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Is mobile tech still a thing?

In this interview with London’s Cloud Channel TV, our UK managing director Gary Turner doesn’t think we need to see mobile as a separate thing – or at least he thinks the distinction between mobile tech and general tech is quickly disappearing.

We’re all used to having mobile at our fingertips. There’s no longer a real difference between being in or out of the office; we can work wherever we are. But the line between mobile smartphone and office-based PC is now almost redundant – all we’re really interested in, as businesses, is having instant access to the data and systems we need to get the job done. And the tech we use adds value purely by making things quicker and more efficient.

So, your choice of device is increasingly irrelevant. What’s important is the software you use, the relationships you have with your clients and the way you work with them.


Taking advantage of the most disruptive technology ever

In November I delivered the keynote for the Clayton Christensen seminar at the Business Influentials day. It also provided a great opportunity to chat for a couple of hours with the “world’s number 1 business thinker”.

Themes from that conversation continue to be reported as Xero was called out on Forbes this week as a leading cloud disruptor.

Talks on cloud disruption

Clayton writes about how industry disruption has historically followed the same pattern: a new business comes to market with a product, based on a new technology, that simply and elegantly solves a customer’s problem, is easily accessible and affordable. The disruptor not only sneaks up on the competition to become the leader, but grows the market by meeting peoples’ needs who found the incumbent’s product too expensive and complex.

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Young entrepreneur spends a day at Xero

At Xero we are proud to sponsor Young Enterprise Trust, a non-profit organisation aiming to create entrepreneurial students with a “can do” attitude. Young Enterprise Trust is dedicated to growing a more prosperous New Zealand through enterprise. They work with schools all over the country and connect with around 50,000 students each year.

Encouraging young entrepreneurs

Programs encourage students to be business literate. By helping young people gain these skills, the Trust seeks to make a difference to the lives of the individual, their family and society.

Recently a competition through Whitcoulls bookstore tied in with the exciting launch of the publication ‘The Young New Zealander’s Guide to Entrepreneurship’. This was written by best-selling author, academic and entrepreneurship specialist Dr Ian Hunter and endorsed by the Trust.

Student wins a day at Xero

The winner of the Whitcoulls competition was Alice McFall from Tauranga. She goes to St Cuthbert’s school and was one of three lucky winners who won a day with a business leader. She won the opportunity to spend the day at Xero with CEO Rod Drury at the Xero HQ in Wellington.

Young entrepreneur Alice meets Xero CEO Rod Drury

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Dev Academy – better devs, bootcamp-style

Enspiral Dev Academy logoThis week’s launch of Enspiral Dev Academy is great news for Wellington businesses looking to hire developers and might just work.

A recent comment on our Community site illustrates why and put a smile on my face (which, on this particular thread was something). I had mentioned that Xero have resource constraints like most companies. A contributor replied,

Community Message in Xero

Not an unreasonable reaction (by the way, we did deliver Purchase Orders in November. Phew!) but it assumes money is the primary constraint to hiring people rather than the availability of the appropriate talent. I don’t know anyone in Wellington (or anywhere for that matter) saying, “well, if only I had the money, I’d be able to hire just the right person”. The right people are incredibly hard to find and hiring the wrong people is expensive.

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WIP ledger for Practice Manager

Practice Manager

Today we’ve released a WIP ledger in Practice Manager. This will make it much easier for accounting firms that prepare timesheets to keep track of their jobs and billable hours.

The challenge with releasing a WIP ledger was to do it without reducing the invoicing flexibility that Practice Manager users currently enjoy. So you’ll be delighted to know you can keep track of the exact amount of unbilled time and costs on each job no matter what types or combinations of invoices you use – even quote-based invoices and invoices prepared in Xero.

The introduction of the WIP ledger makes it much easier for all practices to calculate the true profitability of these services, even those that send regular fixed-fee invoices. You can also see the exact amount written on or off as each invoice is approved.

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Next Generation Banking with ASB

Direct feeds from our partner institutions such as ASB are some of the most beloved features of Xero. Data comes in daily, you can finish your reconciliation in a few minutes, and your financial reports are all up-to-date. It’s a beautiful thing.

If there’s been a drawback to direct feeds, it’s been the requirement to complete a paper application form to get a direct feed in place. Whether you used a competitor product or Xero – this has been part of the process of getting things up and running.

Not any more. Recently ASB and other financial institutions have worked with Xero to create a new process for setting up bank accounts to deliver data to Xero.

Now, once you have set up your bank accounts in Xero, you can log into ASB’s FastNet Business online banking service, and under ‘Administration/Client/Accounting Set up’ go through a quick process where you’ll select your accounts and then be redirected to Xero to connect your chosen bank account feeds. No waiting – no fuss. Your first feeds will arrive the next morning. And if you have historical data you want to bring through, you can do that too. More information is available on ASB’s blog.

Bank feeds from ASB into Xero

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Learning about startups

Auckland Startup WeekendAs a Product Training Manager at Xero, and an accountant/lawyer/manager type with no previous personal entrepreneurial experience, I decided to push myself by attending the Xero sponsored Auckland Startup Weekend event last weekend.

