Speaking to an eager audience of over 1000 accountants and bookkeepers at this year’s Xerocon, New Zealand’s largest accounting technology conference, Kiwi accounting software firm Xero previewed a raft of new features designed to make life easier for small business.
Day on of Xerocon included keynotes delivered by Xero CEO Rod Drury, Hon Bill English and Gerhard Vorster – chief strategy officer for Deloitte Australia. Xero previewed its new Business Performance dashboard; integration with Microsoft Office 3 and, a new project with Paymark to eliminate paper receipts.
Preview of Business Performance dashboard
The Business Performance dashboard provides a visual snapshot of a business’s health using a simple, integrated interface. The feature allows time-poor businesses to access key metrics that help them understand the state of their business, while making it easy to collaborate with their advisor on how to improve performance.
Once live, the Business Performance dashboard will be fully integrated with all parts of Xero, bringing together a range of key information, including gross profit, debt and debt to equity ratios, to ‘deliver the metrics that matter’. Business owners can see what’s working and address this themselves or seek help from their accounting advisor.
Angus Norton, Xero chief product officer, says, “Business owners know that time is money, so being able to see key metrics at a glance that show how the business is performing enables smart and informed decisions.”
He says, “This allows businesses to spot issues or concerns early and take action. It also reduces complexity, effort and cost, and takes the hassle out of day-to-day accounting so that your accountant or business advisor can work more effectively with you to providing insight and advice that will enhance overall performance.”
“Xero's focus on automation by design, and our relentless focus on assisting small businesses in unlocking continuous value from their Xero investment, and the data they entrust, means Xero never stops working for small business and we will continue to set the pace for accounting innovation,” Norton adds.
The new Business Performance dashboard will be available in the coming weeks and Xero says it will continue to innovate in this space to provide even more insights for small businesses.
Global Strategic Update
In a global strategic update, Xero CEO Rod Drury says the Xero platform “now provides the most comprehensive small business accounting experience for customers.”
He explains, “In the last year, we have successfully delivered payroll and inventory across all major markets, and we will continue to add value to small businesses, accountants and bookkeepers through continued innovation.
“We are now delighting more than 475,000 customers all over the globe with our innovative and fresh approach to small business accounting - but the opportunity beyond this is massive.”
Making New Zealand the poster child for electronic business
New Zealand has the greatest proportion of small business owners using the cloud, and Drury claims Xero is successfully using New Zealand as a test lab for developing next generation business services.
“Our goal is for New Zealand to be the global poster child for electronic business and Business-to-Government connectivity,” he says.
This update was followed by a keynote titled The Emerging Financial Web, where Drury declared Xero’s intentions to work the major banks to unlock financial services for small business.
“Cloud accounting drives efficiency, collaboration and knowledge,” says Drury. “The Emerging Financial Web will stimulate small business like we have never seen before.”
In a further announcement, Xero and Paymark are teaming up to eliminate paper receipts in New Zealand.
The Paymark EFTPOS network processes more than 75% of all electronic transactions in the New Zealand retail market. Coupled with Xero’s 138,000 New Zealand business customers, the companies are well positioned to eliminate paper receipts to small businesses and consumers.
Xero and Paymark have been working in partnership on mechanisms to allow electronic receipts (eReceipts) to flow directly into accounting software and expect to have the service in market during 2015.
Integration with Microsoft Office 365
Drury also announced the integration of Xero with Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud-based productivity suite. The integration includes a dedicated Xero feed straight through to Office 365, allowing customers to access Xero and Practice Manager data directly from within Microsoft Outlook.
“Business tools today are smarter and more connected than ever, so Xero is continually embracing new opportunities to provide better connectivity for our small business customers,” Drury says. “This integration with Microsoft will extend even further the reach and usability of Xero software and allow us to connect with even more of the market.”
Microsoft New Zealand managing director, Paul Muckleston, welcomed the announcement, saying that the integration is especially good news for Kiwi SMBs.
“New Zealand small businesses are adopting Office 365 faster than any country in the world. With Xero now deeply integrated into the Office 365 experience, customers will experience an even greater boost to productivity in the SMB workplace,” he says.
The integration will be live in the Microsoft Office Store by the end of May 2015.