Xero launches AI assistant as accounting tech industry jumps on hype

Xero launches AI assistant as accounting tech industry jumps on hype

On February 28, Xero became the latest accounting technology provider to launch a new AI assistant.

‘Just Ask Xero’ or JAX was announced at Xero’s inaugural Investor Day. It is a GenAI-powered smart business companion designed to assist small businesses and their advisors. JAX allows users to interact with Xero’s products directly from within their frequently-used applications and devices.

Users can ask JAX to perform various tasks such as generating invoices, editing quotes, or managing bills across multiple platforms, including mobile, WhatsApp, and email. Not only does JAX fulfill tasks efficiently, but it also anticipates future needs and provides personalized insights on demand.

For example, JAX can offer cash flow forecasts to aid in decision-making. By integrating JAX into the customer onboarding experience, Xero aims to streamline the process and provide troubleshooting assistance to users.

“Technology has dramatically changed the lives of small businesses, and we’re embracing this new wave of tech innovation responsibly,” says Diya Jolly, the Chief Product Officer at Xero.

“Our customers are at the heart of what we do, and with our AI vision, we aim to deliver the most trusted and insightful small business platform.”

Enhancing Efficiency and Customer Experience

Xero’s integration of AI technologies extends beyond JAX. The company has already seen promising results through the incorporation of a GenAI tool into Xero Central, resulting in a 40% reduction in average customer search time and a 20% decrease in customer service support required.

To further support its AI vision, Xero has recently appointed two senior hires with extensive experience in driving digital commerce and empowering businesses through AI. Eitan Sharon, Senior Vice President of Data & Science, and Akankshu Dhawan, Senior Vice President of Product – Direct, Growth, and AI products, will play pivotal roles in harnessing the power of AI and driving innovation at Xero.

“Our AI vision builds on our experience in building data-driven products, and it aligns with our commitment to responsible data use,” says  Jolly.

Will the market saturate?

The proliferation of GenAI assistant tools in accounting software could lead to significant efficiency gains, error reduction, and enhanced decision-making processes for businesses of all sizes. By automating routine tasks, these tools can free up valuable time for accountants and financial professionals to focus on more strategic and advisory roles, potentially leading to higher value-added services for clients.

Furthermore, the democratisation of advanced technological tools could level the playing field between smaller firms and larger enterprises, fostering innovation and competition.

On the other hand, the rush to integrate GenAI into products might lead to a scenario where the market becomes oversaturated with similar offerings, making it challenging for consumers to discern genuine value.

This could result in a commoditisation of GenAI tools, where the emphasis is placed more on having the technology for marketing purposes rather than addressing the actual needs and pain points within the accounting industry. Additionally, the rapid adoption of these tools without proper vetting could lead to issues with data security, privacy, and reliability, undermining trust in these innovations.

The concern that providers may be jumping on the GenAI hype rather than focusing on real industry pain points is valid. It highlights the importance of aligning technological advancements with the genuine needs of end-users. For these tools to be truly beneficial, they must not only offer innovative solutions but also be developed in close consultation with industry professionals to ensure they address specific challenges and add real value.

As the market evolves, the companies that can strike this balance effectively are likely to emerge as leaders, while others may struggle to justify the long-term investment in these technologies.

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