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*UKHotViews Extra* Sopra Steria: Strategic importance of UKVI win
26 May 2018
Strong Q4 lifts Tech Mahindra
25 May 2018
PureClarity secures £500k from NPIF
25 May 2018
One of many Realeyes faces off £12m funding round
25 May 2018
GDPR: Updated Privacy Policy
25 May 2018
DXC Technology cranks up the margin in FY18
25 May 2018
Book now to join us for an Evening with TechMarketView on 13 Sept
25 May 2018
Capita rights issue almost fully subscribed
25 May 2018
EU Supply raises a further £600K
25 May 2018
GDPR comes into force today
25 May 2018
Higham retires as Nakama moves closer to Sheffield
25 May 2018
Draper Esprit to grow further with £115m placing
25 May 2018
Ambitious Arcus Global bags £3m funding
24 May 2018
Blue Prism teams up with identitii
24 May 2018
Acquisitive IRIS attracts a £1.3 billion valuation
24 May 2018
Sonata's services play out year in reasonable tune
24 May 2018
When You Move gets funding for UK expansion
24 May 2018
Earthport appoints new CEO
24 May 2018
TalkTalk builds FTTP JV, sells direct B2B to Daisy
24 May 2018
Startup Ultromics gets £10m funding for cardio AI tech
24 May 2018
Steady progress for Liberata
24 May 2018
LTI sprints through the billion-dollar barrier
24 May 2018
GDPR: Updated Privacy Policy
24 May 2018
NorthRow extends its Open Banking role
24 May 2018
Sanderson Group strengthening in 2018
23 May 2018
HPE sees double-digit UK growth in Q2
23 May 2018
Samsung chooses Cambridge for AI research
23 May 2018
Koru Kids raises £3.5m to target childcare market
23 May 2018
Microsoft and GOSH to use AI to transform child health
23 May 2018
UKCloud. The multi-cloud experts – powering digital transformation in the UK Public Sector
23 May 2018
UCLH and Alan Turing Institute: AI medics on the march
22 May 2018
*NEW RESEARCH* UKCloud: Responding to a changing market
22 May 2018
UK lags in strong year for First Derivatives
22 May 2018
1Spatial tightens focuses on geospatial core
22 May 2018
Adzuna raises more funds
22 May 2018
Adobe puts up $1.68bn to access ecommerce sector
22 May 2018
DisplayNote squeezes more funding from BoI's kernel
22 May 2018
Hoop secures £4m funding to expand kids’ activity app
22 May 2018
Microsoft adds to conversational AI with Semantic Machines
22 May 2018
Ideal Flatmate's ideal backers add more dosh
22 May 2018
Cogeco Peer 1: The Value of Service in IT for Businesses
22 May 2018
PayPal overwhelms iZettle
21 May 2018
Do you have what it takes to be a TechMarketView analyst?
21 May 2018
PM setting AI on to early cancer diagnosis
21 May 2018
Startupbootcamp Insurtech programme shifts into a higher gear
21 May 2018
Highland proves a lucky talisman for Incopro
21 May 2018
Atos, Dell EMC and Microsoft fire first salvo in AI campaign
21 May 2018
UKCloud. The multi-cloud experts – powering digital transformation in the UK Public Sector
21 May 2018

UKHotViews©

 

Saturday 26 May 2018

*UKHotViews Extra* Sopra Steria: Strategic importance of UKVI win

Sopra Steria logoLast week, we commented on Sopra Steria’s new win with UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI – see Sopra Steria awarded new UKVI contract). We have, also, recently been briefed on Sopra Steria’s new UK Government strategy, devised by Adrian Fieldhouse, MD UK Government sector. The latest contract win is strategically important; it is Adrian’s first opportunity to validate his strategy to the business, to the market and to other stakeholders.

UKHotViews Premium flagIn this latest analysis in UKHotViewsExtra from TechMarketView’s Chief Analyst, Georgina O’Toole, we outline Sopra Steria’s newly launched Government strategy, how the new UKVI contract win aligns with its new principles of engagement within the sector, and why the disruptive nature of Sopra Steria’s approach with UKVI is starting to grab wider attention.

Subscribers (including UKHotViews Premium subscribers) can download Sopra Steria: the strategic importance of UKVI win now. If you are not yet a subscriber, please contact Deb Seth to find out more about our research services.

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '12:13' - Tagged: public+sector   centralgovernment   contract   strategy   digital  

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Friday 25 May 2018

Strong Q4 lifts Tech Mahindra

LogoA strong final quarter helped Mumbai-based IT services firm Tech Mahindra deliver a very respectable performance for the twelve months ending 31st March 2018. Revenue for the FY hit $4.8 bn, up 9.6% yoy (7.8% in constant currency), and EBITDA increased by 16.6% to $729m. Operating margin improved by 90 bps to 15.3%.

The top line growth, which compares very favourably to its offshore rivals, was driven primarily by a 19% uptick in Tech Mahindra’s enterprise business revenues. This more than compensated for the c.7.5% sales decline in the communications sector which accounts for over 40% of total income. Account development also played its part with the number of Tech Mahindra’s $10+m clients increasing by some 20% yoy.

The share of “digital” revenues expanded from 22% to 27% of total sales yoy and business process outsourcing services enjoyed healthy double-digit growth, albeit from a small base. In terms of geographies, Europe was the fastest growing region and now represents c.30% of Tech Mahindra’s global activities. While no specific details for the UK were reported, TMV estimates that revenue here increased by more than 10% over the previous year.

The margin improvement marks a significant turnaround from the position twelve months ago (see here).  A combination of higher utilisation rates and a shift in the revenue mix from majority “run” to majority “change” services underpinned the hike in profitability. There remains, however, a considerable gap to close if Tech Mahindra is to match the performance of peer leaders TCS and Infosys.

A justifiably upbeat Tech Mahindra executive team was both cautiously optimistic regarding the outlook for the business and confident that its platform centric strategy would continue to deliver growth and improved profitability. Based on these latest results, such expectations would seem far from unrealistic.

Posted by Duncan Aitchison at '18:02' - Tagged: offshore   resullts  

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Friday 25 May 2018

PureClarity secures £500k from NPIF

PureClarity logoYork-based e-commerce software start-up PureClarity has secured £500k in funding from NPIF - Mercia Equity Finance.

PureClarity, founded in 2014, has developed a platform to help both B2C and B2B companies increase online sales by providing a more personalised visitor experience. The AI-driven system tracks customer’s onsite behaviour, learns from those interactions and then provides personalised search results, product recommendations and email marketing. The software was released in 2017 and counts Norwich City Football Club, The Royal British Legion and Zyro Fisher amongst its customers.

The funding provided by NPIF - Mercia Equity Finance, which is managed by Mercia Fund Managers and part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, will be used to further develop the software and create eight new sales and marketing positions.

Posted by Dale Peters at '09:53' - Tagged: funding   ecommerce   startup   AI  

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Friday 25 May 2018

One of many Realeyes faces off £12m funding round

logoHow confusing is that? I Google'd 'realeyes' to get the good oil on the UK-based facial analysis software startup and found myself on the home page of the longer-established eponymous Colorado-based video streaming company. It's also the name of a chain of High Street opticians. Someone didn't do their branding homework, methinks.

Anyway, I tell you this because Realeyes (as in the UK startup) has raised £12m in a Series A funding round led by existing investor Draper Esprit (and see Draper Esprit to grow further with £115m placing) along with Karma Ventures and Harbert European Growth Capital. Founded in 2007, Realeyes' software uses facial recognition to try to determine a person's emotions as they watch video content. The product is used by consumer brands such as Heineken and LG to judge the effectiveness of their marketing videos.

Not sure how the business model works – perhaps fees are based on the number of smirks detected per minute?

