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Angry Birds make shareholders Angry
23 Nov 2017
Tech Talent Charter launch: Diversity is good for UKplc
23 Nov 2017
Salesforce Q3: International growth, industry clouds
23 Nov 2017
Livingbridge funds MBO at Giacom
23 Nov 2017
Atos wins international deal with PSA Finance
23 Nov 2017
MXC and Liberty to build new buy-and-build - UPDATE
23 Nov 2017
The Essential Guide to Professional Services Automation
23 Nov 2017
Autumn budget 2017: Tackling productivity with technology
22 Nov 2017
Cortex: automating for outcomes
22 Nov 2017
*NEW RESEARCH* Square – Disrupting Payments and now over here
22 Nov 2017
Eckoh focuses on the US opportunity
22 Nov 2017
Redstor secures investment from Beech Tree Private Equity
22 Nov 2017
HPE announces FY17 as CEO Whitman plans departure
22 Nov 2017
Sage: transition complete, targets met
22 Nov 2017
dotDigital pays £11m for Comapi
22 Nov 2017
Meg Whitman to leave HPE
22 Nov 2017
Keytree leverages SAP skills to build IP
22 Nov 2017
Public sector challenges Triad’s quest
22 Nov 2017
Why now is the time to consider where your data should live in 2018
22 Nov 2017
Accenture/Pivotal form digital acceleration group
21 Nov 2017
IMIMobile building out for consistent growth
21 Nov 2017
Palo Alto grows Q1 revenue 27% yoy
21 Nov 2017
Adaptavist: tooling for digital creators
21 Nov 2017
Equiniti remains on track
21 Nov 2017
ECB says banks’ Brexit plans must go further
21 Nov 2017
Flexible on-demand HR Director services for fast-growth technology ventures
21 Nov 2017
More solid progress from digital Endava
20 Nov 2017
Zego on the right track to insure the gig economy
20 Nov 2017
£2m egg laid in Glasgow Bird.i’s nest
20 Nov 2017
**RESEARCH** TechMarketView’s End User Insight Series
20 Nov 2017
NPS wins £12m Australian housing deal
20 Nov 2017
Boku’s move towards profit prompts AIM listing
20 Nov 2017
Shield Safety Group finds growth in safety
20 Nov 2017
Deliveroo gets an “F-plus”!
20 Nov 2017
MXC and Liberty to build new buy-and-build
20 Nov 2017
Civica new recruit to lead M&A drive
17 Nov 2017
Return of the paper tax disc?
17 Nov 2017
Much work to do to create more Great British Scaleups!
17 Nov 2017
AI as a practical force for good
17 Nov 2017
Airbnb accommodates Accomable
17 Nov 2017
Elon Musk - The ultimate showman
17 Nov 2017
Becrypt: Scaling up in cyber security
16 Nov 2017
Data tops agenda for UK Health and Social Care
16 Nov 2017
Cabinet Office & Capgemini partner to boost RPA adoption
16 Nov 2017
Reporting changes portray steady as she goes Cisco
16 Nov 2017
CGI to sign seven-year deal with Glasgow
16 Nov 2017
Perkbox claims digital rewards with Loyalty Bay
16 Nov 2017
Citi backs Behavox to listen for non-compliance
16 Nov 2017
Cloudhouse contains cloud migration challenge
16 Nov 2017

UKHotViews©

 

Thursday 23 November 2017

Angry Birds make shareholders Angry

AngryI have written about Rovio and their Angry Birds many times on HotViews. My interest arose out of a lunch I attended back in 2012 with Niklas Zennstroem who, hot after making his fortune selling Skype to Microsoft, had invested in this new wonder game company. He told of ambitions to rival Disney with soft toys, movies and theme parks. I was sceptical (to say the least) but I kept up the interest in their progress - or fate - nonetheless.  Which is perhaps why the press always seem to call me up for a comment when something happens to them - even tough gaming is completely leftfield to my expertise.

My Rovio reviews are peppered with ‘One-hit wonder’-type comments. Not surprising given the fate of companies like King/Candy Crush Saga. Back in August 17 I reported on Rovio’s intention to IPO - See Angry Birds fly - which they did with great aplomb on the Helsinki bourse in Sept 17 valuing them in Unicorn territory (ie >$1billion) at the end of their first day of trading

Now, just a couple of months later, they have stunned the market reporting an unexpected loss in Q3. Sure, Rovio was boosted by the success of The Angry Birds Movie last year but it was the 4x increase in user acquisition costs in Q3 that shocked most.

20% was immediately wiped from Rovio’s share price which fell to Euro9.36 compared to the IPO price of Euro11.50.

If there is one thing this old analyst has learnt is ‘Never disappoint the market with your maiden results - they will never forgive you’. I’m sure ‘Angry’ doesn’t adequately describe what Rovio’s new shareholders must be feeling

Posted by Richard Holway at '12:56'

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Thursday 23 November 2017

Tech Talent Charter launch: Diversity is good for UKplc

TTC launchWe were delighted to be part of the launch this morning of the Tech Talent Charter, an employer-led initiative aimed at driving diversity in the UK’s tech workforce. Nearly one hundred organisations - both tech companies and tech users, including TechMarketView – have already signed up to the charter to show their commitment to supporting recruitment and retention policies that are designed to increase workforce diversity.

The charter is supported by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and techUK and as the Rt. Hon. Matt Hancock MP, Minister of State for Digital, said at the launch this morning, it is an excellent fit with the government’s UK Digital Strategy, which received fresh impetus from yesterday’s Budget.

Indeed, several of the speakers at the launch, led by the CEO of Tech Talent Charter Debbie Forster MBE, made the point that diversity in the workforce isn’t just a ‘nice’ thing to do, it’s good for business and good for ‘UK plc’ too. There is plenty of evidence that diverse organisations perform better than their non-diverse peers. But it’s perhaps more important to highlight that as competition for tech talent intensifies further – as it will do with all businesses, from farms to charities, becoming increasingly ‘digital’ – recruiting and retaining the best talent is only going to get more difficult. And, as Matt Hancock said so eloquently this morning, “You can’t catch all the opportunity if you only fish in half the pool”.

We won’t close the UK productivity gap or truly make the UK a ‘tech nation’ unless we make UK tech workplaces more diverse and inclusive, and that starts with encouraging more women and girls into the industry.

To learn more and sign your organisation up to the Tech Talent Charter visit techtalentcharter.co.uk.

Posted by Tola Sargeant at '12:12' - Tagged: policy   diversity  

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Thursday 23 November 2017

Salesforce Q3: International growth, industry clouds

logoThe force was still strong within Salesforce in Q3 as revenue rose 25% (the same as this time last year and compared to 26% in Q2) to $2.68bn with deferred revenue up 26%, while it also swapped the net loss of $37m of the previous year for a profit of $51.4m.

In a comment not usually heard during earnings calls, the company said deals closed earlier than expected in the quarter to October 31 2017. It’s a little early for end of year budget flush so we’d look to its increased international focus as one of the reasons. International was one of the growth drivers identified in Q2; during Q3 headcount increased 30%, with 40% of that proportion outside the Americas. Its industry clouds, such as retail banking, also appear to be attracting business – and new customers at that. 57% of new customers bought into industry clouds, marking this as an area that will be important in maintaining high growth levels.

EMEA revenue increased 33% (constant currency) with a number of expansions within existing customers (BP, automotive Group PSA, another automotive company going wall-to-wall with Salesforce). There was no direct reference to major new customers however. The UK tends to outperform EMEA as a whole, and the software sector too (see Enterprise Software and Application Services Market Trends and Forecasts and Supplier Ranking reports).

Two senior level exec appointments were announced: Alex Dayon stepped up from chief product officer to chief strategy officer, while Bret Taylor took on the chief product officer role. He joined with the 2016 Quip acquisition and previous experience includes Facebook (CTO) and time developing Google maps. More strength at the top can only be a good thing.

Posted by Angela Eager at '09:49' - Tagged: results   cloud   software  

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Thursday 23 November 2017

Livingbridge funds MBO at Giacom

giaMid-market private equity firm, Livingbridge, has invested in Hull-based Giacom to facilitate a management buyout (MBO) of the business (from its founder) led by CEO, Mike Wardell. LDC who backed the business in 2016 are exiting and will be reinvesting alongside Livingbridge for a minority stake to support Giacom’s ongoing growth strategy.

Giacom runs a cloud services marketplace for resellers to the SME community. It works with vendors including Microsoft, Acronis, Bitdefender and TalkTalk Business to bring cloud solutions to its 4,000+ partner network.

