Coupa’s Release 17: Features and Approach

Coupa’s first update of the year, Release 17, offers a new application called “Perfect Fit Insights” for cross-customer B2B insights and more than 50 features across the platform including new collaboration mechanisms to work with suppliers and additional e-invoicing compliance templates.

The company has three major releases each year: January, May and September. Release 17 was put into production last month (January 2017). What Coupa looks for with these major releases is to offer its customers fast, organized and consumable innovation (in other words, new features that actually get used).

Coupa’s Recipe for Innovation

The ideas in each of Coupa’s release-driven innovations come from three sources:

  • “Customer Advisory Boards,” where customers participate in conjunction with Coupa product managers (from blue sky thinking to more pragmatic roadmap shaping)
  • Direct visits from product managers to customers, partners and suppliers
  • The Coupa Community — customers propose ideas and all customers see all ideas and are able to “vote” or comment on the ideas

Using these three sources of feedback and through brainstorming, Coupa decides what new functionalities to incorporate in each new release. The voice of the customer is central to this process, ensuring that innovations are “usable.”

The process always takes into consideration the essence of Coupa in terms of its business process flow and the interconnectivity of its platform. New releases continue to support and build on the Coupa platform vision, instead of taking it in new directions that may or may not appeal to the same customers who were already attracted to the Coupa philosophy.

Release 17

We published an in-depth analysis of Release 17 on Spend Matters PRO, but here is a quick recap on what you can expect from the solution update:

  • Access to Perfect Fit Insights, which uses data-driven insights to help customers “accelerate decision-making and improve business results”
  • Spend data classification and analytics, courtesy of Coupa’s acquisition of Spend360, which can also be sold as a stand-alone module
  • Supplier collaboration via SMS alerts
  • New configuration options
  • Updated e-invoicing compliance templates

Check out Spend Matters PRO for detailed analysis of each of these features.

Summary

Coupa has a long history of out-innovating the competition in terms of speed and features that actually get used. One can glean numerous lessons from Release 17 and Coupa’s overall innovation model:

  • Cloud-based technology providers should follow a rigorous model to tap customer innovation in a manner that results in innovations across a set of capabilities
  • True cloud-based recommendations and ideas do not only come from interviewing customers and focus groups; they come from mining behavior and past activities.
  • Artificial intelligence (utilizing machine learning and hybrid machine learning approaches) will only become more important as a means to differentiate providers in the procurement technology suite market.
  • Future user interfaces need to move beyond browser and app-based interactions.

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