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Strategic alliance with KPMG in the UK

In London this morning we’re announcing the launch of a strategic deal with KPMG, one of the Big 4 global accounting firms.

This is a significant milestone for the adoption of cloud accounting in the UK and one we expect will further accelerate our growth in the UK, the most hotly contested online accounting market globally.

KPMG London


Accounting API: 10 new features so far in 2014

This morning’s 2.46 release of the core accounting API provides developers with the ability to retrieve repeating invoices. This feature became more compelling to provide with the recent advances our reporting add-on partners have made in the area of cashflow forecasting – repeating invoices include some key information on this front that will make these applications even more useful.

We are proud to be moving quickly on the release front with 10 key features released in the first three months of 2014:

API releases 2013-2014
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B2B apps: product doesn’t win, distribution does?

There are more and more great B2B SaaS apps being developed every day. From CRM systems, to point of sale, to inventory, the list goes on and on. Many of these B2B apps are vying for the same customer – small business. And the small business segment is arguably the largest untapped market on the planet when it comes to cloud software. That’s why we are seeing an increasing number of apps and an increasing investor sentiment. So why is it so hard for these apps to achieve real scale?

Xero apps

I recently caught up with Bjoern Herrmann, the Founder & CEO of Compass. His company aggregates and tracks startup and small business data from a number of sources online sources. He calls it “Moneyball for the business world”. The service provides benchmark data on key metrics like new customer adds per month, average revenue per user, and customer life cycle data. All these things are important to any company, but Bjoern has found a niche in an underserved startup market. We like it. If his company can help startups uncover issues or capitalize on opportunities earlier, then these startups have a better chance of winning. Compass’ goal is to accelerate the global pace of innovation and reduce the failure rate of businesses. We at Xero, as many of our customers know, feel the same way about helping small businesses by providing clear insight into their finances to make sound business decisions.

Below are some recent stats that Bjoern shared at the 2014 Small Business Web Summit in February.

  • SaaS is less than 6% of overall software market

  • Almost half of SaaS businesses choose growth over profitability

  • Less than 7% SaaS companies achieve 10,000 customers

  • Distribution is the #1 challenge for these companies

    • 23% rely on direct sales

    • 13% use partnerships

    • 9% use viral tactics

    • 8% use other lead gen activities

    • 7% rely on customer word-of-mouth

Why aren’t we seeing more of these apps break the 10,000 customer mark? The research conducted by Compass uncovers several possible reasons, but the one that stands out is access to a distribution channel.

Many small business B2B apps are up against a large incumbent. David vs Goliath stories tend to exist across all verticals, and the data shows that some incumbents are hard to disrupt because of the ecosystem they have built over decades. Legacy channel partners, consultants, trainers, resellers, and system integrators work against the shift to a new cloud operating model, as the change in model also impacts their businesses. Leveraging these existing channels is challenging so it is up to many B2B apps to develop new channels to market in to. As the data suggests, most of these companies are using inside sales teams to sell directly to small businesses. This is not for everyone as it can be costly. Some are using partnerships which can prove to be effective in a cloud world of open APIs. Others have found a way to use viral methods, but we haven’t seen the rapid adoption like we see in the consumer space. Small businesses don’t sign up for business apps on a whim.

The bottom line is that Compass’ research shows that startups that can capitalize on the best distribution will likely be the winners.


Talking entrepreneurship

Rod spoke last week at the launch of Spark – the University of Auckland Entrepreneurship Programme, and the team from 90 seconds TV captured an interview afterwards.

During the chat, Rod covers off topics including focus and planning, building teams, investment, exporting, risk, how business can be fun and about “going for it”.

Check it out:


Files on the run

Xero Touch for iOS has now been updated to give you access to your files from your mobile device.

Xero Files using Xero Touch for iOS

Files for Xero was released back in October and was a game changer, allowing you to attach source documents to transactions. This gives you a full picture of your financial data and supporting materials all in one place.

Now you can upload images to your Xero Files inbox from your iOS mobile device, whenever and wherever you are. You can upload photos of receipts, assets, locations and people to Xero, and they’re just the more obvious uses; we have no doubt you’ll be able to think of numerous other ways to take advantage of this capability!

Not only can images be captured and uploaded to your files inbox for later, you can also use your iOS device to review any files that are in your inbox, too.

The latest version of Xero Touch for iOS including files is available in the App Store. A brand-new version of Xero Touch for Android was released last month and Android support for files is already in development.


Is the future of work standing desks?