For the year to end July 2016, the company turned over £6.6m, according to its Companies House report. The operating margin was strong (but down on the previous year) at over 18%. With fresh funds behind it, Giacom plans to expand its network further, cross-sell more products and services via the marketplace and take on strategic M&A. Resellers are of course crucial tech/services suppliers to the small and medium market so we see plenty of opportunity for Giacom to flourish further.

Posted by Kate Hanaghan at '09:28' - Tagged: cloud   funding   reseller  

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Thursday 23 November 2017

Atos wins international deal with PSA Finance

Atos logoAtos has won a five-year contract with Banque PSA Finance (BPF), which works closely with three automotive brands – Peugeot, Citreon and DS - to offer a complete range of financing at the point of sale. The digital transformation project has international scope; BPF operates in twenty countries.

The aim is to accelerate the organisation’s digital transformation by applying big data & analytics to the banking, consumer credit and consumer experience, as well as speeding up the time to market for new financial products.

Atos will manage and modernise BPF’s application portfolio from its service centres in France and Spain. No value is given for the deal (it is described as ‘major’), and as with all projects it is hard to tell how much is traditional application modernisation versus ‘true’ digital. But, on the face of it, it looks like Atos will be able to use the deal to further demonstrate its ability to support end-to-end transformation across country boundaries.

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:27' - Tagged: contract   financialservices   ApplicationServices   digital  

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Thursday 23 November 2017

MXC and Liberty to build new buy-and-build - UPDATE

We recently previewed the announcement of a joint venture between MXC Capital, the Guernsey-headquartered tech-focused financial services firm, and Colorado-headquartered cable and media giant, Liberty Global, to create a buy-and-build IT services business aimed at the UK SME market.

We subsequently spoke to MXC founder and turn-around entrepreneur, Ian Smith, to find out more …

Posted by HotViews Editor at '07:57' - Tagged: jointventure  

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Wednesday 22 November 2017

Autumn budget 2017: Tackling productivity with technology

FAutumn budgetacing up to productivity challenges

Today, Chancellor, Philip Hammond had to use his Autumn Budget 2017 to respond to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) revising down its forecasts for productivity growth, business investment and GDP (economic) growth through to 2020/2021.

It was a budget with a strong lean towards housing and technology. The scrapping of stamp duty for first time buyers on properties up to £300K grabbed the headlines. As did the promise to build 300K new homes per year. But it was digital & technology that ran through this announcement like a stick of rock.

Playing catch-up: technology seen as a silver bullet

This budget shows a growing acknowledgement at ministerial level in Government of the massive societal, economic and cultural impact that technological change is destined to have.

Hammond further seized upon technology as the key to improving the UK’s productivity. The UK’s productivity gap is nothing new. The UK’s labour productivity has stagnated, and the productivity gap widened, since the recession at the end of 2008/09. According to the Office of National Statistics, in 2015, UK productivity was 19 percentage points below the rest of the G7 average – the widest gap since 1995 when records began. The reasons have been widely acknowledged – a low level of capital investment in new technologies, limited lending to businesses, low rates of R&D spend, skills shortages, and inefficient monopolies. The result of the referendum on Brexit brought another dimension – concern that the subsequently agreed trading arrangements will have a further negative impact.

In the 2016 Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced the National Productivity Investment Fund (see UKHotViews archive). Today, he announced a further £7b NPIF investment. The bigger push in dealing with the UK’s productivity issues is to be welcomed. And it is clear why Hammond is giving it so much attention - according to the OBR, weak productivity will result in GDP of 1% throught to 2021/22, strong productity a growth of 3%. That's the difference between public sector net borrowing of £58.5b or a net surplus of £46.3b. But it does feel like we are playing catch up; we have known about the issues for a decade or more. It’s like no-one could find an answer until now – and suddenly technology is seen as a silver bullet....more

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '23:23' - Tagged: public+sector   centralgovernment   nhs   digital   budget  

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Wednesday 22 November 2017

Cortex: automating for outcomes

logoWe called out Southampton-based Cortex and its intelligent automation platform as a Little British Battler in June 2016 and since then it has gone from strength to strength, claiming its place as a Great British Scaleup.

logoAt a time of digital disruption when organisations are looking for fast, frictionless operations, Cortex is very much in the right place at the right time with its intelligent automation platform for handling network, IT and business operations. Going beyond simple automation of actions e.g. robotic process automation, its specialty is orchestrating outcomes from automated processes.

When deployed, subject matter experts teach the engine how to orchestrate successful outcomes (decisions and actions) across IT and business processes (in a ‘no code’ way). Exceptions are flagged up and the engine then learns from the way subject matter experts resolve the problem. This sets the scene for a degree of self-managed automated operations and also provides a means for organisations to capture precious expertise held within the business and use it to improve and ensure consistency of (fast) decision making across the company.

This young business (founded in 2011 and run by co-founders operations director Eddie Watson and CEO Mike Taylor, with sales & marketing director Jonathon Hobday) has seen rapid growth and we can see scaleup opportunities. We particularly like the potential to tackle the emerging problem of fragmented automation solutions by providing an orchestration layer above other automation systems. Combine that with customer and revenue generating strategic relationships with Capgemini, Tech Mahindra, and technology/customer relationships with the likes of Vodafone and BT, and it is evident Cortex has a number of routes it can explore to take the business to the next level.

Posted by HotViews Editor at '18:32' - Tagged: software   automation   GreatBritishScaleup  

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Wednesday 22 November 2017

*NEW RESEARCH* Square – Disrupting Payments and now over here

logoreportOne of the most interesting areas of digital disruption in payments is in the small merchant sector, where tech has transformed the operating economics – if you have got a smartphone or tablet then you already have plenty of computing power which can be leveraged to accept card payments, an area which was previously the preserve of larger merchants who could afford expensive specialist terminals.

Square was the first to spot this disruptive opportunity back in 2009, and this year they have finally launched their assault on European markets with a beachhead in the UK. The business has moved on a lot since the launch of their iconic card reader, and a closer look at their range of propositions now can tell us a lot about the frontiers of disruption in payments as enabled by the fintech revolution.

Alarm bells should be ringing across the UK payments sector.

FinancialServicesViews subscribers can find out more about this major disruptor by reading our latest FintechViews report, “Square – Disrupting Payments and now over here” via this link.

Please Note: TechMarketView has written extensively on the Payments business and the impacts of Regulatory change. Our comprehensive study of the UK Payments market is available to FinancialServicesViews subscribers here (This report is also available for one-off purchase).

Posted by Peter Roe at '17:49' - Tagged: payments   FinTech  

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Wednesday 22 November 2017

Eckoh focuses on the US opportunity

logoEckoh management has worked hard to build a strong position in the growing niche of secure payments, strengthening the Group through a series of acquisitions, see here and work back. Consequently, they are confident of continued growth, particularly in the undeveloped US market.

Half-year figures released today, showing top-line growth of 10%, to £14.8m, reflect the management’s greater focus on the US. In this region revenue grew by 36% to £5.4m, representing 37% of the group total. Eckoh won 7 new contracts over the half-year, with a total contact value of US$5.1m, all using the Opex pricing model, giving good visibility of future revenue and cash. Recurring revenues are now 58% of the US total, but this proportion is expected to grow consistently. The business in the US is already broadly based, with all of the Eckoh portfolio, including those propositions acquired with KlicktoConnect, being sold. Eckoh also provides substantial support through its acquired PSS business to the major contact centre users, who also act as lead generators for Eckoh’s secure payment products. Competition in the US market remains at a low level, at least in the secure payments space. Eckoh has secured further patents in authentication and voice biometrics.

Following a sales reorganisation, UK revenue actually declined, by 1%. The company is to concentrate on the larger, strategic accounts and on sales through channel partners. Capita is the largest, with recent success in HM Passports Office. The BT relationship also had success as a large retailer signed a 3-year contract. Eckoh’s partner management capability was strengthened by the Klick2Connect acquisition. Partner successes, coupled with the continued move to secure payments and the impact of GDPR should ensure that the UK returns to reasonable growth.

Consensus estimates are for 10% revenue growth and improving margins.

Posted by Peter Roe at '09:07' - Tagged: payments  

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Wednesday 22 November 2017

Redstor secures investment from Beech Tree Private Equity

LBB Redstor secures investment from Beech Tree Private EquityTechmarketview Great British Scale Up and Great British Battler Redstor secured additional investment from Beech Tree Private Equity to develop and grow its cloud service portfolio.LBB Redstor secures investment from Beech Tree Private Equity

Financial terms of the investment remain undisclosed. But the Reading-based company believes now is the time to accelerate its expansion, with its enterprise and SME focussed data management, backup, disaster recovery and archiving solutions well placed to help organisations tackle the growing cyber security menace and new data protection laws.

