What is Xerocon? Imagine a multi-day conference attended by a group of leaders in cloud computing from around the world. Organized by Xero, a leading provider of cloud-based accounting solutions, there were presenters speaking on many facets of accounting, introducing revolutionary approaches to being a business innovator, how improved SMB productivity is being driven, and projecting where the accounting industry is heading.

I have recently returned from Xerocon 2016 in San Francisco and wanted to provide an update. In short, Xerocon was inspirational and a conference unlike any other I have attended. The accounting industry is in a period of disruption and more disruption is coming in the very near future.

First, I would like to thank Xero for including me in the Xero Partner Advisory Council. I’m thrilled to be a part of this program for the next two years and look forward to helping to influence the future product roadmap. I’m proud to be associated with such an innovative company especially since Xero is one of the tools that convinced me to change jobs and take the leap back to public accounting.

Here are a few of the many lessons from the week in San Francisco.

  • Amazon Web Services – Xero has spent the past two years solidifying the platform and getting ready for the transition to Amazon Web Services. The conversion is nearly complete and when done the development will go into hyper drive to take advantage of all the benefits.
  • Platforms – By leveraging Amazon Web Services and the cutting edge database design Xero can continue to build out the network. Xero is a platform product that allows many different tools to connect for a significantly improved experience.
  • Machine learning – Machine learning is coming and coming fast. Xero has already done initial testing and can predict the correct general ledger code for a transaction with approximately 90% accuracy (and it gets even better after items are coded once or twice). If you are still coding credit card statements by hand you will be shocked when you see what can be done with technology.
  • Xero Partners – The Xero partners in attendance are a great group. The idea that there could be a full breakout session discussing how accountants can thrive when they see each other as partners rather than competitors was great. In fact, it was easy to see it on display as everyone was willing to share what add-ons work well, which ones don’t, marketing best practices and even website and SEO tips. A great example of the rising tide floats all boats.
  • Millennials – This group is going to continue to impact accounting in a significant way. From office design to firm structure and workflows major changes need to occur. I’m happy we have made some changes but there are many others to consider. I will also admit that I did not fully comprehend the Pokémon craze until walking down Pier 39 at midnight and realizing that the couples walking around the pier were not texting but trying to catch Pokémon.
  • Energy Vampires – In short, if someone is consistently negative and sucking the energy out of you, find a way to extract yourself from the situation. I’m over simplifying this but that point was the key that stuck for me. Energy is limited and wasting it should not be taken lightly.
  • The 5 second rule – Check out the Mel Robbins Ted Talk – How To Stop Screwing Yourself Over https://youtu.be/Lp7E973zozc. The short story is don’t create a pattern of procrastination. If you find yourself deciding not to do something you should be doing (like putting off an unpleasant phone call) count backwards 5,4,3,2,1 and do it. This sounds a bit cheesy but I have tried it since returning and it does work.

Xerocon Supporting photoIt may seem like I did not include much about Xero and that’s true. There were some great demos including significant improvements to reporting and payroll as well as presentations of new enhancements. To Xero’s credit, Xerocon was more about educating and helping the Xero partners and practitioners in developing their practice and skills toolbox.

I highly recommend any accountant or bookkeeper interested in doing things differently sign up to become a Xero partner and certainly attend Xerocon next year. The industry is changing quickly and we all need to keep up.