How Coupa Software is helping to revolutionise spend
For businesses striving to win in the global marketplace today, every competitive advantage matters. More and more businesses are looking internally to drive value, starting with their spend strategy. From procurement to expenses, organizations are trying to spend smarter and realize value from every investment, as well as mitigate critical risks across the supply chain. Business leaders know that profitability and growth are achieved not only by increasing revenues, but also by looking inside their organizations to cut waste and deliver value.
To ensure that value is delivered, business leaders are turning to the latest technology that empowers them with the visibility and control they need when it comes to business spend. These technologies, grouped under the category Business Spend Management (BSM), offer comprehensive cloud-based spend solutions for companies and organizations of all sizes. Unlike spend management technologies of the past, these solutions not only centralize all spend in one place, enabling unprecedented insights, they also address business software’s age-old issue of usability—after all, software, however great its feature set, cannot deliver value if it’s not used.
Additionally, for finance leaders in regions where tax compliance is complex, modern BSM technology implementation offers an easy and streamlined solution to an increasingly difficult challenge. Along every step of the supply chain and across the globe, software should automate tax compliance and keep up with ever-changing regulations and policies at scale.
Coupa’s Business Spend Management Platform delivers a comprehensive, open, and user-centric solution for source-to-pay, travel and expense and risk management, offering value from day one. For example, Coupa customer DBS, a multinational banking and financial services organization based in Singapore, selected Coupa’s procurement and compliance invoicing solutions and digitized 92% of $400mn. The company also reduced time spend on procurement by employees by 70 percent to increase operational efficiency.
The value Coupa delivers for its customers – many of the leading businesses in the world including Airbus, Unilever, and Sanofi – has earned the company top recognition from leading analyst groups who frequently place Coupa into the “top right” for procure-to-pay, expense management, contract management and other BSM processes. The company also achieved a coveted spot on Deloitte's Technology Fast 500 ranking list and the Great Place to Work list by Fortune magazine. Gabe Perez, Vice President Asia-Pacific, shares more about Coupa and the company’s focus on delivering “Value-as-a-Service” as it works to ensure customer success.
“Regardless of size, every company in the world manages spend. Your end-users, or employees, may need to spend money in order to get the products and services they need to do their job and companies will also have procurement teams working strategically with suppliers,” observes Perez. “Today, business leaders are continually looking for ways to drive value, to move faster on mergers and acquisitions, to scale their companies and to get greater visibility regarding spend, and Coupa helps fill this need. The reality is that Coupa, unlike other business software, gives a measurable return on investment (ROI). At any point in time, you can show how the service, people, platform and the partners Coupa provides have driven measurable outcomes – something that is unique for a technology offering.”
Coupa has made a name for itself in the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) space, becoming a ubiquitous tool in any CFO and CEOs toolkit. Indeed, Perez enthuses that “what Salesforce is to sales, Coupa is to spend,” allowing customers to gain greater visibility and control of their finances. One such client that has benefitted from this approach is global financial services company Aon. During one of its earnings calls, Perez notes how Aon’s CFO talked “about the US$30mn marginal expansion they were able to increase with Coupa.” Similarly, Rolls-Royce has been an advocate of the software firm. On one of its market days last year, Perez highlights how the automotive giant “exceeded the 5% industry benchmark for savings by bringing its spend down from $2.7bn to $2.3bn, all with 23% less resources” in a cost control initiative supported by the Coupa BSM Platform.
The past few years have represented an exciting chapter in Coupa’s history. Having launched its IPO in 2016, the firm now stands as a billion-dollar unicorn. “For us, going public just showed the start of what we could do,” reflects Perez. “It was a great point in my career and an exciting moment for the firm because it brought us into the open market with a level of credibility that has allowed us to work with some of the largest companies in the world.” Now, headquartered in the heart of Silicon Valley, the company offers its cloud-based business spend management platform to hundreds of organisations globally.
As it extends its reach across the Americas, EMEA and APAC, Perez says the firm has its eyes set firmly on up-and-coming geographies. “Emerging markets are seen as a key growth driver for us,” Perez says, highlighting how, in his current role, he’s “trying to bring that same level of acceleration and value to customers in the Asia-Pacific. I think there’s a really big opportunity to create value,” he adds. “As well-known Coupa customers like Mondelēz and Procter and Gamble start to use this platform across APAC, local companies are beginning to turn their heads and realise the value that their peers are getting from managing their spend effectively.”
As software tools saturate the market, it’s easy to get swept on up in the tide that is digital transformation. Instead of focusing solely on technology, Perez urges businesses to really think about the business outcomes they hope to achieve. “Digitalisation and transformation are a critical part of any modern business but people often times resist change. If you make the process one that adds value for them as a stakeholder, and is simple and easy to use, they’re more likely to engage,” he says. It’s a simple concept. He contends that businesses should start with a measurable outcome that they hope to achieve and work backwards, striking partnerships with firms that can deliver demonstrable results. “The business outcome should be the focus of your conversation,” he adds. “Change can be hard for people, but numbers and measurable outcomes are a global language. That’s what Coupa has done – we’ve been able to make it simple for end users and suppliers to engage with a digitized business.”
As a cloud-based platform, Perez contends that Coupa can enable customers to “move quicker, bring acquisitions into the platform easily and add more functionalities.” With this speed, Perez says that the Silicon Valley-based company has been able to create a “trillion-dollar data set that is growing rapidly every quarter.” It’s this community data – Coupa Community Intelligence – that has enabled the company to launch innovative, AI-based capabilities across its platform, including risk mitigation and fraud prevention. “We can use this community data and apply machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to it to deliver meaningful, prescriptive insights that empower businesses to make smarter spend decisions,” adds Perez. “We can also provide benchmarking that enables businesses to look at what peers are doing, and what you could be doing to reach your goals.”
User centricity and continuous innovation are key values at Coupa. For example, Perez points out how “between 30-50% of our releases are features that were requested by the Coupa Community.” As well as having a community of enthusiastic customers to rely on, Coupa has formed a rich ecosystem of partners to help business adopt Coupa to deliver business value. “Early on, we looked to build a team of subject matter experts who would enable and co-implement spend management solutions. We have global leaders like KPMG, Accenture and Deloitte and we also have regional partners that help users across the globe.”
A robust financial function is the backbone of any successful business. Recognising this, Perez says Coupa will remain laser-focused on driving business value for its customers over the coming years. “Since day one, Coupa has always focused on ensuring customer success and delivering outcomes – that’s never going to change. I see our technology continuing to play a greater role in driving even more strategic spend decisions that deliver something many other software solutions can’t: measurable return on investment.”