Steve Singh knows about the challenges of building technology platforms for great mobile moments. He learned them honestly by moving his entire company and its customers to a cloud technology platform.
Steve is CEO and co-founder of Concur Technologies. Concur helps businesses and government agencies manage their corporate travel bookings and expenses.
Concur’s technology platform, which Steve calls the Concur Travel and Expense Cloud, is designed for the demands of mobile moments: It supports applications that make it easy for travelers to focus on a few tasks and complete them quickly. Travel and expense (T&E) software is by its nature complex, but at Concur, the complexity remains behind the scenes in the servers, not in the user interface because busy travelers and business expense managers have no time to puzzle out complexity. To make this work, Concur invests 40% of its research and development budget in the applications and 60% in the cloud technology platform that provides the services.
The success of the strategy and technology platform is reflected in the rapid growth of his company, from a startup in 1993 to more than $540 million in revenues in 2013.
Concur’s cloud technology platform delivers four benefits.
- First, because the Concur software running in the cloud is the same for every customer, developers working on it can fix problems continuously and roll out new services daily.
- Second, the Concur service is integrated with a wide range and growing list of travel providers such as airlines, hotels, car services, and trains to deliver a complete travel experience.
- Third, Concur’s cloud platform is ready to meet the spikes in demand that happen when weather turns stormy and delays cripple the air travel system.
- Finally, this modern T&E cloud prepared Concur for the needs of business travelers—the most mobile people on the planet.
Concur layers business traveler and expense management apps on the front end of all that sophisticated cloud technology. Today, Concur’s T&E Cloud integrates with dozens of apps, both from Concur itself and from third parties. With all those apps and clients using the T&E Cloud, Concur has access to a lot of data. The company has baked data analytics deeply into its platform and strategy. The travel and expense data spun off the 20 million business travelers it serves gives Concur a powerful analytics engine to help managers optimize expenses and personalize the travel experience across the entire travel ecosystem.
One of the most popular apps that integrates with the T&E cloud is TripIt, a popular mobile-first app that help travelers manage their itinerary on the go, get to the right gate, rebook on alternative flights when faced with a travel delay, and even change their ticket to save money when TripIt alerts them to a cheaper fare. TripIt has almost 10 million users today, and that number continues to grow.
Steve liked TripIt so much that he bought the company. With the T&E Cloud behind TripIt’s user base and interface, he knew he could grow and improve the app and its capabilities.
Concur needed both halves of the technology to get things right—sophisticated and complex software and analytics running in the cloud and simple, speedy apps in the palms of a traveler. But it’s the T&E Cloud powering the whole system that makes the difference. Great mobile moments can only happen when they’re built on a powerful, continually improving platform like this.
The story continues in The Mobile Mind Shift with a description of what we call “business technology” – the technology, systems, and processes needed to win, serve, and retain customers.