I recently read an article in Business Travel News
— written by my pal Amon Cohen in the UK — about how Shell has funded and created their own internal database, allowing travelers and their managers to view travel footprints at individual, team and enterprise-wide levels. The intention is to steer travelers toward meeting travel program goals that align with the company's strategic objectives, including cost containment and maximizing health, safety and security.
The emphasis and goal is on producing actionable data that "inspires" rather than compels travelers to change their behavior — basically using a “carrot” instead of a “stick” approach towards gaining traveler compliance to policies. The internal branding for the platform's slogan is "MyTravel, Your Footprint."
Shell senior management is fully supportive — which is critical to any initiative’s long-term success — and has accepted that MyTravel could deliver a return on investment, even though it is intended only to influence, not enforce, behavioral change.
Corporate travel program manager and project leader Frerik Wassink should be commended for trying something new. Already, Wassink claimed the introduction of the platform has brought three key benefits:
- An improvement in the savings and duty-of-care KPIs
- Improved engagement between the travel department and the rest of the business
- Requests to the travel team for ad hoc reporting have reduced significantly, allowing more time for formal analytics
I personally feel what Shell has accomplished with this new initiative is remarkable, and should be applauded and recognized by the industry. But the success and track record in reality (so far) when similar initiatives have been launched by other corporations has not been positive or sustainable for the long-term.
The sad reality is that finding continuous annual funding and budget approvals to support the maturation of this in-house technology will be a real challenge, especially at companies where technology development is not part of their core competency. Frankly, many companies — including tech companies — have gone down the road of in-house technology development and have failed to sustain this homegrown technology.
I myself experienced this same scenario with my former meetings program at HP, and abandoned it when I couldn’t receive I.T. funding for continued development and enhancements for three straight years. Building technology is costly, and remaining relevant and fresh with enhancements is a full-time commitment that has to be shared and supported at every corporate level.
All eyes will be watching Shell and we all wish them much success in this new endeavor!