Jean-Luc Robert, chairman and CEO at Kyriba, talks about his approach to innovation and what is critically important about payments in today’s market.
Q: How would you define your company’s approach to innovation?
A: We focus on innovating business value that meets business demand. For example, we are developing and testing blockchain solutions in order to deliver a value-added application to our customers when the solution is ready. At Kyriba we see technology as an enabler.
Fundamentally, our approach to innovation is to deliver accurate and absolute visibility into an organization’s liquidity and provide the ability to securely deploy cash anywhere in the world. We strive to ensure chief executives have the ability to create new growth opportunities and mitigate crises by protecting and optimizing their financial resources.
Q: Where do you look for innovative ideas, and why?
A: Our innovation comes from trust and meaningful relationships with our clients.
We strive to deploy innovations in Kyriba solutions so that our clients will maintain a market advantage when crisis strikes. Deploying these innovations in the cloud is critical — since what was true in 2005 is even more essential in 2017, and that is speed to market is a primary competitive differentiator. The benefit of solving a problem in a software-as-a-service (SaaS) environment is that all clients will gain the innovation when it is deployed.
I turn to our most trusted resources for innovative ideas: our clients, our client advisory board (CAB) and our subject matter experts, including the Treasury Advisor team that works closely with the current and prospective client base. With more than 1,500 implementations of Kyriba’s 100 percent cloud solution, we have gained a wealth of expertise from our clients. Our CAB was created to review and discuss our product, what is needed now and what will be needed in the future. In our CAB meetings, we focus on innovating solutions that can help eliminate regulatory and market challenges and plan for surprises, such as the financial crisis of 2008 or the recent political and currency volatility that we’re experiencing around the world today. We review these demands for new solutions with our in-house subject matter experts and solve the challenge.
Innovation happens when the customer pushes their resources to a place where there are no solutions, where no one has asked the question or solved the problem before. Innovation often happens at Kyriba when a customer has an immediate and substantial loss, or a loss that happens over time that is out of control. We partner with our clients to create solutions for their business cases when the client is 100 percent committed to working on the project at the same time that can bring benefits and solve challenges of other customers across our SaaS platform.
It is challenging to see where the market is going if you’re not dealing directly with the market. Our clients engage with the global market in a number of business verticals from aerospace to women’s fashion. Our clients see where the market is going first and let us know where it is meaningful for their organization to add a missing piece to become more competitive.
Q: What is the most innovative thing you’ve ever done?
A: That is an interesting philosophical question, but a good question that needs some qualification. Relative to financial solutions for global organizations, the most remarkable innovation from Kyriba is delivering the first mainstream cloud-based treasury management solution (TMS) in 2005 in a SaaS model. Since then, we’ve pushed the entire market to demand TMS delivered via SaaS.
Relative to using our TMS, we’ve turned the TMS into a workflow tool. We developed our TMS to be easy to navigate and organized by function so the user is able to get up and running with Kyriba or can create custom workflows based on their needs. Instead of operating like a programmer, the end user can use Kyriba like an iPad — the intelligence is built into the solution, and regulatory requirements and audit trails are all there so that reports can be generated automatically. This is a game changer for the industry.
As a product feature, Kyriba was the first and only company to integrate supply chain finance (SCF) into the treasury workflow. We have completely integrated our SCF offering into our TMS.
Q: What do you think that most people underestimate about innovating in payments?
A: A payment is a payment — but the automation and control of how you manage and protect your payments is largely underestimated. How you can scale and grow is dependent upon how you are able to make payments worldwide. Think about connecting to banks in Brazil, China, France, Switzerland and the United Kingdom — all from your U.S.-based organization, using the same platform to securely make and reconcile payments.
The workflows Kyriba automates to protect and secure your payments are extremely important. We have also integrated Fircosoft so that our clients can prescreen payments to suppliers abroad against watch lists. This is not new, but it adds a level of efficiency and can help offset dependence upon banks.
Q: What keeps you up at night? What concerns you most in the payment solutions space?
A: The key issues for our customers is to ensure they are making the right payments to the right entities. If the payment is made to an account that has infiltrated the client system, it is challenging to detect, especially if you are an organization who makes thousands of payments per day to hundreds of suppliers around the world. Kyriba is developing a bank account validation solution that will solve this problem.