Posted by Anthony Miller at '09:43' - Tagged: funding   startup  

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Friday 25 May 2018

GDPR: Updated Privacy Policy

TMV logoAs you are no doubt aware, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) enters force today, 25 May 2018, and will lead to significant changes in data protection laws across Europe.  

In preparation for the GDPR, we have updated our personal data handling practices and the associated privacy policy, which describes our approach to data protection. 

As TechMarketView acts as a data controller for personal data associated with UKHotViews, UKHotViews Premium and corporate subscription accounts, we wanted to advise you of these changes and the updated privacy policy, which you can view here.

Please contact us at info@techmarketview.com if you have any questions or require further information.

Posted by HotViews Editor at '09:30'

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Friday 25 May 2018

DXC Technology cranks up the margin in FY18

dxcResults out overnight from DXC Technology show CEO Mike Lawrie has made progress on key financial objectives. While revenue declined almost 5% (constant currency) in the year to $24.5bn, the adjusted EBITDA margin motored upwards from 9.6% to 14.2%.

Looking at the business segments, Global Infrastructure Services faired the worse with revenue down 5.9% to $12.5bn. However, bright spots included cloud, platform services, mobility and workplace, where good growth was to be found. Global Business Services declined 4.6% to $9.2bn.

While DXC saw double-digit growth in most of the 'digital' areas, notable was a revenue decline in analytics, year-on-year. DXC’s US Public Sector business was essentially flat in revenue terms (USPS is combining with Vencore and KeyPoint).

However, the revenue line has not been the main focus area for FY18, and DXC has been ploughing through key merger integration milestones where it claims to have exceeded its synergy targets and delivered $1.1bn of year one cost savings. In the year, the employee base was reduced by 12.6%, but like most others the company is rebalancing the workforce and hired c20,000 new people with a focus on digital capabilities.

Also worthy of note is that DXC’s Bionix automation programme has reduced delivery labour costs by more than 3%. The programme has been rolled out to more than 50,000 delivery personnel helping to automate services such as incident management and server provisioning. This is enabling it to reduce staff numbers, disruption, and speed-up resolutions.

There is no specific reference to the UK, except to say that the company continues “to gauge the potential impact of Brexit”. However, our assumption would be that the UK’s performance was similar to the global top lines.

For 2019, the company is targeting revenue of  $21.5-$22bn – in other words lower than this year.

Posted by Kate Hanaghan at '09:29' - Tagged: results   cloud   automation   digital   workforce  

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Friday 25 May 2018

Book now to join us for an Evening with TechMarketView on 13 Sept

TechMarketView Presentation and Dinner 2018

Don’t forget to book your places at the TechMarketView Presentation and Dinner on Thursday 13thSeptember – spaces are limited and over half the tickets have already been sold.

We are looking forward to welcoming some 250 UK tech CXOs to the evening event - held at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), in Portland Place, London - for a heady mix of analyst insight and quality networking. Make sure your organisation doesn’t miss this fantastic opportunity!

For more details of the event see here or contact Tina Compton at our event management partners tx2events to reserve your place.

Posted by HotViews Editor at '09:12'

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Friday 25 May 2018

Capita rights issue almost fully subscribed

capitaCapita's £700m three-for-two rights issue has been taken up by just over 97% of investors with the new stock on offer to shareholders at a heavy discount of 70p per share. Capita CEO Jonathan Lewis will be pleased to have got this out of the way. 

Lewis’s plan to ‘fix’ Capita is heavily dependent on his ability to raise at least £1bn in new funds to help transform the business and making the £701m rights issue a success was the first major hurdle. The net proceeds of the rights issue will yield some £662m, £220m of which will be used to restructure the business and reduce costs whilst the rest will go into deleveraging the business and plugging the deficit in the company’s defined benefit pension scheme.

To find the rest of the cash, Capita is looking to raise at least £300m this year by selling parts of the business not considered core and will look to deliver a further £175m through cost savings           .

Raising the money is key to Lewis’s transformation plans as he believes it necessary to invest some £500m in the company’s infrastructure, technology and people over the next three years to compensate for years of perceived underinvestment.

If Lewis is successful Capita will look very different in three years’ time and subscribers to BusinessProcessViews can read our initial assessment of the new strategy and transformation programme here in Capita - The Road to Reinvention.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '09:12' - Tagged: fundraising   transformation  

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Friday 25 May 2018

EU Supply raises a further £600K

LogoEU Supply, the Stockholm-headquartered but AIM listed public sector tender management platform, has successfully raised a further £600k of investment via the pacing and subscription of new ordinary shares. The issue price of 15p per share represents a c. 9% premium over yesterday’s closing price.

The new funds will be used primarily to enhance EU Supply’s core Complete Tender Management (CTM) e-sourcing platform. Additional features will include the better support of low value and short-term procurement needs such as the recruitment of agency staff.

Things seem to be on the up for EU Supply. Having achieved its maiden profit for the full year 2017 (see here), the company has enjoyed a string of notable sales successes over the past few months. These have included deals with Avinor, the Norwegian state-owned airport operator, the German charity Welthungerhilfe and Kommunal Agentur NRW, the German central purchasing body. As previously commented by TMV, EU Supply appears to be benefitting for the requirement for mandatory e-tendering provisions at milestones before November this year in EU/EEC states. The new capital should only help the company press its advantage still further.

Posted by Duncan Aitchison at '09:03' - Tagged: fundraising   e-commerce  

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Friday 25 May 2018

GDPR comes into force today

GDPR comes into force todayFor those of you who don't know (and frankly, where have you been?) the European Union's new data privacy law - the general data protection regulation (GDPR) - comes into force today.

Earlier this year we published a detailed analysis of specific GDPR requirements and our recommendations on how best to demonstrate compliance (see GDPR: Opportunities and Recommendations for UK SITS Suppliers 2018). And just to show that we practice what we preach, you can read TechMarketView's own updated Privacy Policy here.

We don't see any reason for immediate panic just because it is the 25th May. The national data protection authority - which in the UK's case is the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) - has made it clear it views GDPR compliance as an ongoing process and is unlikely to slap hefty fines on any organisation early doors so long as that organisation can show it is taking active steps to meet the new law's requirements.

The GDPR implements what we think is the world's strictest data privacy regulation, designed first and foremost to better protect the personal information of hundreds of millions of EU citizens. Compliance may seem like an onerous task for data processors and controllers - and depending on current levels of conformity with the UK Data Protection Act (DPA, which the GDPR supercedes), it might be.

But the GDPR also goes some way to harmonising disparate data protection laws between different countries and sets a base standard for the way personal information is processed, which should make it easier for SITS suppliers to do business in the EU. And it also reminds companies that from here on in they need to be a lot more careful about how they safeguard personal information against loss and theft (see Facebook under fire over "information warfare", Tesco - Every Little Disaster, Data breach at Sage and TalkTalk cyber attack for a small selection of the many data breaches impacting UK organisations over the last few years).

Posted by Martin Courtney at '08:56'

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Friday 25 May 2018

Higham retires as Nakama moves closer to Sheffield

logoIt's been nearly seven years since John Higham sold AIM-listed IT staff agency Highams Systems Services to Nakama (see Last waltz for Highams as Nakama reverses in) and he's probably rued the day ever since. Ardent UKHotViews readers (those without a life, anyway) will have followed the ups and downs (mostly the latter) of Nakama since then with disbelief and dismay (the latter more for the venerable Higham's business). The troubles culminated most recently in the resignation of its CFO (see Nakama naka'd in Oz).

