More than 1000 accounting industry professionals converged on the Viaduct Events Centre today as Xerocon Auckland 2015 kicked off in style.
Attendees came from near and far – from Whangarei to Timaru and even a contingent from overseas too – and were met by more than 35 Xero Partners, showing off their wares in the bustling exhibition space.
On Te Radar – making New Zealand the poster child for electronic business
MC Te Radar got the day off to a hilarious start before we welcomed Xero CEO Rod Drury to the stage. Rod gave a quick overview of the successes of the past year and discussed the emerging financial web.
“We’re getting close to the end of the beginning – the platform evolution. We’ve done all the boring bits and now we’re getting to a point where we can start to do the exciting stuff.
“We’re moving from being an integrated accounting and payroll platform to very much a small business platform and delivering big data for small business.”
“New Zealand is still the test lab for the world and our market share in New Zealand, around 20 percent, is enabling us to work with Government and big business to benchmark against industry and unlock insights that can mitigate risk, enable capital investment and ultimately raise the game for small business in New Zealand.”
Rod also announced a new project with payment services provider Paymark.
“By working with Paymark we can dramatically reduce paper receipts and save small businesses money and time by accurately and automatically capturing expenses directly into the Xero platform.”
Xero product: ideas to innovation
Rod’s address was followed by an update from the product team on the very latest in Xero innovation and what financial professionals can expect to see over the coming year – and the next 90 days!
Highlights included a preview of Xero Business Performance dashboard. It provides a real-time visual snapshot of a businesses’ health using a simple, integrated and beautiful interface. There were audible oohs and aahs as the wider team unveiled software updates around reporting, inventory and onbilling and ran the audience through demos of the latest innovations, including Xero Touch!
Xero Chief Technology Officer Craig Walker delighted the crowd with ‘geek chic’ charm – sharing a photo of himself writing the first line of Xero code alongside a copy of ‘Accounting for Dummies’ – exactly nine years ago tomorrow.
Clearly he’s as excited as ever about the challenges and opportunities presented by Xero!
Making better use of data to deliver more productive public services
After a quick tea break, we welcomed Hon Bill English, Minister of Finance and Acting Prime Minister. He discussed the steps the Government is taking to get public services focused on understanding the customer and delivering better results.
Minister English talked broadly on the opportunities the Government sees in using big data and new analysis to change the way it operates and attack long-standing social problems. This is already delivering new insights and better results for vulnerable New Zealanders, reducing dependence on public services and unlocking long-term savings for taxpayer.
The choices we make – disruptor or disruptee
The impressive Gerhard Vorster – aka The Agilator – Chief Strategy Officer, Deloitte ANZ was our next guest speaker.
As we’re all more than aware, disruption is happening and every organisation is making choices. Gerhard presented Disruption 2.0 and how we can make choice easier and more convenient, but critically give those choices greater meaning.
He encouraged us all to “embrace a little bit of madness” in our lives in order to achieve great things and to explore the potential power of leveraging the Xero community – and taking an interdependent approach based on mutual need, trust and reward.
Highlights included the Making Tax Simpler session with Mike Cunnington, Deputy Commissioner, Information, Intelligence and Communications from Inland Revenue, who discussed how New Zealand’s tax administration system is changing to make it simpler and faster for people to pay tax and receive the entitlements they should.
Another highlight was the Practice Studio update where the Xero integration with Microsoft Office 365 was announced. The integration includes a dedicated Xero feed straight through to Office 365, allowing customers to access Xero and Practice Manager data directly from within Microsoft Outlook.
And there was a fantastic update from Ben Richmond, Director of Sales and Rural Strategy Lead NZ and Sophie Stanley, Head of Rural at Figured on Farming in the Cloud 2.0.
Now well into our second year, Ben recapped the progress of Farming in the Cloud, sharing the future roadmap and giving insight into how the solution is being picked up by partners and is working in practice. Sophie also walked us through a live demo of the updated software which has been improved through partnership with our early adopter farming partners.
Xero’s Head of Accounting Grant Anderson delivered a session on ‘Megatrends – the future of your accounting business is already here: What my business will look like in 2030’.
Another highlight was CEO of Wiki NZ Lillian Grace’s session on the role of data for great business decision making. Lillian talked about how Wiki NZ is disrupting the existing model and how clients can benefit from having New Zealands’s public data at their fingertips to be more informed.
“Everyone is capable of using data in their thinking. We need to put users at the centre of our models,” she explained.
Last but not least…
…we had to give you a peek at these tasty treats!
That’s a wrap for today!
Far too many great streams with engaging content to cover them all! That’s it for day one at Xerocon Auckland 2015. See you tomorrow!
You can also check out some of the Xerocon buzz on social media: