Whew! Last week was busy for the Business Continuum team at Xerocon 2017. We were thrilled that Xerocon came to our home town of Melbourne, bringing more than 3,000 visitors from around Australia and further abroad to our magnificent city. It was great to rub shoulders with accounting professionals from around the globe.
Xerocon started with Uni Day on 12th September, a great event for accountants and bookkeepers looking to skill up on all things Xero. Our Director Matthew met with plenty of first-time Xerocon attendees and answered questions about lead automation and change management.
“Young accountants are embracing new technology and seeing how it works in the business world,” said Matthew. “I shared plenty of practical advice on a variety of cloud-based software solutions, such as Xero Practice Manager, FORMbasic, Streak for Gmail and Boomerang for Outlook.
Matthew also met with attendees from far and wide, and enjoyed the opportunity to share ideas with those from economies both smaller and more developed than Australia. “Practitioners from smaller economies, like Vanuatu, attended to gain insights about cloud accounting and practice management to share back home—it’s great to see,” he said.
The Power of Us
The recurring theme woven throughout Xerocon 2017 was ‘the power of us’. It’s the idea that people are innovators, not technology, but technology helps us achieve innovation. It’s a powerful reminder that there are real human people behind every bit of seemingly faceless technology. And it’s those human connections that really matter.
New announcements and new products galore
Plenty of people attend Xerocon for the new product announcements. And it did not disappoint.
CEO Rod Drury was first up on the keynote stage and made a record number of new Xero product announcements. These included:
The nine integration partners for Xero HQ
The first integration partners announced for Xero HQ included the cloud file management system SuiteFiles, (our buddies and co-presenters at our pre-Xerocon APIntel session), as well as Boma, the much-hyped marketing automation app for accountants. Boma’s stand was flooded with interested accountants and bookkeepers—the joke doing the rounds was that Xerocon should in fact be renamed Bomacon!
The relaunch of expenses
The expenses function within Xero has been given a major refresh to make the expense process easier and more intelligent. Users can now capture and submit expense claims on the run with the iOS and Android apps. Approvals are now more flexible and easier to control. Also, users can now submit expenses on behalf of others in the organisation, no doubt a popular new feature for those who struggle to get their receipts in order each month.
The Lifelong Learning Platform
This program gives schools and professional accounting bodies a platform they can use to equip students for the real world of cloud accounting. Students can practice using Xero to complete a variety of real-life accounting processes, in a safe and highly repeatable fashion. It’s good to see Xero creating products for Universities and TAFEs, giving students access to Xero rather than MYOB or Reckon (which both have academic trial versions). Consequently, more students will be graduating from courses with good Xero skills and experience with cloud accounting—a benefit to the entire industry.
Forty percent of Xero clients are professional service-based businesses, so it made sense for Xero to introduce a project management function. It allows creative, digital and IT businesses to better manage the progress and profitability of projects, and helps them stick to plans and focus on the most profitable types of work. This is not replacing WorkflowMax, but rather bringing light capabilities into the core platform so that the smallest of Xero clients can have access to additional project management functionality. For now, it’s better suited to smaller projects, but look out for more features to help with more complex projects in future.
Other highlights included:
In line with the conference theme, author and consultant Tim Leberecht talked about retaining the valuable human touch in business, as technology automates more and more of the day-to-day.
Dan Gregory and Kieran Flanagan from The Impossible Institute challenged everyone to get clear on their business values, align these with our desired clients’ values and “deliver a nowhere-else experience.”
IT industry veteran Steve Vamos urged us to put people first in business and reminded us that technology amplifies human disruption—not the other way around.
Magda Szubanski talked about her career achievements (as well as the professional and personal insecurities she’s overcome) and encouraged us to all embrace our own true selves as well as celebrate the diversity of others around us.
And to wrap it up, we enjoyed one heck of a block party in the laneway alongside the conference venue—the biggest wrap party we’ve ever seen!
We’re already looking forward to Xerocon 2018…