Monday, September 2, 2013

Xerocon Sydney 2013 wrap up (+ award pics) / The Xero Accounting Software Conference - Convention - Trade Show

From Xero's Blog, Xerocon Sydney 2013 – Day 1 

Here we are at Xerocon Sydney 2013. What an amazing location at the Australian Technology Park.
Xerocon Australia entrance
I caught up with our CEO Rod Drury before the conference started and he was saying how in the beginning they dreamed that one day we’d have conferences in multiple countries, with multiple streams, guest speakers and a big trade show.
Well it happened. Xerocon Sydney is kicking off with over 900 people and a massive trade show. We believe this is a little bit larger than the Microsoft Australian partner Conference last week and believe it is also Australia’s biggest accounting conference.
Xerocon Australia Day 1
We’re live blogging today and tomorrow with loads of pictures and posts, so check back regularly. Follow twitter activity on #xerocon or see the #xerocon wall on strea.ma. Also, there’s loads more photos during the day in our flickr album
Next door there are 53 exhibitors, which is massive.
Arriving at Xerocon Australia
Looking around the exhibition stands the breadth of solutions and services is incredible – from the full range of Add-ons to integrators and technology services.
The Xero team has done a round of having a 1 minute pitch from each. This is fun, 16 such partners (including here today: eWay, Fathom, Spotlight, Practice Ignition, EnableHR, Debtor Daddy, Mogul, Add-on Success, Invitbox and Receipt Bank) have got together to do a competition, called Your Cloud Crowd, to show how software and services “could enable you to reach the pinnacle of cloud accounting, and, most of all provide the best possible client service possible”. Each has contributed a prize, so go and enter.
Time to get into the main hall
Xerocon crowd
Now we’re rolling…
MC for the day is leading business and financial commentator Peter Switzer. Regaling us with amusing anecdotes along with the usual housekeeping. We’ve got prizes for best tweet judged by CEO Rod Drury and best photo on twitter judged by Australian Managing Director Chris Ridd.
Xero CEO Rod Drury is up.
“Holy shit” is his first words. Humbled by the size of the crowd. Fantastic to see so many motivated people.
AKP_9800
Rod’s global update is setting the scene showing the growth of the company, 102% for FY2013, staff at 507 as at 1 August (half are new in the past year and we’re fussy, we want the best!). Customers were actually 193,000 at that point too, so closing in on a big round number, half in the last 13 months.
It’s a huge investment, we’re building the bridge as we run across it. Still lots of cash to invest at NZ$69million.Wow – 7400 accounting partners as at 30 June 2013 and 900+ people from those in this very room!
This next chart is a winner. Comparing growth of Xero to Salesforce.com, Workday and Netsuite at similar time periods in their life. Rocking it. Right in the ballpark, and we’ve done it at the small business not enterprise level. Leading the world in small business class SaaS.
At 1 August 2013 the annualized revenue run rate (ACMR) was NZ$64million. See our annual meeting presentation for more such details.  Revenue growth outlook is “over 80%” for FY2014.
Investors want us to keep investing, growing, hiring. Still a lean team though, with low overhead at the management level. 247 staff added in last 12 months, of which 94% are selling and building the product.
Rod’s now showing the product platform strategy, with four quadrants. This is key. We’ve moved beyond being accounting software to being a platform:
Rod Drury - Platform
The ecosystem is booming:
Rod Drury - Ecosystem growth
We are providing the commodity horizontal application. Our partners can provide the vertical solution. We want to see a more of these cool line of business applications – it’s a fundamental re-architecting of business.
We recently added add-on reviews in the Xero Business Community, helping people navigate and get informed by peers about the add-on software they need. Get on there rate the add-ons and put frank comments on there.
Now Rod is showing at the high level product roadmap. We’re working on the much demanded features of the core product, as well as reporting and practice suite, AU Tax, US Payroll (being done by the team that did Australian Payroll).
Anna Tweet
Then it’s about getting more connected. Online invoicing has gone nuts. How many hours will we save by keeping things electronic. We’ll be getting onto connected business services, country packs, other payroll, additional country regions, and then longer term additional languages.
The industry is changing as we talk so Rod is now getting really high level on where this is going in the next decade and more. When you are planning your business around Xero it can only help to get this vision explained at Xerocon (hint if you aren’t here for this one, get to the next!).
Scott Tweet
On the accountant side of thing we want to get the cost of compliance out and for cloud software to completely displace desktop software across your practice over the next 18-36 months.
One of the big trends is in banking and this is about making it two-way, not just the one-way of bank feeds. Bringing on online provisioning, direct payments bank-to0-bank.
Rod is now talking about Privacy – Xero is a data custodian, recognizing privacy and security as central to our business. We take an upfront honest approach to privacy with full disclosure of how we treat data so are aligned with the new privacy principles. We are also proactive, having been an instigator of the New Zealand Cloud Computing Code of Practice, which is receiving interest in Australia too.
Now Rod is finishing off with a look at the technology adoption curve – we’re in the early adopter stage, bridging the skills gap, and Xero as an instigator of change. Looking forward to working with you for the next 10 years.
Product developments
