At Xerocon 2014, taking place today in Auckland, Rod Drury CEO of the firm urged partners to drive more customers to use accounting functionality online, and assured the attendees of New Zealand’s strategic importance for the company.
“Many people think we are going to stop doing things in New Zealand because we are outside the country now. That is not the case. That is for a bunch of reasons. New Zealand is a small, perfectly formed country. We can do stuff here that you can’t do anywhere else. It is the test lab for the rest of the world,” said Drury, during his keynote to open the conference.
While accepting that a large part of the company’s revenues currently come out of overseas operations, primarily Australia, Drury pointed out that around 90,000 of the firm’s current 250,000 customers are in NZ, along with more than 2500 partners out of a global total of more than 10,200.
“New Zealand is interesting because of the large market share we have here, and the network and electronic linking between the firms that we can exploit. NZ is incredibly strategic. We are five years ahead of Australia or US and can define the next generation of connected services,” Drury said.
Along with a new senior team, including Victoria Crone, who will take over as the head of NZ for the company in April, the firm will focus on certain new opportunities emerging in banking, government and farming.
“These are big projects that we are working on. Game changing stuff that we are doing in NZ that will mark us out overseas.”
In banking, Drury spoke about the provisioning of online banking, the ability for payment instructions to be shared via online banking, and also improve the velocity of large direct bank-to-bank payments.
“We have a fantastic partnership with ASB, one of the first online banks in NZ, and we will be taking that forward to lead the way so all banks in New Zealand will be doing it and all of it dominoes into Australia,” said Drury.
“We have an active role in driving government strategy for reducing compliance cost. We have been working on foundation bits for seven years. One of this includes getting every NZ business a unique electronic ID, that can be used for businesses to link together,” said Drury.
He also called for the IRD (Internal Revenue Department) to let the tax system be handled by the private sector, while setting down only the rules, to save the government millions of dollars.
“We have been asking for that for seven years, but we are getting close,” he said.
Work in the farming sector includes facilitating single ledger for the sector, rural bank feeds, farming add-on software integrated with Xero accounting software, an EDI platform for the sector and livestock reconciliation features.
Drury also assured the audience that the firm has $221 million cash to invest in its products and growth, and the firm will get products modules and features into the market faster by working to be a “shipping factory.”
During his keynote, Drury thanked New Zealand partners who have been with the firm from its starting days, and urged all in the channel to encourage their small businesses customers into the mobile domain.
“Xero introduced online invoices in October 2012, and now nearly 40% of our invoices are handled online. Business is mobile – everything is happening on mobile now. If you are not having the conversation on mobile accounting that is crazy. You should be leading that discussion,” said Drury.
He also urged NZ businesses to try their hand more at exporting services, using the low cost of NZ labour and other resources, to help tap into markets outside the country.
“It is not for the government to fix hospitals and schools. It is for us to do that. We can do that by exporting more services overseas. NZ is so cost-effective and all of us can do it,” said Drury. Xerocon 2014 in Auckland will take place over two days, and bring together Xero’s partners and customers from New Zealand and abroad to discuss the firms’ strategy and product plans for the future.