In part two of our review (see part 1 here) of last week’s Coupa Inspire event, we look at the important messages …
In true Coupa style, they made the most of the opportunity to coincide their first EMEA user conference with some big announcements, sending the press releases out that morning.
Firstly: Coupa EMEA posts record growth as global enterprises and partners embrace the Coupa Cloud Suite. EMEA is Coupa’s fastest-growing region with 250% YOY revenue growth, 9 new partners in one quarter, a worldwide customer support centre in Dublin to support EMEA operations and regional expansion in Paris and Frankfurt. Recent wins include: Swiss Re, Liberty Global, Colas, Cofely, Royal Ahold, and Aggregate Industries. The press release is here.
Secondly: Coupa’s new release expands open business network to drive global savings and control. Version 12 is said to disrupt traditional supplier business network concepts to further consumerise B2B transactions. Basically, suppliers can now make use of a piece of, actually quite revolutionary, functionality called Supplier Actionable Notifications. Buyers and suppliers can transact directly via email (including sending invoices) without sign up, registration, passwords or fees. You can read more about the added enhancements here.
Thirdly: Coupa and NetSuite partner to transform procurement and expense management, driving customer savings. Rob Bernshteyn, Coupa CEO said: “Coupa and NetSuite share a common goal of making customers successful by leveraging the data across both of our cloud platforms. We are excited to continue to enhance their experience by creating an even tighter integration between our products and our companies.” You can read more here. And I’m sure Spend Matters might have a few comments to make about the relationship in due course.
A packed house
Overall, the conference, its presentations and breakout sessions, were a great success. Not one seat was left available in the stunning Rosewood Hotel ballroom. (And the food was amazing.) With 250 attendees (can’t honestly say how many were Coupa employees – but still a magnificent turnout) you would think it would be quite chaotic – but it ran like clockwork, with plenty of time for socialising and networking. Looking down from the balcony at everyone exchanging comments I wondered how so many people could know each other – and then I found out.
Coupa regularly holds customer ‘get-togethers’ where ideas can be shared and help exploited. There was genuine engagement. Alex Kleiner, GM EMEA, explained to me: “We are a forward-thinking company and so are our customers, from a wide variety of sectors. With early adopters you get vision; the input from our customers is critical so we maintain consistent dialogue and that influences our decisions.” And for those delegates who were “prospective” customers the Coupa staff did a great job of making sure everyone was included and introduced.
I also managed to speak to a couple of customers who told me why they had come today. International company Digital Reality is one of Coupa’s few standalone users (i.e. they are not using it alongside an ERP system). They told me that after using Coupa for 2 years they are realising some real cost and time savings, through automated approvals, eliminating phone calls and instant visibility. They came to find out what was coming next and to talk to other users.
Then at the other end of the spectrum, I talked to eircom’s, (largest integrated telecommunications operator in Ireland) head of procurement, Aidan O’Dea, who told me how totally integrated the software is for them. The most important aspect is adoption rate, which translates into increased compliance. The people doing the ordering are also raising the requisitions because it’s easy to do, and the better the adoption rate, the more control procurement has over the whole process. He was there to find out about new implementations with other customers and their roadmaps. After investing in the software he wanted to know that Coupa’s strategic direction would be in line with his own, and he was happy to say that it was.
I asked Alex how he knows he is moving in the right strategic direction for his customers: He said: “We have many proofs of concept, from all sizes of organisation. We like to feel we are transforming an industry, and providing regular opportunities for customers to have sincere personal engagement gives us the right steer.”
So, a highly successful day for Coupa, and more for us to discuss at a later date.
Now, I would normally tweet live from an event, but at Coupa Inspire on Thursday last week there was so much to take in, visuals, music (loved the music, especially Alex Kleiner giving his keynote address to – who’d have thought – Metallica), lights, buzz, and more customers taking the stage than I’ve ever witnessed before, that I genuinely didn’t get time. It really did feel a bit like being on a set: “Lights! Camera! Sound! Action! and then the whole thing exploded! In fact there is so much to report back on, that you may have to look out for some additional posts coming this way. For example, some insightful (and some animated) presentations are well worth a deeper mention, particularly:
Coupa global partner Accenture’s Pierre-François Kaltenbach on the digital transformation of sourcing and procurement. His call to action to procurement to drive this “now all-invasive” concept was clear – “it’s NOT the role of IT – it’s yours!” Digital is changing the way we think and work, the world is more complex and so are buying expectations. Soon mobile will be the default device, and it’s all about the user experience.
He had some interesting insight into how Accenture knew they needed to adopt the Amazon mantra of “keep it simple” as they integrated their Coupa software, and they honestly thought they would never be able to achieve it – but guess what … ! One of the most interesting concepts I heard was his idea that instead of streamlining our supplier base and squeezing them into frameworks – we should be widening them, globally. More to come on this.