Australian Product Manager Oliver Furness is introducing the next few presentations for today regarding products and featuring a full suite of of Xero’s product leads, and giving some insight into how products are developed at Xero.
Oliver
Demo time with Product Development Manager Andrew Tokeley (Tokes). Wow. it’s a showcase of what’s coming up, in the flesh. You really need to be here to get the best value from these but here goes:
Purchase orders – was blogged about  recently – keep eye on blog for advance details of features we are working on.
Getting a few laughs about a big hand shadow on the screen. It’s all about being touch friendly – making sure gigantic fingers can operate. Hoping to get purchase orders pretty soon.
Melenie Tweet
Demoing Quotes – these  have terms and conditions feature that can be different for different types of clients. Showing the approval process. Ultimately, in a second version, it will have an online version of the document like in online invoicing, so can be a conversation not just a document you are sending off.
Now inventory – we don’t have a desire to do all the magic around this. We want to provide for people with “lite” requirements. Enough to support simple management of items you buy and sell. Something you track and has an asset value. Playing around with a concept of tagging that might work in other parts of the software.
Harris Tweet
On first version it will support FIFO not average cost – quick poll of attendees as which they think we should go with first – pretty even – a bit more for FIFO, shout of “both”.
Now showing how to do adjustments and counts (incuding for stocktakes). Some debate about whether you can sell things you don’t have.
Reporting – we’ve talked a lot about redoing our reports. Just showing some of the magic planned. This is not a report builder but gives us more flexibility than right now. There are primary requirements for any report and there are report settings that are typically required that can be saved for regular use. There is grouping and filters and multi-select.
Files – not just having your accounting data in Xero, but your documents. You can add as many files as you like in and drag and drop. Lots of applause for this feature. We are creating an inbox system as part of it. You’ll be able to rotate and zoom in on image files. Great to be able to pull up receipts and type in from them.
Payroll
Our Payroll Vice President Stuart McLeod is now up talking about the vision of Xero’s payroll – clearly it’s about saving time and money, and also giving small businesses advanced features like auto-super, payment summaries, and online submission of tax file number declarations. It reduces risks for compliance by having automatic updates to tax tables and legislation changes, by removing need for backup and by helping businesses manage their finances.
Stuart McLeod
Some more stats: 136,346 employees paid, 621,352 pay runs, almost AU$4 billion in payroll processed,  Applause. $41 million in automatic super contributions.
Stuart is now talking about features we’ve talked about before. We can tick off progress on admin rights, time sheets, archiving and the API and the rest is still being worked on.
Seb Tweet
Coming up, a redesign of the leave process, assigning leave types to employees, a refreshed look and feel as a result of work going on for US payroll, and an iOS app for iPhone for employees.
Now demoing Leave process. Applause for manager view of leave. This is expected early next year.
Stuart McLeod - Leave
Building an employee mobile app too and integration with general ledger.
Banking
Product manager for mobile and banking integration Matt Vickers is talking banking. We’re getting beyond just having bank feeds in the relationship with banks and it needs you to put the pressure on them over quality, speeds, and more, as many have on social media. Feeds are important because they drive banking reconciliation, which makes reports etc available every day. So pressure them and be selective.
Matt’s showing off the new ideas around online sign-ups and in-app feed management, as well as doing direct payments from within Xero through your bank.
Mobile
Moving onto mobile, Android continues to grow in popularity while iOS is still the market leader for Xero users and prospects. There’s now been 125,000 downloads of our mobile software, of which 40% were from Australia!
Interesting slide on the differences between developing for desktop and mobile. Shows how mobile opens up the scope for innovation:
Matt Vickers - Desktop vs Mobile development
And now being shown demos/screenflows of mobile developments. Demoing live Xero Touch 2.0 – expense claims, much faster than previous, but big focus is on complete redesign of bank rec using stylish matching cards approach. Very cool! Should be out in a couple of months.
Profiles, roles and partner training
Product Manager Sara Goepel looks after a raft of service delivery technologies at Xero, including My Xero, Help, Community, Notifications, Subscriptions and Support systems.
Sara Goepel
Today she’s starting with the exciting plans for a centralized location for all profile information in Xero at profile.xero.com. It is a part of Xero that will be optionally public for you and if so searchable by Google, allowing you to promote your services online. These profiles will also have achievement badges and be integrated into the Xero community and available as a widget for your own website. People are loving that.
Gayle Tweet
Now Sara is talking about improvements to navigation within Xero, across all our applications that will make it faster to switch between them – applause.
We are reworking notifications to make them more powerful, with a popup approach that doesn’t take over the whole screen.
Roles in My Xero are being tuned. The current single Practice Admin becomes the Principal and then multiple Practice Admins can be set up, along with other types of permissions – including Staff and a restricted access Consultant role.
