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*NEW RESEARCH* Automation – Transforming Financial Service Majors
26 Mar 2019
First UK city joins Mastercard City Possible
26 Mar 2019
System C & Graphnet Care Alliance secures LHCRE deal
26 Mar 2019
Making HR conversational: Unit4 acquires Intuo
26 Mar 2019
Albert expands revenue and losses in 2018
26 Mar 2019
Are you a contender for ‘an Oscar for the Technology Industry’?
26 Mar 2019
Innovation Partner: Switchee
26 Mar 2019
Underwhelmed by Apple’s new entertainment offerings
26 Mar 2019
Considered a career in teaching?
26 Mar 2019
Brady back in profits for FY18
25 Mar 2019
Demerger at Microgen and name change in the works
25 Mar 2019
Mike Lynch gets his 'Day in Court' at last
25 Mar 2019
Plum Guide gets fruitier with more funding
25 Mar 2019
The worrying truth in Maistro’s numbers
22 Mar 2019
Robotics player Automata raises $7.4m
22 Mar 2019
Six weeks left to purchase your Early Bird Tickets
22 Mar 2019
Version 1 bolsters offshore capability with TE4B
21 Mar 2019
Collabor8 takes construction project management in hand
21 Mar 2019
Solid progress at Sopheon
21 Mar 2019
Veeqo catches Octopus worth £3.3m in Wales
21 Mar 2019
FY18: a big year for scaled up LoopUp
21 Mar 2019
UKHotViewsPremium - An Individual Subscription
21 Mar 2019
*HotViewsExtra* Will the Government’s ‘Outsourcing Playbook’ put Public Sector outsourcing back on track?
20 Mar 2019
CloudBuy FY18 losses greater than revenue
20 Mar 2019
EMIS grows despite legacy distractions
20 Mar 2019
FY18: a better year for SDL
20 Mar 2019
HCL lands $1.3bn Xerox mega deal
20 Mar 2019
Aquis Exchange continues to grow under the radar
20 Mar 2019
BlackCurve optimises funding with new seed round
20 Mar 2019
Benchmark your Tech Services Business Against the Top Performers
20 Mar 2019
2iC focuses on wearable information architecture to scale business
19 Mar 2019
Tribal revenues down but profit continues to improve
19 Mar 2019
K3 gaining confidence
19 Mar 2019
LTG FY18: confidently building the business
19 Mar 2019
Octopus gains ThirdEye to detect light fingers
19 Mar 2019
IoT investor Tern shrinks losses
19 Mar 2019
Momentum continues to build at Softcat
19 Mar 2019
Time’s up to smell the coffee at Mindtree!
19 Mar 2019
Advanced World 2019 looks to the future
19 Mar 2019
Impressive Invenio attracts investment
19 Mar 2019

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Tuesday 26 March 2019

*NEW RESEARCH* Automation – Transforming Financial Service Majors

Report coverThe fact that Lloyds Banking Group has trebled its commitment for digital spending (to £3bn over the next three years) is a clear sign that the banks and other major financial services players are more serious with respect to their transformation plans. It also signals that the next transformation steps will be more fundamental, impacting the underlying cultures and structures of these businesses and creating totally new ways of working and interacting with customers. It is also abundantly clear that these companies and their senior management are much more willing to embrace new technologies and partners to ensure success.

Our new research examines the current state of automation within the financial services sector, examining the key players and technology providers and their strategies. We propose an evolution framework for automation and identify the financial services sector’s current position within it. We then go on to describe the potential for change facilitated by the introduction of end-to-end process automation and then present a number of recommendations, both to the established financial services players and to the members of the software and IT services vendor community. 

Finally, this is all illustrated in practice with a case study of how Lloyds Banking Group has deployed and scaled Robotic Process Automation (RPA) throughout its business.

Read the report here: "Automation – Transforming Financial Service Majors".

