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Coupa Inspire EMEA 2019 London – Some thoughts

The Coupa EMEA roadshow rolled into London on Tuesday 5th November starting with a day dedicated to partners and existing customers. I arrived for the evening drinks session and enjoyed catching up with some familiar faces from the various consultancy partners who are regulars on the procurement technology events circuit.  It seems like we’ve seen a lot of each other in recent weeks with events like eWorld, Amazon’s ABX and SAP Ariba’s ValueX the week before this one.

The main event really got started on Wednesday and saw a big increase in numbers with around 1,500 delegates made up of Coupa employees, partners, customers, prospects and industry press.

First up in the morning was an excellent opening speech from CEO Rob Bernshteyn. He’s clearly comfortable on the big stage and his passion for the business is obvious to anyone.  A lot of people in the procurement technology sector talk about Coupa being acquired by a bigger organisation, and maybe one day they will, but in my opinion it’s hard to see him letting go of the reins any time soon. He talked about their 10 years of progress, “but this is only the beginning” and I think he’ll be in charge for a while yet. They seem bullish about their future, confident of strong financial performance and delivering further shareholder value, so are surely in no rush to sell.

The key takeaways from his session were:

  • The massive growth in spend through the Coupa platform in the last 12 months.
  • His vision for the Coupa community (see pics of some of his deck below) including collaboration using anonymised data across the customer base to provide outstanding spend analytics-driven insights.
  • Showcasing some great stories from pioneering Coupa customers – the “spend setters” as Coupa likes to call them.
  • Several examples of how the growing ecosystem of add on solutions (see the pic of sponsor/partners organisations below) are offering customers even greater value.

He also made a point of stressing that Coupa integrates with all the major ERP systems in the market, correcting what he clearly feels is a misconception.

He was followed on stage by the keynote speaker Rachel Botsman who gave a fascinating talk focusing on Trust.

Early in her presentation, Rachel asked the audience to chose to clap for one brand that you trust the most out of Uber, Facebook and Amazon.  No one clapped for Facebook and Amazon won despite decent support for Uber. She then made the point that we trust Amazon to get our shopping to us quickly, but do you trust them to pay their taxes? This opened up the subject of the context of trust. Next was the question “who do you trust the least out of Putin, Trump or Johnson”.  I found that very difficult to make a choice!

Rachel went on to talk about how she met the founders of Air BNB when they were still selling breakfast cereal to make ends meet as part of her research for a book. Unfortunately, she failed to convince her husband to invest in them, and appears to have mentioned it to him a few times since!!

Of course, she recognised that her husband raised the very valid point that people would be reluctant to trust strangers to rent rooms in their houses, but clearly she thought they had the recipe to overcome this risk and of course has since been proved right.

Her points around trust and its relationship to risk were fascinating and she did a great job of drawing some parallels with the world of spend management. In summary, her message was, if you want to get people to make changes, to move from the known to the unknown, you need to reduce the level of trust required to enable them to make them jump into a new way of doing things and to do that you have to reduce the perceived risk of doing so. Sounds obvious in principle and it’s hard to do it justice here, but it was a very enjoyable 45 minutes. I’d recommend that if you get the chance to see Rachel talk then take it.  Here’s her TED stuff.

After the break, there were the usual talks from consultants (KPMG & Accenture were first up) on their work with customers to adopt Coupa. I must admit I missed these as I’ve sat through several similar sessions in recent years. So I spent my time talking to various contacts from the partners, sponsors and delegates. As usual, it was fascinating for me to observe the dynamics of the exhibition hall, watching the incestuous world of the procurement consultants who all seemed to have worked with one another at some stage, usually at one of the big five.

The afternoon sessions gave customers and prospects the chance to attend sessions giving them in-depth details of various aspects of the Coupa platform and generally seemed well attended.