Online training for partners is on the way, where you access all your tutorial, monitor progress and take the Xero certification test from the training tab in My Xero. Training will also be available on mobile.
The practice admin will be able to oversee the training and course completion of staff and approve paid courses.
Practice Studio
Now Oliver Furniss is back to wrap up the product show talking about Practice Studio, which brings together the Xero Accountant practice tools under the one banner, including Reporting, Practice management, Workpapers and Tax – the key tools you need to manage your clients in the cloud.
Yep, these are all pure cloud of course and it’s all about moving your practice to the cloud and all the benefits that brings. At the moment these are separate applications but over time Practice Studio becomes a platform, just like Xero is a platform.
Workpapers is about faster compliance. Great for online and offline reviewing, tailored or generic client queries, bookkeepers, and year-end.
After 3 months of open release, there are 200 firms subscribing and 100 trialling. We’re looking at further enhancements, a UK version, and increased integration, including Tax.
Practice Manager is being redesigned.
The first phase of Xero’s Online Tax goes into beta in June, with release early in the new financial year.
Now switching to workflow and a very quick demo of Activity Statements – Announcement: Available to partners on 19 September.
Tweet Stuart Brandman
Lunchtime – back in a mo
Lunch
This afternoon we’ve split into four streams and I’ll magically try cover the first two of these – one for accountants and one for bookkeepers, by summarizing from the slides of the other.
National Sales Manager David New is introducing this next section in Stream 1 about Your Practice in the Cloud.
Stream 1 – Your Practice in the Cloud
Australian Product Manager Oliver Furniss is now back up and recapping on Practice Studio to the Accountants audience. The key components are Workpapers, Practice Manager and Reporting. The vision is to bring them together into one platform.
Gavin GeorgePractice Manager Sales Manager Gavin George is getting into the detail with some screen flows to show what WorkflowMax will look like as Xero Practice Manager, to be consistent with Xero. Being able to create filters for views is something that will be used across the features. The ability to drive quotes from templates or previous quotes.
Looking at jobs. Introducing a concept of an owner of a job. A bunch of new dashboards across the applications. There are many more features Gavin is going through to show how the new look works and simply too much to cover here.
GM Workpapers Richard Francis now up. The times are a-changing – It’s all about getting away from paper and having clients controlling the flow. Now it’s about collaboration and you controlling the flow. Workpapers can be seen in a central location connecting Practice Management, client accounting, reporting and tax, along with content and document management. The opportunity is to invest in smarter, faster compliance, be mobile and distributed, and get in control.
Richard Francis
The latest release of Workpapers features client queries that can be tailored or bulk-sent, creating and re-using workpaper packs, Job Notes and Payroll work papers, and auto-approve journals in Xero.
Remember it’s free for Silver partners and above, and there are implementation partners ready to help, so take the leap.
Oliver is back, and talking Tax for Australia. Nowhere need finished. Activity Statements will be available on 19th September under the existing user interface. There will be help, webinars, whatever we can do to get you up to speed. Now demoing. Coming down the track Trust, Partnership and individual returns, ready for EOFY June 2014.
Now moving to a panel session.
Stream 2 – Marketing your business
Meanwhile over in Stream 2 they are talking about Marketing you business to Bookkeepers. Just going off the slides for the bits I’ve missed.
Baz Gardner from The Social Advisor is apparently sharing advice on bow to use social media. We could all probably learn a tip or two from him. He’s talking about taking control of your personal SEO (search engine optimization) by using both LinkedIn and YouTube. Work out what you stand for then tell your stories, and your client stories. And get online and get conversing. Be social. Be yourself to create relationships and trust.
Now I’m in the room. Making your website work better for you is where Practice Plus founder Matt McFedries is at. Today he’s showing why Search Engine Optimization is not the be-all and how to fix your website content, with a few tips and tricks thrown in.
Nick Todd Tweet
It’s not about search rankings, it’s about results. The key is authorative content. Don’t fall for the trap of trying to game the system – write good content and get qualify links. He suggests 10-15 pages of content, with over 400 words on at least half of them. No duplication, not stuffed with keywords  – that can actually harm your site’s ranking through negative user experience. It’s about building links naturally from high quality sources, looking to get 10-30 a month of which 30-50% will be to the home page.
Matt McFedries
Aim to get 5%-20% of leads from search. Leave the marketing speak out, talk less about yourself.
Jill of all Trades
Matt has some a great examples and how they have succeeded. The job of your website is persuade people to buy from you. You need a strong value proposition that is persuasive and believable – like Dominos 30 minutes or free offer.
Jill of all Trades before and after website analysis is a great case study in articulating the value proposition leading to more leads. Went with “Get the best from the best Cloud software” with a much simpler home page design.
Now we’re talking design, which is like a multiplier on your content, bringing forward the most important points.

