You cannot have failed to see all the press coverage relating to the relaunch of the ‘old/new’ Nokia 3310. I did chuckle as so many people have ‘taken the mick’ out of me for retaining my Nokia alongside my iPhone. I think it is the bestest of combinations. My ‘old’ (or maybe now ‘new’) Nokia can only be used for voice calls and texts. But its battery lasts a week or more. It costs next to nothing and has ‘saved my life’ on numerous occasions. Every time we hit a disaster, my iPhone runs out of charge - but my Nokia just goes on and on and on. When my wife was recently in A&E for what seemed a lifetime, it became our only lifeline. Many is the time when I have arrived at Farnham Station at midnight with a flat iPhone when my ‘old’ Nokia has been my only means of summoning a taxi.
But my friends laugh and laugh when it rings…
Well, looks like the ‘new’ Nokia has a real hit on its hands. The Nokia 3310 will sell at just £41 and you can pick up a pay as you go SIM for next to nothing. A wonderful phone to keep in your briefcase or glovebox.
I just ask, will people PLEASE stop laughing at me now?
Posted by Richard Holway at '14:52'
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For Sopra Steria, FY16 was a positive year – revenue of €3.74m equated to total revenue growth of 4.4% and organic growth of 5.2%, exceeding the Group’s FY16 targets. Moreover, the operating margin increased by 1.2 percentage points to 8.0%. In the words of the management, the Group has returned to its “historical performance standards” vindicating the tie-up between Sopra and Steria as well as the strategic investments across the Group. Those strategic developments have included driving up the value of its offerings through consulting and solutions, strengthening the vertical approach and increasing efforts in the digital segment.
In the UK, the picture was not quite as rosy. At the total revenue level, the UK was hammered as the British Pound fell by an average of 11.4% against the Euro. The result: a total revenue decline of 11% to €927.9m. But even at constant scope and exchange rates, UK organic revenue growth was just 0.4%. Public sector business grew 2.0% while the private sector business has still not seen the benefits of its reorganisation coming through. Profitability did improve through – up 0.7 percentage points to 8.0%.
Looking ahead, the Group’s FY17 organic revenue growth target of 2-3% must be achieved against a backdrop of a predicted £45m year-on-year drop in revenues from Sopra Steria’s flagship SSCL joint venture contract in the UK. During 2017, the JV will move from the end of the initial transformation period, resulting in a reduction in business volume. In the medium term (i.e. by 2020), the hope is that the JV, which generated revenues of c£180m in FY16, will grow again and generate c£200m revenue per year. This would all be based on using the JV as a foundation to become the UK Government’s preferred partner for data management, reporting and analytics.
We have watched Sopra Steria start to transform its modus operandi in the UK. One issue has been the problems for the private sector business – it, essentially needed more focus – and those have been tackled. It has also had to invest in ensuring the successful delivery of its major contracts (SSCL and NHS SBS). But, more broadly, in our view, the UK has been relatively slow to evolve the business to meet the demands of clients in digital transformation. Things are happening, like a shift in culture to encourage greater innovation and more agility. However, most of the Group focus on ‘making things happen’ appears to be in France. The rollout of the integrated consulting model is a case in point. In France, changes led to a 17% increase in consulting revenues in FY16. Yet the rollout of the consulting model is only just beginning in the UK. The result is that sometimes progress can appear a little bit sluggish this side of the Channel.
Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '10:16'
As the title of our UKHotViews article highlighted - Atos UK: a year of two halves – the performance of Atos UK business improved as 2016 progressed. We were keen to understand more about the performance of the business, so spoke with Atos UK&I CEO, Adrian Gregory.
TechMarketView subscribers can read more to understand what’s going on under the covers and how the business is evolving so that it is becoming more heavily weighted towards Atos’ Digital Transformation Factory. The UKHotViews article – Atos UK: an evolving business – is available now. If you are not yet a subscriber, please contact Deb Seth, to find out more.
Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:30'
TechMarketView is celebrating the fact that more than 100 innovative UK tech SMEs have now taken part in our ‘Little British Battler’ (or LBB) Programme. The programme has been running for five years and in that time, we’ve met some truly inspiring companies that really are punching above their weight.
To celebrate this milestone, we’re holding a drinks reception at the OXO Tower in London on the evening of Wednesday 29 March in association with Oracle NetSuite.
We’re expecting around 200 leaders from the UK tech sector to come along, with our LBBs, our clients and other friends of TechMarketView well represented. It promises to be a fantastic evening of informal networking over drinks and canapes.
The details are as follows:
When: Wednesday 29 March, 6.30pm-9pm (approx.)
Where: OXO2, Level Two, Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, South Bank, London, SE19PH
Dress: Business attire
It’s an invitation only event and spaces are limited, however we are making available just 25 tickets for sale on a first come, first served basis for £250+VAT.
If you would like to purchase one of these tickets for the LBB100 Drinks Reception please click here to book via tx2events, who are managing the event for us.
Posted by HotViews Editor at '08:57'
Microgen is carrying on its policy of buying smaller players in the Trust and Fund Administration (T&FA) market where it is building a leadership position. The company can thus maintain its growth rate and momentum in this lucrative niche, adding end-customers and opening opportunities for cross-sales of its 5Series solutions portfolio.
This time the target is privately-owned Primacy Corporation, based in Toronto, for a total price of CAD5.6m (£2.4m). This brings the total number of acquisitions in this area to five since the policy began in 2014. The T&FA business now accounts for over half of the Financial Services business within Microgen. The remainder of this division is a legacy applications management business which is a useful generator of cash to enable the Group’s acquisition strategy.
Primacy produced pre-tax profit of £0.6m on revenue of £1.2m in the year to October 2016.
TechMarketView subscribers can read our UKHotViewsExtra discussing the company’s recent Trading Update and the Group’s strategy, here. The formal results announcement will be made next week, on Wednesday, March 8th.
Posted by Peter Roe at '08:47'
I just so want to become a believer – really I do.
Earlier this month, Philip Letts, CEO of Exeter-headquartered, services marketplace, blur Group, reported its first subscription for a 12-month enterprise-level Group buyer plan with a ‘Top 100 law firm’ (see Enterprise comes into focus – slowly – at blur).
Today Letts reported that blur is engaged in negotiations on behalf of the law firm ‘to source and deliver a multi-year, multiple six figure dollar programme of records management and archiving services.’ The services will allow the law firm ‘to transact an annual spend value of up to $2m’ through blur's platform.
I am advised by the company that this is an exclusive five-year contract, i.e. the law firm can only procure these services through the blur platform, at blur's standard terms and conditions. Some services have already been delivered.
Should this all come to fruition then that would be an important marker on blur's path to financial recovery. But of course that would depend on how much of the 'up to $2m' p.a. spend ends up going through blur's platform.
I am not a believer yet!
Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:38'
Quartix, the AIM-listed vehicle telematics systems and data services player, is continuing its strong growth across both its core fleet and insurance sectors (see Quartix full year profits on track).
Revenues in the year to 31 December were up 19% to £23.3m and operating profits grew 8% to £6.5m – although the margin dipped slightly to 28% vs. 30% last time.