Today it is announced that Higham is retiring as Nakama Deputy Chairman with immediate effect. Meanwhile beleaguered new CEO Andrea Williams (see Nakama naka'd (again)) has brought in a part-time 'strong and capable' interim finance director from 'substantial shareholder' executive search firm Sheffield Haworth (see Nakama sinks even deeper as swaps Sheffields) (the going rate is £750 per day if anyone is interested).

Also meanwhile, Nakama and Sheffield Haworth have sorted out their inter-business cross-referral commissions (15-30%, again if you’re interested). So far, Nakama has paid approximately £5k to Sheffield Haworth and Sheffield Haworth has paid approximately £100k to Nakama under the deal.

How long before they are one?

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:47' - Tagged: recruitment   management  

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Friday 25 May 2018

Draper Esprit to grow further with £115m placing

logoProlific UK-headquartered pan-European tech investor Draper Esprit (AIM: GROW) has celebrated today's publication of its FY results presaged last month (see Draper Esprit eyes double-size year) with the announcement of a proposed £115m placing and subscription at 420p per share, a 7% discount to last night's 450p close. The VC expects it will all be done and dusted by gin-and-tonic time this afternoon.

I've been a great fan of Draper Esprit CEO Simon Cook for yonks; he's been an ardent support of UK tech over many years through the various incarnations – and then IPO – of his investment vehicles. Recently Draper Esprit increased its backing in TechMarketView Great British Scaleup Resolving which runs the consumer complaints website, Resolver (see Great British Scaleup: Resolving/Resolver.co.uk), proving we both have a good eye for successful startups.

Today's placing signals that Cook is not taking his foot off the accelerator. This is good news for UK tech.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:05' - Tagged: fundraising  

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Thursday 24 May 2018

Ambitious Arcus Global bags £3m funding

arcus globalHaving met Arcus Global as part of our inaugural Great British Scaleups event (see Great British Scaleups Programme – GBS1 Candidate Summaries), and earlier as part of our Little British Battler programme (see Little British Battler 8 Report), we were well aware of the company’s impressive growth ambitions. Now it has the means to put more plans into action, having attracted a £3m investment from funds advised by YFM Equity Partners. 

Having launched its first software product in 2014, the company has been transitioning from a managed service provider to a software player. Evidence of its success comes in numerous forms, including its high double-digit percentage growth  (turnover expected to reach £13m in the current year – see UK Public Sector SITS Supplier Rankings 2017); the fact it was the second most successful G-Cloud provider (by sales) to local government in 2017 (see Digital Marketplace Review 2017); and the increase in its number of local government clients from six to 27 over a 12-month period (with that number expected to reach 50 in another year’s time).

Arcus’ range of applications services local authorities’ Built Environment, Regulatory Services and Housing Departments, as well as a Digital Services’ Hub. The big ambition – which, with this funding, we may now see made a reality – is to create organisation-wide working across every silo of local government, including internationally. Watch this space!

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:57' - Tagged: funding   software  

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Thursday 24 May 2018

Blue Prism teams up with identitii

blue prismRobotic Process Automation (RPA) specialist Blue Prism is getting together with financial software provider identitii to help improve the way banks and financial institutions check and verify financial transactions. 

identitiiFor financial institutions the process of collating and verifying all of the necessary information required to complete a transaction such as a cross-border corporate payment or a corporate trade deal is currently a very manual and time-consuming and thus costly process, requiring extensive anti-money laundering and financial crime checks.

RPA can enhance current RegTech solutions by not only reducing the cost to serve but by helping financial institutions securely digitise and automate payment and transaction processes provides a detailed audit trail that should help reduce fraudulent activities.

We expect to see more of these types of partnerships where RPA is deployed in conjunction with other established software solutions. Not only does it enhance the capabilities of the software providers, but it also provides the relatively small RPA vendors another great route to market as they look to scale further.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '09:47' - Tagged: partnership   RPA   RegTech  

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Thursday 24 May 2018

Acquisitive IRIS attracts a £1.3 billion valuation

LogoThe UK’s largest ever private equity led software buyout has seen Intermediate Capital Group (ICG) take a joint partnership stake alongside Hg Saturn Fund in IRIS Software Group, the acquisitive Berkshire-based accountancy and payroll solutions provider. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the investment represents an enterprise valuation of some £1.3bn.

IRIS, which generates more than 80% of its revenues by subscriptions and whose clients include The Royal Opera House and Bellway Homes, reported a top line yoy growth of 15% to £113m for the twelve months ending 30th April 2017. EBITDA for the period was up 17% to £52.7m delivering a profit margin approaching 50%, excluding the investments the company made in its new cloud-based software division.

The £1+bn enterprise valuation must be seen as a positive endorsement of the IRIS management team and its strategy. It is also a most welcome result for clients of Hg’s sixth buyout fund (Hg6), which has owned IRIS since December 2011. Following this sale, Hg6 will have returned both 4.2 times the originally invested cost and a gross IRR of 26%.

The move coincides with news that IRIS has bought Taxfiler, the cloud tax and accounts provider for small accountancy practices. Founded in 2012, Taxfiler offers a monthly subscription service for agents and accountant to submit statutory accounts and tax returns for companies, individuals and trusts. The purchase follows hot on the heels of the acquisitions of both payroll systems provider Star Computers Ltd and education software specialists Contact Group by the company over the last eight weeks. It is unlikely that it will be too long before IRIS, now armed with a fresh source of funds, is out buying again.

Posted by Duncan Aitchison at '09:41' - Tagged: private+equity   acquisiiton   softtware  

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Thursday 24 May 2018

Sonata's services play out year in reasonable tune

logoBangalore-based Sonata Software is very much the junior member of the mid-tier Indian pure-play brigade, but nonetheless seems to be enjoying the relatively good fortunes of its rather larger peers.

Sonata's International IT Services revenues grew by 13% to Rs9.3b (~$145m) in the FY to 31st March, with an EBITDA margin of 23.6%, a tad higher than the prior year.

In truth, Sonata will struggle to make any sort of mark here in the UK (see Sonata cranks up volume of its offshore serenade), with tough competition from peers in its focus verticals (Travel, Retail/Distribution). But Sonata also has a strong suit providing development services to ISVs  (independent software vendors) and this may turn out to be a more fruitful route into our market.  

Posted by Anthony Miller at '09:36' - Tagged: results   offshore  

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Thursday 24 May 2018

When You Move gets funding for UK expansion

wymPropTech startup, When You Move, has secured funding of £3m in a round led by London-based VC, fig.

The startup aims to fully automate the end-to-end process of conveyancing. The company’s founders had previously worked within a law firm, where they experienced first hand the challenges of what is a highly-manual and offline process. 

The funding will be used to increase the customer service and development teams, with some other senior appointments already being made. When You Move recently launched in Northern Ireland and Scotland, and clearly aims to take on the rest of the UK market.

Posted by Kate Hanaghan at '09:33' - Tagged: funding  

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Thursday 24 May 2018

Earthport appoints new CEO

earthportPayment network specialist Earthport announced this morning that it had appointed Microsoft General Manager Amanda Mesler as its new CEO with effect from the 1st July. 

Amanda MislerFormer CEO Hank Uberoi will also step down as Executive Chairman but will remain on the Board as a Non-Executive Director and Senior Advisor to the CEO and board.

Mesler has over 25 years of experience at senior management and board level at a number of large international companies as well as smaller, high growth businesses. Currently, Mesler is General Manager at Microsoft, managing the Enterprise Business in Central and Eastern Europe. Prior to this, Mesler was the COO of Misys, the financial services software company and has also held a number of senior roles at Logica including CEO of Global Business Consulting andCEO of North America.

Mesler joins at a time when Earthport is working hard to get back on track following a setback at the end of last year when it’s share price fell significantly on the news that revenues for FY 2018 would be well below market expectations. Since then some progress has been made and the pipeline appears strong but key to Mesler’s success will be scaling its customer relationships at much greater speed.

