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Infosys CEO exit – right answer, wrong reason
18 Aug 2017
Advanced secures significant DWP contracts
18 Aug 2017
Partners Group: what next for Civica?
18 Aug 2017
Cisco shows transition signs in FY17
18 Aug 2017
Infosys in turmoil as CEO resigns
18 Aug 2017
Good and bad news in the A Level results
18 Aug 2017
Atos extends North Central London digital health footprint
17 Aug 2017
Idox strengthens its position in electoral software and services
17 Aug 2017
Google buys AIMatter
17 Aug 2017
The power of broker reports...
17 Aug 2017
An Evening with TechMarketView 2017 - book now!
17 Aug 2017
Confident ai Corporation offers a new approach to fraud
16 Aug 2017
Microsoft 'Cycles' into Cloud HPC acquisition
16 Aug 2017
Bolton chooses Allscripts for integrated health record
16 Aug 2017
School Lettings Solutions raises funds to drive expansion
16 Aug 2017
CloudBuy makes modest progress in H1
16 Aug 2017
RBS swings axe on London IT staff
16 Aug 2017
Trade Finance application gives CGI a blockchain shop window
16 Aug 2017
Angry Birds fly
15 Aug 2017
*NEW RESEARCH* UK BPS Supplier Ranking 2017
15 Aug 2017
Pulsant buys LayerV to deepen cloud integration
15 Aug 2017
SharpCloud collaborates with Babcock International
15 Aug 2017
European Investment Fund turns off tap for UK tech start-ups
15 Aug 2017
HPE PointNext - New Thinking Reveals New Possibilities
15 Aug 2017
Mixed start to Sonata’s year
14 Aug 2017
Telit – the plot thickens
14 Aug 2017
New funding for CSI reflects strength of the mid-market
14 Aug 2017
Arcontech looking for growth
14 Aug 2017
Pot of gold at the end of Glint’s rainbow
14 Aug 2017
Join us for the TechMarketView Evening 2017
13 Aug 2017
The gender debate
13 Aug 2017

UKHotViews©

 

Friday 18 August 2017

Infosys CEO exit – right answer, wrong reason

logoA reported email from Infosys co-founder – and Indian tech industry scion - Narayana Murthy, which alluded to (now) ex-CEO Dr Vishal Sikka as “CTO material rather than CEO material”, smacks of irony at best and downright hypocrisy at worst.

UKHotViews readers will know that I have been extremely sceptical about Sikka’s appointment as Infosys’ CEO ever since the news was announced in June 2014 (see Infosys emulates HP strategy for new CEO). The appointment was lauded by Murthy thus: “Vishal brings valuable experience as a leader of a large, global corporation. His illustrious track record and value system make him an ideal choice to lead Infosys”. Sikka was previously CTO at SAP.

Sikka’s appointment would not have happened without Murthy’s full support so highly is he revered within and outside of the company. And it would have been in Murthy’s sure knowledge that worthy internal candidates would leave Infosys in droves, as they did. Indeed, after assuming the top job at Infosys, Sikka proceeded to surround himself with ex-SAP mates, which at one point numbered at least 15 (see Infosys inching closer to InfoSAP?).

The reasons given for Sikka’s resignation (see Infosys in turmoil as CEO resigns) revolved mainly around ‘fifth column’ sniper fire at Sikka led from the sidelines by Murthy, prompted by perceived issues of governance and pay.

Whether or not these claims have merit is not the point.

The point is that Murthy was instrumental in appointing the wrong man to lead the company that he founded, and then proceeded to undermine him when it became apparent how bad that decision really was. His decision has lost Infosys three critical years which should have been spent in reengineering itself to face the potentially existential challenges facing the traditional Indian offshore services industry in particular, and the broader challenges facing the global IT services market in general.

Now Infosys is set for another period of uncertainty as it seeks a new leader – and who knows what beyond.

Murthy has much to answer for.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '14:50' - Tagged: offshore   management  

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Friday 18 August 2017

Advanced secures significant DWP contracts

Advanced logoDatchet-based Advanced have secured a significant deal, or rather a series of deals, with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The four contracts have a combined value of £26.7m and form part of the DWP’s migration away from its legacy Virtual Machine Environment (VME) technology.

The contracts are split into two software agreements (one of £4.8m over two years, and another of £11.4m over five years) and two professional service agreements relating to data migration and code conversion from the legacy applications (one worth £7.5m and the other £3.0m, both for two years).

The largest of the contracts, worth £11.4m is for the provision of runtime software and comprises an up-front software payment and support and maintenance payments, which are to be paid annually commencing January 2018.

The DWP’s legacy applications run on Fujitsu’s VME mainframe technology that was built and developed between 1974 and 1995. The technology has proved very difficult to replace. In 2014, the DWP started testing methods for migrating away from the technology, which led to a full programme called VME-R, the R standing for remediation or replacement. At the end of 2016, DWP exceptions to ICT spend control data revealed £52.6m had been approved to, “migrate the remaining business applications and complete the replacement/remediation of all required middleware and internal/external interfaces”.

The deal represents a significant milestone for Advanced in central government. To date, it has performed well in local government, but this is its first major contract with one of the UK’s big central departments. The DWP is a great stepping-stone for the business and we expect to see Advanced win more central government deals in future.

Posted by Dale Peters at '10:06' - Tagged: contract   legacy   transformation  

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Friday 18 August 2017

Partners Group: what next for Civica?

Partners Group logoFollowing its agreement to acquire Civica, which was signed at the end of July (see ‘Unicorn’ Civica finds new Partners for its journey), we caught up with Partners Group to learn more about the investment and its plans for the business.