For subscription enquiries, please contact Deb Seth.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '13:00' - Tagged: automation   banking   newresearch   RPA  

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Tuesday 26 March 2019

First UK city joins Mastercard City Possible

City Possible pioneered by Mastercard logoThis month, Belfast City Council became the first UK city to become a Mastercard City Possible partner. It was one of seven cities globally to join the programme in the latest batch, getting on board with the sixteen cities (representing a mix of geography and size) that were the founding members at the end of 2018.

‘City Possible, pioneered by Mastercard’, is described as “a new model of public-private partnerships that brings together cities with a united private sector to solve system-wide challenges”. Those involved are working together to co-develop, pilot and scale solutions, in areas such as data, economic development and urban mobility. By collaborating, the partner organisations can build on each other’s progress.

One of the first steps has been identifying key shared challenges through the programme’s Thought Leadership Engine; as part of this, City Possible is partnering with the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard University (TECH), which will host a series of programs to foster a regular learning exchange among global city leaders.

The other parts of City Possible’s operating model are the ‘Solutions Engine’ (Global Solutions Labs for co-creating, testing, and piloting innovative urban solutions to address systematic challenges) and the ‘Commercial Engine’ (designed to connect multiple go-to-market channels to rapidly scale solutions). So far, these two parts of the programme appear to be less mature than the Thought Leadership Engine… but it is early days. In terms of scaling solutions, its strongest reference, and the inspiration behind City Possible, is Mastercard Transit Solutions, which sees Mastercard working with transit operators, banks and technology partners to deliver seamless commuter experiences; it is now touching more than 150 cities worldwide.   

We expect to see the number of industry partners increase from hereon in. Connecting cities with private sector players will be important for the practical success of the programme. City Possible states it wants to work with private sector players that are “equally committee to people-centred design”. It is already collaborating with Microsoft (and its CityNext programme), HERE Technologies (location technology) and IDEMIA (trusted identities). At the same time as announcing its latest seven city partners, it also announced new industry partner, Wills Towers Watson (global advisory, broking and solutions). With 23 global cities already involved, this could be a significant opportunity for other suppliers that can demonstrate their ability to support the local delivery of the United Nations’ Sustainable Delivery Goals (SDG’s) and make cities “inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”.

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '11:44' - Tagged: public+sector   innovation   iot   SmartCity   collaboration   smartcities   local+government  

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Tuesday 26 March 2019

System C & Graphnet Care Alliance secures LHCRE deal

System C Graphnet logoSystem C & Graphnet Care Alliance has secured a seven-year contract with the Thames Valley Health and Care Records Partnership (TVS LHCR) to provide a new region-wide shared record and population health system.

The partnership of health and care organisations in Thames Valley and Surrey (TVS) includes Berkshire West, Buckinghamshire, Frimley, Milton Keynes, Oxfordshire, Surrey Heartlands, and East Surrey (part of Sussex & East Surrey STP). It covers a population of 3.8m people and includes five of the 14 Integrated Care Systems in the country (see NHS Long Term Plan: What does it mean for tech?).

TVS was one of five Local Health and Care Record Exemplars (LHCRE) announced by the Government in June 2018 and received £7.5m funding from NHS England. This central funding will help cover upfront capital costs of implementing the Local Health Care Records (LHCR) system. The outline business case suggests an additional £12.0m to cover on-going operational costs until 2026 will be covered by the TVS LHCR partnership.

Graphnet will work with the TVS LHCR to enable health and care information to be shared securely as individuals move between different NHS and social care settings. Its CareCentric platform will integrate existing local record systems used in the region, including Cerner in Oxfordshire. Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Frimley already use CareCentric. Graphnet will also supply analytics and population health management tools to help create new and improved treatment pathways in the region.

This is an important deal for System C & Graphnet Care Alliance, which aligns well with many of the key strategic components of the NHS Long Term plan, including the increasing focus on integrated models of care and population health, as well as the key requirement of improving the interoperability of data and systems.  

Posted by Dale Peters at '09:53' - Tagged: nhs   healthcare   interoperability  

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Tuesday 26 March 2019

Making HR conversational: Unit4 acquires Intuo

logoUnit4 has taken four year old Belgium HR talent management startup Intuo into its fold to move Unit4’s HCM capability from the transactional to the relational – and the conversational. It’s a significant switch-up for Unit4 in the HCM area and one that reflects the broader market need for the HR function to adapt to the needs of the modern workforce.

