Coupa Inspire London – collaboration, confidence and capabilities

It was an incredibly busy couple of days last week at Coupa Inspire. Myself, our GM Jenny Draper, and Lead Sourcing Analyst Michael Lamoureux, over all the way from Nova Scotia for the event, split ourselves up to divide and conquer. There must have been 1500 people there. Plenty of Coupa partners, some we didn’t already know but do now, like TransferMate – more to come on them – and some we are very familiar with, like ProProcure, having just received their Coupa certification for their quote-building tool G-Quotes.

There were also stacks of customers. Some were speaking at the event, some happy to be involved in videos, or photo opportunities, or sharing their Coupa stories. As Jenny observed: “some firms struggle to get customers to provide testimonials, or speak at events, but this is something Coupa is excellent at.” We’ll hear from some of those in the next post.

Keynotes

As for the plenary and breakout sessions: the morning of Day 1 opened with CEO Rob Bernshteyn talking about open collaboration with customers on new capabilities; he refers to ‘our community’ regularly and ‘our vision,’ confirming the commitment to the wider Coupa ‘family’ which, as well as staff, includes all customers, partners and suppliers. Coupa has really nailed it on this. The partners we spoke to said they found his speech very engaging and ‘relatable’ (Bernshteyn is good at that, as we have observed over the years). Community Intelligence, for those not in the Coupa circle, is the wisdom that can be drawn via AI from the anonymised $1tr of spend in the Coupa system, which gives you what they call ‘prescriptive insights’ into your spending decisions. Of that, Bernshteyn said: “We have embarked on the mission to offer the most comprehensive suite of applications that is open and collaborative … It’s a medium to long-term vision that will change the way businesses control spending.” According to one Coupa representative we spoke to at one of the stands, they don’t feel there is anyone else out there in the market yet able to provide this depth of insight. True – but we do know there are others poised to snap at their heels.

The motivational speaker, Rachel Botsman, came next, author on trust (and distrust). In one of her books she predicted the rise of the ‘sharing economy’ and was subsequently named by TIME as one of the “Ten Ideas That Will Change the World” – hence the Coupa link. She talked about the evolution of trust, distributed through networks, marketplaces and communities, and how, when we implement a new technology, we are putting our trust in its ability not only to deliver but to take care of our data. And we are asking our staff, customers, suppliers, to take a ‘trust leap.’ We take a leap of trust to do something fundamentally new or in a different way from what we are used to. So when asking our stakeholders to invest in a new technology, we need to remember how it feels to trust change, and that they need to have faith in the product, the company behind it and the tech. Interestingly, for the procurement community that of late has been equating ‘transparency’ in all things to ‘trust,’ transparency alone, she says, does not result in trust. Reliability and consistency is what helps us make smart decisions about where we place our trust. And building trust requires time, care and investment.

Chandar Pattabhiram, Coupa CMO, gave an apt analogy of the Coupa Community with Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, which would never have been possible had he not spent a few months, back in 1911 in the Café Louvre, Prague, with a community of enlightened thinkers who talked together and discussed ideas on a daily basis. Thus he segued into the topic of ‘Community,’ which he described as a community of ‘Spendsetters” - a Coupa ‘club’ for those who are an example or are inspiring to others. He gave the example of Telia which has a strategy to be carbon-neutral by 2030, and the CPO has invited all of his supply chain to join his community to do this. Chandar invited customers and others to share similar stories with Coupa – send them to ‘stories@coupa.com.’

Product and Company Announcements

Raja Hammoud, EVP Product, talked about ‘consumerising the experience,’ and some new capabilities to do this through harnessing the power of the community and enhancing user experience, which are now active.

Source Together is Coupa’s newest offering. It connects businesses with similar buying needs so they can source products and services as a group to leverage their collective buying power to help deliver greater savings from suppliers.

Supplier Insights uses Coupa’s aggregated and anonymous spend data from the global community to automatically tag suppliers that meet diversity requirements, like women-, minority-, or veteran-owned, so that sourcing teams don’t have to manually identify them to adhere to corporate social responsibility goals.

Coupa has now unified its CLM acquisition Exari into Coupa Contract Lifecycle Management Advanced with its BSM platform.

Coupa Pay for Expense Payments allows firm to reimburse employee expenses directly from within the Coupa BSM Platform, managing and simplifying the end-to-end expense process.

Travel booking is a new feature of the Coupa App Directory, which through alliances allows companies to access third-party applications and data. Through newest alliance with Amadeus businesses have an end-to-end travel booking system via its flagship online booking tool, cytric Travel, embedded in the Coupa BSM Platform. In addition, EcoVadis provides supplier sustainability ratings, Mastercard Track provides supplier risk data, and BitSight provides supplier cybersecurity ratings.

For more information on latest capabilities, read here.

And looking ahead, we can expect to hear more on: Coupa Advantage - pooling spend, viewing current savings on pre-registered catalogues; Coupa Intelligence – pooling data to check out the ‘hottest’ suppliers, trends, supplier risk and opportunities; Coupa Collaboration – pooling brain power where the Coupa platform becomes the ultimate spend matchmaker, creating community sourcing events and benchmarking your own performance against the community.

It was interesting that Coupa didn’t mention today’s very much used words ‘Artificial Intelligence.’ They focused more on ‘user experience’ and ‘output,’ rather than what powers the product. And we’ll have more on the customer experiences and learnings in our next post.

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