Redstor will shortly release a new data insight and search tool to help firms meet the requirements of the EU’s forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for example, with the deadline for compliance scheduled for May next year (see our reports GDPR – 10 months to go and GDPR compliance unchanged by Brexit). We think the GDPR could prove a catalyst for many companies fortunes over the next 12 months and beyond, including the likes of ECSC, Silwood Technology and Dillistone.

Redstor chief executive Paul Evans has proved adept at making the most of market conditions in the past, whilst the 2015 acquisition of Attix5 helped push the company's turnover up 31% in FY16. We expect Redstor to use the additional investment funds equally as wisely and wait for further news.

Posted by Martin Courtney at '09:07' - Tagged: investment   cloudservices   DisasterRecovery   gbs   backup   Redstor  

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Wednesday 22 November 2017

HPE announces FY17 as CEO Whitman plans departure

hpeHPE’s FY17 results were announced overnight; although this was overshadowed by the news that CEO, Meg Whitman, is to step down (Meg Whitman to leave HPE).

Revenue for the full year was up 1% (to $28.9bn) when adjusted for divestitures and currency. However, looking at the component parts of that growth number, HPE’s Financial Services (financing) business was the driving force, growing 13% over FY16. The core HPE business (servers, storage, networking, IT services and advisory) declined 2% - although it was in growth mode in the latter part of the year to the end of October (see Better than expected Q3 from HPE). The ‘problem child’ was the server business, which suffered deep declines in H1 (as did the storage business) and failed to bounce back (unlike the storage business). This was in part down to strong market headwinds, which battered the business.

Technology Services (services and advisory) grew consistently around the 3-4% mark throughout the year, which is a good result. We think there is further room for growth if HPE can build momentum in its Pointnext business.

Looking at EMEA’s quarterly performance through the year, Q1 and Q2 were exceedingly tough, but the second half of the year saw a notable swing back into growth.

Those that have been following HPE’s fairly complex divestment journey will remember that its Software business merged with Micro Focus last month (see What to expect from the 'new' Micro Focus). Certainly we believe that stripping the business right back (i.e. spin-merging Enterprise Services with CSC to form DXC) and creating a very focused strategy for growth was the right thing to do. So what next? We’ve long thought HPE could ultimately end up in the hands of Private Equity, so let's see what happens under new leader, Antonio Neri.

Of course, it’s not just Whitman that is leaving. EMEA lead, Andy Isherwood will also be stepping down (in early 2018, see - Andy Isherwood to leave HPE). The UK business is run by Marc Waters, whose energy, enthusiasm and focus continues to impress us.

Posted by Kate Hanaghan at '09:01'

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Wednesday 22 November 2017

Sage: transition complete, targets met

logoIt’s report card time for Sage Group following the completion of the three year transition programme initiated in 2015. The UK company achieved its target of minimum 6% organic revenue growth and organic operating profit margin of 28% throughout the change. That’s no mean feat given the scale and duration. The year to September 30 2017 saw organic revenue up 6.6% to £1.69bn with a margin of 28%, up from 27.1%. Yet it’s the FY18 guidance that is telling – 8% organic growth – and will provide further evidence of whether Sage has shaken off its historic low (but nevertheless positive) levels of performance.

By its own admission Sage had been slow to innovate, was fragmented, poorly aligned and was missing the leadership and culture required to win or grow sustainably in the long term. Activity in 2017 alone demonstrated the contrast as it divested underperforming assets (North American Payments), acquired to plump up the portfolio (Intacct, Fairsail, and Compass) and developed to unify its cloud assets and provide a platform for growth (Sage Business Cloud), while also bringing leading edge technologies such as machine intelligence to its products. It has emerged with a clearer focus and a much stronger cloud and subscription proposition which is reflected in the numbers: recurring revenue up 9% while the decline in software and software related servicese revenue slowed to just 1.4% indicating successful subscription migration. There were ups and downs across the business of course, but not enough to detract from the positive overall picture. 

UK performance was marginally ahead of the group, with organic revenue up 7% yoy, recurring revenue on par with a 9% increase and subscriptions up 25% compared to 30% for the group. There was evidence of good cloud adoption with Sage 50c doing well along with the important Sage One product (up 53%). X3 ERP saw licence growth of 38%, with a welcome uptick in the size of contracts.

Sage’s performance is not at the 40%+ growth levels of Xero, nor would this be expected from a mature business, but the UK company is profitable -  organic operating profit was up a rewarding 10% to £475m in 2017. 

Posted by Angela Eager at '09:01' - Tagged: results   cloud   software  

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Wednesday 22 November 2017

dotDigital pays £11m for Comapi

dotDigital pays £11m for ComapiSaaS marketing software and managed services provider dotDigital Group extended its cloud capabilities with the £11m cash purchase of communication platform as a service (CPaaS) specialist Comapi. Another £1.2m of share options will be paid to Comapi management dependent on performance and if they stay on to support the business over the next two years.

Cheltenham-based Comapi employs 30 people and provides API software that allows its customers to embed messaging tools such as live chat into other applications. It will extend dotDigital customers’ ability to utilise multiple forms of personalised communication to drive their marketing campaigns, including email, mobile push, SMS and social network messaging platforms.

dotDigital has delivered impressive double digit growth in recent years and the acquisition will add a significant chunk to the £32m revenue it posted in FY17, up 19% yoy. Comapi had turnover of £7.8m and EBITDA of £1.2m in the financial year ending December 2016, with revenue estimated to be growing at approximately 15% in FY17.

Management are hopeful Comapi's platform will help dotDigital drive further into the Asian market where live chat and social messaging are rapidly becoming the default mode of communication for younger consumers in particular. The deal looks like a solid buy which fits well with dotDigital's current expansion strategy, whilst the share options for Comapi management should ensure there is sufficient continuity to make the most of its new asset.

Posted by Martin Courtney at '08:22' - Tagged: saas   acquisiiton   dotDigital   Comapi  

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Wednesday 22 November 2017

Meg Whitman to leave HPE

MWHPEBack in August, when I wrote Uber, Meg Whitman and HPE, I made the point that I didn’t see Meg Whitman remaining as CEO of HPE beyond the end of the year. My comment was repeated elsewhere in the media. Our friends inside HPE agreed. Whitman dismissed it saying ‘I am here for the foreseeable future because there is still work to do’. Last night the prediction came about. Whitman is to go and Antonia Neri (currently President of HPE and an HP veteran) will take over from 1st Feb 18

So comments like ‘the move surprised Wall Street and shares fell 5.3% in after-hours trading’ (Source - The Times) were themselves ‘a surprise’.

Whitman has been at the helm of HP for six years during which she’s split the old and proud company into bits. Printers and PCs were spun out into HP Inc. The software bits were sold to MicroFocus. HP’s Indian outsourcing unit Mphasis went to Blackstone. The services bits - much originating from EDS - were merged with CSC to form DXC. Last night’s results and outlook for the remaining HPE bit was below analyst forecasts (see HPE announces FY17 as CEO Whitman plans departure).

But, as all TechMarketView readers know, the last 6 years has been the most turbulent and most disruptive in our sector’s history. Whitman took on a company that had problems everywhere you looked. It needed fixing - fast. Whitman’s plan was to fix it by breaking it up. HP - both bits - was in danger from every angle as their clients moved away from their own hardware and into the cloud and young, nimble upstarts (like AWS) had the audacity to bite real chunks out of the business of the established players. Long-term clients demanded 50%+ reductions when contracts came up for renewal. On top of that, previous HP executive management had left her some poisoned chalices like Autonomy to ‘go fix’. The court case on that one starts in 2018.

HP says that shareholders have got a 220% return since Whitman’s 2012 turnaround plan was announced. (Lex in The FT reckons, if instead her start date had been chosen, the return over 6 years would be 120% - less than the rise in the S&P in the same period) Over 100,000 HP people have lost their jobs

What next? Whitman ran (and failed) in a bid for Governor of California in 2007. So maybe the ‘Meg for President ‘ rumours (which in true Whitman style she dismisses) might have a grain of truth.

