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DXC introduces factory analytics migration for Azure
21 Sep 2018
*NEW RESEARCH* Record funding for UK/Irish tech companies
21 Sep 2018
AV software player Oxbotica raises £14m
21 Sep 2018
Adobe acquires Marketo for $4.75bn
21 Sep 2018
Vonage calls up $350m deal for NewVoiceMedia
21 Sep 2018
HCL checks out Asda deal
21 Sep 2018
Apply NOW to join the next Great British Scaleup Event: 13-14 November
21 Sep 2018
Selling Out vs Scaling Up - ScaleUp Group Breakfast Briefing
21 Sep 2018
Sefton Council: Out with Arvato, in with Agilisys
20 Sep 2018
SecureCloud+ secures growth capital
20 Sep 2018
Agile and adjacency working for Scisys in H1
20 Sep 2018
Parity: Strategic change impacting performance
20 Sep 2018
SME Oxehealth breaks boundaries in medtech
20 Sep 2018
Serco to renew Lincolnshire
20 Sep 2018
Avanade appoints new UK GM
20 Sep 2018
Edinburgh's Prodsight gets funds to analyse live chat
20 Sep 2018
*NEW RESEARCH* IPP attrition back on the rise
20 Sep 2018
UKHotViewsPremium - An Individual Subscription
20 Sep 2018
How tech companies evaluate and implement business systems
20 Sep 2018
Seeing Machines: the vision to drive strategic change
19 Sep 2018
Cleveland Police looks ahead to 2020
19 Sep 2018
Nationwide talking big on digital
19 Sep 2018
Learning People attracts Talis Capital investment
19 Sep 2018
Accesso grows under new leadership
19 Sep 2018
Rated People is new location for Channel 4 investment
19 Sep 2018
Capgemini and AWS get strategic
19 Sep 2018
UiPath now valued at $3bn
19 Sep 2018
Blippar augments funding but losses are reality
19 Sep 2018
Cognizant advances Salesforce skills with ATG
19 Sep 2018
Webinar: Decrease risk, increase innovation and improve security
19 Sep 2018
Bango betting on data to drive profitable growth
18 Sep 2018
PwC finds the consulting going heavy
18 Sep 2018
SCISYS buses into new TfL contract
18 Sep 2018
Oracle under the wrong sort of cloud
18 Sep 2018
Saleforce's Marc Benioff buys Time
18 Sep 2018
Snooper startup Shepper snaps up funding
18 Sep 2018
CloudCall H1 turnover up 30%
18 Sep 2018
MortgageGym completes £3.8m funding
18 Sep 2018
Trouble ahead for Smart Meter Systems?
18 Sep 2018
Glasswall smashes £15m funding
17 Sep 2018
Microsoft hooks into AI no code with Lobe
17 Sep 2018
Labrador looks to sniff out energy savings
17 Sep 2018
Reimagine your business potential
17 Sep 2018
Infosys burnishes Nordic cloud credentials with Fluido
17 Sep 2018

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Friday 21 September 2018

DXC introduces factory analytics migration for Azure

logoDXC Technology is hoping to ease the move to AI/machine learning for enterprise customers via a series of analytics factories. The first Analytics Migration Factory for Azure has opened in Bangalore, India with further factories planned for Warsaw, Poland and Manilla, Philippines.

The move is aimed at lowering the barriers for enterprise who want to extract value from their data but are daunted by the practicalities. The factory approach provides end-to-end capability to move analytics workloads to Azure, covering development, delivery and support. Capabilities such as cataloged methods, proven deployment patterns and best practice guides are in place to aid migration, backed by DXC Azure and analytics experts. The emphasis is on getting customers to a place where they can start to use the AI/machine learning services available on Microsoft’s Azure platform.

There is huge potential from the use of AI/machine learning but getting going is hard going for many enterprises, with many of the problems occurring before they get anywhere near AI/machine learning technologies. This problem may have been reflected in DXC’s FY18 results where despite double-digit growth in most of the 'digital' areas, analytics revenue declined. By tackling the analytics cloud migration stage, DXC is looking to take a position early in the process and put itself in line for when enterprises scale up and explore new applications and use cases. While the migration factory approach is designed to generate analytics business, use of the DXC Bionix digital delivery model by the factories, which uses automation to reduce delivery labour costs, should contribute to better margins (an area where DXC overall is seeing notable improvement). 

Posted by Angela Eager at '09:31' - Tagged: analytics   AI   machinelearning   cloudmigration  

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Friday 21 September 2018

*NEW RESEARCH* Record funding for UK/Irish tech companies

chartNew record levels of venture capital funding for UK and Irish technology companies were set in Q2 2018 according to the latest data from corporate finance firm, Ascendant. During Q2, a new high of £1.82b was invested in 281 deals of more than £0.5m by 346 investment groups at an average deal size of £6.5m. 59% of the deals involved more than one investor. During June, 101 companies were funded - the first time in the past 21 years that Ascendant has been tracking these deals that the number has exceeded 100.

For more details, and a handy summary of the quarter's venture funding deals, TechMarketView research subscription service clients can download the latest bumper edition of IndustryViews Venture Capital from this link.

Posted by HotViews Editor at '08:55' - Tagged: funding   startup  

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Friday 21 September 2018

AV software player Oxbotica raises £14m

OxboticaTechMarketView continues to follow the ups and downs of the emerging Autonomous Vehicle (AV) market closely. The latest company to come into the spotlight is Oxbotica a UK-based AV software company that has completed a £14m funding round. Backers included IP Group, Parkwalk Advisors and AXA XL

Oxbotica is based in Oxford, the home of the Mini and a city with a lengthy automotive heritage and is based on research from Oxford University’s Robotics Institute, hence the name. Its control system, Selenium, allows vehicles to sense their surroundings, while Caesium, the company’s cloud-based fleet management system, can schedule and co-ordinate fleets of vehicles.

The system is being trialled with the likes of Ocado and Heathrow Airport and is designed to serve customers in the aerospace, automotive, construction, logistics and mining sectors. The company plans to use the funds to support a push into the European, Asian and US markets. 

The UK has real potential to be a leading centre for AV so it’s encouraging to see research from a leading university on the path to commercial reality.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '08:43' - Tagged: funding   transport   autonomous  

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Friday 21 September 2018

Adobe acquires Marketo for $4.75bn

logoAdobe has confirmed the acquisition of martech provider Marketo from Visa Equity Partners, paying $4.75bn in cash. It’s a good return for Vista who bought the company for $1.8bn in 2016. For Adobe it underlines its determination to expand beyond creative content and move further into the B2B enterprise digital marketing space.

Marketo will join with the acquired Magento ecommerce platform (June 2018) within Adobe's Experience Cloud  division. At $614m revenue but with 21% growth during the most recent quarter (to 31 August 2018) Experience Cloud is the smaller of Adobe’s two divisions but is driving the most change within the company.

As one of the largest software providers (ranked 10th within the latest TechMarketView Enterprise Software Supplier Ranking) Adobe is an influential vendor with a large customer base. This marketing automation acquisition will put it into a better position to complete with SAP and Oracle on the customer experience front. More significantly, it reinforces the growing axes around Adobe-plus-Microsoft which supports integration between Adobe Experience Management and Microsoft Dynamics 365, and Salesforce-plus-Google which rests on integration between Salesforce and Google G Suite and Google Analytics. In addition, Google is declared a preferred Salesforce cloud infrastructure partner. 

