Four Go To Coupa Inspire – And What We Found There

Stunning views yesterday of the iconic Canary Wharf skyscrapers from the Intercontinental Hotel, O2, host of Coupa Inspire. Our good friend and colleague over from Chicago for the event, Sheena Smith, Spend Matters commercial director extraordinaire, remarked how that view had changed since her first visit – when just one other building accompanied the Canary Wharf Tower, now a sprawling financial centre of some 16,000,000 square feet of offices and retail space (an apt setting to mirror the rapid growth we’ve seen at Coupa – more on that to come). We’ll be introducing Sheena to you a bit more in the New Year as she begins to play a wider role in our exciting and expanding offering at Spend Matters UK and Europe. Also admiring the view was our new GM, Jenny Draper, we’ll be hearing more from Jenny too in the coming months as she spearheads the changes to our extended model.

We were there to network, to meet friends old and new, to gauge the temperature of the spend management market, what’s hot, and what’s not, and to understand more about what Coupa is up to, what it has in store, and of course, to pin down a few customers to get a balanced view of how the firm is faring.

Following a welcome and introduction from CEO Rob Bernshteyn, highlighting Coupa’s ‘prescriptive insights’ – unique AI-powered, collective-wisdom approach that gives instant analysis of transactions to empower smarter spend decisions (more on that and the new ‘employee insights’ to come) – there was the crowd-pulling session from keynote Robert Peston, award-winning business and political journalist, author* and filmmaker. With standing room only at the back of a huge ballroom, it was worth the backache. Peston is a natural and engaging speaker. He delivered a powerful message about global political and economic trends, and talked passionately about the potential implications of Brexit on European businesses. We’ll cover a bit more about his key points in a fuller article, but his overall aim was to encourage the procurement and finance leaders in the room to come together and take this opportunity to lead their organisations through the changes and challenges.

Of the other 50-odd speakers at Coupa Inspire, we got to hear only a few. We don’t have enough eyes and ears to cover them all, sadly (and we were missing the laserlike ears of our resident procurement sage and heckler Peter Smith, as he was away exploring Iceland this week). However, we will be looking in more depth at a very good panel discussion from Coupa customers Pearson, Sanofi, and Zurich Insurance, representing the voice of Coupa Community and discussing their own experiences of becoming a strategic procurement function, sharing thoughts on driving value and impact across their organisations. They gave some worthy-of-note one-off tips – look out for that next week.

Incidentally – there’s a great write up of Why Community Intelligence is the Leading Coupa Value Proposition from our US analyst and all-round tech wizard Michael Lamoureux (our fourth companion) here.

We then had a product overview and updates session from Raja Hammoud, SVP of Products, covering spend optimisation, enhanced sourcing capability, supplier risk, contingent workforce handling, invoice compliance as-a-service, and fraud detection (again more to come). Among other announcements of the day there was of course the breaking news from Ravi Thakur, SVP Business Acceleration, that Barclaycard (also a Coupa customer) have joined Coupa as an inaugural partner of Coupa Pay (the set of payment and financing solutions within the Coupa Business Spend Management (BSM) Platform). The partnership brings – to start with - virtual cards to create a fast and secure way for businesses to manage payments as part of their broader business spend management strategy. There’s a press release here issued yesterday, and we’re sure our analysts will have deep insight on that soon – which we’ll keep you abreast of.

We then had a Q&A with two early adopters of Coupa (industrial packaging manufacturer Greif and South-Africa’s largest satellite pay-TV provider MultiChoice) about their implementation experiences. Good to hear from two very different industry’s sharing a similar experience. Finally we attended a superb session with customer Rolls-Royce which gave a candid, open and honest view of their Coupa experience. It was ‘probably the most interesting session of the day’ – we heard delegates in the room say. So we’ll bring you the highlights from that next week too with some great Q&A that followed.

All in all – a good day, great venue, good interactions and a range of delegates from senior finance and procurement people to trained ‘super user’ customers who came ‘just for the experience,’ we were told. And some cool gadgets and freebies too from the many exhibitors – nice to meet up with some of them, including Icertis and to hear about their recent successes, thanks for the great mobile phone camera gadget!

We also had a good briefing with some of Coupa’s senior management about the Coupa model and their ‘open approach’ to information sharing.

More on all of this soon – best get writing then!

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