A Quick Look at Suite Highlights and Coupa Release 15: Coupa Inspire 2016

Coupa Inspire 2016

Raja Hammoud, Coupa’s vice president of product management, kicked off the second day of Coupa Inspire with a morning keynote centered on the value of a suite approach to procurement technology. The core of her overall message centered on how Coupa is focused on the intersections of modules, or what she termed “suite synergy.”

From a product investment perspective, Raja touched on a number of Coupa product enhancements and expansions. These include contract collaboration, which is now generally available. We previously covered the acquisition of Contractually, a product also built on the same stack as Coupa (Ruby), which is allowing a rapid integration into the Coupa product suite.

With Contractually, Coupa has something that is fairly unique in the market — it’s not full-blown contract lifecycle management (CLM) just yet, but the document collaboration engine stands out as a differentiator in the suite. Think of it as moving from the current generation of Microsoft Word integration with CLM to more of a Google Docs, real-time collaboration style — all with rich metadata management that ties into the contract data model and the rest of the structured data in the product suite.

Raja also shared some high-level elements of Coupa Release 15, which is generally available today, following on the heels of Release 14 that came out in February. Release 15 themes include “platform innovations” focused on “upstream and downstream” linkages. Examples include sourcing recommendations for expenses and supplier management recommendations as well.

Although some of the recommendations may seem like glorified alerts, some of the new functionality gives a glimpse of where an intelligent application can serve up improvement opportunities, such as complexity reduction (e.g., reduce the number of approvers) or spend reduction (e.g., use of lower cost supplier alternatives, including even suppliers that are participating in Coupa Advantage, its native GPO).

With Release 15, Coupa has also invested in some capabilities around what Raja terms “hyper localized translations,” which can take a particular item and recommend local translations to describe it based on how local users would search or order for it. If it works as it looked on stage, it’s clever. Other Release 15 enhancements include new sourcing capabilities (e.g., more complex scenarios around multiple supplier awards, spot buy automation APIs, etc.).

Coupa has taken an early step with its “open supplier network” to building out a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) model by extending its Open API program with its latest release, as well.

In Coupa’s words, “the program will enable third-party software partners to write a single certified Coupa application that will connect to Coupa customers quickly … CoupaLink Certified Partners include categories such as business-to-business accounts payable (A/P), invoice/supplier payment, A/P automation invoice scanning and enterprise resource planning (ERP) system integration providers.”

There’s much more to Release 15 (and the Coupa product roadmap, including significant investments in services procurement) and we’ll cover it in more detail in the coming days. The evolution to the PaaS integration and partner application model, while downplayed on stage, could be one of the most important enhancements Coupa has made. Although some of the new capabilities may seem technical in nature, we see some progress in how some of the technology capabilities will radically improve how procurement processes are run. It’s exciting times in procurement and a good time to be inspired and to inspire others.

Stay tuned for more.

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