Here’s what I took away from attending Xerocon:
Xero announced that nine applications will have integration with Xero HQ. They call them a “curated set of third party apps” and they are, in alphabetical order:
- Practice Ignition
- Receipt Bank
- Spotlight Reporting
In London recently they also added:
There are other enhancements in Xero HQ and it is about to become more prominent
From 24 October Xero are saying that when you log into Xero as a partner you’ll go straight into Xero HQ. I‘ve not fully got my head around Xero HQ but it seems to me it is an overlay on top of Xero Practice Manager which adds some functionality including a lot of activity feeds which you will need to manage carefully to avoid being overloaded by them. Personally, I’d like to see XHQ and XPM as a single integrated product.
Another feature being added is “Ask” In Xero’s own words: “With Ask in Xero HQ you can compile custom queries, send them directly to your clients and they can easily login to a secure environment to reply directly to you. You maintain visibility over their progress and your client gets the right information to give you what you need.” As I understand it this functionality has been available in karbon so maybe it is a shot over their bow?
Slowly but surely it does seem that Xero are chipping away at the gaps in functionality that have discouraged some firms from abandoning their current, non-cloud practice management systems. I was told some big bucks are going to be spent on further development so I guess time will tell.
Xero announced Xero Projects to “manage job time, costs and profitability”.
According to Xero, Projects “is a great fit for small businesses, agencies or consultants in digital, creative and IT industries.” Already I’m seeing some commentary online that says it is pretty limited but once it is bedded down I understand it should provide an alternative for some people using MYOB Account Right because it has this functionality and up until now Xero did not.
Xero announced Xero Expenses to “offer your clients more control, analytics and insights”
At face value this appears to have some of the functionality of Receipt Bank or Expensify. My guess is this is a trend we will see continue. Over time Xero will build into the core product functionality that was previously only available by way of a third party app.
Xero announced the Xero Lifelong Learning Platform
They describe this as “an online learning tool aimed at students and the reskilling of the workforce, which will be delivered by educational institutions. It appears to be aimed at teaching financial literacy and bookkeeping skills and Swinbourne University has some involvement in its development. It’s a clever strategy. Get young people used to seeing Xero so they pick it as their tool of choice when in the workforce.
Xero Tax is going to have links to CCH iKnow functionality
This is particularly interesting given that Wolters Kluwer CCH has the iFirm practice management suite which includes tax. It would seem that they have concluded that they will have more success by piggy backing onto the rapid growth of Xero. There has been some speculation online that perhaps iFirm (which is a fully featured practice management cloud application) might end up being integrated in some way into Xero. This is an interesting prospect because iFirm does some pretty cool stuff as I understand it.
Xero spent big on the event, which is I guess why they had to charge a hefty fee to attend what is effectively self promotion and the odd product demo. They do throw a good party, with the closing street party event being quite a statement to finish with! As always it was a good event to bump into people you know, although with just over 3,000 people attending it was easy to miss people too.
So as you can see there is quite a lot happening in Xeroland. If they are serious about helping accounting firms they will follow through on developing XPM / XHQ and turn that into a really compelling option. Time will tell. Meanwhile I’m off to ATSA next week to see what everyone else is up to.