More than 900 accounting, bookkeeping and add-on partners flooded into the Viaduct Events Centre in Auckland this morning for Xerocon New Zealand 2014. The line was long, but we got everyone inside eventually!
MC Petra Bagust kicked things off this morning. She was excited, talking about our values – love, beauty, transformation, fun. She described the atmosphere as majestic, magnificent, amazing and life-changing. “This is the kind of conference I want to be involved in!” she said. Same!
Global strategic update
Rod kicked off the day with a global update, announcing Xero now has 250,000 customers globally, having gained 115,000 in 2013 alone. He says we’re gaining momentum and the next stop is one million! He stresses it isn’t a matter of ‘if’, it’s a matter of ‘when’.
2013 has been an awesome year!
We’ve got $200m cash in the bank following a big capital raise last year. With this much cash, we can do almost anything. We added 300 new Xero team members in the last 12 months, bringing us up past 650. Hiring talent is one of the biggest issues we have. We don’t want to compromise – we want the best!
Rod talked about our three global appointments: Chris Liddell will assume the role of Board Chairman, Bill Veghte has been appointed Director and Peter Karpas will lead the US team as CEO, North America. We’re really pleased to have three people of such a high calibre and with real experience in worldwide organisations joining our team. We look forward to seeing their contribution towards Xero’s continuing growth.
We’ve also been opening up fantastic spaces all around the world, and they’ve all got great coffee. They’re ours to share, so come and visit.
Things are moving quickly overseas, but we’re still doing great things right here in NZ and we’re by no means finished yet. New Zealand is our test lab for the rest of the world. We’re the Hi-Tech Company of the Year 2013 and the Hi-Tech Exporter of the Year 2013. We’ve grown to more than 90,000 paying customers in New Zealand and more than 2,500 Kiwi partners, and we’ve added three new roles to strengthen our leadership team and support our growth plans. Victoria Crone will join us in April as New Zealand Managing Director, Tarryn Brent has joined us as New Zealand Marketing Manager and Grant Anderson has come on board as Head of Accounting.
We’re focusing on some big things around banking this year. Our clients processed $30 billion in invoices over the last 12 months. New Zealand’s GDP is $180 billion, so it’s fair to say that a huge amount of our economy is flying through Xero’s engines.
Since we introduced online invoicing, people are being paid faster! New Zealand businesses are today being paid 33% faster than they were in 2011. It used to take six weeks to get paid, but with Xero it’s under a month and that time will keep dropping. ASB is helping us to crack the integration of banking and accounting too, which I’ll tell you more about tomorrow.
Rod talked a bit about Government and the things we can be doing within the private sector to keep our industry moving. It’s incredible to think about the $1.2 billion we’ve spent on the tax system. Government should be making the rules, while the private sector invests in providing the products. Collectively we can save them $200–$300 million dollars. We’re pushing hard – if we keep telling them, hopefully they’ll listen.
Headwinds: disruption is real
It was great to have high calibre speaker Gerhard Vorster, Chief Strategy Officer at Deloitte Australia and Asia Pacific, join us at Xerocon today. Gerhard made some really interesting points about the effect of disruption from the “disruptee” position.
One great insight in particular I gleamed from Gerhard was his point around the power shift from corporate to customer. He used a new term, “clipetitor”. I like innovative people who make up words! The idea is based upon the fact that a lot of the things accountants used to do is now done by clients, and this isn’t just in our industry. We’re competing with our own customers. He also spoke of the prevalence of crowdsourcing. Clients have more options than they did in the past. We’re also asking for more from less, except data where everything is digitised.
Gerhard says the talent economy is starting to change. Cloud now allows people to work wherever they want – no new business model is sentenced to the same metrics and outcomes as the old ones. He says everything we know today was at one point a mystery. We can’t be afraid to be heuristic (act on a hunch), because the thing that ruins innovation are the two words, “Prove it.” How can you prove something new that you haven’t developed yet? You can’t.
Farming in the cloud : The what, why and when
Xerocon New Zealand was the perfect opportunity to announce our ‘Farming in the Cloud’ solution, to be launched in mid-year. As Ben Richmond, Xero Sales and Product Specialist, so wisely said in his keynote this morning, farming is the backbone of our nation. When the rural sector does well, New Zealand does well, and we’re committed to working with farmers, their advisors and stakeholders to lift the rural sector together.
Farming in the Cloud will bring real-time, single ledger reporting to the farm for the first time. It will allow farmers and their accountants, banks and rural service companies to work together from the same set of online, real-time data, and will provide one centralised home for key accounting and farm management tools.
We’ve got some great farming partners on board, such as Figured and PGG Wrightson, and we’re going to add more. We’re also working closely with Vodafone on the RBI, because we’ve got to connect those farmers so we can offer them all the benefits Xero has to offer.
Sara Goepel, Xero Product Manager, revealed some of the great new things we’ve got lined up to share with you this year. Xero U is a big product update, bringing webinars and training videos together in one place on the Xero website, while still giving customers the ability to gain certification online.
The updates to Profiles is also going to bring some real benefits to Xero users: creating a presence online for you and your business, and connecting with existing and potential customers with handy tools like Google Hangouts.
Gavin George, WorkflowMax Sales Manager, talked about the huge investment going into their product, before Mark Blundell launched into some updates on our new reporting framework.
Xero Product Manager for Banking Integration & Experience Matt Vickers had some cool updates on mobile banking, showing everyone the awesome integration of banking and accounting now available to Xero customers. There was lots of talk of bank reconciling in bed today, particularly because it’s so easy now with our Xero for iOS and Xero for Android apps. Matt’s demonstration of Google Glass had the audience truly fascinated. Watch out world, Xero is coming!