The core Fleet revenue grew by 15% to £14.9m, thanks to a 19% increase in subscriptions to more than 87,000 vehicles. Most of this is achieved in the UK, where revenues were up 9.4% to £12.8m. There’s clearly significant growth to be had in France and the USA, where revenues jumped 25% and more than doubled respectively, albeit from a low base. Quartix reckons the USA opportunity to be more than 5 times the size of the UK market. So further investment is going to be made here during 2017.
Insurance is the smaller of the two divisions, and there is still strong growth to be had here too (revenues were up 25.5% to £8.4m). However as pointed out previously, it's been trickier to turn this into a sustainable recurring revenues busienss. The company is therefore wisely narrowing its focus onto insurers that are closely aligned to its fleet business, and which offer ‘satisfactory margins’. This has had the effect of slowing growth in H2, but the quality of revenues should improve during 2017.
Posted by John O'Brien at '08:26'
2-year old, London based Monzo has raised £19.5m in a new venture capital round and is topping this up with a £2.5m crowd-fund via Crowdcube at the same valuation.
Monzo is running beta versions of a contactless prepaid Mastercard, offering free transfers between Monzo card holders and budgeting and spending management solutions over Apple and Android phones.
Monzo currently has over 100,000 customers for its services and the user base is now broadening out from its initial segment of Metropolitan, 30-ish year old male as it prepares to roll out its free current account this year. Co-founder and CEO Tom Blomfield suggested (in an interview on thefinanser.com) that the next goal is a million customers, looking to the rapid growth to drive benefit for Monzo and its customers through the network effect.
The banking and payments market is going to get very crowded throughout 2017 as several new challengers enter with new services and as the established players attempt to freshen up their portfolios to slow the loss of transactions, and customers. TechMarketView has written extensively on Fintech and the emerging battles in payments and banking. Subscribers can read our latest report, on Finovate 2017, here.
Posted by Peter Roe at '08:18'
There are many who see augmented reality (AR) as having much broader market potential than virtual reality (VR) (see AR not VR is the NBT?). Indeed, there is already a growing number of software development kits (SDKs) on the market to create your own AR experiences, but the ones I quickly skimmed through look pretty heavy duty stuff definitely not for amateurs.
London-based AR SDK startup Zappar seems different. Their website has neat demo videos for things like ‘augmenting’ a wedding invitation as well as full-blown commercial apps. However, I suspect even Zappar is not designed for those of a nervous technological disposition, even though they claim the ZapWorks SDK is suitable for ‘small children in the classroom to professional 3D artists’!
Anyway, Zappar, founded in 2011, has recently raised $3.75m in a Series A funding round led by London investment house Hargreave Hale, along with New York-based ‘Brandtech’ group You & Mr Jones and iDreamSky, credited as China's leading mobile games publisher.
Zappar had previously raised over $80k in a Kickstarter campaign for its ZapBox DIY smartphone AR kit, to sell for $30. However, the Kickstarter website appears to show delivery dates have been slipping from December 2016 to May 2017.
I don’t know what dependencies there are between Zappar’s ZapWorks SDK and its ZapBox kit, but I do hope they don’t lose focus – so to speak – on the real opportunity.
Posted by Anthony Miller at '18:53'
In today’s trading update, Idox plc has said that it has made a strong start to the year with trading in line with expectations and a “solid pipeline of opportunities”. The AIM listed company, which supplies information management software and services, had a hectic FY16 and it seems to be starting FY17 in the same fashion.
FY16 saw acquisitions of Open Objects (see Idox acquires social care player Open Objects) and Rippleffect (Idox buys again in digital services), as well as senior leadership changes (see Idox long-term CEO resigns). FY17 started with the acquisition of Malta-based 6PM (see Idox buys again; delivers strong top line growth), which completed at the end of January, the creation of its new Idox Health division, and a series of public sector contracts secured. It has recently been awarded funding as part of the Department for Transport’s Low Emission Freight and Logistics Trial, has won contracts with two acute hospital trusts, and will be working with NHS England to develop software to improve hospital efficiency.
As we discuss in our latest Public Sector Opportunities Bulletin, in the wake of the Wachter Review into the digital future of the NHS we have seen a series of announcements relating to investment in healthcare IT. As we warned at the end of last year, Idox needs to be careful that it doesn’t stretch itself too fast, but it is in a good position to benefit from an increasingly digital healthcare system.
Posted by Dale Peters at '09:43'
Having issued a revenue and profits warning within the last two weeks, Intuit’s Q2 results (to January 31 2016) were a quiet affair with further surprises thankfully absent. Indeed, it squeaked past street expectations and maintained its own full year guidance of operating income up 7% to 11% to $1.33m to $1.38m, on revenue growth of 7% to 9% taking expectations to $5bn to $5.1bn.
Management reiterated the slow start to the US tax season as the reason for the Q2 issue, noting that it was an industry wide issue and did not represent a loss of market share. Figures from the Internal Revenue Service up to February 17 that show total e-filings down 13% with self-prepared ones down 11% appear to back that up. Intuit’s Turbo Tax e-filings are down 10% year on year. The absolute proof will come when Intuit posts a post-tax update after the April 18 submission deadline.
As far as the rest of the business is concerned the small business segment delivered a 12% revenue increase on the back of QuickBooks Self-Employed, which along with QuickBooks Connect is expanding internationally, including in the UK. A notable advance was that online ecosystem revenue growth climbed from 26% to 30% quarter on quarter, demonstrating the benefit of the network effect. International growth is a theme as QuickBooks Online subscribers outside the US grew by 61% to 370,000, with the UK noted as a growth area. Overall QuickBooks Online numbers grew 49% to 1.87m. Total revenue across the company was up 10% to $1.02bn with operating income of $22m, a 48% fall.
As with Sage Group, the small business segment is key to business expansion and keeps Intuit and Sage toe to toe – while each also looks over its shoulder at the Xero threat. However, the threat from the now Oracle-owed NetSuite should not be forgotten. The resources and reputation to build a quality ecosystem is a major strategic component and one of the main advantages Intuit (and Sage) need to continue building on.
Posted by Angela Eager at '09:37'
Capita has formed a partnership with CloudTrade, one of our eighth brigade of Little British Battlers (LBBs) (see LBB Report 8), to help automate invoicing and accounts payable (AP) activities for its customers (see CloudTrade making e-invoicing easy!).
CloudTrade will be offered to the customers of Capita’s Integrated Business Solutions (CIBS) division, which offers its own Integra financial management software primarily into the local government sector, for clients like Medway, Barnet and Buckinghamshire councils, and Milton Keynes Fire Authority.
CloudTrade's hosting e-invoicing system will be used to speed-up the processing of customer invoices, help organisations to go paper-free and remain compliant with Government late payment legislation. Meanwhile, the benefits for both Capita and the end customer will be reducing administration costs and time associated with printing, postage, data entry and document handling.
CloudTrade offers a very pragmatic solution to e-invoicing by encouraging customers (suppliers) to send in PDF invoices, which it then converts back into the buyer’s preferred electronic invoicing format. The system then checks, and validates invoices for matching, processing and paying. It has very high adoption rates because there's no system replacement or major process change.