Matt Danvers
We’re back from afternoon tea now. Whoops, didn’t tell you we’d gone … that’s how full-on it is here.
Back in Stream 1 where the Accountants hang out.
Stream 1 – Your Practice in the cloud contd
Consolid8 MD Tanya Titman is is going to provide a case study of the firm’s transition to the cloud. There’s real value in this relaying of experience and love this willingness to share that we see all over the Xero community.
The practice put their first client on Xero in 2012, became a Gold Partner in June this year. They love the culture and enthusiasm they see at Xerocon. Tanya is a complete convert from having one integrated suite to the add-on philosophy. They got into WorkflowMax last November and after testing Workpapers since February, implemented it in June along with Ledgers and Reports. Will get off that competing product completely as soon as Tax is ready!
Tanya is outlining the entire nuts and bolts practice tools plan including document management, Office 365, and e-marketing and how it all fits and works together. About 90% cloud so far. Special mention – “We love WorkflowMax and the lead management it provides – it’s really streamlined our quotes”.
David Rynne Tweet

They work with two screens per person to see the various software at once, make it more efficient and helps reduce paper use in the office. Some have three screens.
Now focusing on the Xero Practice Studio tools and how workflow operates from leads coming in, proposals, initial invoicing and jobs allocated to team. Benefits to be seen in speeding up new client processes, fast quoting, and better management of on boarding.
Tanya suggests get  help to set things up. They lost some productivity and billing time in trying to do it all themselves.
Managing jobs in WorkflowMax from creation to tracking, team notifications, invoicing and reporting. Benefits in budgeting, recurring jobs, visibility of workload and streamlining fixed fee engagements.
Paradox tweet
Workpapers is great for quality control, looking at the workflow cycle. Again, great visibility, structure, consistency and makes reviewing easy and efficient.
All up, the cloud and Xero’s practice tools are helping Consolid8 through knocking out time waste of sending files for year end work, bank accounts not being reconciled, compromised debtors balances, and when clients miss adjustment journals.
Efficiency in improved, greater visibility of data, better client collaboration, better reporting, more time for advisory role and client education vs “accounting”.
“Hasn’t been difficult at all to get 100 clients onto Xero”
Staff – they are over the moon. Love this pic of them arriving at the event earlier.
Jason Forbes Tweet
Now moving onto a partner panel Q&A session.
Meanwhile, over in Stream 2 twitter tells me there’s been some great presentations.
Stream 2 – Modern Bookkeeping 
Continuing on in the Bookkeeper stream, we had CFM Bookkeeping’s Ryan Gollan running through best practice checklist for setting up clients. This can be done two ways – using Add-on services, or manually. Conversions are best done at the end of year or end of a period.
Ryan talked about a BAS checklist and a Payroll checklist. Key points are accuracy of the setup, of processing through the year, and integrity of the financial statements and reports.
Viridity’s Rhys Roberts covered off creating higher value services. Industry challenges include – price pressure and the business model. The solutions involve communicating, understanding the market, reinforcing value. Key is the reports – formatting and presenting, summary reports, detailed reports, tailored reports.
Then into the panel discussion.
So that wraps up the Live blog for today, subject to us adding a few more pics! Hope you enjoyed it and do comment below. We’ll be back tomorrow with the Day 2 Live blog.


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4 comments

Chsrles Klvana 
29 August 2013 #
Hi @Xero, love the #xerocon but why no printed programme? I understand being cool by having an app for it, but only for ios?? Really? now I’m lost because I don’t use ios! grrrrr!
Diane Crawford-Errington 
29 August 2013 #
Fantastic stuff guys, keep the blog coming..
Rod Drury 
29 August 2013 #
Charles, you can download a pdf here: http://www.xero.com/au/xerocon/australia/program
Ed Henry 
30 August 2013 #
A mind expanding experience. This is my first Xerocon and it is awesome! The possibilities with this Eco system are just so far reaching they will turn everything on its head and shake up the way we all do business. What a journey to be on!
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Xerocon Sydney 2013 – Day 2 Live!

