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Ramp, the high-flying corporate credit card and expense management software startup that counts such large clients as Shopify, is looking to make work easier for its customers who also use Microsoft products.
Today at Microsoft’s annual Ignite 2023 event, Ramp unveiled its new integration with Microsoft 365 Copilot, the AI assistant that is available across the Microsoft Windows 11 operating system. Ramp claims to be the “first financial software partner for Copilot.”
Alive in Teams
The new Ramp integration will live in the Microsoft Teams collaborative messaging and communications application as a bot that appears labeled “Ramp” and is analogous to another user, just powered by AI.
“It brings your expense workflows, conversations related to finance, directly into Teams,” said Ramp co-founder and CEO Eric Glyman in an interview with VentureBeat conducted over videoconference.
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The integration allows users — primarily those working in the expense or accounting departments, who are Ramp’s majority userbase, though potentially any employee could be authorized on the customer-side by their Ramp account administrators — to ask a Ramp bot within Microsoft Teams questions related to expenses, budgets, policies, and related matters.
For example, Glyman suggested that someone in accounting at a company that uses Ramp wants to “take actions to to notify everyone, every Ramp user, who hasn’t turned in their receipts or expenses,” at the end of the month to do so.
“With a prompt, they can do that through [Microsoft Teams],” Glyman noted.
However, if all employees are set up to access Ramp, as some of its customer companies have done, they could also query it more general questions related to the company’s expense policy.
“Employees who want to ask questions — can they buy this or that, is it in or out of policy? They can interact directly with the Copilot bot instead of going and having to read a 20-page document.”
Saving time (and time is $)
Glyman said that Ramp was motivated to pursue the integration because “so much work happens through chat, and through Teams.”
Now, employees who use the Microsoft messaging app, even on mobile, can find expense-related information right at their fingertips and have their questions answered by a knowledgable AI assistant.
Glyman said that the Ramp for Microsoft 365 Copilot integration was available to all users of the expense management software platform, even of its free tier. The company makes money through charging merchant fees on its corporate credit cards.
Glyman and his colleagues at Ramp believe the integration will save time for Ramp customers by avoiding having expense and accounting departments overloaded with employee questions, and by allowing employees to have their expense and accounting-related questions answered immediately, instead of emailing a real person and having to wait for them to respond in the course of all their other work.
The Ramp integration in Teams and Microsoft 365 Copilot also includes interactive actions, such as approvals, that Ramp customer administrators can set up. That way, if an employee asks for approval on an expense, the Ramp bot can verify that the expense is in line with the company’s policy and approve it right within Teams. All the actions that a user takes are then recorded in Ramp’s expense management software.
“It wraps back into Ramp’s interface and makes changes there,” Glyman explained.
It also supports multi-user chats, so several employees looking to engage with the Ramp bot can do so at the same time.
Glyman said the decision to pursue an AI-enabled integration with Microsoft was based on earlier work the company did integrating receipt forwarding from Microsoft Outlook into Ramp’s software platform, which proved to be very useful for combined customers of both companies.
“When the chance appeared to integrate into the Copilot ecosystem, we were really excited because we saw this as a very intuitive way to not just do things effortlessly, but to extend Ramp’s capabilities…to where people work,” the CEO told VentureBeat.
Ramp’s new Microsoft 365 Copilot integration is available starting now to all existing Ramp customers.
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