What’s this blog all about? = my first time attendee’s review of Xerocon 2014. Held at the Viaduct Events centre in the Wynyard Quarter of the Auckland waterfront on February 20th and 21st. A conference for Xero’s customers and add-on partners.

My key takeaway from Xerocon = Xero have embodied the basic entrepreneurial premiss that “people don’t bye what you do, they buy why you do it“. The feeling I got from the delegates was they are almost a cult like following – not unlike Apple’s early adopters some years back – Xero in their eyes have revolutionised their lives and as such can do no wrong. As an old technologist I found it fascinating, awesome – we should all aspire to engender the same devotion from our customer base.

2014-02-20 11.34.23First up an unexpectedly great networking opportunity = the sea fog conspired to keep those of us living in Wellington grounded missing Day 1 so while we waited for it to lift the Koru lounge was a buzz of both who’s who in Wellington IT alongside accountants and book keepers. Sadly the fog didn’t lift until the afternoon so some attendees drove up (8-9 hours it’s a fair hike) and others just waited in the airport for the fog to lift and others, like me, went to work and rebooked for 7am the following morning.

Once I arrived and checked in, got my bag, t-shirt and other goodies I attended 3 sessions:

  • Amanda Armstrong, GM NZ Xero Keynote Day 2 = The title of this Keynote was Strategic Update. The theme was describing the opportunity for Xero (and therefore the accounting firms in the audience) in our local and in a global market context.
    • Astounding fact #1 only 16% of NZ businesses have moved to cloud based IT, worse still only 14% of Australian businesses
    • Globally 72% of 18-34 year old business owners would change accountants if their accountant wasn’t offering a cloud based service
    • Talking to the ageing profile of owner/operator accounting firms – you need to shift to the cloud to make it easier to sell your businesses and for succession planning
    • New to Xero in 2014 – Xero Farming (big push and major theme of the event); Enhanced Inventory tracking; Fixed Asset enhancements; Reporting to be customised “anyone in the firm can customise reports to client level”; New NZ MD for Xero.
    • Key words – Amanda used these three phrases a great deal: Disruption, Cloud Strategy and Succession Plans.
  • Tony Keusgen, Country Manager, Google NZ Keynote 2 = The title of this Keynote was Google and You. The theme was collaboration and innovation (using Google stuff). Tony is a great speaker.
    • Astounding fact #2 90% of us (in NZ/Aus) switch between 3 devices to complete a task.
    • Astounding fact #3 85% of us (in NZ/Aus) dual device all the time. His example drew our attention to how frequently we will sit in front of the TV with our laptops and phones to interact with as well.
    • Google embodies the adage that “Resourcefulness matters more than Resources”.
    • Google’s secret sauce is Collaboration.
    • We then had a demo – Tony admitted 5-6 people worked on his presentation so took us through the interactive collaboration Google offers using docs, mail, hangouts etc
    • Keywords – Nimble, Collaboration, Innovation.
  • Dr Michael Fraser, Director Technical Services, NZICA = Development of a special purpose financial reporting framework. Intense and for accountants on the changes to the NZ Financial Reporting Framework.

For the rest of the day I networked – you an read who I met amongst the exhibitors in my previous blog posts here, and specifically fabulous advice on developing a product from the Add-On developers here.

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The Highs:

  • Xerocon was a slick show, well run (if you have been to a wedding or party I have been involved in organising you know how passionate I am about event management), well executed, loads of helpful Xero branded staff, fabulous Gluten free food – which they made especially after someone stole my lunch pack!
  • I met one of my Twitter Followers – well she found me – which was absolutely awesome! @trudy_price
  • ASB gave us the most awesome conference gift – a single use charger, already charged so I used it immediately! very cool.
  • Xero’s sponsorship and incubation of both Hamish Carter – who they have graduated to use his transferable skills elsewhere – and now Lisa Carrington. Xero’s vision here is providing these high achieving sports stars with opportunities to develop business skills enabling them to have a career post sporting retirement.

The Lows:

  • Wasn’t much there for business owners or add-on developers – it was totally geared at Accountants and converting Accountants to the Xero cult (but I made the most of it via networking).
    • Low low tech speak which in this day and age is disappointing but perhaps that was a reflection of the techno phobic croud?
  • Petra Bagust the Master of Ceremonies – OMG she was painful, ill informed and took up far too much time.  I could list loads of examples but that would take too long, here is one:
    • after the Google Country Manager finished his speech she came onto the stage and talked for fully 5 minutes about how her home is a total Apple Household – he had a fabulous comeback about making a mapping app that works – but she carried on, whether she had no idea or just thought it was funny? painful.

Would I go again? Definitely if we have built an app, or launched a book keeping business, otherwise – not really for me, others might enjoy more thought. Happy sharing, Vic.