Xerocon 2023 has been and gone and now and now it's time for our team to let you know a little about what they learned for you!
Well, another year, another Xerocon in the books! Of course, Illumin8 was present and ready for action last week when Justine, Andrew, Rogo, (Andrew R), Shane and Jason all boarded the big bird to head to the harbour city to learn, grow, network and most importantly, bring back plenty of thoughts and info for you!
So, the team have been tapped on the shoulder by the marketing guy who has extracted a bit of knowledge from each to share about some new tech, processes or news for you to read about so let’s dive into it, person by person, starting with the Xerocon debutant Justine.
Go grab a cuppa...or a beer...because it’s a longer one, but a valuable one! Check the bottom of the post for a too long didn’t read summary if you’re in a rush.
New Next Minute App
For the residential construction tradies out there, this one is for you! We spoke to the team from Next Minute who showed us the ins and outs of their job management software and how you can keep on top of all your jobs, from the palm of your hand. Handy! (pun intended).
The software is designed for those in construction with between 1-50 staff and is specifically designed for project-based jobs. It gives you capability to plan jobs, assign team members, allocate costs from Xero directly to jobs, include timesheets against jobs and much more. You can also attach photos and files to your quotes and invoices to send to clients.
They even have two-way invoice syncing integration, which means...you can create your invoices in Next Minute and push them through to Xero and when they’re paid in Xero, it’ll sync back to Next Minute and allocate those payments against the invoices, meaning less double handling for you!
Dext have a LOT of upcoming updates and improvements on the way, some that we know you will be very happy about.
Some of those improvements include an update to transaction line detail, an inbuilt calculator and the utilisation of AI. How exactly? Well, AI cameras! No more blurry photos, simply tap on a document to capture and it’ll be focused every time. They’ll also be introducing Virtual Cards very soon, allowing staff to use company cards without using a physical card for each employee, absolutely love to see it.
Deeper Stripe Integration
Xero announced a deeper integration with Stripe allowing easier online payments management within Xero. Xero has used Stripe to enable credit and debit card payments on invoices for half a decade, but coming later this year, small business owners will be able to see key information about a Stripe transaction directly in Xero instead of digging around in Stripe, be able to issue refunds directly from Xero, and more.
If you have ever had to help a customer find out more information about a payment they made to you, this will be super handy!
Servicem8 Tap To Pay
Servicem8, an app that helps tradies manage their jobs, staff, invoices and more, announced a handy addition to their mobile app. Historically, if you wanted to take payment on the jobsite, you would need to whip out your phone then scan your customers credit card using your phone’s camera, or carry around a Square reader (which you need to remember to charge) to enable your customers to tap and pay.
With Servicem8’s new Tap to Pay on iPhone feature, you can accept in-person, contactless payments, right on your iPhone, without the need for a separate card reader. This will be an absolute ripper for those who need to take a prepayment to start work, so you are not leaving your customers standing around while you type in a credit card on your phone.
Xero Small Business Insights (XSBI)
I love a good graph, and I only became aware at this year’s Xerocon that Xero has been producing reports from anonymised data showing the improvements and declines in the performance of the small business economy since 2017.
The four key indicators they measured, and conclusions for June 2023 were:
- Sales – sales have slowed but are still around long-term average.
- Time To Be Paid – payment terms were impacted by year-end but on average, it takes 23.0 days to get paid, and late payments are up at 6.8 days.
- Jobs – jobs growth dipped below average.
- Wages – wage pressures have eased, somewhat.
Check out the index here and fall down the rabbit hole like I did comparing AU, NZ, UK, USA and CAN.
Xero Beautiful Business Fund
Announced last month but lost in my inbox, Xero announced a NZ $750,000 fund to support Xero small business customers in four key categories:
- Innovating for sustainability - For your small business clients who want to take the next step on their sustainability journey.
- Strengthening community connection - For your small business clients or non-profits who strive to give back to their communities.
- Trailblazing with technology - For your small business clients seeking to innovate and set pace with technological advancements.
- Upskilling for the future - For your small business clients seeking to support upskilling for themselves or their employees.
