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wex spark 2023
Inside WEX

3 key themes from WEX SPARK 2023 to help you simplify the business of running a business

April 27, 2023

Did you know that business leaders estimate they spend about $2.1 million per year on average dealing with inefficient processes? That was just one of the findings from an inaugural survey of business leaders conducted by WEX (conducted in partnership with Ipsos). The results of the survey, which examines the top challenges faced by decision makers, were released in our WEX Trends Report last week. 

WEX SPARK 2023 is our annual learning and networking event that focuses on new technologies and emerging industry trends meant to simplify payments, fleet management, and benefits administration and help fuel business growth. During the event, our leaders shared some of these pain points to our audience of about 1,200 attendees gathered in San Diego and online April 18 and 19. Here are three key takeaways from the event.

Friction can hold you back, but there’s hope

Inefficient processes were often cited as a friction point in our survey of business leaders. One example: Nearly 70 percent of vice presidents and senior executives said that outdated billing and payments systems are a business challenge. And another striking learning: There isn’t always alignment among different levels of management as to the impact certain factors have on friction. For example, more senior managers said business inefficiencies cost them time (68%) and money (56%) compared to C-Suite leaders (51% and 41%, respectively). 

wex spark 2023

WEX SPARK attendees make their way to one of their specialized tracks’ breakout sessions on Tuesday, April 18.

“As we anticipate the business needs of our customers and partners, we must fully appreciate the hurdles faced by them at all levels,” Melissa Smith, Chair and CEO of WEX, said at SPARK last week. “Whether it’s wasted time or increased employee turnover, it’s clear that slow and outdated systems and technology are weighing down all parts of the business, limiting companies from functioning at their highest capacity.” 

Technology can be a game-changer

Nearly three-quarters of our survey’s respondents who reported employee engagement and retention as a challenge believe that outdated technology is a contributing factor. Since employee engagement and retention were cited as the top two challenges for our business leaders, leveraging technology and AI (artificial intelligence) could really separate the haves and the have-nots when it comes to business success. 

“While data has been an important trend for more than a decade, AI has become a very real, viable technology and disruptor,” WEX Chief Digital Officer Karen Stroup said. “I’m going out on a limb here, but I believe that AI is the most game-changing innovation since the internet.” 

wex spark 2023

WEX Chief Digital Officer Karen Stroup, right, chats with three members of her product team about our focuses for 2023 and beyond.

Stroup said that ChatGPT, which was released to the public in November, reached 100 million active monthly users in just two months, making it the fastest-growing consumer application in history. By comparison, TikTok took nine months to reach 100 million monthly users, and Instagram took about 2 ½ years. 

Stroup said there are five primary applications of data and AI: 

  • Automating routine and mundane tasks
  • Enhancing decision-making
  • Improving customer experience
  • Optimizing – or eliminating – processes
  • Creating new products and services

There are solutions you know, and ones you may not know

wex spark 2023

WEX President of the Americas Robert Deshaies shares his vision to help attendees simplify the business of running a business.

One of SPARK’s primary focuses is to share successes that other business leaders have experienced with hopes of educating attendees of opportunities to simplify their own businesses. SPARK attendees come from a variety of roles in industries such as employee benefits, fleet, over-the-road trucking, and corporate payments. 

While it’s a challenge to expect any single person to be an expert in each of these industries, they’re surrounded by individuals who are. That gives attendees the opportunity to apply these learnings to their specific areas of interest, while sharing success stories with their own colleagues in other parts of their businesses. 

“SPARK is an incredible opportunity for you to grow your professional network and develop partnerships,” WEX President of the Americas Robert Deshaies said. “We’re hyper-focused on success within your lines of business. But we also want you to know what opportunities are available to simplify other parts of your business.”

Learn more about our business decision-makers survey by getting a copy of our first WEX Trends Report!

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