Unfortunately, I have other commitments on Thursday so can’t attend the final day but as I write this on the train back to Manchester I can reflect on a very enjoyable, informative 36 hours in London. It’s clear to me that Coupa are continually striving for excellence as evidenced by a commitment to a $55m investment in R&D next year. With the likes of SAP Ariba, Ivalua and Jaggaer all intent on achieving their own ambitious growth plans, the procurement profession is surely set to benefit from the competition which is driving innovation, better adoption and providing some great career opportunities for people in  the sector.

Surely it’s time for procurement to embrace the opportunities presented by all this great tech, develop its people with digital skills and start to deliver the next level of value to their stakeholders.

Here are a few more slides from the day.

Edbury Daley publishes its latest Procurement & Spend Management Insider Report

Specialist Procurement Technology and Spend Management recruiter Edbury Daley have just launched their latest Insider report, known for its insight into the big moves and trends in relevant job markets along with developments in the procurement profession.

Director Andrew Daley said “In the latest edition of our highly acclaimed Insider publication, we report on some high profile moves in the procurement technology sector. There’s also news from the European market, an update on recent results of the software vendors and the latest mergers and acquisitions.”

We take a look at the senior end of the procurement job market, where the opportunities have been and give senior professionals valuable insight into the demand for their skills.  We analyse the latest job market data from KPMG and both leading recruitment professional bodies APSCo and REC to assess what’s happening in the UK’s professional job market in the current climate of Brexit related uncertainty.

We also look at how the trends compare to what we see in the procurement and spend management professions to keep you up to date with what your career development options look like. And with over 450 responses, we publish the results from our recent research, as business leaders tell us their biggest challenges with their existing teams and the problems they face when hiring.

ABX Impresses in London

The Amazon Business Exchange (ABX) Event, a new conference on the procurement rota, took place on 9th October with the Victoria House Basement in Holborn full to capacity with 500 delegates.

The main sponsors were SAP Ariba, Coupa (who are both partnering with Amazon Business), Barclaycard, Accenture and YPO which gave it a slightly different feel to the likes of eWorld and Procurement Leaders, a sense emphasised by what was quite a different audience to many of the events we attend.

Whilst there were a few familiar faces, there was definitely an international feel to the audience which was predominantly mid and senior-level procurement professionals.  Representatives from the other solution vendors and consultancies were conspicuous by their absence.

This was the first ABX event in Europe with people tuning in via live streaming. Todd Heimes, Director of Amazon Business for Europe, opened proceedings with a few interesting thoughts about their view of the procurement world and how Amazon intends to have a major impact on it.

The pictures of his various slides that we have published here give some great insight into the data he was able to share with the audience.  Amongst the headlines were:

  • 89% of procurement leaders say that 50% of their processes can be automated
  • 94% of procurement leaders have implemented a 3rd party marketplace
  • By 2025 70% of all savings will be driven by data analytics.  He made the very pertinent point that there is a talent shortage centred around data (maybe he read one of our Insider reports!)
  • Only 34% of digital transformation projects are judged to be a clear success with more than 50% classified as a clear failure.

  • More than half the FTSE 100 are already Amazon for Business customers

He talked about the gap that exists between procurement leaders’ plans and the businesses expectations. Amazon intends to fill that gap and who would back against them given the success of the business overall?

Following Todd on stage were a couple of notable Amazon for Business clients Dietmar Harteveld Head of SCM for EMEA at Siemens and Bouygues Construction Global CPO Eric Bouret.

Both talked impressively about their journey with Amazon for business, their savings, process improvements and positive feedback from the business.

Two areas of capability really got my attention and are worth considering for CPOs.  Firstly Amazon’s system of progressive discounts over time which don’t require bulk purchases or supplier negotiation if you are a Business Prime customer.  The second was built in Spend Analytics, something that procurement professionals need to start using more of.

Next up was David Price, MD of lead sponsor Barclaycard Commercial Payments talking about how they might work with Amazon.  Todd asked David about how Barclaycard is making a difference to supply chains in an era of Brexit uncertainty and increased regulation.

