Spend Matters 50/50: Uber for Business – A Provider to Watch in 2015

100 companies - 100 days

Truly disruptive supplier business models in the supply community and procurement don’t always go together – at least at first. After all, procurement, by nature, should be conservative when it comes to creating any new type of risk for the business (unless the business is chartering it to do so)!

But Uber for Business, a B2B and T&E/travel focused offering that includes a management dashboard for overseeing employee ground transportation spend, may be a cart that procurement organizations want to get in front of – before the horse (or the taxi mule) pulls away from the station.

In fact, one could argue Uber for Business actually reduces risk and improves compliance over alternatives. For this reason and others, Uber for Business deserves a spot on our Spend Matters 50/50 Providers to Watch list. Consider:

  • Uber for Business has taken a grounds-up business model (get users downloading an app on a smartphone and provide a free application for procurement organizations to manage spend better than it was previously) and attempted to shake up an existing ecosystem while also providing new levels of visibility and control into ground spending activity.
  • Uber is innovating fast, such as adding permissions and controls to the application to insure that trips fall within a date, time and pickup location window to be eligible to be expensed.
  • The solution already provides reporting and controls that Uber enables through its T&E ground application for procurement and corporate travel departments. It’s basic but provides far better control and visibility than a procurement would ever have over employees taking taxis or even renting cars.
  • Usage is, well, surging. When we last checked with Uber in March, “tens of thousands of businesses” had signed up for Uber for Business and trips had taken place in 200 cities and 54 countries (in fact, 1 in every 20 business riders has already taken a trip in more than one country).

Procurement organizations have nothing to lose in investigating Uber for Business. After all, it’s free. Download it. And put it on your “one to watch” and investigate list.

And finally, to humor yourself, if you think Uber for Business “adds risk” to the ground transportation equation, pause for a moment and consider the chance of whether the larger taxi medallion owners your employees are riding in the cars of would pass an FCPA audit?

We wouldn’t hail that one from a mile away …

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