Signing a deal with Capita is a real endorsement of the approach and technology. It also adds to CloudTrade's growing list of partners, which includes public sector software provider Advanced. Together, Advanced and Capita should offer CloudTrade significant growth potential across the UK public sector.
There’s lots more activity taking place with our LBBs – something we will be revealing in detail in our forthcoming LBB100 report (see Calling all LBBs – we’ve got big plans for LBB100!).
Posted by John O'Brien at '09:20'
Orange’s Enterprise division, which includes Orange Business Services (OBS), saw its FY16 revenue remain flat at €6.4bn, representing 16% of the Group’s total (€41bn). Adjusted Enterprise EBITDA was up 9% yoy to €1bn, as Orange’s Explore2020 operational efficiency plan drove reductions in overheads and distribution costs.
OBS saw some major wins and contract extensions with multinational companies (MNCs) during the year including PMI, Merck and Hertz, with IT services and integration the only market to see any growth (up 7% yoy to €2bn). That expansion was offset by a 2% decline in the value of legacy voice services (common to all European telcos and communications services providers) with data services revenue also down 4% to €2.8bn after an 11% fall in turnover from television broadcasting.
Orange said it had seen strong Q416 growth in cloud (up 20%) and security services (up 26%) though we feel these continue to expand from a low base - the bulk of OBS' integration activity is still centred on network connectivity migration.
Two 2016 acquisitions – cybersecurity outfit Lexsi and desktop as a service specialist Log’in Consultants – highlight ambitions to grow that IT and integration services business further. OBS’ big ongoing challenge is to shift more of its revenue away from voice and data fees which are declining in value and into those higher margin IT services layered on top of its MNC-focussed fixed and mobile connectivity.
Posted by Martin Courtney at '08:54'
At least there’s some real ‘value add’ in London-headquartered driving instructor portal, miDrive, beyond just finding a nearby driving instructor. miDrive has apps and stuff which helps learner drivers pass their driving test as well.
Founded in 2013, miDrive has recently revealed they had raised a further £2m in a Series A extension funding round which, according to TechCrunch, actually closed late last year. The round was led by Initial Capital, and follows an original £2m Series A round in September 2014, involving MBM Capital Partners and Holiday Extras. miDrive raised a £1m seed round in June 2013.
It has to be said that TechCrunch stalwart, Steve O’Hear, as ever got the nub of the matter, noting that miDrive CEO Scott Talyor had resigned early this year, succeeded by COO Asher Ismail. Taylor is off to the US.
Unusually for a startup, miDrive publishes full accounts at Companies House, which showed revenues of £7,572 (that’s seven thousand, five hundred and seventy-two pounds) in the year to 31st March 2016, with net losses of £1.2m (one point two million pounds). Ismail now claims miDrive has a ‘multi-million pound run rate’, though I suspect that’s probably turnover rather than net revenues.
Nonetheless, I think miDrive’s proposition as a ‘learning platform’ rather than just a learner-meets-instructor dating agency, so to speak, has merit and, indeed, holds promise.
Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:42'
After a run of low-to-mid single growth for four quarters (Q315 to Q216), HPE has now been back in decline for three quarters (Q316 to Q17).
In Q1, the Enterprise Group (which equates to HPE as it will be after the close of the Enterprise Services (ES) merger with CSC on 3rd April) saw revenue slip 6% (constant currency) to $6.3bn, driven by double-digit declines in servers and storage. Networking revenue was up 6%, while Technology Services (the support business) was up 4%. Notably the margin in Enterprise Group was almost 13%, close to double that of ES, which will be part of the 'new' DXC Technology come April. Revenue in ES was also down 6% (to $4bn) with a 7% decline in the outsourcing business, which is 65% of revenue. Software, which is set to find a new home at Micro Focus, was down 1% to $721m. Shares dipped 6.45% in after hours trading.
Once HPE completes the spin-off of ES, it will be a much less wieldy organisation, and by focusing on some good growth areas (e.g. in networking and Hybrid IT), it has a fair chance of getting back into growth mode. Moreover, management will be able to take a much more focused view of its strategy, ploughing time and money into refining its position as a provider to the enterprise. Indeed, that is already happening as evidenced by a string of acquisitions, including Niara, Cloud Cruiser, SimpliVity and SGI.
Posted by Kate Hanaghan at '08:29'
Should you be in any doubt whatsoever about the relevance of TechMarketView’s theme for 2017, Unlocking the Intelligence, you need look no further than UK property portal, Rightmove.
I chanced across Rightmove’s 2016 expansive results release this morning, in which ‘the power of data’ is clearly front and centre of its business model and strategy. Says CEO Nick McKittrick, “Harnessing the power of data enables us to create a better marketplace and ultimately make home hunting easier for both consumers and customers. As well as bringing the market together in one place we achieve this through our software innovation and tools.”.
To further which end, Rightmove acquired London-based predictive analytics startup. The Outside View, in May last year for £2m. The founders had developed an algorithm that identifies the most likely potential sellers in a local area enabling agents to more accurately identify and market to them.
And there’s more about this in the results release, which seems to be supported by the numbers. Rightmove’s revenues grew by 15% in 2016 to £220m, with operating profit growing even faster, at 18%, to £161.6m, an operating margin of (gulp) 73%. Net profits grew in line with OP, to £129.5m, a net margin of (double-gulp) of 59%. Rightmove generated shedloads of cash, of which over 90%, anounting to more than £130m, was returned to shareholders by way of divs and buybacks.
How intelligent is that!
Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:03'
I think I almost get it, but I'm not quite there yet. It seems that Glasgow-based adtech startup, Adimo, has developed a product that lets retailers integrate a shopping basket into their marketing channels to make them ‘shoppable’. Apparently shoppers can then add items they see, whether in display adverts, landing pages, websites, social media and video, to their ‘online supermarket basket’ (whose?) and then purchase them later.
Anyway, it obviously works well enough for Adimo, founded in 2012, to raise £1m in seed funding from Scottish Investment Bank, ESM Investments, Galvanise Capital and Patrick Griffith, co-founder of digital agency Havas Work Club.
Adimo has been running trials with the likes of PepsiCo, Nestle and P&G, and claims to have its platform integrated with over 100 retailers in 20 countries. Unfortunately, there’s no demo on Adimo’s website that helps me understand it better, else I might have cheered even louder!
Posted by Anthony Miller at '18:03'
There is no denying that the adoption of digital services in the public sector, and related to that, an improved use of data, is now seen as crucial to many of the UK Government’s objectives around better public service delivery: both its effectiveness and its efficiency. The Government Transformation Strategy (see UK Government Transformation Strategy: More steps in the right direction) made clear that without digital as the bedrock of transformational initiatives, very little could be achieved.
However, for the implementation of digital services to be successful and for Government to be able to use data effectively, the public sector must increase citizen trust. If it doesn’t, citizens will be unwilling to go further in adopting digital ways of interacting and will become increasingly reluctant to share their data.
