Wrapping Up Coupa Inspire Day 1: 5 Observations From Larger Customer and Prospect Discussions

The afternoon sessions are winding down here at Coupa Inspire. It’s been a whirlwind day by just about any account. I particularly enjoyed the panel discussion this morning that I participated in with Bob Solomon, principal at Software Platform Consulting, Inc., Dawn Tiura Evans, president and CEO of SIG, and Chris Sawchuk, principal, global procurement advisory practice leader at The Hackett Group – there was really good energy between the 4 of us. Chris anchored it, Bob shared some extremely insightful thoughts and context around networks and suppliers (among other areas) and Dawn was straight to the point, representing both procurement and finance views into spending. Kudos for a job well done to all.

Besides this – and attending the other festivities and main stage events – I spoke with half a dozen prospective Coupa customers today. It was a near constant stream of discussions throughout the morning and afternoon. A bunch of these informal chats were fascinating on many levels because these are some of the most educated “buyers” of P2P tools you’ll find, especially the larger firms.

Here are 5 quick observations from these larger prospect and customer discussions to end the day:

  1. Many large Ariba and ERP customers are investigating Coupa and they are thoroughly doing their homework. Any notion that Coupa is just trying to sell into and replace Ariba in larger middle market deals or smaller Fortune 500 customers is now wrong. It’s important to note that Ariba and other ERPs have not yet lost many of these prospects – they are shopping and doing their homework.
  2. P2P is still driving the vast majority of customer and prospect discussions within larger organizations. T&E and upstream is still largely secondary. Sourcing, contract management, analytics and the rest are largely noise.
  3. Larger prospects generally want to work with a preferred consultant and systems integrator not just for configuration and integration, but to serve as a buffer/intermediary with Coupa. There is trust in the third party as much as there is trust in Coupa. In part, the consultant/integrator is insurance that Coupa will not “oversell” capability or set expectations too high.
  4. Many prospects (especially larger companies) are really taking their time to do things right. They are thinking through everything from organizational design and charter for transactional procurement to the right KPIs and metrics by which P2P will be managed. There is no “rush into Coupa” in many of these cases especially when previous systems have been deployed in the past – even if Coupa is likely to ultimately win the business.
  5. Few seem to care about Coupa’s “network” yet – many don’t even know about it. All prospects care about the likely outcomes for their organizations from P2P and Coupa and some care about not having suppliers charged for transactions or a network subscription. The fact Coupa offers a network is completely secondary to how prospects perceive the value that Coupa can bring to them.

Stay tuned for more coverage from day 2 at Coupa Inspire tomorrow – as well as deeper Spend Matters Plus/PRO subscription analysis for our members.

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