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Noodle Live: Embracing creativity and innovation

This World Creativity and Innovation Week (15th – 21st April), Clemi Hardi, Head of Pencils at London-based event technology company Noodle Live, tells us how creativity and innovation helps improve the event experience for her clients’ customers.

Clemi

World Creativity and Innovation Week is a week focused on encouraging people and businesses to get their creative juices flowing and make the world just that little bit better. If you could do anything, what would it be and how would you do it?

As an event technology company, Noodle Live has always embraced innovation and creativity. It’s ingrained in everything we do. The seed of our business came from a desire to innovate and offer a better solution to the established norms. Our RFID enabled smart badges are now disrupting the events industry, enabling people to collect, share and store information easily in ways that they couldn’t previously. And that’s a direct result of not being happy with the status quo.

For Noodle Live, creativity is really important. It’s an ability to look at problems and challenges in new ways, and that’s what we’re all about. Technology is sometimes lambasted for killing creativity, but this is certainly not our experience. We find that it can in fact unlock the creativity that may lay dormant within us. Our clients and end users, motivated by using our event technology, regularly create new use cases for us as they realise the potential of our event tools.

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A new way of taking payments with iZettle

iZettle’s point of sale (POS) application makes it easy for your business to accept card payments and sell in store or on the go using a tablet or smartphone. And from now on, iZettle is integrated with Xero, meaning your cash and card sales, VAT, bank account deposits and processing fees will be seamlessly updated within your accounting.

You’ll also get a business overview with great analytics that let you keep track of your sales and products. And there are no fixed contracts or fees – you only pay per card transaction.

Who is it for?

iZettle is ideal for any small business in the UK, whether you’re a small store, a cafe, or someone selling hot dogs on the go. It’s made for anyone in need of the tools to run a business and who wants to accept secure card payments.

How iZettle works with Xero

Simply connect your iZettle and Xero accounts with the click of a button. All iZettle sales and deposit data will be seamlessly transferred into your Xero accounting platform, and deposit data is reconciled through Xero’s automated bank feeds.

What about pricing?

There’s no sign-up fee and no contract lock-ins or fixed fees, so you only pay per transaction. And the more you sell, the less you pay. iZettle’s Smart Rate automatically reduces your transaction fees based on your monthly sales, starting at 2.75% and dropping to as little as 1.50% per transaction.

Try out iZettle now

Sign up to iZettle and give it a go now. It only takes five minutes to register and if you do it now you get a free iZettle card reader. There’s no trial period, because you only pay when you use the service – if you don’t use it, you don’t pay! Sign up now and let your customers start spending.

 

Spreadsheets!

An excellent podcast here from NPR on the history of the spreadsheet. An accountant was the first user of VisiCalc.

Planet Money. Episode 606: Spreadsheets!

Spreadsheet history – VisiCalc

Would have liked to hear about the product history. Lotus 1-2-3 and then how Excel came about. Maybe they’ll do a sequel.

Was great to hear the same issue repeating that accountants face in the cloud today. The nature of work changes. The podcast reported that 400,000 workers lost their jobs to spreadsheets but 600,000 new jobs were created.

I remember the first time I used spreadsheets on an Apple II and then Lotus on a PC. They still seem magical.

 

Xerocon London 2015 – day two highlights

We welcomed our guests back to Xerocon day two after a big night of celebrations at the Xero Awards, acknowledging the success of our high achieving partners.

Branding your practice

Rita Clifton, chair of BrandCap, opened day two with why branding is so vital in the digital age. Successful branding is about being clear about who you are and what you stand for, communicating that in all that you do, and employing people who stand for what your brand stands for. “It helps if the CEO isn’t an idiot… they’ve got to epitomise who the brand actually is.”

“A brand is more than packaging and labelling,” she said. “It’s the substance that lies beneath.”

Rita Clifton Xerocon 2

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Gary and Rod talk Windows 10

This week saw Microsoft’s big reveal of Windows 10, set to launch later this year. While the company’s keynote delivery fell far behind Apple’s awe-inspiring presentations, Microsoft really has emerged like a phoenix from the flames this year. It reminds us just why they’re in the game.

