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At 2 a.m. this morning, our cat woke me up and I had a quick look at the news feed on my iPad. I saw the announcement that SAP was going to acquire Concur and I rolled over, went back to sleep and had strange dreams that I promptly forgot upon waking.  My brain was obviously working during this period, because I immediately created this list of predictions regarding the announcement.

Predictions

  • Concur extensions running on the HANA Cloud Platform (HCP). Most of SAP’s SaaS offers have extensions running on HCP, for example SuccessFactors.  Although it appears that Concur uses SalesForce at the moment for such scenarios (for example, for its mobile apps or Concurforce), I’d expect changes in this area.
  • HANA used to perform analytics in Concur. This is usually the first move towards the ubiquitous HANA approach and can be seen in SuccessFactors and Ariba. I assume that ConcurInsights will be the first solution to move to HANA.   Another possibility for HANA usage would be the real-time messaging solution Concur Messaging.

The existing SAP SaaS travel application – SAP Cloud for Travel and Expensewill disappear and be replaced by the Concur offering.

  • Fiori is THE UI pattern for SAP applications. Expect Fiori-style UIs / technology to appear in Concur’s applications. A quick search didn’t reveal any oData-based interfaces for Concur but they do have a mature REST API.
  • At the moment, Concur has integration interfaces with various platforms (Financials: Netsuite, Salesforce, etc) including SAP systems. Other partners (including Informatica and Axosnet) also provide such functionality. I assume that there will Concur connectors for HANA Cloud Integration that appear in the future – similar to the standardized connectors for SuccessFactors.
  • Currently Concur has its own data centers (including DCs located in Europe). There will be a consolidation here –  these Concur applications will move to the existing SAP DCs.
  • Much of the attention about the acquisition has been on Concur’s T/E applications. Concur has other offerings including an Invoice Management product.  Ariba has a competing offer in this area. It will be curious to see how the consolidation regarding this duplication plays out. I’d expect Ariba’s product to win leading to a tighter integration between Ariba and Concur in terms of the idea of the “business network”.
  • The acquisition might provide SAP some opportunity to kick-start its cloud activities for SMEs – many of which use the T/E offering from Concur. The ability for cross-selling in this market might allow SAP to sell some of its other offers for such customers.

Characteristics of Concur that I like


  • The Concur App Store is impressive and full of partner applications. Let’s see if some of its momentum wears off on the SAPStore. 
  • Concur has OpenStack experience – in particular SwiftStack to deal with image processing. This fits well with SAP’s push in this direction.
  • Concur provides a public report based on a deep analysis of its data. This action is an excellent example of a company exploiting its data exhaust based on its SaaS applications.
  • Concur has a much tighter relationship with the consumer market (for example, its recent agreement with Uber and Airbnb) than SAP. This consumer focus will help SAP in its current focus on non-traditional areas (such as sports) as it moves beyond the traditional enterprise software space. 
  • Concur has a great developer website with details about its various APIs (for example, here is the site for its enterprise apps). As its cooperation with Apigee demonstrates,  SAP has an interest to improve its API-related features in the cloud. Perhaps, the Cloud API “DNA” from Concur in this area will help SAP move more rapidly in this area. 
  • Concur already has experience with Hadoop. For example, here is the press release about Concur’s use of Hadoop / Cloudera.  I wonder what role HANA will have in such future BigData scenarios at Concur?

Acquisition patterns

In April I blogged about interesting patterns in SAP’s cloud acquisitions and identified specific patterns. Regarding the planned Concur acquisition, I wanted to see if my predictions were valid.

Category

Concur

These are all established/experienced cloud companies rather than start-ups

1993

These are all companies which were/are largely hosted in their own data centers / other private clouds rather than public clouds

Concur uses its own data centers (for example, in Europe) for public and private cloud solutions.

These are companies whose main products are largely based on established Java-based technologies.

It looks like Concur uses JAVA internally in some fashion. It also uses other technologies (MS SQL, etc) and as usual, any details about its internal architecture are difficult to find.

The focus on the acquired companies is primarily in the Line of Business (LoB) area of SAP’s cloud portfolio.

Concur’s main focus is Travel & Expense Management Software – a LOB area.


Not bad – it looks like my predictions were pretty good.

Conclusion

Note: The planned acquisition of Concur is still very fresh so I’ve obviously missed a variety of aspects that are interesting and require deeper analysis / research.

As the recent Cloud Deep-dive illustrated, SAP still tends to focus on cloud applications (for example, SimpleFinance based on the HANA Enterprise Cloud) that aren’t SaaS applications.  Concur provides some intriguing possibilities for SAP’s cloud strategy – the question is whether SAP can and will realize this potential and exploit it.

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5 Comments

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  1. Ioan Radulescu

    I didn’t know about the app store Concur has so thanks! I think SAP did the right acquisition with concur. I always thought it was awesome how Concur created tight relationships to partner companies via software (integrating rental car companies straight to your travel planning, etc.) and was wondering if SAP would do something about it already two years ago.

    An app store might open the door to small companies like mine to greatness if it works – I’d be interested in HR mostly so let’s hope SAP is becoming very friendly to microscopic partners, like Apple is.

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  2. Hans-Dieter Knoch

    Thanks Richard for your interesting thoughts and insights!

    Of course it is difficult to make predictions right after the announcement and we have to see what actually will happen after the Concur acquisition is closed, and how fast.
    But I’m sure a roadmap with great products will be defined and SAP will incorporate the strengths of Concur offerings AND existing SAP T&E products.

    Especially in the Cloud for Travel and Expense solution there is know-how to leverage in areas like ERP and partner integration, HANA Cloud Platform and DB, Fiori and OData.
    And not to forget the 25 years of overall experience SAP has in T&E management and how to fulfill the specific legislations in more than 20 countries.

    After joining forces, SAP / Concur will be hard to compete with in the T&E area!

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    1. Richard Hirsch Post author

      Especially in the Cloud for Travel and Expense solution there is know-how to leverage in areas like ERP and partner integration, HANA Cloud Platform and DB, Fiori and OData.

      And not to forget the 25 years of overall experience SAP has in T&E management and how to fulfill the specific legislations in more than 20 countries.

      Those are excellent points and good examples of the potential synergies between the two products.

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