Xero taps big data and automation to help SMBs thrive

Anna Curzon

Our teams are working towards 100 per cent machine learning-powered data extraction to ensure other areas of the Xero platform automate the most time consuming, administrative accounting tasks for our partners and customers Anna Curzon, Xero

Xero reports it has accelerated its machine learning capabilities and launched new tools to help accountants and bookkeepers save time, attract and setup new customers, and gain a deeper understanding of client financial health.

Xero says 12 months after its acquisition of Hubdoc, it has made major advances in its machine learning-powered data extraction technology.

Xero purchased Hubdoc to supercharge its automation capabilities and the business is now extracting 70 per cent of all financial documents in Hubdoc using machine learning, compared to 20 per cent at the time of acquisition.

Through major improvements in machine learning algorithms, Hubdoc is extracting vital financial data from bills, receipts and more, now processing 200 per cent more documents a day than this time last year, making it one of the fastest automated platforms on the market.

This significantly reduces the extraction time for customers, with documents being processed in seconds instead of hours, reports Xero.

“We know that data extraction powered by machine learning is significantly faster and more accurate than humans,” says Anna Curzon, chief product officer at Xero.

“The improvements we’ve made to the Xero platform, speed up time-consuming tasks for accountants and bookkeepers which then benefit advising small businesses to make better decisions,” says Curzon, who announcedthese developments at Xerocon this week in Brisbane.

“Our teams are working towards 100 per cent machine learning-powered data extraction to ensure other areas of the Xero platform automate the most time consuming, administrative accounting tasks for our partners and customers.”

Short-term cash flow tool

Xero says it is also piloting a short-term cash flow tool, which will give small businesses a 30-day view of the operational health within the platform.

During the pilot, Xero plans to use data and advanced statistical methods to deliver AI-powered cash predictions.

Small businesses can use the forecast information to keep up to date, understand their cash flow and act early.

Additionally, advisors can use the tool to understand their clients’ immediate business needs and work with them to recommend solutions or uses for cash surplus, and have deeper conversations to help improve their clients’ financial literacy.

Xero says this tool is part of its broader efforts to help ensure small businesses are healthy and paid quicker.

Earlier this year, Xero announced a global partnership with Stripe to build tools and features that give business owners the ability to manage their payments easily within the Xero platform.

These payment integrations make a significant difference to small businesses. Xero says businesses on its platform that attached a payment service to their invoices are paid on average 14 days faster than those that do not offer online payments.

Greater visibility of compliance work

Xero says improvements to Xero HQ now make it easier for accountants and bookkeepers to keep on top of their compliance work, providing them deeper insights on business payroll and tax obligations across all clients.

Instead of tracking compliance requirements for clients across different spreadsheets, task lists, emails, or individual client files, Xero says advisors will now get a holistic view of upcoming needs across all of their clients in one place.

Geo-targeting to generate leads and onboarding for new clients

Xero says it has also released a richer Xero Advisor Directory, which has become a major source of new business.

The directory will now make it easier for small businesses to find the right accountant or bookkeeper in their neighbourhood.

Advisors can automatically geotag their existing client base to help demonstrate their areas of expertise in each major location, says Xero.

With more than 800,000 queries on the Xero Advisor Directory every month, the improvements will help connect small businesses to the right advisors even faster than before, says Xero.

“With more data flowing into the Xero platform, we are able to create seamless workflows and provide smarter insights to ensure advisors spend less time finding and managing their information and more time advising and helping grow the small business economy wherever they are based,” concludes Curzon.

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