He talked about the importance of “injecting liquidity into the supply chain” in areas of vulnerability and pointed to two key elements of the Barclaycard solution that could make a real difference in future. Firstly built in analytics (data again!!) to support their customers’ payment strategies and a similar capability for suppliers which could have a multitude of benefits for companies needing to manage their cash flow more efficiently.  For example, faster payments to the supplier community has given them a significant value add in the Barclaycard service and moved the dynamics of the relationship towards the supplier community away from the previously dominant buyer.

There were some good breakout sessions for the procurement delegates to enjoy after lunch which made for a successful event overall.  We expect to see much more of Amazon in the business community now, particularly given their alliances with such high profile organisations, and given the global success of the Amazon consumer business, we think it’s reasonable to suggest that this is bad news for other marketplace businesses.

My day at eWorld – September 2019

I always view the eWorld conference as the start of the Autumn events season and it was great to get back into action after the summer break.  It was nice to catch up with existing customers, talk to a few contacts who are coming onto the job market and also meet a few new people.

The eWorld event in March certainly seemed to benefit from a change of venue and that continued at the Great Connaught Rooms last week.  There was the usual interesting mix of sponsors ranging from regulars such as Proactis and Wax Digital through to new start-ups (here’s a full list of those who exhibited) so the main hall had plenty going on and more than enough delegates to make the event feel busy.

Throughout the day there was quite a varied mix of presentations going on, and those that I attended felt more like an education than a thinly veiled sales pitch and I think that is certainly the way to go with these things.

The opening keynote from Adventurer Tori James was very enjoyable. As the youngest British female to climb Everest back in 2007 she had a very inspiring story.  What impressed me about her was that she had no climbing background before deciding to take on the challenge.  She trained hard, learning the requisite climbing skills on other mountains before taking on Everest and achieved her goal through sheer dedication and application.  

She talked about the great help she’d had from coaches and other adventurers but also stressed the importance of the mental challenge for which she had to prepare herself personally.

The words that stuck with me were “At some point, you realise that you have to be your own coach” and this very much resonated with the message I had in mind during the workshop that I chaired in the afternoon entitled The Future of Procurement – Combining New Skills & Technology.

In my opening address, I bemoaned the lack of training available to procurement professionals which specifically relate to the future skill set required in a digital world.  I then asked for show of hands from the 20 delegates. I asked how many had received training from their employers in the past 12 months – five raised their hand. I then asked if any of that training was specifically geared towards digital procurement – four hands went down leaving one person who had been taught how to use an eSourcing platform.

These numbers, admittedly with a small sample size but representative of what I see and hear generally, proved the point I made later in the session that if procurement professionals want to equip themselves for the future, they have to take it upon themselves to start developing the skills and knowledge themselves i.e. to be their own coach as Tori put it.

During the discussion, we talked about what the future of procurement might look like, what value procurement might be able to add and what skills would become more important as a result.

A couple of delegates felt more needed to be done at CPO level to reposition the function and sell the new vision of procurement, something we’ve touched on ourselves in previous editions of our Insider report.

One delegate mentioned that her organisation had three CPOs in the group of companies but there was no vision from any of them about where procurement is heading or what skills will be required for the future – worrying stuff really.

We talked about sustainability and risk management as being two areas that procurement could really make a difference in future.

When it came to the question of whether technology could be an enabler for the evolution of procurement there was some doubt in the room. Ian Anstey, formerly of SAP, currently working with Apsolut, made the point that ultimately ROI on the technology will usually trump most other considerations, so companies really need to make a robust business case for change if technology is going to help move the profession forward.

We also had some people from suppliers in the room who had some good questions, but the most interesting point they raised, in my opinion, was around how marketplaces are now placing a layer of technology between salespeople and buyers which could have a negative impact on the possibilities for supplier led innovation.