On a practical level, Intuo’s pure SaaS talent management software is designed to aid employee retention, engagement and performance; talent enablement; and provide light learning management. It majors on regular conversations (as opposed to annual reviews), and voluntary feedback which are more in line with the needs of digital natives.

Strategically it addresses the needs of the next gen workforce, one that is fluid, blended (in that it comprises full, part-time, contractors and freelance workers whose varying needs have to be met), where job tenures are shrinking, where continuous performance management, skills development and behavioral analysis are critical for both employer and employee, and where individuals need frequent engagement pulses to feel they matter. Against this background, we see talent management software as a digital business enabler, one of the components addressing the ‘how’ of digital enablement.

For Intuo CEO Tim Clauwaert, a strong component of the change is that the relationship of the individual to the organisation is shifting from the contractual to the relational. (The TechMarketView ‘Year of the Relationship’ research theme is all about the importance of relationships.) For Unit4, the acquisition plugs a gap in its portfolio and hooks it into a forward facing view of the HCM market. (Appropriately, Adam Hale, former CEO of successful HCM startup Fairsail, which was acquired by Sage, was involved in the acquisition discussions having joined Unit4 as NED during 2018.) Christophe Haugen Unit4 EVP Strategy and Operations also stressed the value of the combination of Unit4’s people and project-centric resource management software for service organisations and Intuo’s talent management software in matching the demand and supply of talent, a key consideration in these days of skills shortages.

The acquisition looks like a good match for both parties and as Intuo (who has a 120-strong customer base) will continue to be sold standalone as well as into the Unit4 customer base there is scope for significant expansion. The UK is a target market so we can expect to hear more from Unit4’s Intuo.

Posted by Angela Eager at '09:50' - Tagged: acquisition   saas   startup   software  

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Tuesday 26 March 2019

Albert expands revenue and losses in 2018

Albert Albert Technologies the Israeli headquartered digital marketer saw both its revenue and losses expand in 2018. 

Headlines of its 2018 full year results out today include revenue increasing to $4.6m, an almost threefold increase on the $1.7m achieved in 2017 and underpinned by a 50% year-on-year increase in average monthly revenue per customer. There was an adjusted EBITDA loss of $12.2m (2017: $11.4m) driven in part by increasing investment in sales and marketing mainly in account management infrastructure. 

Having closed down its original advertising business in 2017 (Albert elbows out old timer online ad business) once it became loss making, Albert Technologies has focused everything on its SaaS based Albert AI marketing platform. This remains an embryonic market and Albert is growing from a low base where opening up new markets requires significant investment. 

Last July Albert raised $18m in funding from institutional investors including Schroder Investment Management, Hargreave Hale, and Old Mutual Global Investors to add to the initial $42m the company raised at its 2015 London IPO, back when it was known as Adgorithms.

Headcount during the year expanded to 114 (100 this time last year), mainly in connection with account management functions supporting enterprise client activity as the business continues to transition from being tech-centric to a broader sales and marketing culture.

Albert still has a long way to go to return to profitability but sales activity in 2018 certainly looks very encouraging. A range of pilot projects and larger agreements have been signed with some of the world’s largest telecoms, insurance and advertising players that should they prove successful will support further growth in 2019.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '09:33' - Tagged: marketing   AI  

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Tuesday 26 March 2019

Are you a contender for ‘an Oscar for the Technology Industry’?

EA logoThe ninth Enterprise Awards in association with the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists (WCIT) is once again set to celebrate and recognise the very best of the UK’s technology entrepreneurial talent with ‘The Oscars of the Technology Industry’. The Awards ceremony will take place at The Dorchester Hotel, Park Lane, London on Tuesday 25 June 2019 and the deadline for entries is Tuesday 30 April.

