Fieldays 2016 – a focus on moving forward

Mystery Creek Fieldays 2016 was, as expected, a huge event. Over 130,000 visitors came through the gates over the four days, meaning this year’s event was one of the biggest on record. For Figured, our third year of Fieldays was an incredible opportunity to connect with new and existing users, to demonstrate recent product innovations, and to reinforce our position as a leading-edge agri financial management tool through our strong on-site presence.

An overall optimistic outlook

Despite a rough time economically for many dairy farmers, the annual event is, more than anything, an opportunity to take some time off the farm. While it would have been easy to assume that visitors would be weary with their wallets this year, we knew that regardless of downturns, for most farmers the event is never just about spending up large on big-ticket items, but more about seeking out innovation and getting a better understanding of tools to help them in business.

This became evident through the many optimistic conversations we had with farmers on-site over the four days. We all know the challenges facing farmers, but what we saw was that farmers weren’t there to dwell on the factors which are currently beyond their control. We spoke to many farm owners – from tech-savvy young farmers, to farming families, right through to octogenarians – who were ready to embrace smarter systems that would allow them to front-foot their farm financial management, particularly through these periods of volatility.

It was perhaps most obvious when we were joined by a group of 100 drought-affected North Canterbury farmers (see more about their story here). Despite currently facing incredibly challenging financial positions, we heard many of the group acknowledge the value that accounting tools Xero and Figured could provide to their own businesses. While our intention had been to simply support a worthy group with a positive experience at Fieldays, it was rewarding to also hear that many were keen to sign up to Figured, and that we could continue to support many of them through the value our product provides.

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Connecting with customers, our partners and new users at Fieldays 2016

Key insights

For us as a business, Fieldays is also an opportunity to evaluate the response to our proposition in the market. Overall, it was interesting for us to see the difference from last year in the interactions we had on site – Dave Dodds, Figured GM explains: “Last year, we were really busy taking farmers through what Figured is and what it can do. It was a bit of an introduction to the product. This year, I noticed a real change – the crowd were certainly more informed and more curious – more ‘I know about it, tell me more’ or ‘I’m using it, show me how’. I think this simply reflects the increased support from farmers, accountants and banks we have enjoyed over the last 12 months.”

We’ve come away from the event buoyed with the knowledge that we are certainly delivering a product that people want and need. The key points for us include:

  • Farmers want accessible financial information
    Yes, they’d rather be out on the farm than working on their accounts, but farmers are astute business people, and like any other business owner, they want access to a clear picture of their farm’s performance, in real time, from any device.
  • Keep innovating
    This year at Fieldays we gave visitors a preview of our soon-to-be-launched scenario planning tool. The response was overwhelmingly positive, with all users super excited to see the new functionality added to the product. Because of the agility and speed of development and deployment, users love that we’re able to continue to release enhancements to the product.
  • A collaborative farming concept works
    Farmers want the ability to easily share and communicate about financial information with their farming team. While this collaboration in farming has always existed, Xero and Figured are now taking the pain away from making that happen. With all their financial data sitting on one platform, it means farmers can collaborate more effectively with their advisors to make more informed business decisions impacting their farm.
  • Strong partnerships are at our core
    In a true demonstration of Fieldays’ 2016 theme ‘Collaborate to accelerate innovation’, the alignment of our partners on a shared vision was evident. Xero, Figured, our banking partners, ASB and BNZ, and rural accounting practices were consistent with one message at Fieldays – we want to lift the performance of farming together by ensuring farmers and their team have access to the best tools to manage their business.

Listen to Figured GM, Dave Dodds, and Head of Rural Strategy at Xero, Ben Richmond, speak a little more about the growth of Figured, the importance of our partnerships and what collaboration means to Xero and Figured in this video: 

The impact on rural accounting practices

We were joined by several of our rural accounting partners across the four days of the event. It was very encouraging to hear about the positive experience they get out of being at the event, and more importantly the impact that using tools like Figured and Xero has had on their practice as a whole. Take a look at these interviews with two of our accounting partners as they share their experience. 

We knew that Fieldays would be big for Figured – after all, we’ve come a long way since launching v2 at Fieldays last year – and we left feeling excited by the response we’re seeing. We’re no longer the new kids on the block, and with great support from our partners, we’re looking forward to continuing to grow and getting more farmers farming on the front foot.