In this research note, Georgina O’Toole argues that the public sector is facing a far more difficult challenge than the private sector. Public Sector digital services: building citizen trust looks at the extent of mistrust in digital public services, the array of issues Government must tackle and the multiple actions that need to be taken. For now, the Cabinet Office is focused on building the foundations but, looking ahead, a more holistic approach must be taken to encourage a change in citizen behaviours.
If you are a subscriber to PublicSectorViews, you can download the research now. If you are not yet a subscriber and would like to access this research (and much more besides), please contact Deb Seth to find out more.
Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '17:48'
When Little British Battler and Microsoft partner DotNet Solutions received investment from Columbia Capital-backed New Signature last year (see DotNet Solutions – another LBB secures US funding), it adopted the New Signature name and declared its intention to expand the UK business through a buy-and-build strategy. This week saw the first fruits of its access to that capital with New Signature UK's acquisition of fellow Microsoft partner, UK-based Paradigm Systems.
It was a marriage introduction made via the Microsoft Advisory Council, of which both are members, and the two courted each other by working together for several months. It looks like a complementary union with both active in Microsoft Azure and Office365. The addition of Paradigm Systems, with its experience in end-to-end infrastructure and application managed services, will also broaden New Signature’s capability. Where New Signature UK has back end experience, Paradigm reaches as far as user devices, identify and desktop management, New Signature UK founder Dan Scarfe explained. Its heavy recurring revenue weighting was appealing but access to Paradigm’s talent was also a major factor.
New Signature has demonstrated it can compete and win against large SI’s and this acquisition can only improve its position (and that of its US parent in the UK). In addition, suppliers with Azure expertise are in demand – Avanade is another proof point. Scarfe says there has been a shift in the market - until 12 months ago Azure was used for non-core, non-production workloads but that situation has turned around with more and more organisations opting for ‘cloud first’ on the public cloud. It’s certainly good to see another supplier from our Little British Battler programme going from strength to strength.
Posted by Angela Eager at '09:58'
Our Opportunities Bulletin as become one of the mainstays of our PublicSectorViews service, becoming a must-read alongside our core UK public sector SITS Market Trends & Forecast and UK Public Sector SITS Supplier Landscape reports. In this our tenth edition, we look at opportunities in three sectors: health, central government and education. As usual, we have picked these opportunities because we think they represent interesting trends in the market, of which suppliers should be aware.
In our first article TechMarketView Director, Tola Sargeant, considers the flurry of activity in the market, related to the digital future of the NHS, that has followed the publication of the National Advisory Group report on Health Information Technology in England.
Then, TechMarketView Director, Georgina O’Toole, delves into the data ambitions of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – with an emphasis on its Data Science Campus (see image) - and considers the benefits for suppliers of becoming involved in the programme.
And finally, Principal Analyst, Dale Peters, investigates the Welsh Government’s Prior Information Notice (PIN) for a school management information systems (MIS) framework, and looks at how this is reflective of broader procurement trends across the education market.
PublicSectorViews subscribers can read our analysis by downloading February's Public Sector Opportunities Bulletin now. If you can't get access, find out how to rectify the matter by contacting Deb Seth within our Client Services team - she will be more than happy to help.
Posted by HotViews Editor at '09:41'
Monitise’s transformation programme is nearing completion, according to CE Lee Cameron, after achieving EBITDA profitability in H117. The challenge now is to start growing revenues.
H1 revenues fell 15.5% to £28.2m, however it managed EBITDA profits of £300k vs. a £20.2m loss last time. The problem is that Monitise is still burning through cash at the rate of -£4.7m in the half (albeit an improvement on -£22.3m last time).
Monitise is pinning its turnaround hopes on its new FINkit platform (see here and work back), which is aimed at helping banks accelerate the delivery of compliant digital services to their customers, driven by new regulations like the EC's Payments Services Directive (PSD2).
It’s proving a long sales cycle though, and there has yet to secure its first signed customer for FINkit. Nonetheless, Monitise says banks that have tested it are ‘unanimously complimentary’ of the product. Turning this interest in to new business is going to be the acid test for progress in 2017, which Monetise rightly sees being a ‘pivotal year’. Full year revenues are still expected to decline however.
Management are considering various options, including further reductions in the cost base, new channel partnerships, and ‘exploring other opportunities with interested parties'.
Posted by John O'Brien at '09:33'
"Preserve your memories
There all that's left you"
Simon & Garfunkel - Bookends - 1968
Thanks to all of the many readers who responded to my Call that progress? article last Saturday. I bemoaned the fact that I don’t have readable digital copies of any of stuff I wrote pre 1999. As I prepare for my Archives of IT interview next week, the only archives I have from that period are all in print.
Many of you put the blame firmly on me for not constantly updating my files to the latest medium. But that is an horrendously difficult task. Every Holway Report and Systemhouse publication from 1988 was on the Mac version of Pagemaker (you remember that Apple was the darling of desktop publishing) But even though I have some of the files they won’t load in the latest Windows version of Pagemaker. Pagemaker only allows you to open files from two releases back. So in order to keep all my files in readable form, I would have had to open every one and save in the latest Pagemaker format. And then do that roughly every two years. Well, I didn’t because life got in the way.
But, to be fair, most readers recognised the problem. Whereas our parents, grandparents and great grandparents left durable memories in the form of photos, diaries and letters - which I now value very highly - the next generation is going to have much more difficulty accessing our stuff. The problem will probably get even worse as we move to the cloud. Will my own kids bother to pay the monthly subscription or will my digital records disappear as the subscription lapses?
Strange as it sounds, the current boom in the production of photobooks (See In praise of photobooks) from companies like Photobox might well be the solution. Strange to think that in the 21st Century, paper makes a comeback!
Posted by Richard Holway at '09:05'
I first brought Reading-based ‘customer engagement’ software startup, Ecrebo, to your attention in December 2014, after its £4m Series A funding round (see Octopus finds Ecrebo very engaging). What was different about Ecrebo was its focus on ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers; and that strategy is clearly paying off.
Ecrebo has just announced a further £12m investment from a partnership which includes Air Miles and Nectar founder Sir Keith Mills and former Warburg Pincus Head of Europe, Joseph Schull, who join the Board. Octopus Ventures also participated.
Ecrebo has landed top High Street brands as clients, including M&S, Waitrose, Topshop and Uniqlo. Its technology enables retailers to deliver targeted offers and messages to customers at the checkout alongside their receipt.
The funding – and the new Board ‘smarts’ – will be used to further Ecrebo’s global ambitions, notably in North America. Both should help them ring up more sales.
Posted by Anthony Miller at '09:02'
We didn’t think Brocade would struggle to find a buyer for Ruckus Wireless and so it proved. The WiFi infrastructure and switching business will be sold to IP video specialist Arris for US$800m subject to the successful completion of Brocade's own acquisition by Broadcom later this year.
Arris brought Pace for £1.4bn in 2015 but has not fared too well in recent years, struggling to maintain any momentum in sales of set top boxes, media servers, broadband gateways, and other networking equipment in the face of lower margins and fierce competition from Asian suppliers. It posted revenue of US$2.3bn for the period ended 3rd January 2016, down 15% on FY14 and Ruckus’ postive growth (its FY15 revenue expanded 14% to US$373m) should prove a welcome shot in the arm if Arris can keep integration costs down.
