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So this is Xerocon!


This week I’m attending Xerocon in London for the first time, after a number of years of wanting to go but never quite making it for one reason or another.

I wasn’t sure what to expect if I’m honest. The biggest part of me was excited to visit London, to take in the experience of Xerocon, to get the buzz of hearing all things Xero and what big news they have on their product. A little part of me wondered if this would be a little over-bearing, all about Xero being awesome, plugging and selling Xero at every given opportunity.

After day 1, I have to say I’ve been blown away. Xero certainly knows how to do big events and Xerocon is at the top end of corporate gatherings. The sheer size and expansiveness of the big screen in the main auditorium, the glitzy intro, the vibe in the exhibition hall, swag and freebies……… can’t help but get involved. Not every day do we get the chance to experience events like this, so take it all in I say.

I said I would give the Xero Shop a miss………..on passing it I took a quick browse………..10 minutes later I left with 5 purchases, mostly unnecessary!

The zip line, the swinging chairs, Dexter, grass verges, drinks and nibbles…………….some would say it’s too much……….I say we should just appreciate what Xero does and how well they do it.

In terms of content, would it be all big shouts about the excellence of Xero?

There is an element of that, but in fairness Xero can do this, they have the product to back it up. Even moreso now as Gary Turner announced the acquisition of Instafile and that Xero are bringing in accounts production and tax returns within Xero……….no doubt this will be the ground-breaking news of Xerocon 2018.

Gerd Leonhard talked about the future……..a lot. The talk could have gone a bit dry, but Gerd loves being a “futurist” and had some interesting insights into humans, technology, AI and how accountants should react to more and more automation (think PERMA).

More product news was received well…… menus and layouts to give Xero a long overdue face lift, Xero VAT central bringing a central place to manage VAT returns for clients, and of course a look at Xero’s MTD for VAT platform including drill down into boxes 1 to 9. Then, a quick peek too at Instafile for accounts and tax production and how this will add to our workflow with clients, such as review processes and ability to request electronic signatures!

The talk on API’s and Open Banking showed how Xero continue to push the banking sector to allow ease of data flow. This is welcome news for small business in Northern Ireland as it was confirmed that Bank Of Ireland, Allied Irish Bank and Danske Bank will be part of open banking for feeds in the near future, something that we as Xero advisors have been screaming about for quite some time.

Last but not least, there was the Xerocon Party. Live DJ and band, free food and drink everywhere, the Rox Box karaoke van, ice cream stand, mini golf, raw fish stall, light-up table tennis………..Xero put on a great show.

The best part of day 1 was talking to other Xero advisors, gaining and sharing insights to our challenges, our successes, how we do things, what works best etc. I spent time taking to Claire Stewart putting the world of cloud accounting and small business in Northern Ireland to rights. I met people from our GoProposal group such as Penny Rowden, Karen Reyburn, Will Farnell and Douglas Quinton. I chatted to some of the Xero crew (Diane, Donna) and met James Ashford as he arrived in haste from QBC in Cardiff!

This is the main part of days like these. It’s the insights we get from collaborating and sharing. More to come on day 2 no doubt.

One of the last things today was a quick chat about which tech is best. Quickbooks are pulling out the stops in the US with an AI interface. Sage and FreeAgent are pushing big improvements. Xero are right up there of course with acquisitions of HubDoc and Instafile.

My only thought on that is this……….don’t get swept away by the tech, look at what the tech can do for us, our clients and our clients’ businesses. We are blessed by the abundance of tech available. Pick some that suit and work well, learn them in depth and use them to deliver the results our clients want.

The tech market place is no doubt more crowded and competitive than ever. It’s a bit like Top of the Pops. One day, QBO may be number 1. That might last a week or more. Then, Xero will take over with new product. And the battle continues…………they’ll keep pushing each other upwards, all the time we get better products for us and our clients.

Long may it continue. Now, and for the foreseeable, we’re sticking with Xero!

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