Coupa Inspire Kicks Off: Dueling With ISM 2018 and What I’m Watching For  

I touched down in San Francisco last night to attend Coupa Inspire. A number of members of the Spend Matters team are dividing and conquering between Coupa’s customer event and ISM 2018, which is being held on the same dates. If you’re at either conference, look for the ragtag Spend Matters crew. Xavier Olivera flew into Inspire along with me, and along with our trusty, local San Francisco analyst Andrew Karpie, we’ll be the ones on the ground in San Francisco.

The scheduling of two events targeting the same audience, at the same time, is a personal nightmare for those involved. I speak from experience – back when Spend Matters held a technology conference with ISM a couple of years back, Ariba Live was scheduled at the same time (we both announced the same date in the same week). Sometimes you can’t avoid the overlap given how hotel contracts work and the pressure to lock in dates. Alas, it is what it is, but I do feel for those involved in the scheduling.

Regardless, we’ll be featuring live coverage from both events. I’m point on Inspire for our daily main site coverage at Inspire, but I suspect Xavier will have more insightful comments than me on Spend Matters PRO.

Now that we’ve dispensed with the overlapping elephant in the procurement conference room, here’s what I’ll be on the lookout for at Inspire:

  • How Coupa is building out its own approach to community intelligence and enablement – from leveraged contracts to benchmarking and KPI measurement based on usage to guided recommendations. Coupa is the procurement tech firm to beat right now when it comes to garnering intelligence via its network of users, even if the concept is not novel. As my colleague Pierre Mitchell noted in a recent brief, network effects from demand aggregation of a customer base is by no means a new idea, especially from platform providers that use some notion of a business network to scale repeatable business services that deliver value to a customer. (The Amazon flywheel comes to mind here.) But Coupa has been methodical and customer-driven to deliver this value in the form of derived benchmarksturnkey aggregated contracts and increasingly now through embedded analytics trained directly (or indirectly) on the “big data” in its business network and natively within its applications.
  • The continued movement away from hollow applications – as Pierre continues, in the above brief, “This last trend is really the most disruptive aspect of what’s happening in digital value chains. It changes the provider value proposition from serving up 'empty apps' that process the data of a single customer enterprise to one that provides a collective intelligence derived and captured from mass adoption of cloud-based tools that generate the data used to drive key insights.” Since this is a major area of focus for Coupa – and one of the reasons we see it winning deals, especially below the Fortune 500 – you can bet I’ll be double-clicking to investigate what’s new.
  • Supplier management – I’ve requested some one-on-one time with Coupa product managers to discuss the latest that the provider is up to on the supplier management front. Coupa has not yet participated in Spend Matters Supplier Management SolutionMap. We’re curious about what capabilities it is developing in this area and have heard through the grapevine that some progress has been made, although it’s not really been an area of focus in the past (at least in terms of selling stand-alone capability in the area). Inquiring supplier management minds want to know!
  • Contract Management – see supplier management, above. This has also not been a stand-alone area of focus for Coupa in the past, at least not as we define Contract Lifecycle Management requirements as part of SolutionMap.
  • The Invoice-to-Pay rocket – Coupa came out of nowhere in a matter of years to deliver what is among one of the stronger Invoice-to-Pay technologies based on our latest Invoice-to-Pay and Procure-to-Pay SolutionMap comparative vendor analyses. Xavier and I are excited to hear the latest here, including whether Coupa is going deeper into payments – and/or getting serious about receivables and payables financing. So far, we’ve not seen much from Coupa comparatively in the payables and trade financing area, at least not natively.
  • Services Maestro – Andrew Karpie recently covered the formal launch of Services Maestro on Spend Matters PRO. We’re keen to learn the latest here.
  • R20 and Beyond – R20 was a major release for Coupa. See our recent PRO coverage of it here. In my next dispatch from Inspire, I’ll share some thoughts on what some of the more innovative capabilities in R20 might hint at what’s to come for Coupa – and the sector generally.

If you’re at Inspire, don’t hesitate to drop me a line: jbusch (at) spendmatters (dot) com. Stay tuned for much more to come.

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