Today, strategic meeting management technologies have a low-tech side. When the bills come in, spend figures have to be manually keyed in to the expense reporting system. The next step for strategic meeting management technologies is to put some efficiency into that process, and a new alliance between Visa USA, Visa International, and Arcaneo expects to make that happen.
The partnership, announced this week at the National Business Travel Association International Convention & Exposition in Boston, will integrate Toronto-based Arcaneo’s strategic meeting management technology, Metron, with Visa’s commercial payment cards, allowing meeting expenses to populate Metron automatically. The online system, says Clement Ng, vice president, client services at Arcaneo, “will take actual spend numbers and stick them in the budget.” Some meeting expenses will still need to be manually reconciled, but it will be an online “drag-and-drop” process rather than rekeying, he says.
To have spend numbers automatically populate Metron, an organization would need to issue a unique Visa payment card for each meeting. Companies that use a single Visa card to pay for multiple meetings would still be able to drag-and-drop spend data into Metron.
Ng is excited about the efficiencies and savings clients could see from the new partnership, but he’s also a realist in his approach to strategic meeting management. Because Metron can accept card data, that doesn’t make enterprise implementation of a strategic meeting management program significantly less complex. Technology, he says, is “no silver bullet.
“You’ve got to have the will to do this. It’s a big challenge,” he says, estimating that technology gets you 10 percent of the way, while the other 90 percent is implementation and change management within the organization.
Ng says Arcaneo’s relationship with Visa is not exclusive and integration with other payment cards is possible. Arcaneo launched Metron in 2002 and now has 30 corporate customers on the system, about half of which are U.S. based.