Concur Delivers Mobile Travel Moments on a Cloud Technology Platform

Ted Schadler

The following is an excerpt from The Mobile Mind Shift, Groundswell Press, 2014, pages 153-4. Click here for more on Forrester's mobile mind shift market imperative.

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.
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Big Data Analytics Can Help Beijing Cut Through The Smog

Gene Cao

China faces a growing air pollution problem — one of the consequences of its significant economic growth over the past two decades. Surrounded by a large number of coal-burning factories in Hebei province, Beijing faces ever-worsening smog. To tackle this problem, city government has implemented new policies and laws, such as the Beijing Air Pollution Control Regulations, that provide guidance to technology vendors developing smog control solutions.

Source: AFP

Optimized Energy Management Is The Key To Reducing Air Pollution

Beijing’s government is focusing on air quality monitoring and has invited tech vendors like Baidu, IZP Technologies, and Yonyou to develop solutions. The city wants to show the source of pollutants and how they will disperse across Beijing a couple of days in advance — but that doesn’t do anything to reduce the smog itself. Rather, the key to reducing air pollution is changing how China consumes energy. For example, the government could use big data analytics to:

  • Optimize factories’ energy consumption. Asset-intensive industries like steel, cement, and chemicals face challenges in analyzing the vast amounts of data generated by energy-monitoring sensors and devices. Tech vendors like Cisco and IBM could leverage their Internet of Things data analysis technology to help customers turn this data into actionable insights. For example, one steel factory in Hebei province is considering technology that identifies when an oxygen furnace is wasting energy because the temperature of the output smoke is too high.
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The Modern CRM

Kate Leggett

Its Not Your Mother's CRM Anymore

CRM technologies are over two decades old. Companies first used them to provide “inside-out” efficiencies;operational efficiencies for sales, marketing and customer service organizations when interacting with customers. They aggregated customer data, analyzed that data, and automated workflows to optimize customer engagement processes. Companies could easily argue  business benefits by measuring operational metrics like reducing marketing costs, increasing revenues from sales people, decreasing sale cycle times, better pipeline visibility, decreasing service resolution times and more.     

Because of this quantifiable ROI, CRM became a must-have in large organizations. This strong demand prompted CRM vendors to tackle huge swaths of business problems, and fueled ongoing innovation and consolidation in the marketplace. Today, much of CRM technology is commoditized, and leading vendors offer competitive solutions, choke-full of features and functions, including deeply verticalized solutions.

Being successful at CRM today builds upon yesterday’s internal operational efficiencies and extends the power of these solutions to better support customers through their end-to-end engagement journey to garner their satisfaction and long term loyalty – an “outside-in” perspective. Modern CRM strategies enable good customer experiences. They support customer interactions with one another over a range of social, digital and mobile channels. How? By leveraging the vast amounts of interaction and transaction data to deliver contextual experiences that add value to the customer, and preserve the value of the company brand. 

How do you modernize your CRM?

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The Data Digest: The Cultural Dimension Of Brand Relationships

Anjali Lai

At the root of human behavior is the impulse for connection. History is our witness: As times change, certain trends emerge that anchor shared experiences, around which people collectively rally. Today, with social media acting as a platform for ubiquitous connections, diverse consumers build solidarity around digital experiences. Beyond simply looking for deals and discounts, individuals who “friend,” “follow,” and “like” brands seek closer brand relationships. 

However, while consumers around the world want to be part of a brand community, some cultures are more enthusiastic than others. Forrester's Consumer Technographics® data shows that Latin American online adults are more passionate about engaging with brands for affective reasons than their European and Japanese counterparts:

This variation roughly parallels Hofstede’s dimensions of culture, which suggests that the differences are partially a reflection of cultural nuances: Those populations that are most motivated to share in the brand community are all-around collectivist rather than individualist.

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Introducing The Service App Store

Stefan Ried

Do you believe in "Enterprise App Stores" ?

App stores are the embodiment of public cloud services ranging from consumerized mobile apps to software- and infrastructure-as-a-service in the enterprise context. A great and simplified user experience drove mass adoption with consumers.

Will these cloud app stores simply evolve to meet the demand of corporate processes and compliance? Private clouds and software distribution to corporate laptops and desktops so far have not been able to catch up to the same level. So, there is definitely demand to bring the consumer innovation into corporates. 

But don't forget the the modern IT management software (ITMS) suites, which offer some self-service functionality. Still the coherent, end-to-end self-service experience across all types of users, assets, and already multiple deployment targets is still far away from the consumer world. But, ITMS software is also an equal starting point.

The situation in real enterprises is even worse. It is not only the absense of a good employee engagement around IT-service self service and user experience. It's more the fact that IT departments deliver traditionally many services that employees don't want any more. We've seen employees that haven't stored a single document on the corporate Sharepoint installation, but use box.net instead; or employees that haven't created a single Excel spreadsheet for a while and use for example Google Apps instead; or employees who would love to downgrade their personal ERP profile to what they really need, if they get the saved money back. Once you create cost transparency and offer them to "un-subscribe" from tradtional software and subscribe to new (cloud) service instead - you embrace modern technology mangement and could drive the next wave of cost savings. This can be an essential milestone in the a business technology agenda.

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For CIOs The Journey To Digital Business Begins With The BT Agenda

Nigel Fenwick

Digital FootprintIn “Unleash Your Digital Business”, I highlight the need for all companies to embrace digital business as a new business model – one in which the nature of the value exchange with customers is fundamentally changed. Since then, CIOs frequently asked me what they should be doing to help their firms become a digital business.

