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Paris-based booking and expense management tool provider KDS on Tuesday revealed a new data dashboard which will help corporations track strategic travel key performance indicators and automatically generate suggested remedies if targets look set to be missed. Describing its Executive Suite as an early warning system, KDS officials said the system potentially can track travel spend versus budget and also versus corporate revenues so a CFO can judge, for example, whether to allow travel over-spend to continue so long as sales are increasing.
KDS unveiled Executive Suite here at a conference for its clients and supplier partners. Other announcements included the launch of a mobile application with expense reporting for travelers and expense approval for line managers; a receipt imaging service to make expense claims paperless; and a feature that shows travelers before making a booking their likely daily spend at a destination based on the company's historic expense data.
Available immediately, Executive Suite is intended to help companies link their travel programs more explicitly to business objectives. KDS chief executive Yves Weisselberger told The Beatthat 95 percent of required data can be sourced from the travel and expense information within the KDS system. However, some KPIs, such as travel spend versus revenue, require the company to add some of its own financial data, which Weisselberger admitted some corporations may be reluctant to do.
Assuming the client will supply revenue information, a CFO contemplating whether to up the travel budget could verify first on the dashboard that policy compliance is high. In a hypothetical scenario demonstrated during the conference, Executive Suite would show ways of improving compliance still further, for example by highlighting cities where policy breaches are most common or listing the most noncompliant individuals. The scenario also demonstrated examples of Executive Suite flagging destinations with unexpectedly heavy spend, thus allowing buyers to negotiate new or improved supplier deals.
"We are using a combination of sophisticated algorithms to generate a number of recommendations, followed by a fine-tuning by our expert team to ensure the recommendations correspond with reality," said Weisselberger. "It is about 90 percent algorithms and 10 percent human touch." However, Weisselberger insisted KDS has no intention of setting itself up as a consultancy service. "We are giving decision makers tools," he said. "They still need to be smart, but until today they have often not had the tools to make decisions."
The new KDS mobile app is broadly similar to Concur Mobile, the rival booking and expense tool provider's solution that has been on the market since 2009. In addition to expense reporting and approval, there also is a trip itinerary feature for travelers.
The mobile app initially is available for BlackBerry users, with iPhone and Android platforms to follow "shortly." This first version of the app does not have a travel booking feature. "Booking a trip on a mobile is not the first thing customers have been asking us for," said Weisselberger. "It is still a very difficult experience whatever you do" to make it user-friendly.
In other developments, KDS has started taking automated feeds into its expense reporting tool from the American Express lodge card. Previously, the only lodge card from which KDS could take an automated feed was from AirPlus, which remains the case for Concur. KDS also said it has become the first corporate booking tool to establish a connection to the new Air Canada application programming interface, launched in December.
Weisselberger claimed that KDS now has 4,000 corporate clients and 2 million registered users worldwide, making 300,000 trips worth €1 billion in travel spend. He also claimed that KDS is the biggest-selling booking tool in Europe and revealed that the pricing model for the booking tool includes a "small" implementation fee plus a transaction fee of around €5, which is reduced according to size of negotiated discount.
Weisselberger also told The Beatthat around one-quarter of clients use KDS for expense management as well as online booking, and that the proportion continues to grow.
This article originally was published by The Beat
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