Business in the new normal: SAP Concur shares insights for 2021


As we approach 2021, SAP Concur’s global team of experts share valuable insights on business in the new normal. With significant changes expected to happen in almost all business sectors, these insights provide vital forecasts that enterprises of all sizes can use as a guideline in paving a path towards business resiliency and agility.

What business travel will look like in the new normal

According to SAP Concur experts, business travel will inevitably resume as key players in the industry explore new routes for ensuring safe and responsible travel. 

Here’s a picture of what travel will look like in 2021 and beyond as border restrictions ease:

  • Proof of COVID-19 health status – It is anticipated that those in the hospitality, travel, and tourism industries may require travelers to present negative COVID-19 test results or proof of vaccination—once it is broadly accessible—before being allowed to avail of services. 
  • Documentation on Health and safety compliance – To address two of the top concerns of global employees during a business trip (infecting their families and getting infected themselves), documentation on health and safety adoption and government guideline compliance may also be required.
  • Adoption of paperless boarding passes – Widespread use of digital boarding passes will become commonplace to reduce the risk of virus transmission.
  • Digital health passports and travel corridors – Travel corridors—which allow travelers to skip quarantine policies on self-isolating for 14 days upon returning—will become more prevalent in the new normal.

In addition to changes in the business travel sector, SAP Concur says that consumer travel will similarly look different with short trips no longer accessible in the way they were before the global pandemic hit. Longer trip durations will increasingly become more popular—for both business and leisure travelers. 

Consumer demands on sustainability

One of the positive effects of the pandemic is the decrease in carbon emissions. According to SAP Concur’s report, emissions are projected to be 8{8bf2b29f36318f0ac46ab1cc03d7035abce669a1cea16c9ed62389a818fa22fd} less this year compared to 2019. This has made a large number of consumers more conscious of climate change and environmental issues and has raised demands for businesses to rebuild with sustainability in mind.

SAP Concur experts outline that the following consumer demands will increase as travel resumes:

  • more effective seating layouts in aircrafts
  • use of low-carbon sustainable aviation fuel
  • eco-friendly hotel facilities and amenities
  • locally-sourced foods in restaurants
  • business solutions that track and offset emissions effectively

Accelerated digital transformations

As a result of the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on national economies, many businesses (both large and small) have had to pivot and accelerate their digital transformation projects. The increase in the use of new innovative technologies—such as artificial intelligence, IoT, and more— is expected to continue in the new normal. 

Automation will become essential according to SAP Concur experts. It is anticipated that potential disruptions that can affect business in the new normal can still occur. In order to ensure business continuity and resiliency, leaders must embrace the adoption of intelligent technologies.

Martin Wezowski, Chief Designer and Futurist at SAP, mirrors this sentiment in his interview for the e’ffect 2020 virtual event. Wezowski points out that automation will become necessary for companies to maintain competitiveness. Intelligent technologies that eliminate manual processes provide companies an effective way to increase productivity, ease business processes, and enhance both employee and customer experiences.

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