Why SMEs should take note of the new serko.travel app
Serko Ltd. announced the Australian launch of its new small business travel management application, serko.travel, in conjunction with Xero, an online accountancy software company.
Unveiled at Xero’s cloud accounting conference, ‘Xerocon South’ in Brisbane, the new application is available for any business in Australia with up to 150 employees to sign up and make bookings online without any service fees.
Designed to improve the way small businesses book and manage company travel, serko.travel gives users simplified access to the same travel-booking technology enjoyed by more than 6000 large organisations across Australia and New Zealand today.
The application, which is accessed via desktop and via iPhone and Android, allows users to book domestic, Trans-Tasman and international business trips for themselves or on behalf of other people in their organisation.
In addition, the app allows users to change bookings, set parameters on employee use, control budgets and importantly, connect to Xero’s software. The features combine to help businesses save hundreds of hours a year in admin time and drive significant cost savings through better travel management and policy compliance.
Speaking at Xerocon, Darrin Grafton, Serko CEO said “serko.travel brings together all of the key travel suppliers in the region, from Air New Zealand and Qantas to Booking.com and Expedia, and allows users to book everything in one place, at the same time, without having to pay any service fees. It’s a completely new way for businesses to manage business travel that will help them save time and money, particularly those that use Xero.”
Jim Thompson, Director at digital marketing agency, One Rabbit, said: “We have trialled serko.travel for about three weeks now and it has made a huge difference. Our office manager no longer spends hours on separate supplier websites booking flights and accommodation.
“Serko.travel not only offers us access to the same online deals, but we have also found it very straightforward to send travel details to clients who are sponsoring our travel too.”
Unlike any other online travel booking system, the online functionality of serko.travel will also be complemented by expert offline support from Helloworld for Business, Corporate Traveller and Flight Centre Business Travel. For the first time, they will offer Travel Expert services on an ‘on demand’ basis which means travellers only have to pay ‘if and when’ they need their services.
Anna Curzon, Managing Director at Xero said: “For businesses that book a lot of travel, serko.travel is the ideal add-on to Xero. It fits perfectly into our recently launched App Marketplace - our one-stop-shop for cloud apps that connect to Xero.
“The integration between the systems allows travel booking data from serko.travel to flow seamlessly into Xero, streamlining and simplifying the process of reconciling credit card statements.”
Beyond Limits: Cognitive AI in APAC
Courtesy of current estimates, it looks like Asia-Pacific AI will be worth US$136bn by 2025. Its governments and corporations invest more money than the rest of the world in AI tech, the data of its citizens is considered fair game, and its pilots are small-scale and, as a result, ruthlessly effective. This is why, according to Jeff Olson, Cognizant’s Associate Vice President for Projects, AI and Analytics, Digital Business and Technology, the APAC region ‘is right on the edge of an AI explosion’.
Now, startup Beyond Limits is pushing the boundaries of what AI can do, mirroring humans in its ability to find solutions with even limited information. As of this July, it’s partnered up with Mitsui, a global trading and investment company, to expand its impact in APAC.
How Does Beyond Limits Work?
Most AI companies claim that they can help businesses make better decisions. But many need astoundingly large stores of data to feed their information-hungry algorithms. Beyond Limits, in contrast, takes a different tack. Perfect data, after all, is largely a pipe dream kept alive by PhD students. In reality, systems must often make decisions from small, incomplete sets of intel.
But Beyond Limits’ AI is no black box. ‘When little to no data is available, Beyond Limits symbolic technologies rely on deductive, inductive, and abductive reasoning capabilities’, explained Clare Walker, Industry Analyst at Frost & Sullivan. While making these leaps in logic, however, the system also keeps track, ensuring that humans can review the AI’s ‘thought process’.
Why Partner With Mitsui?
Beyond Limits is built for specific applications such as energy, utilities, and healthcare—but lacks the extensive industry network of Mitsui. Partnering allows Beyond Limits to access a portfolio of firms specialising in minerals and metals, energy, infrastructure, and chemicals. ‘We’ve been working on this deal for several years’, said Mitsui’s Deputy General Manager Hiroki Tanabe. ‘Mitsui’s global portfolio and Beyond Limits’ AI technology will...deliver impact’.
In the first test of that dramatic statement, Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) will soon deploy Beyond Limits’ new system. If everything goes according to plan, LNG will optimise how it extracts and refines energy, making money for both itself and investors—including Mitsui. This, in fact, is Mitsui’s strategy: go digital and don’t look back.
Why Does This Matter?
Forty-five percent of Asia-Pacific companies surveyed in Cognizant’s thought leadership ebook consider themselves AI leaders. Positivity bias, that oh-so-common tendency of humans to position themselves as above average as compared to others, strikes again. (Most small companies fail to launch successful AI projects on their own.) And partly, this is because firms fail to integrate AI with industry expertise.
‘A large part of the focus on talent for AI today has been getting the people who are strong in mathematics, AI, and technologies’, said Olson. ‘But where you make your money out of AI projects is when you apply them to your business’. In short: APAC nations looking for ways to bridge the gap might follow Beyond Limits and Mitsui’s playbook—coupling startup AI with a corporate network.