Our UK team had a great couple of days at Accountex, the UK’s only national accounting exhibition and conference, in London last week where, over Thursday and Friday, we directly engaged with several hundred business owners, accountants and bookkeepers and our beautiful stand left thousands more in no doubt as to our growing technological footprint in the UK market. Accountex has only been running for a couple of years but after something of a drought in the accounting and finance exhibition sector, it has quickly become the premier annual event for everything accounting in the UK. So, this year we pushed the boat out a little and ensured Xero had a great presence.
Over the course of two days our Xero island played host to hundreds of interested onlookers, accountants, bookkeepers and happy customers, keen to say “Hi”. The vibe was excellent.
Aside from the team delivering almost 30 live Xero walkthroughs over the two days and the many one-to-one chats, the over-arching theme for me was ‘Game Changers’.
Integrated game changing technology, game changing market dynamics – particularly in the context of a modern practice – and game changing practitioners at the vanguard of embracing and capitalising on change. At midday on Friday I delivered my keynote talk entitled The Game Changers to a packed, standing-room-only venue where I elaborated on some of the profound change dynamics we can now see emerging.
Business has always been in a state of flux
I drew a parallel with accounting services and the ice trade where, just over a hundred years ago, the reliable provision of electrical power as a public utility launched the refrigeration business – at the same time as killing-off the ice trade. Up to that point the ice trade had served a very necessary and important function in shipping ice blocks to restaurants, hotels, factories and hospitals. The ice trade died not because it was doing a bad job or because of competition, it merely incurred the misfortune of having a game changer show up in the form of public utility electricity which quickly enabled a new, integrated, more efficient alternative.
Every company needs to become an IT company
Most of the biggest and most successful global businesses of the last 10 to 15 years happen to be technology companies. Most, but not all. We used to think of Amazon as an online bookshop but today it’s the also world’s biggest cloud platform provider.
And this tech transition can go the other way, too – Google started off as a search engine but effectively commands the majority of world’s advertising business. The point being, technology used to be something you’d purchase as a discrete tool in your business, like a PC, a website, an accounts package, or a photocopier. But not any more.
The born-again CIO
Going forwards we’ll increasingly see technology as having an integrated and fundamental role to play in every aspect of our business processes – from the bottom up to the very top – because we’re all becoming technology businesses, but not the way we used to think of it.
Chief Information Officers have long since suspected that in the long run, the cloud might make them redundant. Actually the reverse is true and in the next 10 years every business will need to hire a born-again-CIO just to survive.
Who are the game changers
I profiled three revolutionary Xero partners – UK small business accountants, The Wow Company; NZ/UK accounting firm, DJCA and Irish accounting firm, ProfitPal – and was very lucky that the founders of the last two, Dave Jessep and Denis Breen, happened to be in town and were also happy to participate in what I think was a high value Q&A session for the final 20 minutes of my keynote talk, both of them generously and openly telling the stories of their game changing journeys.
All in all, a great show and an excellent couple of days – at Accountex, games were well and truly changed.