to their corporate card customers. Through the combined capabilities of CyberShift and MasterCard, corporate card customers have access to a flexible expense management solution, open integration to travel booking systems of choice, superior travel and spend analytics, BlackBerry® smartphone support, digital receipts filing, hotel folio and enhanced corporate card data and much more, all delivered via a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or in-house model. MasterCard and CyberShift have partnered to allow joint clients to get more from their corporate card programs and realize an overall reduction in the costs associated with expense reporting.

This industry has been in a high growth mode for a couple of year now. What do you see happening with the industry, and the need for these types of solutions, over the next 12-18 months?
I definitely see that in the next couple of years that there will be more vendors that come together to offer joint solutions. Our relationship with MasterCard is a good example. Our market is maturing and hence customer requirements are becoming more complex. The easiest way to address this complexity is for vendors to partner to offer complimentary solutions and services. No one vendor can do everything therefore a best of breed approach is ideally suited for this market.

I believe that there will be an increased adoption of expense management applications on mobile platforms, especially the BlackBerry and iPhone. Since bandwidth is increasing and the technology and capabilities of the mobile devices are improving, more and more clients will be looking to equip their workforce with these devices instead of traditional laptops. In fact, we believe that mobile devices will become the main point of expense report creation in the near future.

I definitely foresee that there will be wider availability of hotel folio and augmented data from the corporate card providers in the near future as more and more customers make this a requirement from both their corporate card issuer and their vendors. The increased availability of this data will enhance usability, compliance and overall control for hotel, car rental and airfare spending particularly.

Thank you for taking the time to talk with us today. Is there anything that we have not talked about that you would like to discuss with our readers?
Companies are looking at broader business requirements, such as how systems will work together. They want to create a vision for their organizations, which is why our ability to deliver both expense management and workforce is such a significant differentiator. We invite your readers to look at CyberShift Expense – as well as our workforce management solutions – to see how a focused best-of-breed vendor can help your business maintain a competitive edge.

Craig, thanks again for the in-depth answers. I look forward to with anticipation to your next major announcements!

To all of our readers out there, if you have any additional questions or would like to speak with CyberShift about your T&E needs, please send me an email or contact CyberShift directly:
Dan Huber
Vice President, Sales
www.cybershift.com
(973)-364-0480 ext.3017
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