Procurement Organizations Turn to Uber For Business As the App Adds Features

Many know Uber as the dominant “app” for ground transportation in their personal lives. However, corporate procurement administrators and employees are increasingly turning to Uber as well instead of calling a black car company or hailing a taxi. Spend Matters has covered Uber for Business extensively in recent months (see our initial coverage here and here), including analyzing its current features and talking about the capabilities we would like to see added in the future.

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Uber appears fast at work in building out some of the easier items on our “wish list” including offering a down payment on some of the more full-featured T&E-type administration capabilities we want to see in the application to enable administrators to set and manage policies and permissions. Consider that last week marked the latest release of Uber for Business (to coincide with the major ground transportation conference) and the updated GA version included new capabilities to allow administrators to configure policies when users can take Uber and expense it to the business.

On it’s blog, Uber said:

We are adding new policy controls within the Uber for Business dashboard that allow company administrators to customize their Uber ride policy so it’s tailor-made to suit the needs of their business and their employees. With these controls, administrators can fine-tune the day, time and pick up location of pre-approved Uber trips, and the rules are automatically applied in their employee’s Uber app. These features automate the process of ensuring that only in-policy trips are taken on the Uber for Business account. And more controls are coming soon.”

In practice, this first round of policy control capabilities works as follows:

  • A company may set a policy that payment options for corporate expensing will appear in certain time windows (e.g., Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.), and during this time, a user could expense an Uber trip directly to a corporate card
  • Under this example, a user might take a trip on Thursday at 2:00 p.m. and it would fall within policy and they would have the choice of selecting the “Business” option for immediate expensing and reconciliation
  • If the same user tried to take a trip on Friday night with their Uber application, only their personal card payment option would work

These permissions within Uber for Business are currently limited to date, time and pick up location – not car type, surge pricing, country, city, distance, weather or other type of considerations. But they no doubt represent the start of more permissions and controls to follow and generally toward a more configurable and manageable solution for administrators that will allow all trips to fall within policy, stopping maverick Uber or ground transportation spending before it even happens.

An Uber spokesman told Spend Matters that the company is continuing its “iterative” roll outs of Uber for Business and has a “dedicated team” behind development. The same spokesman also provided the following update on Uber for Business adoption to Spend Matters:

  • “Tens of thousands of businesses” have signed up for Uber for Business
  • Uber for Business trips have taken place in more than 200 cities and 54 countries
  • 35% of trips thus far have taken place in International Uber cities
  • 1 in every 20 business riders has already taken a trip in more than one country

Spend Matters will continue to cover Uber for Business and the ground transportation market for corporate travel.

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