Uber for Business: Features We’d Like to See Today (and Tomorrow)

Earlier this week, Spend Matters provided background coverage on the various components of Uber for Business – a packaged, targeted T&E solution for employee ground transportation. In the story, we also explored usage/adoption trends for Uber for Business and partnerships since Uber launched the offering in July of 2014, including its integration with Concur, the leading T&E provider by market share.

But what might Uber for Business offer in the future? Here are some ideas that the Spend Matters research team came up with that we’d like to see embedded in the toolset for corporate travel. We have divided our recommendations and ideas into 4 areas: for procurement and travel managers, for the business traveler, core technology (e.g., T&E features, integration and reporting) and “beyond the road.”

For Procurement and Travel Managers

  • Reconciliation against contracts – up-front discounts or rebate programs based on committed annual spend volumes – matching both individual transaction compliance as well as overall spend and the triggers as thresholds are reached
  • Pre-negotiated rates – this could include company-by-company rates or participation in group purchasing organizations (GPOs) with discount or rebate structures for members
  • Premier program bundles – reference United's “Global Services” offering for top corporate travellers as well as executives of larger companies that commit to Uber for Business for their employees – could include free upgrades to UberBlack, concierge phone support, etc.
  • Additional risk/insurance provisions – for contracts with committed spend (to mitigate the perception that Uber isn't as "safe" (i.e., insurance limits) as other modes of transportation)
  • Rider pools – support for “private fleets” (e.g., employees that might ride-share within a company)
  • Supplier diversity – driver pools could be used for diverse suppliers, or the ability to roll-up individual diverse spending (based on driver onboarding and potentially other pre-qualification by Uber) to count toward minority/small business diversity goals
  • Courier services – "UberCargo" – why stop at moving people? Local courier support in all markets for hourly or same-day delivery and corporate gifts. Likely limited to small parcel service delivery done locally – but could augment the services of firms like UPS and FedEx. (We actually thought of this independently, but Uber did as well – Uber Cargo is being tested in Hong Kong)

For the Business Traveler

  • Book ahead feature – Spend Matters research suggests that business travelers want certainty in their planned pickups – especially early in the morning (before meetings, or departures), or late in the afternoon (heading back to the airport)
  • Favorites – a set of preferred drivers for certain trips (e.g., early morning airport runs). As with limo/black car companies, the personal relationship with a driver or set of key drivers goes a long way to keeping “frequent shoppers” happy
  • Messaging – the ability to communicate with your preferred driver(s) – which could include desktop or mobile integration with popular messaging tools
  • Detailed preferences – the ability to load preferences for a driver to see (e.g., specific pick up spot such as a driveway, pick up notes such as “do not call before 5:00 a.m. upon arrival”)
  • Frequent rider status – with benefits such as a “beat the taxi line” feature that provides some type of preference based on overall usage including matching with top drivers for top corporate users (reference the "Global Services" comment above)
  • Green feel-good opportunities (aka CSR) – socially-driven cost savings and business interaction features. These might include finding your corporate peers, too, since they are in Uber or might be requesting an Uber at the same time, in order to share a ride. Could track greenhouse gas reduction results – versus driving in a fleet average car, or maybe even against your personal vehicle, or normally rented car

T&E Features, Integration and Reporting – Core Technology

  • MyUber – "Uber for IBM or XYZ, Inc." Uber might want to “personalize the skins” for corporate use, and the personalization might even be a nice feature that migrates from B2B to B2C down the road
  • Maverick travelers – exception management, workflow and routing, such as alerts that go to someone based on non-compliant activity (e.g., using non p-card for settlement)
  • Duty of care – additional duty of care compliance features such as alerting when employees are using Uber in countries, regions or cities with warnings or advisories for political, terrorism, weather or other risk factors (slightly tenuous regarding some risks as it would require Uber to be active in high-risk countries – but clearly applicable to natural disasters and weather events)
  • Spend analysis – continuing to build off integration to a preferred payment card or travel card and access to Level 3 p-card reporting data that could be uploaded to a spend cube environment or analyzed within Uber (see below)
  • Dashboards – an embedded analytics dashboard/environment for procurement and corporate travel managers that provides graphical views of reporting information (e.g., historical information, non-compliant activities, recommended savings strategies)
  • Expense reporting API or export – the ability to download trip details to a data format accepted by your preferred expense management application besides Concur; would require integration with T&E apps including Deem, Coupa, Databasics, Expensify and TriNet (and other PEO T&E tools)
  • CSR impact tracker – green and other savings calculators (based on shared rides and other beneficial CSR elements)
  • Meta data and benchmarks – a “big data” offering that uses aggregate information from all corporate users to recommend specific strategies for getting additional value from the Uber for Business solution; could include cost/price benchmarking and related insights

The Sky’s the Limit

We’ll come right out and ask the question: Why stop with cars?

Let’s get radical for a moment.

Uber is essentially a project management and bi-directional asset tracking solution based on the use case of finding a resource, managing the geospatial aspects, and some general POS (point of sale) functions. It’s nicely packaged into a smartphone application and now with a business application wrapper.

But will Uber make a play outside rubber and asphalt? Its technology could be OEM'd for general resource tracking and even the requisitioning of local resources via cellphones. For example, help me find:

  • Farm/yard workers
  • Temporary workers
  • Store assistants
  • Valets
  • Bell hops/concierges

Whenever you have (especially waged labor) resources – where are they? Who's closest to me, what's their specialty (language, technical skills, etc.)? Once you have started engaging with someone (e.g., an assistant in Lowe's kitchen planning department), there might be an ongoing project need to instant message back and forth regarding content and project updates that is less suited to email than to a project-specific app. For example, when is this assistant in the office (in case of sample reviews) and how to send updates without fighting phone and email queues? In the end, it’s about everything to enhance the client experience.

And finally, let us suggest the business use case of physical security. Uber could also enter the physical security side of businesses, government facilities and schools even. The cellphones could feature integrated swipe card scans (proximity based) and obviously come with position tracking, add a Bluetooth tie-in to a biometric sensor on the wrist, a la an Apple or Samsung Watch and the bio profile should let the system validate at a reasonably high degree of accuracy who actually holds the equipment. This could all be done via smartphones – and would work as well in the US as in Vietnam, maybe even better overseas where smartphone use is even more ubiquitous.

You can probably tell that we’re quite excited about Uber’s prospects in corporate procurement and travel management in the future. As with Amazon, it’s our gut that they’ll prove to be one of the surprise “disrupters” in the procurement technology sector.


See related Spend Matters PRO Research:

Concur and Procurement: Looking to the Future and Innovation Today

Understanding “Duty of Care” When Managing Corporate Travel: T&E Meets Risk Management (Part 1)

Identifying And Responding to Risks Faced By A Global Workforce: T&E Meets Risk Management (Part 2)

Tying up T&E Loose Ends: T&E Meets Risk Management (Part 3)

Concur and SAP/Ariba: Customer and Partner/Ecosystem Analysis and Recommendations

Reporting on Fusion 2014 and Concur’s Impressive T&E Solution

SAP Buys Concur: Cultural Fit, Scale, Target Customers and More

Why SAP Should — Or Should Not — Buy Concur

Learning From T&E: Coupa, Xpenser, and Expense Submission Serendipity

Amazon.com vs. Ariba: The B2B Merchant Experience to Procurement is in for a Storm of Change

AmazonSupply: The Supplier/Merchant Experience Shows Why Grainger Should be Worried

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