Partners Group is a global player that has made PE investments across a wide range of industries, including consumer, IT, healthcare and business and financial services, typically with businesses at the upper end of mid-market.

Prior to the Civica deal it had completed two PE acquisitions in the UK. In 2014, it was part of a consortium in the £375m acquisition of Voyage Care, which provides specialist residential services for people with learning and physical disabilities, and in April this year it acquired Key Retirement Group, a retirement and financial planning specialist for c.£200m.

TechMarketView spoke to Bilge Ogut, Managing Director, Private Equity Europe, about why Partners Group agreed to acquire Civica for £1,055m. Read more here...

Posted by Dale Peters at '09:54' - Tagged: acquisition   PE  

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Friday 18 August 2017

Cisco shows transition signs in FY17

ciscoThe trend in Cisco’s revenue line continued in Q4 wrapping up a year that saw its traditional Product business (including network/routers) decline 3% and Service revenue grow 3%. Product was about two-thirds of the company’s total $48bn revenue base in FY17, but Cisco continues to plough forward on a transformation journey to shift to more services and software-based offerings.

Supporting that journey is the numerous acquisitions it has made (for example, Observable Networks, MindMeld, and Viptela). These all add important new capabilities that help Cisco address areas of the market that are faster growing.

Other positive indications that Cisco is transitioning its model include an increase in recurring revenue, up four points to 31% of revenue in Q4. Likewise revenue from recurring software and subscriptions was up 50% to $5bn. However, like other large, traditional technology firms, Cisco is on a journey that will not conclude overnight and shareholders will just have to be patient about that.

For the first quarter of FY18, Cisco is targeting revenue decline of -3% to -1% 
(Q4 FY17 was -4%)
 and Non-GAAP EPS of $0.59 to $0.61
(Q4 FY17 was $0.61).

Related reading for subscribers:

Posted by Kate Hanaghan at '09:44' - Tagged: results   cloud   software   services   networking  

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Friday 18 August 2017

Infosys in turmoil as CEO resigns

lThe ongoing management crisis at Infosys, India’s second largest IT services firm, has reached new heights with the resignation of CEO Dr. Vishal Sikka ‘with immediate effect’.

COO Pravin Rao has been moved into the interim CEO role while Infosys looks for a permanent replacement. Sikka meanwhile will move into the role of exec vice chairman.

It’s a staggering situation in which founder N.R. Narayana Murthy has pitched himself squarely against the current Infosys board, including the now former CEO.

In a statement, Infosys said: ‘Mr Murthy…released to various media houses attacking the integrity of the board and management of the company alleging falling corporate governance standards...Mr. Murthy's continuous assault, including this latest letter, is the primary reason that the CEO, Dr. Vishal Sikka, has resigned despite strong board support’.

Unsurprisingly, investors didn’t react well to the news, with Infosys' shares falling c7%.

These distractions won’t do anything to help Infosys deliver on its 'ambitious' transformation plans (readers can see Anthony Miller's views on this here and work back). Automation, Artificial Intelligence and the commoditisation of the low cost offshore labour model, present all the Indian Pure Plays (IPPs) with their biggest existential challenges today. To survive and thrive, they need strong management, and a committed direction of travel from all sides - both old and new. Infosys right now is pulling itself apart at the seams.

Posted by John O'Brien at '08:34' - Tagged: offshore   IPP  

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Friday 18 August 2017

Good and bad news in the A Level results

BoysOn a day when good news is thin on the ground, it is gratifying to report that the number of A level entries for STEM subjects has soared to 33% from 24.8% a decade ago. Maths is now the most popular subject with 95,244 taking the subject compared with 67,965 a decade ago.

But the numbers taking A Level Computing was woefully low - at 7600. Even worse, only 9.8% of those were girls. However, that is up 34% on 2016. The same applies to Physics where 79% of students were male. One rare bright spot was Chemistry where more students were girls than boys for the first time since 2004.

Of course, this is all part of the Gender Debate which I wrote about earlier this week. Your feedback was interesting with some actually supporting the vive la difference view. Personally I find that difficult to swallow. If girls can be both good at and want to take Maths, why should Computing (and coding) be so unpopular with girls? I happen to believe that it is down to stereotypes where coders (and gamers) are universally portrayed as males. Indeed males of a geeky, often rather unpleasant, type.  The media can play their part in this. The film Hidden Numbers was the first I have seen that showed the amazing contribution that females made as ‘Computors’ to the US space programme in the 1960s. How women could be the equal - and more - of men when it came to FORTRAN programming.

Posted by Richard Holway at '08:25'

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Thursday 17 August 2017

Atos extends North Central London digital health footprint

Atos logoGreat news for Atos. The company has achieved what it set out to do when it initially signed its digital transformation partner contract with University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (see Atos furthers push into health with UCLH): it has extended the contract to an additional organisation. The new client is Barnet, Enfield, Haringey (BEH) Mental Health Trust under a contract with an initial term of five years. There is an option to extend the contract by a further seven years, which would align the contract end date with the maximum term of the original deal.

Atos signing new dealAtos will deliver architecture, end user technology, service desk, private cloud data services, information security and SIAM. As is an increasingly popular model, the contract requires Atos to make savings in the “foundation” (or legacy) ICT to fund the digital transformation roadmap of the organisation. No value is given for this extension; the original deal with UCLH, signed in January this year, was valued at £130m for the core services alone, with digital transformation initiatives being paid for on a project-by-project basis.

