Why Xero is setting up a Responsible Data Use Advisory Council to support SMEs

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 with opportunity comes responsibility - particularly when it comes to how data is used.

Data use is a complex and ever-changing topic, but for software companies who serve small businesses, it’s our duty to help guide small businesses through the maze. 

Educating small business customers around responsible data use

Data use can be a scary and unfamiliar topic for small business owners. In fact, we recently surveyed global small business owners around their data use. The research 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. 

There is clearly a knowledge gap in this area, which is why it’s so important we help small businesses to better understand the challenges and opportunities associated with data sharing and management. This will help them both reap the benefits and make sure they’re using data responsibly.

Understanding the benefits of responsible data use

But while it is important to be aware of what you’re consenting to when you share your data with third-party companies, 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 there is a huge opportunity, and an obligation, to educate small businesses about the power of data. 

There are so many benefits to sharing data responsibly, including transforming data into insights, developing innovative products that continue to take the toil out of manual work, helping businesses make better decisions, and giving accountants and bookkeepers the information they need to help their clients thrive. 

A first of its kind Responsible Data Use Advisory Council

Small businesses don’t necessarily have the time or resources to know everything they could about the opportunities and challenges related to data use. That’s why Xero is establishing a Responsible Data Use Advisory Council to help us fill a vital education gap for small businesses and their advisors.  

At Xero we’re introducing a new education program where we’ll share content, resources and best practices to help enhance small business’s 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.

This first-of-its-kind group is unique in that aside from its chair, its members are not from Xero - they’re people who come from the small business community and leading technology firms around the world. 

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. 

The formation of this 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 is that the council will also provide opportunities for small businesses to upskill and learn about responsible data use and sharing.  

We’re looking forward to supporting small businesses in this important area. To visit our responsible data use education centre, click here - we’ll be sharing new content and resources here soon.