When you think of the word “community,” you might picture people coming together in times of crisis, as we all have so often during the pandemic. But while these images of neighbors helping neighbors are heartwarming on their own, they also suggest the potential for communities to be more constant and reliable contributors to the quality of our lives.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this idea of community from a business context because I’ve always believed that none of us are as smart as all of us. Unfortunately, most business communities tend to be primarily transactional. Collaboration is too episodic and exchanges disparate and discrete, limiting the benefits we derive from belonging to something bigger than ourselves. Companies truly collaborating is the exception more than the rule.
FASTER GROWTH AND SUSTAINED SUCCESS
What if we could imagine a different kind of B2B community, one in which working together to achieve better outcomes was built into everyday behaviors instead of being reserved for special occasions? One where collaboration was a regular lifestyle instead of a crash diet?
And what if we could not just share information in such a community, but also develop a kind of intelligence with and from it that delivered previously unattainable insights and improved decision-making at every level, every time, to everyone?
And what if the community itself could continuously iterate and get smarter, and thereby learn, understand, and evolve to provide greater value than ever before for its members?
Such a community would be a competitive differentiator for a business that established and nurtured it, and it would be a key tool for addressing the rise of stakeholder capitalism and commensurate expectations for speed, agility, efficiency, and transparency.
Such a next-generation community would be how and where businesses realize their corporate purpose.
The need for such communities is clear, and the enabling technology is ready.
The key is in the massive amounts of data generated every day. Because of the exponential increase in computing horsepower, it’s now possible not just to collect, but also to aggregate this data across a community, analyze it in real time, and learn from every action to get smarter and grow faster. As more people recognize the potential locked in that data, they’ve become more comfortable with sharing it to receive tangible benefits, especially if they can do so safely and anonymously.
To prove this concept, we at Coupa built a next-gen community of our own, called Community.ai.
Thanks to the power of machine learning, the data that passes through our Coupa platform— anonymized, aggregated, and analyzed—is automatically fueling new insights that, in turn, will make the platform smarter. The more our next-gen community grows, the more useful it will become.
Imagine the possibilities as insights transform into actions. A community that facilitates the sharing of information and insights—and provides a forum for companies to make direct connections—helps leaders make smarter, real-time decisions. It reduces risk and accelerates growth.
It also creates powerful scale, as the community can come together not only to leverage shared insights, but also to pool spending, helping them win better pricing from trusted suppliers and make the supply chains themselves more resilient.
We can leverage our community to foster direct collaboration between companies, pooling spending to empower companies to obtain better pricing from trusted suppliers and make supply chains themselves more resilient.
Community.ai wasn’t created just to be a nice benefit for Coupa customers. It represents our attempt to create a new kind of community, proof of concept for the fundamental idea that we are, in fact, smarter together.
Coupa has been anonymizing and aggregating data since our earliest customers came online. Now, with more than $3 trillion in cumulative spend under management, we’ve scaled and can provide meaningful insights for every major industry and business.
This is our moonshot, more than a decade in the making. That’s why we’ve finally achieved liftoff, launching the full-featured Community.ai and empowering our customers to realize faster, stronger value. It only gets better from here.
Then it’s onto Mars.
Rob Bernshteyn is chief executive officer at Coupa and has more than three decades worth of experience in the business software industry