Over the last decade, Xero has connected small businesses with their information and advisors in ways that might have seemed unimaginable to most when we first set out. And we’re still changing, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible and finding new ways to help our partners and their clients succeed. The next chapter is about to begin – and for our partners, it’s set to be the most exciting one yet.
When Xero launched from Rod Drury’s New Zealand apartment back in 2006, there were no iPhones, YouTube had only just been launched, Facebook was two years old and only 14% of the world’s population were connected to the Internet.
Still, Rod had a vision to make accounting easier for accountants and bookkeepers, and small businesses and their advisors. He wanted to eradicate every receipt-filled shoebox, every convoluted spreadsheet, and most of all he wanted accountants, bookkeepers and small businesses to have access to real-time data about their business so that they could better manage their business.
He could see that building financial data in the cloud offered the avenue to do just that – and that the key to success lay in creating great partnerships.
A new decade, with an even stronger partner platform
In just a decade Xero has become one of the leaders in cloud accounting with more than 717,000 subscribers around the world and many financial institutions connecting to Xero’s platform to enable small businesses to have a single, accurate view of their financial standing to make better business decisions.
Xero has also built a thriving ecosystem of more than 500 apps and integrations, with more than 28,000 registered developers working with its open APIs. These integrations are built specifically for the needs of small businesses.
By bringing our partners, ecosystem partner apps, financial institutions and all of our small business customers together using a single ledger, enabling real-time financial data flow and automating bank reconciliations, we have been able to achieve some of Rod’s vision. Today, 89% of small businesses using Xero connect to advisors and 29% connect to apps in our ecosystem. We believe we’re just at the beginning of the next wave of innovation.
Embracing the automation revolution
Today, the pace of technological change is even faster. We thought we’d seen dramatic change in the past decade but we haven’t seen anything yet. As we have grown our customer base, we have needed to look at how we continue to provide a beautiful accounting experience as we scale, while delivering new products and reducing the potential for service downtime. Our recent move to a new Amazon Web Services platform provides us with the potential for even greater innovation as we look to grow to 1 million customers and beyond across more than 180 countries.
Automation offers a massive opportunity for the entire accounting and bookkeeping industry to step up and into strategic advisory roles, providing their deep knowledge and expertise on driving the business economy. Automation means accountants and bookkeepers can begin to specialize and focus on value-added services – and let machines take care of the monotony of data collection and classification.
The next chapter of our Partner Program
With this first phase of cloud accounting nearing completion, we have learned a lot about the very positive impact of advisors on small business success. Our Signals Insights have shown that businesses who use advisors grow net profit 23% faster than businesses without advisors.*
We started this new chapter by listening closely to our partners to better understand how our partners define success and the tools they need to achieve it. After 3,000 survey responses from partners, 300 one on one workshops from 5 countries, and 350 users involved in Xero HQ beta, we identified six opportunity areas and undertook a large project to dramatically improve our Xero Partner Program. We’re excited to share that the project is nearly complete and will be ready for Xero partners to enjoy soon.
Here are the six key improvements you can look forward to in the Xero Partner Program:
1. Attract new clients with better visibility on the Xero Advisor Directory
The Xero Advisor Directory has been redesigned to make it easier for the 20,000+ people globally who search for help every month to find partners, and see partner credentials, experience with industries, Xero certifications and achievements. We have also enhanced Xero HQ to help partners tag their clients’ industries so as to appear more often in search results and to give prospective clients more interest and confidence in selecting partners to be their Xero Advisor.
2. Beautiful new tools to help you work the way you want to
Make prioritizing client work a breeze with Xero HQ the open platform for practices. Connect the practice apps you love, streamline your work, and bring all your clients together in one place so you can see what they’re doing and what you need to do next. What’s more, you’ll be able to gain insight into how your clients work using explorer to see the apps they use and the industries they’re in.
3. Raising the bar in education and helping clients see partner qualifications
Partners asked for more interactive ways to train their staff, and we’ve answered with several improvements to our education section. This includes a personalised learning experience in Xero U and a richer Xero Certification process. We’ve also designed the new Advisor Directory to showcase people with certifications, present the Certification badge more clearly and to let people searching for Xero advisors to sort their search results by the number of certifications partners have.
4. New points to earn a higher status, faster
Pioneered in Australia, Xero is introducing a new points based system where partners will now receive points for being invited into client subscriptions and providing clients Xero Payroll and Xero Ledgers in addition to partner-paid subscriptions which recognise the full range of partner commitment and will help partners gain status and unlock more rewards.
5. Be recognized with new distinctions and badges, drawing more clients to you
Many partners are investing to certify and grow their Xero client list. We’ve introduced a special distinction for partners demonstrating growth and a level up commitment to certification called Xero Champion. For partners demonstrating champion performance, we’re adding extra benefits to help you attract more new clients to show our appreciation.
6. Refreshed benefits, and a new Xero merchandise store
Not only have the benefits offered been updated, partners will now have a great ecommerce experience to order branded Xero merchandise and other marketing resources exclusive to partners through the new Xero Store.
Heading into the next decade together
Looking back, it’s easy to see how we’ve got here, and how simple the act of bringing our partners and subscribers together on one single ledger has transformed the accounting and bookkeeping world.
Together, we’ve been able to achieve a good chunk of Rod’s vision. We would never have been able to do any of this without you guys, so thank you.
There’s no way to know for certain what the landscape is going to look like in another ten years time, but we are certain of one thing: partners will continue to be an integral part of Xero’s success and we’ll continue to strive to provide the partner tools and benefits you need to achieve success, however you define it.
Our next steps put Xero at the very centre of partner success, connecting partners with the services and tools partners need and igniting the partner network even further.