This past December I had the pleasure of attending #Xerocon17 – Xero’s fourth annual accounting innovation conference. The event was held in Austin, and as luck would have it, a rare Texas snowstorm decided to join the party. Needless to say, it was freezing – so much so that the event was given the nickname “Blanketcon” due to the hundreds of blankets that had to be shipped in for attendees to wear throughout the day. While the unusual weather certainly made for a few challenges for everyone, it only added to the unique culture that has been building around Xero’s annual conference. Here’s why:
Xerocon is exactly the type of conference that the accounting profession needs. There are tons of other accounting events hosted in traditional hotel conference centers where you can get your continuing professional education hours. They’re safe, they’re predictable, and they’re often quite good to attend. But what our profession also desperately needs is innovation and a sense of community. To me, that means taking risks and doing things differently which has been Xero’s approach from day one. Where else are you going to have a conversation about the future of AI in accounting while huddled under a blanket or on a snowstorm pub crawl? Those conversations amongst new friends and old leave me with inspiration and ideas to bring back to my team at Acuity. For those of you who didn’t attend (and even for those who did!) here are my takeaways:
Theme 1: Accounting automation will be here soon.
When I say “soon” I mean in the next few months. In fact, during his talk, Xero CEO Rod Drury said that today, 90% of the transactions that come through Xero can be categorized more quickly and accurately by a machine than by a human. As a business owner, this excites me, because it means that the cost of my bookkeeping will go down. And as an accountant, this isn’t necessarily bad news. The traditional role of the bookkeeper will become obsolete, but there will be a new need for forward-thinking, tech-savvy, accounting solution experts. If you’re willing to be innovative and diversify your skillset, you will be in high demand. And, personally, I think that accountants should look at this as an exciting opportunity!
Theme 2: Accounting systems will be customizable.
Imagine being able to tailor your accounting solution to the unique needs of your business or industry. This will soon be the new normal. You’ll be able to take your solution and customize it by integrating other industry apps. As a business owner, I think this is great – no surprise there. As an accountant, this really elevates my position. Accountants will become thought leaders who will help business owners navigate the new ecosystems and will play a key role in helping them choose which solutions will help them run their businesses most effectively.
Theme 3: Accounting systems will do more than just accounting.
If you run an accounting practice, accounting software will no longer just help you keep the books for your clients. The new cloud accounting systems will also be able to manage your firm’s workflow, track activity and performance of your client base, and keep an eye on all of the integration points with other tech add-ons and software. These capabilities will make accounting software a much more powerful platform for accountants when they choose to embrace cloud solutions.
For more insights from Xerocon, check out a recap of my presentation “Engaging Talent in the Modern Firm.” Feel free to share your thoughts, questions, or takeaways with me (Twitter: @kenjikuramoto). I would love to hear them. And, most of all, I would love to see you all at #XeroCon18, which will be in my hometown – Atlanta!