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Reflections on Xerocon 2016

11th Feb 2016
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If an alien stumbled across Battersea Park during Xerocon 2016, they could’ve easily been led to believe that they had stumbled across a religious festival.

The Xero leadership, all wearing matching Xero t-shirts, took the stage (or altar) passionately spreading the cloud gospel, a kind of incantation. It resembled the megachurches of the American Mid-West.

I’ve mentioned this before: From an organisational perspective, the event was sublime. As you would expect from Xero, their brand identity was all consuming. Xerocon 2016 was a cohesive, tangible whole. 

Ducking under the Silicon Valley-esque enthusiasm, though, and you begin to see a company entering its adolescence. The company always laid claim to the little guy mantel, but their grasp on that title has become more and more tenuous as the business has grown. That’s not an indictment of Xero, its growth agenda has been a resounding success.

But there does seem to be a bit of crucible approaching. Partnerships with the likes of Apple, Microsoft and KPMG mean that Xero has very much started to claim its place at the big boy table.

What does this mean for Xero’s traditional heartland? According to Gary Turner, Xero is now allowing the big guys to tap into the small business market - as well as allowing small businesses and practices to scale up. To paraphrase Turner, Xero is lowering the ceiling and raising the floor. 

Whatever way it goes, it’s bound to be a fascinating time for Xero and its users as the company emerges from its shell. Speaking to Catherine Walker, Xero’s community manager (known frequently by her social media handle Orange Girl), you actually realise what an insane growth story Xero has been. Founded at her kitchen table, Walker re-mortgaged her house to help fund the cloud accounting enterprise.

In a way, that start-up spirit is whatmade Xero such a success. Now all that’s left to see is if Xero can maintain that spirit. 

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Locutus of Borg
By Locutus
11th Feb 2016 10:00

Was anything actually announced at this £325 jolly?
New software innovations, perhaps?

They are obviously trying to emulate Apple, but Apple at least announce the latest iPhone, iPad, iWatch, iOS or iWhatever at AppleCon and other key events.

The irony is also not lost on me of asking "the little guys" to pay for a marketing event, just to tell them that they are now partnering with the "the big guys" (Apple, Microsoft, KPMG).

I use Xero and like it, but wouldn't go as far as to say I love it. I fear the company is following in the path of Sage, where the majority of what users pay doesn't go into product development, but into marketing.

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By chatman
11th Feb 2016 10:16

Companies run by the marketing department

Locutus wrote:
I fear the company is following in the path of Sage, where the majority of what users pay doesn't go into product development, but into marketing.

Or Digita, which appears to be run by the marketing people.

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By petersaxton
11th Feb 2016 10:53

Software

chatman wrote:

Locutus wrote:
I fear the company is following in the path of Sage, where the majority of what users pay doesn't go into product development, but into marketing.

Or Digita, which appears to be run by the marketing people.

Digita is focused on the software. That's why it's so good and the users are so happy with the products.

 

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By chatman
11th Feb 2016 12:21

Victimisation

petersaxton wrote:

chatman wrote:

Locutus wrote:
I fear the company is following in the path of Sage, where the majority of what users pay doesn't go into product development, but into marketing.

Or Digita, which appears to be run by the marketing people.

Digita is focused on the software. That's why it's so good and the users are so happy with the products.

 

The bastards must have had it in for me when I was with them!

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By petersaxton
11th Feb 2016 13:07

You are right

chatman wrote:

petersaxton wrote:

chatman wrote:

Locutus wrote:
I fear the company is following in the path of Sage, where the majority of what users pay doesn't go into product development, but into marketing.

Or Digita, which appears to be run by the marketing people.

Digita is focused on the software. That's why it's so good and the users are so happy with the products.

 

The bastards must have had it in for me when I was with them!

Check under your car every time you leave the house.

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Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
11th Feb 2016 10:31

Oh dear

What a complete and utter load of marketing shite[***].

