Roxana Bressy &
Oliver Quayle talk:
• Integrating KDS
& Amex GBT
• Customer growth
• Revamping the
It’s been over a year since American Express
Global Business Travel acquired KDS. That’s
when Roxana Bressy took over as KDS CEO and
her colleague Oliver Quayle became Amex GBT
VP of product marketing and innovation. The
T&E provider kept a low profile last year as it
found its footing. Meanwhile, it’s expanding its
team so much that Quayle, who is British, joked
about inventing a double-decker desk. Bressy
and Quayle spoke with BTN payment and expense editor JoAnn DeLuna.
KDS HAS BEEN QUIET. WHAT’S KEPT YOU BUSY?
Quayle: We’ve been very quiet for a long time because we’ve been internationalizing and globalizing
our product to become a local solution in each country, and there’s nothing really sexy about that.
YOU HAD A “VERY GOOD YEAR” IN 2017. WHAT DOES
A GOOD YEAR ENTAIL?
Bressy: After an acquisition, anything can happen
and customers can leave, but we’ve had 100 percent
customer retention. We’ve gotten new customers,
too. One of the deals we signed was a major French
utility company client for travel. They will add expense at the end of 2018. We also signed a T&E
deal with La Poste, France’s postal service company,
which has 260,000 employees. All of their 80,000
postal [workers] will use KDS Expense solely on
their mobiles, as they don’t have computers. For the
12 months of 2017, we had between 13 percent and
14 percent transaction growth, which after an acquisition is really great.
WHAT MARKET EXPERIENCED THE BIGGEST PERCENTAGE GROWTH?
Quayle: The Nordics. Amadeus is closing down
e-Travel and migrating to Cytric. A lot of the Nordic [customers] didn’t want to go to a forced migration. That de;nitely did it, and with the backing of
Amex GBT, we get a lot of development [support]
to the region, as well.
BEFORE THE ACQUISITION, KDS’S PENETRATION INTO
THE U.S. WAS SLOW. HOW ARE THINGS PROGRESSING?
Quayle: Our owner is [U.S. based], and they’ve been
very stringent on what the entry criteria is before
they hand us the keys and push all their customers
onto KDS. If it were up to KDS, it’d be a lot quicker,
but before the ;rst half of 2018, you’ll start to see a
huge amount of migration of U.S. customers onto
the KDS platform. I’m talking about thousands [of
travelers]. The ;rst three-quarters [of the year will
be focused on growing] in the U.S., and then the
fourth quarter we’ll move into Asia/Paci;c.
KDS RELEASED A NEW NEO EXPENSE INTERFACE FOR
BOTH MOBILE AND DESKTOP ON JAN. 20. WHY DID
YOU CHANGE IT?
Quayle: When we first did Neo Expense, we
used the iPad as the reference platform, and it
was all drag and drop. It looked cool and was
great, but the user feedback was that if you’re
not on an iPad, then it’s hard to drag and drop.
So we changed the reference platform to mo-
bile. Now it’s just touch. As you touch [the in-
terface] it knows what you’re likely to want to
do next and suggests which expense items will
be put into the calendar for you. It’s a lot more
intuitive and faster.
FRANCE USED TO REQUIRE COMPANIES TO KEEP
PAPER RECORDS OF ALL RECEIPTS AND INVOICES.
IN DECEMBER, FRANCE UPDATED ITS LEGISLATION
TO ALLOW PDF RECORDS INSTEAD. HOW IS KDS
HELPING CLIENTS WITH THIS DEMATERIAL-IZATION,
AS IT’S REFERRED TO IN FRANCE?
Quayle: The digital process must comply with
the legislation in terms of security and PDF
certification. KDS provides the electronic signature on behalf of our customers that is recognized as following the legislation requirements.
It is not an obligation to go digital; however,
due to the cost of receipt storage and internal
logistics, most companies want to go for a pa-perless process. One KDS customer said they
had about 40 kilometers of receipt boxes. So
finally we’ve enabled customers to be 100 percent digital. That was a big achievement.
Bressy: With the help of one of our customers,
which is also one of the biggest [telecommuni-cations] companies in France, KDS developed
the process beginning in 2017 and for all customers [by] April 2017.
TRADITIONALLY, CONCUR, KDS AND DEEM HAVE
MADE UP THE INTEGRATED T&E SECTOR, BUT IN
SEPTEMBER, CERTIFY ACQUIRED NUTRAVEL’S CORPORATE ONLINE BOOKING TOOL. HOW DO YOU FEEL
ABOUT HAVING ANOTHER COMPETITOR?
Quayle: They’ll get bogged down because travel
is very complicated. I’m certain innovation for
them will slow while they take onboard that
complexity. Additionally, Certify is mainly in the
U.S. If they want to come into Europe, moving
to Europe is like relaunching in the U.S. times
20 and with one-20th of the revenue. It’ll be dif-;cult for them to scale while also internationalizing. Good luck to them. It validates the fact
that T&E, travel and expense pulled together, is
a valuable solution. Having another player will
only be good for the ecosystem because it will
bring innovation, bring competition. What we
need right now is more competition.
ROXANA, HOW HAVE YOU GROWN INTO YOUR ROLE
AS CEO OF KDS, AND WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR
Bressy: I learned a lot and I’m happy the year
was successful. Our employee retention was the
best ever. We kept all of our people. We are also
adding a lot of people by increasing our R&D
and product team by more than 50 percent. In
2018, we’ll continue to grow our market share
in the new regions, and [we’ll focus on] the
growth of our company by integrating all these
new people. We want to come back to the market with innovation and announce something
before the end of 2018.
After a Quiet Year, KDS
Readies for U.S. Expansion
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