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Xero grows up with performance dashboard

4th Jun 2015
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A new analytical performance dashboard led the way in a burst of announcements setting out the next phase in New Zealand-based Xero’s strategy to gain the upper hand in the global cloud accounting market.

Since the turn of the year, Xero CEO Rod Drury has talked of the “end of the beginning” for Xero. This motto has been accompanied by a new round of fund-raising that raised another $125m in Feburary and a major recruitment drive at all levels of the organisation.  As a signal for the start of Xero’s next growth phase, Drury announced that the company had reached 500,000 global users at its US Xerocon event in Denver yesterday.

Another of Drury’s catch phrases is “big data for small companies” and on this front Xero chief technology office Craig Walker announced during a product spotlight session that Xero’s Business Performance Dashboard would go live during the coffee break (6:30pm UK time - pictured above).

Now available under Xero’s Reporting menu, the Business Performance option presents a collection of pre-calculated KPI charts and ratios. The mathematical workings and underlying summary totals are embedded within the charts and users can select the most important metrics to include in their main business/client dashboard.

Xero has been talking about its plans in this area for more than a year and Walker explained some of the software engineering that had to be put in place to deliver the dashboard, which included installing a massive analytical database to calculate live figures for all Xero users and a new standardised chart of accounts coding map that makes it possible to normalise the totals for customised charts of accounts within the system.

Xero’s expansion plans may make life harder for add-on developers working on tools such as reporting dashboards and payroll programs, but at least the accounting engine developer has given them plenty of warning.

Richard Francis, CEO of Spotlight Reporting, said he was confident his company could stay “two steps ahead” of Xero when it comes to business intelligence functionality and Colin Hewitt of Float explained that there was still plenty of uncharted territory for his specialist forecasting product.

While making their announcements in Denver, Xero executives acknowledged that the US market was the fourth biggest in their global league table, but having gained 35,000 users in North America US president Russ Fujioka said when tracked from the point at which Xero entered the market, the US growth rate was outstripping the numbers seen in New Zealand, Australia and the UK.

The 750 or so Xero enthusiasts who attended the Denver event reflect the way Xero has appealed to a younger generation of users and small businesses, including a big group of bookkeepers and non-CPAs who have embraced the cloud system to offer consulting and advisory services to their clients.

Reflecting on the challenge Xero faces in taking on QuickBooks in the US market, Xero chief marketing officer Andy Lark explained: “In every market our competitors are very large and very well entrenched. It’s a battle to win hearts and minds of small businesses, accountants and bookkeepers who are disenfranchised by their exist supplier or coming into the market for the first time. That opportunity is enormous.

“They’re not looking at PC magazines to see reviews of accounting software. They pick up their mobile phone and ask, ‘How can I run my business on this?’ We’re trying to patch ourselves into a generational shift. For us, it’s how do you get into that tornado and be part of it?”

One way is to align your product to market’s pace-setting technology platform and operating system. With the Xero management team easy to spot by their branded T-shirts and prominent Apple Watches, Xero also announced a strategic alliance with Apple that would see it prioritise iPhones and iPads as part of a “mobile­first” strategy for its business applications.

Drury called the Apple relationship a “pretty nuts” endorsement for Xero, particularly in the US. “How you going to get know us? We ticked that box,” he said.

The alliance also marks another significant generational shift for accounting technology, which for the past 30 years has been dominated by PCs.


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By FirstTab
04th Jun 2015 11:45

Good for Xero. What matters to me are issues at micro as a mere small practitioner. 

How do things stand with Xero final accounts? The last XeroCon I attended the words used were" We know that is what you want. We are on track for September 2014 release."

I did not get an email from Xero explaining why things were not on track anymore. I do get emails about how well Xero is doing.


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