Atos continues to demonstrate that it is winning projects with significant digital transformation elements, as well as adding smaller deals that are offering the ability to demonstrate more advanced digital technologies (see Atos UK: An evolving business). We wait to see if it adds further North Central London health partners into the fold; the North Central London landscape consists of five Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), five local authorities, and 12 acute, community, mental health and specialist providers, who recently put in place a shared digital roadmap. The more Atos serves, the better chance Atos UK&I Senior Vice President for Health and Public Sector, Philip Chalmers (pictured left signing the deal) will have to demonstrate his vision of an “accountable care organisation with responsibility for the commissioning and provision of care from cradle to grave” via increased collaboration and innovation across the area.

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '21:17' - Tagged: health   public+sector   ito   digitaltransformation  

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Thursday 17 August 2017

Idox strengthens its position in electoral software and services

Idox logoAIM-listed, Idox plc has acquired the electoral software and services specialist, Halarose Holdings, for a total consideration of £5.0m, comprising £3.5m in cash and £1.5m in shares.

Halarose has been a key supplier in local government electoral services since 1998. It provides a range of electoral software solutions to local authorities across the UK, covering registration, postal and electronic voting, canvassing and online training for polling station staff. It has 76 customers on its books, including major local authorities such as Birmingham, Leeds, Lothian and Lanarkshire. In its last financial (year ended 31 May 2017), Halarose achieved revenues of £3.3m and EBITDA of £1.1m.

Idox, supplies information management solutions to the public sector and highly regulated industries. It already has an established electoral management business, Idox Elections, which sits within its Public Sector Software division. Its election services contributed £2.3m revenue in H1 FY17. This was significantly down on H1 FY16 (£4.1m), reflecting a decrease in election activity during the first half of the year, but with the UK General Election taking place in the second half of Idox’s financial year we expect to see performance improve markedly in H2 FY17.

Halarose will be integrated into Idox Elections, creating a significantly larger elections business. Idox states that revenue and cost synergies are expected to enhance Idox's earnings in the first full year of ownership. Synergies will be achieved through the consolidation of office space and supporting a single suite of products.

Idox is focused on expanding its public sector business both in the UK and internationally, and it sees opportunities to expand its election services across Europe. The acquisition provides it with a more comprehensive product offering and significantly increases its market position. It should also be able to improve organic growth by offering a now enhanced suite of products and services to its existing customers.

Posted by Dale Peters at '09:53' - Tagged: acquisition   election   government   local  

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Thursday 17 August 2017

Google buys AIMatter

googGoogle has acquired AI image processing firm, AIMatter. AIMatter, which was founded in Belarus, is the creator of the rather fun Fabby, which is a video and photo editing app. Google's interest is in the clever stuff behind the scenes; the app uses a neural network-based AI platform to process images on phones. The technology allows a user's face, for example, to be separated from the background, meaning both can be edited. The effect is rather like the filters in Snapchat. At the start of 2017, AIMatter attracted $2m in funding from Haxus Venture Fund.

Google has not said how it will use the technology, but these types of filters are certainly very popular on social media. Perhaps Google will use it alongside some of its other machine learning capabilities, or maybe it was just keen to welcome a clever bunch of developers into its fold.

Posted by Kate Hanaghan at '09:21' - Tagged: acquisition   socialmedia   AI   neural  

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Thursday 17 August 2017

The power of broker reports...

UBSThe share prices of the UK’s largest listed companies were significantly affected yesterday by broker reports. Sage was up over 3% as UBS removed the stock from its Sell list. UBS had been critical of Sage for underinvestment on R&D but had concluded that its July acquisition of Intacct was ‘good’ and took ‘the pressure off Sage to increase R&D’. For our views see Sage raises stakes with US Intacct deal. UBS analyst, Michael Briest, now thinks that Intacct ‘fills a key gap in Sage’s cloud portfolio’ and ‘with SageOne, Sage Live, Intacct and Sage People, Sage now has a credible set of cloud solutions capable of addressing the needs of all but its very largest X3 customers’.  Sage shares are now up 7.5% YTD - mirroring the FTSE SCS Index (where Sage is the largest component). However NASDAQ is up nearly 16% YTD. Maybe bullish comments on Sage had an affect on Micro Focus - which also saw a 2.6% uplift in its share price yesterday.

Conversely Computacenter fell 3.2% as the same analyst at UBS removed their Buy recommendation citing Computacenter’s over dependence on the UK market. Computacenter makes around 40% of its revenues and over half its profits from the UK. Conversely UBS was more optimistic about Computacenter’s business outside the UK. Computacenter is still up 11% YTD.

This view was supported by news yesterday that the economies of the Eurozone is now growing at twice the rate of the UK. UK up 0.3% qoq compared with 0.6% for the Eurozone. This divergence can all be traced back to the BREXIT vote. Before that growth in the UK economy was the strongest of the G7 - far outstripping the Eurozone. Very sad…

Note  - Richard Holway is a long term shareholder in Sage, Micro Focus and Computacenter. 

Posted by Richard Holway at '07:59'

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Thursday 17 August 2017

An Evening with TechMarketView 2017 - book now!

Sage company logoWe look forward to welcoming well over two hundred CXOs from the world of UK tech and beyond to our flagship event, An Evening with TechMarketView, in October. The 2017 event is held in association with Sage and will take place at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in Portland Place, London on Thursday 5th October, commencing at 6:30 pm with welcome drinks.

This will be followed by an hour of valuable foresight from the TechMarketView analyst team on the prospects for tech suppliers in the UK market in 2018 and beyond, especially in the context of ‘Unlocking the Intelligence’, our theme which embraces the transformational potential afforded by digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and cognitive computing.

We would then like to welcome you to a drinks reception ahead of a sumptuous three-course dinner. During the evening, there will be plenty of opportunity for networking with other ‘movers and shakers’ in UK tech.

The Evening with TechMarketView has been a sell-out for the last four years so book early to secure your place. 