Cortana, Microsoft’s new natural language tool, is set to far exceed what we’re seeing now from Siri, while its augmented reality helmet HoloLens is particularly exciting, following the closing of the curtains on Google Glass.

Listen in here for a full wrap up of the Windows 10 launch from Xero’s UK MD Gary Turner and CEO Rod Drury:

 

Top 5 apps to manage business growth in 2015

If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner looking to meet ambitious growth targets for 2015, why not check out some of the helpful and inexpensive apps in the cloud to help you manage work on the move?

A new poll by UK mobile provider EE of 1,000 small businesses shows more than two thirds (69%) believe they’ll enjoy double-digit growth next year, with an average projection of 26%. So to help meet this demand, we’ve chosen a selection of top business apps from our add-on marketplace that are ideally-suited to small firms with big ambitions.

Xero Touch ID

Make 2015 your year with these top 5 apps for 2015 business growth:

#1 – Receipt Bank helpfully converts receipts, invoices and other piles of paper into Xero data, making expenses and outstanding bills easier to manage and account for.

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2014 was RAD. 2015 is going to be RADICAL.

I’m Jade Shearstone. 2014 has definitely been a different kind of year for me. I jumped off the Xero rocket ship for a while to to try something new. I was recently asked to share my experiences from this year on a guest blog post as part of The 12 Blogs of Christmas. In some aspects I’ve come full circle – I’m back at Xero, back in Wellington, back in recruitment. In others, it’s all completely new and exciting – I have side projects, I’m helping a start up and I’m prototyping a new app. Here’s some of my learnings from a rad as year.

Getting out of the building

Twelve months ago I decided to scratch an itch. I left the familiar and the comfortable for the unknown. From recruitment to coding. Why? Because I had drunk the Kool-Aid.

Kool-Aid

I had spent the previous year working at Xero in both recruitment and events. It was my first foray into the world of tech and I was hooked. I was inspired daily by our development and design teams and I was frequently having conversations about things I didn’t fully understand. It was a whole new world that had previously seemed inaccessible. My brain was invigorated. I wanted to create. I wanted in.

Can a girl with no technical experience really learn to code? The short answer is YES.

What happened next?

I signed up to an intensive front-end web design bootcamp. True to it’s word, it was intense on a number of levels but I survived. This is not my story.

SPOILER ALERT: This isn’t a fairy tale (although some magic may have been involved). I didn’t become a developer and I am not going to teach you how to code, but if you want to begin your own journey into software development, here’s a good place to start.

Where this new path did lead me however was somewhere even better. I stumbled across Lifehack Labs on the Twittersphere, a five week social innovation lab blending concepts from lean startup, UX, design thinking, with team development, leadership, technology and social innovation to tackle youth wellbeing issues.

To sum that up, it was good people doing good things. The best people in fact. I am so humbled and privileged to have had the luxury to spend five weeks learning from and with such an amazing group of humans.

The lessons I didn’t expect to learn

At many points during the year my mind was blown.

Mind blown meme

I’m going to try and piece some of it back together here because this is the good stuff. This is the stuff I didn’t realise I wanted to learn when I started to peel back the covers of a website and wrote my first line of HTML. This is the stuff that I think everyone needs to learn.

1. Ask why? Rinse and repeat.

If you want the real answer, ask why. And then ask it again. And again. And again. And again. Only when you truly know what the issue is, can you then understand it and figure out how to solve it.

2. Bring your whole self.

This sounds simple, but the reality is people hardly ever turn up to work as themselves. You always leave something at the door. But imagine if you didn’t. We’re all human, we all have good days and bad. What if you were a person first and a job description second? What if you shared how you really felt? Working relationships would be so much richer because of this.

3. Leadership is not a job title.

It is easy to be a manager without being a leader. Leadership is displayed in actions. You don’t have to wait around 10 years to get your golden ticket to step up and lead. You can do this from day one. Every action counts and it starts with you. Lead by example wasn’t just coined for fun.