Is this supposed to make me question why I didn't go?!

It reinforces the fact I made the correct decision not to go.

I'm an accountant for fecks sake not a groupie!!!

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By thomas34
12th Feb 2016 15:36

You mean

Kent accountant wrote:

What a complete and utter load of marketing shite[***].

Is this supposed to make me question why I didn't go?!

It reinforces the fact I made the correct decision not to go.

I'm an accountant for fecks sake not a groupie!!!

you actually thought about going?

Personally I'm gutted that I missed it because it clashed with my weekly Lidl shopping.

 

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By petersaxton
11th Feb 2016 10:53

Cramped

"To paraphrase Turner, Xero is lowering the ceiling and raising the floor."

Sounds a bit cramped to me.

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Francois
By Francois Badenhorst
11th Feb 2016 11:06

Easy now, chaps. This is a blog.

There will be some articles, news articles. 

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Glenn Martin
By Glenn Martin
11th Feb 2016 12:42

@Francois

Did anything of note happen at the conference or did you not get passed the tea and scones?

Apart from meeting a South African and some Xero bod from New Zealand in the lift, there doesnt seem to be much crack from the 3 day event.

Who one the awards? What new product features are on their way, CIS ? Final Accounts this is what people want to hear about. Where KPMG there to discuss how they were getting on with their "partnership" as I would keen to hear the details of that.

So far I am pleased I didnt spend the rio it would cost me to attend as it sounds like very little went on, apart from the bomb shell that Xero staff wear Xero T shirts.

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Francois
By Francois Badenhorst
11th Feb 2016 14:44

There is news

And we've covered some of it already. And more too follow.These blogs were just my personal impressions as Francois, the human being who experiences reality and thinks about things. It's not AccountingWEB's editorial opinion. I'm a member of the community, and I like to blog on here every now and then. The blog isn't meant for breaking news.

I spoke to Gary Turner about the KPMG partnership, JS is working on a piece as well, and we'll be be surveying the vendors that caught our eye. There were no awards this year! 

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Stewie
By Stewie Griffin
11th Feb 2016 17:32

The award winners

Francois Badenhorst wrote:

There were no awards this year! 

Sorry Francois, but there were awards

https://www.xero.com/blog/2016/02/xerocon-london-awards-2016/

 

 

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Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
11th Feb 2016 22:02

Pay attention

Stewie Griffin wrote:

Francois Badenhorst wrote:

There were no awards this year! 

Sorry Francois, but there were awards

https://www.xero.com/blog/2016/02/xerocon-london-awards-2016/

 

Come on Francois pay attention!

:o)

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By cheekychappy
12th Feb 2016 09:29

Script

Kent accountant wrote:

Stewie Griffin wrote:

Francois Badenhorst wrote:

There were no awards this year! 

Sorry Francois, but there were awards

https://www.xero.com/blog/2016/02/xerocon-london-awards-2016/

 

Come on Francois pay attention!

:o)

 

You don't honestly believe Francois went to Xerocon do you? I just thought all these Xero posts had been drafted by Gary Turner for Francois to publish.

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Img
By MissAccounting
11th Feb 2016 12:46

So its basically a cult gathering that wears t-shirts? Talk about under dressing for such a prestigious event!

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By petersaxton
11th Feb 2016 13:12

Happy clappy and awards

What more could you want to miss!?

I'm going to the Digita conference this year - two days at a hotel in the Midlands. There may be an introduction and guest speaker but the rest of it is heavy duty learning about the software and one to one meetings if you require them.

I've been with Digita for over eleven years and I still find a lot of use from attending Digita events. It's even more useful for people like FirstTab who has just started with Digita.

Maybe chatman should give it a miss else we'll never see him again.

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Glenn Martin
By Glenn Martin
11th Feb 2016 16:53

No Awards?

I thought that was part of the 3 day event and was why a lot of people were objecting to having to pay for it, if they went or not.