We hope you can join the TechMarketView team, and of course our esteemed chairman Richard Holway MBE and managing partner, Anthony Miller, at what so many executives tell us is the one industry event they simply can’t afford to miss!

For full details and to book your place visit tx2Events here or contact event coordinator Tina Compton at tx2Events (tina.compton@tx2events.com).

TechMarketView Evening 2016

Posted by HotViews Editor at '00:00'

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Wednesday 16 August 2017

Confident ai Corporation offers a new approach to fraud

logoai Corporation (ai) has made consistent progress since we first met them late last year during our ninth Little British Battler programme. Their activities in the provision of fraud protection and payments processing software are generating c.40% revenue growth and their progress towards profitability is on track. In addition, the company is reinforcing senior management, recruiting a CFO, as it broadens market reach and increases the proportion of revenue from services.

The company’s latest move reflects its confidence in its understanding of the fraud environment, machine learning capability and fraud management portfolio to eliminate fraudulent activity. The innovation is to offer its capabilities using an outcome-based business model so that customers can outsource their complete fraud management function to ai. The company will deploy its services via the cloud, using a sophisticated rules engine and its RiskNet fraud detection software to identify anomalies. The customer will agree a straightforward fraud measurement methodology with ai and will pay according to the level of fraud identified and eliminated.

lbbUnsurprisingly, the first customer to use this model is a large oil company, looking to benefit from ai’s view of fraud on a global basis and being open to this type of contract which is more readily used in this sector. Many companies, for example in financial services, are still reluctant to embrace the outcome-based approach due to uncertainty over the actual spend, concern over data access and stove-piped management responsibilities.

Payment fraud is a growing problem, requiring a global and responsive approach. Many customers will want to hand fraud management over to experts, looking for a win-win business model. ai Corporation has the confidence and capabilities to offer this model. Expect to hear a lot more about this interesting Little British Battler.

Posted by Peter Roe at '13:52' - Tagged: saas   platformbasedBPO   fraud   machinelearning  

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Wednesday 16 August 2017

Microsoft 'Cycles' into Cloud HPC acquisition

Cycle Computing & MicrosoftThere has been much excitement on the newswires about Microsoft’s acquisition – announced yesterday – of Cycle Computing.Terms of the deal were not disclosed. And, as a private company, we don’t have any financial information for Cycle. Moreover, the view that this acquisition represents a coup for Microsoft is not even wholly based on Cycle’s Big Compute and Cloud HPC capabilities; although that’s clearly a big element, Microsoft was already a Cycle Computing partner so was already utilising its orchestration software. It’s more about the fact that Microsoft has acquired the opportunity to poach some customers from AWS and Google.

Cycle Computing was founded 12 years ago. Founder and CEO Jason Stowe states they started up the company with an $8000 credit card. In 2016, it raised $1m in debt financing. The company’s flagship product is CycleCloud. It focuses on helping organisations orchestrate high performance computing jobs and large data workloads in the cloud. It has some impressive references/use cases which show how it has “helped customers fight cancer & other diseases, design faster rockets, build better hard drives, create better solar panels, and manage risk for peoples’ retirements.” Stowe states the company has been growing at 2.7x every 12 months.

Microsoft’s latest financial results revealed rapid cloud growth. In Q417 (to end June), one of the big drivers of that growth was Azure (revenue up 97% although still no revenue number was revealed (see Cloud growth improves Microsoft’s challenger position). It has already become more credible as competition for AWS for public cloud and for Google Cloud Platform (GCP) (see Azure stack: where Microsoft’s private hybrid cloud platform sits in the UK cloud services ecosystem) . This acquisition will help accelerate that progress by increasing its attractiveness for HPC projects, which are increasingly prevalent outside the scientific and research communities. There are, of course, other products on the market that do the same job as Cycle. And Microsoft will continue to support Cycle Computing clients using AWS and Google Cloud (according to ZDNet). But future version releases will be Azure focused; there’s no doubt that Microsoft has a window of opportunity to take on some AWS and Google customers as it encourages them to move to Microsoft’s cloud.

We have seen several examples of late whereby larger vendors are buying up ‘clever’ start-ups to build out their capabilities in getting enterprises into the cloud faster and enabling cloud at scale (see Pulsant buys LayerV to deepen cloud integration and Cloudreach buys stake in Cloudamize). As with Pulsant/LayerV, getting to know a potential buyer through a partnership means a start-up is much more likely to agree to be acquired via a trade sale.

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:32' - Tagged: acquisition   cloud   big+data   M&A   Azure   HPC   cloudintegration  

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Wednesday 16 August 2017

Bolton chooses Allscripts for integrated health record

Allscripts logoBolton NHS Foundation Trust has become the latest trust in the north of England to select Allscripts’ Sunrise Electronic Health Record (EHR). The contract, which is reportedly valued at £30m, was signed earlier this week and will see Bolton go liive with the first phase of a new integrated patient record system in 2019.

Bolton is an integrated care organisation and the Trust serves patients from both Royal Bolton Hospital and more than 20 health centres and clinics, as well as offering services such as district nursing. Allscripts’ EHR is marketed as connecting people, places and data across ‘an open, connected Community of Health’ and this capability will have been attractive to Bolton as it strives to enhance its integrated care proposition. Indeed, Phillipa Winter, CIO at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, explained that “with this new technology, [the trust] will be able to establish a frictionless care process, making it easier for our clinicians to access a single, comprehensive view of the patient’s health record.”

