Five questions with Coupa Software CEO Rob Bernshteyn

Summary:Coupa Software, a spend management and procurement as a service provider, is starting to talk up its enterprise wins a bit more as it looks to lock down its corner of the cloud.

Coupa Software, a spend management and procurement as a service provider, is starting to talk up its enterprise wins a bit more as it looks to lock down its corner of the cloud.

Coupa this week touted wins at enterprises such as Michaels, Diagnostic Health Corp. and PGi. The company also counts companies like and Taleo as customers.

The promise of Coupa is that it is an extension of existing enterprise planning systems. In a nutshell, Coupa tries to make procurement easier for employees of all stripes within an enterprise.

Meanwhile, it's an interesting time for Coupa since Ariba is stepping up its cloud computing game. Ariba in May launched its Commerce Cloud, a Web-based platform for buying and selling between corporations. However, Ariba is more eBay-ish with an on-premise software focus relative to Coupa, a cloud procurement option built on Amazon Web Services infrastructure.

We recently caught up with Rob Bernshteyn, CEO of Coupa, on the landscape for procurement on-demand.

Where do you fit in relative to Ariba?

We're truly cloud based and at the end of the day we're focused on the buyer. Ariba is focusing on making money off its suppliers and network. Coupa is looking to solve the buyside problem and apply to a broader audience of enterprise workers. "You get into any company and any person sitting in a cubicle and they ask 'how do you buy something?'" he said. "We're looking at wider use cases."

How long does it take to implement Coupa?

Bernshteyn says "the vast majority of Coupa implementations happen quickly." A few have had Coupa plugged into their SAP system in 54 hours or so.

What's the ERP strategy with SAP and Oracle?

Bernshteyn says that Coupa is designed to be an extension of SAP and Oracle. "We're a strategic extension to ERP," he says.

What happens if SAP and Oracle turn into competition? SAP has talked about SaaS extensions to its on-premise ERP modules.

"We'll have to wait and see what happens. We have wins with companies like McDonalds in the U.S. and Tesco in the U.K.," says Bernshteyn. "This stuff is sticky and we're building barriers to entry. We have an essential store of best practices and benchmarks where you can see how your procurement stands relative to your industry. We have the ability to aggregate all of that data---something that can only be done in multitenant SaaS." Who do you see as the competition right now?

Bernshteyn says he sees SaaS procurement as an open field since Coupa is an extension to existing systems not a replacement. "We're competing with low-end paper based processes and Excel," he adds. Bernshteyn says enterprise procurement was an emerging area in the late 1990s led by Ariba, but then the dot-com bust put the category on ice.

Topics: Cloud, Enterprise Software, SAP, Innovation


Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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