David Barrett, the founder and CEO of Expensify, celebrated ten years of expense reporting and spoke about the growing partnerships with CPA.com over the past 12 months. This network of valued accounting partners represents millions of potential clients for Expensify and David says their development teams have rewritten almost all of the accounting integrations to streamline client experiences and to further grow this partner channel. Last year also saw the launch of a newly overhauled web and mobile experience. A very busy year indeed.
This year will see a different focus. Rather than rolling out big new changes, the company is focusing on improving core features and upgrading “all of our hardware inside all datacenters.” David’s rather technical article about SQLite helps readers understand the complexities of cloud based expense solutions and the reasoning behind the technical decisions. In the first sub-section, he explains WHY this is all so important. Many of their customers rely on Expensify’s accounting partners to run the T&E / Invoice operations. Expensify allows these companies to migrate from one accounting firm to another…
“This is a critical feature that enables us to offer such good support for large accounting firms that manage hundreds or even thousands of clients: when a company takes on a firm, we want to give that firm access to that company’s data, without needing to migrate the company onto the same server the accounting firm is already on.”
The Expensify partnership program creates a rather unique challenge; one that Expensify has solved with technology innovations and improved accounting integrations. David says that 2018 will be “focusing 100%” on common pain points across their clients and partners. While most large companies have already automated their expense reporting processes, many of the smaller companies have not. Expensify seems confident that current features will meet the needs of the CPA.com customer base and give them revenue growth while focusing their technology efforts on infrastructure.
Certify announced this week that Certify Payments service “can directly remit employee expense reimbursements and vendor invoice payments directly to designated bank accounts in a range of currencies for both domestic and international transactions.” This service is available in 45 currencies to help more companies further automate their mid and back office T&E processes. Certify first launched an invoice payments solution three years ago and currently has customer’s in over 90 countries.
Last month it was reported that Western Union was in talks with Ripple (aka XBR) to add blockchain capabilities to their payment systems. Western Union sees Ripple, and blockchain technology, as a way to future proof their global payments platform. Technology investments like Ripple could bring additional capabilities to the Certify platform. Blockchain technology could become an integral part of B2B payments, global supply chains and expense reports.
Here is a video that explains the Western Union’s Mass Payments API services
The Concur Labs blog has more information on the new integration with Amazon Alexa, a hands-free voice enabled service. Amazon customers can interact with Alexa through various devices like Amazon Echo. Users can “ask Alexa about upcoming business trips, flights, hotel bookings and transportation.”
The Amazon with Concur solution was highlighted at TechEd Live in 2015 as part of SAP Cloud for Customer so it is exciting to see the newest features of this technology.
The Amazon Alexa service is available for beta testers who link their Concur account profile with their Amazon profile. Then simply say, “Alexa, ask Concur ____.” Example questions are illustrated like, “what is my flight number” or “do I have a car booked.” The Concur Labs team is planning to expand the service and at this point they are considering new features with TripIt and Hipmunk.
TripIt could expand the Alexa service beyond just business travel questions as many travelers use TripIt for leisure trips. This could increase the adoption of the Concur/Alexa service for business travel.
Concur announced a re-branding of their name to SAP Concur and a new company logo to match. SAP agreed to acquire Concur in September 2014 and the deal was finished by December for $8.4 billion. This timeline is very similar to that of SAP Ariba. SAP acquired Ariba in May 2012 and then changed the name to SAP Ariba in January 2016. SAP followed a similar path with SuccessFactors (Dec 2011 to Jan 2016).
The continued growth and success of SAP’s other lines of business show that the road ahead for SAP Concur looks very promising. The slightly more accelerated path with Concur (compared to Ariba and SuccessFactors) may well indicate that SAP’s M&A group has become ever more efficient…. or maybe they saved that much time by using Concur T&E instead of their legacy ERP based solution? Could be a whitepaper in the making here.
As part of the announcement, Concur err SAP Concur is focusing on the branding as a way to increase scale, provide more powerful solutions and leverage a more connected experience. In 2017 this has been very visible for SAP Concur customers using native integration to SAP financials. My hope is that 2018 will do the same for HR data from SAP SuccessFactors.
What else in in store for 2018? Expect the ‘powerful solutions’ and ‘greater scale’ to materialize as an increased focus on Concur’s invoicing capabilities and perhaps our first tastes of Concur transitioning it’s spend data solutions to SAP HANA analytics. With SAP’s drive to HANA and a name change to SAP Concur, the shift away from the IBM Cognos BI tool is fast approaching.
Bribery is a significant risk for all businesses, especially those trying to expand operations into developing markets. While the bulk of the money being used to bribe will pass through an invoice, most bribery schemes included business trips, meals and other spend that ALSO went into an expense report.
Below is a recap of bribery news from 2017 so you can be better prepared for the risks ahead.