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Microsoft Launches Secretive New Expense Management App

By on April 16, 2015 in Expense, Industry News, Travel with 0 Comments

Microsoft's Phoenix appExpense management as we know it may never be the same. On March 18, Microsoft launched a beta version of an experimental app and invited testers with iOS devices to sign up for an early preview. Titled “Phoenix,” the expense reporting application has garnered a tremendous amount of speculation, although there is still relatively little known about the app.

Qualifications for Phoenix Testers

Not everyone is able to qualify to test the new app, which is a product of Microsoft’s Garage incubation program. Testers must be based in the United States, be employed at an organization that currently uses Concur for its expense reporting back-end, use an iPhone for their mobile device, and conduct a minimum of three overnight trips monthly.

What’s the Intent Behind Microsoft’s New Expense Management App?

While speculation has run rampant regarding exactly how the new app might function, many people wonder whether Microsoft may be developing the app to act as an alternative to Concur, currently the largest expense management provider in the world. The requirement that testers currently use Concur for their expense reporting back-end would certainly seem to indicate that this could be the case.

Of course, there is also speculation that Microsoft could simply be creating an app that would capture receipts and perform some front-end expense functions, then plug directly into Concur or another major expense player.

Delving into the Background Behind Phoenix

Although we do not yet know a lot about Phoenix, here is what we do know. According to the official Phoenix Facebook page, the idea for the app came from the simple realization that “expense reports suck.” The Phoenix development team went on to state:

“We decided talked with hundreds of account executives, to go deep on this problem, and understand what it’s like to be a frequent business traveler today.

“We took all of our learnings and created the vision of Phoenix: a mobile app that uses all the smarts we can gather to automatically fill out your expenses for you. Then, by giving you a notification of your credit card spend in real time, we let you glance at the expense, approve it, and be done forever.

“Today, our first cut of Phoenix is alive. It’s still early – we’ve got a way to go to bring this vision to life – but we’re now ready for others to join us on our mission to slay the expense report beast!”

The Phoenix beta Facebook page noted that the new app utilizes mobile phone cameras along with an integrated agent in order to classify expenses entered into the app into the correct categories, such as meals, taxis, hotels, etc. The page also noted that the app integrates contacts found in users’ Outlook.

Whether the app will eventually be released as a commercialized version and even made available for Windows and Android phones or will remain an experiment is yet to be seen. 

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