Coupa Gets Closer to SAP with NetWeaver Certification – SAP Does Not Get Closer to Coupa

Yesterday at Inspire, Coupa announced that its latest release, Coupa 11, has achieved SAP NetWeaver certification. According to the press release that went out, Coupa “has achieved SAP certification as powered by the SAP NetWeaver® technology platform … The SAP Integration and Certification Center (SAP ICC) has certified that the Coupa 11 application suite is powered by SAP NetWeaver."

The press release went on to say that “solutions that are powered by SAP NetWeaver can be more quickly and easily integrated into SAP solution environments. Customers can benefit from improved interoperability with SAP applications and with the large ecosystem of solutions that run on SAP NetWeaver. Choosing an SAP-certified solution can also help reduce overall IT investment costs and risks.”

Coupa continues to push up market into large accounts as well as deeper into industrial manufacturing accounts. Yesterday, we spoke to one A&D company that is an SAP shop, but is using Coupa for procurement. No doubt it will become more and more important to provide tighter integration into SAP back-end environments, including ECC (ERP Central Component) and SAP business applications. Coupa also notes in its certification announcement that it “currently has numerous customers worldwide integrating with SAP® solutions.”

Coupa’s choice of using NetWeaver for SAP integration is a pragmatic one for many reasons:

  • Customers’ IT shops will likely want to use it, and it’s one less objection from IT to using a best-of-breed vendor like Coupa.
  • NetWeaver may likely already have been licensed anyway – with IT having a vested interest and comfort level in using it versus another integration product.
  • NetWeaver PI (Process Integration) is already used by SAP (the company) to integrate the various SAP sub-systems such as SAP ECC, SAP SRM, SAP Sourcing/CLM, and other components that make up what some might call a Frankenstein’s monster of SAP’s procurement application suite (which we discussed here).
  • Since SAP had to build such integrations to products acquired from Commerce One, Frictionless Commerce, Business Objects, and so forth, much of the legwork has already been done that Coupa can try to leverage.
  • There is a healthy ecosystem of niche SAP consultants, mostly Indian, that are familiar with the SAP technology stack and available at competitive rates.

That said, one must always take these SAP NetWeaver certifications with a grain of salt. Such integrations can be fairly narrow, especially given the massive permutations that are possible with the various versions of the different components that may be under the hood. Coupa wants the certification to appear to play nice while also thumbing its nose at Ariba. SAP for its part makes money on the certifications and may even be cleverly trying to learn about Coupa’s product in the process, but this is unclear for now.

These are the key takeaways as we see them:

  • Customers shouldn’t interpret an SAP NetWeaver certification to mean that Coupa has a broad and robust set of adapters built in NetWeaver that will support their requirements out of the box.
  • This is not any type of deep partnership announcement with SAP (although it is important for Coupa customers or potential customers with an SAP environment). In fact, it merely helps Coupa compete better against Ariba.
  • With certified NetWeaver integration, Coupa is getting closer to SAP – SAP is not getting closer to Coupa. Of course, the real winners as usual will be the systems integrators. The more components to integrate, the better for them!
  • The announcement will be most important for Coupa in winning over IT organizations that might currently be using or evaluating competitive products from SAP/Ariba. It is important to note that IT is an increasingly influential party in procurement technology selection, especially when finance is helping drive the overall selection process.
  • Advanced integrations and use cases with close linkages to SAP ECC (e.g., e-invoicing, discounting, and payments) in customer environments will go a long way to proving the value of the NetWeaver certification. We will dig into the nature of the certifications to find out the breadth and depth of the integrations that were certified.

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