The name Albert Einstein is synonymous with more than 300 scientific papers along with over 150 non-scientific works during his lifetime and was known for his intellectual achievements and originality.genius. The German born theoretical physicist and philosopher of science published
Einstein is a constant companion in our office. We have a colorful abstract portrait of him on our wall that was created by Erik Wahl in his keynote on creativity at Coupa Inspire in San Francisco last year. With the image of the great man watching over us, I got to thinking one day, if Einstein were alive now, what would he think about enterprise software and all the technology we enjoy today?
Based on some of his famous quotations, I think he would be a big fan of the cloud, Software-as-a-Service and the user-centricity movement. Don’t believe me? Read on.
“If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself.”
If a child were to sit down and use your software, could they do it without even being able to read, just based on visual cues such as buttons, navigation and colors? Clearly Einstein would have grasped that user interfaces need to be so intuitive that just about anyone would know what to do. I think he would have appreciated that designing for non-geniuses takes genius.
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
The only constant is change. For software to remain relevant and effective, it has to continue to evolve as your business evolves. One of the promises of SaaS is that business users can have full ownership and control over the solution so they can change their business processes to respond to conditions, by themselves, with no technical skills needed. I think he would have been a SaaS fan.
“A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
SaaS providers are redefining customer support as Customer Success. Customer support sits back and waits for the phone to ring. Customer Success proactively goes out and checks on the customer to make sure they are getting the most of their solution, offering them benchmarks, best practices and continual ideas for improvement. I think he would have seen the wisdom of Customer Success.
“If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?”
Sometimes the most exhilarating part of the journey is not arriving at the destination, but the surprises along the way. Analytics tools give you the opportunity to explore, ask better questions and discover things you never could have imagined at the starting point. Just think what Einstein might have discovered with modern data analytics tools at his disposal.
“When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That's relativity.”
A lot of applications today are so intuitive and easy to use they’ve set a new standard for transacting electronically. Where we used to tolerate waiting two or three minutes for a dial-up connection, now we expect things to happen in seconds, with as few clicks as possible. Even waiting ten or fifteen seconds for a video to load seems like an eternity these days! In contrast, when you’re finding exactly what you need and accomplishing things with every click, time flies. That’s relativity, Web style.
“Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.”
How do you define success for an enterprise software project? We think it should be defined by bottom line value. Fuzzier definitions of success may not lead to value, but aiming at real, quantifiable savings of time and money will certainly lead to success.
“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
Tech innovation is all about changing the way we do things, which means we need to change our thinking. At Coupa, we’re on a quest to change the way organizations think about spending money. We’re working to breaking down the artificial silos that separate pre-approved, post-approved and unapproved spending. It’s all about spending, but up until now we’ve had separate tools for each. We’re building a unified suite of cloud applications to change that and bring organizations new visibility across all three areas, and that means thinking about them as one instead of as separate. I can think of a lot of ways Einstein inspires us on our quest.
What about you? If Einstein was alive today, what do you think he would think or say about enterprise software?
Keep up with the changing finance and procurement landscape by reading the latest articles by thought leaders and subject matter experts on cloud, strategic procurement and finance.
This week: Is there something about the fall air that turns people's thoughts to collaboration? There's always a lot of talk about the need to be more collaborative but there seems to be more than usual of late, at least in the online channels where we hang out. We're seeing some interesting perspectives on the skills needed to collaborate better, who the tops collaborators are and how tools are evolving to support collaboration.
We're perpetually interested in seeing how the cloud computing journey is unfolding, and what new trends are cropping up. As cloud computing moves into the mainstream, adoption remains uneven. For many, there is still a need for some myth debunking to be done before they can fully embrace the cloud. For others futher along on the journey, IT is stepping up its role, which will surely lead to a shift in the way solutions are managed -- and sold.
True or false: Cloud computing is a cheaper, less secure solution to data storage that will eventually make the CIO and IT department redundant. All false! We’re several years in with cloud now, yet certain myths persist. Alistair Banks of Deloitte Australia thoroughly debunks them and offers some much-needed perspective.
The days when business leaders went off and bought their own cloud solutions are rapidly coming to an end. CIOs and IT departments have retooled their skill sets for the cloud era and are now reasserting control. Are they taking over just in time to avert catastrophe, or just in time to get blamed for it?
Can procurement collaborate effectively with engineering groups? The answer is yes, argues Paul Teague in his blog on Procurement Leaders, and empathy is the key. Listening and finding common ground is an essential skill that can be applied to collaboration with marketing, finance, IT and other groups as well.
It seems procurement isn’t the only group looking to work more collaboratively. As companies look to stay competitive, businesses are emphasizing the finance viewpoint in strategic and operational decision making and on collaboration between departments across the board.
When you work online, are you creating a unique artifact or working in the context of a larger platform? If your work can only be shared by passing it around, you are using “digital paper.” Never heard of it? Dan Woods explains its impact, and why the watchword for the next generation of digital tools is . . . wait for it . . . collaboration.
