5 Key Learnings From Coupa’s Executive Summit in London

Helen Trim
Helen Trim
Senior Vice President of Marketing for EMEA and Asia Pacific, Coupa Software

Helen is Senior Vice President of Marketing for EMEA and Asia Pacific regions. She leads the development of the go-to-market strategies and customer acquisition programs required to meet pipeline generation, acceleration and revenue targets for these culturally diverse regions.

Over her 25-yr career, Helen has developed strong entrepreneurial roots from co-founding a number of digital and social media agencies. More recently she has held intrapreneurial leadership roles in disruptive, US SaaS technology businesses. She is a strong believer in balancing the talents of both creative thinkers and data scientists to achieve successful business outcomes.

Helen is a Coupa LevelUp Mentor and an active member of two important Coupa diversity and inclusion initiatives: Illuminate, an LGBTQ+ program and Empower, a women in procurement community that supports breaking down barriers to women’s success in the industry.

Helen is also an advisor at Collider, an accelerator driving the future of marketing and sales technology for startups, corporates and investors.

Read time: 8 mins
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One of the biggest lessons from the pandemic is the importance of building strong relationships.

Connections across procurement, supply chain, and other “back office” departments are just as vital as the relationships companies cultivate with consumers. During challenging times, all of us need to coordinate and band together to succeed.

We understand the power of connection at Coupa. We believe that meeting new operational challenges will take the collective knowledge of all of us, from every corner of procurement, finance, supply chain, operations, and IT. The Coupa Executive Summit in London was a chance for us to connect, brainstorm, and develop strategies for these challenges.

Here are the five biggest takeaways from London’s event, because “none of us are as smart as all of us.”

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Helen Trim leads the Coupa Executive Summit in London

Coupa’s experts, partners, and customers’ top 5 lessons

1. The back office is the backbone of your organisation

The front office of a company gets a lot of attention, and it’s easy to see why. It’s where your customers interact with the products and services you offer, acting as the face of operations. However, the pandemic proved that the back office is vital. A strong and connected back office increases resilience in times of global instability. And with a possible recession looming, a pound saved is as important as a pound earned.

“The path to resilience runs directly through your back office — finance, IT, treasury, supply chain, and procurement. This is the backbone that powers your company's strength. And it's very clear that you need a Business Spend Management platform that will connect all these individuals and deliver spend visibility, control, and agility.”  — Ronan Kerouedan, Senior Vice President, Global Value Solutions Consulting, Coupa

2. Resilient companies don’t panic

Worldwide, economics are more volatile than ever with demand for goods outpacing supply chains’ ability to keep up. In addition, inflation and talent crunches are impacting businesses everywhere. The possibility of a global recession seems likely, and in preparation, companies often employ the “turtle” strategy: They crawl into their shells and hunker down to see what happens, cutting spending across the board in the hopes of surviving the storm.

We know this “turtle” strategy doesn’t work. Partnering with McKinsey & Company, we talked with 1,500 companies of every size, across multiple industries, about the lessons they learned from the 2008 downturn. What we found is that resilient companies actually increase their growth by an average of 10% through a recession. How? By spending smarter, not by spending less altogether. Investing in the right Business Spend Management (BSM) platform means companies can connect procurement, finance, supply chain, and IT departments to increase visibility, control, and agility.

3. ERP won’t help you “walk the walk” with ESG

It isn’t just government and regulatory bodies that are interested in monitoring compliance to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards. Consumers want to engage with businesses that care about the sustainability and diversity of their supply chain. Yet, two out of three companies cannot determine whether their closest suppliers comply with ESG standards.

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Legacy ERP systems are unable to help these businesses meet their ESG mandates. A technology platform that enables buyers and suppliers to collaborate and exchange data is essential.

“Everyone is very keen to improve their ESG practices. But we know that the ERP solutions will not deliver on that. You need technology that can change behavior, facilitate collaboration, and exchange the right data. This is at the heart of Coupa’s Sustainable Business Spend Management platform. It's a platform that will accelerate business performance whilst elevating business purpose.” — Ronan Kerouedan, Senior Vice President, Global Value Solutions Consulting, Coupa

4. Maximize the value of your spend with community-powered AI

Coupa believes in the power of its community. So it makes sense that we had the unorthodox idea of combining our powerful AI tools with data from our community of customers. That’s how Community.ai came to be. It focuses on two key areas: powerful insights and the power of connection.

The powerful insights come from applying AI techniques to our nearly $4 trillion of cumulative spend data from the Coupa community. The data is anonymized and compiled, and the insights are then built across our platform. This gives our customers real-time access to information that is timely, applicable, and actionable.

“Community.ai is something very unique about how we apply artificial intelligence to almost €4 trillion of community spend across our entire customer base to deliver you fresher insight and connections. We deliver AI prescriptions that elevate your ability to manage your spend, not only giving you insights about what's happening in your business, but helping you compare how you’re doing against the best-in-class customers at Coupa so that you can do the same.” — Vincent Toesca, Senior Vice President, Product, at Coupa

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Community.ai pulls together data from millions of other organisations across the Coupa community, and then calculates how your business compares to the whole. We’re able to show the environmental impacts you’re making, from things like trees saved by electronic invoicing or your supply chain’s Scope 3 carbon footprint so you can gauge and report progress towards your emissions targets. Whether it’s for your environmental goals, diversity targets, or governance requirements, your team is empowered, at the point of every spend transaction, to make better decisions for both profit and purpose.

The power of connection comes from our unified online community experience embedded within the Coupa platform. Here is where BSM professionals and Coupa customers get together to find answers, learn best practices, or suggest new product ideas. In addition, group sourcing events give our community an advantage to maximise buying power. You can tackle any business spend management challenge with the power of community knowledge and collaboration.

“Your organisation needs to understand how you’re spending and making choices for diversity or sustainability or an environmental factor. Coupa empowers you, showing you how you’re doing and measuring you against the community at large. Are you doing well? Are you doing poorly? Are you on target? How can you improve? All of that is supplied there for you.” — Carl Thompson, Senior Value Solutions Consultant, Coupa

5. Adopt, don’t adapt

All of the customers leading the afternoon workshops stressed the advice to ‘Adopt, Don’t Adapt’ in a BSM system. A mature BSM platform like Coupa has been successfully deployed by thousands of companies in the Coupa community — of all sizes and across all industries.

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Rising to BSM challenges together

At the end of the London Executive Summit, I watched BSM leaders mingle and network at a unique non-alcoholic Diageo drinks tasting event late into the night. It was easy to see why over 90% of innovations on our platform are born out of ideas from our customer community!

If you missed this event in London, I hope you’ll join us in sharing even more collective knowledge at our Coupa Executive Summits in Paris on 20 October and in New York on 10 November. You won’t want to miss them.

Join Us at Our Upcoming Paris & New York Summits