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Just Ask Xero will ‘improve accuracy of accounting’

At Xerocon London this month, the online accounting leader unveiled groundbreaking technology underpinning its AI-powered smart business companion.

Global online accounting leader Xero has unveiled groundbreaking technology underpinning its upcoming AI-powered smart business companion, Just Ask Xero (JAX). 

At the Xerocon London conference this month, it said the proprietary technology would help ensure greater accuracy while using AI in the accounting process.

JAX, available in beta in August, will allow small businesses customers and accounting and bookkeeping partners to ‘Just Ask Xero’ to complete tasks like generating an invoice or editing a quote. They will be able to do so either in Xero or on other commonly used apps and devices that businesses use day-to-day, such as mobile, WhatsApp and email. 

Diya Jolly, chief product and technology officer at Xero, said: “We are making steps towards delivering on our product vision – to reimagine accounting through AI and mobile. Small business owners are rarely in one place, or using just one tool. Through GenAI and mobile, it’s now possible to really change accounting for small businesses so that it’s where their work is — in the office, on the move, on their computer or on their smartphone. With powerful, smarter AI like JAX answering our customers’ most important questions, we’re making the most critical business tasks available to business owners in the most important place — wherever they work.”

At the conference, Xero unveiled the technology that works under the hood of JAX. The proprietary technology ensures far greater accuracy than other AI models that only rely on large language models (LLMs). It uses a control system to ensure the data that’s fed to the LLMs is only related to the relevant task, such as quoting an invoice. 

“It’s critical to ensure accuracy in accounting tasks, which means using GenAI presents a unique challenge. LLMs are incredibly powerful yet can be flawed. When they are ungrounded and don’t have access to the right information in context, they can make up data points. In accounting, we can’t make up information. 

“That’s why implementing a technology like this is so groundbreaking for the accounting industry. It puts the right guardrails in place around the AI to ensure Xero customers using AI for accounting tasks can trust the precision and accuracy of JAX,” Jolly said. 

Additionally, the new proprietary technology provides data security in line with broader Xero platform measures. It ensures the LLMs only receive data that the user has given Xero permission to access, and keeps the data safely within the platform.

JAX will help small businesses answer questions about their finances and anticipate other tasks that may follow, making it easier to stay on top of their cash flow and make informed decisions with the help of their advisors. Small businesses can express interest in joining the JAX beta here

Xero introduced other GenAI developments including:

  • Embedded new generative AI-powered help content summaries inside the Xero platform to surface accurate answers, faster.
  • Launched generated answers in Xero Central, the customer support and learning site, which reduced search times by approximately 40%. 
  • Rolled out an AI-powered setup guide for those onboarding to Xero, providing all new users with relevant answers and information as they set up their Xero dashboard and get started in the product.  

To help small businesses and their advisors embrace AI and understand how it can positively impact their business, Xero has published tailored AI guides for small businesses, accountants and bookkeepers. The guides summarise relevant AI updates, practical ways to get started with AI, and showcase small businesses and advisors successfully implementing AI in their business.

“Small businesses and their advisors make hundreds of decisions to complete even the simplest tasks. Generative AI can be a powerful companion to help them run their businesses more efficiently and automate back-office tasks,” Jolly said. “We want to partner with our customers to help them navigate this wave of AI innovation so they can maximise its benefits in their businesses. That’s why we’re providing education resources and building a business companion they can rely on not just as a creative tool, but they can feel confident is accurate and secure for their accounting tasks.”

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