This is a global fund but in Australia, each category finalist will receive AUD$20,000. The finalised will then go into the global pool, with the winner of each global category receiving AUD$50,000.
More information here.
Application close 6 October 2023.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) Opportunities & Challenges For Small Business
One of the key topics of conversation around Xerocon was AI and its impact on small businesses both indirectly and directly.
Indirectly, it is already in use by Xero and most of the Apps on show and therefore, you are more than likely using it without knowing.
Directly, some of the key learnings were:
- AI should be used to streamline time-consuming manual processing.
- AI can be used to deliver the right insights at the right time.
- There is an AI adoption gap in small businesses.
- Too much trust can lead to privacy issues.
- Small businesses want regulation and education.
- Most small businesses are concerned for the next 12 months.
One of my key takeaway lines around AI was – AI is trained to sound like a human, not always to be right. It has the power to augment human intelligence, not replace it.
Jason was tempted to get ChatGPT to write this bit, but we promise it was a human...
Xero and American Express Team Up
As a bookkeeper, it didn’t take me long to be out of my seat and fist pumping the air on Day 1 of Xerocon. It’s no secret that American Express’s (Amex) Xero Bank Feed has had a shocker in the last few weeks.
Constant bank feed dropouts within Xero have led to more than a few exasperated emails and calls from myself to my clients. Well, you can put the phone on silent and turn off the computer because Xero and Amex announced a new partnership which will see direct bank feeds take the place of unreliable third-party feeds.
In short, this will mean greater speed, accuracy and stability of your financial info coming into Xero. It’s a small change that will make a big difference. No more flying blind and smashing that refresh button!
The New CEOs
You’ve heard of food for thought, and Xerocon was a feast. Day 1 also saw us treated to an excellent keynote speech from former VP of Nike Lisa MacCallum.
Lisa emphasised that whether your business has a literal CEO or not, everyone needs to be aware that “the new CEOs”- Customers, Employees and Outsiders – are the ones holding the power now. They are the ones who can make or break your business or brand in the public eye.
However, this wasn’t merely about cancel culture. Lisa shared some fantastic examples of companies who’d gone above and beyond to deliver something more than a product to the world, and how these new CEOs responded in kind by elevating their business to the next level.
People are looking for brands to champion, they want to be involved beyond the transaction. Those that nurture these relationships will reap the rewards.
Hmm, my thoughts from Xerocon, there are many but ones that are harder to articulate into a few paragraphs. A lot of what I found great was related to our team.
Seeing them dive in, chat, network and learn about new tech for you our clients was super. It’s exactly what Xerocon is for and gives them the chance to bring back to you some options for your small business to continue to help you thrive.
One thing did stand out to me though. The Xero CEO had a killer quote! All the intensity, none of the perspective.
How can we ensure we are directing our intensity to areas where we have perspective – where our actions will uplift and empower others and ensure a positive push towards whatever the goal is in mind, for us and our clients.
For me personally, that’s always been a challenge – focusing my passion where I can truly help, as opposed to blasting it everywhere and hoping something maybe sticks along the way.
As I continue to move to a more focused approach to life, I’ll be keeping this thought in the back pocket.
So there it is, a huuuge summary of what the team learned during their time in Sydney. It was a super week together and while Xerocon won’t be returning to Sydney for a few years, we look forward to getting back there when it does.
Justine was able to suss out Next Minute, an app that helps streamline jobs for tradies, while Dext is have a lot of new improvements on the way, including better camera functionality for snapping receipts.
Stripe will have deeper integration with Xero later this year, enabling you to gain more info about your transactions, while Servicem8 are making card payments even easier, enabling phone to phone transactions to get started on jobs quicker.
There are a few funds that Xero are rolling out also (see above for more details) as well as small businesses pushing into AI and it’s impact on you directly and indirectly.
Xero have teamed up with American Express, which should see those bank feed dropouts alleviated (hallelujah), while former Nike VP Lisa McCallum spoke about the “new CEO’s” for businesses, and how going that little extra for your customers can pay off big in the long run.
Andrew mulled a ton on his own team at illumin8 and was super stoked at seeing how much they got out of the conference to take back to our clients, while also being challenged on his perspective on things by a quote from the Xero CEO’s presentation.