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How Mitsui leverages and connects to an ecosystem of partners on an expense management app

Kareyst Lin | Feb. 7, 2017
CIO Asia speaks to Ikuo Hayashi, General Manager of Information Systems, Mitsui APAC, to find out about his leadership philosophy, and how he leads his organisation in digital innovation initiatives.

"[As both a trading and an investment company], the DNA of Mitsui's business is about connecting our business dots across the supply chain, and across the value chain," said Ikuo Hayashi, General Manager of Information Systems, Asia Pacific (APAC), Mitsui.

"For us, Concur is not just an expense management app. We consider it as a platform [upon which] we can develop an ecosystem of business partners - we are able to leverage the existing ecosystem on Concur, and connect it to our own," he added.

The organisation deployed the Concur's travel and expense management service as part of its digital transformation process. It helped them to meet three transformation objectives: mobility, automation, and compliance.

In terms of mobility, since its "employees are traveling a lot across the region, [it is important that] they are able to consume information technology (IT) services anytime and anywhere. Cloud gives us this capability," Hayashi explained. This convenience mirrors that of consumer IT.

Implementing the solution also helped Mitsui to digitalise business procedures, and travel and expense management. Once they are digitalised, the processes can then be automated.

Ecosystem of partners help to improve compliance

Improved compliance was a crucial objective that was met when Concur was implemented. The company viewed IT as an accelerator for business, and a vital tool for standardising processes across countries with in-country complexities.

The countries in the APAC region are very diversified, and therefore, travel expenses is an area in which employees would be spending out of the company's policy. "For example, each country would have its own cultural differences and expectations. The exchange rates are also different. So when I go out for dinner with customers, how much should I spend on dinner?"

This is one area that Concur can help to standardise the policies across offices, and help to streamline the approval process.

In addition, the sharing economy is now on the rise, but these applications - for instance, Uber and Grab - are not in the standard business travel policies. But these applications are within Concur's ecosystem of partners, and this enables Mitsui to have a more holistic view of where their employees are spending their money.

Change management in digital transformation projects

When it comes to innovation projects, changing the mindset of the people is almost always a challenge.

"Traditional IT organisations are very conservative; they tend to choose mature products in the market," said Hayashi. "[But when you do that], it also means that we cannot differentiate ourselves from our competitors."

"Sometimes we need to take some risks [and try out] new advanced technologies, whether to stand out from our competitors, or to enhance our business," he asserted. "My strategy is to be a partner to innovative IT solution companies."


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