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By Henry Tapper
12th Feb 2016 10:51

Francois in person

I went to the Xero Party and had a good boogie. I saw Francois there and I remember shaking his hand. He was not virtual!

My main memory of the conference was spending a lot of time in Battersea Park getting lost. There were a lot of people at the event who seemed very enthusiastic.

i went to a very similar event in Shepton Mallett once, run by Billy Graham

 

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Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
12th Feb 2016 11:03

I see where this is going...

henrytapper wrote:

I went to the Xero Party and had a good boogie. I saw Francois there and I remember shaking his hand. He was not virtual!

My main memory of the conference was spending a lot of time in Battersea Park getting lost. There were a lot of people at the event who seemed very enthusiastic.

i went to a very similar event in Shepton Mallett once, run by Billy Graham

 

 

Xerocon - Accountants on speed (aka 'enthusiastic') - Billy Graham - cult following - Jim Jones - Kool Aid..

...don't drink it!!!

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Red Leader
By Red Leader
12th Feb 2016 12:24

stop it!

Kent accountant wrote:

henrytapper wrote:

I went to the Xero Party and had a good boogie. I saw Francois there and I remember shaking his hand. He was not virtual!

My main memory of the conference was spending a lot of time in Battersea Park getting lost. There were a lot of people at the event who seemed very enthusiastic.

i went to a very similar event in Shepton Mallett once, run by Billy Graham

Xerocon - Accountants on speed (aka 'enthusiastic') - Billy Graham - cult following - Jim Jones - Kool Aid..

...don't drink it!!!

You're scaring me now.

P.S. Did I win an award in the end?

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Locutus of Borg
By Locutus
12th Feb 2016 14:40

The worst thing isn't even the £325
... It's the thought of spending three whole days of your valuable time with a group of brainwashed happy-clappers.

In spite of 3 days of "CPD" you would realise at the end, you didn't actually learn anything other than "Xero is really cool".

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Stephen Quay
By squay
12th Feb 2016 16:54

More like £500 and counting

Locutus wrote:
... It's the thought of spending three whole days of your valuable time with a group of brainwashed happy-clappers. In spite of 3 days of "CPD" you would realise at the end, you didn't actually learn anything other than "Xero is really cool".

More like £500 or so when you add on hotel accommodation and meals as its a 200 mile round trip for me. I went to the first Xerocon which was only one day. It was ok but didn't really learn much. Now its 2 (or 3 days)  - don't really care. Just so glad to get through the mad season and still going strong. Why would I want to pay out hard earned cash and lose days of valuable earning time as well?

On the other hand, and much better value, looking forward to Accountex again in May. Will see Xero and loads of other suppliers, attend interesting seminars and all for free. Except the accommodation.

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Locutus of Borg
By Locutus
12th Feb 2016 23:32

You're quite right squay

squay wrote:

Locutus wrote:
... It's the thought of spending three whole days of your valuable time with a group of brainwashed happy-clappers. In spite of 3 days of "CPD" you would realise at the end, you didn't actually learn anything other than "Xero is really cool".

More like £500 or so when you add on hotel accommodation and meals as its a 200 mile round trip for me. I went to the first Xerocon which was only one day. It was ok but didn't really learn much. Now its 2 (or 3 days)  - don't really care. Just so glad to get through the mad season and still going strong. Why would I want to pay out hard earned cash and lose days of valuable earning time as well?

On the other hand, and much better value, looking forward to Accountex again in May. Will see Xero and loads of other suppliers, attend interesting seminars and all for free. Except the accommodation.

I live in London, so sometimes forget other people have to think about accommodation. I also went to a London XeroCon in September 2013 - possibly the same one as you. It was for one day, cost something like £150 and the awards ceremony at the end was available to whoever wanted to pay extra (not me, thanks).