Posted by Angela Eager at '08:21' - Tagged: acquisition   software   customerexperience  

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Friday 21 September 2018

Vonage calls up $350m deal for NewVoiceMedia

logoWe've been following the fortunes of Basingstoke-headquartered cloud-based call centre specialist NewVoiceMedia (NVM) since it first raised funds in a Series A round back in May 2010 (see NewVoiceMedia gets investment for growth). Since then, NVM has raised over $140m in a series of funding rounds, the most recent in early 2016 (see NewVoiceMedia makes contact with another $30m).

Now hailed as the largest privately-owned, pure-play, cloud contact centre company globally, it's good news for NVM's patient investors, as the company has just been acquired by New Jersey-headquartered, NYSE-listed VoIP (voice over IP) telecoms operator Vonage for $350m cash. The deal values NVM at 3.8x 2019 forecast revenues and is expected to close by the end of the year.

Founded in 2000, the last filed accounts for NVM were for the year to 31st January 2017, and showed net losses of £20.8m on revenues of £32.2m. According to Vonage, NVM is expected to have revenues of some £50-55m this FY. Vonage lost $34m on revenues of just over $1bn last year.

From a 'strategic' point of view, the deal probably makes sense. From a financial point of view it's questionable, especially as the business case rests on revenue 'synergies' from cross-selling – always a tricky one to make happen – as well as the usual back office cost savings.

Nonetheless, that's Vonage's problem. NVM's investors – of which there are several – can take the money and run!

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:09' - Tagged: acquisition  

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Friday 21 September 2018

HCL checks out Asda deal

logoThere's scant information about the deal, but Noida-based Indian pure-play HCL Technologies has won a 3-year application services deal with the UK's third-largest supermarket chain, Asda. The news comes just days after Asda's proposed £12-15bn merger with Sainsbury's was referred to the UK Competition & Markets Authority. Not sure how HCL's deal will play out if the merger is approved!

Posted by Anthony Miller at '07:32' - Tagged: offshore   contract  

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Friday 21 September 2018

Apply NOW to join the next Great British Scaleup Event: 13-14 November

Don't miss out on the opportunity to accelerate your company's scale-up journey by applying for our fifth Great British Scaleup Programme event (GBS5) to be held on Tuesday 13th and Wednesday 14th November at the London offices of Great British Scaleup Programme Official Supporter techUK.

logoSuccessful applicants will be invited to participate in a CEO-level, confidential 90-minute workshop session with TechMarketView research directors and executive advisors from Great British Scaleup programme Advisory Sponsor, ScaleUp Group, the team of successful tech entrepreneurs that have been responsible for accelerating growth and achieving over £4b in successful exits at many well-known tech companies.

The workshop session will assess your company’s potential and scalability using the ScaleUp Growth Index®, a proprietary scorecard which identifies areas of your business that might be an inhibitor to achieving extraordinary growth. Unlike traditional company scorecards which focus on past financial performance, the ScaleUp Growth Index® assesses your company’s future scale-up potential and identifies areas to address to become Global Champions.

Nearly 30 ambitious UK tech SMEs have already had their scale-up potential assessed through the TechMarketView Great British Scaleup Programme and are now reaping the benefit of advice on which parts of the business model are constraining growth and what to do about it.

Don't just take our word for it. Here's what CEO's of prior Great British Scaleups have said about the programme:

  • Working with the Scaleup team has been enjoyable … With their experience and market contacts we are on track to partner with a new investor.
  • "The GBS program was an excellent opportunity for an independent review of our business and growth strategy from a team focused on providing unbiased feedback and input"
  • "The assessment process was very rigorous and highlighted strengths and areas of business that require more work, this information was very useful in prioritising our current action plan"
  • "The interview process … allowed us to explore the scaling topics openly and in depth … in a safe environment. In many cases this exposed known challenges but the external insights into those challenges is of great value."

In our experience, the companies that stand to benefit most from the Great British Scaleup programme are typically generating single-digit millions in revenues and already growing at double-digit rates, but are finding themselves resource-constrained, especially cash. Indeed, ScaleUp Group is particularly experienced in assisting companies find Series A-level funding.

If this sounds like your business today – or might well be in the next 12-18 months – then please apply by filling in the application form on the TechMarketView website here by close of business Friday 5th October 2018. There is no charge to participate.

There's more information on the Great British Scaleup page on our website and if you have any other queries about the Great British Scaleup programme, please drop a note to gbs@techmarketview.com.

Posted by HotViews Editor at '06:00'

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Thursday 20 September 2018

Sefton Council: Out with Arvato, in with Agilisys

Agilisys logoIt’s out with Arvato, in with Agilisys, at Sefton Council. Well, at least in part. Agilisys has won a five-year contract (with two one-year extension options) to deliver managed IT services to Sefton Borough Council, which will be worth £26.5m should both the extension options be exercised. Arvato has delivered these services for the last ten years. Other services that Arvato delivered – customer service, finance and HR – have been taken back in-house. Arvato’s contract comes to its agreed conclusion at the end of this month; so, Agilisys will be taking over the reins, and TUPE-ing over the people, on 1st October.

Agilisys has had a hand to play in the council’s recent transformation of its ICT estate (serving 2,500 ICT users); the company won a £2.5m ICT transformation contract via the Digital Marketplace last year to implement Windows 10, Office365 and Sharepoint; implement managed desktop services; and rationalise and migrate applications, databases and data to the cloud. Now, it will be delivering the ICT services required across the transformed estate, utilising a new managed IT services model incorporating the introduction of a cloud-based platform. Digital tools will support flexible and collaborative working to support the needs of the workforce and citizens.

This contract aligns neatly with Agilisys’ chosen strategy – to draw on its cloud migration and digital transformation expertise. Meanwhile, Arvato has shifted focus away from these types of deals, choosing, instead, to focus on its robotic process automation (RPA) and cybersecurity offerings. Sefton was a major contract for Arvato – the bulk of its local government revenues come from this and four other major BPS deals. Positively, Agilisys and the council talk of the solid foundation that has been established during Arvato’s tenure. Sefton has been in the spotlight due to Arvato working with the council to implement Blue Prism’s RPA software to improve efficiency and productivity (see Arvato latest to partner with Blue Prism). We wouldn’t be surprised to see Arvato continuing to support the in-house back office services teams with this type of expertise. Meanwhile Arvato’s change of direction means Agilisys’ gain.

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '13:25' - Tagged: public+sector   localgovernment   contract   itservices   bps   managedservices   ICT  

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Thursday 20 September 2018

SecureCloud+ secures growth capital

SecureCloud+ logoReading-based SecureCloud+ looks like one to watch, with the news that Livingbridge Growth has invested growth capital in the business using funds from Baronsmead Venture Trusts.

SecureCloud+ is small. It recorded revenues of £3.42m in the year to end March 2017 (the last filed accounts). Having said that, it is growing fast – revenues nearly doubled over the year. And it is profitable. The company, which was founded in 2014, provides “innovative ICT systems for defence and public sector customers with demanding security requirements” (including TOP SECRET), generally via multi-year secure managed services contracts.