The win with Bolton further establishes US-HQ'd Allscripts in the UK market and augments its presence in this corner of England. A number of trusts in and around Manchester and Liverpool have now adopted Allscripts’ Sunrise as their EHR. At the centre of the cluster is Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust - one of the NHS’ ‘global digital exemplars’ (see Public Sector Opportunities Bulletin February 2017 for more) and Allscripts’ NHS reference site. The other NHS Foundation Trusts that have chosen Allscripts are Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital; Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh and the University Hospital of South Manchester, which went live in 2016.

Allscripts’ growing track record in the UK and strong presence in the region will also have been important considerations for Bolton during the tender process. A cluster of trusts using the same integrated patient record system in a region makes a lot of sense – indeed it should have been the outcome of the now infamous National Programme for IT in the NHS (NPfIT) – and we expect this pattern to be replicated in and around some digital exemplars in other areas of England.  

To see where Allscripts ranks alongside other players in the NHS IT market PublicSectorViews subscribers should see TechMarketView’s recently published UK Public Sector SITS Supplier Rankings 2017 report.

Posted by Tola Sargeant at '09:18' - Tagged: contract   software   healthcare  

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Wednesday 16 August 2017

School Lettings Solutions raises funds to drive expansion

SLS logoSchool Lettings Solutions (SLS) has raised £440k from the Greater Manchester Loan Fund (GMLF). The Bolton-based business provides a lettings management service for schools and colleges to hire out their facilities to local community groups.

Founded in 2012, SLS has partnered with more than 20 national sport and arts organisations and is managing the lettings for approximately 125 schools in the UK. It has a good pipeline for growth and is currently in discussion with over 100 additional education establishments.  

GMLF, which is managed by Maven Capital Partners, was set up by the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities and provides finance of between £100,000 and £500,000 to businesses in the Greater Manchester region. SLS will use the investment from GMLF to help drive its expansion into new schools and develop a new facilities booking system.

Many schools have fantastic facilities, such as sports halls, playing fields, tennis courts, theatres and swimming pools, that could be used by the local community in the evenings, weekends and during school holidays. Most schools manage the letting of these facilities themselves, but if outsourcing this process can raise additional funds and reduce the administrative burden on school staff, then many will jump at the opportunity to do so.

Posted by Dale Peters at '09:03' - Tagged: outsourcing   education   startup   investment  

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Wednesday 16 August 2017

CloudBuy makes modest progress in H1

lEmbattled AIM-listed e-procurement player CloudBuy has made some modest progress since its decision to radically reduce its cost base earlier this year (see here).  

In H1, revenues actually rose, albeit by 4% to £819k. Operating losses meanwhile were trimmed to ---£1.3m vs. -£2.3m last time. Hardly cause for celebration, but at least things are heading in the right direction right now. Looking ahead, losses are expected to reduce further in H2, through growth in revenue and cost reductions already implemented.

CloudBuy is now pinning all of its hopes to its relationship with NHS Shared Business Service (NHS SBS), the joint venture between the Department of Health and Sopra Steria.

CloudBuy operates the PHBChoices procurement platform, which is designed to support the role out of personal health budgets (PHBs) for patients over the next few years. PHBChoices is apparently making positive progress with 25% of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) either contracted or in advanced discussions.

There is potential for this offering to be taken up at scale. CloudBuy sees £7bn of NHS spend to go through PHBs by 2020/21, with 100,000 budget holders. NHS SBS has identified significant efficiencies and savings – with each CCG staff member able to support 5x the number of PHBs, and freeing up additional cash savings of around 25%.

Let’s hope that CloudBuy has a very good relationship with Sopra Steria, which, as the lead partner at NHS SBS, stands to benefit significantly if things take off here.

Posted by John O'Brien at '08:50' - Tagged: procurement  

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Wednesday 16 August 2017

RBS swings axe on London IT staff

logoAccording to the Unite union, RBS is planning to cut almost 900 IT jobs, as it removes 40% of permanent IT posts in London, culling an additional 200+contractors. Jobs will be moved to other UK sites, but significantly to India, where RBS already employ 12,500 people (according to Unite) and to Poland.

Overall, RBS management has set a tough target for operating cost reduction, looking for a £2bn cut from its 2016 level to £6.4bn by 2020. H1 2017 delivered the best part of £500m in cuts, with the majority coming from “non-core” businesses (including presumably the Williams & Glyn mess). Looking ahead, a greater proportion of savings will come out of the core bank.

RBS took out 700 IT systems and applications in the first half, aiming to simplify the extremely complex system stack and make it appropriate for the business going forward. Much of the new technology is at the front-end of the business, such as the shiny new chatbots, but the legacy problems of clunky and expensive back-end systems will persist for a long time yet.

Every bank is working hard to reduce the cost of “running the bank” to free up budget to invest in new systems and improve agility, with the aim of shoring up returns for shareholders. Another recent example is HSBC’s shifting 840 IT jobs out of the UK.

Bank IT chiefs have a massive IT agenda, such as introducing Cloud, are still reluctant to cede control of projects to SITS suppliers. The cost of London staff has also risen sharply. As a consequence, they are prepared to run the risk of greater workflow management problems, poorer user experience and further reductions in responsiveness by re-locating jobs into lower cost centres to cut headline costs.

Posted by Peter Roe at '07:54' - Tagged: offshore   banks   legacy   digitaltransformation  

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Wednesday 16 August 2017

Trade Finance application gives CGI a blockchain shop window

logoCGI has long been active in supporting the banks in their Trade Finance business and has a comprehensive global trade solution in its Trade360 proposition. For two years it has been investigating how blockchain could “future-proof” this proposition and generate real savings for participating banks by authenticating trade documents and Letters of Credit more efficiently through an automated solution. Earlier this year a McKinsey report suggested that Trade Finance was second only to Cross-border Payments in terms of the extent of savings enabled by blockchain use, with some US$14-17bn of savings being possible within three years.

