Concur Encourages Developer Involvement, Touts $1.2 Trillion Annual Opportunity

Developers are being encouraged to cash in on the “1.2 trillion dollar annual opportunity” of business travel by developing products on the Concur platform, Director of Developer Evangelism Mithun Dhar told a workshop audience at APIcon today.

“Most of the enterprises today are traveling in one form or another - domestic, international, or both - and spend on average 4 hours on booking and planning travel arrangements. And that is just pre-flight. The amount of time gradually goes up as they near the time of the event,” says Dhar, Director of Developer Evangelism at Concur.

To further entrench Concur’s reputation as an internationally recognized brand name synonymous with business travel, the company wants to extend developer involvement on its Platform. Concur is financing developers via direct revenue share for apps targeting enterprise customers, and supporting developers to become Integration specialists for particular target markets within the broader business travel sector.

For developers interested in entering the market, Concur presented a wealth of market research data that can help developers identify viable product development opportunities. Concur has mapped the typical business travel persona, the 9 stages of a business traveler’s lifecycle, and have identified the key pain points already facing the business travel market.

“This is an ecosystem opportunity,” Dhar says. “We added a platform layer and exposed it out broadly so developers can tap into this and build applications.”

Dhar notes that Concur is keeping it’s focus on its core business: managing travel expense systems within business, and is using its platform setup to let other developers carve out a niche in any one of the many ancillary opportunities that can cater to the business travel.

“Our core solution is an expense solution (spend management): we book travel, record travel expenses and sort how staff get reimbursed, and we allow businesses to analyze the travel data, for example, to identify high spends with particular suppliers or to review which departments are spending the most on travel,” Dhar says.

This has translated into a global platform that supports 43 million transactions in 194 countries. On a daily basis, more than a million users log in on to Concur; 120,000 trips are booked; 300,000 expense reports are submitted and $52 million is transacted at banks each day.

Given its data collection, Dhar says the company is ideally placed to help developers identify the business opportunity and collate data-driven market research prior to creating apps on the ecosystem. “We provide developer market support not just in defining the use case and making sure that is what businesses are looking for, but we also have a technical team to work hand in hand with you,” Dhar promises.

He points to group travel as one key opportunity. “Group travel is a conundrum: how many of your employees are going to the same event and can this be optimized, for example, by bulk purchasing hotels and travel, or by ensuring team members get collaborative opportunities to attend meetings when they are all in the one event. It is one of the biggest opportunities and biggest pain points available today.”

Concur is one of the sponsors of the APIcon hackathon. Developers are given a Sandbox environment and a some sample expense data to use in their prototypes. The team has also listed suggested API mashups that competitors could work on. Dhar and fellow Concur Developer Evangelist Chris Ismael are offering similar support to other developers who want to try the API platform but who are not attending the hackathon.

API providers with ambitions to become a thriving platform with an active ecosystem, Concur provides a replicable model: at the base is Concur’s core business - its travel expense products. Above this are the composable platform resources such as the API, data services and travel sector relationships that make it possible for third party developers to build into the ecosystem. And above this layer are the products created by the ecosystem partners: apps, visualizations, integration services.

For existing app developers using the platform, customer referrals from Concur integrations are already the major revenue source for their business. Concur is also seeing a growing number of developers specialize as integration specialists for the travel service sector. Developers can sign up for an account on the Concur developer portal.

Be sure to read the next APIcon article: APIcon 2014: Using APIs to Move Beyond the Simple Password