Concur was founded by Steve Singh back in 1993. The vision of the company was to rework how large enterprises arrange employee travel and general expense claims. Concur grew well, in part because it was a best of breed vendor up against platform plays from the likes of Oracle. That independence meant that Singh could focus his troops on a single vision: building the best travel and expense management solutions they could, rather than being pulled every which way by different priorities.

That growth culminated in Concur’s acquisition by SAP in 2014 for over $8 billion. Despite the exit and the likely fact that he doesn’t need to remain, Singh is still CEO and chairman of the board. That in itself is an unusual fact – normally after the requisite two-year earn-out, CEOs of acquired companies run away as fast as they can. [Update, Singh WAS the CEO until a month ago when he left to be CEO of Docker Inc. a replacement has yet to be appointed]

Under the broader SAP tent, Concur has continued to grow and has broadened its areas of interest to include not only travel and expense but also invoice, compliance, and risk. It is this last area that sees Concur roll out some news today.

Defcon 5 – Where are our people?

A company like Concur is at the center of helping organizations move their employees all around the globe. As such, it is intimately connected with people being in virtually every country on earth at any one time. While there are lots of regular business processes and systems involved with that, perhaps more acute is the need of customers when something goes wrong. When a crisis situation unfolds in Ulaanbaatar, Tipperary or Timbuktu, there’s a good chance that Concur, with its existing offerings, knows which companies have employees in those locations.

And so it is a natural extension that Concur is this week rolling out its Locate and Active Monitoring solution. The idea of the offering is that any business should be able to find, inform and communicate vital information with employees in just minutes during times of crisis and uncertainty.

And this problem isn’t reducing at all. There are as many geopolitical uncertainties as there ever have been before, add to that a burgeoning amount of business travel, and increased responsibility, both legal and moral, for organizations to look after their staff, and you have a real need for some smart tooling.

What Locate and Active Monitoring is doing is to integrate the various different systems that travel data exists within, and delivering them jointly to a risk management solution. The solution draws from travel and expense data, itineraries booked direct captured through TripLink and TripIt and supplier e-receipts.

Travel managers have a key role to play in delivering an organization’s duty of care

While duty of care can involve a company’s travel, security, human resources and legal departments, a new Global Business Travel Association Foundation report on risk management found that travel managers play a key role in fulfilling duty of care, regardless of which department is in charge. During a crisis, 71 percent of travel managers are still responsible for locating travelers and 63 percent are responsible for providing incident reports on impacted travelers.

A significant gap exists today in company visibility and traveler knowledge. The GBTA Foundation report also found:

  • Three in five travel managers rely on their travelers to contact them during times of crisis and uncertainty.
  • Meanwhile, 58 percent of travelers say they would contact their supervisor, not a travel manager, if in need of support or assistance due to an emergency or security situation.
  • Three in ten travel managers flat out do not support travelers who book outside corporate programs. Another 29 percent do not know how long it would take to confirm the safety of every employee after an incident.

Unsurprisingly, Concur vehemently agrees with these survey findings. Said Mike Eberhard, President of Concur:

Businesses have a responsibility to ensure the safety and security of travelers. From natural disasters to terrorist attacks, if a crisis occurs, it’s imperative that businesses are able to quickly identify and locate their employees and determine who may need assistance. These are people who are depending on their business leaders to help them in the event something goes wrong. Concur helps solve this challenge.

The solution

Take one of the most comprehensive, and up-to-the-minute datasets, and combine it with pre-existing relationships with many of the world’s largest organization’s travel departments and you have the ability to deliver some compelling offerings. Concur Locate and Active Monitoring empower businesses to monitor risks and quickly identify where all their travelers are, anywhere in the world, at a moment’s notice. On top of that, it enables communication between the organization and the individual travelers to ensure their well-being during times of crisis and uncertainty. Real-time reporting makes it possible for travel managers to share snapshots with business leaders within minutes. So when that violent coup d’état occurs in some obscure African nation, travel managers can provide their execs with an up to the second report on impacted traveling staff.

And it’s not just commercial organizations that owe this duty of care to their staff. Other sectors are similarly concerned, per Jason Grunin, Travel Program Manager, at The University of Tulsa this and a Concur customer:

As one of the first universities to introduce a mandatory travel booking program, student safety has long been a top priority for The University of Tulsa. We’re continually looking for ways to expand on this. For example, the University of Tulsa’s use of Concur Locate is expanding to include our study abroad program to ensure the safety of students traveling year-round.

Concur Locate ties into Active Monitoring, which itself is powered by HX Global, and provides businesses with 24/7 monitoring, communications, and assistance, enabling customers to leverage a virtual global security operations center without the infrastructure and headcount.

MyPOV

Traveler safety is top of mind for many organizations. From a moral, ethical and legal perspective this is a hot-button topic right now. Concur’s new offering should help them rest a little more comfortably at night (and in the day, for that matter!)

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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