Concur's Customers Can Network Now

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Event Summary

Concur Technologies (Nasdaq: CNQR) made two announcements that mark its determination to be, and be seen as, a major player in the hot E-procurement market. The Concur Commerce Network will give Concur's E-procurement customers a marketplace to display and purchase their wares. The company claims that its network already offers thousands of suppliers.

Concur also announced that electronic purchasing and the rest of its Concur eWorkplace suite of products will be available as an outsourced service to small and mid-sized companies. Using Concur Procurement, such companies will have access to the Concur Commerce Network through Concur In addition to purchasing, Concur also offers travel and expense reporting, self-service Human Resources and travel booking.

Market Impact

Concur wants its name to be spoken in the same breath as industry leaders Ariba and Commerce One. Since both of those companies have put strong emphases on their own marketplaces that bring buyers and sellers together, Concur had no choice but to follow suit. This is not thought of as a diversion. At the current state of the E-procurement market, the existence of a vendor-created marketplace is necessary to help early adopters recognize the value of their investment. We believe that Concur's marketplace will have no trouble becoming competitive with Ariba's and Commerce One's (at least within North America; see TEC News Analysis: "Commerce One to Procure for the Antipodes...and Elsewhere" October 5th, 1999) for a discussion of Commerce One's international strategy), and we see no compelling reason for a vendor to want to sign with only one such network.

As Concur becomes recognized as an equal in providing access to suppliers, it has an opportunity to move the market to one that concentrates on features. We believe that Concur will demonstrate surprising strength here. Its integrated Concur eWorkplace, which promises an integrated front end for purchasing, self-service human relations, travel booking and expense reporting will look to many companies like a stronger offering than one that brings only purchasing to the desktop. Concur has the lead here both in technology and in its installed base of other applications, primarily its Concur Expense product for travel and expense reporting.

Concur is also wise to reach out to smaller companies, as Ariba in particular has done (See TEC News Analysis: "Ariba Reaches Out to the Little Guy" September 28th, 1999). However unlike Ariba's tripartite approach, Concur's is simpler and part of a broader strategy of providing a ".com" service for such companies. The e-Commerce industry as a whole as only recently begun to recognize that most companies are in the small and mid-sized range, and Concur has a very compelling story to tell to these companies.

User Recommendations

Concur has removed what might have been a stumbling block to companies interested in its E-procurement solution. The evaluation can now focus on the basics of features, company strength, and price. However, as Concur salespeople must surely be reminding their prospects, Concur has a suite of products that are reasonably well integrated. All company interested in E-procurement should evaluate Concur as a potential solution. For those companies interested in bringing other functions in addition to purchasing to the desktop, the contest may well be Concur's to lose.

Concur may in the long run prove to be an even more significant announcement. Microsoft and Sun have made outsourced applications seem legitimate, but where an outsourced word processor may cut licensing and support costs, employee self-service applications can have a much greater effect on the bottom line. Any small company large enough to be able to calculate its per-transaction costs in buying supplies -- or in processing expense reports, HR paperwork, and the like - has a real motivation for calling Concur.

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