IT Brief Africa - Xero launches wave of new products at Xerocon

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Xero launches wave of new products at Xerocon

Xero has announced its biggest ever wave of new products as it evolves from online accounting software to a global small business platform to help grow millions of businesses around the world.

Xero today kicked off Xerocon, its annual Asia Pacific region conference in Melbourne attended by over 3,000 accountants, bookkeepers and ecosystem partners, representing 19 countries.

Highlights of the new products demonstrated at Xerocon include:

  • Xero HQ open practice platform, an integrated multi-vendor platform for accountants and bookkeepers to run their entire back office
  • Xero Expenses, mobile-first expense management with Open APIs for banks to connect to the millions of employees in small business
  • Xero Discuss, allows users and their advisors to communicate within the Xero platform
  • Xero Projects, time and job costing for professional services
  • Xero Lifelong Learning Platform, an online learning tool aimed at students and the re-skilling of the workforce, which will be delivered by educational institutions.

“We are early in the journey of using artificial intelligence to simplify accounting to make it easier for small businesses,” says Rod Drury, Xero founder and CEO.

“We are proud to deliver a new generation of smart tools to drive further productivity. In parallel, our focus is to create opportunities for our community of accountants and bookkeepers to take advantage of our global platform to help grow small businesses and create new jobs.”

New products announced at Xerocon include: Launch of Xero HQ curated apps for accountants and bookkeepers

The next iteration of the Xero HQ open practice platform provides a curated ecosystem of nine integrated practice apps, to provide accountants and bookkeepers the best tools to drive efficiency within their own practice, build closer relationships with clients, and build additional advisory services.

Designed to connect more than 100,000 Xero advisors globally to the best cloud tools tailored to their practice, Xero HQ revolutionises the way accountants and bookkeepers work by providing real-time visibility and insights across all clients, with timely alerts about a client's most urgent needs.

Xero HQ connects directly into other Xero tools and third-party practice apps.  

On stage at Xerocon, Anna Curzon, Xero chief partner officer says: “It is the golden age of accounting. It is creating opportunities for the growth of accounting and bookkeeping practices and it’s increasing their capacity to be the advisors small businesses need to succeed.

“We know that by helping accountants and bookkeepers fully embrace technology with a digital switchover of their practices, we can help them grow their own business.”

Xero Expenses

Xero Expenses gives small businesses and their accounting and bookkeeping advisors powerful insights and controls over how money is spent in the business.

“We’ve revitalised our employee expenses and reimbursement product redesigning it for the front office, taking advantage of AI and machine learning to make the entire expense process easier and more automated than ever, ensuring employees file their expenses more frequently and directly into Xero,” Drury says.

Expense Analytics allows small business owners, and their accountant or bookkeeper, to see expense patterns by category, accounts and employees, and set permissions to ensure expenses are filed by the right person.

Small businesses know which expenses still need to be reimbursed to their employees, and get informed in real-time through push notifications, eliminating inefficiencies caused by missed phone calls and unread emails.

Advisors can help small business make better spending decisions, using powerful analytics and integrated accounting in a centralised platform.

The Expenses API will allow banks to link transactional and purchasing services to the millions of employees of small businesses using Xero.

Xero Expenses is integrated across Xero and will be available for accountants and bookkeepers to trial with their customers this week.

Xero Discuss

Available to Xero subscribers in the coming months, Xero Discuss enables accountants and bookkeepers to discuss financial details about a client’s business directly with the client from within Xero, removing the need for lengthy email chains or potential miscommunication about their data.

Xero Discuss makes it easier for accounting partners to answer questions and avoid potential mistakes in Xero, improving the reliability and accuracy of financial information and making business decisions right the first time.

Small businesses can ask questions about a specific contact, bill, invoice, purchase order or bank transaction, and get help from their accountant or bookkeeper quickly, where and when they need it most.

Xero Projects

Xero Projects is a major milestone in Xero’s transition to a global platform for small businesses, helping small businesses in service industries monitor active projects to maximise revenue and profits.

Available today for Xero accounting partners and their clients, Xero Projects helps solve cash flow 2 issues many small business owners face, by making it easier than ever to keep track of their time and job costing.

“Over 40% of our customers are Professional Service firms. Xero Projects now gives those customers a beautiful way to manage their sta and projects with seamless integration to accounting. Uniquely we’ll be going to market alongside our accounting and bookkeeping partners as Xero Projects grows to suit the many vertical industries they work with,” Drury says.

Xero Small Business Insights data from June 2017 found half of Australian small businesses had negative cash flow, while 60% of small businesses fail within their first three years of operation due to these problems, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

In New Zealand, recent Xero research found that just over a third of New Zealand small businesses are concerned about cash flow due in part to late payment of invoices.

More than 60% of businesses are paid two weeks or more are the due date of their invoice and one in 10 small businesses wait on average more than a month for their invoices to be paid.

“Xero Projects transforms the way businesses track their time and expenses, directly from Xero or on their phone, giving business owners and solo operators the right tools to grow their profits and their business,” Drury says.

Xero Projects connects seamlessly to other features in Xero, including invoicing, contacts, bills and reporting allowing users to handle key aspects of their business in a single platform.

Xero Lifelong Learning Platform

Xero today also unveiled the Xero Lifelong Learning Platform, providing access to the latest learning resources for financial and business skills relevant in today’s connected, global economy.

Xero is working closely with education experts and institutions, including the Swinburne University of Technology in Australia to create and deliver courses available online initially in Australia and New Zealand, and globally in 2018.

“The globalisation of technology has not only reshaped the way we work but also the need for lifelong learning to stay relevant with the pace of change in the workforce,” Curzon says.

“Handling finances, both personal and business, is a necessity for everyone, from school-age students to retirees. Yet many neglect this important life-skill. Xero Lifelong Learning Platform allows students to grow their financial literacy to help prepare them for the real world.

“The Xero Lifelong Learning Platform paves the way for education to be accessible to everyone, from anywhere, at any time, democratising education for all,” Curzon says.

“Best of all, it’s always up to date. Students and people re-skilling will always be working on the latest version of the tools used in business, not the out of date desktop technology still taught across the world.”

Xero Lifelong Learning Platform will lift the financial and business literacy of students in secondary and tertiary institutions, training organisations, and learners at all stages of their career.

The new open learning platform will help accelerate the growth and performance of small and medium businesses by giving their employees the multiple skills and capabilities that accounting and advisory partners are desperate to hire.

“Technology has significantly changed the way many industries operate and it’s vital that education keeps up with the pace of change,” says Sharon Rice, Swinburne University major projects executive director.

“Greater collaboration between industry and higher education is critical to producing high-quality, job-ready graduates and we’re proud to be working with Xero to spearhead this initiative to improve the accessibility of financial and business acumen for the next generation of accountants, and everyone.”

The roadmap ahead for the Xero Lifelong Learning Platform will deliver features to automate grading and assessment, provide business scenarios and simulations for teaching advanced financial analysis, and integration with popular learning management and courseware systems.

The Xero Lifelong Learning Platform enables educators to quickly provide classes of learners with working Xero applications populated with example data for any scenario.

A student using Xero Lifelong Learning Platform is guided through exercises within Xero, and can use all of Xero’s regular functionality.

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