Posted by Richard Holway at '08:15'

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Wednesday 22 November 2017

Keytree leverages SAP skills to build IP

LogoKeytree, the fast-growing SAP-centric services provider, first caught our eye a couple of years ago as aGBS TechMarketView Little British Battler (see here). Very much a Great British Scaleup, Keytree has doubled in size every three years and now boasts one of the largest SAP practices in the UK. More recently, it has been leveraging this expertise to create software solutions.

Founded in 2006, Keytree focussed initially on enhancing the customer experience capabilities of organisations for which SAP is their cornerstone. Since then it has developed into a full-line SAP-themed IT services provider. It now comprises seven differentiated but overlapping businesses ranging from Digital and ERP to Cloud Hosting, Managed Services and Products.

Its clarity of focus, innovative spirit and core belief that every project is reputationally important continue to be rewarded by a loyal, growing and increasingly blue-chip roster of clients, which now includes JLR, Greggs, BP, British Gas, GLA, Hachette, Babcock, National Grid and TfL. Revenue growth last year was 40% and forward momentum shows no sign of diminishing. With the SAP services market estimated to be worth £2b in the UK alone, Keytree is not short on room for significant expansion - and this without considering the successes it is already enjoying further afield in the Middle East, Canada, the US and Spain.

Its more recent push into the software products arena offers still further opportunities to scale rapidly. Of particular note is KIT (Keytree In-Store Technology), a next generation store associate app built on a SAP stack in partnership with SAP and Apple. Already deployed at Burberry and with a burgeoning pipeline, its prospects look very positive. Add to this a number of collaborative ground-breaking ventures that Keytree now has in train and here is a UK tech SME with its sight set on making its mark on the world stage.

Posted by Duncan Aitchison at '08:15' - Tagged: GreatBritishScaleup  

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Wednesday 22 November 2017

Public sector challenges Triad’s quest

logoI’m not sure I can entirely agree with John Rigg, chairman of project-based IT staffing veteran Triad Group. He commented that half-time results “continu(ed) the unbroken trend of improved results over recent years”, despite the fact that revenues declined in the period. Nonetheless, an increase in daily fee rates and better utilisation saw gross margins expand, which filtered down the P&L to give a positive profit result.

By the numbers, headline revenues for the six months to 30th Sept. declined by 4% to £14.2m, attributed to disruption in its core public sector business (HMG is Triad’s largest client). However, gross profit edged up faster, by 5%, lifting gross margins from 15.6% to 16.8% and operating margins from 4.6% to 5.2%. EPS rose by 7% to 4.67p.

Rigg’s view on Triad’s prospects emphasise the plan rather than the result, with aims to increase private sector penetration, particularly Financial Services. This is a sound idea given Triad’s challenges in the public sector (see Onwards and upwards for Triad), in which it appears to have lost out on some elements of a re-procurement “across several major programmes of work on which Triad has been significantly engaged”. Triad won back two, though it’s  not clear on what terms.

Nonetheless, Rigg’s (undeclared!) quest to re-earn a Holway Boring Award for 10 years uninterrupted EPS growth remains intact!

Posted by Anthony Miller at '07:47' - Tagged: recruitment   resullts  

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Tuesday 21 November 2017

Accenture/Pivotal form digital acceleration group

logologoBeing able to run an established business with the agility of a startup is one of the desirable outcomes of digital change but getting to a suitable position in the first place is hard, which is why Accenture and Pivotal have got together with a digital acceleration initiative aimed at large enterprises.

The role of the newly formed Accenture Pivotal Business Group (APBG) is to accelerate cloud migration and speed up cloud-native application development, using Pivotal Cloud Foundry as a foundation enabler. Accenture and Pivotal people will work together and with customers, using Pivotal’s methodology and Accenture’s experience to help customers make the cloud migration and develop new style applications required to be competitive in the digital environment. The first two locations will be in Columbus, Ohio and New York but the plan is to put substantial resources behind the initiative over the coming years and open further groups in other locations.

The need for an acceleration initiative like the APBG reflects the complexity and uncertainty around the ‘how’ of digital change that is behind varying degrees of enterprise digital paralysis. As we discussed in the Enterprise Software & Application Services Market Trends and Forecasts 2017 report, enterprises need help with the realities of digital execution if projects are to scaleup and much needed revenue start to flow.

Posted by Angela Eager at '09:39' - Tagged: cloud   partnership   software   digital  

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Tuesday 21 November 2017

IMIMobile building out for consistent growth

logoAfter a good performance last financial year, IMImobile, the cloud communications provider, delivered 12% organic growth in the first half to end September. Acquisitions boosted top line figures, up 48% to £53.1m. Gross profit rose only 22% however after the integration of the Infocast acquisition and a decline in the company’s Middle East and Africa operation following the Nigerian currency devaluation and the re-negotiation of a large contract with pan-African MNO MTN. Group EBITDA advanced 8%, to £5.7m, a margin of 23.1%.

3 of the top 4 UK retail banks use IMImobile to manage end customer interactions via SMS and Facebook Messenger and the company’s broad portfolio of SMS, Chat, AI and campaign management solutions is used by a wide range of utility providers and MNOs. The business already has a global customer base, with the European and Americas operations accounting for two-thirds of revenue and the other India/SE Asia and Middle East/Africa units roughly the same size. The US operation has been boosted by the recent acquisition of US messaging provider Sumotext and success with distribution partners such as NICE and AT&T.

Growth can be expected on several fronts; enterprises are consistently adding new channels to contact customers, IMIMobile's broad portfolio and recent acquisitions provide cross-selling opportunities, the expanded enterprise business in the US offers lots of potential as does the underlying expansion of markets in Asia and Africa. In the more developed European markets, the addition of higher value-added services, a larger sales effort and the developing partner network should drive additional revenue and margin.

IMIMobile is now building the global sales and distribution network to leverage its central Connect platform and IP. This business has grown consistently at double-digit rates while generating cash. There is every reason to expect that this rate of progress will continue.

Posted by Peter Roe at '09:10' - Tagged: cloud   mobile   AI   CX  

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Tuesday 21 November 2017

Palo Alto grows Q1 revenue 27% yoy

Palo Alto grows Q1 revenue 27% yoyAnother set of stellar financial results from cyber security specialist Palo Alto Networks saw the company grow its first quarter revenue 27% yoy to US$506m, enjoying its strongest performance in the EMEA region (up 35%).

The company added another 2,500 customers to its books (bringing the total base to 45,000), beating off competition from rivals Symantec, Cisco and Check Point in deployments at one of the world's busiest EMEA airports and multiple US government agencies (subscribers to SecureConnectViews can access our UK security supplier rankings here).

Palo Alto has done a good job of diversifying its security portfolio to now include a broad mix of hardware, software and cloud hosted security solutions offering different price models to suit all budgets. These include firewalls, intrusion prevention system (IPS), a Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB - see Cloud Access Security Brokers: Benefits and Opportunities) and fixed and mobile endpoint products alongside threat intelligence and security management services, with a heavy emphasis on automation and application level protection.

It is also delivering on a transformation strategy designed to shift more sales into recurring revenue streams, growing its Q1 subscription and support turnover 36% to US$319m - but crucially (and unlike some of its rivals) not at the expense of product sales (up 14% to US$187m).

But like other suppliers in a fiercely competitive cyber security market, the cost of getting innovative products to market and winning deals remains high. Palo Alto posted a net loss of US$64m, swelled from an equivalent loss of US$57m a year earlier. Net loss per share also expanded to 70 cents from 63 cents, though the estimated US$2.3bn of cash in Palo Alto's bank should reassure investors.

The company is understandably bullish for FY18, forecasting revenue in the range of US$2.1-US$2.2bn (up 22-24% yoy). With current market conditions - and barring an all out product price war that substantially reduces its margins - we see nothing to suggest Palo Alto's estimates will fall short.

Posted by Martin Courtney at '08:56' - Tagged: results   cybersecurity   PaloAltoNetworks  

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Tuesday 21 November 2017

Adaptavist: tooling for digital creators

logo“We help the people who create software be better at it,” says CEO Simon Haighton-Williams when explaining what Adaptavist, one of our latest group of logoGreat British Scaleups, does. The simple clarity of that statement appeals and is more meaningful than describing the company as a London based services provider built around the Atlassian stack of application lifecycle management tools, accurate though that is.

That explanation also reflects how Adaptavist operates. It is in the business of providing professional services, managed services, training and its own Atlassian Apps to complex enterprises via an execution model that is unashamedly directed at the technologists within enterprises. But far from ignoring the strategic dimensions of digital transformation, the company is at the heart of making organisations more effective and competitive (addressed via its building of a DevOps toolchain, for example) and the enabling role that well designed, rapidly and iteratively produced software plays.

