On Concur's Acquisition

Dean Forbes is CEO of travel and expense system provider KDS.

Since the announcement I have been asked to comment on what this means for the T&E industry, KDS and Concur. So far I have resisted officially commenting for a variety of reasons, but feel now that the dust has begun to settle it's appropriate to respond in one shot to the many requests. Hence this blog.

SAP's acquisition of Concur is great for the T&E tech sector and it's great for Concur founders and shareholders. This fairly bold move by SAP proves what many of us believe__T&E is a critical business process where the investments to control this process and associated spend will continue to increase. For shareholders the value premium would have shown a nice return for just about every single investor and in particular those employees who have held the stock for a long time. As an entrepreneur in this space, I tip my hat to the achievement of the Singh brothers in creating a high-value, market-leading company.

The second question people ask is, what this means for the KDS relationship with SAP? The answer is: 'no real change.' We can imagine that in time SAP and Concur will build some technical synergies on the back end; this will make Concur a more natural choice for organizations committed to SAP wall to wall. But for customers who recognize that T&E is not a generalist category, that it takes focus to be brilliant in amassing geographically relevant content, full integration with TMCs, and neutral interoperability with any ERP solutions, KDS (and similarly independent and innovative companies) will continue to be the preferred choice.

Which brings me to the products. I, like the majority of the world, have no idea what this means for the mid- and long-term for the Concur products. What we do know is that super large companies struggle to innovate at pace. As a result Concur became a choice of the CFO and almost never the choice of the user on whom the solution was inflicted upon. The answer? They stopped innovating on the travel side of their solution and invented "open booking." SAP are perhaps the most non-innovative tech company behind only BlackBerry. I do not know what the combined entity will produce in terms of interesting products, but I do know that when two elephants mate you do not get a race horse.

The post was reprinted with permission from KDS. It originally appeared here.