Coupa Inspire 2016 – Rob Bernshteyn’s keynote

Coupa Inspire 2016 – Rob Bernshteyn’s keynote

It’s the paradoxes the give the game away – that Coupa really does have it worked out. “Coupa is not a tech business” declared Rob Bernshteyn at the opening keynote at Coupa Inspire 2016. And on his aspirations for Coupa’s user interface “No UI – that’s our aim.”

This makes no sense. One of the great disruptors in the procurement and supply chain world – a company that offers one of the best and most user friendly spend management SaaS tools is both not a tech business and doesn’t want a UI? But if you understand P2P – this makes perfect sense.

Site LogoThe thing about Coupa is that they have built upon the lessons learned and are delivering to their customers – not technology, not functionality, not a UI – but value. Value as a Service is their tag line. It’s not genius – it’s just common sense – but common sense that so few enterprise application vendors don’t have. As Rob explained, the enterprise software world used to be about delivering functionality – then more functionality – then even more. And that was what was thought to be good practice. But after years of failing to deliver measurable value, it is time to think in a different way.

The vision hasn’t changed. It was I think about 5 years ago that I first spoke to Rob when he explained to me the Coupa difference. Whereas the traditional software model offered software, it didn’t necessarily offer value. Customers would buy the application, install and configure it – often at great expense – but if there was no value delivered, there was no refunds. Coupa’s approach was to charge customers for value created. Value as a service. So when Rob says that Coupa isn’t a tech company what he means is that the technology is incidental – it is the value that it enables that is the service. Onboarding suppliers is not about technology and building user adoption is more about change management than IT. This is what delivers value.

And what of the UI paradox? Coupa only wants users to be involved in the P2P process if their direct involvement adds value. Ideally, the user doesn’t need to be involved. If processes are streamlined and automated the need to interface with the system is minimised. It’s about taking the software the extra mile to go beyond “easy to use” and arrive at “no need to use.” No UI is a good UI.

There’s some great new features emerging from the Coupa team. I’m especially looking forward to seeing the Perfect Fit benchmarking tools. And I’m not alone. The opening keynote at Coupa Inspire 2016 was a standing room only event of Coupa staff, customers, prospective customers, partners and analysts all eager to hear what’s in the pipeline and I’m looking forward to meeting more of them in the coming days.

Pete Loughlin can be found on twitter @peteloughlin