Xerocon 2019: What we learned and the trends we spotted
They say Xerocon is “the Glastonbury for accountants”.
And, a bit like Glastonbury, the build-up to Xerocon felt so long, with anticipation growing for months as everyone made their plans.
Then, guess what? The main event came and went in the blink of an eye. But like a great music festival, Xerocon was memorable for all the right reasons.
The theme of this year’s event was “Communities with Purpose”, something that struck a chord for us.
We were keen to use this opportunity to meet more people within the community, learn new things and find out how we can improve the user experience for our partners. We did that, and so much more.
Here’s a round-up of the trends and findings from the two days.
A shift in mindset
Finally, the conversations about Making Tax Digital are OVER. Yay!
It was a delight to not hear MTD mentioned once on the tradeshow floor – something that’s not happened in years.
So what’s filling that gap now? Judging from Xerocon, people are now looking out for the next revolution in the accountancy industry. And good news for us: it’s apps!
Whether you want to transform your culture, change your spending processes, or find a new way to manage data, there’s now an app available to make your accounting life easier.
Those apps are also not new kids on the block any more – they’re tried, tested and ready to deploy.
We were asked more questions at this Xerocon than ever before, whether it was about our new Xero Direct Feed, our big plans for the next few months, or the future of work.
It was amazing to receive such a positive response, signalling not only our growth but the growth of the industry.
A sea change
This growth is no doubt inspired by the great work that Xero continues to do in transforming the game.
This year brought about a huge announcement: Xero Pay, in association with GoCardless, a revolutionary update that will save time, money, and hassle by making it easier for small businesses to manage payments in and out of their accounts.
Xero has reduced what was a long and arduous process (which was open to error) to something simple and automated: a huge win for accountants!
Our team was delighted to see Iwoca’s funding partnership with Xero, while Xavier Analytics were the talk of the event this year, for their new platform that can clean, track and report on Xero clients.
Practices are incredibly excited about the potential of using Xavier to increase their visibility of clients’ bookkeeping and offer them the right services. We’ve got no doubt the buzz surrounding Xavier Analytics will continue into the new year.
And our customers, Fluidly, launched Fluidly Lite, an amazing new platform that offers accountants the chance to run Cashflows for clients for free, a real game-changer.
A need to be human
Refreshingly, the focus of this year’s event was not solely on numbers and systems, but on wellbeing too.
Xero’s very own Craig Hudson shared his challenges with mental health on the stage, encouraging over 3000 people to take care of themselves and each other. A very apt reminder to take stock over the course of two very fast-paced days.
The inspiration kept coming with Brad Burton discussing his 24 second/24 minute/24 hour rule for decision-making, something I’m beginning to implement into daily life.
It was an incredibly motivating talk, which definitely gave a very sleepy (and slightly hungover) room the kickstart we all needed for Day 2!
Bringing in the best people
Our founder, Jeppe Rindom, also took to the stage to discuss how companies can attract and retain the best talent, dispelling the myths that only start-ups are able to secure the best graduates.
Instead, he broke it down into four easy steps: Trust, Learning, Technology and Leadership.
The latter is arguably the most important, given that 85% of employees worldwide are disengaged in their job, and the key reason attributed to that is lack of support and guidance from manager or leader.
It takes a good leader to make these changes, and help to cultivate an environment where people feel engaged and valued.
But it’s not a quick fix, as Jeppe explained: “It’s not about cheap benefits…it’s about leadership, impact and growth.”
A night of fun
This year’s party was better than ever before – a fairground is pretty hard to beat!
With the helter-skelter, carousel, dodgems and an endless plethora of food trucks, the atmosphere was electric.
For us, the party was a double celebration. Just hours before, we found out that we’re nominated for Financial Services App of the Year at the Xero Awards in March.
It’s a huge honour, particularly making a shortlist of three that features other companies that we admire hugely: Iwoca and GoCardless.
So, what did Xerocon mean for us?
Xerocon is always a helpful reminder for us to look back at how we’ve grown.
From starting out as an attendee, and a small presence, to being a Silver Sponsor this year, it’s amazing to look back on our growth. Our sponsorship this year meant we had the opportunity to show exactly what we’re about, and how we intend to use our funding to create a better experience for our partners.
If you had the chance to see our stand, you would have seen the latest version of our tool.
Our Xero Direct Feed was naturally the main thing that got people talking. We’re not surprised – it offers a near real-time overview of the Pleo activity in Xero, without having to wait for month-end.
Away from Xero, we fielded a lot of interested (and interesting!) questions on our new streamlined exporting process. Not just that, there was a lot of love for how Pleo now suggests subcategories to make it easier for admins to sort expenses.
Not to mention our new autogenerated tickets for Transport for London journeys!
Our product is not the only thing that has evolved this year. Our team on the day was made up of Pleo-ples old and new: this year alone, we have grown from 75 to 180, and show no signs of slowing down. You can find out more about the way we’re scaling the business here.
Hopefully you also got to play our “Pleo your cards right” game. Some of you even managed to win a prize! Or at least attempt to cheat your way through it…
Roll on Xerocon 2020!
So, that was Xerocon 2019.
We had a blast. Meeting partners again, talking to new friends about what Pleo can do for their business, just mingling with the Xero community.
The industry is in a fantastic place right now, shaping up for a future that promises a lot.
Some of our Pleo team are Xerocon veterans. But I’d like to give the last word to Basy Chow, our Senior Account Executive, who was there for the first time. How would she sum up the experience in three words?
“That was INSANE.”
Sounds about right to me.