Looking at G-Cloud sales, all business to date through the framework has been with MoD customers. And business has been incredibly lumpy. Notably much of the spend has tended to be in April – indicating that customers are trying to use up budget at the end of the fiscal year.  But the company has been making changes, including moving from project delivery into service transition and support. Another interesting development was the agreement of a framework agreement with BT to sell each other’s products and services. All these developments should bring more predictability to the business.

We can now expect SecureCloud+ to further extend its capacity and capability to address new markets (including law enforcement & borders and justice &offender management), extend its talent pool and develop its engineering capacity. With investment in developing additional skills in cyber and business intelligence, the company is looking to deliver information-as-a-service to existing and future customers as well as to make its mark in areas including digital forensics, evidence management and mobile geolocation services.

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '10:15' - Tagged: public+sector   defence   cloud   funding   investment   managedservices   sme   cyber   government   managedsecurityservices  

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Thursday 20 September 2018

Agile and adjacency working for Scisys in H1

logoScisys released another set of strong results covering the six months 30 June 2018, with revenue up 13% to £28.7m (2017 restated under IFRS 15) and an increase in adjusted operating profit from £1.2m (restated) to £2.5m, while net debt went strongly in the right direction - £3.3m vs £9m.

There were plenty of jewels with strong performance across ESD (revenue up 17% yoy to £9.6m) and Space (up 13% to £11.2m) driven by both new contracts and renewals. With a H1 order book approaching £100m (vs. £64m) and around 1.5x annual revenue CEO Klaus Heidrich and CFO and CFO Chris Cheetham talk of resilience in the business and the security to put new initiatives in place.

Performance across Media and Broadcast and Annova (revenue up 11% to £3.9m and 8% to £3.96m respectively) was behind expectations and contributions to the business did not sparkle, due in part to their different (more product and development based  business models. There is a pattern of slower performance in H1 and a pickup in H2, which is anticipated this year too. Positive signs include the small but significant British Library contract which demonstrated the ability to move into adjacent sectors, and plans to merge M&B and acquired Annova, enabling them to act as an integrated force from January 2019 following the early termination of the ring fencing arrangements with the previous owners.

Across the overall business, performance is more evenly spread over the two halves, which is attributed to the cumulative effect of several factors including results from foundation work by ESB in logistics and transport - the TfL contract being an early proof point. Scisys also had a greater proportion of time and materials contracts (vs. fixed price). Interestingly, these are driven by customers’ adoption of agile methodologies not a desire to return to old style external staff-type contracts. Demand for teams is apparent and the model is generating strong cashflow for Scisys, adding a little more shine to its growth story.

Posted by Angela Eager at '09:58' - Tagged: results   software   services  

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Thursday 20 September 2018

Parity: Strategic change impacting performance

Parity Group logoSlowly but surely, the results of Parity’s strategic changes are coming through in the numbers. UKHotViews readers may remember (see Parity celebrates business shift) that CEO Alan Rommel has been working towards his ambition of rebalancing the Group towards higher margin consultancy services, improving visibility and boosting the value of the business for shareholders. At the time of the full year results, the good news was strong momentum in consulting, resulting in double-digit profit growth. Unfortunately, the overall story was still one of declining revenues at Group level, as the numbers were dragged down by Parity Professionals…

Not so in the six months to end June 2018! For the half year, Group revenues (for the continuing business) were up – albeit by just 1% - to £43.2m (we’ll let them get away with the fact that ignores revenues from the Intition business, sold in April this year – see Parity disposal draws line under digital media dream). Very strong growth in the Consultancy Services business – albeit from a low base – of 30.8% to £5.1m, was supported by 2.2% increase in Professionals revenue to £41.6m. And the strong growth in Consultancy Services gave a boost to Group operating profit (again from continuing operations) – up 12% to £1.03m, with Consultancy Services’ contribution standing at 35%.

With a small consultancy business, Parity has made a smart move specialising in offering clients support in data analytics and underlying technologies. And the appointment of a Managing Director for Consultancy Services with extensive data experience will have made clients and potential clients stand up and take notice. But, what’s really pleasing to see if the synergies transpiring between the two areas of the business. Inter-segment revenues have more than doubled between H117 and H118 from £1.73m to £3.5m. The beauty of the relationship is that the Consultancy Services business can get fast access to up-to-date experts in the data capture and management field.

Rommel will be delighted that the needle has finally moved on the share price. Investors are clearly starting to believe the changes are having an impact. As we write, the share price stands at 12.58p, which is up nearly 24% compared to a year ago.  

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:41' - Tagged: results   recruitment   consultancy   dataservices  

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Thursday 20 September 2018

SME Oxehealth breaks boundaries in medtech

Oxehealth logoWe are always on the lookout for UK tech SMEs with innovative, disruptive propositions, so we were delighted to hear that one such SME, Oxford University spin-off Oxehealth, has received medical accreditation for its video-based vital signs technology.

The British Standards Institute has accredited Oxehealth’s vital signs measurement software as a Class IIa medical device in Europe. This is the first time that software enabling a digital video camera sensor to remotely measure vital signs has been approved as a medical device.

The innovation has the potential to transform the care of elderly and vulnerable people by remotely monitoring pulse and breathing rate in rooms where staff cannot always be present, enabling them to spend more time on hands-on care. The software will become part of Oxehealth’s Digital Care Assistant offering, which is already used by seven mental health trusts, three care home chains (in the UK and Sweden) and two police forces.

The development is fantastic news for Oxehealth, which was founded by the head of engineering at Oxford University, Professor Lionel Tarassenko, in 2012 and is backed by investment trusts IP Group and Ora Capital. Given the pressure on mental health and adult social services in the UK, and globally, technologies like Oxehealth’s that enable improvements in care without a corresponding increase in staff numbers are likely to be in high demand. We look forward to following the progress of Oxehealth in the months ahead.

Posted by Tola Sargeant at '09:23' - Tagged: healthcare   innovation   medtech   healthtech  

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Thursday 20 September 2018

Serco to renew Lincolnshire

SercoIt looks like it’s going to be good news for Serco in Lincolnshire where the County Council is recommending an extension of its contract for another two years. Lincolnshire County Council is currently three years into a five-year contract with Serco worth £70m to deliver IT, finance, HR and other services.

Serco’s existing contract is due to expire at the end of March 2020 and has had its fair share of performance issues with the authority recommending earlier this year that the contract be awarded to Public Sector owned provider Hoople

It now looks like Serco has done enough to turn this around with Leader of Lincolnshire County Council, Martin Hill commenting: “Serco are now meeting the performance targets we have set for them and are overall offering a good service.For them to continue providing these services when the current contract is due to end, still represents good value for money.”

Council officers have recommended that Serco, which employs 400 staff in Lincoln, continues providing IT, payroll, HR, customer services, exchequer services and adult care finance until the end of March 2022. Some services however are to be taken in-house such as Freedom of Information, complaints and information governance and the Agresso system administration.

New Local Authority BPS deals are few and far between so renewing contracts like Lincolnshire and Hertfordshire (see here) has become ever more important for established players like Serco. Given where the contract was just a few months ago Serco should be very pleased with the news.