One of the major trends in technology today that mostsparks my imagination is the Internet of Things (IoT). The premise of the Internet of Things is that ordinary devices around us will soon have intelligence and the capability to interact with each other and their environment. Your dishwasher, for example, could be equipped to gauge its fluid levels and take the initiative to text you a message: “Hey, I’m running low on rinse aid – would you like me to place an order for some on Google Express?” You would click “yes” and your dishwasher would place the order.
Your connected toothbrush could transmit data about brushing habits and bristle wear to your iPhone—or perhaps more ominously, to your dentist or dental insurance carrier. There are a lot of possibilities, not just for consumers but for business too, and specifically for things like procurement, sourcing and inventory. We already have procurement automation. Now all we need are connected devices to let us know what we need and place the order. I think this will happen sooner rather than later.
As more and more appliances are outfitted with sensors and connectivity, consumer expectations will
Attitudes toward the cloud have shifted over the past several years. Business users were early adopters, pushing forward with cloud solutions, sometimes with and sometimes without IT.
Now IT is getting new pressure to go to the cloud from perhaps a surprising place: the office of the CEO. So said NetSuite CEO Zack Nelson in an article on ZDNet earlier this week. According to Nelson, CEOs are starting to sound more and more like CIOs:
“The CEO is saying things like, 'We've got to go faster' and 'Where's my data center?' The CEO is being pressured by the board who are telling them, 'We've got to create new business models.’
"So they go to the CIO and say, 'We need to reinvent things,' and the CIO says, 'Sure, that will take five years because we're on such an ancient system'. Now the CEO is taking things into their own hands. They're saying, 'That's not acceptable, we've got to get a platform we can experiment on'."
It’s all part of what Nelson says is a shift that he’s seen take place:
"Seven years ago the mind-set was 'cloud never' - we'll never use cloud for anything. Five years ago it was
Is Silicon Valley in another tech bubble? Some say yes, some say no, but it seems more and more people lately are willing to entertain that notion.
Tech IPOs are certainly on the rise and we’re seeing some of the same wild spending by early-stage startups that marked the last bubble. But I don’t want to talk about whether there is or isn’t a bubble.
The pundits will talk because that’s their job. But that doesn’t help me, or other leaders do their jobs. As a CEO of a venture-funded software company, I have to react to this bubble talk, but how? Should I panic?
We can debate all day long about whether we're at a peak or which direction the market’s headed. Undoubtedly there are companies that are spending a bit recklessly, that have overpaid for acquisitions or whose
Through Coupa's cloud platform, we track hundreds of metrics to both continually improve our platform and help our customers be successful. The annual Coupa Benchmark is designed to help companies by sharing our data on key finance and procurement performance indicators.
The 2014 Benchmark includes metrics about ten critical areas where we commonly find that companies can easily improve in once they gain insight into what is possible. Today we're focusing on POs transmitted electronically by EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) and cXML (Commerce Extensible Markup Language), rather than via email or hard copy.
Email, while electronic, still requires manual intervention to enter data and move
As CFO of Coupa, a high-growth, pre-IPO Softwareas a Service (SaaS) company, I frequently have conversations with finance groups at customer and prospect organizations who want to make sure that our company will be around for the long term. It’s a reasonable conversation to have since they’re investing in our solution to support critical business processes. One only need look at the pre-IPO financials of any SaaS company to understand how for those uninitiated into the SaaS business model, this conversation can sometimes be challenging.
The most challenging conversations are with organizations that have decided to rely on the Altman Z-Score as their test of vendor viability. The Altman Z-Score is a measure that was developed in 1967 by Edward Altman, then an assistant finance professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business, to predict the likelihood
Through Coupa's cloud platform, we track hundreds of metrics to both continually improve our platform and help our customers be successful.
The annual Coupa Benchmark is designed to help companies by publishing data on key finance and procurement performance indicators. The Benchmark includes metrics about ten critical areas where we commonly find that companies can easily improve in once they gain insight into what is possible. Today we're focusing on metrics for PO spend on contract percentage.
This metric indicates what percentage of all PO-based spend is tied to vendor contracts. Typically, larger companies with more resources and processes in place have more
Are you on Al Gore's list for destroying more than your fair share of trees? Wish you had robots to handle all the repetitive daily tasks that fritter away talented people's productivity? Is checking inventory like a game of "who's on first?" Do you constantly have to badger employees to use your current software systems?
It doesn't have to be that way. Using better software can drastically reduce your paper use and provide your employees with better, more up to date information that's always accessible. If you can answer "yes" to eight or more of these questions, maybe it's time to think about making a change.
After transitioning into sales from leading a CustomerSuccess organization for several years, I’ve gained some unique insights about what makes an enterprise software project succeed or fail.
Many customers think that success begins at the start of an implementation, or on day one of go live. In my experience, success starts at the very beginning, the moment you realize you have a problem and begin thinking about your project and talking to vendors.
Having watched hundreds of customers on their success journey, a handful of similarities stand out as leading indicators of success or failure. These are usually present from the outset, so much so that I’ve gotten to where I can almost predict by the priorities presented in the first meeting what the project is likely to look like in 12-18 months. Will it be delivering