While many companies just began recognizing the value of cloud computing and software-as-a-service applications for their business, did you know that some companies have been doing this for nearly two decades? Today, we explore the early days and evolution of two leaders in the cloud community today—Concur and Intacct—and how they are among the founding fathers of Web-based delivery.
The Right Place, the Right Time, the Right Focus
If you haven’t heard the founding stories, Concur came to be in 1993 as a cost saving application for businesses looking to automate the expense reporting process—a problem that at them time every business had, but no one knew how to solve, according to a Mixergy interview with the founders. Concur began as a package software for businesses, pivoting after its first year to sell to corporations. By 1998, the company pivoted again, building a web version of its software and really beginning to scale, going public in 1998.
Intacct was founded in 1999 to provide internet-based accounting for growing businesses, at a time when “cloud” was little more than a nascent idea that was pitched by Sean O’Sullivan and George Favaloro to Compaq in 1996 who coined the term to define “the migration of communication and collaboration applications into the internet ‘cloud’.”
From its very beginning, Intacct was focused on being the hub, working with other best-in-class models:
“One vendor simply cannot create all the accounting functions itself,” said Intacct founder David Thomas [in an interview with NetworkWorld Magazine]. His idea is to make Intacct a “financial hub” for a growing array of Web services aimed at particular types of businesses.
1999 marked another key turning point for the cloud, as it also marked the year that one of the biggest names in cloud computing—Salesforce.com—was founded as an customer relationship management software delivered through a model known as Software-as-a-Service. Little did the industry know that the SaaS model would become the main option for businesses in the modern age.
Weathering the Dot-Com Bubble
Things changed as the new millennium hit, and while rumors of the collapse of civilization were greatly exaggerated, another major technological collapse was on the horizon—The Dot-com bubble burst. The Dot-com bubble occurred when investors focused too much on technological advancement with too little due diligence, companies grew fast compared to their price-earnings ratio, and investor confidence dried up after multiple high-profile failures.
For every thousand failures during the dot-com boom and bust of the late 90s-early 00s, there were companies like Intacct and Concur, who were able to weather the storm while other companies were shuttered or sold.
The Smart Decisions in the Early 2000s That Set the Stage for these Cloud Successes
For example, Concur was the only one of these companies to be publicly traded when the Dot-com bubble burst, and like many other publicly traded technology companies around the turn of the millennium faced a rapid fall in value—spending the first couple years of the 21st century being traded for less than a dollar. This is when the founders knew that it was time to make another shift, focusing entirely on web-based delivery of its product.
In 2001, we said the best way to deliver this is over the Web entirely. So instead of a web-based on-premise package, we were going to convert our business from an on-premise software company that, at the time, probably by then, was doing $45 million in revenues, and we were going to convert to a software as a service company. […] Software as a service…wasn’t quite as sexy in 2002 as it is in 2011. From 2002-2003, we were probably doing pretty close to $0 in software as a service revenues. [In 2010], 99% of that was software as a service revenues.
Intacct quietly grew, focusing on its initial business model and adding additional functionality through the early 2000s, such as payroll/accounting integration, and HR functionality in 2000, inventory management and consolidation functionality in 2001, Cash Management and Multi-Entity functionality in 2002, and so much more ever since. Also, focusing on its partnerships, the company established relationships with salesforce.com and ADP in 2001, relationships that exist in helping organizations to this day.
Veterans during the “Advent” of the Cloud
By the time companies began to realize the value of cloud computing/Web-based/Software-as-a-Service applications, Concur, Intacct, and Salesforce had already established themselves as leaders in the cloud world. To put it into perspective, by the time cloud computing became a “cool buzzword” in the late 00’s, Intacct and Salesforce had already been around for a decade, and Concur had been around for nearly two decades, focusing exclusively on Web-based delivery for T&E software for about 8 years.
A Legacy of Success—Without the Inflexibility of Legacy Systems
When you look at companies like Intacct, Concur, and Salesforce, you notice one thing—a legacy of innovation, growth, and success in providing web-based applications that were built to meet one specific need of businesses, whether that’s accounting, travel and expense management, or customer relationship management.
While having this legacy, however, they haven’t gotten away from their roots. These companies haven’t fallen into the trap that many vendors do—falling into complacency. While applications that were built in the 80s and early 90s stopped innovating and had to play catch up, Intacct continues to offer robust quarterly updates and Concur makes changes monthly, as highlighted in their monthly to bi-monthly Product News blogs.
Companies may have just begun to start trusting cloud applications for their mission-critical business processes, but when you dig deeper, you’ll notice that some companies have been providing security, experience, and trust that businesses need, all while offering the agility that growing organizations want.
All This from a Partner with Just as Much Experience
Wipfli/Brittenford has spent the good part of the last decade helping companies recognize the value of the cloud, and as a leading Intacct VAR, Concur Advisor, and provider of connectors for the two products, we can offer the support and knowledge that your company needs to decide on, implement, and operate modern accounting, T&E, and more. Learn more about our products, our services, and our connectors, and get in contact with us for more information.