The council’s Overview and Scrutiny Management Board will consider the recommendations next week before the council’s Executive makes a final decision in October.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '08:45' - Tagged: localgovernment   contract  

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Thursday 20 September 2018

Avanade appoints new UK GM

LogoMicrosoft focused SI Avanade has appointed Andy Gillett as its General Manager (GM) for UK & Ireland. He takes over from Darren Hardman who for the last year had carried this responsibility alongside his role of European President. Darren will now focus completely on the regional remit.

Andy joins Avanade following a 25 year career at its parent company Accenture. Most recently he led UKI sales for its Communications, Media and Technology (CMT) industry sector. He was also part of the core leadership team.

He takes on the helm of a business in rude health. Last year in the UK Avanade generated revenues of £145m (see here). This was a yoy increase of 21% and the firm now stands on the threshold of TechMarketView’s ranking of the Top 20 UK Suppliers of Application Services. With c.50% of the company’s sales still driven through the Accenture channel, the continued effectiveness of this relationship will be a significant determinant of Avanade’s future market fortunes. Andy’s long history with - and no doubt extensive network within - Accenture can only help sustain strong collaboration between the two organisations.

We will be catching up soon with the new UK&I GM to get a clearer view of his vision and plans for the business. Watch this space for more details in the coming weeks.

Posted by Duncan Aitchison at '08:28' - Tagged: appointment   systemsintegration  

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Thursday 20 September 2018

Edinburgh's Prodsight gets funds to analyse live chat

logo'Live chat' is a well-established channel for businesses to interact with multiple people at the same time. That's the easy bit, as there are a multitude of live chat platforms to choose from. The tricky bit is making sense of the all the conversations to spot the trends.

This is the space that Edinburgh-based startup Prodsight aims to conquer. It's a tool to analyse live chat conversations to pick up themes and trends (they implicitly recommend the Intercom live chat platform). Founded a year ago, Prodsight has raised £115k in a seed funding round, with £45k coming from The Royal Society of Edinburgh and the balance from a number of Scottish angels.

Prodsight charges $99 pm to analyse pre-tagged data, or from $169 pm to auto-tag and analyse up to 200 conversations. The top rate is $499 pm for 1,000 auto-tagged conversations pm. I would have thought large customer contact/support desks would have many more than 1,000 chats a month so I'm not really sure about the pricing model.

I would have thought that this sort of functionality would be built in to popular live chat platforms, which is perhaps an opportunity for Prodsight to licence its codebase to the live chat software vendors. As far as I can see, Prodsight doesn't analyse voice conversations, which makes you think a link to popular voice recognition engines such as Alexa and Siri could be another path to follow.

Prodsight looks a neat idea if they can pull it off.

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

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Thursday 20 September 2018

*NEW RESEARCH* IPP attrition back on the rise

chartIt looks like attrition is back on the rise again at the top-tier Indian pure-plays – but with the notable exception of TCS!

This latest issue of OffshoreViews looks at attrition trends among the leading players, along with our regular results round-up.

This edition also includes an interview by TechMarketView Chief Analyst, Georgina O'Toole with Mastek Group CEO, John Owen along with UK MD, Prahlad Koti.

TechMarketView research subscription service clients can download OffshoreViews Q2 2018 Review from this link.

Posted by HotViews Editor at '07:33' - Tagged: offshore  

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Thursday 20 September 2018

UKHotViewsPremium - An Individual Subscription

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UKHotViewsPremium - An Individual Subscription

If you’re a keen UKHotViews reader - who isn’t fortunate enough to have access to a corporate subscription to TechMarketView research - you can now subscribe to UKHotViews Premium, a new service for individuals.

Until now, this invaluable resource – the combination of our searchable UKHotViews archive and our more in-depth UKHotViewsExtra analysis - was only available to our corporate subscribers as part of a subscription to one or more of our focused research streams. But we recognise that there are many individuals that would benefit from access to this rich, searchable source of insight too, so we’ve launched a new service, UKHotViews Premium, especially for you.

Sign up to UKHotViewsPremium & gain access to:

  • TMV's repository of 15,000+ UKHotViews & UKHotViewsExtra articles for news and views on suppliers, market and industry trends
  • 50% off your first TMV report
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  • 1 year for £395+VAT or 2 years for £650+VAT

Browse the analysis online or, if you wish, select multiple articles to print or PDF on demand. Quickly build up an informed picture of a supplier of interest; spot trends in share prices over time; identify start-ups you should be talking to; or mine the archive for insight on areas of opportunity in the UK public sector IT market.

For more details or to sign up to UKHotViews Premium today please click here.

Posted by HotViews Editor at '00:00'

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Wednesday 19 September 2018

Seeing Machines: the vision to drive strategic change

logoAs a company providing computer vision capability into the transport sector, with a tight remit on safety, Seeing Machines is in the right place at the right time. This is reflected in revenue growth for the year to 30 June 2018 which saw an impressive 117% increase to Aus$30.7m. This follows strong underlying performance in the previous year.

Howver, its task now is to shifting its operating model so it can concentrate on core capabilities - real-time identification and understanding of operators/drivers through AI/machine learning analysis of heads, faces and eyes. This enables driver/operator identification, the ability to monitor for attention and detect drowsiness and distraction. The Australian HQ’d, AIM listed company also has a large and valuable data set based on real world data from connected vehicles that it will continue to build, using it to improve its algorithms and drive recurring revenue from data services.

Costs have been rising and losses deepening as the company sought to cover increasing levels of activity across multiple transport markets – automotive, commercial fleet, aviation, rail and off-road (mining sector). Net loss from continuing operations rose to Aus$36m in the most recent year, from Aus$29.7m. In its latest funding round, the company raised £37.4m gross in January 2018 to fund development and expansion.

Following a business review, Seeing Machines is making a strategic change, shifting to an indirect market model. This will allow it to concentrate on the development of its Driver Monitoring Systems while partnering with distributors, particularly around the commercial fleet business, to reduce direct costs. Its fleet businsess is the largest part of the operation and the growth driver - revenue was up 89% in FY18. The company  is moving in the right direction with several significant new OEM/distributor contacts in place and is building strong contracted minimum revenue streams.

Having been in business for two decades, Seeing Machines has waited a long time for computer vision to come to the fore. Now that it has, with autonomous vehicles leading the charge, the business needs to adapt organisationally to meet rising demand. Given the model shift it has a lot to do but it is in a promising position.

Posted by Angela Eager at '17:26' - Tagged: results   software   AI   machinelearning   machineintelligence  

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Wednesday 19 September 2018

Cleveland Police looks ahead to 2020

Sopra Steria logoIn a changing market, you can deliver to client expectations and beyond, but it is still no guarantee that a contract will be extended. That’s the key takeaway from the news that Cleveland Police Authority has decided not to extend, beyond its 10-year term, its contract with Sopra Steria; the contract is due to naturally end in 2020. The company has provided several outsourced services including ICT, control room services, and back office functions. Other services were also  added after the start date (see UK police SITS supplier landscape & market trends 2017-2018).

