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Concur agrees with Salesforce.com cloud strategy

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) using Salesforce.com will soon have another option to track their travel expenses with the announcement of a new offering built on Force.com yesterday.

Redmond, Wash.-based Concur Inc.will launch Concurforce before the end of the calendar year, company managers say. Built on Salesforce.com's cloud-based platform for developers, the employee-facing app will integrate into Salesforce customer relationship management (CRM) and Chatter to make it easier totrack expenses while on the road.

Concur announces travel expenses app for SMBs.

Concur is an integrator of travel and expense solutions with other software platforms, and focuses on delivering a service that is accessible over the Web and on mobile devices, says Kim Albrecht, director of marketing communications at Concur.

Related Story Chatter.com encourages ad-hoc adoption

"Expense reporting is a universal pain," she says. "A lot of people are telling me 'I am still using a paper-based system.' This will give them more visibility into the cost of their sales."

Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff made his case that the cloud is the next big thing for app development in his keynote at day two of Dreamforce, the firm'sannual conference in San Francisco. He projected a larger-than-life slide on screen behind him showing 550,000 apps having been developed on Facebook, with a very sharp upwards tick in 2010.

"Yesterday's platforms are holding back enterprise apps," he said. "A next-generation platform is needed. It needs to be mobile, real-time and open. It needs to include feeds, profiles and the social graph."

Salesforce.com has been working on expanding beyond its traditional CRM base in recent years, aiming to play the role of a more complete enterprise platform. Attracting third-party developers to build on Force.com will be key to making that happen, and Salesforce expanded the options available to developers with its acquisition of Ruby platform Heroku last year. Now the CEO of Heroku, Byron Sebastian, is leading up Force.com as Salesforce.com's senior vice president of platform.

"Wesee ourselves in a very clear leader spot in a market that is very early on. It's here, it's real, and the economic opportunity is huge," he says.

Salesforce.com was named by Forrester Research as a leader in the Platform as a Service market in May, a market it estimates will grow to $12 billion by 2020.

Similar to how Microsoft offered a number of different choices for building applications in the 1990s, Salesforce.com is now offering thatcomplete platform, Sebastian says. "That's what it takes to be on the list of suppliers to the largest companies in the world."

For Concur, developing on Force.com made sense because the Salesforce.com platform offered lots of new users that could be potential customers. The cloud platform was also easy to build on, saysSarah Kuberry, principal program manager at Concur.

"Whatever we wanted to do, we were able to do on Force.com," she says. "It's incredibly quick.

Concur started developing its new offering in May, and had a workingdemo version to display on the Dreamforce show floor. The app was builtwith Apex code, and a sprinkling of Java.

It offers users a one-click expense report based on travel itinerary. The app sends travel information through Tripit.com, which turns flight, hotel and rental car confirmation e-mails into a mobile travel itinerary. Users traveling together can also collaborate around their itinerary using Chatter.

"All those things normally e-mailed back and forth are put into Chatter without users having to do a thing," Kuberry explains. Concur also ties into social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, so users can inform friends and family of their travel plans.

The Force.com platform currently has 400,000 developers that have created 240,000 custom applications. It delivers 500 million transactions every business day, according to Salesforce.com.


ian Jackson is the Associate Editor at ITBusiness.ca. Follow him on Twitter, read his blog, and check out the IT Business Facebook Page.


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