Five Takeaways from Xerocon San Francisco

I just came back from Xerocon 2016, held in San Francisco this past week. Xerocon was focused on the future ahead in accounting and how we work together both internally and externally.  Xerocon was a whirlwind of learning and networking and I wanted to share a few of my takeaways from this past week.   

#1: The Future of Accounting Technology looks bright.

Rod Drury, CEO of Xero, shared some insights on where technology is going and how that will impact the accounting industry and how we do business.  Rod shared a few key items during his keynote address.  The first is how accounting is moving on from the cloud to machine learning and AI and how Xero is at the forefront of this.  Xero is working on being able to automatically record, classify, and reconcile about 90% of the transactions that come through bank feeds through crowd sourced machine learning and remove the need for chart of accounts for the non accountant user. Rod also demonstrated a Facebook bot that you can use to ask what your balances are, who owes you money and interact directly with your accounting records through Facebook Messenger. With the utilization of artificial intelligence and machine learning, Xero can implement high integrity accounting that self audits itself and removes common human errors.

#2: Anticipation is the key to staying ahead.

On the heels of Rod Drury’s talk, Tom Hood from the Maryland CPA Society shared how accountants and businesses need to be anticipatory by being aware, predictive, and adaptive to the changing economic landscape. As Tom noted, companies that are not anticipatory tend to have overwhelmed employees and reactive services.  Especially considering Rod’s talk, it is ever more important to be anticipatory and proactive in this economy.

#3: Collaborating With Your “Competitors” Is Crucial

I have written on this subject in the past, but Jason Blumer gave a great talk regarding collaborating and learning from your competitors.  Jason is the CEO of Thriveal, a group of CPA firms that collaborate and learn from each other. Jason spoke of “competitors” needing to form communities where they can be shaped by each other and learn from each other.  Too often, it is easy for companies in any industry to keep their cards close to their chests when talking with competitors, however, we do our best work and learn the best when we can be formed and shaped by those in our same line of work.

#4: The ways we organize our companies is detrimental to our success

Amy Vetter spoke about how traditional accounting firm structure is an inhibitor to growth, especially with millennials dominating the job market.  I would take this a step further and state that for all companies, the way your company is traditionally internally organized is a problem that most companies do not think about. I believe the pyramid model top down approach is what is causing the succession planning issues and reactive stances to technology and pricing and is the ultimate inhibitor for most professional services organizations and their future growth.

#5: Xero Add-Ons have stepped up their game

There were many Xero add-on vendors showcasing their software at the event.  Our firm is already huge fans of Gusto, Rerun, Fundbox, and Expensify, but there were two other add-ons that caught our eye at Xerocon: TSheets & Crunchboards.

TSheets is a time tracking software that is great for tracking time for hourly employees and managing the compliance work that comes with that.  TSheets recently announced their integration with Xero and are doing alot of outreach efforts when it comes to the new FLSA overtime regulations coming into play on December 1, 2016.  We are happy to announce that we are a TSheets Pro Advisor and are excited about the work they are doing.

Crunchboards is a financial projection/KPI/Consolidation software that brings robust reporting and financial analysis by integrating with Xero.  You can create financial projections, budgeting, three way forecasting, KPIs, dashboards and data visualizations to help better manage your businesses.  We are excited to start rolling out this option to our clients and prospects as we believe this will help them better understand what is going on in their businesses and how it can help them.

Xerocon San Francisco was a great experience and I am excited to see where the accounting industry and technology are going in the future.