Single Touch Payroll legislation will require small businesses to use cloud software next year. With this in mind, David Evers and Troy Marchant recently attended the Xerocon 2018 event in Brisbane with thousands of Accountants, Bookkeepers and Small Business owners and they were pleased to see that technology is helping business owners find time for stuff that matters.

Xero is already an effective tool in saving time on accounting tasks like invoices, data management, expenses, payroll and reports, but the future of programs like this is beyond our imagination. Robson Partners been using Xero for eight years and while we often recommend it to our business clients, we do not have any financial interest in it. We just like the way it works to free up time. There are many cloud-based accounting systems and Xero is our program of choice.

Professor Genevieve Bell spoke at the conference about Artificial Intelligence (AI): the fourth wave of industrialisation. She suggested that, if the first wave of industrialisation was mechanisation using steam power in the Nineteenth Century, the second was electricity, and the third was computers in the Twentieth Century, then the fourth is AI in the Twenty First Century.

She helped to break down the stigma of AI by describing it simply as a computer system that can do tasks that require human intelligence. We already live with AI in our smartphone when we use search history, maps and apps like Siri.

The world is going through a process of working out what level of autonomy, governance and assurance to allow machines and computer programs. Once we define the limits, our software programs will become as efficient as a proactive employee who never sleeps. It was great to see Xero on the cusp of this because proactive software will save us all time for our business.

In addition to learning about the possibilities of technology for future business, we all need to be aware that programs like Xero will be compulsory next year. The Australian Tax Office will require all businesses to be on a cloud-based reporting platform from July 2019. The legislation is called Single Touch Payroll and in order to comply, businesses must electronically submit weekly wage records. Early adoption of something like Xero will minimise business disruption.

We’ve received a number of enquiries about the functionality of Xero so we are hosting a special Xero information workshop in Gosford on Thursday evening, 1 November. It is free to attend and all are welcome. Register here to secure your place.