Innovation will be a bigger theme at CPO Rising this year, it will also be the central focus of our major research report in the first half of 2011 [Sidebar: More on that report very soon]. Innovation was also a big theme at Concur Fusion this week in Las Vegas. Concur is a cloud-based, enterprise solution provider that enables an integrated travel and expense management process for the enterprise.
Last month, Concur acquired the travel itinerary management company TripIt, which may be familiar name if you are a direct user or if you are connected to a TripIt user on Linkedin or Facebook. After meeting with Concur’s CEO, Steve Singh, TripIt’s President, Gregg Brockway, and other Concur executives this week, it became clear that Concur’s acquisition of TripIt will become the centerpiece for several of its primary strategies (in bold below) in 2011 and beyond.
To start the acquisition was an interesting and innovative deal on several fronts in that it brings together for one of the first times (in the supply management space, anyway) two areas of technology that have grown up in completely different neighborhoods: enterprise software solutions and consumer-oriented technology. Concur believes that this marriage will help it increase the “consumerization” of its enterprise products, making them easier to use and cheaper to deploy and maintain. This is something we’ve discussed and predicted previously (see prediction #5 on this list)
TripIt’s offering has a strong social networking or collaborative bent to it. TripIt has a travel itinerary aggregation and management capability that is designed to assist the business traveler before and during a trip while its company group capability can help an enterprise’s business travelers view co-workers’ itineraries and potentially connect while on the road. Introducing social or collaborative aspects to business travel is another area we’ve previously highlighted (see The Social Network and Business Travel) as an area that travel managers and travel procurement leaders should start tracking.
TripIt also operates using a freemium model, where a basic level of service is offered to users for free and more advanced features cost a fee or premium. Given the difficulty that enterprise software/solution providers have had in attacking the SMB (small and medium-sized businesses) market with their traditional, but potentially down-sized offerings, freemium may just be the way to go. Note that Concur has already adopted the freemium model for its Concur Breeze offering.
Since the business traveler, by definition, is mobile, it is no surprise that both TripIt and Concur have Apps for their web-based services that are available on most smartphone platforms. Concur now intends to combine these into a single offering. Beside the app strategy, both Concur and TripIt have been working for some time to develop an ecosystem of suppliers, customers, developers, and business partners that they hope will drive a network effect of users, apps, innovation, and value on what it calls the Concur Connect Platform.
Concur’s Fusion events usually provide a great look into key issues and trends in the travel and expense management space; this year was no different.