Coupa Inspire Dispatch – Building Ecosystems the Old-Fashioned Way

I flew to San Francisco yesterday for Coupa Inspire (I’ll be presenting tomorrow). I first spent a couple hours wandering around the city with my family and taking the famous cable cars – now $6 one way! – but now I’m settled into the conference. And I’m not entirely surprised to find the entire event has been dialed up a notch from last year.

The event is sold out and it does feel packed (by comparison, though, it’s still only half the size of the Ariba Live conference in the U.S.). But more on the exact numbers later.

Still, more impressive than the size is the feel of the event. There are more and more organizations here. I’ve already spoken to numerous Coupa partners and potential partners (some are very, very large companies) that are already or might soon start building out around the Coupa customer and technical ecosystem.

Some might call this old-fashioned given the rise of platform-as-a-service (PaaS) models that put a technical platform ecosystem at the core. But Coupa is doing it – or should we say their ecosystem is doing it – in a more traditional manner without a like model.

Earlier this spring, the Spend Matters team interviewed Coupa’s Rob Bernshteyn on the topic of platforms after Coupa’s latest $40 million funding round. Here are some excerpts of what he said:

“There are different levels of platforms. for example has very flexible workflow, routing engine. My view is that you want to be really close to the business requirements.”

“The key is not trying to be all things to all people … we stick to a business process focus … Coupa will continue to integrate well with others… we have no interest in platform strategy beyond that.”

“At least not in the sense of having others build on top of Coupa, but rather integrate seamlessly with us, matched to the needs of our customers … Regarding a platform that people can build on — we’re not going in that direction yet.”

Given some of the new partnership announcements that are expected out of the event and the ecosystem that feels like it’s growing at log scale in full display at Inspire, it might not matter that Coupa doesn’t have a PaaS strategy yet.

But it eventually will.

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