Management expectations for FY2018 (set out in March), were for modest growth, of around 10% to £33m with the elusive cash break-even objective now targeted for end FY2019.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '09:13' - Tagged: network   payments   blockchain  

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Thursday 24 May 2018

TalkTalk builds FTTP JV, sells direct B2B to Daisy

TalkTalk funds FTTP JV with direct B2B saleTalkTalk will boost its ability to compete with BT Openreach, CityFibre and Virgin Media in the consumer fibre to the premise (FTTP) market with the formation of a joint venture with Prudential-owned Infracapital, partly funded by the £175m sale of its direct business to business (B2B) to Daisy.

The JV will be led by current TalkTalk chief operating officer Charles Blight and ex BT wholesale CEO Paul Reynolds. When the deal completes in July, Daisy will inherit around 80k direct B2B customers (which represent less than 17% of TalkTalk's total B2B revenue) with all continuing to be connected by the TalkTalk network under a wholesale arrangement between the two companies.TalkTalk funds FTTP JV with direct B2B sale

Daisy will both expand its SMB customer base and further scale up its ability to offer customers fixed and mobile network connectivity as a component of broader managed service propositions following the £184m acquisition of Alternative Networks last year. Whilst it made no mention of TalkTalk, Daisy issued a press release yesterday advertising the availability of 300Mbit/s ultrafast FTTP broadband connectivity products for SMBs in certain UK cities, supplemented by voice, mobile, security and business continuity services.

Consumer broadband provision delivers the mainstay of TalkTalk revenue, but the company maintained an indirect B2B revenue of around £500m in FY18, with particularly strong growth in Ethernet connections. A key advantage in jettisoning direct B2B is that TalkTalk will no longer compete directly with existing partners such as Sky, which could pave the way for further wholesale agreements.

We think that a radical simplification of TalkTalk's business also looks necessary to appease investors. Preliminary FY18 results suggest that though revenue was up 1% yoy  to c£1.7bn, EBITDA was down 35 % to £233m after one off costs concerning the exit of TalkTalk's mobile strategy (£33m), the MVNO operating loss (£13m), restructuring (£34m) and network transformation (£17m) impacted the bottom line. Post tax profits too shrank to £18m from £154m in FY17, with basic earnings per share dipping to 1.8p from 16.2p a year earlier.

Posted by Martin Courtney at '09:03' - Tagged: broadband   TalkTalk   Daisy   wholesale   FTTP  

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Thursday 24 May 2018

Startup Ultromics gets £10m funding for cardio AI tech

ultUltromics has received £10m in funding in an investment round led by Oxford Sciences Innovation. Those participating include Neptune, RT Ventures, GT Healthcare, Tanarra, Fushia, and other angel investors.

Ultromics’ aim is to increase the accuracy and efficiency of cardiology diagnoses.The startup claims it can use artificial intelligence and one of the world’s largest imaging databases to improve diagnostic accuracy to more than 90%. The company’s founders are Oxford University academics with expertise in cardiovascular medicine and imaging.

The funding will be used to commercialise the technology, first in the US and then in the UK next year.

Posted by Kate Hanaghan at '09:01' - Tagged: health   funding   AI   cardio  

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Thursday 24 May 2018

Steady progress for Liberata

Liberata logoAccounts recently filed with Companies House reveal the first full year of results for public sector business process service specialist Liberata under its new owner, Outsourcing Inc.

Revenue for the year ended 31 December 2017 fell slightly to £62.5m (2016: £63.4m). Gross profit was up 14% at £11.4m (2016: £10.1m), with profit before tax falling 18% to £2.3m (2016: £2.8m). The improvement in gross profit is the result of an operational transformation programme, which included office relocations and refurbishments, and investments in technology, service automation and operational effectiveness.

During the year it secured a £54m extension to its contract with Pendle Borough Council; a new deal (including taking on additional services) with long-term customer London Borough of Hounslow, worth up to £75m; and a new customer win with London Borough of Hillingdon, worth £5.4m.

Although the majority of its revenue (c.80%) is derived from local government, Liberata is also active in central government. During the year it secured an extension to its contract with Benefits Pension Digital & Technology Services (a Department for Work and Pensions-owned company) and won a new contract to run the payroll for Highways England. However, the bulk of its income from central government comes from its contract to deliver Financial Transaction Processing Services for Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS), an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). Based on Digital Marketplace data, this contract was worth £8.1m in 2017.

The business would benefit from further expanding its footprint in central government, as currently too much relies on the HMCTS contract, which is now in its 12th year via numerous contractual evolutions and extensions (see Liberata retains HMCTS through G-Cloud). Liberata has developed a good relationship with the MoJ over this time, but it will need to compete hard for this contract when it is retendered later this year.

Despite the challenges of the public sector BPS market, Liberata’s Forward Order Book suggests that 2018 will see the business moving in the right direction. It stood at £256m at the end of 2017, an increase of £57m since the company was acquired and at its highest point since 2012. We also expect to see the business consider M&A opportunities during the year.

Posted by Dale Peters at '08:59' - Tagged: results   centralgovernment   localgovernment   bpo   bps  

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Thursday 24 May 2018

LTI sprints through the billion-dollar barrier

logoFollowing a cracking Q3 (see LTI leaps ahead), Mumbai-based mid-tier offshore services firm LTI (aka Larsen & Toubro Infotech) ended the year with a sprint.

Q4 revenues (to 31st March) leapt nearly 22% yoy to $309m, bringing FY revenues to $1.13b, up nearly 17% and its first billion-dollar year. Management couldn't quite maintain the same momentum on profitability, as operating margins eased back to 12.8% in Q4 leaving the FY down two points at a still respectable 14.1%.

The challenge now is whether LTI can keep up the frenetic pace!

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:27' - Tagged: results   offshore  

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Thursday 24 May 2018

GDPR: Updated Privacy Policy

TMV logoAs you are no doubt aware, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) enters force tomorrow, 25 May 2018, and will lead to significant changes in data protection laws across Europe.  

In preparation for the GDPR, we have updated our personal data handling practices and the associated privacy policy, which describes our approach to data protection. 

As TechMarketView acts as a data controller for personal data associated with UKHotViews, UKHotViews Premium and corporate subscription accounts, we wanted to advise you of these changes and the updated privacy policy, which you can view here.

Please contact us at info@techmarketview.com if you have any questions or require further information.

Posted by HotViews Editor at '07:00' - Tagged: GDPR  

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Thursday 24 May 2018

NorthRow extends its Open Banking role

logoEarlier this year Contego Fraud Solutions changed its name to NorthRow, to better pursue its international ambitions (avoiding potential US problems as another “Contego” was active in an adjacent market). Just before the name change, the company announced its collaboration with the Open Banking Implementation Entity (“OBIE”) to support the verification of the identities of UK-based personnel working on Open Banking and PSD2 implementation.

After a competitive tender, the company met the OBIE's demanding requirements for a high-security solution to verify documents, addresses and identity, even using mobile video to minimise potential risk. NorthRow provides a managed service to the OBIE, assuring the identity of employees of financial institutions and developers participating in the industry-wide move to Open Banking.

This relationship has now developed, with the OBIE deciding to extend NorthRow's remit to provide verification checks on international users, both in the EU and further afield.

As well as becoming an important revenue stream, the deal provides a top-drawer endorsement as the company bids for similar contracts across the banking and payments ecosystems. Additonal opportunities will open up as MiFID II requires financial services companies to report on the appropriateness of investment strategies for their customers. Further impetus should result from the recent partnership with muinmos, a specialist Danish provider of software that assesses appropriateness, to deliver an integrated solution to on-board customers and manage the KYC and AML processes.