Cleveland Police Partner logos from Police Crime PlanCleveland Police has nothing but praise for Sopra Steria, its behaviours and its achievements, since the contract was awarded – originally to Steria - in 2010. The contract has changed shape over time with Sopra Steria applauded by the Chief Constable, Iain Spittal, for helping turn the partnership into one that is “outcome and quality-focused”. In hard figures, by 2020, Sopra Steria will have, through the delivery of operational efficiencies, innovative solutions and the transformation of the force’s ICT services, delivered cost savings amounting to £70m, as well as a further £2m since 2016 when the contract was rewritten to allow for greater savings.

According to the force, “Cleveland Police has evolved” and “the public sector climate has changed”. It is currently undertaking due diligence to determine how it will support its Police & Crime Plan going forward. There is no indication that it has ruled out private sector involvement. There is, though, a clear sign that any future arrangements will have to have a far greater focus on collaboration between blue light and other public sector services. As illustrated (and taken from the force’s Police & Crime Plan), the force’s partners are wide ranging. There will also need to be an even greater focus on operational efficiency and savings – and ensuring resources are directed to high priority areas. The force has seen a reduction in cash to its budget every year for the last six years and there is no sign of that trend abating.

Meanwhile, while the end of a contract is never to be celebrated, Sopra Steria’s track record will put it in a strong position to gain future work – and future contracts may well span partner agencies too. Moreover, the company has a strong reference site and has built up a wealth of IP through the relationship, having developed additional tools to help the force. Onwards and upwards!

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:33' - Tagged: public+sector   contract   partnerships   police   police   police   police   police  

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Wednesday 19 September 2018

Nationwide talking big on digital

logoAnother UK bank lifting the veil somewhat on its IT plans is Nationwide, outlining its latest strategy in its grandly-titled report “Redefining service for a digital world”.

Nationwide stands apart from many other leading banks and building societies. From 2008 onwards, it underwent a painful rationalisation, both in the core and in its front-office. This included moving to more standardised software and a modern banking platform. It also transformed the relationship between Nationwide and major SITS vendors, particularly IBM, Microsoft and SAP, with the bank taking on more of a system integrator role.

This forward step has allowed Nationwide to be more agile and innovative in its approach, for example, in Low code, with Netcall, AI-assisted service desks, with Capgemini and digital marketing services, with Communisis.

The bank’s new 5-year plan, which should benefit from a better macro-environment and stronger balance sheet than after 2008, will drive total investment over 5 years of £4.1bn, up £1.5bn on the previously planned level. The central themes of the plan are again simplification and better customer/user experience, with new technology platforms, end-to-end customer journeys, leveraging better insight from data and a leaner operating model. Automation, cloud and shared services will feature large as Nationwide embraces Open Banking and renews its branch format and customer channels. A significant investment is planned in re-skilling, including a new UK technology hub.

Nationwide’s current Deputy Chief Executive of Nationwide, Tony Prestedge, became the bank’s COO half-way through the earlier transformation project. Knowing “where the bodies are buried” should help him provide strategic leadership and control of the new project.

Nationwide looks to have a better starting point and a cleaner organisational structure than many other banks, this could ensure faster deployment of innovation and create a good shop window for vendors’ capabilities.

Posted by Peter Roe at '09:31' - Tagged: cloud   legacy   banking   digital   AI   CX  

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Wednesday 19 September 2018

Learning People attracts Talis Capital investment

Learning People logoLondon-based venture capital firm Talis Capital has announced a $2.5m (c.£1.9m) investment in online training company Learning People and its B2B subsidiary SkillsFox.

Launched in 2010, Hove-based Learning People provides online training to individuals across a range of business areas, including cyber security, coding, project management, and digital marketing. Its SkillsFox business, which was founded last year, aims to provide businesses with the tools to upskill their workforce in areas such as cyber security, cloud, project management, compliance and leadership skills.

The new funds will be used to back plans for geographical expansion, platform development and the creation of new products for both its B2C and B2B clients. As part of the deal Tony Glass, formerly General Manager EMEA of online training business Skillsoft, has joined Learning People and SkillsFox as a member of the Advisory Board. Talis will hope he can use his learning and development industry experience to help the business achieve scale. Skillsoft was acquired by Charterhouse Capital Partners for $2bn in 2014.

There is clearly huge demand from businesses and organisations for help in addressing the digital skills gap and upskilling their workforce in specialist areas such as cybercrime. Online training is a hugely competitive space, but the business is growing well, with more than 15,000 students having enrolled on to its courses and its new B2B business already attracting significant clients including BP, KPMG and Vodafone.

Posted by Dale Peters at '09:25' - Tagged: funding   startup   skills   e-learning  

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Wednesday 19 September 2018

Accesso grows under new leadership

AccessoInterim results from Accesso, the software provider to the leisure and entertainment industry shows it to be making good progress under new CEO Paul Noland. Revenue is up 16.7% to $54.4m ($46.6m in H1 17) with adjusted EBITDA up a whopping 73.6% to $15.1m ($8.7m in H1 17).

Accesso’s core business focuses around established verticals of theme parks and water parks and adjacent verticals including ski resorts, cultural attractions, tours and live event ticketing, and has been performing well. Its significant exposure to the US market will have been helped no doubt by a strengthening economy there.

The 2017 acquisitions of Ingresso and TE2 have added both a range of additional capability and should provide opportunities for the Group in greenfield areas such as Healthcare and ticketing distribution. Progress was made here in the first half with a new partnership with Henry Ford Health Systems and work undertaken to further expand its distribution capabilities into the USA. We expect to see further growth here with the establishment of a new Health division and an increased focus for the business on international growth.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '09:21' - Tagged: results   software   ticketing  

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Wednesday 19 September 2018

Rated People is new location for Channel 4 investment

logoChannel 4 has taken an interesting punt on consumer-focused tradespeople marketplace Rated People, leading a £5.2m funding round for the London-based startup, along with Downing Ventures. Channel 4 is investing through its Commercial Growth Fund, launched in 2015 to target 'high growth potential companies not currently advertising on television'. The station has put 'homefinder hero' Phil Spencer front and centre of Rated People's website as 'brand ambassador' (I assume Kirstie was otherwise engaged).

Founded in 2005, Rated People had previously raised $3.25m from Western Technology Investment and, prior to that, £3.5m from Frog Capital. Rated People lost £4m on revenues of £11.5m in 2016, its last year for which accounts are available.

There's a variety of both national and local websites that offer recommendations for tradespeople, including Checkatrade (now owned by home appliance insurer Homeserve) and consumer champion Which?'s 'Trusted Traders'. I would think you’d probably look at a few of these websites to try to find the best tradesperson for the job. Rated People is free for the punters but of course tradespeople have to pay to get their names on the list. Unless they can build either a dominant market position – and/or offer additional fee-based services – it could be a struggle to make money from what is little more than a tradesperson job ad platform.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '09:17' - Tagged: funding   startup  

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Wednesday 19 September 2018

Capgemini and AWS get strategic

LogoCapgemini and AWS are joining forces to accelerate progress in the enterprise digital Logotransformation space. Initially focused on the European market, the enhanced partnership will target opportunities for SAP migrations, mass application migrations, accelerated data centre modernisation, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).

The joint initiative marks a maturing of the relationship between the two organisations which has been building over the past few years. The arrangement seeks to combine AWS’s extensive ecosystem of cloud technologies with Capgemini’s wider, global application and infrastructure services expertise. As a part of the new focus, the companies plan to collaborate to develop end-to-end customer solutions and accelerators. Capgemini also intends to increase nearly eightfold its number of AWS certified personnel to 5,400.