Startup Weekend is all about learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. It has been undertaken in over 200 cities around the world. The weekend starts with any attendee welcome to pitch their startup idea. Teams then form organically around the most popular ideas. What follows is a 54 hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing, and market validation.

The weekend culminates with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders, with another opportunity for critical feedback. I found it to be a fantastic experience and if you have even just an inkling of entrepreneurial spirit in you, then read on.

Our idea and team

Not having an idea prior to the event didn’t deter me from giving an initial pitch, as one popped into my head very soon after soaking up the entrepreneurial buzz on arrival. I didn’t expect my ‘throwaway’ idea to get traction, but for whatever reason it became one of the 12 ideas (from 35 pitched) which people clustered around to form teams. And then the fun and madness started…

Startup weekend team

Luckily for me, our team was a diverse bunch, including a developer, as well as business and design minded people. So when the team’s enthusiasm (including my own) for my initial idea quickly faltered, we were able and willing to shift to something new. Our idea changed massively and frequently. So, it wasn’t until Saturday evening that we drew a line under what we all agreed was something we could take forward, which turned out to look nothing like the original idea:

“A self installation wireless sensor-based system for elderly/vulnerable people living alone, which monitored and interpreted unusual activity and then relayed suspected medical trends/emergencies back to a mobile application (held by friends, family, other relevant/concerned parties etc).”

Being an unproven entrepreneur, as with most/all of the attendees I suspect, I had a lot to learn going into the weekend.  While some things like identifying your target market/s and size, creating a business model etc came more naturally for me – other things felt far more foreign.

What did I learn?

I learnt that while it is easy to obsess over how great a solution/idea looks/feels (i.e. the sexy part), the real grunt work and focus first needs to be on identifying whether there is even a real underlying problem. No existing problem – then your solution would be lost on people, regardless of how many bells and whistles you wrapped around it.

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Fixing LinkedIn

LinkedIn has been the winner in the business social network for many years. But over the last few years it’s gone from an asset to a major pain. I have to spend more and more time every few days dealing with LinkedIn messages and requests to connect.

LinkedIn is still the first place I go to see who people are, and because of its dominance most professionals seek to maintain a profile there.

I know that ‘if you’re not paying for it, you’re the product being sold’, but if I am the product being mined I think LinkedIn could create more value for its shareholders by looking after its users as well. To be blunt, its network management tools suck.

Rather that dwell on the problems, here is a list of improvements I’d love LinkedIn to make. In order that the right people see this list I’m going to mention Deep Nishar, Senior Vice President, Products and User Experience at LinkedIn. Hopefully this will pop up in his Google alerts and maybe he’ll even respond. Hi Deep *waves*.

Deep Nishar from LinkedIn

Establish a new circle of ‘People I don’t know, but should meet some day’

I get a lot of people wanting to connect to me. If I connect then people assume I do actually know them and the referral network is broken. There should be a circle of people I actually know, and a circle of people I should know but haven’t actually met yet.

If I can protect the circle of people I actually know then my referral is much more powerful.

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Becoming a financial planning partner

In his keynote at Xerocon Sydney, our Australian Managing Director Chris Ridd announced we’re expanding our partner program in Australia to include financial planners and advisors, and that a Senior Account Manager (me) had been appointed to work with advisors full time.

This new complementary channel – built around using Xero Cashbook for budgeting and money management – has really started to take off and since August more than 250 professional advice firms have applied to become Xero partners. Check out this video of Steve Crawford of Experience Wealth – 100% of their clients use Xero and he talks about the advantages of becoming a financial planning partner.

Why Cashbook?

More than 1500 accountants, bookkeepers and advisors Australia wide attended the financial advisor session of the October Partner Roadshow. Attendees had an opportunity to find out more about our Partner Program; hear success stories from advisors themselves; meet a few relevant Add-on partners; and see Cashbook in action – with a little help from my “typical”, newly married Gen Y couple William and Kate Windsor.

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10 business apps to grow your business

Allowing business to work smarter and faster has been a key goal of Xero from the very start. An exciting and valuable part of this has been the Xero API launched in 2008, which lets other applications (Add-ons) connect to our platform. This new way of procuring and plugging together software means that integration is done vendor-to-vendor, eliminating integration headaches for the customer. This opens up huge opportunities for efficiencies in how businesses work and how they manage their core business and IT functions.

Last week Chris Ridd, Managing Director of Xero Australia joined Jackson Hewett, Editor of Business Spectator on a webcast where they discussed what apps can work for you and took questions on how to use them effectively.

Find out the top business apps and categories that Chris rated as the most compelling for small business. He also talks about views about how Add-on partners are not just changing the software landscape in Australia, but taking the world stage as Xero’s business goes global.

There are over 300 applications that can be integrated with Xero through Add-ons. There are over 21,000 Add-on installs – with 15% of all Australian orgs using at least one Xero add-on.

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