Coupa Inspire: My Take on the Event, the Roadmap and My Next Move

Spend Matters Founder Jason Busch

In the coming days, you’ll be hearing quite a bit from the Spend Matters analysts who attended Coupa Inspire this week in Las Vegas. While I will officially resign my analyst duties from this ragtag crew of procurement experts, curmudgeons and technology geeks at Spend Matters on July 1 — stay tuned for some news on what I’ll be up to in a couple of weeks* — I could not hesitate to put down a few thoughts on the event.

So here goes:

  • Inspire was big. Much bigger than last year. Coupa comfortably filled the large ballroom at The Cosmopolitan for two days of morning keynotes that SAP Ariba was unable to fill on the second day of Live a couple of years back. This event has got scale — a point echoed by many people I spoke to in attendance on all sides (customers, prospective customers, partners, etc.).
  • Lots of prospective customers were here. Thanks to the color coding on badges, it was easy to see who was a customer vs. a prospect. Perhaps a smart financial analyst or two snuck in to simply count the number of prospects. If not, they should have! Curiously many of these names were from customers of other solution providers who appear to be shopping — or at least getting smart on the market.
  • AI now underpins the story but is not the narrative. So much of what Coupa is up to these days from a cleverness perspective is underpinned by artificial intelligence (AI). Decision guidance, community analysis and recommendations, spend analytics, risk management and fraud detection all leverage underlying Coupa’s artificial intelligence and machine learning components. But the mention of AI has been largely banished from the frontline solution vernacular. This is a change that makes sense (and one others in the market should consider). AI is an enabler, not the end game.
  • Coupa team members are having fun. From the still corny product and dance videos on display at Inspire, it’s clear that many on the Coupa team are excited to be a part of a movement. I would challenge anyone to name another provider of this size — or even half the size — where everyone seems generally happy and excited to be where they are even if they’re all workaholics.
  • C is for Community. Community (i.e., community data contributions, community collaboration and community-based recommendations to start) is a giant part of what Coupa is up to in its product and solution roadmaps, shared at Inspire. More so than other vendors, Coupa is putting the community aspect of its products front and center as a core component of the value proposition. Coupa noted at Inspire that only two out of 1,000+ customers have not “opted in” to contributing and receiving community-based recommendations.

The Spend Matters analyst team has much more to share and opine on — while peeling the many layers of the solution and product onion that makes up Coupa today. Look for this coverage in the coming days and weeks (all the good stuff will be on Spend Matters PRO, so if you’re not a subscriber, you’ll be missing out), as well as the Q2 SolutionMap release today — which pits Coupa against dozens of other vendors based on an entirely revamped and significantly more granular set of RFIs.

I’m also in the process of writing a PRO research brief that I think will be a bit of an eye-opener on three secret fuels that are helping propel the Coupa machine to new heights, all of which have nothing to do with product.

Stay tuned! And congrats to Coupa for pulling off an excellent event, at least in my view.

* I’m not leaving Spend Matters but will be focused entirely on something different after 15 years of being an analyst and blogger. Can you believe it? 15 years …

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Voices (6)

  1. Jason Busch:

    Vanilla Ice trotted out on stage signing “AI, AI Baby …”


    But he was a true showman. He’s got a stage presence.

    Come on Peter, admit you wish you were there (for the concert 🙂


  2. Peter Smith:

    Yeah, but what we really want to know is … was Vanilla Ice rubbish?

  3. Asri:

    Hi I am currently user of Coupa… This eSourcing system is really User friendly and even my freshie Buyer + User (operation team) +Suppliers easily to use this system. The most beautiful thing the link pr-rfx-auction-part catalog …pr to po process very smooth. The eAuction analysis is superb. Integration between Coupa and our MRP system work very well too…

    Note: Coupa is my 2nd E Sourcing system that I am dealing with.

    1. Donna Wilczek:

      Asri, thanks for your great feedback. Our DNA is all about striving for excellence every day so would love your ideas on enhancements or innovations too. If you’re not already using the online Community Forum, please join and talk to the Coupa product owners directly. It’s awesome customers like you and colleagues like Pam below that make our Coupa community so special. Let’s keep it going. 🙂

      – Donna Wilczek, Coupa VP Product Strategy & Innovation

  4. Pam McClure:

    I’ve worked at Coupa for going on 8 years (from when we were 64 people!) in implementation, which in most software companies is a pretty tough job. I’ve grown up in the software industry – startups to behemoths – over the past 40 years. And, I have to tell you this is by far the best company with the best customer attitude, best management, and happiest employees, I have ever worked for.

    I still get excited about my job, love working with our customers and partners. I think the secret sauce is the focus on customer success, which aligns with my personal values and which was not the focus of most companies I worked for. It also helps to have stellar management and a CEO who is genuinely a great person and who practices what he preaches (so to speak). I am so grateful to be part of Coupa.

  5. Michael Lamoureux:

    AI is an enabler, and glad to see they are downplaying it as most solutions that are touting AI have no AI at all!

    The point is value, whether that is true AI (in the form of assisted intelligence), community insights (which will be statistically valid with enough data points), incorporated best practices, or simple age-old rules based automation.

    Which you might tend to forget now that the Applied Indirection has reached new heights in the mad men marketing vernacular:

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