EA WinnersUniquely focused on the founder rather than the businesses themselves, the Enterprise Awards boasts previous winners that have achieved prominence on both private and public markets. The judging panel will be looking for examples of vision, growth, innovation, funding, use of capital, use of resources, strategy, execution, ambition and determination to succeed. 

TechMarketView is proud to be the media sponsor for the Awards, and our very own Managing Director, Tola Sargeant, is on the judging panel which is replete with experienced entrepreneurs and investors, not least John O’Connell, Chairman of ScaleUp Group, former FTSE-100 CEO Stephen Kelly and Blue Prism’s Chief Evangelist Pat Geary. 

The 2019 Award categories are as follows:

·     Young Entrepreneur - for entrepreneurs under 30

·     Start Up Entrepreneur – for those trading for two years or less

·     Emerging Entrepreneur – up to £3 million annual revenue

·     Developing Entrepreneur - annual revenue between £3 and £10 million

·     Scaling Up Award - fastest growing companies

·     Public Sector Award - excellence and achievement in the Public Sector

·     Enterprise Entrepreneur - annual revenue over £10 million

·     Social Enterprise Entrepreneur - entrepreneurs with a business model that gives something back

·     Female Entrepreneur - for outstanding female entrepreneurs

·     Listed Company Entrepreneur - for entrepreneurs leading a Listed Company

·     Deep Tech Entrepreneur - game-changing, innovative, unique, core technology

We are looking forward to receiving high-quality submissions for 2019 Award categories. For details of how to enter and to download an entry form, please visit the Awards website http://www.enterprise-awards.co.uk/. But hurry entries need to be in by the end of April!

Posted by HotViews Editor at '09:29' - Tagged: event  

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Tuesday 26 March 2019

Innovation Partner: Switchee

Switchee logoTechMarketView Innovation Partner Programme (TIPP) logoSwitchee was one of six companies shortlisted for the TechMarketView Innovation Partner Programme (TIPP) event held in March in association with Civica Innovation Partners. Civica’s aim was to find partners with innovative solutions in the areas of “machine intelligence”, including analytics, AI, Automation and Connected Devices.

Switchee is a London-based connected home start-up founded to empower landlords to create exceptional homes for their residents. The company aims to solve the urgent problems in housing like affordability, comfort, security and safety.TechMarketView Innovation Partner Programme (TIPP) logo

It is tackling these issues with its first product, designed for the social housing market: a smart thermostat and landlord maintenance and repair dashboard. The Switchee solution has two core benefits: it automatically reduces resident fuel bills, thus combatting fuel poverty, whilst at the same time providing insights and alerts which can lead to landlord maintenance and repair efficiencies.  

Each Switchee smart thermostat uses five sensors – temperature, light, motion, humidity and air pressure – to learn household and heating usage patterns and optimise temperature settings. This is how resident energy bill savings are created.  Landlords can access Switchee data via a dashboard and API allowing them to perform a range of cost saving actions, pre-emptive repairs or data-informed strategic interventions.  Examples include, optimally scheduling appointments with residents, identifying properties at risk of mould and damp and conducting remote boiler or heating system tests; resident living conditions can thus be improved as a result of Switchee deployment. Evidence from Switchee’s customer base suggests resident energy bill savings of up to15% whilst landlords can save up to 10% on delivering repair and maintenance services.

Switchee is different from the big brand thermostats, like NEST and HIVE, and hence more suitable for large scale landlord deployment. One differentiator is that it operates without Wi-Fi (using a 2G SIM card); this is crucial, as surveys have shown that the percentage of housing association and local authority tenants with Wi Fi can be under 20% in some areas. Also, the thermostat can operate if residents decide not to interact with it. And, of course, landlords benefit from enterprise data services, which ultimately allow them to deliver better tenant outcomes.

Founded in 2015, Switchee is growing strongly and now has 41 large landlord customers (40 in the UK and one in New Zealand) who collectively own more than 900,000 homes. It has also proven that its solution can be rolled out at scale, having won large public tenders and been named as a specified heating controller on large, multi-year work programmes. Investment last year (See Switchee raises £1.3m to drive smart thermostat business) has allowed Switchee to ride out long sales cycles and to continue investing in new functionality and technology.

