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Our commitment to responsible data use

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Rachael Powell

Jul 19, 2021

It’s fair to say that over the past 16 months or so, we’ve become more digitally-connected than ever before. We can’t underestimate the roles that data and digital technologies continue to play in helping small businesses survive during the pandemic. Almost every interaction we all undertake every day produces data – this creates endless opportunities, but also responsibilities for companies, like Xero, that use data.

As a global small business platform, we have an opportunity to leverage the collective power of data to benefit small businesses, advisors and communities around the world. But with this opportunity, we also have a responsibility that we take incredibly seriously. A year ago we made a company-wide pledge to responsible data use and introduced eight commitments to help guide us in every decision that involves data use. Today we’re sharing those commitments with our community because we believe using data responsibly is in everyone’s interest, including our small business customers, advisors, those we do business with and our partners. 

We also know that small businesses don’t necessarily have the time or resources to learn everything necessary about the opportunities and challenges related to data use and that’s why we’re establishing a Responsible Data Use Advisory Council to help us fill a vital education gap for small businesses and their advisors.

Educating our small business customers around responsible data use

We know data use can be a scary and unfamiliar topic for a lot of our customers – in fact, we recently surveyed global small business owners around their data use. That survey found that only 17% of small business owners completely understand what tech providers do with their data beyond delivering services or products. Data being sold or shared without permission is the biggest issue small business owners are ‘extremely concerned’ about. 

We want to help our small business customers to better understand the challenges and opportunities associated with data sharing and managing data so that they can both reap the benefits and use their data responsibly.

But while it is important to be aware of what you’re consenting to when you share your data with companies like Xero, that’s not the only perspective that small businesses need to consider. It’s not just about how these companies benefit, but how the industry as a whole, right down to your very own business, can benefit.

When the small business owners we surveyed were asked to identify the benefits, if any, of sharing data with tech providers, the most popular answer (36%) was ‘none’. This shows us that we have a huge opportunity, and an obligation, to educate small businesses about the power of data. 

There are so many benefits to sharing data responsibly. At Xero, these include transforming data into insights, developing innovative products that continue to take the toil out of manual work, helping small businesses make better decisions, and giving advisors the information they need to help their clients thrive. Many of the products we’ve developed at Xero are the direct result of using data, and they’ve made a huge difference to our users. We believe the collective power of data on our platform can open up opportunities for our small business customers and their advisors by transforming it into deep insight and innovative products. 

Through our new education program, we’ll share content, resources and best practices to enhance our customers and their advisors’ knowledge of responsible data use – everything from how to retain control of data to how responsible data use can deliver benefits and help them run their business better, reduce manual toil, grow and thrive.

A first of its kind Responsible Data Use Advisory Council

While we have exceptional talent at Xero, we’re aware that we can’t possibly know everything there is to know about responsible data use – it’s a complex and ever-changing topic. 

This first-of-its-kind group is unique in that aside from its chair, Kendra Vant, Xero’s Executive General Manager of Data, its members are not from Xero – they’re people who come from the small business community and leading technology firms around the world. A big welcome to our founding council members:

  • Kendra Vant, Executive General Manager of Data, Xero, and Council Chair 
  • Samuel Burmeister, Owner, Tall Books (Australia) 
  • Laura Jackson, Co-Founder, Popcorn Shed (United Kingdom)
  • Maribel Lopez, Founder & Principal Analyst, Lopez Research (US) 
  • Wyndi Tagi, Co-Owner and Co-Founder, WE Accounting (New Zealand) 
  • Eli Tagi, Co-Owner and Growth Advisor, WE Accounting (New Zealand)
  • Aaron Wittman, Founder, XBert (Australia) 

They’ll help us to bring the most relevant topics, insights and best practice information on the subject of small business and responsible data use. We will look to add additional Council members as needed in the future. 

The formation of the council underscores our commitment to using data responsibly. But it’s not just about how we use data at Xero – what I’m really excited about on our customers’ behalf is that the council will also provide opportunities for our small business customers to upskill and learn about responsible data use and data sharing. We’ll do this through our website and social media accounts, so keep an eye on these for updates.

We’re looking forward to taking our customers on this journey. Watch this space for exciting new content so you can understand more about responsible data use.

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