Last week, a consortium of eleven banks announced a prototype application on R3’s distributed ledger platform Corda, which has been built specifically to meet the privacy and security standards of the financial services industry. CGI is acting as trade finance technology partner for this project.

Trade Finance has been the focus of a lot of blockchain development, with several major SITS suppliers being active. IBM for example has launched a system to support Maersk’s container business and is working with a consortium of seven European banks. TCS also prioritising this area.

Blockchain represents a major step forward in digitalising an unwieldy, slow and expensive process. As SITS suppliers like CGI gain experience in trade finance, particularly in concert with client banks, consortia and fintechs, they will open up more opportunities and develop new business models to improve the transparency of the physical supply chain, for example by using the Internet of Things to monitor cargoes and provide better audit trails.

And just a thought – shouldn’t the UK government be investigating blockchain as a way to provide a modern trade management system as we leave the EU?

Posted by Peter Roe at '07:49' - Tagged: financialservices   iot   blockchain   brexit  

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Tuesday 15 August 2017

Angry Birds fly

Angry BirdsI have written about Rovio - and their Angry Birds - almost since they started in 2009. Most of my comments have not been flattering. One hit wonders is one example. But as Rovio reported falling revenues and major job layoffs, it didn’t seem too unfair.

However, maybe I was a tiny bit cruel when I wrote off Rovio’s ambition to ‘rival Disney’. Last year the Angry Birds Movie hit cinemas and was a success. So much so that Rovio today announced that H1 revenues had doubled to Euro152.6m with profits (before all the bad stuff) up 4x at Euro 41.8m. Most of the increase came from increased revenues from its games - boosted by the movie. But they also reported movie revenues for the first time. A movie sequel is planned with Columbia pictures in 2019.

Our little ones were enchanted with Peppa Pig and their visits to Peppa Pig Land. The brand really did have legs - one brand delivering revenues in a host of ways from movies to soft toys. A recent visit to DisneyWorld shows that characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck can last a century if nurtured correctly.

Now Rovio is said to be planning an IPO - maybe as early as next month. Valuations of c$2b have been rumoured - making founding investor Kaj Hed a billionaire. Rovio may indeed be a ‘One hit wonder’ but if they can continue to nurture just that one brand, there is no reason why they can’t be successful long into the future.

Posted by Richard Holway at '14:44'

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Tuesday 15 August 2017

*NEW RESEARCH* UK BPS Supplier Ranking 2017

lThere has been a lot of movement among the Top 20 providers of Business Process Services (BPS) in the past year, reflecting the huge level of disruption that is taking place across the market. 

The over-arching dynamic is the rapidly changing shape of the leading BPS suppliers to become leaner, more agile businesses. This is in response to the way customers are buying services – smaller, discrete, often single process deals, with automation and digital technologies, such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI) at front and centre. Brexit is also having a negative impact in areas like financial services and investments.

The overall effect of these market changes is downward pressure on spend. However for many BPS suppliers this transition remains extremely painful as customers unbundle large deals at renewal, and force their incumbent providers to take significant price cuts to retain business.

Subscribers to TechMarketView's BusinessProcessViews research services can read the full analysis of who's hot and who's not, and why, in our new report UK BPS Supplier Ranking 2017.

If you are not yet a BusinessProcessViews subscriber, please contact Deb Seth (dseth@techmarketview.com) to find out how you can access the research.  

Posted by John O'Brien at '09:30' - Tagged: bps   rankings  

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Tuesday 15 August 2017

Pulsant buys LayerV to deepen cloud integration

oulsantPulsant, which is owned by Oak Hill and Scottish Equity Partners, has acquired start-up cloud integrator, LayerV. It’s a canny move by Pulsant and one that sees it gain some important cloud advisory and technology integration capabilities. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

LayerV is a UK company (c30 people) with about two-thirds of its staff (techies) based in Lithuania. The remaining employees are mostly customer facing (including experienced and sought after Amazon Web Services consultants) and are based in the UK. layerv

Pulsant has been focusing its public cloud partnerships (which sit alongside its own private and public cloud capabilities) around Microsoft Azure, so adding this AWS capability is the first important synergy we see. LayerV has also developed its own managed compliance platform, which can be wrapped around any type of cloud. This is important in industries such as Financial Services and Public Sector where customers need to tightly control their data. All in, this is a very tidy acquisition and a real coup for Pulsant, expanding the cloud integration capabilities it can take to both new customers and its existing cloud/hosting/colocation base.

The companies have worked together as partners giving LayerV, which was starting to consider external funding, a chance to get to know Pulsant’s culture and the cross-sale/growth opportunities in joining the company. There is huge competition to acquire start-ups with key technology capability to enable cloud migration, so Pulsant has done well to bring in LayerV. Other recent examples include Cloudreach (acquired by Blackstone – see Cloudreach acquisition reflects important market changes), which is now on a mission to buy up those that can help it achieve cloud migration at scale.

Pulsant has also just given us a first reading of its latest accounts for the year ending December 2016. The company’s top line has leapt following the acquisition of Onyx last year. On a pro-forma basis, the growth was a commendable 7% to £77.4m. EBITDA (before exceptional items and management adjustments) was up 8% to £21.1m. The addition of the relatively small LayerV will do little to move the needle on the top line this year, but we see great potential going forward.

Posted by Kate Hanaghan at '08:30' - Tagged: results   acquisition   cloudmigration   cloudintegration  

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Tuesday 15 August 2017

SharpCloud collaborates with Babcock International

SharpCloud LogoLittle British Battler (LLB), SharpCloud Software has formed a partnership arrangement with Babcock International to bring its visual collaboration tools to businesses working in regulated and mission critical environments.

