It was with the promise of a reimagined roadmap and a vision of accounting for the future that 2000 attendees from 24 countries descended on the ExCeL Centre for Xerocon London.
As a line-up of Xero leaders took to the stage alongside technologists, journalists, authors, fintech leaders and accounting partners, we share some of their themes for the future.
Connectivity creates communities
Whether questioning the importance of human relationships, the ease of automated data flows or the demands of digitisation, the power and potential of connectivity was a consistent theme of Xerocon.
“The world of cloud software fosters incredible connectivity between you and small businesses,” said MD Gary Turner, who spoke to Xero’s announcement that it had surpassed 250,000 subscribers in the UK.
“More than ninety percent of Xero customers are already connected to an accountant or a bookkeeper. That means you are already there – helping people, guiding people, steering them through change and answering questions.”
Technologist Richard Susskind OBE added his own perspective.
“We are in the privileged position to have been born in a time that’s seen greater technological progress than the world has ever known,” he said.
“It’s time to crack the industry open and embrace the opportunities ahead.”
More than compliance
With connectivity deepening and Xero’s transition to Amazon Web Services complete, there’s never been a better time to anticipate real change, and fast.
“There will always be compliance, but there won’t always only be compliance,” said Turner of the imminent industry shift. “We now have 11 years of maturity on the cloud and clients who are increasingly habituated are extending their leads over traditional clients.
“I strongly believe we’re within reach of an advisory technology world.”
“We are building a global accounting engine that can really help you transition from compliance work to the realm of a growth consultant,” added Drury. “We’re able to reinvent accounting; to help you help small businesses to grow and create jobs.”
An intrinsic element of small business success
Any successful small business must learn to navigate change and, due to upcoming legislations, this is especially true in the UK. As their trusted advisors, accountants and bookkeepers are set to play a pivotal role in the trading times to come.
“Small businesses are thinking, where are my customers? Are they local? Are they online? Is the opportunity international? Is it through government?,” said Emma Jones, entrepreneur and founder of Enterprise Nation. “It’s up to advisors to help make these connections.”
“You are not only transacting with these businesses,” added Drury. “You are a part of them. That means you can start to think about things in a whole new way, such as whether you have increased employment among your client base or how many of your customers have turned from local traders to exporters.
“You can track the change you create in your local community – and that is incredibly powerful.”
To be human is to be beautiful
But one key sentiment shared by author and consultant Tim Leberecht spoke to the heart of Xero’s accounting vision for the future: “To run a human business means to run a beautiful business.”
This human aspect of technology was front and centre when VP of Product Laura Cardinal and Chief Partner Officer Anna Curzon unveiled a roadmap of features that will take Xero from the back office to provide front office support. Because, as Chief People Officer Rachael Powell reminded attendees, it’s the people in your business who will help you to affect big change.
“The vision we have for the future is not just a technology one,” concluded Drury. “It’s very much a human one.”