Concur Messaging Broadens Offering Beyond Travelers

Moving away from the notion of "traveler tracking," Concur Messaging in late September unveiled technology enhancements that allow users to locate and send messages to all company employees, whether they are on the road or in their everyday office.

A mobile messaging and traveler assistance platform once known as conTgo and acquired by Concur in 2013, Concur Messaging also now allows users to define groups of employees__C-level executives, for example__and send messages or alerts only to members of that specific group.

Concur senior director of strategy and product marketing (and conTgo founder) Johnny Thorsen said the move enables the platform to evolve beyond a traveler tracker and into a broader role.

" 'Traveler tracking' by definition creates a notion among individuals that, hey, I don't want to be tracked. It is a significant loaded word, but it's also an indication it only works for the people who are out there traveling," Thorsen said. "Any given employee environment between 5 percent and 10 percent of the total employee base might be traveling on a given day, which means the rest__the great majority__are not."

Thorsen said the new platform uses data from Concur's expense management platform to help locate employees, not just travelers.

"This is where you see the power of the Concur data universe," Thorsen said. "A typical Concur Expense customer normally uploads their entire employee base, because anybody can file an expense. You don't have to be a traveler to file expenses. Therefore, we now have the entire employee base available in Concur Expense and we have done all the development awhile ago that automatically transfers those employees over to the platform.

"Suddenly there's no need for profile synchronizations," he continued. "Any employee that can go and file an expense is automatically available in the platform for customers who want that to happen."

Thorsen noted the new platform therefore no longer is an exclusive product for a travel department. "It certainly moves the technology away from the travel department into the enterprise IT department. Now, this is something that not only the travel department, but also of course continuous security can use, or even IT."

As for the new group functionality, the process at the moment is a bit manual__the client submits the names of members of a would-be group to Concur Messaging, which then creates that group. Thorsen said the company plans to unveil more dynamic group-creation features "early in" 2015.

Thorsen said that since conTgo's early days, clients had requested travelers be isolated into groups that receive specific messages. Since the acquisition by Concur, the concept of a broader solution has been explored.

"How are you actually reaching out when a bad situation happens and you need to get to the most important people because they might not be traveling?" Thorsen asked. "That's where we learned that [companies] always have two lists today: one for the travelers, which is our technology or other similar products, and then another based on where people are working. They do a manual cross-reference, and that creates the list of who is working in Atlanta, but has gone elsewhere today, so therefore they are not there. It's a very manual and time-consuming process. That's how we saw the opportunity."

Thorsen said there is no additional cost for using the platform, and clients who do not use Concur Expense or other Concur tools still can access it. But he noted that the platform's reach into the employee population therefore would be less broad.

Concur has tested the platform internally for about a month, he said, adding that "my guess is within one month we will have the first stories to share about groups being created and the data they are providing."