ExpenseMatters : The Source for Expense Management

Interview with Concur

By on September 15, 2009 in Interviews with 0 Comments

Expense Interview Series by Cary Strange: Interview #1 – Concur

Today’s interview on ExpenseMatters.com is one many of you have inquired about. In every industry, there is typically a company that has jumped out to a commanding lead in market share. The company all other players are plotting against in their war rooms…the company that gobbles up competitors and complimentary technologies…the 800 lb gorilla.  In the expense space, the undisputed leader is Concur. Today we will be talking with Michael Hilton, Founder and Executive Vice President, Worldwide Marketing at Concur.

Mike, thank you for taking the time to address our readers and discuss some of the same questions we are asking other expense vendors. To get started, could you provide some basic information about your company?
You bet. Concur is the world’s leading provider of on-demand Employee Spend Management services. We help organizations control costs by uniting online travel booking with automated expense reporting, and streamlining invoice processing. Our suite of award-winning on-demand services allows companies to get up and running quickly so they can focus on what’s most important. By automating and optimizing business processes, we deliver actionable business intelligence and rapid ROI, helping companies increase efficiency, control employee spend and drive down operational costs. Our business travel and invoice solutions are trusted by thousands of companies and reach millions of employees worldwide.

What do you recognize as your primary and secondary target markets, and why?
Our primary target market is any company that needs to manage and control employee spend. We serve clients with as little as 50 employees, all the way up to some of the largest companies in the world.

It appears that there are quite a few players offering expense technology solutions. What separates your company from other companies providing similar products & services?
Well, to start, Concur was the first company to automate T&E expense management. And ever since 1994, we’ve been leading the industry through innovation. We’re trusted by more companies than any other to help them manage the travel and expense process. In fact, we’re the only company that has seamlessly combined online travel booking with automated expense reporting in one single, seamless on-demand service. With over 9,000 clients, we’re recognized as a market leader, and as one of the world’s leading on-demand service providers. We’re a global company, with over 1,100 employees in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

What are some specific key product differentiators that provide you with a distinct advantage over your competitors?
There are three specific areas that make Concur’s offering unique:
1. One end-to-end seamless travel and expense management service
2. Powerful analytics capabilities
3. Mobile offering supporting Windows Mobile, BlackBerry and iPhone

Organizations of all sizes trust us to help them control spend before it occurs while eliminating paper and optimizing supplier relations. As the only company delivering a truly seamless, end-to-end travel and expense experience, we help streamline the entire process and eliminate the traditional expense report. As the market demands this integrated T&E process, industry key players are beginning to respond to the demand from the market.

We’ve taken the end-to-end travel and expense experience one step further by providing unprecedented access to every aspect of corporate travel spend data. Traditional agency and card analytics tools have struggled because they only capture a part of T&E spend. Only by incorporating travel booking with the expense reporting process can a company capture 100-percent of the information that clients need to truly compare what was booked with what was actually purchased.

These powerful analytic capabilities – a Concur exclusive – automatically reconcile line-item level booked travel data with actual spend, giving travel managers complete visibility into all aspects of corporate travel spend. With these analytic capabilities, we estimate that billions of dollars in out-of-policy corporate travel spend are literally just waiting to be uncovered, giving companies the opportunity to drive even more costs out of their businesses.

We also recently released Concur Mobile, which is an extension of Concur Travel & Expense – available to our clients at no additional cost –  which integrates the complete cell phone travel booking and expense reporting process. Using Concur Mobile, travelers can manage trips, expenses and reports, and add or change items such as dining, taxis, hotels, and rental cars – all from their mobile phone.

What are the most important questions that a company (looking for a solution) should ask before selecting an expense management provider?
It’s important to ask about the depth of the solution provider’s understanding of your company’s unique needs. The more companies a provider has successfully helped, the better that provider will be in understanding your unique challenges. Has the company proven that they can deliver a high level of satisfaction, over a prolonged period of time, day after day? What is their client satisfaction rate, reflected in client retention? Can they work with any card provider, back end ERP system and travel management company? Are they able to scale as your business grows? What types of security certifications do they have? How robust is their infrastructure? Can they serve the needs of any sized client, or are they only focused on smaller or larger companies? Finally, are they innovating each and every month to deliver more value?

