Coupa pushes mobile and machine learning in new release

Phil Wainewright Profile picture for user pwainewright June 4, 2015
Spend management cloud vendor Coupa Software has announced new mobile and machine learning features plus a tie-up with Mastercard

Coupa Inspire 2015 Raja Hammoud VP product management
Raja Hammoud at Coupa Inspire

The twin themes of enhanced mobile support and machine learning-driven automation loomed large throughout a series of product announcements from Spend management cloud vendor Coupa at its annual user conference in San Francisco today.

Coupa also announced a link up with Silicon Valley Bank and MasterCard that allows suppliers to opt for early payment terms as soon as transactions are approved.

Coupa will continue to invest in machine learning to minimize the time employees take to manage spend, said Raja Hammoud, VP product management, in today's product keynote as she introduced the new announcements.

We're applying machine learning to problems of expense management. Instead of just shifting work, we're thinking about how we can eliminate work.

We are obsessed with how we reduce work for every employee as it relates to spend management. We want to provide the right information for every user at the right time and have them go back and do their core jobs.

All this was couched within the vendor's broader theme of 'savings as a service' — its claim that customers can achieve quantifiable savings on their spending as a result of deploying its cloud-based software-as-a-service platform.

Coupa is celebrating newly acquired 'unicorn' status after announcing an $80 million VC funding round at a $1 billion-plus valuation earlier this week. It also announced a new CFO, Todd Ford, who recently shepherded mobile device management vendor MobileIron through its IPO.

Mobile and automation

On mobile, Coupa announced a series of new features for the latest Release 13 of its software, which is scheduled for general availability in mid July:

  • SmarterTrip for Coupa Expense Management. A new "virtual personal assistant" that taps smartphone capabilities to automatically record route taken, geolocation, mileage and time spent by location. It then uses machine intelligence to predict spend events and displays push notifications for the business traveler to expense the item using touch.
  • Wearables support for the Apple Watch, plus the ability to integrate Apple's TouchID technology for access to the Coupa app.
  • New expense report functions providing more flexibility to adjust and classify expense items within the Coupa iOS and Android apps.
  • Other mobile features already introduced in the past year include intelligent voice capture of expense items, pop-up policy information, and auto classification of expense items.

The Smarter Trip nomenclature echoes SAP-owned expense management rival Concur's tagline of a 'perfect trip'.

On automation, other announcements today in addition to Smarter Trip included:

  • Touchless non-PO invoice processing, which uses supplier-provided information to automatically route invoices with no matching purchase order to the original requester.
  • Improved supplier dispute resolution, which improves handling of disputed invoices in collaboration with suppliers.
  • Metadata enhancements to help automatically prioritize reporting of discount opportunities for early payment.
  • Automatic suggestion of frequently used billing strings and creation of templates for split billing.
  • Workflow optimization to reduce unwieldy approval chains and improved delegation control
  • Other announcements included enhancements to search, usability and globalization, including international VAT reclaim functionality.

Coupa also announced a new supplier information management (SIM) application which is now available on early release and will be launched later this year. This includes out-of-the-box supplier dashboards providing an overview of transactions activity with each supplier.

A warmly welcomed feature of the SIM application is that it automatically alerts suppliers of missing information needed to complete a transaction, for example when submitting an invoice or looking up payment status. They can also update their details on Coupa's business network without having to create an account or remember a password. Suppliers do not pay a fee to take part in the Coupa network.

My take

It makes sense to apply machine learning to the field of spend management — and it's in line with the gathering trend to apply data science across the board in enterprise applications.

Disclosure: SAP is a diginomica premier partner. Coupa is a diginomica partner and funded my travel to attend its Inspire conference.

Image credits: Raja Hammoud on stage by @philww.

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