Data pays off in purchasing as cloud platform Coupa eliminates inefficiencies
Managing spending is a headache for any business. Independent retailers and huge global corporations alike suffer losses from uninformed purchasing decisions, poor invoice management, unintentional errors and pilfering. Checks and balances catch some mistakes, but inefficiency is found in even the most productivity focused firms and organizations.
“I could tell you so many companies I know that are really proud of processing their paper-based invoices very, very quickly, but they may not even know whether or not they got the goods or services for which they’re paying the invoice,” said Rob Bernshteyn (pictured), chairman and chief executive officer of Coupa Software Inc.
Bernshteyn spoke with Lisa Martin, host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio, during the Coupa Inspire event in Las Vegas. They discussed business financial strategy and the new area of business spend management (see the full interview with transcript here). (* Disclosure below.)
Bringing the digital revolution to purchasing
Advances in data collection and analysis make pinpointing these profit leeches easy. Helping companies use data assets to cut back on waste and increase profit is procurement software solutions company Coupa.
“We are attacking this full on with our customers in establishing the space. And that means everything from procurement, expense reporting, to invoice processing, to payments, strategic sourcing, spend analytics, supplier management, contract lifecycle management,” Bernshteyn stated. “All of these application areas working together in concert help companies get their arms around spending and manage it in a much more smart way.”
More than $1.2 trillion of spend has passed through Coupa’s cloud platform for business spend, with early adopter Procter & Gamble Co. alone processing more than $50 billion through the platform, according to Bernshteyn. “Our customers are getting a lot of value and visualizing that spend, routing it to preferred contracts and saving money, doing it in smart, compliant ways,” he said.
Coupa is building a community around business spend management. Over 1,000 companies now use the platform, and Coupa encourages them to share new methodology and best practices. “We’re taking the space to a completely new level,” Bernshteyn said.
Five “vision levels” describe the goals of the platform and differentiate Coupa from the competition, according to Bernshteyn. Together they form a mnemonic to spell the company name:
- The platform is Comprehensive, covering every area of spend.
- The platform is Open, and able to integrate to any enterprise resource planning system.
- The platform is User-centric, putting all the weight on the application, less on the employees.
- The platform is Prescriptive, using community data to give real prescriptive advice to each customer.
- The platform Accelerates internal operations. “Customers in the last 12 months have improved the speed of their approvals by 30%,” Bernshteyn stated.
Consumer level ease of ordering and speed of delivery
Amazon changed how the world shops by offering an online marketplace and fast delivery. Coupa aims to do the same for business procurement. “It’s a purchasing experience that feels just like you’re out on the web, looking for any kind of item that you’d like to buy,” Bernshteyn said.
Coupa customers can access thousands of cloud-based services through the AWS Marketplace. “These are services that obviously would be approved by your CEO, be approved by the folks involved in checking that it’s secure, approved by legal, and also approved by procurement,” Bernshteyn explained.
This is welcomed by information technology teams and chief information officers, he said, since it eliminates the hassles of dealing with shadow IT. It is also a benefit to the bottom line in more ways than one: “If you can get your arms around the spend and get people in the company the goods and services they need in record time, they’re better positioned to express the company’s vision to help them push towards incredible iconic customer experiences,” Bernshteyn said.
Forecasting the future through today’s spend patterns
With the Coupa cloud helping companies capitalize on data to streamline operations and eliminate waste, Bernshteyn asked himself: “Can we collect enough data that’s statistically significant enough to actually be a leading indicator to future economic sentiment?”
The answer was yes. “We know the average spend companies have per employee” Bernshteyn said. “We know how long approval cycles are, and we know the changes in those approval cycles. We know what percentage of spend is actually being rejected versus accepted at a moment’s notice.”
The Coupa Business Spend Index aggregates this data to predict economic trends. Testing with data from 2016 showed a strong correlation between the predictions and the way the economy played out. The first Coupa Business Spend Index was released in April 2019, and the company plans to release a regular quarterly report.
“Everyone of business wants to know, where things are going, not where things have been,” he said. “And we think we’re in a unique position to share that and … build awareness for our brand out there so that people understand what we’re all about.”
Here’s the complete video interview, part of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the Coupa Inspire event. (* Disclosure: TheCUBE is a paid media partner for Coupa Inspire. Neither Coupa Software Inc., the sponsor for theCUBE’s event coverage, nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)
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