With enterprises struggling with the ‘how’ of digital change (which is holding back spending in the overall market), suppliers need to focus on getting things done (i.e. execution) and that is Adaptavist’s strength. This is reflected in its high status within the large Atlassian ecosystem, raft of Fortune 500 customers and impressive growth of c.70% yoy, which is outstripping fast growing tool provider Atlassian. There is scope to continue scaling within the Atlassian world but Adaptavist is expanding by addressing non-IT areas – DevOps principles can be applied to service desks and other business processes, we’ve even heard of them being used within marketing.

Although founded in 2005, the company was acquired and relaunched six years ago by Haighton-Williams. Along with the team he has assembled, he has created a business with plenty of potential for further scale on a global basis.

Posted by HotViews Editor at '08:27' - Tagged: software   digitaltransformation   DevOps   gbs  

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Tuesday 21 November 2017

Equiniti remains on track

EquinitiA decent second half to 2017 means that Equiniti remains on track to deliver in line with FY 2017 expectations. New client wins in H2 and a successful integration of Wells Fargo Shareowner Services (WFSS) can also lay the ground work for 2018.

This morning’s trading update revealed Equiniti to be experiencing strong sales with both renewals of existing clients and in adding new names. Clients including AstraZeneca, Land Securities Group, Lloyds Banking Group, and Virgin Money Holdings had all resigned with the Group.  

Equiniti is winning new business from the competition in the share registration market with new clients including Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group and Rentokil Initial.  It has also migrated J Sainsbury as a new registration and share plan client during the period. 

Equiniti has also been very active in the IPO market signing up 75% of newly listed companies this year to date including Bakkavor, Charter Court Financial Services and Contour Global. New names that will all provide a boost to the 2018 numbers.

Software sales have also been growing in the second half of the year.

Growth via acquisition has been a key feature of Equiniti of late and management revealed that the £176m purchase of Wells Fargo Shareowner Services (WFSS) (see here) remains on track for completion in Q1 2018. A successful integration of WFSS is key to the future prospects of Equiniti as it provides access to the US market and an opportunity to deploy its Sirius registration platform stateside.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '08:26' - Tagged: bps   platformbasedBPO  

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Tuesday 21 November 2017

ECB says banks’ Brexit plans must go further

brexitThe European Central Bank seems to have sent the recent homework of the UK banking sector back, with a “must try harder” comment written all over it in red ink. It is demanding substantive movement of operations and capital into Continental Europe as Brexit works through. Current plans to use back-to-back risk transfer models by many banks have been dismissed as inadequate and merely representing the use of insubstantial “shell companies”.

ecbThe ECB, understandably, does not what banks operating across the EU to be reliant on the financial strength and operating capabilities of entities residing outside their jurisdiction. As a result, it is demanding that banks set up permanent local capabilities in the euro area, with permanent staff dedicated to risk management. Banks will have to submit clear plans for the end state and how to get there if the ECB is to give them permission to trade in the UK as their passporting rights lapse.

Obviously, this is part of the (protracted) negotiations surrounding the UK’s exit from the EU and the ECB’s position may soften. Nevertheless, a substantial loss of financial services sector jobs is to be expected, with the Chief Executive of the PRA suggesting a “day-one” hit of 10,000 and a plausible long-term loss of 75,000 jobs.

FFTGiven all the uncertainty surrounding the future trading terms (heightened by the lack of precedent for trading agreements in financial services), companies will be actively hedging their bets over the next year or so and shifting jobs, capital and IT investment into Europe. Software and IT Services suppliers need to support their banking customers on a Europe-wide basis and come up with some innovative strategies regarding data management, regulatory compliance and the separation of systems as a matter of urgency.

Posted by Peter Roe at '07:52' - Tagged: banks   regulation   brexit  

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Monday 20 November 2017

More solid progress from digital Endava

logoSlotting into the space between traditional IT services suppliers and digital agencies with a digital transformation and agile development delivery focus, has served Endava well for several years. FY17 was no different despite nearly £1m in FX losses.

With revenue up 38% to £159.4m for the year to June 30 2017, performance remained strong. Organic growth was up 21% (cc), with European acquisition ISDC contributing 8% (and FX 9%). Although the bottom line was impacted by FX rates, adjusted EBITDA still rose 20% to £28.2m but PBT gains were slimmer, up 4% to £23.1m.

In terms of verticals. BFSI (the largest portion of the business) saw 43% growth at a cumulative average rate, 28% organically at constant currency, due to growth in Europe and North America. Technology, Media and Telco saw a rather modest 14% growth, 3% organic cc, based on strength in Europe but the UK declined 9% because of declines in the newspaper sector and the US saw a fall too. The sector to watch is the Emerging group (Retail, Consumer Products, Travel & Hospitality, Healthcare, Logistics and Education), which expanded 111%, 47% organic cc. Although it came from a low base, revenue is now at £19.8m and represented 9% of Endava’s growth. Tellingly, this sector does a lot of work in CX and user behavior.

This time last year we were commenting on Endava breaking through the £100m revenue barrier, this year the notable development is the transition from a UK-centric provider. Although the UK business still dominates: £80m revenue, 50% of the total in FY17, the proportion is reducing - the UK represented 64% of revenue in FY16 - as business in other regions ramps up. Organic and acquisition-led growth have taken the Europe region from 18% of revenue/£20m in FY16 to 34%/£53m in FY17. The transition has a way to go is definitely on route. 

Posted by Angela Eager at '09:57' - Tagged: itservices   ApplicationServices   digital  

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Monday 20 November 2017

Zego on the right track to insure the gig economy

logoLondon-based Insurtech start-up Zego has raised £6m in a Series A funding led by Balderton Capital, looking to accelerate product development and expand internationally. This follows a £1.2m seed funding round in July.

Zego is focusing on insurance for the self-employed, particularly for people in the “gig economy” whose working schedule may well be unpredictable. They have set up a platform that can provide “insure as you go” insurance, for example for scooters or cars being used by delivery drivers. As this segment of the wider economy grows, and as regulatory scrutiny over the way in which these operations protect workers’ rights (and pay taxes) increases, the Zego proposition could generate significant momentum.

This proposition also looks as if it is investigating many of the key questions about next-generation insurance. For example, how can the insurance industry drive a simple and practical user experience, or work with new technology such as telematics other analytics to refine risk assessment and pricing and how can you optimise the increasingly dynamic relationship with the underwriting community?

As the traditional ways of working (and insuring) break down because of the on-demand economy, a more mobile workforce and technological innovations such as autonomous cars, the wider Insurtech sector is looking at how to drive future value. It looks like Zego is one such company that is on the right track.

TechMarketView on Fintech: Subscribers to FinancialServicesViews can catch up on changes in the Fintech world with our latest report: “The State of Global Fintech – a view from Money2020”.

Posted by Peter Roe at '09:42' - Tagged: funding   FinTech   insurtech  

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Monday 20 November 2017

£2m egg laid in Glasgow Bird.i’s nest

logoGlasgow-based satellite imaging startup, Bird.i is flying higher on the back of a £2m Series A funding round led by Accelerated Digital Ventures, along with new backer Concrete VC. Existing investors Frontline Ventures, Satellite Application Catapult Services and Scottish Investment Bank also participated. Founded in 2014 by French entrepreneur Corentin Guillo, Bird.I had raised £490k in prior funding rounds last year.

Bird.I offers access to its images on a subscription basis, starting at $450 per month for 1,000 full-earth images, and has a 10-day free trial for up to 100 images. Their website doesn’t articulate the advantages of Bird.i’s images over Google Earth, though the press release alludes to clients in financial services, construction, including Thomson Reuters, ‘an early adopter of Bird.i’s technology’.