SharpCloud provides a visual communication platform for enterprise businesses, which allows users to collaborate through interactive and non-linear presentations. These presentations can incorporate images and videos, as well as documents such as PowerPoint presentations and Excel spreadsheets. It can be accessed via public cloud on Microsoft Azure or hosted on-premise or in private cloud.

To date, its customers have used SharpCloud to run innovation and strategy workshops, risk and project portfolio management, and product roadmaps. It has gathered some marquee customers since it launched in 2008, including Conoco Phillips, Fujitsu and Transport for London.

The problem for SharpCloud is that it’s playing in a highly competitive space. There are big companies in each area that SharpCloud plays—from presentation tools such as Prezi and Microsoft Sway, project management tools such Trello and Wrike, to team collaboration tools like Slack and Atlassian’s Confluence.

As we mentioned in our sixth LBB report back in 2015 (see Little British Battlers – The Sixth Sense), international partnership is key to SharpCloud’s future success in this competitive landscape. It has already forged partnerships with CGI, T-Systems, Chaucer Group and Kitewire. Developing a new partnership with a FTSE 100 business like Babcock is good news. The new arrangement should help SharpCloud establish a position in highly complex, regulated and mission critical environments such as the defence, energy, marine and air sectors. 

Posted by Dale Peters at '08:26' - Tagged: partnership   lbb   collaboration  

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Tuesday 15 August 2017

European Investment Fund turns off tap for UK tech start-ups

EIFToday’s Times has an interesting article ‘Europe halts funding for British tech firms’. Basically Oliver Wright’s article says that the European Investment Fund, which invested c£500m in UK tech start-ups last year, effectively stopped new investments once Article 50 was triggered. Given that the EIF was the largest source of such UK investments, this clearly matters. A string of VCs - Seedcamp, Episodel, BGF Ventures and others - were quoted in the article backing the story. The BVCA is calling on the UK Govt to step in as a replacement source of funding.

Over the last ten years, the UK has moved to become THE place to setup a new tech business. Indeed, the UK has attracted more investment and produced more unicorns than any other European country. Silicon valley got to its lead position (now on the wane I would suggest) because it created an ecosystem or hub. Start-ups thrive when all the things they need - like investors, access to funds, M&A experts, universities, analysts, access to skilled staff (many from outside the UK), development centres of large (often non-UK companies)  etc - come together in one place. A lot of work from individuals, companies and HMGovt, had really shown success. Indeed, having been in the UK tech industry for 50 years now, I have never seen it so buoyant as of late.

It would be a tragedy if BREXIT stopped all that in its tracks. As many of the interested parties - in particular the VCs/PE houses - are avid HotViews readers, I would be very interested in your views. Indeed, is the story in The Times true in your experience? And what should we now do to correct the situation? Email me on rholway@techmarketview.com

Posted by Richard Holway at '07:57'

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Monday 14 August 2017

Mixed start to Sonata’s year

logoBangalore-based mid-tier offshore services ‘unusual suspect’ Sonata Software kicked off its new FY with somewhat mixed results. Headline revenues in Q1 FY18 (to 30th June) declined by 7% compared to the prior quarter, to Rs634.5m (~$98m), though 4% higher yoy. However, EBITDA margin improved to 10.2%, almost two points higher qoq, though lower on a yoy basis.

Sonata’s domestic products and services business, which accounts for around two-thirds of revenues but less than a quarter of profit, continued to drag growth, whereas its international IT services activities grew 8% yoy and 4% qoq, generating a 23.6% EBITDA margin.

As I said last time (see Sonata hits (some of) the high notes), the challenge is very much ahead of Sonata if it is to make any real breakthrough in the UK market. These are still very early days in its latest push.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '16:45' - Tagged: results   offshore  

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Monday 14 August 2017

Telit – the plot thickens

logoAspiring IoT service provider Telit has just suffered another blow as the Board announce the “resignation” of Oozi Cats, the CEO. After publishing results for a tough first half, which saw revenue up 7% but EBITDA down 31%, the company has now revealed that their (now former) CEO had not disclosed an indictment issued against him.

The background to this indictment looks particularly murky, with The Times reporting possible links with a 1990s wire fraud. This latest news adds to a recent history of a large placing in May, some share sales by Mr. Cats and speculation about the company’s financial position. The Board has now acted swiftly, installing the CFO as interim CEO and announcing its intention to add three NEDs to strengthen the Board. The company also refuted the speculation about Telit’s financial position, its distributors and an earlier involvement with a company that went into insolvency in 2013.

Unfortunately, the news flow around Telit is more appropriate for a Netflix blockbuster than an AIM-listed company. The Board will hope that this is the end of it and that there isn’t a sequel on the way.

Posted by Peter Roe at '10:05' - Tagged: iot  

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Monday 14 August 2017

New funding for CSI reflects strength of the mid-market

csiMML Capital Partners has become lead investors at managed services firm, CSI Ltd. Reports in the media suggest MML is putting in £36m.

CSI (which has offices in Birmingham, Farnborough, Coventry and Glasgow) was originally acquired by Blackhawk Capital in 2012 as the corinfranerstone for a buy-and-build strategy in the IBM space. The purpose was to take CSI from traditional reseller to managed services provider, via both acquisitions and other investments.

CSI's span is pretty broad for a firm of its size (which we believe to currently be sub-£50m), covering infrastructure (including IaaS), software (Platinum level IBM and SAP partner) and cyber security (managed services and advisory). That breadth places it well as a managed services provider in the  mid-market where the clear trend is for strong growth based on buyers' preference for funneling their IT spend towards a very small number of core  suppliers (or even just one key supplier).