If you haven’t seen it, note yesterday’s Live Blog
We’re back for Day 2 at Xerocon Sydney. To get you warmed up, while we’re waiting for everything to kick off, check out this time lapse photo of yesterday’s exhibition area from our photographer for the event Alexander Kesselaar, if it doesn’t show then try clicking on this link.
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Don’t forget to check back regularly. Follow twitter activity on #xerocon or see the #xerocon wall on strea.ma. Also, there’s loads more photos during the day in our flickr album
Peter Switzer is back, giving a bit of kudos to the event, especially the audience, announcing some prize winners, a bit of housekeeping, a bit of self-promo (obligatory book being held up – bit of a laugh) and why not! A great choice for MC.
Peter Switzer 2
Let’s get on with the show!
Celebration
Xero Australia Managing Director Chris Ridd is up and this will be both a celebration of what Xero and partners have achieved as well as where together we can go in Australia. Think of the first Australian Xerocon with 130 people compared to the crowd we have today, and as Chris says, it’s only just beginning.
He’s talking untapped potential both with the small business market and the advisor community. There are about 2.1 million SMEs in Australia – with an addressable market for small business accounting software of at least 1.2m.
Chris Ridd
Wow, 40% of our customers sign up from no accounting software. They’ve been using Excel, or doing it manually for example. So we’re expanding the market. and improving GDP across the sector.
In Australia accountants are the vanguard with 11% using Xero. Bookkeepers are even more exlusive at 2% and Financial Advisors even further at .7%. “We are very early on the journey with lots of upside potential.”
Now the numbers are really rolling – 1900 Advisors at Bronze level or above, at a rate of 30-40 a week – amazing channel growth, 90 staff in the Xero office up from 2 years and 7 months ago when Chris started. 30 of those are involved in developing payroll and tax features – we shipped TFN declarations on August 5th and 8000 have been lodged to the ATO since. Picked up iAward for financial services based on the payroll product.
Overall AU achieved 220% revenue growth year on year and has more than 270 Add-ons in the ecosystem, up from 25 when Chris started.
Customer growth
Now the biggy announced to the ASX today. We now have 200,000 paying business customers worldwide, of which 75,000 are in Australia. The Australian numbers are up from 51,000 at the end of March, so an almost 50% jump. Signing up 200-300 customers a day.
So what’s the Xero strategy for Australia to take advantage of the opportunity:
  • Hire and develop great people
  • Amplify the Xero brand
  • Build complementary channels
  • Deliver product innovation
  • Develop the Practice Studio channel
  • Step up cloud advocacy
Now talking about the team, recent appointments at leadership level and talking about the structure and covering the regions. Even have someone in Adelaide!
Chris is recapping the add-on market discussion from yesterday, that we’re helping with add-on reviews for a more informed marketplace.
Timewise Tweet
Cloud integrators
We’re also building complementary channels to help grow the business, in cloud integration, financial advice, and banking sectors. Cloud integrators are coming through as replacements for the old system integrators – they have vertical expertise, are cloud specialists, will work with a suite of Add-ons, handle data migration, implementation and support, and are keen to partner with accountants and bookkeepers.
An example is SMB Consultants in Sydney, who specialize in retail and hospitality work with Vend, Kounta, Deputy and Shoeboxed to name a few, and provide a complete solution including network management. We see Cloud integrators coming together with accountants and bookkeepers for verticals across the market.
Financial advisors are also complementary. Their sector is going through enormous change where FOFA (Future of Financial Advice) is replacing traditional commissions with fee for services. Accounting firms are taking on financial planning arms and it’s another opportunity for using Xero, for wealth management, with the Cashbook product and add-ons like Sharesight and PocketRent and feeding into a range of other advisor/client tools.
HTA Tweet
Banking 2.0 was talked about yesterday but to recap for Australia. Direct feeds are dominant and we can do so much more. Less than 10% of our bank feed statement lines in the last 12 months went through Yodlee. Direct feeds are just the starting point, with opportunity for web services integration and 2-way feeds with payments that will make other data aggregator’s models redundant. We’re in talks with a variety of banks at this point on these higher levels of integration.
You may know about how Xero bought in payroll (Paycycle) and work papers (Spotlight Workpapers) and how we’re building Tax for Australia with a team in Melbourne that is now about 13 people.
Fixed Assets announcement
Now we’re announcing that we are building a team to do Fixed Assets as a module to extend the Practice Studio vision – this will focus on Australian needs and looking for some quick wins for you.
Now talking about how Xero supports the channel of service and implementation providers with practice expertise. Have employed a BDM to assist. Two new Microsoft certified partners.
Now looking at Xero’s activity in industry leadership – being a member of the AIIA, promoting high speed broadband, input into the Cloud Protocol for Australia, being in the Broadband Today Alliance, and on the DBCDE Telework initiative.
Finally, and Chris gets a real kick out of Xero being involved in this so we hope you do too. Xero is partnering with the Foundation of Young Australians, supporting the Worlds of Work program, attracting high schools students into accounting and arming commercial and social entrepreneurs with financial literacy skills. Let’s all get involved – the opportunity is there to really make a difference.
Big digital picture
This is the first Xerocon for Xero’s Chief Revenue Officer Stuart McLean and he’s taking a bigger picture view of the opportunity in a digital world. Talking of which, great picture of someone swinging their kid, but who’s holding the camera? The point of the slide is it exemplifies three elements of our world today – speed, motion, exciting, our future and why we do what we do. The photo was taken with Google Glass.
Stuart McLean
Companies are able to grow more rapidly today than every before, so the greatest risk is complacency. The companies that are innovating today embrace how we enjoy technology in our consumer lives – using mobile, the cloud and social media. 65% of Australians own a smart phone, 70% are using cloud, and 14 minutes of every hour is spent on social media – that’s a bit mind boggling.
In the future many won’t own a PC, they won’t buy shrink-wrapped software or use “thick clients”. They will access the web and “live” in the cloud. People will bring the devices they love to work. Although note, work use to be a place, now it’s anywhere, any time.
