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Using Google’s Chromebox for Meetings at Xero

Here at Xero we are rolling out Google’s Chromebox for Meetings globally – and for the first time in a long time I am actually excited about meeting room A/V.

Global collaboration is crucial for Xero. Unlike a lot of global corporations that run fairly independently in each country they are based in, we have many teams that have members spread across various locations around the world. For the Xero Internal IT team it has been a huge challenge for us to facilitate the process of these teams working together.

Pre-Chromebox frustration

Prior to the Google move we had multiple methods of communication. This led to confusion and frustration between people and teams – “What do I use to talk to person X in the San Fran office?”. There were many options available and nobody was exactly sure what the correct method was. Adding to this confusion, many of our meeting rooms offered multiple connection methods (room PC, local HDMI/VGA, projector, etc) which more often than not could be difficult to set up. Delays in meetings were frequent. As Xero grew larger the problem also increased and productivity was starting to suffer.Chromebox being used at Xero Continue reading ›

 

US Payroll API live with first integration

We’re pleased to announce the general availability of the API for US payroll. This extends the reach of the payroll API to Australia and seven states in the US that covers approximately 40% of the US population.

US Payroll API

The US Payroll API covers the main use cases including employee information, creating and updating timesheets, and processing pay runs. This is the first release of the US Payroll API and there are extra end points that we’ll address in future releases including time off and holidays. Developers will be familiar with the same pattern being used as the other Xero and payroll API endpoints. The same OAuth process is utilised, but with the addition of granular permissions.

US Payroll API Continue reading ›

 

NZ Data Futures Forum final recommendations

NZ Data Futures ForumWe welcome the New Zealand Data Futures Forum final report – Harnessing the economic and social power of data – released on Monday 28 July. This is a good example of the public and private sectors collaborating to deliver positive change and sets out ambitious recommendations to derive value from New Zealand data.

Data has the potential to be an incredibly valuable resource for all New Zealander. It’s great to see the Government is focussing efforts in this area and that feedback from the private sector has been taken on board in this third paper.

We’re now in the third generation of the internet revolution which is all about big data. This data must be managed in an ethical manner and in a way that creates value and instills trust.

There are so many possibilities when it comes to open data and its innovation potential to address business, social, environmental and community issues. Already, globally we are seeing great potential for data to play a role in emergency management, weather patterns, tourism, geographic segmentation and customer trends – just to name a few. The opening up of London’s transport data through the London DataStore has been a good example that has seen many innovative uses developed.

Three out of the four foundations that underpin the report’s recommendations specifically place individuals and their comfort at the forefront. This indicates the Data Futures Forum has really listened to people’s concerns and that it is likely there will be a lot of opportunity for people to have ongoing input and feedback to ensure those foundations are upheld. Here in New Zealand we have an opportunity to develop a competitive advantage through a data-sharing ecosystem built on trust, control and inclusion. Continue reading ›

 

The biggest myth about CRM

Today’s guest post is written by Gene Marks, small business owner, technology expert, author and columnist. He writes regularly for leading US media outlets such as The New York Times, Forbes, Inc. Magazine and Entrepreneur. He has authored five books on business management and appears regularly on Fox News, Fox Business, MSNBC and CNBC. Gene runs a ten-person CRM and technology consulting firm outside of Philadelphia. Learn more at genemarks.com.

CRM systems and databases

Image courtesy of ddpavumba / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The rebranding of CRM

My company has been selling Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems for more than 15 years. During that time I’ve watched these products go through multiple rebrandings, from “contact managers” to “sales force automation” to “collaboration” to CRM, which now encompasses not only sales but service, marketing and operations.

But, rest assured, these are all just elaborate names for one thing: databases.

The makers and marketers of today’s CRM systems will throw around all sorts of buzz words to describe what they do. “Social CRM.” “Workflows.” “Automation.” “Call Center.” They will dangle cool and exciting features in front of their customers Continue reading ›

 

KANZ Technology Summit 2014

kanz

Photo Credit: @TurnbullMalcolm. From left to right: Yoon Jong-Lok, Vice-Minister of Science, ICT and Future Planning, Korea; Amy Adams, Minister for Communications and Information Technology, New Zealand; Malcolm Turnbull, Minister for Communications, Australia, at KANZ.

Earlier this month I was fortunate to be invited by NZ Trade & Enterprise to the Korea, Australia, New Zealand (KANZ) Technology Summit in Auckland. The conference brought together members of the technology communities of all three countries to forge links and share ideas about how to grow and support the ICT sector and strengthen the high-tech economy.

For me, the highlight of the event was Dave Birch’s stream on digital identity and money. Dave is the Global Ambassador for Consult Hyperion, a UK based consultancy focused on security around electronic transactions. Dave is something of a payments raconteur, whose wisecracks about ATMs needing thatched roofs and assuming anyone using cash is a drug dealer were funny and insightful – but they were all inching toward the point that despite all the innovation in financial services, all that we’ve really done is move physical payment paradigms into the digital world, and it’s not all that great an experience. Proving and managing identity for online financial transactions is still a big barrier to efficiency, and establishing identity, even in the physical world, often gives the illusion of security without any true validation. It’s “two people acting in a play about security” rather than an exchange that is truly secure.

Also, all the innovation in payments is happening on networks that were Continue reading ›

 

Technology and the British economy

This week saw the IMF upgrade the UK’s economic growth forecast to 3.2%, placing the UK at the top of the class for growth among the world’s developed nations. In general terms, the health of the British economy has now recovered to a position equal to or better than the state it was in 2007 at the onset of the Global Financial Crisis.