Wax Digital & Edbury Daley combine to discuss recruitment best practice

Respected e-procurement platform provider Wax Digital recently interviewed Peter Brophy, Associate Director of the specialist Procurement and Spend Management recruitment company Edbury Daley for an article where they investigated “How to identify and recruit top procurement talent.

The article covers a range of relevant issues including what to look for when hiring in terms of softer skills and personality types.  Peter also gives his opinions on what makes for a good selection process and suggests some good interview questions.

You can read the full article here – https://www.waxdigital.com/blog/how-to-identify-and-recruit-top-procurement-talent/

For more really useful on this subject where Peter and his colleagues dig into some key issues around hiring into your team and developing your own career, you can access some excellent short videos here.

Movers and Shakers – What’s happening in the procurement tech market?

MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

This article is an excerpt from our Procurement and Spend Management Insider Report. Coupa continued their growth by acquisition in October last year when they bought Aquiire, who are described as ‘the Leader in Real-Time Supplier Catalog Search’. This was followed up recently when they announced their intention to acquire contract lifecycle management (CLM) leader Exari in mid April.

With 14 acquisitions in total now, it will be interesting to see how Coupa integrates all this different technology into a unified platform.

The other big news from the past few months was that the proposed acquisition of Basware by Tradeshift, which first came to light in November 2018, was officially terminated at the end of February with this announcement: “Tradeshift has recently informed Basware that it will be unable to proceed given conditions in the capital markets.”

Despite the negotiation of a ‘standstill agreement’ between the two companies until November 2019, several people have speculated to us that they think this deal could still be revived. For now, both parties will press ahead with their growth plans independently.

The other notable deal in the sector, which was also announced in February, was the acquisition of Determine (formally Iasta, B-pack etc.) by procurement and financial process automation solutions provider, Corcentric.

Following some disappointing results last year, Determine was widely known to be ‘in play’ with speculation across the market focusing on who would buy the business rather than whether they would be bought. With a relatively small presence in Europe, it will be interesting to see what their plans are for growth in the region.

There are more details and analysis on all these deals from the excellent Spend Matters website.

MOVERS & SHAKERS

In terms of high profile moves, these have been relatively few and far between in the last couple of quarters. Dean Pathak, formerly of SAP Ariba, has joined fast-growing finance automation business Rimilia as Chief Revenue Officer joining CEO and former SAP Head of Cloud, Kevin Kimber.

Ragnar Lorentzen, formerly of the Procurement Leaders organisation, has joined supplier master data specialist HICX Solutions.

Lance Younger, high profile former Partner of Deloitte’s digital procurement practice left in January to join Inverto, a subsidiary of The Boston Consulting Group.

Dan Quinn, formerly leader of the Bravo Solutions Emirates business Tejari, left the company following the Jaggaer acquisition last year. He has recently joined Tradeshift to lead their business in the region.

Another former senior leader of BravoSolutions is Hannele Palge-Rossi who recently joined Risk Methods as their Nordic Region Executive. Hannele was previously leader of BravoSolutions’ Nordics operation.

Now Jaggaer of course, the business moved to strengthen their local team by appointing Hannu Tikkanen, formerly of Basware in Finland, as their Nordics Sales Director.

At the middle management and experienced SMEs level, several key players continue to be active in the hiring market, particularly SAP Ariba building on their growth with more recruitment into sales, delivery and implementation teams across EMEA.

Ivalua remain active in the UK in particular, as were Tradeshift in the latter part of 2018.

Smaller best of breed organisations are typically seeking to strengthen their sales capability but competition for proven performers with knowledge of technology value propositions for procurement is intense with several attractive roles open in the sector at the time of writing.

Headlines from SAP Ariba Live – “We are listening”

The week of the 4th-6th June saw the biggest European procurement technology event in the calendar as the SAP Ariba roadshow rolled into wonderful, sunny Barcelona. If only it could be there every year!

