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Business Transformation in Action

Joe McKendrick

Can Social Networking Make the Expense Reporting Process Fun Again?

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Topping the list of hated and dreaded business processes, right up there with tax preparation, collections and outplacement, is expense reporting. Mobile and somewhat mobile employees need to document where they've been and what they spent money on and why (with lots of fudging), and their managers and accounting departments need to act as enforcers and police officers to make sure there isn't too much fudge in the mix. Was that $600 dinner necessary?  Did this salesperson really call on 25 accounts that day? 

Enter social networking, which could add an interesting new dimension to the expense reporting process. In particular, I've picked up some chatter that Foursquare -- in which participants "check in" at any given location -- is not only one more plaything for the socially obsessed. Just check out Robert Scoble's over-the-top dinner experience, in which he checks into social networks before, during and after his meal.

Location-based services such as Foursquare actually leave a verifiable trail for the purpose of verifying business travel. Is this something a business could use, or is it an example of another goofy social networking offering that everyone will have forgotten about in a couple of years?  Have the folks at Foursquare considered such an enterprise twist to their service?

Are there other social networking or cloud tools that could enhance mundane business processes, make them more transparent and interactive, and make kind of fun?  Tweet locations could be another option that aids in expense report tracking. Consider how the visual mashups made possible by Google Maps and others added a whole new dimension to business performance reporting.  Or, it's possible to log in receipts as they're generated via iPhone. 

Anyone have other ideas?

In this blog (formerly known as "SOA in Action"), Joe McKendrick examines how BPM and related business and IT approaches can promote business transformation.

Joe McKendrick

Joe McKendrick is an author and independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. View more


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