Xerocon 2017 – What does it mean for your business?

Last week I joined 2,000 other accounting professionals in London for Xerocon 2017, accounting software giant Xero’s annual UK conference. As well as hearing from inspirational international speakers Richard Susskind, Mathew Syed and Tim Leberecht, we also heard from Xero about their exciting plans for the future the product.

 

An added bonus was the exhibition hall, where we had an opportunity to meet and speak to 60 of Xero’s add-on partners such as FUTRLI, ReceiptBank and GoCardless.

 

In this post I’m not going to tell you about how much fun we had, or about the amazing swag and free food (you can read about that here). Instead, I wanted to share some of the stuff that I think is going to make a big difference to the businesses of Xero users over the next few months.

 

Let’s talk about the product itself first.

 

Xero explained that over the past couple of years they’ve migrated over to Amazon Web Services. This has given them the platform to start accelerating their product development ideas, and they shared the first few of those with us in London. All of these make the product better and will add a huge amount of value to users.

 

In no particular order:

 

Expenses

The Expenses module in Xero has always been a bit clunky and cumbersome. This has had a much-needed overhaul, to both the engine and the user interface, which will be delivered via a new integrated app. This is being rolled out now to Accounting Partners and we’ll shortly be able to activate it for clients. In the development pipeline is a mileage tracker, which I’ll certainly be using!

 

Projects

One of the BIG announcements at Xerocon was the launch of Xero Projects. Another integrated app, Projects has been designed with the professional service business or agency in mind. Set time & cost budgets for each stage of the project, track time, expenses, bills and of course invoice from within the app itself. There are also a bunch of new reports available.

 

For many clients who are using other project management apps, and having to double enter transactions, this will make their lives much easier. Again, this is live NOW, so speak to us if you want to have a look.

 

Predictive account coding

Machine learning was one of the themes of Xerocon, with Susskind and Xero’s MD Gary Turner both talking about it in their keynotes. On Thursday Product Manager Laura Cardinal demo’d Xero’s new predictive coding feature, which looks awesome! Just like Google, when you start entering a line item, or even better still if it pulls through from a Receipt processing app, then Xero will predict and then learn where items should be coded. The future is here!

 

What’s coming next?

 

Looking a little further ahead, Xero will be rolling out an improved Payroll user interface, making adding employees easier, and enabling online filing of pension info.

 

There are also changes coming soon that will improve the whole Invoicing process and customer experience.

 

Exhibition Highlights

 

The number of exhibitors was almost overwhelming, so rather than tell you about many of the familiar add-ons like ReceiptBank, FUTRLI or GoCardless, I want to focus on some of the new FinTech companies that impressed me. There were 3 in particular that I want to tell you about as they have the potential to help many businesses:

 

Curve

Curve lets you spend from all your cards (credit & debit) with just one one card. Not only that, it integrates with Xero so that it call pull-through all of your business card payments and receipts, and if you happen to travel overseas, then their FX rates are extremely competitive too.

 

There’s also the capability to push through payments from non-business cards to Xero – something that’ll be really handy if you’re like me and end up using the wrong card at times then forgetting to claim it back!

 

I signed up the day after Xerocon, and it was super-easy to become a customer. Their app, where most of the work gets done, provided one of the smoothest on boarding experiences I’ve ever had.

 

IWOCA

Iwoca provide businesses with access to funding for cashflow, stock or investments from as little as £1,000 all the way up to £100,000. It’s completely free to sign up and there are no commitments.

 

Credit limits are based on your business performance – with loans typically up to one month’s revenue, or up to £10,000 for a startup business. Draw down as much as you need, when you’re ready.

 

Their award-winning technology allows them to connect to Xero, so they are able to make a decision based on your business performance, not just a credit score. You’ll get a decision in minutes and have the funds in your bank account within hours.

 

Satago

Satago claim to be the “first fully integrated solution to access funds tied up in your unpaid invoices”. This is effectively an on-demand Invoice Finance service that integrates with your accounting system, giving you real-time access to funding. Costs appear to be in the region of 2-4%, with up to 85% of the invoice value paid up front.

 

This looks to be a really valuable product if you’re the kind of company that has a lot of money tied up in debtors (accounts receivable).

 

A Glimpse into the Future

 

With Xero offering such an open platform, more and more companies are coming to market with products that help businesses do things better, more cost effectively, and at scale.

 

However, if what we heard this week from the various speakers is true, then this is only the start. Strap yourself in for the ride – this is accounting, but not as we know it!

 

So there you have it, my Xerocon review and I’ve not once talked about the amazing food, barista coffees, ice-cream, or the Party. Oh, wait……….

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