XEROCON - San Francisco Aug 15-17
Tuesday, August 16
Track Session – Ecosystem
Ask James Maiocco about the continual plight of today’s small accounting practices to expand and build their businesses, and his answer is honest. With the bountiful options and integrations available today, it can be a challenge to decide which one works the best. How do you find the right solution for your small business? Which one of the CR solutions work best with Xero? Which accountant has experience with this particular solution?
And the questions go on…
The premise is simple: For accounting software to be successful, it needs an ecosystem of partners around it. Accountants. Bookkeepers. Trainers. Coaches and IT support, just to name a few. As Maiocco, General Manager of business and corporate development (US/UK) at Xero, will tell you, seeing an ecosystem develop around any solution is a key indicator that it’s working.
“We have a marketplace that people can look through to see all the options that are available, but candidly, small businesses don't have the time to research 30 different options,” Maiocco
says. “Maybe they want to evaluate five to seven different solutions. A lot of small businesses or accountants don't have that time. They want to say they’re certified in Xero, so when a small business owner comes to them and says he’s starting a retail business, he can turn to somebody and ask if there are two or three things he can recommend.”
Because Xero is investing heavily in maintaining an open ecosystem, it has not only become a key competitive advantage for today’s accounting professionals, but also for its 500-plus integration partners. To help accountant professionals get the lay of the land, 50 add-on providers will be exhibiting at this year’s XEROCON, Aug. 15-17, at the Pier 27 Cruise Terminal in San Francisco.
“It's going to be a fantastic opportunity for accountants and bookkeepers to attend XEROCON and meet many of the business owners and/or executives of these companies,” Maiocco says. “There'll be people there from Shopify, TSheets, Receipt Bank. They’ll be able to sit down and actually have a conversation with them. Meet people face-to-face. I think it goes a long way.”
To help reinforce its commitment to integration, Xero is continually looking for ways to help accounting professionals move their businesses to the next level. With a strong uptick in the number of businesses using apps in Xero’s ecosystem, the world-leader in cloud accounting software has unveiled the App Marketplace, which provides a one-stop-shop for cloud apps that connect small businesses and the tens of thousands of app developers globally.
“We will continue to support an open API ecosystem. Our goal is to encourage innovative, thoughtful companies to build on our APIs.” – James Maiocco, GM, of Business & Corporate Development (US/UK), Xero
More than a quarter of Xero’s 717,000 customers now use one or more of the 500 apps available in the new ecosystem. With the App Marketplace, it will be easier for small businesses to find the right app for their business requirements and industry.
Xero’s research shows that by adding just one of the right technology tools, accounting professionals can significantly impact their business’ annual net profit. “We wanted to focus on solutions that are most heavily used,” Maiocco says. “We will continue to support an open API ecosystem. Our goal is to encourage innovative, thoughtful companies to build on our APIs.”
Finding What You Need to Grow
“Being part of Xero’s App Marketplace means our customers can have a complete picture of their business, from prospect communication, to invoicing, all from one business platform.” – Anthony Smith, CEO of Insightly
Xero’s open app ecosystem gives small businesses and their advisors the opportunity to select the technology that best suits their unique needs and requirements as they grow, instead of locking them into a “one size fits all” approach. Small businesses can search by industry or app function to find the tools they need and see what they didn’t even know existed.
Maiocco says accounting professionals are not the only ones who will reap the benefits of the App Marketplace’s open platform. Xero’s ecosystem partners will find a competitive edge as well.
“Being part of Xero’s App Marketplace means our customers can have a complete picture of their business, from prospect communication, to invoicing, all from one business platform,” says Anthony Smith, CEO of Insightly. “With data flowing seamlessly between the two tools, they no longer have to waste valuable time using multiple software tools to run their business, while improving relationships with their clients at the same time.”
Brennan Loh, Shopify’s, Director of Business Development, says the App Marketplace helps both companies give businesses a resource to help run their companies more efficiently. “By being a part of Xero’s App Marketplace, we are providing our merchants extra support for their back office activities,” Loh says. “The app enables real-time visibility into a store's sales and finances, making bookkeeping more seamless and efficient."
One of the major benefits of Xerocon is to be able to meet Xero’s ecosystem partners. “As an accountant, it's about trust,” Maiocco says. “Until you meet these ecosystem partners, many times, you may or may not have a degree of confidence in them until you've got a chance to see and talk to them, and get a quick glance at the solution and learn a little bit more. That’s when you get plugged into whatever education or certification they have for their solutions.”
The competitive advantage of Xerocon is that it caters to firms that want to be robust, and want to grow healthy and strong. “You have to remember that the vast majority of small businesses in the United States don't use an accountant and bookkeeper,” Maiocco says. “If you want to win business and you want to grow, you have to speak to your audience based on what the audience wants to hear. I just can't emphasize that enough. Accountants don't want to hear from somebody who's talking about a different profession. They want to hear from other accountants.”
Inside the App Marketplace
Here are some of the features that help Xero’s App Marketplace gives small businesses and their advisors the opportunity to select the technology that best suits them:
- Reporting tools are the most popular app category in Xero’s ecosystem. Apps like Crunchboards, Spotlight Reporting and Fathom turn Xero data into real-time business intelligence, for budgeting, forecasting and benchmarking.
- Expense management apps follow as the second most popular category. Tools like Receipt Bank pull the data from receipts and bills and feed it into Xero.
- Time Tracking tools like Deputy and TSheets, as well as project management apps like WorkflowMax have the ability to add efficiency across operations. In a June 2015 customer satisfaction survey by WorkflowMax, the app was found to save each customer and average of 628 hours of time per year.
- Xero’s ecosystem also offers industry specific tools across many popular vertical segments. For example, a retailer coming to the site can surface integrations like Vend, Shopify, Paypal and BigCommerce to streamline their retail operations.
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