Purchase-to-Pay Processes to Get a Lot Smarter Says Coupa CEO

Rob Bernshteyn
Rob Bernshteyn
CEO & Chairman, Coupa Software

Rob Bernshteyn previously served as part of the executive management team at SuccessFactors (now part of SAP), running product marketing & management for this leader in HCM SaaS software. He also worked in product management at Siebel Systems, management consulting at McKinsey, and SAP systems integration consulting at Accenture. Bernshteyn holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Information Systems from the University of New York at Albany.

Read time: 3 mins

Earlier this month, we held a live “State of Coupa” webcast at our headquarters in San Mateo featuring CEO Rob Bernshteyn. We went over our most recent results and highlights from 2013 and then we turned it over to the audience to have Rob take a crack at their most pressing questions. Here is one.

Q: What do you see technology enabling in the next five years in the terms of purchase-to-pay processes?

Rob: A lot of systems, whether they be CRM (Customer Relationship Management), HCM (Human Capital Management) or in what we call the spend optimization or financial applications area, today are systems that take data in and pull data out. They take transactional data in and then show it with some analytics around it. That's really very interesting and it's part of the information revolution.

My view is in the next five years, we're going to be transitioning to more of a knowledge revolution. These systems are not just going to be pulling data and

showing analytics. They're going to be providing real decision support. They're going to be telling you "This is what you ought to focus on."

They're going to be highly mobile. They're going to be right there, wherever you are, telling you what you need to know and letting you query the system. In our industry that might look like this:

"Hey, this contract is about to expire."

"Well, why do I care?"

"There seems to be $50 million of spend going against that contract."

"Well, maybe we should run a sourcing event. Who are vendors?"

The system recommends three vendors and boom, you run the sourcing event and when that ends you then have that immediately go into a live contract. Then the next time somebody goes to requisition something, they're buying against that contract and the analytics light up right away.

These systems are going to get smarter and they're going to actually suggest insight that you can leverage. They're also going to include benchmarking—Coupa already does this. The Coupa Benchmark provides cross-company metrics and insight so that you can actually get better and better at your job, versus trying to figure it out all on your own.

On the subject of mobile, one of the things that I find extremely interesting and looking at the data from our platform and how customers are using the product is that roughly seventy percent of the transactions have been outside the system. So, these people are actually not logging into Coupa at their desk in order to approve a purchase order or expense report, or even to create or attach a receipt to an expense report. They're doing it on their mobile device at the airport, or wherever they may be. Or they're doing it in their e-mail. You don't even need to have our native mobile apps to do many of these things, as you may know. We send you an e-mail where you can approve, reject, take a look at the impact on the budget for a particular purchase, and even use some of the analytics.

That's where the world is going. These systems need to be smart--not just data in and data out, and they need to be mobile. That's what the next five years has in store.