I am sure many of you have followed last week’s announcement of Concur’s planned acquisition by SAP for more than $8 billion. We’ve cheered Concur on through the years and in fact, Raj Singh, Co-founder and President of Concur, is on Apptio's Board of Directors. As I reflected on Concur’s beginnings, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between Concur and Apptio – below are my thoughts only as an outside observer and do not in any way represent thoughts from the Concur executive team or my board members.

Concur execs Steve Singh, Rajeev Singh (Apptio Board member) and Mike Hilton at the opening of the company’s new headquarters. Image from GeekWire.com

Concur led the expense management software industry by addressing a point of pain many were experiencing – spreadsheet-based expense tracking and reporting. This process was manual and couldn’t scale to meet the demands of many enterprise organizations. Companies were getting minimum insights into their spend on Travel & Expense (T&E) and lacked a powerful system to make the process simple and easy. 

I respect the journey Concur has taken to solve a major pain point for companies and employees and am excited that Apptio is traveling down a similar path, one focused on moving companies to a new way of thinking. Here are just a few of the similarities I see between the companies:

  1. Concur created a new market segment – T&E Management— and replaced a process that was previously done entirely on spreadsheets. Similarly, many in IT still track their costs and budgets using spreadsheets. But in just seven years, Apptio has managed to convince 200+ customers to adopt TBM and improve the way they manage their technology business. Initially, nobody wanted to buy a T&E system but you would be hard-pressed to find a company not using one today. I see a similar future for Apptio and TBM.
  2. Like Apptio, Concur also started by selling to bigger companies— organizations with large T&E spend that could afford Concur and justify automating the T&E process. Similarly, Apptio began by selling to bigger or more mature companies, and is now affordable and accessible to companies at various sizes. Apptio’s move towards standardized cost applications, simplified planning applications, and increased ease of use are all important inflection points that now allow us to expand our market opportunity and sell to a broader set of customers.
  3. Concur evolved to completely own the end-to-end T&E experience, automatically ingesting data into expense reports, helping customers book travel directly through Concur, and expanding to mobile.  At Apptio, we similarly are focused on delivering an easy and quick end-to-end experience for our customers - from data sourcing and ingestion to the visualizations and insights customers can access on an iPad - and over-time fully automate the supply chain of IT. As we continue to understand new customer pain points, I foresee we will continue to develop our applications and platform that support their needs from the start of TBM to the boardroom. 
  4. Like any other company, Concur pushed through and overcame challenges. Their journey was filled with focus, perseverance, hard work and dedication to their customers. At Apptio, I think we have many of the same cultural attributes and as you know, our commitment to creating wildly successful customers is what drives us at every moment.  

This is a good reminder that value creation takes times. Concur was founded in 1993 and it created additional value for its employees and shareholders for many years after it went public. Just as Concur created value for its network, I see Apptio creating value by:

  • Delivering great products that are easy to use and loved by our customers
  • Continuing to expand the TBM market into customers of all sizes and verticals and in all geographies
  • Vertically owning the business management processes of IT, through integrated process, analytics, and data platforms and applications

I believe Apptio has an equally incredible opportunity as the one Concur has experienced in the last two decades. We can only hope that in a few years, someone is looking at our story and is as inspired by us as we are by Concur.