(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.
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 eWorkplace.com. In addition to purchasing,
Concur also offers travel and expense reporting, self-service Human Resources
and travel booking.
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
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.
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.
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
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
eWorkplace.com 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.