4. Design thinking is not just for designers.

Taking a design thinking approach to any issue reinforces the need to get out from behind your desk and seek to (re)define the problem and answers from the people involved, test your assumptions and then to do it all again. Nothing is ever perfect, or ever finished. Get out the building (literally, whenever possible).

5. Be well.

Wellbeing has been a central theme to much of my life this year. I’m not talking about the next fad diet or fitness craze. Nor is it just about being happy all the time. “It’s about learning how to cultivate your talents, to build deep, lasting relationships with others, to feel pleasure, and to contribute meaningfully to the world. It’s learning how to flourish.” – Martin Seligman

6. Good people are doing good things.

When you start looking, it’s everywhere. Good people doing good things. On small scales and big ones. It’s not always easy to know if you’re doing the right thing but doing something is better than the alternative. Keep doing. Keep learning.

Bonus Discovery: Fluro post-it notes make every idea better.

Get it out of your brain and onto paper. Then cover the walls with it. Order it. Improve it. Validate it. Make sense of it. Iterate. And I’m NOT just talking about developers and designers. We should ALL do this. You can never have enough post-it notes.

There’s always more learnings than you can capture in words, but armed with some of these I’m looking forward to the next challenge of putting them into practice next year as the journey continues.

It’s time to flourish. I’ll leave you with this thought.

“Imagine an organisation full of people who come to work enthusiastically, knowing that they will grow and flourish, and intent on fulfilling the visions and goals of the larger organisation. There’s ease, grace, and effortless about the way they get things done. People take pleasure and pride in every aspect of the enterprise… That’s a lot of energy walking in each day, accomplishing an ever-increasing amount of work and having fun along the way.” – Peter Senge

2014 was RAD. 2015 is going to be RADICAL.

 

 

What to get your geek for Christmas

The holidays can be hard what with all the gift buying and running around. If you have a techie in your life who’s hard to buy for, Rod Drury has a few tech gifts in mind that might be at the top of any geek’s wishlist.

Here are some links …

Love to hear any other geek present ideas …

 

Xero Touch in one touch

The mobile team here at Xero is very pleased to announce that we have just released Touch ID for iOS! Thereby putting your business at your literal fingertips. This has been quite a long time in the making, with Layton having first knocked together a prototype at WWDC back in July. That caused quite a bit of excitement internally:

Layton announces Touch ID for Xero Touch on Yammer

It took a while for the APIs to settle down and to figure out how we were actually going to make it work with our existing security. Layton’s prototype required his hard-coded password, so… not a scalable solution. We’ve come up with something pretty good, though, which as it turned out was pretty straightforward to implement.

When you choose to use Touch ID, the app generates a 32-character alphanumeric ‘secret’ and stores it in your phone’s secure keychain. This secret is automatically set up as your new Xero PIN. When you authenticate with your fingerprint, the PIN is retrieved and submitted to Xero just as if you’d typed it in. TouchID is therefore much more secure than using a 4-digit numeric PIN, as well as being much faster to access and of course impossible to forget. Just make sure you always put your fingers somewhere safe.

This caps off the latest round of improvements to the iOS version of Xero Touch. The (observant) early adopters among you may have noticed that the last release tidied up the screen layouts for the iPhone 6 and 6+. We also moved to compiling against the iOS8 SDK. It’s great that our customers move as fast as we do – 60% of you are already on iOS 8, after less than two months! A staggering 40% are already on iOS 8.1, and that was released less than two weeks ago. We’re committed to staying up to date with the latest and greatest in the mobile world and it’s great to know that you are too.

No problem, Caleb – hope you enjoy it!

 

Look past the fog, move to the cloud

I had a chance to speak with one of our Xero Gold Partners, Steph Hinds at Growthwise, in Australia to find a little more on how they were able to grow their firm. It was a great conversation that really highlighted where the market in the US is relative to Australia.

Both the US and Australia and making a move to the cloud

There are some great insights on how they got started and advice for other firms looking to make the move to the cloud. Also some thought-provoking opinions on the convergence of IT and accounting. It may be that the firm of the future will drive IT services primarily with accounting services taking a back seat.

Considering a move to the cloud?

Check out the full article here in Accounting Today to hear the Growthwise story.