The team at NorthRow have succeeded in assembling many of the complex processes involved in identity verification behind a single API and can now provide managed “Identity as a Service” to its growing customer list. Revenue almost doubled in 2017 and with a recent injection of funds and a new CFO, we can continue to expect big things from this former “Little British Battler”.

Posted by Peter Roe at '06:03' - Tagged: security   banking   identity   fraud  

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Wednesday 23 May 2018

Sanderson Group strengthening in 2018

logoWith 34% revenue growth in H1 (to 31 March 2018) to £14.6m, Sanderson Group is gaining strength but 11% organic growth was reassuring too and underlines the improvements the company has made since the tightness of  FY17. Efficiency improvements (plus a major acquisition) was evident in the operating profit which also grew 34%, to £2.1m.

We saw business momentum last month when the company that provides technology to the digital retail sector and ERP and SCM to manufacturing, wholesale distribution and logistics released its pre close trading update. Today’s interim results show the divergent performance between the two divisions that has been evident for some time but also the actions the management team is taking to tackle it.

As has become the norm, the smaller but growing digital retail division was the (organic) growth engine for the company with revenue up 20% to £4.3m (29% of total revenue). At £0.7m operating profit was slim but had doubled yoy.

The Enterprise division saw revenue increase 40% to £10.4m with operating profit up 13% £1.03m however growth came from the Anisa acquisition, while Sanderson’s existing businesses in this division saw a decline. Revenue from the manufacturing sub division declined 0.9% but Wholesale Retail & Logistics saw a 12% fall. All the growth came from the £3.5m contribution from Anisa. The company is settling in, the challenge now is leveraging it across the business, particularly the Enterprise section.

What does come through from the results is that Sanderson is adapting the business, growing top and bottom lines and maintaining its history of cash generation. 10% of its revenue came from new customers – which was particularly good to see – and 50% from recurring revenue so it has stability. Sales cycles are long but management says the value has increased and there has been no loss of customer confidence.

Posted by Angela Eager at '09:56' - Tagged: results   software   digitaltransformation  

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Wednesday 23 May 2018

HPE sees double-digit UK growth in Q2

HPEResults out overnight from HPE show an upbeat performance across EMEA and in the UK specifically.

Revenue growth in Europe (EMEA in total is 37% of total revenue) continued to be strong, up 9% (constant currency), with “double-digit” growth in UK, France and Italy.

Performance was strong across all business units with “double-digit” growth in compute, storage and Aruba products and Services. This would suggest that HPE has had a good quarter not only with newer offerings (i.e. from a smaller revenue base) such as its Greenlake Pay-As-You-Go on-premise compute/storage offering, but in the established areas too (i.e. where growth can be harder to find).

Globally, revenue increased 6.4% (constant currency) to $7.5bn. Q1 growth was faster (9.4%) and we stated at the time that we did not believe that was sustainable into Q2. While we were right, 6% is still a good result.

We believe good execution coupled with empowerment of local leadership teams is contributing to the positive performance. An example of where this empowerment is having a tangible impact in the UK is the recent acquisition of RedPixie. However, HPE must be careful to protect this capability to ensure it doesn’t lose its essence or become swamped by sales demands.

The broader challenge in the UK and other countries besides is ensuring that customers, partners and any other relevant parties fully understand the scope of what HPE can do for them now. There is the risk that some believe the HPE of today is simply the leftover parts of the spin/merge/sale processes of the recent past, whereas its business/acquisition strategies (RedPixie, Plexxi and Cape being recent examples) and financial performance clearly demonstrate otherwise.

There was nice news for shareholders, too. During the quarter HPE began executing against its $7bn capital return plan and the company also announced that it would raise the dividend by c50% from Q3. Delivering against its strategy and driving up shareholder value are key objectives of the HPE NEXT initiative, which will continue to drive change as the financial year progresses.

Posted by Kate Hanaghan at '09:48' - Tagged: results   hybrid  

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Wednesday 23 May 2018

Samsung chooses Cambridge for AI research

Samsung chooses Cambridge for AI researchSamsung's new artificial intelligence (AI) research facility in Cambridge marks a rush of investment as big IT companies search for ways to integrate the technology into their software and services.

Led by the former director of Microsoft's Cambridge Laboratory Professor Andrew Blake, the lab is one of three AI centres Samsung will set up across the globe. Others are being established in Toronto and Moscow to supplement those already opened in Seoul and Silicon Valley, with Samsung growing its complement of AI research staff to over 1,000.

As a mobile phone and Internet of Things (IoT) device maker, Samsung has a vested interest in honing its user centric AI communication and interaction algorithms - particularly in areas like emotion recognition which can help turn computers into "seeing machines". The South Korean company has belatedly developed its Bixby AI-powered voice assistant to compete with Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana and Apple Siri.

Nor is Samsung the only tech company rushing to develop AI and machine learning (ML) - similar plans have emerged from Microsoft (see Microsoft and GOSH to use AI to transform child health and Microsoft adds to conversational AI with Semantic machines), Atos and Dell EMC, Oracle, Google and Cisco this month alone. Samsung's commitment also dovetails nicely with the government's pledge to invest millions of pounds in the new technology to aid early cancer detection.

Subscribers to TechMarketView can read our reports Intelligent automation - What a maturing market means for BPS players and Machine Learning-as-a-Service: Market Overview, Technology, Prospects for a more detailed analysis of AI/ML adoption in the IT industry.

Posted by Martin Courtney at '09:45' - Tagged: research   AI   research   research   research   research   Samsung  

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Wednesday 23 May 2018

Koru Kids raises £3.5m to target childcare market

koru kidsLondon based Koru Kids is the latest start-up raising money to disrupt the UK’s multi-billion-pound childcare market.

Koru Kids has raised £3.5m in funding in a Seed round led by Forward Partners and Albion Capital and also drew support from JamJar investments and several Angel investors.

The technology is designed to shake-up the after-school childcare sector helping connect parents with an appropriately matched after-school nanny and then taking care of all the admin and paperwork and making it all affordable at £12 per hour (including all costs). The company also works with nannies helping select candidates and providing them with the necessary training.

The start-up was founded in 2016 by Rachel Carrell, a former McKinsey consultant, after she realised the how difficult it was to arrange childcare following the birth of her first child

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '09:23' - Tagged: funding   startup  

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Wednesday 23 May 2018

Microsoft and GOSH to use AI to transform child health

Microsoft logoGreat Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) and Microsoft have announced they will collaborate on the development of artificial intelligence (AI) tools aimed at transforming the health of children.

The partnership, which was launched at Microsoft’s ‘Leading transformation with AI’ event yesterday, follows hot on the heels of the announcement that University College London Hospitals (UCLH) and the Alan Turing Institute will be working together to explore the use of data science and AI to support clinical decision making (see UCLH and Alan Turing Institute: AI medics on the march).

GOSH logoGOSH, alongside University College London (UCL), is already working with Microsoft on an Industry Exchange Network. The partnership allows UCL students to use Microsoft technologies to respond to healthcare briefs from GOSH. Proofs of concept are then available for GOSH to test and potentially develop into solutions that could be extended to the wider NHS. It has already undertaken a number of projects, including the use of microphones, cameras and AI transcription to capture and analyse environmental data during complex procedures to determine best practice and aid learning. GOSH is now creating a Digital Research, Informatics and Virtual Environments unit to help assess projects developed through the Network.

In the latest partnership, GOSH and Microsoft will focus on the use of machine learning, assisted decision making and the use of medical chatbots. The aim is to improve child healthcare provision by making it safer, more effective and more personalised, as well as enhancing patient experience.

There is little doubt that AI will fundamentally change healthcare in the UK, but before its true potential can be realised industry, academia, government and the wider society will need to consider carefully a wide range of factors, including, but not limited to: data access, cyber-security, accuracy and efficacy, trust and ethics, demand management, and workforce implications.

