Catch-Up With Coupa – Acquisitions & Enhancements Increase Capability Further

We were disappointed to miss the Coupa European Executive Symposium in March, but luckily we were able to catch up recently with the EMEA Senior Director for Product and Segment Marketing, John Callan. John gave us an overview of the company’s latest solution update, how they are integrating their most recent acquisitions, and the company’s future vision for the product. (This was a discussion, not a demo, we should say.)

Coupa is focusing on having the capability to support all spend-related processes, driven in a two-pronged approach by both acquisitions and internal product development. The firm is clearly no longer the "plucky underdog" in the industry, but their hunger for growth and pace of development shows no signs of slowing.

The product itself – now Release 20 – has seen several recent updates, and they all tie in with what Coupa defines as "Business Spend Management" or BSM – their latest mantra. That means going beyond "Procurement" to embrace the entire scope of how organisations spend their money (more on that later).

One of the aims of the new features seems to be to increase focus on end-to-end supplier management – that includes greater visibility and control of the whole supplier relationship, supplier sourcing and contracting. Major updates include:

  • Additional AI capabilities that power the ability to find the right supplier using Coupa’s Community Intelligence; the whole database of customers’ experiences, ratings, recommendations on  suppliers ever used across the whole spectrum of required goods and services, globally. That’s potentially a powerful tool: the source of the data remains anonymous, while the buyer uses the facts to optimise the selection of the right supplier.
  • Further improvements to Coupa Services Maestro, including allowing suppliers to easily enter timesheets and deliverable completion with no login required and the ability to review, approve, and monitor supplier progress against deliverables or billed-time expectations.

There are other recent developments, and they all play into the aim of helping organisations streamline spend operations, leveraging the advantage of its single cloud platform for all of its products. Multi-nationals can manage spend and processes across countries and across regulatory environments while remaining compliant. And with the power of a single integrated platform, with the data that users need readily at hand, the whole supplier contracting process can be accelerated whilst spend control is maintained.

The recent acquisitions are at somewhat different stages of integration.  A source-to-contract offering which utilises the Trade Extensions optimisation capability and is initially focused on complex sourcing requirements is coming soon - Trade Extensions is not absolutely and fully integrated yet, Callan says, but "the experience should be pretty seamless."

Spend 360’s ability to take complex global spend data and turn it into simple, actionable insight is now "Coupa AI Classification", and the Riskopy acquisition is now built into the platform driving "Risk Aware", which gives users instant risk analysis and ratings. It rates every supplier dynamically using the Coupa community’s collective insights as well as external credit ratings and legal checks.

All of these developments fall under what we referred to earlier as Coupa’s Business Spend Management (BSM) platform and vision. Coupa don’t claim to have invented that term, by the way, it’s been around a while – but arguably they are redefining it in terms of where they believe the marketplace is going now.

So the vision to consolidate all processes and spend, plug them all in together, with auto-updates, elimination of separate logins, automatic transfer of data for better decision making (like identifying the right time to buy a commodity based on actual buying community intelligence), will all come into play in a 100% cloud-native environment.

“We aren’t completely there yet,” Callan told us, “but we are certainly racing ahead with the development of the most comprehensive suite of spend management applications ever created.”

It looks like Coupa, with its spend analytics, sourcing, optimisation and contract lifecycle management, as well as its P2P original strength, is building a massive spend management "engine" that can handle pretty much any and every aspect of spend management - we have little doubt that is the aim. Of course other firms are looking to the same end game, but it certainly strikes us that it is increasingly difficult to see new market entrants really threatening Coupa (and a handful of other serious players) in the spend management technology space.

There’s more on Coupa’s R20 here, and if you’d like to understand more about Coupa’s vision for BSM, CEO Rob Bernshteyn has written a substantial blog on its adoption and interpretation - it’s well worth a read and you can find that here. But to understand the core of it, we can sum up with this:

“We can all see the patterns: People build information systems to address various pain points. As they succeed in the marketplace, they extend or combine those systems to tackle adjacent and ancillary processes, eventually creating an interoperable system that is greater than the sum of its parts, because it increases process efficiency and offers new visibility into a single source of truth for a set of end-to-end processes. When that happens, it becomes worthy of its own name. This is what I believe is now happening with Business Spend Management."

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