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:26' - Tagged: partnership   innovation   socialhousing   data   housing   tipp  

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Tuesday 26 March 2019

Underwhelmed by Apple’s new entertainment offerings

logoI have usually been excited about Apple launches. But, I have to admit, last night’s preview of Apple’s entertainment services left me somewhat underwhelmed.

Basically Apple launched Apple TV+ which is supposedly Apple’s answer to Netflix. No idea of the monthly subscription price yet. It added Apple News+ which gives US readers access to c300 publications which they would otherwise have to pay for individually. No idea of what or when this will be offered to UK readers. Apple Card which is a Mastercard credit card but without anything other than the Apple logo on it. You use your iPhone for identification. It has no fee and apparently comes with a 2% cashback. Apple Arcade is a subscription service for gamers. Apple Book Club (that’s my name as Apple hasn’t chosen a name yet) does what it says on my tin.

Despite Apple getting people like Stephen Spielberg, Reese Witherspoon and Oprah Winfrey on stage to endorse the new service, I do wonder how successful this will be. Our own household pays for the BBC licence (twice as we have two abodes), Sky, Netflix and Amazon Video (via our Amazon Prime subscription) The new BBC subscription appeals to me so I can watch episodes of Blackadder that I had already bought on VHS and DVD but now don’t have the hardware to play them anymore. Add all that lot up and you are well over £1000pa already. Are we REALLY going to pay still more?

Apple News will only appeal if has the Times and FT which I currently pay for. But as Apple is asking a 50% commission from news suppliers, I wonder how many UK sites will sign up. Apple Arcade holds NO interest for me. Amazon gives me all the books I need anyway and I much prefer reading them on my Kindle than on my iPad. Which just leaves Apple Card where I might sign up just for the 2% cashback. But, again, this is not available in the UK yet and might come with unacceptable ‘strings attached’.

Obviously Apple hopes that their 1.4 billion users are not like Holway.

Posted by Richard Holway at '07:35'

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Monday 25 March 2019

Brady back in profits for FY18

bradBrady plc, the UK provider of trading, risk management and settlement solutions to the energy and commodity markets, has wrapped up a positive finish to FY18 with revenue up 4% to £23.2m. Adjusted EBITDA swung to £2.6m from a loss in the previous year of £300k. Profitably was in part driven by a return to growth at the top line (revenue from the continuing business declined 10% in 2017) and improved efficiencies as a result of the re-organisation in 2017.

New CEO, Carmen Carey, took the helm in February and will continue to implement the strategy the firm laid out in 2016. During 2017, Brady undertook urgent work to restructure the company and put in place the foundations for the growth it achieved in 2018.

The firm says 2018 was all about “reconnecting with our customers”. In the current year, acquiring new customers will become a key objective as the firm looks to sustain revenue growth by building on the foundations it has put in place. Carey says of 2019 that “we look to the future with confidence”. Indeed, committed revenue for FY19 is c£18m, with cash on the balance sheet of £4.6m at 31 December 2018.

Shares were up a fraction (+0.88%) at time of writing.

Posted by Kate Hanaghan at '09:17' - Tagged: results  

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Monday 25 March 2019

Demerger at Microgen and name change in the works

logoMicrogen Plc released its FY18 results this morning but they were overshadowed by the proposal to demerge the Microgen Financial Systems side of the business. The decision was taken following a strategic review and (subject to approval) management expects the demerger to be done and dusted by early April, with the (to be) independent Financial Systems business applying to join AIM during 2019.

It has been clear for some time that the Aptitide business unit was the growth engine of the overall company via its Insurance Calculation and Lease Accounting engines. FY18 (to 31 December 2018) saw Aptitude revenue increase 17% to £52.3m (7% organic growth). The rate of growth was lower than in FY17 however. The key area of software revenue saw 37% growth to £24.8m. Adjusted operating profit was up 21% to £10.4m.