Our recently published report,Infrastructure Services Supplier Ranking 2017”, looks at the factors influencing suppliers of cloud and infrastructure services. In it we examine some of the dynamics particular to the mid-market and give examples of the players that are executing strongly. Certainly there is plenty of opportunity amongst mid-sized enterprises, and with investment and a clear strategy behind it, CSI looks set to scale further.

Posted by Kate Hanaghan at '09:51' - Tagged: acquisition   managedservices   cybersecurity  

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Monday 14 August 2017

Arcontech looking for growth

logoArcontech, provider of products and services for real-time financial market data processing and trading, was able to advance revenue by a creditable 7.8% in the year to £2.3m as several existing customers increased purchases of server-side infrastructure solutions. Profits before tax increased 24% to £373k. Cash balances increased by £1m to £2.6m.

A year ago, management were cautiously optimistic as it looked forward to the launch of its Desktop product. This caution was well placed as this solution has yet to generate new revenue, although it is now expected to supplement additional infrastructure solutions sales and drive a turnover increase in the year to June 2018. A number of customer trials have generated a signed contract for a New York deployment. Arcontech is also looking to increase its “Fintech” credentials and contacts, by joining the OpenMAMA steering committee (looking to develop a high-performance, middleware agnostic messaging API) and the Symphony Foundation (building an open innovation ecosystem around the Symphony secure messaging platform).

Arcontech appears to be making progress, but medium term growth is likely to be largely dependent on its new desktop product. There are opportunities out there as investment companies rationalise their operations to meet new regulations and reduce costs (see our UKHotView on Fidessa). However, the competition is intense and customer needs are continually changing. The moves to get more closely aligned with the Fintech community make good sense and the cash balance provides headroom, but management will have to be on their mettle to seize the growth opportunity.

Posted by Peter Roe at '09:16' - Tagged: financialservices   marketdata  

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Monday 14 August 2017

Pot of gold at the end of Glint’s rainbow

logoGlint is a London-based fintech start-up that offers a new angle on money and payments. According to TechCrunch, the company’s central idea is that the value of account-holder funds would be linked to the price of gold.

Gold is considered to be a better long-term store of value and has often been viewed as a safe haven in times of uncertainty. There is also an active and well-developed market in gold. The Glint management team is obviously looking to use technology and a considerable amount of experience in the gold markets to provide a frictionless way for account holders to store and spend money, effectively using gold as an alternative company.

Glint (glintpay.com) has raised £3.1m from Bray Capital and several individual investors with considerable relevant experience, including Haruko Fukuda, ex-CEO of the Gold Council, and other notable doyens of the asset management business. Jason Cozens, the Glint CEO has earlier set up three companies including a website trading physical gold and COO Ben Davies has 17 years of experience in commodity markets and precious metals investment. The company has secured authorisation from the FCA and is set to launch by year-end.

Posted by Peter Roe at '08:25' - Tagged: payments   currency  

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Sunday 13 August 2017

Join us for the TechMarketView Evening 2017

Sage logoI hope you have seen the announcements of this year's TechMarketView Evening on Thursday 5th October 2017 at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in Portland Place, London. We are really pleased that we have secured Sage - the market leader for integrated accounting, payroll and payment systems - as sponsors.

TMVEIt's getting on for 30 years (1988 to be precise) since we organised the first such industry get-together. It really is now the 'don't miss' event for the major 'movers and shakers' of the sector. Now, of course, the main presentations - this year on the theme 'Unlocking the Intellence' - are from the superb team of TechMarketView analysts. But, as always, the presentations are just part of the reason to be there - because the TechMarketView Evening is still the very best networking event around. I once joked that we would run it for free in return for 1% of the value of deals emanating from the evening. But everyone said 'Oh No - much cheaper to pay the ticket price!'

Tickets are selling really fast and it is always a SELL OUT. I really would love to see you there this year so 'Book early to avoid disappointment'. 

For full details and to book a place, visit tx2Events or contact event coordinator, Tina Compton, via tina.compton@tx2events.com.

Posted by Richard Holway at '20:28'

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Sunday 13 August 2017

The gender debate

Boy girlMaking any comment about gender issues these days is fraught with danger as a rather hapless Google employee found to his cost this week when he inferred that boys made better coders than girls because of ‘biological differences’. The one thing that is true is that there are at least 5x more male coders than female. Indeed 10x more males take the new GCSE Computing than female. These facts are a disgrace and many (including me) have long campaigned to change that.

Unfortunately even in my own family, our boys are far more into computing than the girls. Difficult to understand as they have both been exposed to the same influences. This concept of ‘boys jobs’ and ‘girls jobs’ (something immortalised by Theresa May’s describing taking the bins out as a ‘boys job’) runs deep. The crassly stupid marketing department at Clarks Shoes deserves all the criticism it is getting today for naming its girl’s shoes ‘Dolly Babe’ whereas the equivalent boy’s shoes is called ‘Leader’. No wonder Sheryl Sandberg gets so angry about the subject - as anyone who listened to Desert Island Discs last week will testify.

In my working life I have only been concerned that people can ‘do the job’ and, frankly, I ‘don’t give a damn’ what their sex or sexual orientation is. I could boast that TechMarketView has far more females than males - at every level - and that pay rates are identical. But that would be to make the same mistake.  They are there solely because they are damned good analysts, managers and sales people. I could add that it is our flexible working policies - in particular working from home - that has fostered this. But that way of working is just as attractive to the males as the females. To think that only females want to attend their children’s assembly is woefully incorrect.

Every HotViews reader can play their part in this crusade. Maybe the test of success is when we have more female coders than male.  

Posted by Richard Holway at '18:43' - 1 comment

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