Insights – Xerocon 2023 – AI, Change in business environments and Handling Stress

6th September 2023

Posted in: Insights

In August, Tanya Holtham attended Xerocon, as an opportunity to find new ways to better service our clients and understand the changing face of technology.

Although Xero is an accounting software, much of Xerocon’s focus was not only on apps and tech, but also had a big focus on business, environmental influences, challenges and opportunities.

The last couple of years have been a number of challenges to business including

  • Disrupted trade supplies
  • Persistent inflation and rising costs (inflation peaking at 8.4%)
  • Staffing challenges (with participation rates at near record highs)

Other trends that have put pressure on small and medium businesses are slowing growth and being paid later than in the past.

Although economists predict the situation should improve within 12 months, we need to focus on improved productivity and implementing technologies as part of our current and future business plans.


Tech is moving faster than it ever has before and Generation Alpha will number 2 billion by 2025.

Specific projects that Xero is working on to help improve the functioning for their clients businesses include:

  • Online invoice payment – partnering with Stripe to provide a more imbedded payments system allowing customers to have more ways to pay.
  • More bank feeds including AMEX
  • AI enhanced bank feeds which automate and populate new contacts when they don’t exist.
  • Analytics Plus- providing predictions around short term cash flow based on your accounting data and forecasting using repeating invoices and bills.
  • Xero Assistant – a chat bot to help answer questions when you get stuck.


What’s Next for AI?

AI systems are being used more and more every day.

AI means business owners can spend less time on boring tasks such as data entry, completing forms etc and more time focused on relationships and adding value to their customers or clients.


There are a number of different types of AI systems:

  • Narrow AI – designed to perform a specific task.
  • General AI – generally smart reasoning entity that can tackle varied tasks and learn from lived experience.
  • Generative IA are systems that produce content that looks like it was created by a human. It is trained to sound like a human (not to be correct)


3 Tips to think like an AI expert:

Know the task

  • Can you express what you want in simple terms?
  • Can you describe the style and format you need?
  • Now would you describe the task to a colleague?

Know the data

  • What information does the AI tool need to give you the right answer?
  • Is the information freely available on the internet?
  • Is there a risk the tool will make up the answers if they cant find them?

Know the stakes

  • What are the consequences if the information is wrong?
  • Who can check the content before it is used?
  • How well do you know and trust the tool?


Big 3 AI chat bots:

Open Ai ChatGPT

Microsoft Bing Chat

Google Bard


An example of AI improving business efficiency would be the app PlanDay

  • Built in AI provides an award interpretation tool – this allows the system to ensure no one is ever underpaid.
  • Platform allows both rostering and time tracking means that the system can immediately recognize the costs of particular roster, ensure employees work hours and shifts that fit within legislation and alert when employees will be required to receive overtime pay.
  • Linked with Xero payroll so it can be integrated with financial reporting.
  • Employees have their own app which allows them to clock in / out, view upcoming shifts, manage their availability and shifts, submit leave.
  • Managers can also use the app to review requests, view attendance, create and update employee details, manage schedules.


Aside from the changing technology we also need to be aware of the changing business environment around us.  Lisa McCallum – Inspired Company Advantage talked about how businesses now need to consider external parties who can have major influence on our business.




She calls this the New CEO and talked about how these parties now influence your business decisions more than ever.


Building purpose within your business will give something bigger to stand for and clarity around that purpose will help your people get right from wrong. Running a business purely to make a profit is no longer the norm, customers more than have an expectation that you will stand for more than just the products you sell.  For more information on this see our Article about Mission Statements for Business owners Insights- A business on a mission – the importance of a mission statement. – Alto (


Living the values is more important now than ever as well.

  • Consistency – everyone needs to be pulling in the same direction
  • Courage – to overcome fears
  • Conviction – ensure clear efforts are authentic

For more detail see our Article on core values: Insights- The value of defining your business’s core values. – Alto (


As mentioned in my introduction, another huge issue for businesses has staff turnover and employee burnout.


Of business owners surveyed:

  • 56% don’t get enough sleep
  • 62% don’t get enough exercise
  • 53% are overwhelmed
  • 20% are depressed
  • 29% are obese
  • 22% are exhausted


Congruency is the Key to Sustained Performance.

3 levels

Me (personally)

We (family and team)

It (results)


Our focus is flawed if we are focusing on “it”. Instead we need to focus on “Me” and “we” and ensuring we are moving in the same direction and the “it” will take care of itself.


We are stressed because of the scarcity of time.

Need to learn how to be present in the moment.


Flow is

  • Achievement without exhaustion
  • Achievement without stress

The opposite of flow is STRESS.

We are designed physiologically and psychologically for acute stress – NOT chronic stress.


Different Types of Stress

  • Conscious – Neck and should tension, stress headaches, stomach aches.
  • Subconscious – Biting of lip, chewing nails, legs shaking
  • Unconscious- waking up in the middle of the night, feeling tired when you wake up, tight jaw.

Need to learn how to rest your mind – not just numb it.

For more information follow Kamal Sarma


If you have any further questions about any of the topics touched on above, reach out to Tanya to chat.

Author: Tanya Holtham