The bulk of Arris’ global revenue (59%) comes from the Americas but it maintains a respectable international presence and four offices in the UK and Ireland after the Pace buy. Arris now plans to establish a dedicated business unit focussed on wireless LAN hardware and software and wired switching to address demand for campus and public WiFi solutions in the enterprise, communications service provider and telecommunications markets.
Whilst product makes up the larger part of its sales, Arris also provides professional services, systems integration, support and maintenance, and deployment, test and certification services to back up those network deployments. In doing so it may come up against substantially larger players, including Cisco and HPE, which provide similar network services but Arris at least has two well-known brands in Pace and Ruckus Wireless at its back to help it make a splash.
Posted by Martin Courtney at '08:45'
As I have oft said, I bought my Tesla shares with my heart not my head. And this time around that policy has really paid off as Tesla shares have soared to record highs. Up 50% since mid Dec 16.
Tesla has dropped the ‘Motors’ bit of its name post the SolarCity ‘merger’. On top off that it is building its huge Gigafactory battery factory. Latest quarterly results were better
than expected as losses narrowed to $121.3m but revenues doubled yoy to $2.28b. Energy production and storage accounted for $131m of that quarterly revenue. The lithium batteries are key to the power units in both Tesla cars and in its PowerWall home energy storage units. Tesla says it is planning another 4 GigaFactories
Elon Musk is still forecasting 500,000 vehicles by 2018 and a million in 2020. These are massive targets given that Tesla delivered just 80,000 last year. The mass market Model 3 begins production in July with the aim of 5000 a week rolling off the production lines by the end of the year. But Tesla doesn’t have the market to itself anymore with General Motors due to position the Bolt as a direct competitor.
Tesla’s ambitions are certainly bold…and expensive! Indeed there were strong hints that Musk might use the current strong share price to raise more cash. Musk is the darling amongst retail investors - like me. Right now he’d probably get anything he asked for
Posted by Richard Holway at '08:39'
Compared to the board level scrapping, ousting and returns of last year (see Disarray at WANdisco), the latest board changes at WANdisco appear tame but still raise questions over whether WANdisco has resolved its issues.
Co-founder, COO and head of marketing James Campigli has stepped down from the board and left the company, both with immediate effect. He is replaced on the board by Dr Yeturu Aahlad who is described as one of the core team who founded the company and a pioneer in the active-active data replication that is central to WANdisco.
This latest departure will be unwelcome activity for the company that released a positive year end update last month that showed contracts starting to flow through from its partnerships with IBM, Oracle and Amazon Web Services and a situation where it was nearly cash flow break-even in Q4.
Posted by Angela Eager at '08:37'
I fear I may have totally lost the plot about Totvs, the self-styled ‘leading developer of business solutions in Brazil and Latin America’. It used to be pretty simple – Totvs was basically all about mid-market ERP software for their regional market, and they did a very good job at it, keeping ‘foreigners’ of the likes of Sage well at bay.
But in recent years, Founding CEO Laércio Cosentino has followed many different dreams, not all of which have been fulfilled, and some of which have been dashed (you could start with Totvs profits plunge again and work back). His strategic objective is to transform Totvs from being license-based to a ‘single subscription company’. For me, that’s very inward looking – it’s about the method, not the market. What I struggle to understand is Totvs’ market-facing strategic objectives.
Given my impaired understanding of the business, all I can go on are the numbers. And the one number that is going in the right direction for Cosertino’s strategy is for subscription revenues, which rose by 21% in 2016 to Rs229m (~$75m at current FX rates). However, these represented around 10% of Totvs’ total revenues, which declined by 3.5% to Rs2.18b (~$730m). Everything else went backwards, bar maintenance of course (up 4%), which now represent 46% of the total. The biggest fall was in license revenues, down 32% to Rs168m (~$55m) – but I guess that’s all part of Cosertino’s strategy. Hardware sales fell 9% to Rs244m (~$80m).
There’s no doubt that the parlous state of the Brazilian economy has affected Totvs’ business, as it has for just about everyone playing in that market. But for me, that calls for even greater clarity of purpose – and that’s where I lose the plot.
Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:27'
In September last year we reported on the formation of the PCI-PAL business as Ipswich-based IPPlus sold its call centre business and focused on secure payments.
The newly-named company (and AIM-listed) PCI-PAL Plc has now announced its half year results to the end December. These include revenue contributions from both its continuing and discontinued businesses. Overall reported revenue was down 30% to £2.8m with the sale of the call centre operations, but this transaction added £6.3m to the profit line (net of tax).
The continuing operations advanced revenue by 74%, to £975k, although after-tax losses from this activity grew by 65% to £611k. Following the sale, PCI-PAL has £2.9m of cash in the balance sheet as well as £3.4m of deferred consideration in the form of secured loan notes. The company’s shareholders received a £1m interim dividend as a result of the sale.
The secure payments business looks healthy as a loyal customer base with 100% renewals is supplemented by new contracts with a TCV of £1.8m. Recurring revenues grew 69% and now comprise 61% of the total. Transaction volumes carried by PCI-PAL’s cloud platform were up by 58% over the year. With a good pipeline the Board is confident of growth and an exciting next few years.
The strategic move to focus on secure payments is well-timed. Fraud, cyber-security and new regulations are front of mind across the financial and retail sectors. PCI-PAL is offering an outsourced solution that can protect data and provide management with an audit trail and a security blanket. As the focus on security and data gets even more intense with the launch of PSD2 and the next set of privacy regulations in the GDPR, the PCI-PAL team can expect to be very busy.
Posted by Peter Roe at '09:37'
Atos’ UK business gets very little attention in the company’s FY16 results announcement. That’s because it wasn’t one of the drivers behind the “record results”. Indeed, it was one of two geographic areas (alongside Benelux & the Nordics) to suffer an organic revenue decline over the year – albeit marginal. The UK’s organic revenue decline was 0.4% (to €1,790m); moreover, the “organic” growth figure strips out the impact (2 months-worth) of the early termination of Atos’ Department for Work & Pensions’ Work Capability Assessment contract.
But it’s worth delving into the UK performance a little more, as there is a more positive picture to paint. It was a year of two halves. The expected decline in H1 (see Atos UK: Confident for full year) was followed by 4.5% organic growth in H2 (ramping up to 4.8% growth in Q4). This was thanks to strong activity in the public sector (see UK public sector SITS supplier landscape 2016-17). Moreover, the UK has made a strong contribution to the order book, particularly in the Business & Platform Solutions division (previously Consulting &SI). Contract wins like that with University College London Hospitals (UCLH - see Atos pushes further into UK health with UCLH) will have helped this picture. The UK also improved its operating margin from 10.9% to 13.3%, benefiting from acquisition-related synergies.
