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If I don’t wear a tee shirt am I still a disrupter?

Martin Spiers - Friday, October 06, 2017



Last week I attended Xerocon – a 2 day national conference for Xero accounting software (www.xero.com.au).  Here’s a few things I learned:

1. Xero is not just software, it’s a bit of cult.  The conference was all about positive vibes, lots of hand clapping and huzzahs.  Everyone was wearing tee shirts, there was even a massive after-party.  Not what you expect from an accounting conference!

2. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is real, it’s happening and it’s a really hot topic of conversation.  Xero’s CEO is a self-confessed AI-nerd and he spoke with great passion about machine learning.  Xero is using machine learning to help automatically code more transactions.  They believe that by the end of the year more than 85% of all transactions will be automatically recorded by Xero based on learning from previous transactions within the file and transactions from other users.

3. Machine learning will also be used for more efficient recording of bills.  For example if you are a baker and record a bill for flour, Xero will automatically allocate it to cost of goods sold.  For non-accountants this is very powerful indeed.

4. I attended a panel discussion around AI, which was incredible.  Some very smart people discussing the short term implications of machine learning.  Interestingly they pointed out that all other industrial revolutions only increased employment rates and they were confident that the coming revolution is nothing to be scared of.  They wouldn’t be drawn into any predictions for a longer time frame than 10 years as they couldn’t make any confident predictions that far away.

5. Dr Adam Fraser is an outstanding speaker (www.dradamfraser.com).  If you have the opportunity to see him, grab it with both hands.  His presentation about the “third space” was the highlight of Xerocon for me and it should be compulsory viewing for all executives.  I can’t wait thread the book.

6. Magda Szubanski is a very good story teller.  As an accomplished author with a long career as a comedian and an interesting family background she has loads of material.  Passion just oozes out of her.

Overall the improvements announced for Xero were very impressive and represent a slight deviation to their previous business model.  It will be interesting to see what happens to the “disrupter” as it morphs into an industry leader.  Maybe they’ll start wearing suits!!!