Coupa has gone beyond evolution of P2P – they have reinvented it
I first cut my teeth on P2P over 20 years ago. It was the mid 1990s and at the time the internet was not considered to be robust or secure enough for enterprise applications. More importantly, it was new and it was mysterious. I led a team that developed from the ground up what has become known now as an e-procurement application. And it was good. Until recently I could say confidently that there’s nothing in the modern incarnations of e-procurement solutions that was not in that early solution that I developed. The look and feel was primitive – it ran on a Netscape browser – there was only so much we could do but in terms of functionality, it has yet to be bettered – until now.
I’m making a big claim but really, e-procurement applications don’t really do much. They empower users to generate requisitions, they have a workflow and they facilitate catalogs and for nearly 20 years they have evolved to get better at those things. And while that remains true, there come a stage in evolution when it is no longer sufficient to say that things have just got better. There’s a threshold of change that once past we can truly say that things have changed beyond recognition. That’s what Coupa has done – they have the solution I wish I could have designed 20 years ago.
How have they done this? Coupa only has access to the same talent pool that its competitors have. They only have access to the the same technologies that everyone else has. What makes them so special? I don’t know the answer to this but I think it has something to do with agility. If a company is agile, they can react to market changes – they can take full advantage of maturing technologies such as mobile and geolocation solutions. Plug these sorts of technologies into an already best of breed solution and there’s a quantum leap in functionality. That’s what makes it more than an evolution. It’s changing the game.
I knew much of this before I saw the products demonstrated at Coupa Inspire in Paris but what I hadn’t encountered before was the Coupa team. The quality of the team, the quality of the presentations – not just from Rob Bernshteyn their CEO but all of them – was outstanding.
The people within the company reflect the quality of the company itself and in turn they reflect the quality of the company’s products and services.
I’ve always been a Coupa fan – I’m a bigger fan now.
Pete Loughlin can be found on twitter @peteloughlin