Home   >   Blog   >   Key Takeaways from Concur Fusion—A Look at Where the Travel and Expense Management Leader Is Going in 2017

Key Takeaways from Concur Fusion—A Look at Where the Travel and Expense Management Leader Is Going in 2017

Stephanie Dula27 Mar 2017      

Last week, the PSA team attended Concur’s annual conference to see what new innovations they were releasing, and how they are maintaining their position as the TEM market leader. We were able to gain insights through several keynote lectures, break-out sessions, and from the Analyst Q&A session.

Located in the beautiful (and cold) city of Chicago, Fusion 2017 had over 3,000 attendees from 29 countries, and over half of the guests were first-timers. Some of the key speakers were Mike Eberhard (President), Tim MacDonald (EVP Travel of Global Products), and Steve Singh (former Concur CEO and now the President of SAP BNA). As Concur is one of the most prominent providers of TEM technology, much of the conference’s focus was on travel and expense. However, Concur also offers an invoice management solution, and, following its 2014 acquisition by SAP, has further expanded its offerings and customer base—and the conference’s list of topics.

Steve_Singh_Concur_Fusion_2017
Steve Singh at Concur Fusion 2017

In travel and expense management, Concur is seeing an increase in globalization among organizations, and they believe that globally-focused business process solutions are becoming more essential in today’s market. For Concur, this translates to an increased need for a TEM offering with a large global presence, and a solution that can work in many local markets.

One way they hope to expand their own presence in the global TEM market is by creating a more open ecosystem, which will entail deeper integration with SAP. Interestingly, SAP is moving towards a unified contract to include many of the company’s products, bringing customers that are using Concur, Ariba, and Fieldglass under one roof. Eventually, an open platform would allow customers to dictate how they want to consume the products, turning modules on and off as needed. However, Concur and SAP admit this will be a challenge, as their customers consume services in different ways.

Although they are still working through the full system integration, the acquisition by SAP has allowed Concur to leverage the relationships from long standing SAP clients. Over the last two years, the company has experienced its fastest growth in the APAC region, as well as high double-digit growth in the EMEA region. They have also entered a few new markets in the last 12 months, including Italy, Brazil, China, and the Nordics.

Over the past three years, Concur has sought significant customer acquisitions in the SMB market. This group has historically been just outside of both Concur’s and SAP’s ideal demographic, but positioning their offering to this customer base has been a big focus over the past three years.

As far as general product development, Concur is focusing on a few key themes over the next 12-24 months. One is integrating machine learning/AI into their products, a trend that PayStream has seen among the most progressive companies in the financial process automation space. Concur is also heightening its focus on the user experience, and is planning to release a new design for both its expense and invoice products.

Concur is releasing a few brand-new products this year, including a budget insight tool that pulls budget data from clients’ accounting systems, offering drill-down capabilities to show details on what has been spent and what is waiting for pre-approval. Concur is also partnering with HX Global to create an Active Monitoring service, which will assist companies by proactively reaching out to individuals who are in at-risks situations during business travel. Concur has also recently acquired Hipmunk, which will enable consumers to sort travel search results by key factors such as trip duration, stops and hotel location, integrate with users’ calendars and travel preferences, and depend more heavily on AI and chatbot technology.

In addition to new design and features, Concur has broadened its ecosystem by adding 30 new partners in the last 12 months, expanding its app centers in EMEA and Asia, and increasing user adoption of its travel app, Triplink, by 1,000 percent. The company is leveraging this larger ecosystem in its research initiatives, testing new products with consumers before rolling out to enterprises.

While Concur has made its name in travel and expense automation, PayStream sees its invoice management offering as a valuable, but often overlooked, product, especially with regards to the SMB market. Concur has exerted a special focus over the last few years on bringing the tool more in the limelight, and with its recent double-digit growth in Invoice and triple-digit growth in SMB Invoice, this seems to be paying off. Concur is doubling down on further improving and marketing the product, and are currently building out a team to better meet invoice client needs specifically, as well as leveraging some of Ariba’s portfolio to expand the tool’s features.

In all, PayStream has seen a lot of exciting developments from Concur since our last visit to Fusion in San Francisco, especially with how they are managing their place under SAP’s banner. Although it is still unclear on the specifics of how Concur and Ariba will join forces with regards to their respective invoice products, we believe that leveraging the two products’ strengths, along with current customer relationships, will provide Concur with a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

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