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Xerocon London 2017: People, tech and a drive to innovate

Xerocon 2017 opens to more than 2000 attendees and 60 exhibitors

At GoCardless, we love Xerocon. We were there for Xero’s annual tech conference in 2016, and we were excited to be heading back for our second year as an exhibitor and sponsor at last week’s Xerocon London 2017 event at the London ExCel centre.

It’s the key event of the year for Xero online accounting, with over 2,000 attendees and 60 exhibitors, and an opportunity for the Xero team to share all the new updates, tools and innovations that Xero users can expect over the next 12 months.

As ever, there was a lot to take in, so let us run you through our key highlights.

A chance to meet the Xero community

Xerocon is a tech conference, with the emphasis on financial technology (fintech). But it’s also very much a people event, where there’s a real coming together of the whole Xero community.

As Gary Turner, Xero UK MD, put it in his keynote speech: “What makes Xerocon work, and special, is that you are the smartest, most switched-on, forward-thinking professionals in the industry. It’s the community, the spirit, the energy and the learning that you bring that make it.”

It’s a place where accountants, app providers and business leaders have a chance to get together, network and share incredible ideas – as well as partying into the small hours at the Xerocon after party (an event that dispels any rumours that accountants don’t dance!).

Being at the vanguard of real technological change

We’re at a point of immense change in accounting. And this was a message that resonated throughout the event, with many speakers emphasising how the industry is reassessing the relationship between human tasks and software automation.

Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and automation are already helping Xero to improve the efficiency of accounting and bookkeeping, as Xero founder, Rod Drury, said in his keynote:

“We’re excited to see what AI can bring to small business users. Accounting is one of the places where people will see the real benefits of AI and machine learning, and we’re getting to a point where you don’t need to know accounting to do accounting.”

But before you start worrying about ‘robots’ replacing your finance team, Xero are keen to underline that it’s human skills that matter, not algorithms. Gary Turner was clear that software is a tool to be used, not a replacement for human capabilities:

“People are the next frontier where we can drive real change and reshape the accounting industry. AI will absolutely have a part to play, but it’s about your people, your customers and the relationships that you have with them.”

A hugely flexible and evolving app ecosystem

Walking around the ‘Expo Hall’, with the many Xero stages and app provider stands, you get an idea of the true scale of the Xero platform and its impact for small businesses. There are now over 600 Xero apps, making it a uniquely customisable business platform – and an ecosystem that GoCardless is extremely proud to be a part of.

Whether it’s streamlining your bookkeeping with Receipt Bank, automating credit control with Chaser or improving forecasting with Spotlight Reporting or Futrli, there’s a third-party solution that deals with your business challenge. And with new apps like Fluidly, Tanda and Curve now part of the UK app ecosystem, the flexibility of Xero continues to evolve.

New ways that Xero helps your business

Xero’s aim is to help small businesses and their advisers, to innovate and become more efficient. And there were several updates to the main Xero product that deliver on that key aim.

Here’s just a selection of the some of the new updates you can look forward to:

  • Xero Expenses – to snap your expense receipts on the run, and submit them straight from your phone using the soon-to-be-released standalone app for iOS and Android.
  • Xero Projects – to manage your time, tasks and project management and even invoice your customers based on the work you’ve completed so far.
  • Xero Discuss – an in-app conversation function so you and your advisers can flag up queries, chat through your numbers or highlight a missed bookkeeping task.
  • CIS functionality – a beta version that helps you deal with the complexity of the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) and calculate all the relevant tax deductions.

There’s lots more in the pipeline, including smart coding through machine learning and Xero HQ – the new home in Xero for your accountant/adviser – but it’s clear that Xero’s developers are extremely busy, working on new features to make life easier for business owners.

We’re Xero’s App Partner of the Year!

Lastly, we couldn’t write about Xerocon without sharing the awesome news that GoCardless was named App Partner of the Year at the event’s award ceremony!

It was a proud moment to step onto the stage and accept the award, especially in a shortlist that included such great apps as Futrli, Receipt Bank and Movemybooks. We’re extremely thankful to every single person who’s supported us and our GoCardless for Xero integration along the way – it’s a real pleasure to be such a valued part of the Xero community. Congratulations to all the other winners on the night, including IWOCA for winning the Emerging App of the Year, and Armstrong Watson for winning Accounting Partner of the Year.

We’re keen to see how Xero and the ecosystem will evolve further over the next 12 months. It’s going to be a fun journey – and we look forward to passing the App Partner of the Year award to the 2018 winner at next year’s bigger and better Xerocon.

Find out more about GoCardless for Xero

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