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64,000 kms, 8 staff, 3 weeks and two bloody amazing conferences

“Why on earth have you travelled all this way?”

That’s definitely the question we got very good at answering by the end of Xerocon London this year. With the doors of Xerocon Melbourne closed only 3 weeks prior, why did Dan and I find ourselves boarding a 26hr flight across the globe to see arguably the same conference done with different accents? The answer, simply put, is that these conferences couldn’t be more different.

The fact that Xero and it’s add-on partners are the same product worldwide but offer vastly different solutions for vastly different in each region is a testament to the incredible flexibility of Cloud apps.

As just one example, arguably the largest update specifically for the UK market is Xero’s new CIS compliance (https://www.xero.com/blog/2017/10/manage-cis-obligations/). As Emma Fox from Fresh Financials (Xero Bookkeeping UK Award Winner) put it – “CIS in Xero is massive, as it was a limitation and meant businesses with CIS clients were tied to other solutions”

“So, what’s different between here and where you’re from…”

The second most common question, usually followed with “I hear you’re miles ahead”, was this! This leads us to some interesting realisations, and conclusions we wouldn’t have had unless we were on the ground- so here goes.

The only liberty Australia has had in the market is time. The Cloud-based ecosystem is no longer foreign for a large percentage of Aussie business and it didn’t get this way by billboards and conferences alone. All it takes for a customer to join the Cloud ecosystem is that one app that solves the first problem for the business. Once there, the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Their fear and uncertainty are replaced with confidence and curiosity for more.

Gary Turner (Xero UK Managing Director) spoke heavily about the bureaucracy and uncertainty ahead for the UK such as Brexit, GDPR and PSD2. For every person that is feeling fearful for their business’ security, there are countless more who are acting on that fear to secure their future with the new tools available. Xero is instantly updating, providing financial confidence in a landscape where policies and conditions feel like they can change overnight.

Speakers aside (no offence to those who shared wonderful stories at both conferences), the key people year in year out are those who are walking out this afternoon with new experiences and new tools to go back to their practices with. These experiences and these tools were not simply handed out on stage. The conglomeration that occurs with thousands of people from similar businesses in the same room, creating a community, is impossible to overstate. For those people, the conversations, the friends new and old, and the parties will not be forgotten, albeit they may be blurry in the memory, and there may be moments we try to erase out!

The UK reminds me of my childhood summers. Standing at the side of a wide Australian river, rope swing clasped between my clammy and anxious hands. I stare out into the river too afraid to leap in as my mates cheer me on from the water. It’s not courage that makes me leap forward off the bank, it’s the excitement in their faces and eagerness to join them. There are so many in the UK on that bank right now, and it’s our job to be the mates cheering them on. Because once you’ve swung out into that river I can guarantee you’ll be the first running up the bank to swing again.

Final Message

Business is built on experiences, and no experience in business will ever be wasted. As Matthew Syed (a speaker at Xerocon in the UK) specifically said in his book “Black Box Thinking”

“The only way to be sure is to go out and test your ideas and programmes and to realise that you will often be wrong. But that is not a bad thing. It leads to progress.”