This is not the first strategic alliance between a major SI and a leading cloud services player to make the headlines of late. Earlier this year Atos announced that its was entering a major partnership with Google (see here). The potential benefits for both parties in these relationships are obvious and compelling; the ability to move up the technology stack in the enterprise arena on the one hand, better access to advanced technologies and precious skills - particularly in the AI/ML arena - on the other.

We commented in our latest UK SITS Supplier Rankings report that AWS now faces the second phase of cloud computing: encouraging large organisations to move more complex workloads onto its cloud. This brings the role of its partner ecosystem into sharp focus. The joint initiative with Capgemini is a clear example of AWS upping its partnering game. We will watch with interest to see whether this strategic relationship bears sufficient fruit for both companies to develop beyond its initial European focus into a world-wide programme.

Posted by Duncan Aitchison at '08:55' - Tagged: cloud   alliance   artificialintelligence   machinelearning  

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Wednesday 19 September 2018

UiPath now valued at $3bn

UiPathRobotic Process Automation (RPA) remains red hot with UiPath becoming the latest software vendor to raise significant amounts of cash.  

Series C funding has raised $225m valuing the business at $3bn and was led by Alphabet’s CapitalG venture arm and included new investor Sequoia Capital Operations as well as existing investor Accel Partners.

UiPath closed a $153m funding round back in March (see here) then valuing the business at $1.1bn and has raised more than $400m in total as UiPath looks to stay ahead in a rapidly maturing market. 

Some of the recent metrics put out by UiPath are quite remarkable with the firm now claiming more than 1,800 customers globally, adding an average of six new enterprise customers per day. This has seen its annual recurring revenue pass the $100m mark, up from $1m just 21 months earlier. 

UiPath like its competitors Blue Prism and Automation Anywhere is benefiting from a rapidly maturing market for RPA that has moved from a focus on educating customers on the art of the possible into scaling capabilities and increasing the intelligence of what the software can deliver, as a consequence RPA is increasingly becoming a strategic tool for digital transformation.

One area where UiPath looks to have stolen a march on the competition is in its focus on“democratising” RPA offering free training programs, a no-cost community edition and free online forums as it bids to gain critical mass in the developer community.

UiPath expects to end 2018 with more than 1,700 employees, a three-fold increase in 12 months, with operations in 30 offices across 16 countries.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '08:33' - Tagged: funding   RPA  

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Wednesday 19 September 2018

Blippar augments funding but losses are reality

logoAugmented Reality (AR) may well be all the rage – but trying to make any money from it still appears to be elusive. Witness London Bridge-headquartered visual search startup Blippar, which lost more than £34m last year (2017) on revenues of less than £6m, which were down one-third over 2016 (16 month period).

Blippar had been commanding eye-watering notional valuations (see Blippar, Cortexica – What price ‘visual search’?) but has since had to trim it sails, closing its offices on the US West Coast and 'pivoting' to different AR themes. Although announced yesterday, Blippar's latest raise (Series E £28.2m) apparently kicked off with a £20m starter earlier this year (Source: Telegraph). Leading the charge were Candy Ventures and existing backer, Qualcomm Ventures. This sets Blippar's total funding since its launch in 2011 to over $130m (Source: CrunchBase).

In July last year, the FT ran an article headlined, "Can tech unicorn Blippar beat the odds?". Clearly Candy and Qualcomm think it can. Others may not be so sure.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:31' - Tagged: funding   startup   augmented reality  

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Wednesday 19 September 2018

Cognizant advances Salesforce skills with ATG

logoIt seems that Salesforce implementation capability has become 'de rigeur' for the Indian pure-plays (IPPs) of late. Just a few days ago, Bangalore-based Infosys announced the acquisition of Nordic Salesforce and cloud migration consultancy, Fluido (see Infosys burnishes Nordic cloud credentials with Fluido). And yesterday New Jersey-headquartered, India-centric Cognizant revealed it is to acquire Kansas-based, US-focused Advanced Technology Group (ATG), a Salesforce consultancy with a strong suit in 'quote-to-cash'.

There's scant detail on the ATG deal; as there is no SEC filing one assumes that not a lot of dosh is to change hands. By the way, this looks like as much a defensive play as offensive. It's not just that taking out ATG keeps it from falling into the hands of Cognizant's competitors. It's also that ATG trains up and partners with a host of boutique and global SIs including the likes of Accenture and Deloitte. I guess they may need to look elsewhere for their Salesforce skills!

Posted by Anthony Miller at '07:54' - Tagged: offshore   acquisition  

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Tuesday 18 September 2018

Bango betting on data to drive profitable growth

logoBango, the Cambridge-based Direct Carrier Billing (DCB) company, has continued to build on its strong performance in 2017 (see ….bingo for Bango). End User Spend (EUS) going over Bango’s platform more than doubled to £220m in the half-year to June, enabling the core payments business to move to EBITDA profitability. Group revenue advanced by 54% to £2.64m.

Bango management are confident that their platform can continue to scale without significant additional costs and is increasingly putting more emphasis on data, as seen in a recent renegotiation of a large MNO contract. Here it reduced payment processing fees but opened up opportunities to increase revenues from its growing data business, recently expanded with the January acquisition of the Audiens Customer Data platform and the introduction of a new SaaS delivery model.

Bango is targeting the growing marketing spend of game and app developers that is directed through the mobile network operators. Bango aims to target this spend more accurately using the capabilities of Audiens and its extensive knowledge of DCB trends. Management suggests that this typically trebles the revenue addressable by Bango and drives higher sales and returns for both the developer and Google/Amazon. Progress in Japan in using DCB for the sale of physical goods for Amazon, success in growing Amazon Prime revenues in India via Bharti Airtel and new customer wins add to near-term potential.

The increased emphasis on data is delaying overall EBITDA profit, which is now expected in 2019, but should further increase the value of Bango to its App Store partners. Management’s confidence is underpinned by a pipeline of operator upgrades which opens up an additional US$4bn of EUS and by cash balances (following a placing in January) which should take the group to profitability and cash generation.

Posted by Peter Roe at '09:50' - Tagged: acquisition   ecommerce   big+data   payments   AI   appstores  

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Tuesday 18 September 2018

PwC finds the consulting going heavy

LogoPricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) has reported a respectable set of results for FY 2018 (the twelve months ending 30th June). The UK revenue growth rate of 5% held yoy to generate sales of £3.76b while profit for the year was up a healthy 14% to £935m. This enabled PwC to reverse the sequential declines in distributable profit per partner of 5% and 8% respectively in the last two years and raise the average partner pay-out for FY18 to £712k.

In terms of service lines, Deals had the strongest year lifting its top line by 10% to £711m.  From an industry sector perspective, a 14% jump in Public Sector revenue to c. £400m was largely off-set by a 2% decline Financial Services sales to £1.22b.

Echoing the recent performance of rivals Deloitte (see here), PwC saw growth of its consulting business, of which we estimate SITS activities represent c.30%, slow to a crawl. Revenue from this service line increased by just 1% (down from 7.2% last year) to £778m.  This was despite a reported high demand for IT related services including cyber, data analytics and GDPR.

