Accounting software maker Xero has named its Toronto office its new North American hub for product development and technology innovation. The company is heavily investing in artificial intelligence and machine learning, and despite global setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be hiring in these areas in Toronto, aiming to double the size of its team there in two years.
As well as in AI and ML, Xero plans to hire product and technology specialists across its cloud accounting platform starting with global payments, billing and automation and data. The company is seeking software developers in the engineering team, responsible for testing critical components of Xero’s future infrastructure, automating data ingestion, and improving the workflow of financial documents flowing in and out of Xero; data scientists, engineers and product owners to scale Xero’s machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities; and user experience designers and researchers.
COVID-19 bolsters small business-accountant relationships
The establishment of a new hub was planned well in advance of the current COVID-19 pandemic, but the crisis has made Xero focus more than ever in recent months directly on its partners — accountants, bookkeepers and small businesses — that use its software, said Ben Richmond, U.S. country manager for the company. Xero established a resource page for small businesses seeking guidance through the pandemic; and Microsoft added Xero to its own COVID-19 resource page as a partner representing small-business accounting.
“Currently, people still have the view that there may be another surge [of COVID-19] and further lockdown procedures,” Richmond explained. “In all this, client accounting services is one of the fastest growing service areas we’ve seen.”
CAS is on the rise as small businesses, many of which may not have even worked with an accountant or bookkeeper in the past, suddenly need help budgeting and forecasting on an almost daily basis, to stay afloat amid a global crisis.
“Xero’s always believed heavily in the American dream,” Richmond said of the New Zealand-born company. “Financial literacy and keeping the books are the last things you think about when you’re trying to run a business you’re passionate about. Thirty- to 90-day planning has become long term planning for businesses now. We believe the move from do-it-yourself to do-it-together is a smart one.”
New technology partnerships
In addition to Microsoft’s strategic support, Xero has added a partnership with Shopify, one of the most popular e-commerce platforms in the U.S. Xero users can now integrate Shopify with A2X, the software platform for Amazon sellers specifically, which will provide automated summaries of client transactions delivered straight into Xero.
Xero also recently launched a search partnership with AI and data provider Coveo, allowing it to surface recommended apps for small business on its marketplace to create a more personalized experience.