There must be a USP lurking somewhere in Bird.i’s nest – it’s just not obvious from a high-level view.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '09:41' - Tagged: funding   startup  

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Monday 20 November 2017

**RESEARCH** TechMarketView’s End User Insight Series

We have many confidential conversations with senior IT decision makers, but in our End User Insight Series we aim to share some of those interesting stories that are suitable for public consumption. In case you have missed any of those recently published, here’s a reminder:

ThyssenKrupp Elevator: We take a look at how the company is applying the Internet of Thingtess to address critical business challenges, particularly around maintenance issues. Thyssenkrupp Elevator: Using IoT to take lifts to the next level

FrieslandCampina: We examine how moving SAP to Amazon Web Services has highlighted the benefits of working with smaller specialist suppliers – not least Little British Battler, Lemongrass. Dairy firm takes giant step to AWS

Tesco Labs: We look at how Tesco Labs, a dedicated innovation unit run out of the UK, is exploring ways to better serve shoppers through the latest technology, such as the Internet of Things. Tesco Labs: Ushering in the connected home

Mortgage Brain: Owned by six of the big mortgage lenders, the company demonstrates how cloud delivered services have an important role to play in improving both customer experience and compliancy. Cloud for customer experience and compliancy

Not for profit: We look at the germination effect within a UK-based organisation: machine learning enabled applications spawning use cases once the first deployment is active, and their role as a catalyst for operational and process change. Machine learning in service desk change

npower and others: Here we provide insights from conversations with senior business managers responsible for managing Robotic Process Automation deployments in the highly regulated UK energy & utilities and retail banking sectors. Robotic Process Automation in retail banking and energy

If you are not a TechMarketView subscriber, please speak to Deb Seth for more information.

Posted by HotViews Editor at '09:19'

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Monday 20 November 2017

NPS wins £12m Australian housing deal

NPS logoNorthgate Public Services (NPS) has secured a major new housing management solution contract with the South Australia Housing Trust (SAHT).

SAHT is responsible for the state’s public housing stock of 40,000 properties and the provision of homelessness and private rental services to 80,000 low income customers in the private market. The deal will see SAHT customers use the NPS Housing platform to access services, such as logging property repairs and managing rent payments online and via mobile devices. Like many local authorities in the UK, SAHT see self-serve as a way of freeing up staff to save money, reduce paperwork and provide more effective customer support.

The five-year contract (with the option to extend for a further five years) is worth A$21m (c.£12m). It means NPS now has more than three-quarters of the Australian housing solution market based on stock size, having previously secured deals with Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales as customers. The SAHT win follows NPS’s recent contract with London Borough of Wandsworth in September, which was its first new customer in the housing sector for more than two years (see Northgate Public Services wins in Wandsworth).

As we discussed in Northgate Public Services 'walks' into 2018, NPS is focusing its strategic investment in two key areas: NPS Housing and its policing platform, CONNECT. It sees an opportunity to grow its business in these sectors in the near term and its recent deals with Wandsworth, West Midlands Police (see NPS secures 10-year deal to supply West Midlands Police) and now SAHT will give the business confidence that its strategy is paying off. 

Posted by Dale Peters at '09:15' - Tagged: contract   software   public   housing   sector  

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Monday 20 November 2017

Boku’s move towards profit prompts AIM listing

logoWe first wrote about Boku in October 2014 as they signed up with Vodafone, EE and O2 to deliver mobile carrier direct billing (DCB) services, whereby people can pay for goods and services, both digital and physical, via their mobile phone bill. Today the company begins trading on AIM after a £45m placing at a market capitalisation of £125m, over 9x the company’s 2016 revenue of US$17.2m. Boku is considered to be the largest DCB provider worldwide.

As well as being in a consistently growing market DCB providers have a lot going for them; there are many more mobile phone users than there are bank accounts, authentication and credit checking are significantly easier and mobile operators are desperate to get a larger slice of the ecommerce market. Companies like Boku (and AIM-listed, smaller and more highly valued Bango) have the scale and breadth of merchant relationships to offer significant value to MNOs, driving higher penetration rates and revenues by the use of analytics. In addition, the number and variety of services available over the mobile phone continues to grow.

Boku returned EBITDA losses of US$12.3m in 2016, but reports a positive underlying EBITDA in September, after significantly reduced EBITDA losses in the first half of the year. This move towards profitability is presumably the trigger for the AIM listing – and also for the significant investor interest in the placing. The management team is broadly-based with a lot of experience inside Amazon, PayPal, VISA and Vocalink ZAPP.

The last nine months have shown rapid advances in user numbers, strong growth in revenue from app stores, music and bundling services and tight cost management. Shareholders will now be looking for the right balance between growth and the move towards profit and a positive cash flow.

Posted by Peter Roe at '09:04' - Tagged: ecommerce   listing   mobile   payments  

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Monday 20 November 2017

Shield Safety Group finds growth in safety

Shield SafetyShield Safety Group is a Great British Scaleup helping companies navigate the increasingly complex yet mandatory world of safety legislation.

GBSFounded in 2003 by Food Safety and Health & Safety Practitioner, and current CEO, Mark Flanagan, Shield Safety Group was born with the aim of ‘making safety simple’. Today, Shield Safety is a provider of Food, Fire and Health & Safety software and services, specialising in risk management software.

Safety legislation and its requirements have become increasingly onerous for businesses with fines increasing to multiples of turnover. The law now requires businesses to be able to provide the necessary ‘paper trail’ and having effective processes in place is often a pre-requisite for insurance cover.

The business was formed as a consultancy service specialising in onsite audits, policies and compliance diaries and is now the UK’s largest employer of Environmental Practitioners. Though it is the development of its software, Compliance Centre, that has been the real differentiator, underpinning the rapid growth of 50%+ over recent years.

Shield Safety is particularly strong in the hospitality and retail sectors, working with some of the biggest names on the high street including Wilko, Yo! Sushi, PizzaExpress and Thornton’s. However, it’s the SME market that they see the real growth potential and have developed a SaaS solution to capitalise on this opportunity.

The next phase of product innovation is focused on automation, where by using technologies such as IoT and AI, safety information can be collected and acted upon in real-time. 

Posted by HotViews Editor at '09:03' - Tagged: gbs  

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Monday 20 November 2017

Deliveroo gets an “F-plus”!

logoIf it were an exam result you’d probably weep. But if it were a $98m top-up to a prior Series F funding round, you’d jump for joy. Which it is, of course, for UK-headquartered Deliveroo, adding to the $385m raised a couple of months ago (see More dosh for Deliveroo to get asset-heavier!).

The online ‘meals on wheels’ market just gets hotter and hotter, with main protagonists Deliveroo and Just Eat trying to achieve supremacy (see Just Eat vs Deliveroo – a tale of two models) while more and more restaurants sport UberEATS signs on their windows. Meanwhile, Amazon enters the UK market by stealth (meaning they don’t yet deliver meals to Ealing). But at least Just Eat makes money!

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:49' - Tagged: funding   startup  

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Monday 20 November 2017

MXC and Liberty to build new buy-and-build

logologoAIM-listed MXC Capital, the Guernsey-headquartered tech-focused financial services firm, has never been averse to undertaking ‘interesting’ investments, but this one seems more interesting than most. MXC has formed a joint venture with Colorado-headquartered cable and media giant, Liberty Global, to create a buy-and-build IT services business aimed at the UK SME market. Liberty is itself somewhat of a buy-and-build, of which its best know brand in the UK is Virgin Media, acquired early in 2013.

The UK is not short of mid-market IT services players, and indeed this is one of the reasons put forward by MXC for this transaction – i.e. to consolidate a very fragmented market. However, the mid-market is fragmented for very good reasons – mainly because SMEs tend to prefer to be clients of service providers of similar size, rather than get lost down the bottom of the client list of an industry giant. Indeed it’s hard to point to any UK-focused buy-and-build IT services supplier that has achieved scale through this route – few make it past the £100m revenue line before ‘something happens’.

Plus there’s the challenge of the ‘mouse dances with elephant’ syndrome, which usually results in one party getting their feet trodden on. Let’s hope the MXC team have been watching Strictly to learn the right moves!

Update: I have just spoken to MXC founder Ian Smith and will have more on this in due course.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:15' - Tagged: jointventure  

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Friday 17 November 2017

Civica new recruit to lead M&A drive

Civica logoCivica has recruited Ian West to lead merger and acquisition activity for its international division.

West spent the last 15 years at Capita, the vast majority of that time as Head of M&A. In that role he helped complete more than 100 acquisitions, with a total spend in excess of £1bn. West will work out of Civica’s Brisbane office; an area he will know well having spent three-years working in the city during his decade with PwC prior to joining Capita.

Civica has long been an acquisitive company. Under its previous owners OMERS it completed 12 acquisitions, from Corero Business Systems in 2013 through to Carval Computing in July this year (see Civica: the next chapter).

When Partners Group acquired Civica for £1,055m in July (see ‘Unicorn’ Civica finds new Partners for its journey) the message was that we wouldn’t see any significant changes in strategy under its new owners. When we spoke to Partners Group in August the suggestion was that we could see more frequent and higher value acquisitions (see Partners Group: what next for Civica?).