PwC’s investment in technology continued apace as digital reshapes rapidly the world of business services. The internal deployment of cloud-based technologies such as Google Work, Salesforce and Workday was accompanied by the expansion of client facing expertise in AI, virtual reality and drones. The firm also opened Frontier in London, a collaborative space with clients and to bring its emerging technology teams together.

Posted by Duncan Aitchison at '09:48' - Tagged: consulting   resullts  

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Tuesday 18 September 2018

SCISYS buses into new TfL contract

SCISYS logoSCISYS sweet spot is supporting its clients in the delivery of complex business systems. And its latest £2m contract win with Trapeze Group (UK) is another great example. The company will provide software design, development and support services to Transport for London for its timetabling and scheduling in support of the Future Bus Systems Programme. The development covers data migration services, collaboration and document management functions, as well as systems integration services. Under the contract, SCISYS will also undertake support & maintenance following development completion.

Transport for London was already a SCISYS customer. Moreover, the company’s Commercial division upped its focus on the transport & logistics sector last year so that it could further benefit from SCISYS’ transport domain knowledge. SCISYS has always been good at fostering close relationships with its clients, allowing the company to have strong influence over how they spend their money. This looks like a case in point. We would have expected TfL to have turned to its IT Solutions Framework (see TfL selects its line-up for IT Solutions Framework), which does not include SCISYS; however, it appears that TfL chose a direct tender route for this requirement.  

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:47' - Tagged: public+sector   localgovernment   contract   transport   systems+integration   development   support  

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Tuesday 18 September 2018

Oracle under the wrong sort of cloud

logoBarely there growth combined with cloud opacity in Q119 sent Oracle shares tumbling nearly 5% in after hours trading.

At 1% growth to $9.2bn, revenue was behind expectations but it was the lack of cloud visibility that was frustrating as Oracle continued with the reporting structure it introduced in Q418 that merged Cloud Services and Licence Support under one umbrella and Cloud and On-premise licence sales under another. The lack of cloud and on-premise separation is at odds with its previous reporting and its peers within the software sector.

Even with the new reporting structure, the inference is that cloud growth has shortened its stride. Cloud Services and Licence Support only grew 3% yoy in Q119 (quarter ending 31 August 2018). In Q418 the sector turned in yoy 10% growth, so there is a clear slow down. At $6.6bn this segment represents 72% of overall revenue but maintenance of on-premise systems will make up the majority of that. Cloud and On-premise licence revenue (9% of total revenue) declined 3% to $867m, following the 4% decline of Q4 when it represented 16% of total revenue. Hardware and services revenue also declined.

In the year ago quarter, total cloud revenue reached $1.5bn which was a 51% rise over the previous year, driven by SaaS sales, up 62% to $1.1bn, with PaaS and IaaS up 28% to $400m. That put cloud revenue at c.16% of total revenue and contributed to overall revenue growth of 7%. Looking at the 1% total revenue growth in Q119, we can surmise that the rate of cloud growth has plateaued as on-premise sales continue to fall.

Lacklustre performance follows the news earlier this month that president of product development Thomas Kurian has taken extended leave of absence. Oracle has not disclosed the reason but media reports suggest disagreements between Kurian and chairman and CTO Larry Ellison because Kurian wants to run more Oracle software on public clouds. Another concern is a class action lawsuit against Oracle relating to allegations over its cloud sales. The wrong clouds appear to be hanging over Oracle although it did report net income up 6% to $2.3bn which is not to be sniffed at.

Posted by Angela Eager at '09:29' - Tagged: results   cloud   software  

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Tuesday 18 September 2018

Saleforce's Marc Benioff buys Time

TimeI remember, back in the 1980s, commenting on how successful Chairman or CEOs of tech companies would buy a helicopter at the first opportunity. Indeed, I often joked that if you ever saw a photo of the Chairman’s helicopter hovering over the new fountain in the forecourt of the new corporate HQ - it was definitely time to sell the shares!

Then later the badge of success moved on to buying into a football or rugby team.

TimeNow we’ve reach the era of ‘I’m filthy rich so I’ll buy a newspaper’. Perhaps the highest profile such purchase was Amazon’s Jeff Bezos buying The Washington Post - much to the ire of President Trump. Then Steve Jobs’ widow bought into The Atlantic.

Today The Times reports that Salesforce’s Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne are buying Time Magazine from Meredith (who also own Fortune and other titles)  for $190m. Must admit I used to buy Time for airplane journeys. But now I just take my iPad/Kindle for reading material on such journeys. Indeed the reason for Meredith selling is a slump in sales of the print version - down from a print run of 3m to 2.3m yoy. Although online sales grew from 27.4m Unique visitors to 31.7m, the revenues generated nowhere near keep pace with declines in revenues from print. Revenues have fallen 9% in the last year.

Time’s most well-known feature is the Time Person of the Year (BTW - used to be Man of the Year). This could not just be people but ‘groups’ (eg it was ‘YOU’ in 2006 to represent ‘the individual content creators of the www’). To me the most famous cover was 1982 where the Machine of the Year was ‘The Computer’. Jeff Bezos (Amazon) was Person of the Year in 1999 and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) in 2010. Strangely neither Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Elon Musk ever made it to the Person of the Year although they have all been on the front cover for other reasons.

Posted by Richard Holway at '08:52'

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Tuesday 18 September 2018

Snooper startup Shepper snaps up funding

logoI suppose it's more socially acceptable than being called a Snooper. Being a Shepherd, that is. I don't mean the one tending sheep. I mean a 'gig economy' worker who signs up with London-based startup, Shepper, to carry out 'on-demand inspections' on their customers' assets.

From just £10, you can hire a 'Shepherd' to nip round to your property to take some photos and jot a few notes (e.g. ' The rear gate leading to the backyard is open.'). Shepper also offers "more tailored data collection & task solutions for business across a range of industries", including "data collection for big consumer brands" and "evidence collection for insurance companies".

Founded in 2016, Shepper has raised $5.4m in a Series A round led by Aviva Ventures (the venture arm of the eponymous insurer) and Oslo-based (and usually Norway-focused) Idekapital Fund 1, along with various angels.

Shepper is not alone in the world of snooper startups. The more honestly named BeMyEye spies on shops on behalf of its clients (typically large multinationals), for example to check that their products are being displayed and promoted as agreed (see BeMyEye spies growth with Task360). Shepper claims to offer aspiring Shepherds 'full training and support' as well as insurance cover through its partnership with Twickenham-based 'on-demand' sharing economy-focused insurance startup Guardhog (via Hiscox).

I guess the time has come for the private detective industry to get 'disrupted'.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:42' - Tagged: funding   startup  

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Tuesday 18 September 2018

CloudCall H1 turnover up 30%

CloudCall H1 turnover up 30%Cloud telephony integration (CTI) specialist CloudCall continued its excellent progress in the first six months of FY18, growing revenue 30% yoy to £4m as it tempted more customers and end users onto its CRM focussed unified communications platform.

A rapid headcount expansion – the company now employs 141 people compared to just 40 at the end of H117 – had a detrimental effect on CloudCall’s EBITDA loss which widened to £1.5m. Its cash reserves too halved to £2.4m as it invested in infrastructure and people, though the company remains debt free after paying off its £900m deficit in FY17.

