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Xero talks up AI play

Xero talks up AI play

​Xero's CEO talks up the cloud accounting software company’s burgeoning use of machine learning and artificial intelligence

Xero founder and chief executive Rod Drury.

Xero founder and chief executive Rod Drury.

Xero (ASX:XRO) founder and CEO, Rod Drury, has used the company’s annual shareholder’s meeting to talk up the cloud accounting software company’s burgeoning use of machine learning and artificial intelligence.

“We’re into a new phase of innovation as machine learning and artificial intelligence allow[s] us to redefine small businesses computing on our global platform,” Drury told shareholders on 12 July. “Our strong revenues allow us to continue to invest to lead this revolution while we manage our cash towards break-even."

Drury’s claims were echoed by Xero’s chief partner officer, Anna Curzon, who said that machine learning and artificial intelligence are helping to “unlock” the potential of the Xero users’ connections and data to drive the establishment of personalised automation systems for small businesses.

“Accounting technology should lead the next era of innovation - the industry has so much to gain from artificial intelligence and machine learning advances which both reduce the cost of compliance and help arm accountants with the tools and skills required to support the world’s small businesses,” Curzon said.

The New Zealand-headquartered Amazon Web Services (AWS) partner revealed in March that it would boost its investment in machine learning and AI technology, with Drury at the time saying that machine learning and automation would open up the “next phase” of innovation in accounting.

Also in March, the company said it had launched a machine learning automation system designed to automate manual processes for accountants.

The move followed a wholesale migration to Amazon Web Services (AWS) from Xero’s former cloud partner, Rackspace, which wrapped up late last year.

The transition marked one of the largest data migrations into the AWS cloud infrastructure environment across Australia and New Zealand.

The migration, which took just over two years to be architected and executed, saw more than 59 billion records, 3000 apps and 120 databases securely transitioned to the AWS platform.

“Our focus on building a single, global platform has enabled Xero to onboard more than half-a-million customers in the last two years, 300,000 of which were in the last year alone,” Drury told shareholders on 12 July.

"Now we’ve built a powerful and much-loved accounting engine, we have so many opportunities for growth, including how we can use our single code base to service a larger array of businesses around the globe and build more powerful tools,” he said.

Xero has also revealed plans to recruit new talent to its leadership ranks in international markets.

Specifically, the company asked shareholders to vote on increasing the maximum annual remuneration able to be paid to all of its non-executive directors, taken together, from NZ$850,000 to NZ$1,400,000.

The company said that its board’s intention is to use the additional funds pool to recruit approximately two to three additional non-executive directors in key markets, such as the United Kingdom or the United States.

“The unique nature of Xero as a New Zealand based high-growth platform operating in a global market means that it’s critical to the success of the company that there is strong oversight of the company’s operations as it scales on its journey to NZ$1 billion in revenue.” Xero chair of the board, Graham Smith, told shareholders.


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