Enhanced Social and Mobile Capabilities for Concurforce

With a projected $0.5 billion in revenues in 2012, Concur Technologies is the leading provider of integrated travel and expense (T&E) management solutions. The company helps individuals and organizations make sure that their expense reports are in tune with their budgets and accounting rules. Concur’s Web-based and mobile solution suite, Concur T&E Cloud, enables businesses to automate and streamline the process for submitting and approving employee expense reports. In other words, Concur T&E Cloud helps companies and their employees control costs and save time. The T&E suite features modules for applications to track employee requests for vendor payments. Other applications include workflow management, travel booking (via the TripIt acquisition in early 2011), invoicing, auditing, and travel spend business intelligence (BI).  

Concurforce for Sales Road Warriors

While Concur’s target customers have long been the back-office controllers and accountants (i.e., those folks that make sure that we comply with our company’s travel policies and limits), at the Dreamforce 2011 conference Concur launched Concurforce, its brand offering that targets sales employees to make their life easier—at least in terms of booking trips and subsequently reporting expenses. Concurforce is specifically tuned to the needs of the heaviest business travelers and most frequent expense report filers—those employees in the field sales and field service functions. Since these employees are also the real drivers of revenue and client satisfaction, helping them become more productive represents a new opportunity for today’s enterprises.

In addition, Concurforce enables companies to measure the true cost of client acquisition and client service. A whole host of standard reports and dashboards helps managers identify employees that are spending out-of-policy, find errors and potential instances of fraud, and evaluate key performance indicators (KPIs). Needless to say, this diversification represents a growth opportunity for Concur, especially in the lower end of the market. My estimate is that the nascent offering has about 100 customers.

Concurforce is built on salesforce.com’s Force.com cloud platform with native social and mobile business apps, and leverages the T&E management services of the Concur T&E Cloud. The application delivers a simple and familiar experience for salesforce.com users, saving them time and improving productivity. Concurforce allows users to perform the following activities:

  • Business travelers can access itineraries from the TripIt mobile trip organizer, to create and submit accurate, in-policy expense reports from within Sales Cloud.

  • Managers can review and approve expense reports right from their Android, BlackBerry, iPad, or iPhone smartphones, or from the Web. They can verify line-item expenses against submitted receipts while ensuring that purchases are in compliance. Predefined business rules specific to their organization ensure expenses are within policy. Expenses that are out-of-policy are tagged, generating alerts so that employees can make smart choices.

  • Users gain real-time visibility into T&E spend and instant insight into costs associated with sales opportunities and service engagements, helping them improve margins and manage the cost of sales.

Additional notable features of Concurforce include the following:

  • Concur Travel and TripIt Pro integration—The ability to book corporate travel and turn reservations from any travel vendor into a single organized itinerary that can automatically be turned into an expense report. Concurforce matches itinerary details from Concur Travel or TripIt Pro with auto-imported credit card charges to create a one-click expense report.

  • Salesforce Chatter integration—TripIt Pro itineraries and Concurforce notifications are automatically posted to Salesforce Chatter, increasing collaboration on business trips, agendas, and content to save time and help employees work more efficiently with their colleagues.

Cash expenses such as tips or taxi fares can be quickly added to an expense report. Receipt images can easily be captured with the phone’s camera, and credit card charges are automatically included in the mobile application or online for reporting. This is all in tune with Concur's "Perfect Trip" vision. With some indications of up to 10 percent of overhead being devoted to T&E expenses (and over 20 percent of that being spent out-of-policy), organizations are potentially overpaying millions of dollars a year. Now managers can easily understand the costs associated with sales opportunities and service engagements so they can improve margins and manage the cost of sales.

Dreamforce 2012 Sees Trip Maximizer

At the recently held Dreamforce 2012 conference, Concur announced Trip Maximizer for Concurforce. The new feature enhances the entire process of planning, booking, and conducting business travel for employees who need to visit with prospects and clients in the field. Trip Maximizer was previewed at Dreamforce 2012 and is expected to be generally available (GA) for all Concurforce clients by the end of 2012.

With Trip Maximizer, a salesperson using Concurforce can start a business trip simply by opening a record within Salesforce Sales Cloud, enter initial travel plans, and automatically be shown recommendations for additional sales opportunities to visit during the trip. With just a few clicks, the selected opportunities can be added to the traveler’s calendar and itinerary, eliminating a lot of e-mail and toggling between applications. And because the typical salesperson is busy enough preparing for those meetings, Trip Maximizer provides dining recommendations and automatically shares itinerary details with relevant colleagues through Salesforce Chatter, enhancing collaboration and supporting the needs of the enterprises.

Concur Connector for Salesforce

In addition, Concur Connect is the platform that enables the entire T&E ecosystem of customers, suppliers, travel management companies (TMCs), and developers to access and extend Concur’s T&E Cloud. Many Concur T&E Cloud customers are large organizations that already use salesforce.com’s customer relationship management (CRM) applications and do not care for Concurforce. To that end, the Concur Connector for Salesforce (there is also Concur Connect for NetSuite) is a pre-built integration offering used to share data from both products in real time. It’s simple to activate and requires no custom coding, with the following features:

  • Contact records within salesforce.com can be accessed instantly and added as attendees in Concur Expense, reducing manual entry, duplicates, and the need for data-maintenance routines.

  • Travel plans can be shared via Salesforce Chatter, which allows colleagues to collaborate easily on client meetings and events.

  • Users can associate expenses reports, entries, and itemizations with existing opportunities in Salesforce via a simple link that increases accountability and provides a granular view into the cost of closing deals.

  • The My Concur tab in salesforce.com offers users quick access to take action on expenses and approvals that require their attention.

  • Single-Sign-On improves the user experience and increases efficiency

The aforementioned Trip Maximizer feature will also be available to Concur T&E Cloud clients using the Concur Connector for Salesforce. Given that salesforce.com’s Touch mobile platform was only recently made available, Concurforce mobility features come from Concur’s own mobility platform, which has been available for about three years.
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