People used to go to work because the internet was better than at home! Now it’s anywhere and we have to learn to switch off every now and then.
Applications are now designed to connect people. Xero is part of the new way, financial data and docs in the cloud, accessible from anywhere, anytime. From the ski field, the Barossa Valley, out on Sydney harbour!
Ben Wood Tweet
Everyone’s using multiple devices too, often at the same time but usually varying by time of day. 52% of information workers use 3 or more at work. Mobile traffic is ever increasing. Whether you use Apple devices or other, everyone wants a consistent view and cloud web and mobile device  apps are delivering it. Let people bring their own device to work.
Survival in the new world is about innovating, having a mission that matters, thinking big but starting small, continuous development and innovation, getting ideas from everywhere, sharing, using imagination, being a platform, and not failing to fail (fail fast and know when you’ve failed).
Final question from Stuart – your digital world – more data, more devices, or more time. It’s not if it’s when – learn about mobile, cloud and social – and make a decision.
Digital disruption: Short fuse, big bang 
Now a keynote from ICA President and Deloitte Private CA Tim Guillifer.
Tim
Where do you sit when it comes to technology and innovation? And importantly, where does your client sit? Guillifer has the classic adoption curve up – innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards. Once was a “digital immigrant” now we say we are all early adopters.
More people using mobile technology than toothbrushes – that gets a laugh.
Xero Tweet
Now we’re looking at one of the big tech changes – mobile – should be passing desktop next year. All this change is about a shift in the way people think, not about technology but about business. Entry barriers are down, the individual is in charge. Consumers have more choice, businesses have no choice. TIm’s slide show has some subtle picture choices.
Tim Guillifer - balloons
How will you respond to technology change for your business? Different sectors of the economy are facing different levels of disruption. A third of the economy faces the short fuse and big bang of digital disruption – in ICT, media, arts, finance, real estate and professional services. This is about business not technology. We need to reshape, replenish and recalibrate cost structures.
Check out Deloitte’s digital disruption video.
Big focus on Recruitment, Training and Retention. Deloitte seek people who are engaged through contacts and pay referral fees to their own staff, that ensures engaged staff are the ones doing the finding.
Peter Forrest CPA
For the accounting sector that was once about crunching numbers, it’s involves technology capability and out-of-the-box thinking. Firms are increasingly recruiting students with a diverse background from philosophy to English, and reaching them through social media.
Australian small businesses that are digitally engaged are seeing an average increase of 20% in annual income and are more likely to be hiring and increasing investment.
You can’t ignore it and hope it will all go away. Deloiite’s approach is to go beyond embracing technology to “creating a new experience” – single shared system, advising throughout the year, more frequency, deeper engagement, more sales.
David Rynne Tweet 2
The Deloitte Private Connect service is about working side-bay-side with the customer in the cloud.
So what are you doing? Create an active digital strategy, challenge the status quo, think about people and talent, benefit from the competitive advantage of cloud. Cloud is a threat to those that are focused on compliance, but a huge opportunity for those that embrace it.
Now moving to morning tea and then into streams
Stream 1 – Transforming your practice
Greg Sheehan CEO of RightWay is right on the way to Accounting industry stardom, getting a name for forthright analysis of the state of the industry and a leader of change by example. He’s humble though. Here he is giving an autograph:
Greg autograph
Greg is provocative. He wants to get under the audience skin but still have a beer with them tonight.
The CFOs role is to manage the performance of the organisation. As their virtual CFO you are there to help the small business customer with their whole performance. You should own this space.
So question your customer. Ask them do you believe that your accountant knows how to grow their own business? If their answer would be no, then what credibility do you have?
You’ve worked too hard to become a relic, so you need to be prepared to make changes.
Greg loves the Accounting profession and one day there will be a mini-series, just like those lawyers and doctors – imagine it! We need to get young people thinking accounting is THE place.
Our profession is littered with people who want to be professional – this is great. A lot of people love the fact that in a profession they know the complexity and charge handsomely for that.
Dyean Moodley Tweet
What the customer wants
But the internet is here, the information is available. More and more the customer wants solutions.
The other thing is that as Accountants you worked your butts off and now people from anywhere are jumping in and doing business coaching. We have to ask ourselves the question – what does the customer want and what are we giving them.
It’s so easy to start businesses and loads of young people are doing it. The cloud is providing incredibly cost effective solutions for small business.
The SME market is growing up. Gen-Y is starting to get into business. They are savvy. Who is your competitor? It’s not always obvious as we saw with iTunes.
Start with what your customer wants, and work backwards. Clients are getting savvier – want new ways of working. You need to think about who your competitors are now. Be a coach to your clients. Yes they want low cost compliance, but also help to grow and your ongoing attention and experience.
Greg Sheehan
Simple things like being available for a quick call on Skype, help with strategizing, ideas on where to get funding, when to hire next, regular management reporting. Meetings focused on growth. In our team we carry headphones in our bag for any quick conversations.
Greg’s talking about the classic accountant called “Wayne” who loves the shoebox – it’s like a roast dinner to them. That is what customers often get, someone who uses complexity against them. Customers don’t want problems, surprises, a poor attitude, unwillingness to adapt, or information that is reactive and historical.
Customer number one is your business – do you give your business the best service and advice that customer number one should have?  ”Change and improve or Die” -–that’s pretty strong Greg! Message received.
Greg Tuckwell Tweet
RightWay
Now for the gold, Greg is going through the RightWay model – it’s building block stuff as it was built from scratch – customer at the centre, create great products, have a scaleable corporate model (not partnership), go 100% cloud, hire the best people, a structure that splits between operations and customer relations (regional partners who are out and about), don’t constrain yourself to traditional accounting products, build a brand, and most importantly get your Sales and Marketing mojo together or he’ll grab your customers.
