We’re back at Xerocon Australia 2014 for day two! Xero Australia MD Chris Ridd kicks off the day by telling the crowd about how Xero is investing in its partnerships.
Chris revealed Xero’s new Head of Accounting: James Solomons, a director of Sydney-based EFS Strategic, who said he was humbled by the appointment.
Chris also announced a new Partner Advisory Council, made up of accountants and bookkeepers from different states. They will be tasked with giving Xero input and feedback to make sure we make the right decisions on issues that affect partners.
Chris finished by outlining Xero’s inspiring work with the Foundation of Young Australians. The groups helps demystify the world of work for young people and supports them to become ‘work-ready’ by spending a week at the Xero head office.
Adam Ferrier – Understanding consumers: Don’t listen to a word they say
Adam Ferrier, Chief Strategy Officer at advertising agency cummins&partners, explained how to change people’s behaviour.
He said there are two factors that will allow their behaviour to change – their motivation to change and the ease with which they can change. So getting people to do what you want them to do involves two things – increasing their motivation or making it easier.
The best way to get someone to like you is to get them to do something for you and businesses should use that strategy, Adam said.
All communication can be interactive. If you’re a small business you can build you business by asking your customers to help build your business and they’ll end up liking you more. Adam suggested doing research with clients.
“As soon as they’ve done you a favour they’ll change their thoughts and feelings to help them understand their behaviour,” he said.
The great debate: You must outsource to survive
The great debate kicked off after morning tea and considered the statement “You must outsource to survive”.
The affirmative argued that outsourcing increases economic viability and efficiency. Even if you can do something cheaper in-house, if it’s a low value activity you should still outsource it – because there’s an opportunity cost of a higher value activity.
Tanya Titman of Consolid8 explained how her business had established a team in the Philippines to do the repetitive process work like administration and data processing, freeing up time for activities that add more value to the practice.
The negative argued that accounting practices should automate first and offshore later.
They questioned whether some low-value tasks needed to be done at all with automation. Paul Meissner of 5Ways said the rise of the cloud means that even the smallest businesses can use cloud technology to automate and eliminate business processes.
The two teams battled the topic back and forth before the audience cast their votes.
And the winner is… the negative! Automation trumps outsourcing.
After lunch and it’s time to tackle banking.
Banking is key to Xero so we put a lot of work into getting the relationship right, according to Matt Vickers, Xero Product Manager, Banking.
In fact, Xero has recently increased its banking team from 5 to 19 staff and will bump it up to 24 people next year.
Xero is aiming to get more banks and credit unions on board and increase coverage to all of the types of accounts and financial institutions on offer, Matt said. He asked the audience to help Xero out by telling banks when they want additional feeds. He also wants to make gaining access to bank feeds a more seamless service – no more filling out forms!
Ultimately Xero wants to let small businesses share more data with the banks to help them get easier access to financial services and products. It’s a process that’s just getting underway in Australia, but Xero has already had some success with this in New Zealand and the process is now getting underway in Australia.
Matt explained that it’s all part of Xero’s aim to put small and medium-sized businesses at the centre of a range of digital services – the government, banks and other financial institutions, suppliers and employees – and ultimately work together to make them more productive.
Louise Dyer – What’s up with data storage?
Next up were tips on cloud computing from Louise Dyer, Enterprise Cloud Lead at Rackspace Australia, which provides Xero’s cloud hosting.
Rackspace is a large international cloud computing company which serves over 60 percent of the US Fortune 100 companies, and Xero is one of its top five customers.
Dyer explained that Rackspace stores Xero’s data four times across different geographic locations. That data is then backed up again on disk and on tape. “It’s to ensure there is always an up to date copy in numerous locations,” she said.
Louise said anyone assessing a potential cloud provider should ask who will own their data and how they can get their data when the agreement comes to an end. Rackspace said its view is that the owner of the data is the customer.
Businesses should also seek reassurance on the cloud provider’s privacy and data breach policies, and just as importantly ask what arrangements will be made to secure their data.
Xerocon wound up with a Q&A to the company’s leaders.
The best question was what was your “wahoo moment” at Xerocon 2014?
Rod’s was: “When I had a whole bunch of people come out and say ‘now we get it, we see now the value of all that investment you’ve made and now you’re starting to sail away’.”
For Chris it was: “Walking here because of how big this has become and because you guys feel like you’re on the journey with us.”
Next is tonight’s Xero Awards Dinner, where top performing partners will be recognised and the Xero band featuring Chris Ridd, will entertain the crowd.