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2023 Ecosystem Survey: The latest insights from our community

July 26, 2023

This article originated from the Xero blog. The XU Hub is an independent news and media platform - for Xero users, by Xero users. Any content, imagery and associated links below are directly from Xero and not produced by the XU Hub.
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From the moment I joined Xero last year to help lead Ecosystem and Partnerships for Xero, one fundamental principle has been made apparent to me: Xero was born as an open platform and this goes all the way back to opening our first API in 2009.

While we build and provide valuable tools to help small businesses, accountants, and bookkeepers around the world grow and thrive, much of the value our customers derive from Xero comes from our rich ecosystem. By ecosystem, we mean the many third-party apps, financial connections, and custom integrations that tie our accounting stack to the core tools and processes that small businesses and their advisors use day in and out.

That’s why understanding our collaborative and innovative community of developers, partners, advisors, and integrators is so important to my work and the work we do at Xero. To understand who makes up our ecosystem, their challenges and opportunities, and what they value in working with Xero, we recently surveyed 403 members across our ecosystem community.

A lot has changed since we last surveyed our ecosystem in 2020. We launched the new Xero App Store in 2021, and the Xero platform has grown and scaled significantly to now serve over 3.7 million subscribers globally. The Xero ecosystem also has more than 1,000 connected apps and over 300 direct connections to banks and financial services.

The survey has revealed insights into the issues that our community cares about, the opportunities that they see and how Xero can continue to deliver value to help businesses build, innovate and grow into the future.

Who is in Xero’s ecosystem community?

Over the years, we’ve seen a shift in software development, with the rise of no-code tools that help anyone, no matter their technical skills, to build, automate and innovate. In fact, according to our survey, under one third of developers have a software engineering degree, with one in five saying they are self-taught.

Fast facts about the Xero ecosystem community:

  • One in ten survey respondents are former or practicing accountants and bookkeepers — who are now building apps to help other practices or are building on top of Xero to enhance their own practice
  • Top industries beyond solutions for accounting and bookkeeping (44%) include construction and building (32%), manufacturing (28%), banking and financial services (28%), retail (27%) and logistics and transport (25%)

What’s on your mind?

When it comes to the social issues that are most important to people and that factor into their work, more than half (56%) said data privacy and security are top of mind. In the shared fight against the growing amount of internet fraud, more businesses are focused on data security and making sure they are protecting customer data appropriately.

Interestingly, one third (34%) of people ranked climate change and sustainability as one of the top social issues that are important to them and that factor into their work. Across the Xero App Store, we’ve seen a burgeoning number of apps that help businesses track emissions and save energy, while improving their bottom line.

The top social issues the Xero ecosystem community cares about:

  • 56% — Data privacy / security
  • 44% — Open source / open internet / Open APIs / freedom of data
  • 42% — Health and wellbeing
  • 34% — Climate change / sustainability

When we asked about challenges our ecosystem community faced, market uncertainty, fuelled by macro issues such as the Ukraine war, supply chain bottlenecks and inflation, was cited as the top challenge over the 12 months prior to Feb 2023. Despite these challenges, many people in Xero’s ecosystem community told us that they have found opportunities to grow their business, products and customers.

The opportunities our Xero ecosystem community has realised:

  • More than half of our community grew their customer base (55%) in 2022, and spent time significantly improving their product (55%)
  • Around one third of partners launched new products (35%), grew their team (33%), and expanded their reach to other platforms and ecosystems (32%).

Like most workers and leaders across the world right now, artificial intelligence is top of mind, with 45% of respondents saying they are looking to trial or integrate AI or ML into app development over the next 1–3 years.

In our survey, we asked what you love about the Xero App Store and where it needs to improve.

We know you love:

  • The ability to access and acquire new customers (38%)
  • Receiving better marketing and brand exposure for your apps (38%) and verified user reviews that help to boost trust with customers (29%)
  • Generating higher quality leads (19%), increased revenue and profits (18%), and help expanding into new countries (22%)
  • Having payments and billing built-in (10%)

And from your feedback, you’d like us to improve in these key areas:

  • API functionality (eg. enabling access to more of Xero via the our APIs)
  • Marketing and lead generation support
  • Developer technical support and user experience

We continue to focus heavily on our overall partner experience so this feedback is really helpful in guiding us in the right direction.

Looking ahead

One of the key things that drew me to Xero is the opportunity to help millions of small businesses and their advisors thrive. One of the best ways to do that is to support our ecosystem community — who are often small businesses themselves — to build new, unique, and innovative integrations that extend the Xero platform’s capabilities.

At Xero, we believe that one core product cannot cater to every use case and customer need in the market. That’s why an open and transparent ecosystem is important, as it enables our ecosystem community to create those unique solutions that cater to the diverse needs of small businesses. We want to continue to enable you to easily integrate services that customers already use and discover new services to run their business more beautifully.

So please, keep experimenting and innovating within our ecosystem. We’re excited to see the solutions and capabilities that you create — some of which haven’t even been thought of yet. We’ll keep doing our best to help you do this because we know today’s small apps are tomorrow’s potential industry leaders.

Thanks to those who shared these insights. I’m excited to see what we can create together to push things forward as we continue to grow our ecosystem community.

Why leave it there?

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