It felt a bit like a marketing day even back then, but since it was only a day you could kind of accept it. You learnt a bit about how other accountants successfully used Xero and learned of Xero's plans to produce a final accounts system (nothing heard of that since).

Now XeroCon has morphed into some crazy marketing cult. I wouldn't be surprised if XeroCon 2017 becomes a 2 week event held at a secluded commune in California.

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Glenn Martin
By Glenn Martin
12th Feb 2016 15:27

@Henrytapper

Is Francois better at dancing than he is journalisim.

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By petersaxton
13th Feb 2016 04:25

Be careful

" I wouldn't be surprised if XeroCon 2017 becomes a 2 week event held at a secluded commune in California."

and attendees are never seen again!

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By Moonbeam
14th Feb 2016 08:52

I think larger Xero Customers will need a bit more precision

The idea that Xero thinks it is ready to take over the larger company market that Sage Line 50 inhabits is laughable.

A particular Xero irritation of mine is the report for sales/purchase invoices where credit notes are added to invoices. Apparently it's on their to do list. No, it's not beautiful when they don't know their debits from their credits.

And another irritation is having to change the formatting when exporting to Excel. I don't think either problem would be too difficult for them to solve.

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By chatman
14th Feb 2016 09:58

Xero Excel Formatting

Moonbeam wrote:
another irritation is having to change the formatting when exporting to Excel. I don't think either problem would be too difficult for them to solve.

Yeah, that really irritates me too. How many competent Excel users merge cells and set random columns to italics?

I really like Xero, and this isn't a deal breaker for me, but Moonbeam is right; how difficult would it be to correct it?

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By Henry Tapper
15th Feb 2016 18:32

Why I've stopped going to pension websites

Although I work for the delightful First Actuarial, I have stopped going to Pension websites - they are so dull. This thread restores my faith in professional services firms. 

In defence of Xero, I learned a lot in the very short time I wasn't lost in Battersea children's zoo or dancing at the Xero party. 

If pensions had a Xero, and we don't, we'd be the better for it!

You lot don't know how lucky you are to have Xero - Kool aid tee-shirts and all. Without them Sage and others would become the bloated monsters our fund managers and insurers have become.

Be thankful you can talk like you do on this thread and haven't become institutionalised like the pension "industry" !

 

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Chris M
By mr. mischief
16th Feb 2016 09:55

Real Xero news would be that they have a P60 that actually works!  Heck it is February and Xero payroll still does not have this, and believe me that is just scratching the surface of their woeful payroll offering.

Until proven otherwise, my message to clients who have asked about Xero - 4 so far - has been simply this:

"All hype and no trousers, forget it!"

Take on Sage, you're 'avin' a laugh!

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By hje
16th Feb 2016 15:23

Heh

 

 

Retch!

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By petersaxton
16th Feb 2016 15:31

Too busy

Xero seem to be too busy telling everybody how good they are so they dont have time to improve their software even when it has glaring problems. If they changed their focus they may get somewhere.

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By Sheepy306
16th Feb 2016 16:07

The problem with working on the company, rather than in it?

Whilst Xero have always been happy to bash Sage and the likes on their way up the ladder(although they don't always specifically name Sage), the reality is that actually they want to be Sage, which would be entirely understandable, Sage were the default product for years and are profitable, Xero is not.

The unfortunate thing is, Xero appear to have adopted the arrogance and over-priced philosophy of Sage. Full-on, in your face marketing but meanwhile not addressing the concerns of their customers, or their agents who Xero rely upon to push their product.

Along with everyone else it seems, I'm still waiting to hear about anything interesting that was announced at Xerocon.

@henrytapper - but Xero want to become that bloated monster you mention, there's plenty of other cloud accounting software companies out there, a lack of competition isn't the issue. What exactly did you learn at Xerocon? I'd be interested to know.

Xero has the potential to be great, I just hope they re-focus (as Peter mentions) and stop banging their own drums.

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