Over the weekend Catherine and I attended the first Small Business Web Summit in San Jose, CA. Joining around 70 other software vendors in the small business space, it was a fascinating 2 days of very smart people getting together and trying to figure out how to get more small businesses online and using our products.
The Small Business Web is a loose trade association of software vendors. The one thing in common we all share is that we are all building software for the small business community, and are all aligned to creating an open market of small business software integrated through open APIs. While we knew that we’d be in the room with some of our competitors and some of our current API partners, what was especially cool was how many wanted to be our partners and how many are actually customers!
The big theme for the weekend: currently 15% of small businesses are paying for some sort of cloud-based service – how do we get that number to 50% in the next 3 years? (First of all – let me say I wasn’t happy with the 15% number – in developed countries globally I bet the number is less than 1% – add emerging markets and it’s probably way less than 1%. Still – the goal as stated is a worthy one: how do we get more small businesses using cloud-based services in the next 3 years?).
What’s interesting about getting vendors in the same market together in one room, is how aligned we all are on the challenges and the approaches we can take to achieve the same goals. It also validates a lot of the work we’ve already done at Xero, particularly around integrations and marketing. (Big shout out to our API team as we were often singled out as a model integration partner).
The whole summit was an unconference – but definitely one of the better unconferences I’ve been too. It was a lot more structured – but with the ability to split into smaller groups and dive into the detail where necessary. I led a couple of sessions around a code of practice seal for the community. A lot of the basis for this came from the work we’ve already done with the Cloud Code of Practice in New Zealand, but also from the work we’ve done to pledge to our customers what we do to make sure you’re choosing the right solution in Xero. There is still work to be done on this in the wider community – but it’s a good step in the right direction.
Overall it was a very interesting weekend. Some of the conversations I had with people were amazing. While I’m not sure I’ve come away with anything earth shattering, it was great to have networked with people from these other companies in our space and understand their process and their challenges. Looking forward to next year!
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