As for Financial Systems, which concentrates on Trust and Fund Administration, ongoing revenue (following the sale of the Payments business during 2018) rose just 2.4% to £17.3m. However T&FA revenues increased 7% to £12.1m. Ongoing adjusted operating profit was flat at £6.5m.

Microgen, who provides software and services to the financial sector, had previously made changes to facilitate a demerger including putting a new management team in place in Financial Systems in October 2018 and a clear separation of the Aptitude and Financial Systems brands prior to that. Robert Browning, COO of Microgen Financial Systems is expected to step into the CEO seat. Philip Wood, currently Acting Chief Executive Officer of Microgen Financial Systems in addition to Chief Financial Officer of the Group will continue with Microgen plc in his role of Chief Financial Officer.

Part of the proposal also includes changing the name of Microgen Plc to Aptitude Software Group, expected to be effective from early April 2019.

Microgen has had some tough times in recent years but following a transformation programme delivered strong performance during FY17 (see here) and FY18 (overall revenue up 12% to £70.3m, 6% organic, and adjusted operating profit up 9% to £15.7m). The proposed separation of the strengthened business units will give each the freedom to pursue its own course and it will be particularly interesting to see how Aptitude develops.

Posted by Angela Eager at '08:56' - Tagged: results   software   financialservices   demerger  

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Monday 25 March 2019

Mike Lynch gets his 'Day in Court' at last

logoToday (Monday) the civil case brought by HP against Mike Lynch and Stephen Chamberlain (respectively CEO and VP Finance at Autonomy before its takeover by HP in 2011) will finally get their ‘Day in Court’. Or to be more specific their nine months in the High Court. They are being sued for £3.8b. Both Meg Whitman and Leo Apotheker are expected to appear in person as witnesses for HP.

On the eve of the start of the trial, Lynch and Chamberlain face three more criminal charges in the US (to add to the 14 they already face). The latest charges relate to alleged paying of money to witnesses and the destruction/theft of documents – as recently as a few months ago. I don’t understand the US legal system enough to be able to say whether the new charges carry sentences which would run in series or parallel – but it looks like 25 years or more for Lynch if he is ever extradited and convicted. You will remember that Autonomy’s CFO, Sushovan Hussain, has already been convicted of associated charges and faces a long jail sentence if his upcoming appeal fails.

Lynch has been fighting these charges for six years now and contends they are baseless.

Lynch’s lawyers issued a statement saying Lynch ‘has helped former colleagues who lost their jobs (because of these allegations), secure employment to support their families at normal rates for their fulltime work.  He has also generously helped former colleagues hire lawyers to defend themselves against these contrived allegations.  Yet somehow, without a shred of evidence, these same acts of ingenuity and kindness are now said to support a conspiracy to defraud the United States’. 

Something is horribly amiss in San Francisco, where the Wild West "shoot first, ask questions later" approach to investigations---originally deployed by HP in this case---is sadly still alive and well. 

Mike Lynch is vehemently not guilty of these charges. When the true facts are revealed, it will be apparent that the allegations are false and recklessly maintained and that, like HP's civil claims, the allegations serve only to underscore that this entire dispute is a flawed theory in search of facts’

Notably, however, these questionable new allegations, like the underlying charges, are predicated on events that occurred predominantly in England. While the US may seek to police the world, this commercial dispute is about to be heard in the UK courts, where it belongs, and Mike Lynch is looking forward to defending his good name in his home country’.

I have written many, many times about Autonomy, Mike Lynch and this whole long debacle. I am in no position to judge whether Lynch is guilty of the charges. But I do believe that he should be presumed to be innocent until proved otherwise.

On a purely personal note, I’ve known Mike for coming up for two decades now. He has supported the causes I believe in and has answered my requests to speak where many others have not. To face what Mike has faced over the last six years and not disintegrate (as I would have done) is one thing. To ‘Simultaneously, and despite all odds, build another UK billion-dollar company’ as Lynch’s Invoke has done with Darktrace, is yet another.

I am sure this will not be the last I write on this subject.