Standing while you’re working may seem rather odd to most people, but it is a practice with a long tradition. Winston Churchill wrote while working at a special standing desk, as did Ernest Hemingway and Benjamin Franklin.

 Why standing desks and why now?

Standing desk at Xero

Numerous scientific studies have demonstrated that sitting is killing us. A recent survey found that many of us spend up to 12 hours sitting on our bottoms – at work, at home, in the car, in the movies, and even in the gym! Add that to seven hours of sleep and we spend nearly 19 hours every day being sedentary. That is incredibly excessive. Human beings are not designed to sit down so much.

Several studies have also shown that stand-up desks do really offer better health benefits. Fewer medical issues, less back problems, increased productivity, increased energy, higher calorie burn, living longer and healthier are just some of the numerous benefits that have been documented scientifically and anecdotally by stand-up adopters. However, as in everything in life, there needs to be a balance. As it turns out, standing all day is not very good either – it can lead to enlarged veins, or the hardening of arteries.

Change your posture constantly and move around, whether you sit or stand at work – because standing all day can be as bad as prolonged sitting.

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Working with Xero and Workpapers – taking back control of your compliance

Helping accountancy practices really add value for their clients is what we’re all about at Xero. We’ve even put together our own Practice Studio suite which includes Workpapers, a software package which make your compliance process faster, easier and smarter. And less time spent on process-heavy compliance means more time to collaborate with your clients on important year-end issues.

We caught up recently with Ian Woollard, Director at Pearson Buchholz, to find out how working with Xero and Workpapers has transformed their compliance and quality assurance processes – and allowed them to bring additional value to their client conversations. Ian’s been using Xero since 2010, when clients initially started requesting cloud-based solutions for their accounting needs.

Ian Woollard from Pearson Buchholz

Ian Woollard from Pearson Buchholz

Pulling your data from Xero into Workpapers

Ian’s keen to underline Xero’s ability to produce tailored management accounting reports for clients, as well as the secure nature of Xero’s data – a deciding factor when the firm wanted a system that provided the comfort around data that was needed for their business. But it’s the synergy between Xero and Workpapers that has really made a difference for Pearson Buchholz.

“What Workpapers does is allow us to suck the data we need out of Xero. For us, it’s a great tool and it’s a great time-saver.

Before we used Workpapers we were producing a manual file for each client for review purposes, which was a time-consuming process. What Workpapers allows us to do is stop re-processing the client’s data to create working papers for review processes. That data is already there in Xero and can be pulled across straight into Workpapers.”

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Digital innovation in action on the Sunshine Coast

I was recently invited by the Caloundra Chamber of Commerce & Industry in Queensland to speak on ‘Digital Innovation in Action’.

Digital innovation in action

The Sunshine Coast is a great example of a regional community seeking ways to encourage local business owners to improve productivity by embracing the latest technologies. In opening the breakfast, Michael Shadforth, President of the Caloundra Chamber of Commerce, spoke about the need for businesses to understand and embrace opportunities offered by cloud technologies like Xero in order to improve business efficiencies and lower the costs of running IT.

A local businessmen himself, Michael is clearly passionate about seeing business flourish in the area and sees local innovation as a great way of preventing the “brain drain” of young talent moving to the cities to pursue job opportunities. As a result he was particularly taken with my story of an Adelaide Bookkeeper who made the move to the Sunshine Coast for lifestyle reasons and was able to keep all her clients as a result of using Xero.

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New features in Xero Workpapers

We’re excited to release an update to Xero Workpapers, a core part of Practice Studio, our suite of tools designed to help our accountant and bookkeeper partners take control of their workflow.

This release is a milestone for us, as it’s the last stage of the handover from the original Workpapers team who created the product and grew it so well since the acquisition by Xero back in 2012.

This is our chance to offer a huge thank you to Julie and Richard Francis for all the visionary thinking and hard work that has gone into a product that is revolutionising the way its users get their work done. The new team has some big shoes to fill!

The Workpapers team in our Auckland office is growing, and we have some exciting things planned for 2014, but here’s what’s new today:

Xero Workpapers feature update

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Entryless eliminates manual data entry of your bills

Entryless automatically generates accounting entries from bills in any format and syncs them into Xero eliminating manual data entry of your bills.

Entryless is an Accounts Payable as a Service that frees up staff resources, by crunching and syncing all accounts payable data into Xero, allowing companies to manage their accounts payable data online.

Who is it for?

Entryless helps accountants and bookkeepers to scale their practice by automating a key back office function. It enables business owners to make better decisions by obtaining faster financial statements.

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