Management are confident those investments will pay dividends over the course of the full financial year, with new instant messaging and SMS products primed to boost turnover in H218. Having cleverly aligned its embedded telephony tools into leading CRM platforms like Bullhorn, Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics it’s hard to see CloudCall going wrong in the near term.

Posted by Martin Courtney at '08:36' - Tagged: results   H1   CloudCall   CTI  

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Tuesday 18 September 2018

MortgageGym completes £3.8m funding

MortgageGymMortgageGym a London-based FCA-regulated mortgage robo-adviser has closed a £3.8m funding round valuing the business at £12m. Backers include LSL Property Services and existing investor GoCompare Group.

This follows a seed funding round of £2.5m completed last year and almost twelve months of integration with GoCompare’s services. The company also benefits from a partnership with LSL mortgage broker networks – which had some 2,300 mortgage advisers arranging £21bn of lending in 2017.

MortgageGym was started two years ago by John Ingram and David Vertannes with the aim of allowing UK homebuyers to complete their entire application online in 15 minutes through a free, online portal combining both robo- and live-broker advice.

This is an exciting area of Fintech that continues to increase the pressure on traditional providers to streamline what is traditionally a painful process for borrowers.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '08:13' - Tagged: funding   FinTech   mortgages  

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Tuesday 18 September 2018

Trouble ahead for Smart Meter Systems?

logoI don't know whether to be bemused on concerned about chairman Willie MacDiarmid's statement in today's interim results from Glasgow-headquartered utility meter installation and asset management firm Smart Meter Systems (SMS).

In talking about the company's increasing investment in capacity, he referred to "the wider continued progress of the government-mandated programme, which requires UK energy suppliers to fit c.53 million new smart meters by the end of 2020." If management is truly basing its opex and capex plan on this timeframe, then, as they say (or rather sing), 'there may be trouble ahead' (see Smart Meter Madness (10): The long wait to 2025).

Notwithstanding that, SMS is one of the few beneficiaries of the government's smart meter rollout fiasco. Headline revenues for the 6 months to 30th June rose 27% to £46.7m, with GP increasing 18% to £22.5m, trimming gross margins back (again) from 51% to 48% (see SMS registers more growth on the meter). Operating profit grew by only 11% to £12.3m, pushing operating margins down (again) at 26%.

So long as management gets realistic about progress with the smart meter rollout, then SMS should be able to prosper on the back of it for some years to come.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '07:49' - Tagged: results   smartmeters  

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Monday 17 September 2018

Glasswall smashes £15m funding

Glasswall smashes £15m fundingLondon-based security software start-up Glasswall Solutions closed £15m of funding led by IPGL, the investment vehicle majority owned by Michael Spencer, founder and chief executive of financial markets company ICAP.

Glasswall has offices in London, Chelmsford and the US, and will use the cash to build further solutions and grow its customer base across North America and Europe.

The start-up has developed a cloud-hosted deep file inspection engine – FileTrust - that neutralises advanced persistent threats (APTs) embedded in email messages and common file attachments (Word, Excel, PDF, PowerPoint etc). For the moment, Glasswall looks very much like a one trick pony but its solution is in vogue with the growing trend that sees enterprise IT departments shifting security provision off-premise and into the cloud alongside their email systems (think what Mimecast and ProofPoint are doing with Office365, for example).

Although best of breed we think it may not be enough to tempt some buyers unless Glasswall can deliver additional, value added product and services in tandem however, meaning the £15m would be well spent on expanding that portfolio and building  APIs that link to other security tools to foster a "strength in depth" approach to cyber security.

Posted by Martin Courtney at '09:25' - Tagged: funding   cybersecurity   GlasswallSolutions  

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Monday 17 September 2018

Microsoft hooks into AI no code with Lobe

logoIt is noticeable that terms like ‘democratisation’ and ‘accessibility’ are being used more frequently where AI/machine learning is concerned as suppliers encourage wider adoption. Developments such as packaged services (see Machine Learning-aa-a-Service – market overview, technology, prospects) that can be used to speed up the creation of intelligent applications are also ramping up. Microsoft’s latest acquisition in the AI/machine learning sector - San Francisco 2015 startup Lobe - is in line with these trends.

Using a visual interface, Lobe provides the means to build deep learning models that can be embedded into applications. The drag and drop method is designed to attract less technical users - users do not have to be machine learning specialists or software engineers. It aligns with the growing popularity of low code platforms, the rise of citizen developers and ever present shadow IT. As identified in Enterprise Software Market Trends and Forecasts to 2021, shadow IT is seen as one way of driving innovation within large companies who might otherwise struggle.

As Lobe can be used to understand hand gestures, hear audio and read handwriting, putting an accessible tool in front of non-IT developers and tech-savvy business users with different approaches to traditional developers could produce some interesting outcomes. There is a limit to what can be achieved with drag and drop development but it can provide a starting place and encourage innovation. It will complement Azure Machine Learning Studio, which also provides a drag a drop interface.

Lobe (acquired for an undisclosed sum) joins Microsoft AI/machine learning acquisitions such as Semantic Machines (conversational AI), Bonsai.ai (deep reinforcement learning for AI within industrial control systems) and Maluuba (the search for general AI). It will continue to operate standalone (but with access to Microsoft resources) and be available across multiple platforms. 

Posted by Angela Eager at '09:17' - Tagged: acquisition   software   machinelearning   machineintelligence  

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Monday 17 September 2018

Labrador looks to sniff out energy savings

logoTechMarketView has long railed at the folly of the misguided government initiative to install smart energy meters in every home, (see Smart Meter Madness (10) and work back to see the extent of this sad saga). The case we have continually made is that there are other ways for people to monitor their own energy usage and take action to reduce their bills.

London-based Labrador (thelabrador.co.uk) looks to apply smart technology to automate and personalise energy switching. Labrador will monitor a consumer’s energy usage and check market tariffs and any specific contract terms. They will then recommend a change of supplier if there is a significant potential saving. If a smart meter is already installed they supply a free “Labrador Retriever” device which connects to the broadband router and tracks energy use, but they also offer a service for consumers with traditional meters. Labrador get paid by the energy suppliers (for the switch from one supplier to another) so the service is free to the consumer.

Labrador has received an undisclosed growth capital investment from Livingbridge, via the Baronsmead Venture Trusts.

All in all, this looks like an interesting approach and a good way of getting real value from your expensively installed smart meter.

Posted by Peter Roe at '09:08' - Tagged: funding   energy   AI   smartmeters  

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Monday 17 September 2018

Infosys burnishes Nordic cloud credentials with Fluido

logoInfosys CEO Salil Parekh is continuing his mission to 'get back to the knitting' and refocus the erstwhile exemplar offshore services star on its services roots with the acquisition of Finland-headquartered Salesforce and cloud migration consultancy, Fluido.

Infosys will pay a maximum of €65m cash (including earn-outs, etc) for the 200-strong consultancy, which was founded in 2010 and also has offices in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Slovakia. Fluido is majority-owned by the Management team and private equity firm CapMan, with Salesforce Ventures having a minority stake. Fluido had already been working as an Infosys partner prior to the acquisition. Seems like a 'full' price but a sensible deal.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:10' - Tagged: offshore   acquisition  

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