08 Jun 2012 A is for Ariba …
B is for buying experience
C is for Coupa
D is for déjà vu
I’ve been enjoying reading the Coupa blog recently and especially since SAP’s intention to buy Ariba was announced. It’s been an excuse for Coupa to really blow its trumpet about cloud and the importance of usability. Coupa’s message is very current although we have heard it before.
It’s only just over 15 since Ariba was born. Even when it was little more than a conference room pilot at one of it’s earliest reference sites, it set the purchasing world alight. It’s so called “Walkup” interface was a bit revolutionary at the time allowing someone with minimal training to browse a corporate catalog and buy direct from suppliers. And useability was the key. By making it easy for users, the purchasing process could be effectively delegated to requisitioners – the people in the business who need stuff. This was in contrast to the clunky green and back screens that buyers might use or even worse, the paper P.O. and the subsequent paper chase from hell that was the way we bought stuff in the 1990s.
But in 2012, an intuitive browser based UI is no biggy. The requisitioners of today include those who don’t remember a world before the internet – people for whom Facebook and twitter are second nature and indeed, by today’s standards, the Ariba Walkup interface is actually a little dated even if it is amongst the best of the bunch.
So when I first looked at Coupa recently and their usability claims it was like déjà vu – I’ve seen this before.
e-procurement – useability is the key
I’ve said it many times before. Useability is the key. Why? Because buyers follow the line of least resistance. If it’s easier to buy from the store on the corner and there’s no penalty – that’s what they’ll do. If breaking the rules get’s them stuff quicker and easier and they can do so with impunity – they’ll break them every time. A buying tool needs to be the easiest option. But what I like about Coupa isn’t just the useability piece, Coupa also represents the line of least resistance from a corporate perspective. 100% cloud SaaS means pay for what you use without the integration hassle and it’s about the easiest decision to make when selecting an e-procurement tool.
I’ve heard a lot of people whose opinions I respect say great things about Coupa but in all honesty, it looks nice and shiny but I’ve really only peeked under the hood. I’m keen to know more which is why I’m looking forward to speaking to Coupa CEO Rob Bernshteyn next week to get a better insight into what all the fuss is about.