Being part of Asia’s first ever Xero roadshows was an interesting experience, with plenty of interest being shown by local accounting firms.

Held in Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Singapore, the roadshow audience numbers far exceeded expectations. In fact, for the Singapore show we had to order more flyers from a local supplier!!

The roadshow catered for the many attendees who are just starting to look at the Xero platform for their clients. It gave them an overview of where Xero is, and demonstrated some of its key features plus there was a panel session which included panelists such as Google, Microsoft and some of the local banks, and talked about how the business world is becoming more integrated.

Along the way Xero made some major product announcements—Visa and Google integrations, bank feeds with some of the major local banks, and a number of new local products specifically for these markets.

One such product is SmartTax, which integrates with Xero to retrieve data for preparing Malaysian GST returns—a business requirement in Malaysia. Another was HReasily, a Singapore-based add-on that provides payroll solutions for the Malaysian and Singapore markets.

What makes this more interesting is that I believe it will spawn a whole new wave of country specific add-ons. While horizontal add-ons such as Receipt Bank, Chaser and reporting add-ons that cater for multiple currencies will still be useful here, local requirements such as payroll and GST reporting will lead to these types of add-ons popping up in various countries.

Xero has just started its journey into Asia, and so for many attendees these roadshows were their first exposure to Xero, the cloud and the ecosystem concept. One of Xero’s major announcements was that they are establishing an office in Singapore, and appointing Alex Campbell as the MD for its Asian operations. Alex starts his new position in March, and is a sign as to just how positive Xero is about the opportunity this market presents for the company.

We found that each market had early adopters who’d already started their journey and achieved Gold Partner status. It was good to see, as it showed there are definitely opportunities for Xero and its partners in this market. As with any new market it will take time to build the business, but given the size of the markets it could lead to big opportunities for those willing to put in the hard yards.

Another thing I noticed was how little the locals used social media. Most of the Twitter traffic came from the Xero team and some of the attending add-on partners such as ourselves, Receipt Bank and Spotlight. So Xero and its partners will have to revisit the social media strategies it has developed in other countries for these markets.

Here are my top seven takeaways from the Asian roadshows.

  1. Xero’s push into this market lays the foundation for a truly global business solution.
  2. Its cloud-based solution continues to break down the global boundaries for delivering accounting and advisory services.
  3. The Asian market will offer opportunities for those in the ecosystem who can service that market.
  4. Country specific add-ons will continue to be developed for these less traditional markets.
  5. Xero is committing resources to develop this market, and the ecosystem can be confident it’s a long-term investment in what Xero consider a key market—not just a sideline to their other key markets.
  6. Having Gold Partners already in these markets confirms there are opportunities in Asia.
  7. Developing and introducing add-ons specific to these markets also demonstrates that local businesses are interested in developing the ecosystem to cater for their local requirements. This is a necessary ingredient to ensure the products are accepted by the local accounting firms.

The Asian market is just starting to accept the cloud platform, and like every other market Xero has entered it will grow slowly to begin with. But Xero’s market growth has always accelerated over time in each new market, and I believe the same will happen in Asia, which will become a key market for Xero and its ecosystem.