Steph Hinds Tweet
Sounds like he’s got a good thing going – get past high staff management overheads, controlling of workflow and grunt work. Have a special ops team as a central resource. All paying off in great incomes.
What’s the simple version? – efficiency with the Xero single ledger, get all your clients on, build Ledgers up through Cashbook to Business, use report packs. You don’t need to get out and sell lots of stuff, you don’t have to move away from time and cost.
Good points now about looking after yourself and the firm by creating capacity, making yourself replaceable, empowering your team with a great culture, getting a Board and strategic plan, appointing a COO. This is a company – ban the word “practice”.
Jumping into even more detail now – if you are loving this you should have been here. Otherwise, Greg needs to write an e-book.
Now into panels
Meanwhile I have some notes about what is happening over in Stream 2
Matt Peng
Stream 2 – Your business in the cloud
Xero Product Specialist Matthew Peng has been showing how Practice Studio can help bookkeepers be more efficient and profitable, with a live demo. This includes job management, work papers, and activity statement lodgements. These tools are not just for accountants, there’s a lot of value in a bookkeeping business.
Gold Partner Charles Klvana from Eye on Books. His focus is a “Day in the Life of a Cloud Bookkeeper” – filling the job funnel, managing/recruiting staff, and using the tools. He’s got some interesting thoughts about what part of your business is delivering what percentage of your income and what dollar rate. His thinking – actively network, do seminars, sell peace of mind. For teams – inspire, empower, recruit on motivation not skill.
And his quote for the day “Always plan more, love what you do and share the love”
Cecile Boulter Tweet
And then Practice Studio partners – Tina Kaye, from Abacus Solutions, HubOne Solutions’ Trevor Shoenmaekers and Tim Callcott from Focus Growth Strategies who can all help bring people along on the journey.
Lunchtime – must eat (and network of course)
Back into the streams
Lizzie Tweet
Stream 1 – Solving client business problems
Xero Add-on program manager Ronan Quirke is up. Add-ons are so important in providing additional functionality to meet business solutions – for example reducing data entry, advanced reporting or automated invoicing.
Accountants are key to the Add-on ecosystem as recommenders, enablers, and implementers. As it all evolves globally we’re seeing a lot of cool stuff happening with Add-ons connecting to each other, and moving into the various markets.
Definition-wise an Add-on is commercially available software that integrates with Xero through the Xero Applications Programming Interface (API) and has been certified as such. There’s a process to become an Add-on, involving review, collaborative beta testing, developing documentation and marketing information and certification.
The web Add-on directory defaults to list all the Add-ons by popularity and it’s a regional view that can be further filtered. They are also user-rated with a star system with reviews that were launched about a month ago. Very useful to leave reviews with detail about what worked and didn’t in particular applications.
Nick Tweet
So what else might affect your choice of Add-ons to recommend or support? Consider your time investment vs payoff and what will be required for any given app – some are easy to setup, others need training and implementation. What training and webinars are available? What is the support on offer? Xero can certify apps but you need to own your due diligence.
Finally, there are too many Add-ons to get to know them all. Focus on those most relevant to your practice. Find out how your clients use them. Check out what the community are saying.
Time for some random pics from the last two days (click to enlarge):
Fotor0830164532
Fotor0830165258
Meanwhile over at Stream 2 it looks like bookkeepers are soaking in useful information. I’ll summarize from their slides.
Stream 2 – Getting new clients and talking tech
First Class Accounts Principal Serge Crismale is looking at the subject of Bookkeepers moving to fixed fees. First Class started using Xero in 2009 and reached Gold Partner Status last month with 85% of clients on Xero. A first step is to identify what services you’ve been offering and what you have been charging for them. As you move people to Xero get off hourly charging and take the opportunity to believe in and value your knowledge and expertise not just your time.
For your existing clients you’ve got an opportunity to smooth out your income by using regular fixed fees. For new clients tailor your packages based on need, market and value. Learn where they are hurting and apply what you know of similar clients.
You can start to move to fixed fees now by beginning with the client you know best and doing it one at a time, learning from feedback as you go – that’s low risk!
And fixed fees doesn’t mean no time tracking. You still want to understand your own performance and see the long term profitability. “We can’t create more time just use it more effectively.”
Bookkeepers of Melbourne’s Anyce Grayly is gearing it up by turning the question around. “What has it cost you NOT to be selling Xero to your clients?” Starting from a base of knowing the Xero feature set, Anyce presents Six Steps to making people want to sign up to Xero without even trying it. Developing the right mindset, identifying your target market, tailoring your packages to suit your market, identify the cost of the client’s current problem, connect the client to the feeling of not having that problem anymore, get their commitment.
She’s gone into the detail of each of these points and provided some great questions and points. Now it’s about how to answer the questions without overloading people with detail, doing a demo that solves their problem directly. If there are objections get to the nub of them, run through what it’s costing to have the problem and learn what it is you’re missing.
FlourishFM’s Melanie Pollock and Kerry Lee talk about using client events to get more clients and business. First establish exactly why you should run an event, then you get to what to talk about, who to invite, how to get people along, where to have it, and the call to action result you are looking for.
Here’s just some of their useful suggestions – pick a topic area, share your passion and keep it real. Get a client to share their experience. Use your clients and networks to reach out to potential customers. Use event management tools and give clear information about the event with follow up and reminders. Make sure you allocate time post-event for reviewing feedback and follow up.
Love this “Getting new clients and more business is not your why, it is the result of sharing your why!”
Kimberley Tweet
To complete Streams 1 & 2 , Xero Add-on master Ronan Quirke is bringing his earlier ecosystem message to bookkeepers and Baz Gardner is bringing his earlier social media tips to accountants.