Posted by Dale Peters at '08:49' - Tagged: partnership   healthcare   AI   machinelearning  

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Tuesday 22 May 2018

UCLH and Alan Turing Institute: AI medics on the march

logoA partnership between University College London Hospitals (UCLH) and the Alan Turing Institute could break all sorts of boundaries as they explore the use of AI/machine learning in clinical environments to “revolutionise the NHS”. They are not holding back – talking about potentially replacing doctors in some instances, diagnosing cancer on CT scans, deciding which A&E patients are seen first, reducing A&E waiting times and directing resources.

logoMany people will recoil from a scenario where technology replaces medics but the objective is to support clinical decision making to make services safer, quicker and more efficient. When you consider the complexities of many conditions and the amount of information medical staff have to juggle in short order to diagnose and treat patients, it doesn’t make sense not to consider how to apply AI/machine learning. But it has to work ‘with’ human medics, as UCLH chief executive Prof Marcel Levi stressed: “machines will never replace doctors, but the use of data, expertise and technology can radically change how we manage our services – for the better.”

This partnership and the sentiment around using technology to drive radical change in healthcare echo prime minister Teresa May’s comments about the use of smart technologies to improve early diagnoses and open up new fields of research (see PM setting AI onto early cancer diagnosis). As we pointed out, there are ethical, privacy and trust considerations (issues that the partners are overtly addressing), as well as ensuring the right infrastructure, the practicalities of data wrangling and sharing, finding the resources (and headspace) within the NHS and keeping a lid on unrealistic expectations. Those considerations also play into the UCLH/Alan Turing plans.

From a tech industry perspective, success with this type of project could go a long way towards demonstrating the value of AI/machine learning and provide insight into value and time to value. What’s even more reassuring is that although UCLH hasn’t revealed how much it is investing, it’s being described as “substantial.”  

Posted by Angela Eager at '17:45' - Tagged: publicsector   partnership   software   machinelearning   machineintelligence  

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Tuesday 22 May 2018

*NEW RESEARCH* UKCloud: Responding to a changing market

UKCloud logoUKCloud (originally Skyscape Cloud Services) has just completed its seventh year of operations. It has been a year-on-year growth story. However, growth has slowed significantly year-on-year, so that in FY18 (to end March), we estimate the company will have grown in the low single digit percentages.

Recent growth levels are below management aspirations. However, there are ambitious plans to return the business to “punchy” growth and to cement UKCloud’s position as the public cloud provider of choice in the UK public sector.

In this PublicSectorViews’ research note, we consider the reasons behind the recent slowdown in growth and consider whether recent investments will accelerate the expansion of the business and allow UKCloud to dominate the UK public-sector IaaS market.

Subscribers to TechMarketView's PublicSectorViews and InfrastructureViews research streams can access the research note - UKCloud: Responding to a changing market - now. If you are not a subscriber please contact Deb Seth to find out how to access our valuable behind-the-paywall analysis.

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '12:09' - Tagged: public+sector   cloud   iaas   hosting   infrastructureservices   corporateactivity  

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Tuesday 22 May 2018

UK lags in strong year for First Derivatives

logoFirst Derivatives, market leader in ultra-high-performance data analytics, returned group-wide revenue growth of 23%, to £186m for the year to February. Software (60% of group revenue) grew by 27% and managed services and consulting (40%) advanced by 17%. EBITDA was up 19% to £34m.

The maturity of the company’s proposition was evidenced by the continued penetration of the existing customer base, particularly in the financial services (“FinTech”) business which accounts for 75% of revenue and the bulk of profits. First Derivatives continues to build its strategic position and share of wallet as more services are rolled out across business units. Two key drivers in FinTech are the intense focus on driving more value out of ever larger data flows and the need to meet more stringent regulatory requirements.

The group’s investment in “MarTech”, supporting larger on-line retailers, is also paying off. This business advanced by 24%, contributing 20% of revenue. First Derivatives is now pushing its marketing proposition into other customer-facing businesses such as financial services, healthcare and food services markets.

The marketing proposition is based on technology acquired in 2016, one step in a concerted strategy of acquisitions and partnership development to extend the group’s scope, reach and portfolio and leverage the Kx database technology. Other revenue streams will build in importance, such as in sensor analytics in the engineering sector, automotive analysis, where FD supports Aston Martin-Red Bull Racing, and now in gaming. The 2017 acquisition of network specialist Telconomics will spearhead FD’s move into the telco sector.

Amid otherwise excellent results, UK revenue only advanced 8%, after 30% growth in 2016/7. Richer pickings in the US (now 43% of revenue) may have distracted, but management must not lose focus as it builds a broadly-based, rapidly-growing and predictable business.

Posted by Peter Roe at '09:44' - Tagged: analytics   big+data   retail   regulation   FinTech   data  

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Tuesday 22 May 2018

1Spatial tightens focuses on geospatial core

1spFull year results out today from 1Spatial, the geospatial software firm, contain few surprises. In a trading update in March, the company stated that it had divested of a significant share of its (loss making) cloud division, which was the Enables IT business it acquired in 2015. This strategic move happened under the stewardship of (fairly) new CEO, Claire Milverton (who was previously the 1Spatial’s CFO) and sees the firm tighten its focus around its core geospatial business.

Revenues from continuing operations (i.e. excluding the divested business) were up 12% to £16.9m, with increases across all territories and revenue streams. Notably, continuing operations swung from a £900k loss last year to an adjusted EBITDA profit of £400k

By focusing its sale approach in three key sectors (government, utilities and transportation), sales have picked up across board, including the UK where its Northern Gas Networks framework is now four times what it was when originally signed in September 2017.

Now in a more positive financial position, 1Spatial can look to the future. Furthermore, investments in areas such as increasing data types added to the core 1Integrate product and development of the new Data Gateway product should help contribute to further sales opportunities. In addition, the company says its seeing the benefits from taking a customer-focused approach and is increasingly able to replicate innovations in tangential markets.

Posted by Kate Hanaghan at '09:39' - Tagged: results   geospatial  

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Tuesday 22 May 2018

Adzuna raises more funds

Adzuna logoAdzuna, the meta-search engine for jobs, has raised £8m in Series C funding from Smedvig Capital. The last time we wrote about Adzuna was in March when the SME surprised by winning a £2.5m per year contract with DWP for its Find a Job service (replacing Universal Jobmatch). In Adzuna succeeds Monster at DWP, we highlighted its previous funding rounds, including when it raised £2.1m from over 500 investors via Crowdcube in 2015. Other backers include Index Ventures, Passion Capital, and LocalGlobe. Total funding now stands at £12m.

This is the first time that Adzuna has revealed its size in terms of revenue: at £1 million monthly. The information tells us that the DWP contract was a significant boost to the company – perhaps increasing its monthly run-rate by 20-25%. Here, Adzuna, with limited public-sector experience, took the smart route by joining the Govstart programme (at a cost of 3% equity in their organisation), which provided it with the know-how to deal with Government. But Adzuna also cites strong growth outside the UK, in markets such as the US, Germany, Netherlands, France and Brazil. It has multiple revenue streams from referring jobseekers to jobs, promotion of job ad listings, and the sale of labour market data sales.

The startup is differentiating from the legacy jobsite giants through the utilisation of emerging technologies and smart data. For example, its ValueMyCV tool, which allows users to upload their CV to get a free instant estimate of its market salary, and the job matching tool, which utilises machine learning technology. Indeed, this latest investment is set to be used to further improve job search, with priorities for 2018 including expanding the company's development and data science teams, as well as expanding the US and international operations.

