Coupa’s Latest “Cloud” Innovations Brings Back Memories of the Late 90s

Posted on September 16, 2010

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I can remember the first time we attempted to use the geographic polling capability of what at the time was referred to as the Interactive Parts Ordering System or “IPOS” in a production environment.

The concept was fairly simple although advanced for the time whereby a buyer would plug in the MRO part number that was required and the corresponding zip code with delivery requirement into the system.

Within a matter of seconds the IPOS advanced algorithms would consider the attributes (I never like the word synthesize) and then would automatically post the order to the Strategic Stocking Location “SSL” that was best situated to deliver the product within the required time period.

If for whatever reason the inventory was not available at that location, it would then within seconds mind you, recalculate a secondary and then if required tertiary selection of SSL locations in an effort to fulfill the order.

Once the SSL site with the required part was identified, IPOS would then automatically create and electronically dispatch in pdf format the order with applicable purchase order number and other essential data.  (Note: later versions of IPOS which was re-branded under the name RAM would, through a collaboration with courier companies such as a UPS, automatically generate a waybill number at the time the order was produced and then forward a dispatch notification to the courier company scheduling a pick-up.)

Now, if for whatever reason the part was not available through the top three optimum SSL sites, the system would then send a notice back to the originating buyer and simultaneously send out a sourcing request to registered suppliers first within the geographic hot zone for same day delivery, and then to domestic suppliers for next day or overnight delivery.

The suppliers would then respond within the appointed time with their bid.

At that point, the system’s algorithms would then consider weighted factors relative to the bidding supplier’s price, historic quality and delivery performance, as well as terms offered etc. and select the best value source at that point in time.

It was all pretty heady stuff in 1998 – 2000, and ultimately led to my company’s acquisition by a larger publicly traded entity for $12 million – mostly stocks and bonds with a little cash.  Ah those were the fun days of the dot.com craziness.

However, and looking through the always crystal clear lens of hindsight, both designing the application and heading its development through to a production environment has given me a rather unique perspective on today’s SaaS-based platforms.

For this reason, Coupa’s announcement of added functionality such as the Google Maps Integration, is at once interesting, exciting and yes even a little bit rewarding because I can see where the technology is heading.  A definite advantage in that it helps to sift through the herd of “also ran’s” to get to the real jewels.

Suffice to say, the last half of 2010 and into 2011 will prove to be an exciting time in the industry.

By the way, for those who might be curious, here is the LINK to the patent registration for the original IPOS application which formed the basis for our acquisition in May 2001.

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Posted in: Commentary