Partners Group are well placed to help Civica identify opportunities and grow more rapidly in the Asia Pacific region, where West will be focusing his attention. It has a team of almost 30 Value Creation Specialists that look for new opportunities for its businesses. They will be a good resource for West to draw upon in his new role.

This is a strong appointment for the public sector software and services specialist in what has been quite a year for the business—we look forward to seeing what 2018 brings.  

Posted by Dale Peters at '09:13' - Tagged: acquisition   appointment   merger  

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Friday 17 November 2017

Return of the paper tax disc?

DfTStatistics on road tax evasion released yesterday by the Department for Transport (DfT) revealed that evasion rates are estimated to have trebled since the scrapping of paper tax discs. Tax discs were scrapped in 2014 in a move designed to save the government around £7m a year.

Some 755,000 vehicles failed to pay vehicle excise duty this year, costing an estimated £107m in lost duty, the highest evasion rate in a decade.

On the face of it this looks like a ‘digital project’ not delivering the desired outcomes and yesterday’s announcement was accompanied by calls from the AA, among others, for the reintroduction of paper tax discs.

Going back to paper sounds to me like a retrograde step – the shift to digital channels for any service often needs an accompanying shift in payments. Look at the difference shifting TV License payers to direct debit made on reducing evasion rates.

The current system means that drivers who pay via direct debit will have their tax renewed automatically, but those who do not will need to manually renew their tax, despite having no visual reminder on their vehicle. Perhaps this is at the heart of the issue.

Investing in shifting payments to direct debit, auto renewals and better customer communications may be a more effective answer than a return to paper and ramping up enforcement – both of which sound very expensive.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '08:55' - Tagged: bps   digitalservices  

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Friday 17 November 2017

Much work to do to create more Great British Scaleups!

picKudos to all those involved in the publication of the Scaleup Institute’s Annual Scaleup Review 2017, launched earlier this week at an event keynoted by Margot James MP, Minister for Small Business and Scale-Up Champion.

The 216-page tome provides a comprehensive ‘state of the nation’ assessment of the UK scaleup scene. Noting that the number of UK scaleups (businesses with average annual growth in employees or turnover greater than 20% p.a. over a three-year period, and with more than 10 employees at the beginning of the period) has increased from just under 27,000 in 2013 to over 31,000 in 2015, there’s clearly still more work to be done.

logoTechMarketView is doing its bit through our Great British Scaleup programme, which aims to help UK tech SMEs assess their scaleup potential and what they have to do to achieve it.

We have just completed the second Great British Scaleup event, with a further eight companies going through the process (see Introducing the Great British Scaleups – Series 2). You can read short profiles on these companies on UKHotViews.

We’re planning to ramp up the Great British Scaleup programme to run four events in 2018, with the next pencilled in for March. Keep an eye on UKHotViews for dates and how to apply, or drop us a line at gbs@techmarketview.com if you think your company has the potential to scale up and would like to register your interest.

The TechMarketView Great British Scaleup programme is proudly sponsored by ScaleUp Group and Cogeco Peer1.

Posted by HotViews Editor at '08:55' - Tagged: gbs  

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Friday 17 November 2017

AI as a practical force for good

logoA very tangible example of how AI can be deployed as a force for good hit the UK this week as Microsoft launched the Seeing AI app. The free mobile app helps blind and partially sighted people by narrating the world around them – point a phone or tablet camera at an object, text or person and the app will describe it to the user – providing a way of helping with everyday tasks and supporting levels of independence.

In between the desire to use machine intelligence techniques for profit on one hand and fears about what it could mean for society on the other, use cases like these (and others in the healthcare field in particular) begin to demonstrate the practical ways it can make a difference to individuals, which will in turn flow through to wider society. 

Posted by Angela Eager at '08:44' - Tagged: healthcare   AI   machineintelligence  

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Friday 17 November 2017

Airbnb accommodates Accomable

logologoThis acquisition makes so much sense. Airbnb has acquired London-based startup, Accomable, a travel listing platform aimed at the disabled.

Accomable was launched in 2015 by co-founders Srin Madipalli and Martyn Sibley, both wheelchair-bound, assisted by a €20k grant from Oxford University's Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship. The startup raised a further £300k in seed funding in May 2016 from angel investors.

Madipalli, Sibley and their team will join Airbnb, which will incorporate Accomable’s listings into its own platform.

This is surely good news for Accomable and those it seeks to help to 'get out more', as you will see if you read Madipalli’s valedictory blog.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '07:58' - Tagged: acquisition   startup  

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Friday 17 November 2017

Elon Musk - The ultimate showman

TTI’ve long thought that the natural successor to Steve Jobs was Elon Musk. As well as a host of other similarities, they were/are both great showmen. Last night Musk  ‘copied’ another of Jobs trademark features…

Tesla was launching its new truck - . Musk decided to do that against a backdrop of a SpaceX Falcon9 rocket and a mile-long hyperloop tunnel. The truck itself is pretty awesome as you can see from the photo. Musk announced that it would have a whopping range of 500 miles and could recharge to 400 miles in 30 minutes. The truck isn’t fully autonomous…yet. But it does have a lot of ‘driver TT2assist’ features like automatic lane keeping and braking. On top of that the driver cab is pretty space age with the centrally mounted driver’s seat surrounded by the huge ‘iPad-like’ screens we expect in Tesla vehicles.

‘One more thing..”

RoadsterAt the end of the truck unveil, Musk did the classic Jobs ‘One more thing”. Out of the back of the new truck a new Tesla Roadster rolled out. 0-60mph in 1.9 seconds, a top speed of 250mph and range of 1000km. Prices start at $200,000. Of course, that is ludicrous in every way. But ‘supercars’ with that kind of performance from manufacturers like McLaren, Ferrari and Porsche cost 5x that.

…and finally

If only Tesla could produce its cars as smoothly as it can run its product launches! Tesla describes the production of the Model 3 as ‘hell’. Tesla reported an unexpected loss in its last quarter and production targets are constantly being missed.

At least the announcements last night give an immediate boost to Tesla’s cash as you have to put down a $45,000 deposit for the Roadster and $5,000 for the truck - estimated to have given an instant boost of $250,000 to the Tesla Treasury last night!

But Tesla is a ‘heart not a head’ kind of company. In many ways, people invest in Musk rather than Tesla. Musk still has many - including me - rooting for him.

Posted by Richard Holway at '06:52'

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Thursday 16 November 2017

Becrypt: Scaling up in cyber security

Becrypt logoBecrypt is a Great British Scaleup that is punching above its weight in the fast-moving cyber security market, notably in the UK public sector. 

Formed in 2001, the UK-headquartered SME was part of TechMarketView’s Little British Battler programme in April 2015. At the time, Becrypt had established a leading position in the UK public sector software-based encryption market with its Data Protection Suite (see Little British Battlers – The Sixth Sense). Today, Becrypt positions itself more broadly as offering an end-to-end platform for managing cyber risk, including end-user device security, and its new products hold great promise as the business scales up.

GBS logo‘Paradox’ is key to this future growth. Launched less than a year ago, it is a secure operating system that enables organisations to maintain complete trust in the integrity of their endpoint devices, such as desktops and laptops, in the event of a cyber-attack. Developed for deployment in some of the most secure government departments, Paradox is initially targeted at the UK central government market and is already in use across a number of organisations.

Becrypt’s track record in central government and the accreditations it has achieved, give it a distinct advantage in this market niche and also leave it well-positioned to target other areas of the Critical National Infrastructure, such as Utilities, Transport and Telco. Over the coming months, we expect Becrypt to continue to leverage its strong relationships with central government and the National Cyber Security Centre, as it develops its proposition and accelerates investment in additional markets with the help of partners. If it can get this right, it will truly live up to its Great British Scaleup status in 2018.

Posted by HotViews Editor at '14:36' - Tagged: public+sector   centralgovernment   cyber   scaleup  

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Thursday 16 November 2017

Data tops agenda for UK Health and Social Care

Lord OShLast night I joined leaders from the world of Health & Social Care at techUK’s annual dinner for the industry to hear from Lord O’Shaughnessy, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health; Professor Rachel Dunscombe, Director of Digital for Salford Royal Group and CEO of the new NHS Digital Academy; and Matthew Swindells, National Director: Operations & Information for NHS England, as well as techUK CEO Julian David.