The event had a different theme to typical software conferences and evidence of further evolution of the business’ message to customers over the past couple of years.  Ariba Live in Prague in 2017 was the age of “making procurement awesome” as they showcased all sorts of innovations. Last year in Amsterdam the message was about “procurement with a purpose” as the business embraced the CSR agenda. That theme continued strongly this year with a lot of coverage of ethical issues in the supply chain and rightly so, although this year’s headline was #3trillionreasons, a reference to the amount transacted on the Ariba Network.

What I did note was a more humble theme than other similar events with the tone set by the President of SAP’s Cloud Business Group Jennifer Morgan at  the opening plenary session. She talked about the business adopting an outside perspective with a greater focus on customer feedback. In plain terms, I thought the underlying message was “we are listening.”

Her three key action points were:

  1. Refocus on quality and support with problem resolution at the top of the agenda.
  2. Faster implementation (as evidenced by big developments in their partner ecosystem).
  3. Continuing to strive for innovation.

Jennifer was the first of six speakers that made up the all-female line-up in that opening session, including high profile guest, the very impressive Amal Clooney.  It sent a strong message about diversity in the business which continued on the second day at the Diversity Luncheon where the keynote speaker was the excellent Michele Mees.  I’d recommend her TED talk. Anyone who was there will remember it for one of the questions that was asked as much as her outstanding content. Let’s just say Michele did a wonderful job of educating us all about what diversity really means, and how it can truly benefit organisations.

The second day saw new President of the SAP Intelligent Spend Group Mike Eberhard continue the theme of working to improve the effectiveness of the solution.   He particularly talked about bringing customers together into the breakout sessions throughout the event to share their experiences and learn from one another.

Sean Thompson (SVP, Business Network and Ecosystem) built on this theme with the emphasis on the importance of using partner organisations as he told us that over 50% of implementations are now partner-led, whilst 75% of all implementations include partners.  I believe this is quite an increase from previous numbers.

The other big theme was the promotion of the power of the unified platform offered by the Intelligent Spend Management group.  Of course, news had reached the industry press that SAP was bringing the Fieldglass and Concur solutions into the stable before the event, but we heard more about the potential for this at various stages.

It struck me that the audience and partners received this news well, as they did indeed the message around members of the leadership team acknowledging that customer feedback and experience would be a central theme of how the business moves forward. It might seem like an obvious thing but it’s not something you hear enough of at these industry events in my opinion.

There were two other highlights from the main stage that I think worth mentioning.

The announcement of the partnership with Barclaycard streamlining payments within the Ariba Network – it was noticeable that the Barclaycard stand was mobbed in the next break and was busy all day as prospects wanted to learn more so that clearly went down well.

From a personal perspective, it was great to see Graham Wright and Mayank Chandla from IBM on the main stage as well, as they shared their vision for the future of procurement, particularly the development of their people enabled by tools like Ariba and Watson.  As regular readers will know this is a course we are particularly passionate about.

There’s so much more to cover from a wealth of breakout sessions and presentations so if you want a more detailed account I suggest you look at the coverage from our friends at Spend Matters here.

Next year the event is in Berlin so unfortunately there’s no beach on my day off and no sunbathing for Mrs Daley, but it’s another great city to visit.  I’m looking forward to it already.

Edbury Daley publishes it’s latest Procurement & Spend Management Insider

Specialist Procurement and Spend Management recruitment firm Edbury Daley has just published it’s latest insider report.

Lead authors Andrew Daley and Peter Brophy delve into several key areas and address key issues including:

  • All the latest news from the procurement technology sector
  • Observations on recruitment market trends and legislation updates in the Spend Management Interim Market
  • A review of Procurement Leadership and senior management roles
  • The challenges faced by the Management Consultancy sector
  • A detailed look at what the real impact of Brexit has been on the market including from the viewpoint of the HR practitioner
  • Advice on the future of your procurement career

You can download the report here.