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Executives at Concur Technologies said the company is on track to integrate by September its expense management system with the Cliqbook self-booking tool. Citing technical and competitive challenges, however, Concur said it would not offer deeper integration with any other self-booking tools.
Concur this year purchased Cliqbook owner Outtask with an eye on expanding its product portfolio. "The basic premise of our thesis that customers will embrace the integration ... is seeing early validation," said CEO Steve Singh, during a conference call with analysts last month. "In the March quarter, we have seen our first cross-selling successes." ADP and Wachovia, which Singh described as "long-term Concur Expense customers," both signed on to use Cliqbook Travel.
Concur first delved into such integration with the government of Canada, an expense management client and user of Sabre's GetThere self-booking tool. That experience not only helped Concur build an integration strategy ahead of the Outtask purchase, but also illustrated the potential obstacles for coordinating with others.
"The fact that we have and host all the technology minimizes the technical challenges with regard to the integration," said Chris Juneau, Concur senior director of product marketing, in an interview with Management.travel. "Integration [with Cliqbook] can deliver a potentially richer experience than integrating with a third-party tool, and the reality is that we are now a direct competitor with those other third-party tools."
Concur still will support its many expense management clients that choose to use any of those other booking tools. "It is analogous to relationships we have with all the major card providers who may have an expense tool of their own," Juneau explained. "We still happily take in the card data, and so forth."
Because Concur views the expense management-booking integration as "core" to its service delivery, Juneau said, it would not impact expense system pricing for either Cliqbook or non-Cliqbook users.
For those customers that are Cliqbook users, deeper integration is optional. If they chose to go forward, Concur "will deliver a set of change management tools the customer can use to communicate to their end user community about how process will be different," Juneau explained. For example, travelers will be able to pre-populate expense reports not only through the corporate card transaction, but also via the itinerary information generated from the booking tool.
Juneau added that "there will be no incremental work" necessary for customers or their travel management companies. "The experience of the integration we will be delivering by September will be superior to any integration we can do with a third-party tool and any integration that a third-party tool with another expense provider could deliver."
Meanwhile, for the next few months, Outtask's sales team "will be an overlay on Concur's existing sales team, helping to bring our sales organization up to speed on Cliqbook Travel," Singh explained. "With the start of the new fiscal year, all the sales reps will sell all the services. It is a phased-integration approach."
Singh also said a total of 50 customers had signed up for either a new meetings management tool or a corporate travel spend analysis tool "in the first 60 days" following those product launches. "We can take our core expense product, and over time, by adding new services, double the revenue from each customer," he said.
With the spend analysis tool, Concur can provide "a broader and deeper reporting experience than those previously offered either from a standalone booking tool or a TMC," Juneau claimed.
Separately, Concur during the first quarter replaced IBM as Bank of America's partner in providing expense management services to corporate payment clients--and the partnership signed its first customer. "Bank of America partnered with IBM a while back and they saw an opportunity, frankly, to upgrade the relationship. They did a request for proposals, like you would in any other selection process, and they picked us," Singh said. Concur also partners with US Bank.
Concur claimed 400 new customers during the March quarter and anticipated similarly strong customer growth during the second half of its fiscal year, which ends in September. During its second quarter, Concur generated 36 percent higher revenues of $23.5 million and roughly flat net income of nearly $1 million. "We expect revenue to grow at least 25 percent year-over-year for foreseeable future," Singh said.
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