Toni Tweet
Time for some more pics!
Fotor083018215
Rob Tweet

Leadership Q&A
Now for the finale – the Xero Leadership Q&A with Chris Ridd, Rod Drury, Stuart McLean, Andrew Tokeley and Oliver Furniss
A round of applause for everyone for being here for two days.
Questions
Here are some of the questions and answers, abridged.
Question for Chris – Cloud integrators – how real is the need for them?
There are accountants and bookkeepers who are becoming very tech savvy and cloud does make integration easy. But we do see a role for more technical firms for some time yet before all accountants or bookkeepers could do that. They are complementary.
Question for Rod – what are you doing to get into education.
It’s a well proven approach but we can’t just copy lots of discs as we are in the cloud. We have a vision for teachers being able to set up all their students and be able to play with fake bank feeds for example, but first we need to finish the products. We want to do a full learning platform but there are students using it on a case by case basis now.
Question for Rod – Given the politics around security in the US is there any intention to have data hosted locally in Australia any time soon?
It is a perceived issue and if you are Kim Dotcom you should worry about it and use MYOB! We work with the CEO of our hoster Rackspace and with privacy commissioners and take security very seriously. Rackspace are now hosting in Australia and we are hosting some servers there and there is more opportunity for that going forward.
Question for Rod – What do you say to advisors and add-on solutions who are concerned with putting all our eggs in the Xero basket?
The vendor landscape is changing and one reason we do this is so you can see us, and learn to trust us. Unfortunately I don’t think you’ll end up with multiple players, due to network effects. We love being a public company because it is transparent and you can see who owns the company.
Question for Rod – People wonder if as you get bigger will you still be lovable?
As I have got bigger I have become more lovable!
Question for Rod – If a client does leave Xero can they access their last 7 years without them exporting to a spreadsheet?
If someone stops using Xero the data is retained and if they come back it is there. They don’t have to keep paying but there is a small reconnection fee. We do provide plenty of ways for people to pull data out but is hasn’t been a big driver.
Question for  Chris – How well do you think MYOB is contributing to and assisting the growth of Xero in Australia?
We are focused on what we are doing and the great thing about the cloud market is that all the things we are doing are where the market is headed. It’s a fantastic opportunity and there are incumbents who haven’t responded as well and we are benefiting.
Question for  Tokes – Great to see you’re doing all the things for us to trust you, what about to help us trust your add-on partners?
There are hundreds of potential partners who would like to join the ecosystem so we have a certification process to make sure they are following good processes. You do have to rely on their T&Cs and you can’t make us responsible but we do our best to help.
Question for Tokes – Can a gold partner get more votes in the community?
There is a lot of merit in the idea that those with more customers have more sway and we’ll look at that over time.
Question for  Stuart and Rod – Are you going to look after bookkeepers better as Accountants keep getting the tick after we do the work?
It’s a great example of how Australia is educating us and leading the world, as it is more mature for bookkeepers. We have a good awareness of the issues now and it is something we can fix over the next six months. We can explicitly model that there is accountant and bookkeepers that needs to be recognized.
Wrapping up
It’s all over now and Chris is wrapping up. It’s been a fantastic two days.
Thank you for reading the Live Blog.


Read more about Accountants

5 comments

Carl 
30 August 2013 #
Enjoyed reading Greg Sheehan’s comments, wish I was there to take it all in, and yes he needs an e-book!
Jerry Zhao 
30 August 2013 #
wish I was there! :)
Julian Crawford 
31 August 2013 #
Great summary – Tx.
Gavin Bottrell 
2 September 2013 #
Awesome… Great Article…I will make sure my team is there next time.
Rowena Hand 
2 September 2013 #

Xerocon was fantastic. It was a great investment of our time. Thanks to all the Xero staff, add on partners and presenters for delivering an awesome experience.


Xerocon Sydney 2013 is over. See our Live Blogs Day 1 and Day 2 and to get an overall sense of it visit the Flikr stream.
We were overjoyed with the turnout of over 900 people in what is now easily Australia’s largest technology conference for the accounting industry. It’s a big statement and one I wouldn’t have believed possible after the first of our annual conferences in Melbourne in 2011 with a modest 130 partners in tow.
Xerocon 2013
Thank you everyone who made the content so relevant and compelling. We had over 40 speakers over the two days. Many were partners who gave up their time to provide valuable insights and practical lessons learned in their journey to the cloud.
We chose an expanded two-day format this year, with more streams to suit all interests and with the opportunity to drill deeper into issues. Moving the event from Melbourne to Sydney for the third Xerocon in Australia felt like it was the right timing, and feedback on the venue and layout of the Exhibition area has been overwhelmingly positive.
Tweet from David Rynne
The excitement and strong sense of community culminated in the gala dinner at the magnificent Events Centre at The Star, where we took the opportunity to wine, dine and celebrate together and also recognise some of the fantastic achievements amongst Xero’s Add-On partners and Accountant/Bookkeeper community. Full Award winners list and pictures further below.
Xero Awards Peter Switzer
Xero Awards Poole Group
Xero Awards Dinner
The fun took another step up during the Gala Dinner when a selection of 16 Xero staff and accounting/bookkeeping partners got together to present a mix of solo artists and an all-stars band to entertain the party goers.
We had muso’s coming in from all around the country, all with different backgrounds and musical talents, and with just one rehearsal to bring it all together. This was always going to be an ambitious project, but I was so thrilled with the outcome and looking at the reaction from the audience it seems the gamble paid off. See our Xerocon All Stars band 2013 post.
I really hope that everyone who attended Xerocon got great value from the sessions and thoroughly enjoyed being part of it as much as I did. I’d be very keen to hear your feedback on any aspect of the event, so please feel free to leave a comment down below so that we can continue to improve this in the future and make Xerocon in 2014 even bigger.
Reviews
Margaret Carey – Cloud Accounting Buzz
Melanie Morris – Training & Beyond Blog
Congratulations again to all of our award winners:
Emerging Add-On Partner of the Year – Invitbox
Invitbox
Add-On Partner of the Year – Receipt Bank
Receipt Bank
Fastest growing partner – Fresh Numbers
(Unfortunately could not be with us on the evening)
Marketing Innovation Award – Interactive Accounting
Interactive Accounting
Xero 100% Cloud – Growthwise
Growthwise
Bookkeeping Partner of the Year – Eye on Books
Poole Group
Accounting Partner of the Year – Poole Group
Eye on Books


Read more about Accountants

1 comment

Greg Tuckwell 
2 September 2013 #
Congratulations Chris to you and your team on another outstanding Xerocon. It was a great reflection on the excellent group you have put together. (And yes, I was thinking this before the dinner!)

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