One of the most frequent questions we receive involve how the products are licensed and installed. What are your thoughts regarding the traditional licensing model versus the software as a service model (SaaS)? Which does your company provide and recommend?
We provide our clients with a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution.  Because our on-demand solutions are Web-based, there’s no software or hardware to buy or maintain. Our expertise in Employee Spend Management coupled with superior technology ensures that our clients are up and running in as little as 90 days. And, the faster clients are deployed, the sooner they start realizing ROI.

Our SaaS approach to software means that our solutions are available anywhere, anytime. Whether a user is in an airport or at their desk, they can access Concur’s solutions online, allowing clients to be more efficient and productive. Clients using our solutions also realize the following benefits:

  • Monthly enhancements live to our solutions without interruption of service
  • Predictable and affordable monthly subscription based on volume
  • No dedicated IT resource required to deploy
  • Global availability of our solutions
  • Ease of use results in rapid employee adoption

Do you have any new customer or partner wins that you want to share with our audience? If so, why did they select your company or product?
Concur has over 9,000 clients around the globe. If you have a specific question about companies in your industry that we’ve helped, or are interested in knowing what specific clients like you have to say, we can provide those references on request. To see how we’ve helped other companies, you can visit our website for a list of case studies and testimonials. To see a list of our partners, visit the partner section of our webiste (http://www.concur.com/about/partners/).

This industry has been in a high growth mode for a couple of year now. What do you see happening with the industry, and the need for these types of solutions, over the next 12-18 months?
Right now, the industry is demanding one seamless travel and expense solution. We introduced Concur Travel & Expense to the market approximately two years ago. Now, over 60 percent of our new clients are buying our end-to-end travel and expense management solution.

Over the next 12-18 months, we expect the demand for an end-to-end travel and expense solution to continue to increase, and expect more of our competitors to adopt this vision. In fact, in the next 12-18 months we expect the industry will demand end-to-end T&E to move one step further – allowing organizations to seamlessly manage travel and expense from their smartphone. Here’s an interesting stat – nearly 162 million smartphones were sold worldwide in 2008, surpassing laptop computers for the first time ever (Informa). An increase in smartphone sales underscores a clear point: business is no longer conducted just in the office.

We’re already paving the way for this next revolution in T&E with Concur Mobile – and our solution now supports the employee throughout the entire business trip – from booking the right airline/hotel to adding expenses while riding in a cab to seamlessly generating an expense report back at the office.

Concur Mobile gives users the power and flexibility to: Concur Mobile - bold_dashboard.jpg

  • Change airline tickets from their smartphone
  • View itinerary and flight schedules
  • Book rental cars, hotels, dining reservations and taxis
  • Get directions
  • Capture receipt images
  • Add or delete expenses
  • Approve or reject expense reports

Organizations benefit from Concur Mobile, including:

  • Encouraging the right behavior during business travel by enforcing company policies
  • Improving accuracy of eligible expenses
  • Increasing traveler efficiency on the road and maximizing usage
  • Providing travelers with a familiar user experience, minimizing training

Included at no extra charge with Concur Travel & Expense, Concur Mobile helps to enhance the business traveler’s experience. The opportunities for business travelers to utilize mobile functionality while on the road is just beginning! In the future, business travelers should expect to use enjoy more and more sophisticated options to make changes to their travel itinerary and to capture point of sale transactions – all within policy and all from their smartphone.

Thank you for taking the time to talk with us today. Is there anything that we have not talked about that you would like to discuss with our readers?
As an organization, Concur not only believes in leadership through innovation, but we also believe that every business has a responsibility to give back to the communities we serve in order to make the world a better place to live. That’s why we established Concur Cares – to underscore our long term commitment to being a good corporate citizen. This company-wide and year-round commitment manifests itself in many ways – including our support of non-profit organizations whose values we share, our investments in the technology that we deliver to our clients and in how we conduct our business everyday. More information about our commitment to social responsibility can be found on our website at www.concur.com/about/concurcares.

Mike, thanks again for visiting with us.  I look forward to following your continued success!

To all of our readers out there, if you have any additional questions or would like to speak with Concur about your T&E needs, please send me an email or contact Concur directly:
Adam Harris
Sr. Manager, Market Development, SMB
(425) 497-6403
Email Adam

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