The answers lies in the difference between Business Technology (BT) and Information Technology (IT). BT focuses on the systems, technologies, and processes to win, serve, and retain customers. Whereas IT focuses on the systems, technologies, and processes to support and transform an organization’s internal operations. To become a digital business CIOs must adopt the BT agenda.

Our research on digital business highlights the need for the organization to focus on six core digital strategies that drive digital customer experience and digital operational excellence in support of customers. Each of these strategies is an integral component of the CIOs BT agenda:

  • Digitize the end-to-end customer experience
  • Digitize products and services inside the customer’s value ecosystem
  • Create trusted machines
  • Digitize for agility over efficiency
  • Drive rapid customer centric innovation
  • Source enhanced operational capabilities within a dynamic ecosystem
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Say “Small Footprint” Again. I Dare You, I Double Dare You.

Rick Holland

During the past 18 months or so, we have seen the emergence of innovative endpoint security solutions. The list is long; it is hard to keep track of all the solutions in the space. In no particular order, here is a sampling:  Bromium, Invincea, IBM Trusteer, Cylance, Palo Alto Networks Next-Gen Endpoint Protection (Cyvera), Microsoft Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET), Bit9 + Carbon Black, Confer, CounterTack Sentinel, Cybereason, CrowdStrike Falcon Host, Guidance Software Cybersecurity, Hexis HawkEye G, FireEye HX, Triumfant, Tanium, and Verdasys Digital Guardian. 

I take many briefings from these types of vendors (primarily the ones I cover in Forrester’s Endpoint Visibility and Control category) and within the first 5 minutes of the conversation, the vendor mentions that their solution has a “small footprint.”  The use of this phrase is the equivalent of nails scratching their way across a chalkboard for me. When was the last time you heard anyone say that they have a “large footprint?” Please provide more information: Do you run in user or kernel land? What are the impacts to utilization? Even if a vendor truly has a “small footprint,” when that new agent is deployed to a host that already has four or five agents running, the collective footprint is far from small.

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Smartphones Boast Breadth While Tablets Engage — An Introduction To Forrester’s Mobile Behavioral Data

Nicole Dvorak

I recently “overheard” a member of our market research online community (MROC) say, “I treat my smartphone like my child and carry it everywhere I go.” It’s official: Smartphones have replaced children. Not really, but the statement speaks to the way that consumers have changed their thinking and behavior because of mobile devices. The rapid adoption and dominant presence of mobile devices speaks to their importance in consumers' daily lives.

As part of our effort to develop forward-thinking research using innovative approaches, Forrester is collecting behavioral data by tracking consumers' activities on smartphones and tablets. By using a passive tracking technology, we now have a detailed, inside look into what consumers are doing on their smartphones and tablets and when they're doing it. Preliminary results have shown some surprising (and not so surprising) data insights.

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Facebook's Mobile Ad Revenue Signals The Escalation Of The Mobile Mind Shift

Ted Schadler

Facebook's steely revenue march is fueled by mobile ads: 62% of Facebook's Q2 2014 advertising revenue came from mobile ads, up from 41% just a year ago. This ad revenue may still just be a paper castle waiting to fall -- my colleage Nate Elliott's analysis that Facebook is still failing marketers suggests that. But right now over a billion people around the world -- 81% of its entire member base -- access Facebook on mobile devices every month, twice as many as did just two years ago (see Figure 1). And they are seeing ads.

Source: Facebook

I see three important conclusions stemming from Facebook's results:

  1. The mobile mind shift is hitting critical mass around the world. People increasingly engage with people, information, and services on their mobile devices first. Forrester forecasts that 2.4 billion will have smartphones by 2017, twice the number as in 2012. So if your customer isn't mobile today, they will be soon -- across every generation. Firms must serve their increasingly impatient mobile customers with great mobile experiences. It's what our book, The Mobile Mind Shift, is about. Facebook is both driving and benefiting from the mobile mind shift as it delivers ever-more services on the devices people crave.
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Should You Buy More Infrastructure Or Subscribe To A Cloud Service For Videoconferencing?

Philipp Karcher

Videoconferencing infrastructure connects videoconferencing endpoints — the conference-room-based systems, desktop clients, and mobile apps people use to join meetings. By prioritizing solutions that make the technology available to all employees with a simplified guest access model for partners and customers, organizations can make the case that video enhances collaboration and improves business outcomes.

Our Wave evaluation of videoconferencing infrastructure and cloud services vendors includes the 10 most significant OEMs: Acano, AGT, Avaya, Blue Jeans Network, Cisco Systems, Lifesize, Pexip, Polycom, Videxio, and Vidyo. The vast majority of systems integrators, telcos, and conferencing specialists with video offerings actually resell, white-label, or stand up their own services based on these evaluated vendors' products.

A key tenet of the evaluation was to include BOTH vendors that sell infrastructure and vendors that focus only on the cloud. It’s important to compare both camps because large enterprises want to know which vendors can help them extend or replace their existing investments in infrastructure on premises. A key finding from our research is that there are indeed many large enterprises logging 1 million minutes or more of videoconferencing from cloud services per month, and some replacing their large deployments of infrastructure with cloud services entirely. Alternatively, some are setting up their own "private cloud" environments with virtualized infrastructure.

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