The broad theme for the evening was ‘How can tech help to avoid a Winter Crisis in Health and Social Care?’, a topic that techUK is currently investigating. But a number of other key issues quickly emerged including data liquidity, GDPR, open data and interoperability and the digital workforce. Read more… 

Posted by Tola Sargeant at '12:13' - Tagged: socialcare   healthcare   policy   OpenData   GDPR   integratedcare  

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Thursday 16 November 2017

Cabinet Office & Capgemini partner to boost RPA adoption

Capgemini - new logoBack in August the Cabinet Office and Capgemini signed a £4m partnership designed to accelerate the adoption of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) across Government. The contract has just been formally announced. Soon after agreement, under the partnership, the pair set up a Centre of Excellence for RPA technology. With a big emphasis on training and education on the ‘art of the possible’, the aim is to take two years’ off the Government’s take-up time – currently, the Government is at the bottom of the ‘hockey stick’ adoption curve. As well as training and education, the CoE will also support larger departments in their quest to develop business cases for investment.

Capgemini already has a reference site in place for RPA at HMRC - it supports the adoption of the NICE product across the HMRC estate – and the department has been keen to share its experiences across Whitehall. It is our understanding that there has now been significant interest from a wide range of departments. Much of the interest is around automation in areas like case management and call centre-related processes. Though there has been some concern over the loss of civil servant employment, the indication from the Cabinet Office is that there is much to achieve in term of process improvements around time and efficiency without having a large impact on jobs. However, one must assume that at some point jobs will be affected.

A potential acceleration in the adoption of RPA across Whitehall has major implications for a raft of major legacy business process outsourcing contracts that are due to expire. Within the existing contracts, there has been little incentive to digitise; replacement contracts are likely to take a completely different shape with far more emphasis on technology.  

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:41' - Tagged: public+sector   centralgovernment   contract   callcentres   robotics   RPA  

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Thursday 16 November 2017

Reporting changes portray steady as she goes Cisco

Reporting changes portray steady as she goes Cisco

Cisco's Q118 results suggest the company's long term ambition to transform itself from a hardware company to a software and services supplier remains on track, though as we have said many times before, it is a slow and gradual process.

The numbers narrowly beat analyst expectations. Both revenue and net income declined 2% yoy to US$12.1bn and US$3bn respectively in Q1, with earnings per share flat at 0.61 cents.

Perhaps a more important metric is the change in the way Cisco reports segment performance beginning this financial year, a move that directs attention away from its declining legacy hardware business and towards the high growth areas of Cisco's portfolio. Gone are the switching, NGN routing, collaboration, data centre, wireless and service provider video categories, for example - the majority of which saw revenue shrink in FY17 - to be replaced by the more generic "infrastructure platforms".

Those infrastructure platforms still represented 77% of product turnover (and 57% of total revenue) in Q1 however, down 4% yoy largely due to declining router sales. While turnover from product sales fell 3%, there were highlights in Cisco's security business which grew 8% to US$585m (subscribers to SecureConnectViews can read our UK security supplier ranking report here). The applications division too was up 6% to US$1.2bn, with both categories surviving as separate "good news" entities.

Cisco has also changed its recurring and subscription revenue model as it tries to move customers towards cloud and SaaS based consumption models. Service revenue grew by a modest 1% to US$3bn, highlighting the slow pace of that transition. We don't expect to see any acceleration in Q2 or FY18 whilst investors seem content with the "steady as she goes" strategy - Cisco's share price jumped almost 4% in the hours immediately following the Q1 announcement.

Posted by Martin Courtney at '09:10' - Tagged: results   security   Cisco   networkinfrastructure  

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Thursday 16 November 2017

CGI to sign seven-year deal with Glasgow

CGIThe contract may not yet be signed but Glasgow City Council and CGI announced earlier this month that they will enter into a seven-year ICT deal from next April. Separately the Council and Serco have reached a mutually acceptable settlement that sees the Council take on Serco’s membership of the ACCESS joint venture, in preparation for the transition to CGI.

SercoWe have been following developments here since Glasgow first announced it was considering using the Edinburgh City Council framework (Glasgow City Council eyes up CGI & Agilisys). Glasgow then agreed to award CGI the contract, subject to completion of a full business case. The resulting challenge from Serco about the way the contract was awarded would have put a strain on the relationship, so a settlement was always likely to be the best outcome.

Our take: CGI gets an even stronger foothold north of the border that already includes the City of Edinburgh and Scottish Borders Council. The Edinburgh / Glasgow tie up gives it the opportunity (and challenge) of delivering on one of the most ambitious partnering operations in local government. This at a time when other authorities will at least be considering something similar and no doubt watching very closely.

Glasgow City Council will now, as it put it, start “a step change in digital services required to support jobs, education, innovation and health for decades to come”. Local government is looking much more aligned in Scotland than elsewhere in the UK and if rival cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh can come together on this framework agreement, perhaps it will encourage more joined-up government elsewhere.

For Serco on the face of it, it looks like a blot on an otherwise positive year (Serco’s order intake points to a brighter future), but it allows it to draw a line under the situation and turn its focus elsewhere.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '09:10' - Tagged: localgovernment   IToutsourcing  

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Thursday 16 November 2017

Perkbox claims digital rewards with Loyalty Bay

logoI was rather cynical (moi?) about the valuation put on multi-pivoted startup Perkbox when I wrote about its Series B funding around this time last year (see Perkbox attracts funding with perky valuation). But I have to admit that its proposition as an employee engagement and loyalty platform seems to be paying off.

Having raised a further £6.5m in a Series C round a few months ago (see Perkbox gets further £6.5m backing from Draper Esprit), Perkbox seems to have put the money to good use, acquiring London-based digital rewards platform startup, Loyalty Bay. Terms were not disclosed, though TechCrunch alluded to it being a cash deal in which its backers exited. According to CrunchBase, Loyalty Bay, which was founded in 2013, had raised $1m seed money in August 2016 led by Talis Capital following a small angel round in February 2014.

It looks like Draper Esprit’s loyalty is bringing its own rewards.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '09:04' - Tagged: acquisition   startup  

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Thursday 16 November 2017

Citi backs Behavox to listen for non-compliance

logoI must admit that I hadn’t caught the nuance of how behaviour monitoring analytics startup, Behavox, did its job when I wrote about its Series A funding round in July 2016 (see Behavox finds compliant investors for new funding round). The clue was in the last part of its name – ‘vox’ – it listens to audio conversations, converts them to text, and then uses smarts to analyse the content.

The original USP was to detect potential employee compliance violations in financial services firms, but Behavox has since extended its scope to analyse customer relationships too. It is reportedly for these reasons (not acknowledged by the bank) that Citigroup has led a $20m Series B funding round, valuing Behavox at some $200m. Index Ventures also participated. Although headquartered in London, Behavox does most of its development in Russia (Source: FT).

Big Brother may be watching – but Behavox is listening!

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:18' - Tagged: funding   startup  

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Thursday 16 November 2017

Cloudhouse contains cloud migration challenge

logoGreat British Scaleup participant Cloudhouse Technologies is targeting the vast opportunity created as large organisations struggle to update their legacy IT investments for a cloud-based, lower-cost world.

gbsCloudhouse can eliminate the need to re-write Windows-based applications that are not suitable for cloud migration via 'virtual machine' technologies, thus reducing the risk of security breaches and system failure due to lack of authorised support. Cloudhouse provides the capability for existing applications to run on Microsoft’s latest operating system by translating how they communicate with the underlying platform. The company’s container-based software can thus enable companies to move otherwise incompatible applications to the newest Microsoft and Citrix platforms and importantly to the cloud, thereby future-proofing their systems.

In 2014 Microsoft ended its support for Windows XP and has since switched off its extended support services. Substantial problems ensued for users, spectacularly in financial services (ATMs were largely on XP) and the NHS (with WannaCry). The end of support for Windows 7, scheduled for 2020, will dramatically increase the numbers of systems and enterprises at risk as the bulk of the c.700m enterprise desktops worldwide run Windows 7.

Cloudhouse holds a defensible market position, with its technological lead protected by 26 patents, seven years’ experience of the complex world of MS operating systems and a close (and synergistic) relationship with Microsoft. As the company expands geographically and addresses larger companies they are building closer links with key System Integrators to distribute and implement the Cloudhouse solution.

CEO/CTO, Mat Clothier has a clear view of the company’s potential, together with the ambition and the technical nous to give the best chance to realise it. Chairman Gavin Chapman (ex-Sopra Steria UK COO) brings insight as to how to work with integrator partners, a vital component of what we expect to be a rapid and successful growth story.

Posted by HotViews Editor at '06:00' - Tagged: software   legacy   containers   gbs  

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