Ten years ago today, we cranked up the generator, warmed up the vacuum tubes, watched the lights flicker, and the very first version of Chrome River EXPENSE lurched into life. Of course, sadly it wasn’t quite as dramatic as that, but for a company that had been in existence for barely a year, it was still a truly momentous occasion (and also, looking back at how technology overall and Chrome River’s solution have evolved over the past 10 years, the analogy of the dawn of computing isn’t necessarily that far-fetched).
When Chrome River was founded, my co-founder, Dave Terry, and I shared a vision of building an expense and invoice solution that can support the needs of the most complex and demanding organisations. For expense management, this happened to be the legal industry, and we both had strong contacts in this industry, following our experience with Elite, which had been acquired by Thompson a few years before.
Fast forward 10 years and Chrome River’s evolution has been remarkable. From our early days in the legal industry (in which we are now trusted by more than 70% of the largest law firms), we have grown to be a true global leader in the field.
Our expense and invoice management solutions are now used by well over 750 companies around the globe, from Global 2000 multinationals to emerging high-growth companies. We now have customers in industries ranging from pro sports franchises to airlines, and from large consulting and professional services organisations to restaurant chains. In fact, Chrome River now has more than 2 million users, living in 114 countries across every continent. Over the past 10 years, we have processed expense claims submitted in every currency in circulation, even those from countries most people couldn’t find on a map. Saint Helenan pound? Yes. Vanuatu vatu? Yup. Mauritanian ougiya? Of course! We also lead the field in terms of languages for our solution. Chrome River’s entire suite of solutions is fully, professionally, translated into 31 languages, which represent a native tongue of 3 billion people worldwide.
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When we started the company, we knew that delivering software in the cloud using the SaaS (software as a service) subscription model was to be the dominant way for enterprise software to be used by customers, and this foresight has served us very well. In fact, industry analyst IDC forecasts that by 2021, 94 percent of expense management software will be accessed in the cloud. Not only has our customer base evolved significantly over the past decade, but so has our technology. Back in 2008, the iPhone was less than a year old, and few people could have predicted that the mobile internet would be quite so dominant worldwide, especially in developing nations. Our initial decision to use the cloud to deliver our software proved to be prescient in this regard as well, as Chrome River can be used just as easily and effectively on a mobile phone or a tablet as on a laptop. Not only this, but it can be used on any device in any language, without the need for a specialised app to be downloaded.
Of course, none of this could be done without our great team, which now counts more than 360 around the world. From our software designers, engineers, programmers and testers who bring the products to market, to our implementation and customer support and success teams, who enable our hundreds of customers to benefit from our technology, to our internal teams who keep the company running smoothly, every single one of our team plays a vital role in Chrome River’s success.
Looking back, I’m incredibly proud of the company we’ve all built. While I can’t predict how technology will evolve over the next decade, there are two things I do know for sure: Chrome River will be at the forefront of any innovation, and we’ll have a great time doing it.
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Our choice of Chrome River EXPENSE was made in part due to the very user-friendly interface, easy configurability, and the clear commitment to impactful customer service – all aspects in which Chrome River was the clear winner. While Chrome River is not as large as some of the other vendors we considered, we found that to be a benefit and our due diligence showed that it could support us as well as any large players in the space, along with a personalized level of customer care.
We are excited to be able to enforce much more stringent compliance to our expense guidelines and significantly enhance our expense reporting and analytics. By automating these processes, we will be able to free up AP time formerly spent on manual administrative tasks, and enhance the role by being much more strategic.