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:37' - Tagged: funding   recruitment   investment  

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Tuesday 22 May 2018

Adobe puts up $1.68bn to access ecommerce sector

logoAdobe is bidding for a larger share of the digital commerce market with the proposed acquisition of ecommerce platform provider Magento Commerce. At $1.68bn, it would be Adobe’s third largest acquisition.

The plan is to wrap it into Adobe Experience Cloud where Magento's transactional capability will extend its reach, adding the ability to complete transactions to existing capabilities that cover digital ad design, e-commerce website building and the creation of online customer experiences.

Magento is a revenue generator in its own right but within the Adobe portfolio it will also be a vehicle for more direct monetisation of the data and content that lies at the heart of Adobe’s business. Management will also be looking to Magento to scale up the newer Experience Cloud business which is smaller than Creative Cloud ($2.03bn and $4.17bn respectively at the end of FY17) and was created to enable Adobe to broaden its horizons beyond digital media. Adobe has been growing well since its accelerated cloud transition (see here and work back) and Magento provides another growth opportunity.

With this acquisition, which is expected to close in Q3, Adobe will be in competition with Salesforce, SAP and Oracle who also acquired their way into sector. The reason for the investments is that ecommerce is an important part of the overall customer experience and a necessary addition in an environment where digital assets are the way forward.

Posted by Angela Eager at '09:29' - Tagged: acquisition   cloud   ecommerce   software   customerexperience   digitaltransformation  

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Tuesday 22 May 2018

DisplayNote squeezes more funding from BoI's kernel

logoIt's a little unclear to me whether Belfast-based DisplayNote Technologies primarily targets its collaboration software suite at end-user enterprises or whether it sees itself more as an embedded software supplier to display technology hardware manufacturers. Maybe the clue is indeed in the name, or maybe it really doesn't matter, at least not yet.

Anyway, for now it seems it's onwards and upwards as DisplayNote has raised a further £1.1m in a Series B funding round led by prior backer Bank of Ireland Kernel Capital Growth Fund. Founded in 2012, DisplayNote raised €1.25m in October 2014.

The collaboration software market is heavily populated with lifeforms from early stage, through ripe-and-ready, to well-past-use-by-date, so it isn't easy to find a space to grow and thrive. Perhaps DisplayNote's 'dual personality' serving both buy-side and sell-side markets will turn out to be a useful differentiator – or a great way to hedge its bets.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '09:05' - Tagged: funding   startup  

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Tuesday 22 May 2018

Hoop secures £4m funding to expand kids’ activity app

hoopJust in time for the half-term holiday, Hoop the app that helps parents find and book activities for their kids has secured £4m in Series A funding.

The round was led by Edge Investments with participation from Business Growth Fund and other investors. Edge Investments specialises in businesses in the creative industries and has raised £200m since it was launched in 2016 making five investments to date. This latest investment follows a BGF Ventures-led round of £2.4m in 2017.

Led by CEO Daniel Bower the Hoop app helps parents discover and book local activities for children; from kids sports and swimming lessons, to baby and toddler groups, drama classes and arts and crafts. Hoop is specifically targeting millennial parents who value experiences above anything else and expect on-demand services delivered via their smartphones.

The company intends to use the funds to scale operations, to solidify market share in the UK, and to expand in the US. Since it was launched in London in 2016, the app has been downloaded over 750,000 times and was also voted one of the “Best Apps of the Year” by Apple in 2016 and 2017.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '09:01' - Tagged: funding   app  

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Tuesday 22 May 2018

Microsoft adds to conversational AI with Semantic Machines

logoConversational AI is one of the areas of expertise Microsoft is targeting within the broad spectrum of AI/machine learning and its latest tuck-in acquisition has been made with that in mind. Berkeley, California-based Semantic Machines’ speech recognition capability is designed to add context to conversations with chatbots. The plan is to wrap the technology into Microsoft’s conversational AI developments – and create a conversational AI centre of excellence in Berkeley. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Conversation as a platform’ was one of the major messages back at Microsoft’s Build 2016 event and has been developing since then, most recently at Build 2018 there were developments around infusing voice and image recognition into products like Office 365. The race to master the voice interface is intense – recent developments saw Google demonstrate a chat between a human and a human-like chatbot (that some people found disturbing because it was hard to determine which speaker was the human and which was the chatbot), while Amazon has been adding conversational context and (rudimentary) memory to Alexa.

Much of the voice interface work in the overall market has been in conjunction with digital assistants and voice activated speakers, particularly in the consumer sector. Bringing voice into the mainstream business environment will be an important development. Without an in-house developed voice activated speaker (it has a partnership with audio firm Harman Kardon but there’s not much chatter around it), Microsoft is more focussed on applying voice to its applications which could give it an edge - although with the announcement of Alexa for Business, Amazon is leading. There is everything to play for. 

Posted by Angela Eager at '08:24' - Tagged: acquisition   software   machinelearning   machineintelligence  

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Tuesday 22 May 2018

Ideal Flatmate's ideal backers add more dosh

logoNot only has the funding gone up but so has its pricing! I'm talking about London-based Ideal Flatmate (does what it says etc, etc), which has just raised a further £750k in a second seed funding round backed by original investors Steve Leach and David Pollock. This gives the startup a post-money valuation of £3.75m.

When I wrote about Ideal Flatmate's prior funding round last July (see Ideal Flatmate gets funding to help find …), they were charging room-letters £4.99 week to find punters. This fee has now risen to a £8.99 a week for their 'Essentials' service, and from £49 to £109 per month for professional landlords. As far as I can tell, Ideal Flatmate doesn't get involved in the transaction itself, unlike Airbnb, so does not take a commission on the rent, i.e. it's a flat share advertising website 'with smarts'.

Interestingly (well, to me, anyway) the only flat-shares featured on Ideal Flatmate's home page are agency properties, one of which agencies (Myrooms) appears to be a direct competitor to Ideal Flatmate (there are many others, by the way) and offers a full managed service for landlords (I guess like Airhosted does for Airbnb). So is the ultimate aim of the exercise that Ideal Flatmate becomes a room-share platform aggregator?

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:17' - Tagged: funding   startup  

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Monday 21 May 2018

PayPal overwhelms iZettle

logoiZ

Another day, another M&A deal in the payments sector. After Worldline’s purchase of SIX last week to transform the European payments business, PayPal’s US$2.2bn move to buy Stockholm-based iZettle will have global importance.

PayPal has been very active in investing in smaller companies to add potentially disruptive technologies to its portfolio but this deal, by far the largest it has ever done, will significantly broaden the company’s angle of attack into the payments sector. iZettle brings much greater capability in the small business sector, with its card reader technology enabling companies to take debit and credit card payments from customers. This will bring PayPal into direct competition with new-generation companies like Square, as well as established acquirers like Worldpay (now part of Vantiv) with their in-store systems and extended networks, enabling PayPal to capture a greater proportion of the payments value chain and consequent margin. The deal will also go some way to fill the (revenue and strategic) hole created by Ebay’s decision last year to manage payments on its own platform. Ebay had accounted for 20% of PayPal’s revenue.

PayPal waded in for iZettle as the Swedish company moved towards an IPO. The bid price was twice the proposed IPO valuation, giving the founders of iZettle an easy decision as to whether to accept the offer. With a stockmarket valuation of over US$90bn, this deal may well not be PayPal’s only bold step to capture more of the dynamic payments market.

Posted by Peter Roe at '09:27' - Tagged: acquisition   payments   M&A  

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Monday 21 May 2018

Do you have what it takes to be a TechMarketView analyst?

TMV logoTechMarketView is expanding and we’re looking for someone with a passion for financial services and fintech to join our friendly team as a Research Director or Principal Analyst.

You may already have been working as an analyst for a number of years, you may be working for a financial services organisation in the tech space, or perhaps you come from the worlds of journalism or market intelligence within the UK tech industry and are keen to take on a new challenge?