Looking at Group performance, Atos appears in an ebullient mood. Worldwide, total revenue growth was 9.7% to €11,717m, with growth at ccy of 12.8% and organic growth of 1.8%. The operating margin continued to improve: at 9.4%, up from 8.3% a year previously. Q4 metrics showed an upward trend (+1.9% organic revenue growth). Positive organic growth was achieved across all verticals in the year. Supporting Atos’ 2019 Ambition (see Atos: 2019 stakes in the ground), there appears to be strong momentum for Atos’ Digital Transformation Factory offerings. This is demonstrated by the 12.8% organic growth in “big data & cyber security” (to €666m) versus stable revenues in the more traditional/legacy areas of the business, which are managing the transition to new ways of working. Atos cites strong demand for high performance computing to support big data processing needs, as well as for “encryption, access management solutions, and intrusion testing solutions”. We’ll be talking to UK CEO, Adrian Gregory, later this week to learn more about how this trend is playing out in the UK business.
Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:14'
UK-headquartered cyber security consultancy and risk mitigation specialist NCC Group revised its expectations for the current financial year following poor third quarter performance and cancelled its capital markets event scheduled for today.
Management are now forecasting that the Group’s adjusted EBITDA for the year ending 31st May 2017 will fall approximately 20% short of the £45.5-£47.5m predicted last December. If those fears are realised, EBITDA would fall somewhere in the region £36.4-£38m, at least 13% down on the prior year’s figure of £43.7m.
The Group's previously strong performance has funded a lot of expansion activity but the firm was hit by the cancellation of three large contracts and the deferral of a fourth worth £14-18m in H1. Sales activity for security consulting, software vulnerability testing and web performance across the UK, Europe and North America does not appear to have picked up in Q3 as NCC struggles to execute on new cyber security contracts.
The company said that its Escrow business (which represents roughly half of the group’s revenue) continues to perform “in line with expectations” and will initiate a strategic review of its operations in a bid to halt further problems.
We think public and private sector demand for cyber security software and services will remain strong in 2017 and NCC Group is well placed to capitalise. However some organisations may be putting consultancy projects on hold until the regulatory uncertainty caused by Brexit, the EU’s forthcoming general data protection regulation (GDPR) and Network and Information Security (NIS) directives, whatever “equivalent” UK legislation will eventually look like, and EU-US data sovereignty issues dissipates.
Market dynamics may also be impacting NCC’s performance, with business lost to other consultancies like PwC, and large SITS suppliers such as BT, HPE and IBM combining advisory projects with product implementation and service delivery.
Posted by Martin Courtney at '09:08'
The results headline screams ’18 ALL-TIME RECORD COUNTRY PERFORMANCES’. Unfortunately, UK was not one of them!
As presaged in its Q2 trading update in January (see Down, down, down for Hays UK), performance in the UK (& Ireland) at UK-headquartered international staffing giant Hays was pretty woeful in first-half (to 31st Dec. ’16), with net fee income (NFI, or gross profit) down 10% to £126.1m and operating profit even worse, down 28% to £18.2m.
It was just as well, then, that Hays’ international businesses were in fine form as total NFI rose 17% to £465.5m (+3% like-for-like), and operating profit rose by 16% to £100.1m, though this was a 1% decline on a like-for-like basis. Headline turnover rose 22% to £2.48b (+7% LFL), implying a group operating margin of 4.0%, down 20bps yoy.
Hays CEO, Alistair Cox, alluded to the ‘marked step-down in (UK) Perm activity levels immediately after the EU Referendum’, though this has since stabilised. UK IT recruitment, once the star of the show, was down 13%. Cox reported ‘early signs of improvement in the private sector market’, however, ‘public sector market remains tough’.
Hays is not the only recruitment firm suffering in the UK. IT-focused SThree has also been struggling (see SThree nears £1b revs as restructures UK operations), as has PageGroup (see PageGroup UK deeper in the mire). These are in stark contrast to the more specialised Robert Walters, for which UK remained its best performing region (see Robert Walters ends year on high note).
However, we expect the real star in the UK recruitment firmament will be employed contractor model-based FDM Group, which will report its FY results early next month.
Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:13'
George O'Connor joins Stifel and initiates coverage of Sage and Micro Focus
We’ve known George O’Connor for longer than we would care to remember and his morning note - PGTips - when he was at Panmure Gordon was a joy. One of a rare breed of analysts that both understood tech and could write in a really interesting - often amusing - style. Indeed we quoted him quite often. We missed him when he went on gardening leave before joining Stifel a few months back.
Yesterday, George issued what we believe was his first note from Stifel. Entitled ‘Spice up your life” George started with a BUY for Sage. The note was widely given as reason for the 2.1% rise in Sage shares yesterday. “Stephen Kelly has reinvigorated Sage from top to toe”. We’d agree with that one! With quarterly accounting for SMEs still on the cards for next year, the 70% of SMEs currently not using any accounting software clearly provides an exciting market opportunity.
Today, George has issued his second note. This time entitled “Old Iron, New Edge”, George initiated coverage on Micro Focus with another BUY. “Cobol’s out of ‘Old Iron’, its latest deal with HPE Software will make Micro Focus one of the world’s largest software providers”. “Micro Focus is a highly cash-generative software business that returns cash to its shareholder - it is committed to 15-20% annual total shareholder return”. Indeed, as a Micro Focus shareholder of well over a decade, I can attest to its superior value!
Anyway, Welcome back George. We missed you.
Posted by Richard Holway at '07:49'
Only a few days after their annual report hailed 15 years of unbroken, profitable growth (see 15 years of growth for Civica), Civica is celebrating securing another significant contract. Leeds City Council has awarded it a ten-year deal to supply the software to manage the 57,000 social housing properties run by Housing Leeds. The £2m deal represents Civica’s first housing management system win since it acquired Abritas in December last year (see Civica houses Abritas).
The housing sector represents a strong niche for Civica. In FY16 it added 28 new customers and improved revenues by 13% compared to the previous year. The acquisition of Abritas, which took place just after the end of their financial year, has helped Civica build on this position and it now provides housing systems for approximately 400 organisations.
The Government’s decision to reduce social housing rents by 1% each year from April 2016 has put significant pressure on local authorities and housing associations to deliver efficiency savings. The ‘Fixing Our Broken Housing Market’ whitepaper, which was published by the Government earlier this month, has confirmed local authority fears that this rent reduction will remain in place until 2020. This policy, coupled with an increasing awareness of the role digital solutions can play in meeting efficiency targets (see UK public sector SITS market trends and forecasts 2016-17), means that we can expect more housing sector deals for SITS suppliers in 2017.
Posted by Dale Peters at '07:25'
Serco has hit its twice upwardly revised target for FY16, underlining the good progress it is making against its five-year turnaround strategy (see here and work back).
Although headline FY16 revenues fell 13% to £3.05bn, and underlying trading profits fell 14% to £82m, a look under the covers shows things are heading in the right direction.
Revenue from continuing operations (which excludes £37m from what’s left of Serco’s Global Private Sector BPO business) was down 5.2% to £3.01bn. However, the operating profit from continuing operations was £42.2m vs. a £3.8m loss last time. If Serco is now able to stem further contract losses in the current year, the underlying revenue performance should start to level off. Indeed, CE Rupert Soames sees 2017 revenues being flat yoy, so that would be quite a turnaround from today.
