Why Coupa 12 is a Milestone Release
We were very excited to announce Coupa Release 12 at Inspire EMEA in London today. This is a milestone release because it disrupts traditional supplier business network concepts to further consumerize business-to-business transactions between buyers and suppliers, creating efficiencies and cutting costs while meeting the most stringent global regulations. With this release we've also raised the bar on user-centricity. These are the cornerstones of our strategy to help companies get results through unprecedented user and supplier adoption and with Release 12 we’ve taken our game to the next level.
The most important and innovative element is what we’ve done with suppliers and invoicing. We’ve realized all along that one of the big challenges in this area is not working with big suppliers, who usually have automation such as XML or EDI. It’s working with smaller suppliers who send you just a handful of invoices a month, usually on paper because they haven't invested in technology and don’t have the resources to go to different portals and networks for different customers. When you have thousands of these smaller suppliers sending you an invoice that a human has to open, scan or enter manually, it dramatically lowers the efficiency of your automated system, increasing costs on the order of $20-40 per invoice.
As a result, legacy business networks engage fewer than 10 percent of a given customer’s suppliers. The buyer is often left struggling with the cost, time and effort of paper processes with the remaining 90 percent of their suppliers, and they often spend a lot of time and money on supplier enablement efforts that fail to achieve promised returns on investment.
Supplier Actionable Notifications
We’re addressing those pain points with Supplier Actionable Notifications that let buyers transact with their suppliers directly via email without having to register on a business network or pay supplier fees. This functionality is available for purchase orders, electronic invoices, invoice status and payment tracking. Email is the lowest common denominator for communication; even the smallest mom and pops work via email, so this is very much a "let's meet people where they are" approach that we think has the potential to change the dynamics of how buyers and smaller suppliers work together.
We’re also announcing that for the first time that customers can layer Coupa’s open Business Network on top of third party systems such as Oracle iProcurement, SAP SRM, OpenText Invoice Management and others. This can significantly increase the value of these systems for companies not looking to change their existing PO or invoice approval process.
Invoicing Without Borders
We’ve also broadened our platform on the global invoicing front. This was one of the toughest parts of the release to build because of the number and complexity of rules and regulations. This is not an area where you can put a solution out there that’s not quite fully baked. You really have to put your seal behind it saying, this solution is compliant in this country, and you can go present it to the government for tax filings or audits.
What we’ve built essentially makes our e-invoicing platform borderless by dramatically increasing the number of countries we support for invoice compliance. Now organizations can work with any supplier without having to worry about what country they’re in. We’re seeing significant growth in Europe, so this is a very important capability as we expand globally. It’s no coincidence that we decided to make our official release announcement in London.
With this release we also made Coupa even easier to use. We believe there should be more than one way to do things in the system. We want to use technology to give people options, and then let them choose the way that is right for their role and their work style.
What this really gets to is user adoption. If everyone's forced to do things a certain way, you start losing people who don't fit into that model, and they'll go around the system. The maximum benefits come when everyone's using the system, so we’re always looking for ways to make it easier, and to intercept people wherever they might be tempted to leave. We’ve made some breakthroughs on this front that we think are really going to delight our customers.
Speech recognition for Coupa Expenses is a perfect example of that. Now people can just rattle off "Dinner at CJ's in New York for $40" into their mobile phone and create a line item in their expense report. This was fun to build, just because of the cool factor.
New Inventory Insights
The other big highlight of this release is the inventory module. This both broadens the scope of the platform and increases user centricity. It also demonstrates how we work with our customers to co-innovate.
We initially built this module based on feedback and requirements from charter customers in a few different industries, including Vail Resorts and TD Bank. It was in limited release in R11. In R12, it's now generally available, bringing more real-time inventory information into purchase-to-pay or purchase-to-order automation. With this module, when someone's shopping in a Coupa catalog, they can actually see what’s already available internally before they order from an outside vendor. For example, if you're going to the catalog to purchase a MacBook, it might actually show you that there are 20 in your IT stockroom on the fifth floor.
This is best suited for large organizations that manage a very distributed stockroom/inventory infrastructure, such as companies in healthcare and food and beverage that probably already use some kind of ERP inventory and warehouse management system. This is a complementary solution that integrates with what they already have and provides new visibility on top of that.
When we think about industries like healthcare or food and beverage, we’re not talking about inventory of copier paper or yellow highlighters, but business-critical items they might be using in their day-to-day job, like gauze or prosthetic arms so having real time visibility into stock on hand can have a real impact, so we're very excited about this.
Those are the three main highlights of the release. As with every release, there are a number of smaller enhancements on all fronts. In analytics, we focused on the core infrastructure and made the platform five times faster, and added dashboard options and trending capabilities to make it much richer. We also added HIPAA compliance capabilities. For customers that opt in, everything they need for HIPAA compliance will be part of the application and infrastructure.
We’ve also struck an important partnership with TrustWeaver, the leader specializing in e-signature, time-stamping, and invoice content solutions, and we’ve integrated their technology into our invoicing solution.
We're not done by any means. We have a great foundation, with a lot of customers already getting significant value out of all areas of our platform. We think these are some major enhancements, but we’re looking at doing much more with our platform in the future.