Coupa Inspire 2017: A Provocative Keynote

Global Procurement Tech Summit pisotskii/Adobe Stock

Coupa Inspire 2017 kicked-off yesterday with CEO Rob Bernshteyn delivering the keynote. Rob’s speech was plain spoken and detailed in terms of Coupa’s product and market vision, as my colleague Pierre Mitchell wrote in an earlier dispatch. The tone of the room was reminiscent of a rock concert. Bottom line: folks were excited. The audience of more than 1,500 was engaged and Coupa’s CEO had command of the room.

I walked out with two takeaways firmly stuck to my brain. First, how emphatic Bernshteyn was about the following: software companies should not self-servingly promote ways to drive user adoption. It’s not about interface design, and adoption isn’t what Coupa’s after here. “The best UI is no UI,” Bernshteyn said. The focus must be on value delivery (regardless of how it happens, but preferably automatic) because frankly, Coupa’s guaranteeing it. Those are the table stakes. “People should only interact with technology when they are adding value,” Bernshteyn said.

Second, he used the term “prescriptive” several times. What was fresh about Rob’s usage was the idea that like-minded members of the Coupa community could and should be able to help each other “without any additional effort.” For example, if a supplier has consistently underperformed for several members of the community (i.e. missed delivery dates, inaccurate invoices, damaged product, etc.) the software should identify the problem and not only share the information and make recommendations, but in the near future, take corrective actions (e.g., tee up sourcing events with newly recommended replacements).

Coupa realizes it’s spend data is gold — if the community uses it. Again, it’s not about how it gets used, but if it gets used. And it’s not about Coupa telling you what to do. It’s about adding a layer of intelligence to buying networks (like Coupa Advantage) that allows for the sharing of such relevant data in ways that persistently deliver community benefits.

Generally speaking, Rob’s speech was fittingly inspired. Stay tuned for more coverage.

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