There are also some encouraging signs on the order front, which was up 40% on last year at £2.5bn. This included the largest deal for IT-enabled support services with St Barts NHS Trust, worth £600m over ten years (see here). The other major deal worth an initial £450m over seven years, is to manage the design and build of the 'icebreaker' Antarctic Supply and Research Vessel for the Australian Department of the Environment. Both deals are very much in Serco’s swwet-spot for delivering end-to-end operational management and delivery at the front line.
Looking at Serco’s two main UK divisions however shows there’s still lots of work to be done. UK & Europe Local & Regional Government revenues fell 25% in constant currency to £696.5m, and returned a £6.5m loss vs. £4.7m profit last time. On a more positive note, LRG won £750m worth of deals, the largest number across the group, including St Barts, as well as renewal at the Anglia Support Partnership healthcare shared services; and a contact centre and digital support contract for Public Health England. The decline in Central Government meanwhile, was less severe, at 9% to £679m.
Encouragingly, recent wins will help both divisions to a low-to-mid single digit revenue decline in 2017.
We will be meeting Serco in the next week, and will provide a more detailed analysis of the performance and prospects for TMV subscribers then.
Posted by John O'Brien at '09:47'
Shares in robotic process automation (RPA) pioneer Blue Prism have shot up c10% today on a brief, but very positive, Q1 trading update (see Blue Prism ends first year since IPO on a high).
For the period to 31 January, Blue Prism secured 83 new software deals, of which 49 were new customers and 34 were upsells to existing customers. All new deals were secured indirectly via channel partners (see Accenture-Blue Prism partnership motoring along). As a result, revenue for the full year is expected to be 'materially ahead of existing market expectations'.
To put these figures in perspective, Blue Prism sold 96 new licences last year and had 81 upsells – which were to 47 customers.
How much more of a clear a sign can there be that the speed of RPA adoption is outstripping expectations?
An earlier version of this post had the wrong number of licence sales in FY16.
Posted by John O'Brien at '09:37'
There’s a change of leadership at software test automation and digital service assurance provider TestPlant Software as founder and long term CEO George Mackintosh moves to a NED position on the board and Dr John Bates joins to take the CEO role with a remit to lead the company into “the next phase of growth and global expansion.”
Mackintosh has been a keen proponent of ‘scaling up’ and the company has grown as a result. In January 2016 PE Carlyle Group took a majority holding in the company to assist with the expansion effort. At the time, Mackintosh said he wanted TestPlant to become “the British-based global leader in our market”, a growth ambition that is still firmly in place.
The new CEO is well known to Carlyle Group: a previous fund backed his first business, streaming analytics company Apama, acquired by Progress Software which was itself acquired by Software AG. Bates has held positions including of EVP of Corporate Strategy and CTO at Progress Software and CTO of Big Data, Head of Industry Solutions and CMO at Software AG. His most recent position was CEO of Plat.One, a provider of application enablement platforms for the Internet of Things, which was snapped up by SAP in September 2016, so he is experienced in driving change and progress. We look forward to hearing about the next stage in TestPlant’s journey at a time when automated testing is becoming even more crucial due to the demands of fast moving digital business initiatives and DevOps and Continuous Delivery operations that call for the combination of speed and quality.
Posted by Angela Eager at '09:10'
Digital marketing SaaS and managed service provider dotdigital Group released confident interim results but as we noted last month it has gone through some necessary sales structure rejigging within the UK and US to improve its operations and while it continues to deliver double digit revenue growth, the rate of growth has been shrinking over the past year or more (see here). Although revenue was up 17% to £15m in the six months to December 31 2016, H1 continued that trend. PBT was up 30% to £4.3m.
International expansion should help the situation. The US business saw an improvement in Q2 (and H1 overall was up 11% yoy), dotdigital is expanding its relationships in the early stage Asia-Pacific region (revenue up 139%) and it opened up a hub in South Africa. EMEA (countries outside the UK) saw 50% revenue growth. Reassuringly, it appears to be making progress on bringing higher value clients on board and is investing to retain customers and increase the level of recurring spend from its existing base, which is the bedrock of any business. Average monthly billing across all clients increased 24% to £650m. With marketing spend potentially variable within organisations, recurring revenue is an important metric for dotdigital and it has risen from 78% to 81% of group revenue.
As we have commented previously, dotdigital has work to do but several levers to pull to help it along.
Posted by Angela Eager at '09:02'
Capita is now planning to write off £50m of assets in FY16, following ‘a comprehensive review across its major contracts’ undertaken since its recent profits warnings (see here and work back).
It means income of around £40m will be written down as a charge to the full year results, which are due out on 2 March.
While clearly another sign of how tough life is right now for the UK SITS market leader, Capita is right to be taking decisive action now, moving fast to restore confidence (see also Capita resolves dispute with Co-Op Bank). These deals mostly relate to the 2012 -2014 period, but some date back to 2009 – so all pretty much from the former management, before Andy Parker took over as CEO in March 2014.
Posted by John O'Brien at '08:23'
Trakm8 has released a trading update for its financial year to the end of March citing a “disappointing year”. The issues had already started to emerge when the H1 results were announced – see Strong TrakM8 H1 sales but profits down 77%. The AIM-listed telematics and data insight provider seems to have suffered on two fronts. Firstly, from external market forces, for example, the impact of delays to new revenues being booked, such that the growth in the installed base of units reporting to its servers has been lower than anticipated. And secondly, from internal disruption caused by its “evolving” business model. The shift in the revenue model towards more SaaS and rental revenue is impacting short term revenues, cash generation and profitability. This, at the same time, as the company has been bold in bumping up the proportion of revenues invested in R&D, in the hope of short-term pain for long-term gain.
The result is a reduction in its FY17 expectations: “revenues are now expected to be only modestly ahead of FY2016 with adjusted operating profit significantly below FY2016, with a consequent impact on cash flow and indebtedness”. In the short-term, the company has acted to reduce its annualised overheads. But the longer-term outlook is more positive. The order book looks strong (new orders up 24% compared to the previous year), the pipeline of potential new orders is up, and new products, though taking longer to come to market, are being positively received by clients. The company’s fleet management, telematics insurance, connected car and vehicle/driver tracking solutions are well placed to exploit emerging demand for IoT oriented solutions. However, with rising debt as a result of recent acquisitions and the shift in the revenue model, the sooner the business gets back on track, the better.
Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '08:10'
What TV ads are you watching? Edinburgh-based startup, TVSquared, aims to answer this question pretty much same day.
Despite the rise of social media, TV advertising is still a fast-growing marketing channel, closely tracked by brands and media agencies. TVSquared aims to optimise TV advertising spend using its proprietary analytics tools – and seems to have done so with considerable success; the company claims to have ‘hundreds of brands, agencies and networks’ as clients, in more than 50 countries.
Founded in 2012, and with offices also in London, New York and Los Angeles, TVSquared has raised a further $6.5m in a funding round led by West Coast Capital, with matched funding from the Scottish Investment Bank (SIB), Scottish Enterprise’s investment arm, along with existing investors. This followed a $3m round in August 2016, and brings the total raised so far to $12m.
