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Ready to be Inspired? Coupa have plans to make it so

Whatever it is that Coupa is doing, they must be doing something right. We’re all used to viewing those LinkedIn event posts that say there was “standing room only,” with a certain degree of skepticism, but the Coupa Inspire event this week at the Hilton, Park Lane was teaming with around 700 attendees, so much so that they had to bring out rows of extra chairs for the back of the really, quite large room.  Impressive for only their 6th annual event in EMEA.

So what is it they're doing? Well first up came two major announcements from CEO, Rob Bernshteyn. The first was their acquisition of AI fraud detection company, Deep Relevance. An unexpected tangent for the company that made my ears prick up. Up until now, movements into this area have tended to come from the more finance leaning providers. So this means that Coupa customers will now be able to use a solution that can scour their processing for any sign of possible fraud, leveraging the multi layered, automated processing across invoices, POs and T&E. The potential to protect spend and drive efficiencies with this is enormous, and from chatting to the attendees at lunch, not quite fully appreciated as yet. But it will be.coupa Inspire

And the other was the launch of Coupa Open Buy with Amazon Business. The idea is to first launch it in the US, then offer it out to the UK and Germany. Great, because it's still going to be configurable, which means that companies can still set various rules against who, how much and by category, and/or only have it available when an item isn’t otherwise available. But it means that organisations will have the world’s biggest marketplace at their finger tips. A pretty big deal indeed. It probably didn’t get the whoops and cheers that a US audience might give, but there was much British appreciative nodding and mutterings.

But if those were the hard hitters of the day – the overarching theme was the Coupa “vision” which has been extrapolated from the Coupa name C-O-U-P-A. Bernshteyn broke them down into 5 bite sized chunks starting with Comprehensive. In other words, a solution covering as many areas of spend as possible and then expanding outwards to link up with partners like KPMG and Hackett for example. And interestingly, this comes with and from a large helping of customer input- over 1,000 new ideas in fact, of which more than 150 have been developed.

And it's a solution which is Open, so no charging of suppliers,plenty of transparency and a platform where suppliers should want to come because there’s real value. The vision is that it's one that’s User centric too. And that means one where the UI is intuitive, easy. In fact – as Bershteyn said, and I guess he was quoting, but it was new to me “the best UI, is no UI.” In other words, if the solution can do it, let it. Users only need to step in if they can add value.

And here’s where it starts to get even more interesting with the talk of “sweet synergy intelligence” created from what Coupa term their Prescriptive platform. And I think I get it. It’s not prescriptive in the sense of an enforced, authoritarian set of rules, but rather intelligence gathered and there to be harnessed on the basis of large amounts of collected and calibrated customer data. In other words, a customer, crowd sourced surgery for your processes. Bernshteyn gave an example – say if an organisation was using all 5 Coupa modules, what if intelligence ran across all of them, linking them and learning and gaining insight in real time across your different business functions? And then what if at some point in the future that linked up in a secure way across all Coupa customers? The potential use of all that data to drive better functionality is enormous.

Lastly, the one thing we all want to be  - and that’s Accelerated, but not just doing things faster, but in a more agile way, giving organisations the capability to drive faster decisions at the right time.

Maybe it was the videos, maybe it was the very loud music - but my first Coupa Inspire was just that, inspiring.  And there’s no doubt that Coupa is a company with momentum. It’ll be interesting to see where it goes next.