And Raja Hammoud’s, Coupa VP Product Management, New Product, Global Focus presentation, which didn’t just do the usual job of highlighting Coupa’s new version offerings (more about that in a moment) but took the concept of sourcing to a new level – to the masses. She talked about imagining a sourcing world with zero training for suppliers, buyers, in fact all stakeholders, and the possibility to save billions. She talked about “holistic spend capture” – all the “I needs” from all corners of the organisation and how to make all buying experiences “just like the one that was so simple at home the night before.”
She talked about how to simplify the buyer/supplier process through (patent pending) Supplier Actionable Notifications, to get all suppliers – even those that only invoice you twice a year – to automate their invoices through a simple email system. The whole concept of “freeing the supplier” to transact with whoever they wanted, how they wanted and without logging in or signing up and registering, was shown in a brilliant video based on ‘The Matrix.’ It opened to a Morpheus lookalike (clearly all of Coupa knew who he was) explaining to Neo (ditto) why he was there.
“You know why you’re here, don’t you. You’re here because you’re a little SME, and you have to be told what the real Coupa is. This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you go back to posting paper – you take the red pill – you stay in Coupaland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes. You do understand what free means – it means choice”.
Maybe not these words exactly – but you get the picture. It was very clever.
Equally great speeches came from NetSuite (on how delighted they are to be a new Coupa partner), KPMG and Sanofi, and some great little testimonials carried out during Alex’s speech from customers, some in the form of interviews taking place live on stage – quite refreshing!
We’ll have more in part 2, Coupa Inspire EMEA — Announcements and Customer Comments, tomorrow on the specific announcements made during the day, and some customer comments too – watch this space.
The appeal of cloud applications is irrepressible. Low capital costs, flexibility and “free” upgrades – anyone who has experienced behemoth on-premise application upgrades can be easily swayed by the appeal.
Last year, IDC forecast that from 2013 to 2017 spending on public IT cloud services would enjoy a compound annual growth rate of 24% – five times that of the IT industry as a whole.
But in-house applications will not go away. Investment in reliable enterprise applications can be too great to disregard, so the two models will have to live side by side for the foreseeable future.
For example, in 2009 the Islamic Bank of Britain began moving its customer relationship management (CRM) systems to the cloud, but kept its core banking system on an AS/400 IBM mainframe running a Misys financial application.
In doing so, it was able to create more efficient onboarding of customers to launch products, but not before investing in a sophisticated middleware layer (see case study below).
Running cloud and on-premise applications in tandem
In fact, the majority of companies using cloud business applications do not closely integrate them with on-premise systems. A study from Ventana research found 56% of organisations do the integration through spreadsheets or by exporting data, with custom coding being second most popular at 39%.
“This is the reality of business today,” said Ventana CEO Mark Smith. “Many departments and individuals, using different applications, are needed to support orders, fulfilment and service. If these applications are not connected, organisations have to perform manual intervention, re-enter data, or copy and paste, which not only wastes time and resources, but can introduce errors.”
To get around this, users are better off with a “light touch” approach to integration, allowing the cloud application to operate on a standalone basis as much as possible, only connecting with in-house systems when necessary, said Alastair Bennett, a solution architect at Coupa.
Coupa offers procurement, invoice management and spend management applications, built from the ground up, to be hosted in the cloud. Bennett said the approach is very different to in-house enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, and customers need to understand those differences.
“We train them and get them to understand that they are looking at cloud applications and not looking at ERP any more. Most customers, if they have SAP running through their veins, cannot see beyond that,” said Bennett.
The process will require data modelling and mapping of business processes. “We look at business process and how users' and suppliers' data models interact with ERP data. We build up a model of how everything inter-relates,” he said.
Keeping software integration simple
Coupa, like a lot of cloud applications, is built to be very configurable by users with a flat data structure, and therefore does not need the bespoke customisation that some in-house systems require, said Bennett.
Our successful customers have light-touch integration with back-end ERP
Alastair Bennett, Coupa
“Configuring the solution takes a matter of hours, but sorting out the structure of the data and getting that into the solution can take time. Quite often customers need to build something in their ERP to create the correct data structures that we consume,” he said.
“We find our successful customers have light-touch integration with back-end ERP, whereas in the past everything had to be tightly integrated.”
Bennett said an ERP system will commonly handle purchase orders, goods receipts and invoices. Instead of integrating all data across both systems, he recommends Coupa matches the three internally and simply sends an instruction to pay suppliers, with information about the associated cost centre, to the ERP.
“Because we’ve defined an interface agreement on these very few fields, we can make it slick and efficient. We’re not pushing information into and out of ERP all the time,” he says.
Using cloud to modernise legacy IT
In fact, rather than presenting another problem to businesses wanting to integrate legacy applications, cloud technology could help bear the burden, said Nigel Barnes, lead technology architect globally at Accenture.
We are right at the beginning of a journey to software as service
Nigel Barnes, Accenture
“We are seeing a lot of legacy out there that people want to keep and renew or re-platform, recasting them in modern technology,” he said.
In the case of older generation languages such as Cobol, the application may be moved to run on emulation software in-house, as part of that renewal, said Barnes. Alternatively, there is a growing trend to emulate the application environment in the cloud, where service providers can gather a pool of hard-to-find legacy skills.