Sounds like a great Scottish success story.
Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:07'
Customer engagement software provider Netcall is delivering on most fronts as its ongoing transition to the cloud continues (see Netcall FY16 sluggish, but next year...).
It has seen significant growth in its cloud business during H1, with 4 out of the ten largest orders for cloud-based contracts, including its largest to date, worth £1.4m five-year deal for its next-generation Liberty platform. This acceleration to the cloud is good news for Netcall, in terms of growth opportunity and recurring revenues – a key metric which rose 7% and now account for 68% of revenues. The order book meanwhile, also increased by 14% to over £16.6m. So very encouraging for H2.
The underlying business remains in transition though, as the legacy Movieline business continues to run off. This dented H1 headline revenue, down 0.5% to £8.09m, albeit better than the 3.5% drop in FY16. Profit before tax meanwhile was up 17% to £0.92m – an impressive result given the increasing investment in R&D in recent months.
We are speaking to management later this week.
Posted by John O'Brien at '07:52'
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Posted by UK Cloud at '00:00'
An interview with Quartz media website where Bill Gates said businesses should pay robo taxes is generating plenty of attention. His view is in essence that humans are paid and taxed for the work they do; when a robot replaces that human, then the same level of taxes ought to be paid.
It is not quite as stark as that but he is suggesting measures to slow down the rate of adoption while economic and societal issues are addressed. Robots drive up productivity but also mean job losses, which cut down the taxes used to fund public services. Robo taxes could maintain taxation levels and be used to fund retraining. Gates is not putting forward a solution but is drawing attention to some of the wider issues that need to be considered as automation in its many forms develops, from robotic automation, to robotic processes automation and intelligent applications. He is not the only one thinking along these lines. Various academic, government and commercial groups are exploring the question of how to deal with the impact of automation. The EU has been considering a robo tax too, using the proceeds to pay for retraining, although the proposal was rejected earlier this month.
The debate about the economic and social impact has become more prominent over the past 6-12 months and rightly so because it has to take place before problems become apparent on mass scale. There is no shortage of questions and dilemma’s. Looking at the situation from a tech perspective, one of the questions will be how do you define a robot/intelligent robot? Perhaps we will have to devise a counterpart to the Turing test.
Posted by Angela Eager at '09:52'
Capgemini has signed a three-year IT Services deal with Horizon Nuclear Power to support the development of the new Wyfla Newydd power station in North Wales. This power station is expected to start generating electricity in the first half of the next decade, generating over 2,700MW. Horizon Nuclear Power is a UK subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd which is developing a new generation of nuclear power stations, with a further site in Oldbury in South Gloucestershire.
The deal with Capgemini looks to drive innovative project solutions, with targeted initiatives including the building of a fully scalable cloud platform, a new security operations centre (which will leverage Capgemini’s existing SOC in Inverness) and a multi-channel service desk to support the Horizon team. This contract will lay the foundations for the supply of digital services as the Wyfla Newydd project moves from development through construction and into operation.
Capgemini will be looking to build a new Nuclear Centre of Excellence in the UK, benefiting from the Group’s experience and expertise in France, with the prospect of further engagements as the UK’s investment in nuclear power increases.
Capgemini published its full year results last week, showing that the UK and Ireland operations achieved 4% growth during the year.
Posted by Peter Roe at '09:40'
Very few companies can claim 15 years of unbroken, profitable growth but that’s exactly what Civica is celebrating with the publication of its audited results for the year to end of September 2016. Group revenue at privately-held Civica was £267.7m in FY16, 14% up on the previous year, with EBITDA at £55.1m, up from £46.8m in FY15, a margin of 20.6%. Other KPIs also bode well – recurring revenue increased by 16% to £132.6m and the closing order book was 10% higher at £815m. The rise in employee numbers also provides a clear illustration of how much the business has grown and evolved over recent years. At the end of FY14 Civica had 2,367 employees worldwide, by the end of September 2016 that figure was 37% higher at 3,231 and now it’s over 3,650.
As we predicted in the UK Public Sector SITS Supplier Landscape report last year, the UK business, which accounts for 81% of group turnover, put in a particularly strong performance. UK & Ireland revenue was £217.6m in FY16, 16% higher than FY15. Most of that growth was organic since the acquisitions fell in the last quarter of the year, in other words, Civica is clearly taking market share in the UK. There was growth across the business though, including internationally – Asia Pac revenue increased by 6% to £44.7m and the nascent USA division grew by 13% to £5.4m.
The last year has been a transformational one for Civica with the launch of its Civica Digital division accompanying a strong push into the UK central government market, and the signing of its largest ever contract amongst the highlights. Over the coming year we expect more of the same as Chairman Simon Downing and CEO Wayne Story continue to execute on a clear strategy. In particular, we can expect a continued mix of organic and acquisitive growth. Civica has now completed 11 acquisitions since 2013 with the support of its private equity backers, OMERS. It has a clear focus on IP-based businesses that extend its capabilities and increase the scale of its involvement with its customers, and we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see further strategic acquisitions in 2017.
PublicSectorViews subscribers can read our profile of Civica in the UK Public Sector SITS Supplier Landscape Report 2016-17. If you don’t yet subscribe to PublicSectorViews and you’d like further details please email Deborah Seth in our Client Services team.
Posted by Tola Sargeant at '09:16'
It looks like the half-year to the end of January has gone according to plan for this Wetherby-based provider of spend control and eProcurement solutions. Today’s trading update from PROACTIS informs us that six-month revenues were up 36%, to almost £12m, with solid organic growth of 13.4%.
The Group is extending its network of connected customers and their suppliers, having added 27 new customer names over the period and reports that contract values and pipeline remain “encouraging”.
The company’s latest acquisition, that of Millstream Associates, is now completed and the company is trading in line with expectations. This follows the Due North acquisition of February 2016.
PROACTIS is introducing its customers to slicker and more sophisticated ways of managing their supply chains and we can expect continued growth and potentially some additional acquisitions. This market sector is fragmented and extremely competitive, so adding scale is likely to remain a priority for Tim Sykes as he moves from the CFO role to CEO when Rod Jones hands over the top job.
Posted by Peter Roe at '08:24'
The new Trump administration has rather set the cat amongst the pigeons with proposals to tighten up the rules for skilled workers to enter the US on an H1-B visa. Nevertheless, management at the leading Indian pure-plays (IPPs) seem sanguine about the potential impact on their business should the proposals be enacted – but even so, current financial performance trends look ominous.
Subscribers to the TechMarketView Foundation Service can read our analysis of these developments in the new edition of OffshoreViews, along with our views on recent traumatic events at Cognizant and Infosys. Plus there’s our graphical snapshots of all the Top 6 IPPs and results summaries of six mid-tier players.
It’s the best way to keep up with the Indian offshore services scene. Press the link to download OffshoreViews Q4 2016 Review, or contact our Client Services team (firstname.lastname@example.org) for further information.
Posted by HotViews Editor at '06:00'
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