Whatever your background, you will need to be able to demonstrate expertise in the market for software and IT services within the financial services sector, particularly in the UK.

Join the TechMarketView team

Of course, it’s just as important that you’ll be a good fit with our small but growing team.  We’re looking for people who are:

·      self-motivated team players with strong business acumen

·      able to demonstrate integrity, drive, an enquiring mind & analytical thinking

·      excellent written and verbal communicators known for attention to detail and the ability to meet deadlines

·      experienced in interpreting data and drawing insightful conclusions

·      accustomed to engaging with senior decision makers and presenting to clients

·      happy working from home (we all do) but able to attend monthly meetings in the Guildford area (Surrey) plus client meetings in London.

There is scope to tailor the role for the right candidate, who may work on a full-time or part-time basis. Naturally we offer a competitive compensation package, commensurate with experience.

If you think you fit the bill and you’re interested in joining the ‘TechMarketView family’ please send your CV and a covering email to our Chief Research Officer, Kate Hanaghan (khanaghan@techmarketview.com), before the end of May.

Please note that we do not accept resumes from recruitment agencies, headhunters and other third party services providers – only direct applications will be considered.

Posted by HotViews Editor at '09:21'

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Monday 21 May 2018

PM setting AI on to early cancer diagnosis

logoPrime minister Teresa May is to pledge millions of pounds to fund the use of AI/Machine learning for early detection of cancer and chronic conditions. With experts saying early cancer detection could save 22,000 lives in the UK per year, this is the sort of technology-enabled outcome few would argue with.

imageDuring a speech in Macclesfield, the PM will say: "Late diagnosis of otherwise treatable illnesses is one of the biggest causes of avoidable deaths… The development of smart technologies to analyse great quantities of data quickly and with a higher degree of accuracy than is possible by human beings opens up a whole new field of medical research." The AI/machine learning funding is part of the Grand Challenges set out in the 2017 Industrial Strategy. We see the welcome ambition as one of the types of developments the TechMarketView’s “breaking the boundaries” research theme seeks to highlight.

Early cancer detection is the sort of scenario that is perfect for AI/machine learning - narrowly defined use cases coupled with reams of relevant data. The ambition is to develop and run algorithms on the NHS’s treasure trove of data, analysing patients' medical records, genetic data and lifestyle habits to provide GP’s with information to trigger earlier intervention.

What’s notable for the tech sector is the PM sees a significant role for private sector organisations. They could be hyperscale cloud providers and those with AI/machine technologies and expertise. This is a major opportunity (healthcare is a prime and active area for AI/machine learning: BenevolentAI raises $115m to scale-up drug discovery being one recent example) but there are warning flags including privacy and ethical concerns about commercial companies using NHS data for profit. Hopefully Lessons from Deep Mind/Royal Free will be valuable in helping shape initiatives and responsible data use. There are other considerations too, such as ensuring the right infrastructure, the practicalities of data wrangling and sharing, finding the resources (and headspace) within the NHS to take on the ambition and keeping a lid on unrealistic expectations. However, it has so much potential to make a difference - clinically and from a tech perspective in showing the ability of AI/machine learning to deliver tangible outcomes.

Posted by Angela Eager at '09:10' - Tagged: publicsector   software   machinelearning   machineintelligence  

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Monday 21 May 2018

Startupbootcamp Insurtech programme shifts into a higher gear

logoProgress in both the Insurtech sector and the maturity of accelerator schemes were in evidence as Startupbootcamp celebrated the end of its third Insurtech programme with its Demo Day last week.

This year’s Insurtech programme focused on 11 startups, chosen from over 1,000 applicants, as described in our December HotView, see Insurtech returns to centre stage….These start-ups, bringing expertise and enthusiasm across a wide range of technologies were able to make great strides in terms of proposition and strategic development following three months of collaboration with Startupbootcamp’s 28-strong list of established industry partners which literally spans the A to Z of the insurance sector (from Admiral to Zurich). All of the start-up participants had signed (or were on the brink of signing) partnership deals with larger companies.

Central to the success of the accelerator is the ability to focus on real business problems, thereby ensuring a meaningful dialogue between the rigorously selected Insurtech newcomer and the larger player. Startupbootcamp has now shepherded 50 companies through its Insurtech accelerator programme and claims that over 300 pilots and partnerships have been set up as a result.

Sabine Vanderlinden, the CEO of Startupbootcamp’s Insurtech initiative, has now announced the launch of its Colab programme for Insurtech. This innovation programme will focus on industry-wide themes, enabling its industry partners to collaborate with early-stage companies on a global basis as they address disruption and new market opportunities. This programme should give added impetus to the Insurtech sector and further reinforce Startupbootcamp’s position within it.

Posted by Peter Roe at '08:52' - Tagged: funding   partnerships   insurance   insurtech  

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Monday 21 May 2018

Highland proves a lucky talisman for Incopro

logoOriginally founded by a law firm, London-headquartered Incopro has developed into a sort of tech-led one-stop-shop to help brands counter IP infringement. Underpinning Incopro's services is its Talisman software platform which is basically a search engine trawling the internet oceans looking for pirates and other evil-doers. Incopro also acts as a hub for a network of global legal firms and IP experts who can provide its clients with advice on how to skin them when you catch them (not their terminology, I hasten to add!).

Incorporated in 2011, Incorpro has just raised a substantial $21m in a funding round backed by Highland Europe in what appears to be its first injection of external cash. The funding will be used for R&D and to expand its existing operations in China, as well as other geographies.

I have no idea how Incopro's business model works, though I can see the opportunity for a multi-stream revenue model deriving from tech platform usage, bill-by-the-hour legal advice and perhaps an element of payment by results, plus introductory commissions from their legal network.

There are numerous law firms that have IP infringement practices, but I am not ware of (neither would I expect to be in all honesty) any that have a tech platform at their core. Not so much disruptive as differentiated. Smart idea.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '07:52' - Tagged: funding   startup  

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Monday 21 May 2018

Atos, Dell EMC and Microsoft fire first salvo in AI campaign

atosautomationAtos is partnering with DellEMC and Microsoft to present a joined-up set of propositions in the area of Artificial Intelligence

Financial services companies are keen to benefit from the implementation of Artificial Intelligence, hoping to improve customer experience, smooth regulatory reporting and achieve higher levels of operating efficiency. However, many still have to reorganise their data architectures if they want to achieve anything more than modest automation gains from point solutions. Building a strategic approach to AI, based on a holistic and enterprise-wide view of data are vital pre-requisites of a long-term strategy.

dellmsThe Atos Intelligent Automation Platform announced at the Finextra Next-generation-banking conference last week is based on the Atos Codex business-driven analytics platform. This is supported by a Dell EMC Private Cloud and High-Performance Bundles to process a sufficient volume of data, accessing voice and video as well as data input. A public cloud instance is offered using Atos-managed Azure capacity, enhanced by Azure AI services to facilitate the implementation of Machine Learning and Cognitive services. A hybrid cloud version is available using a combination of Azure and Dell EMC systems.

Most banks and insurers are still in the initial phases of their use of AI. Atos and its partners want to initiate discussions with these customers, engaging with business leaders to address real problems. They will be looking to apply substantial domain expertise to tune the systems, build appropriate support for decision making and develop deep customer relationships in this exciting area. Their aim is clear, to become the go-to, strategic providers for end-to end AI and Intelligent Automation solutions.

As discussed in a recent BusinessProcessViews report, the greater adoption of AI and consequent automation methodologies will also provide new challenges and opportunities for BPS providers.

Posted by Peter Roe at '06:03' - Tagged: partnerships   financialservices   big+data   automation   AI  

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