Rearden Commerce, the Web concierge that lets corporate employees handle their travel arrangements, has bought ExpenseWire, which provides expense management software over the Internet.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed by Rearden, which July 28 also unveiled its International Mobile Service for the Rearden Personal Assistant.
ExpenseWire will be tucked into Rearden's Personal Assistant application. The software makes it easier for travelers to file, and financial officers to review and approve, employee expense reports for reimbursement.
To do this, ExpenseWire, which will be a subsidiary of Rearden, integrates with various travel management, accounting and electronic banking applications.
What is the value of such a service? Rearden argues in a statement that millions of American workers continue to submit expense reports via spreadsheets or other manual methods. I can't vouch for the millions of American workers Rearden alludes to, but I know that Ziff Davis Enterprise continues to employ spreadsheet expense reports.
Rearden argues not only that this results in lost productivity but that this manual process doesn't lend itself to visibility into employee spending trends and savings opportunities. I'm not too sure about that. Our finance people pore over these reports like a hawk and let us know if we've strayed from the employee expense guidelines.
I do know the manual process is tedious and takes time -- on both my side and the accounting department's side. I'm not sure what takes more time: me compiling the spreadsheet or accounting reviewing it. It doesn't matter; it's still annoying.
If ExpenseWire cuts the labor time in half, the solution is a great, obvious buy for Rearden, which prides itself on expediency and convenience, not to mention the reliability of its online service. And that's the point of this buy: moving traditionally paper-pushing tasks to the Internet to make our professional lives easier.
Rearden, which is holding court at the National Business Travel Association International Convention and Exposition in Los Angeles July 28, also introduced its International Mobile Service for the Rearden Personal Assistant.
I had been expecting that Rearden's Mobile Personal Assistant would be ported to the iPhone instead of just RIM's BlackBerry smart phones, but this is not to be...yet.
Here's how the new service works: International travelers can order international mobile service online after booking their travel arrangements through the Rearden Personal Assistant. Before their departure, travelers forward their existing phones to a unique "FindMe" number.
When they arrive, inbound calls are automatically routed to travelers wherever they roam, while unanswered calls are routed to travelers' voicemail and e-mail boxes. If a traveler does not have a mobile device that works worldwide, the Rearden Personal Assistant offers a selection of devices and accessories for purchase.
This will be offered through a joint service agreement with Voyport, an international mobile roaming service provider.
Voyport President and co-founder John Melick III said in a statement that U.S. carriers charge mobile roaming fees of up to $4.99 per minute.
Voyport claims to help companies slash international mobile roaming expenses by up to 75 percent. If the Rearden-Voyport union even saves businesses one quarter of their roaming expenses, the partnership is a smart one.
Rearden's International Mobile Service is being piloted by several customers, but will be generally available in the fourth quarter this year.
Finally, 2008 has been a fine year for Rearden, which said that it added more than 800 customers and 500,000 users in the first six months. Rearden counts Advisory Board, Pearl Drums and USG Corp. among its customers.