While the UK has been clear of the technical definition of an economic recession for a few quarters now, these latest reports hopefully signal a period of coming prosperity, not just economic convalescence.

At long last.

However, what piques my interest is that while the curtain of economic frost shrouded the UK, a wave of broad technological innovation endured and even accelerated, meaning that as the UK’s population of five million businesses steps back into the global economic limelight, it does so with a clutch of quite different technological enablers that weren’t around back in 2007.

bookends

I’ve actually seen this movie before. Continue reading ›

 

A proven need for mobile optimization

People are moving from desktop to smartphones and tablets, and they expect the businesses they use to be moving right along with them.

This means it’s a requirement for small business, and not just the large corporations, to invest in mobile optimization for their websites.

A click is not the same as a tap, and a mobile screen is a much smaller canvas to operate on than a monitor. Mobile users are even more demanding of a simple, beautiful experience, so it’s not as simple as shrinking your site down to fit on a phone.

mobile optimization

While price, convenience and choice are all motivational factors for consumers buying online, you can be sure if you’re not capturing mobile traffic, you’re missing out on sales. In fact, having a mobile ready site could give you the edge over competitors who haven’t yet embraced he trend. Continue reading ›

 

Xero Touch 2.1 for Android

Last Tuesday we published the first major update to Xero Touch for Android since the native app was first released back in February. Read on for a summary of what was in the release, the history of Xero Touch on Android, and the implications of OS fragmentation for support.

The major item you’re likely to notice is initial support for Files for Xero. Previously you could only attach a single picture to a receipt, but now you can attach as many as you like. This creates a foundation for our next two Android features: attaching files to invoices, and accessing the main files inbox.

Xero Touch screenshot

Under the covers, we’ve also refactored segments of the app (particularly authorisation) into Android library projects. Xero Touch isn’t going to be the only mobile app we release, and this refactoring means that a lot more code can be reused for new apps. A more modular codebase also makes it easier for us to develop and test new features.

That’ll come in handy as we move to a more regular release cycle. Already the native version of Xero Touch has seen more regular releases, every five weeks on average (as opposed to five months for HTML5). Our customers also seem to like it a lot more. The HTML5 implementation at one point dropped down to a 2.4 star rating, but the current combined rating for the native releases is over 4 stars! It’s unfortunate that the ratings assigned to the old version of the app persist; this is why the overall app rating is only 3.55.

Version Released Ratings Stars Average
HTML5 1.x 1 Oct ’12 228 700 3.07
Native 2.0.3+ 19 Feb ’14 260 1079 4.15

 

Continue reading ›

 

How CRM will benefit your business in just three words

SMB Tech Tips by Gene Marks: Gene Marks is a small business owner, technology expert, author and columnist. He writes regularly for leading US media outlets such as The New York Times, Forbes, Inc. Magazine and Entrepreneur. He has authored five books on business management and appears regularly on Fox News, Fox Business, MSNBC and CNBC. Gene runs a ten-person CRM and technology consulting firm outside of Philadelphia. Learn more at genemarks.com.

Back in the day, when I talked to small business owners like myself, no one knew what CRM (Customer Relationship Management) was. Now, everyone seems pretty familiar with the concept, and the more well-known applications like Salesforce.com, SugarCRM and Batchbook. But the sad fact is that even though many know what CRM is, most still aren’t using CRM systems very well. In fact, of the 600 clients my company serves using various CRM systems, I’d say only 20 percent of them are really doing the right things. And what are the right things? It’s all about three words.

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1. Integrate. A CRM system should not be on its own island. It should be talking to other systems — which means that your CRM software should be exchanging data with your accounting system, website and other databases. So when you choose a CRM application, make sure it has links into these other systems. When you view a customer’s record, you not only want to see their activities, notes, emails, pipeline and other CRM data but you also want to know their order history and whether or not there are any outstanding invoices.If you’re a Xero user, then check out the many CRM systems that partner and integrate with Xero. Also, Xero just introduced a new CRM-like feature called Smart Lists that let’s you search your customer data to create highly targeted lists that you can export to a CSV file to use via your email system or export to Constant Contact for targeted email marketing campaigns. The main point here is to centralize your customer data. Don’t be stuck doing duplicate entry. Don’t fall victim to bad data. Integrate.

Continue reading ›

 

Reinventing retail

Technology is having profound impact on retail. Retail precincts form the heart of small towns but the rise of Amazon and other retail websites are putting retail stores all over the world under threat.

Small countries like New Zealand, lacking in scale, are particularly affected. We’ve seen a push for legislation that adds sales tax to overseas purchases to level the playing field, but I’ve always thought a better approach was to change our mindset and compete globally.

It was delightful to see this TV One article over the weekend where Kathryn Wilson has blended a beautiful retail experience with technology.

Kathryn Wilson footwear

Also some great advice from eCommerce NZ on capturing and measuring data to refine what works.

I’m sure many of us feel a little upset when we drive through communities and see empty retail spaces. Rethinking retail so customers are not just in your town but your country, or even the world, can flip this situation around. We can create new location-independent jobs that require great design, marketing and logistics skills.

What I loved about the story was how proactive Kathryn and her team are. There are plenty of marketing specialists and web consultants in every town ready to help retailers navigate this new world.

I hope Kathryn inspires many more retailers to start the journey.