“We’re seeing a lot interest in that space. It is about making sure you have the skills at reasonable price. We are right at the beginning of a journey to software as service. People will be asking how they can modernise applications and you will see niche players interested in the market,” he said.
Users are struggling with integrating cloud applications to their enterprise application portfolio, often falling back on ad hoc, inefficient techniques. They can use integration layers or adopt a light-touch integration with their on-premise systems.
Either way, they will still have to understand their data structures and business processes to benefit from the latest generation of cloud technology.
Case study: Islamic Bank of Britain reaches across the cloud
An ageing customer relationship management (CRM) system from Siebel was proving costly to maintain and upgrade for the Islamic Bank of Britain, the UK’s first wholly Sharia-compliant retail bank.
Chief operating officer Mohamed Gamil said the bank contacted Salesforce.com in 2009, and the decision was made to move its CRM to the cloud. But the question remained about how to connect it to an AS/400 mainframe which runs the core banking system from Misys and had once also hosted the Siebel system.
Salesforce.com sends only the relevant information to the core banking system and holds the rest in the cloud
Mohamed Gamil, Islamic Bank of Britain
The answer was to build an integration layer based on Microsoft Biztalk server, which is set for an upgrade. Initially, this supported one-way replication when account information was changed, and that was replicated to the CRM system. “But that meant data redundancy, as we held customer information in two places,” said Gamil.
In the second phase of the project, completed in 2011, the bank began to eliminate this redundancy and manage customer acquisition in Salesforce.com, sending only the relevant information to the core banking system and holding the rest in the cloud.
This made the account-opening process faster, helping the bank to launch products more rapidly. As a result of using the system, the bank quickly reached a £20m deposit target for a 120-day notice account, said Gamil.
Salesforce.com has since been extended to manage products equivalent to mortgages, allowing solicitors to input conveyancing data on the cloud system and greatly reducing the management burden of the process, he said.
The bank has also benefited from a range of plug and play add-ons in the Salesforce.com platform, such as SMS services, without having to link directly to its core banking system, said Gamil.
It’s the end of the quarter, and I’m in my office, tied to my phone and email, waiting for the last few outstanding deals to come in, same as at the end of every quarter. This is business as usual in virtually every company in my industry, enterprise software, and in countless other industries as well: many of the deals close at the last minute of the quarter or end of the year.
We all know the drill. Customers think they’re going to get the best price and terms by waiting until the last minute when they have the vendor’s back to the wall.
There are good reasons for that, mainly that it very often works. As a vendor I’d be lying if I didn’t say that
Accounts payable (AP) and the cloud may hold the secret to providing quality healthcare.
At least that's what Molina Healthcare--an organization that provides healthcare to financially vulnerable families and individuals covered by government programs--discovered when it created an in-house centralized procurement operation, a move that kept administrative costs down while it expanded staff and membership.
Rapid growth was the main reason the Long Beach, California-based organization, which offers health plans in nine states and has medical clinics in California, Florida, New Mexico, Virginia, Washington and Utah, decided to centralize the process, Bryce Berg, vice president of corporate administration (pictured right), told FierceHealthFinance in an exclusive interview.
When Berg came to Molina in 2010, the organization was experiencing
Coupa Software reported that Bryce Berg, Molina Healthcare's Vice President of Corporate Administration, has won Coupa's Innovation Leaders Award in Healthcare.
The company said that the award recognizes Berg's successful transformation of Molina's procurement sourcing and invoicing processes, an initiative that has facilitated Molina's growth.
According to a release from the company, the Coupa Innovation Leaders Award recognizes
California-based spend management firm Coupa is shifting its global customer support operation to Dublin, Ireland as it looks to be perceived as an international player
One thing the Irish government has done well is prove to be an attractive destination for US tech companies – and increasingly cloud companies in particular – to set up their European headquarters. Last week, for example, Derek highlighted Birst as being the latest to join the likes of Google and Amazon in the Emerald Isle.
But none of those firms has done what spend management firm Coupa has just done which is to route its entire global customer support operation through Dublin.
In addition, Kieran Brady of Coupa Dublin has been
Earlier this spring, Coupa provided a briefing and demonstrated a version of its latest inventory module to Spend Matters. Coupa sells its inventory module as an add-on to core procurement but separately from accounts payable, contracts management, and other suite components. But the question remains: in its initial release, does it provide enough value to justify the added cost and modular expansion for companies using other Coupa suite components?
After seeing it, Chief Research Officer Pierre Mitchell and Managing Director Jason Busch argue in this Spend Matters PRO research brief that Coupa’s new inventory management capabilities are likely to bring the company closer to marginalizing the
With a new online procurement system for stocking its 55 health care facilities with supplies ranging from medical equipment to cleaning supplies, Avalon Health Care is saving money while also slashing the time it takes to receive supplies.
With 330 people buying supplies across its 55 health care facilities in several
E-procurement providers Coupa, Basware and Ariba have been recognised as leaders in the field by Forrester Research.
The Forrester Wave e-procurement Q2 2014 noted that Coupa is “the most customer-centric organisation with the most flexible product”.