Posted by Richard Holway at '07:37' - Tagged: legal  

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Monday 25 March 2019

Plum Guide gets fruitier with more funding

logoI would not be so conceited as to believe that it was my dig at their marketing hyperbole that caused ‘posh home rental’ portal Plum Guide to revamp its website (see Plum Guide gets £5.7m to find you posh home lets), but I’m relieved that it has anyway. What they now have is very much ‘fit for purpose’ and I will therefore overlook its self-styling as ‘the Michelin Guide for home lets’ as it does sound much better than ‘the AA Hotel Guide’, or for that matter, ‘curated Airbnb’, but that’s a more accurate description I would say. And, like the AA Hotel Guide, Plum works a checklist (150 criteria, they say) to pick out the crème de la crème of short-term lets. ‘accepting one in a hundred’ onto its portal.

Founded in 2015, Plum Guide has now raised a substantial £14m in a Series B funding round led by Talis Capital, with participation from Latitude, Hearst Ventures and Series A backer Octopus Ventures. London-based Plum also operates in Paris, Rome, Milan, Los Angeles and New York, and will extend its service to Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, Lisbon, Madrid, Tel Aviv and six additional US cities this year.

There are other ‘curated home lets’ portals, though oddly Plum Guide is nowhere to be seen (at least on the first page) when I used that search argument in Google. Which suggests to me that Plum Guide needs to spend much more dosh on marketing if it is to establish itself as the ‘go to’ website for the discerning holiday home renter.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '07:32' - Tagged: funding   startup  

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Friday 22 March 2019

The worrying truth in Maistro’s numbers

logoThe good news (yes, there is some) is that the £3.1m in pre-tax losses at Exeter-based B2B services and product marketplace, Maistro (the erstwhile and deeply troubled blur Group) were 'only' double revenues in 2018 rather than near 4-times the £592k revenues reported the prior year.

But Maistro is burning operating cash even faster – some £2.2m in 2018 – leaving them with £1.1m cash in the bank at the end of the year. This is after raising £250k in an open offer last November (see Groundhog day as Maistro dashes for cash – again).

More worryingly (to me, anyway) is that Maistro’s gross margin almost halved, from 16.9% in 2017 to 8.7% in 2018. At this level, you’d need huge revenues in order to make their marketplace business model work.

Despite all the warm words from the top team, the truth is in the numbers. And the numbers still worry me.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '09:29' - Tagged: results  

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Friday 22 March 2019

Robotics player Automata raises $7.4m

AuromataAutomata, a UK-based robotics company has raised $7.4m in Series A funding led by Hummingbird Ventures, with participation from firstminute CapitalHardware Club and previous investors LocalGlobe, ABB, and Entrepreneur First. Automata has previously raised $9.5m from earlier round investors.

Founded in 2015 by former employees of Zaha Hadid Architects, Automata produces a portable desktop robot arm for commercial use called Eva. The robot is designed to be lightweight, simple to use (the company claims it can be up and running in 15 minutes) and competitively priced at around £5,000. Automata aims to serve a market looking for compact and affordable alternatives to the large and expensive robots used in areas such as car manufacturing typically costing tens of thousands of pounds. 

Eva runs on proprietary software called Choreograph with 3D programming capabilities, an animation-inspired interface and crucially the ability to run on any web-enabled device.

Robot shipments worldwide are growing double digit annually and Automata is sensibly looking to open up robotics for smaller manufacturers or companies with short production runs or seasonal peaks.

The company intends to use the funds to continue the expansion of the team as well as supporting increased production volumes of Eva.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '09:04' - Tagged: funding   robotics  

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Friday 22 March 2019

Six weeks left to purchase your Early Bird Tickets

TechMarketView LogoWith only six weeks to go until our Early Bird ticket sales close for our 2019 'An Evening with TechMarketView', we don't want you to miss out! So, secure your place now or be sure to book by 1st May. 

More than 200 of UK tech’s ‘great & good’ are expected to attend the evening event which has become a popular fixture in the tech calendar and has been described by attendees as “the best networking event in the industry”. 


With our theme for the year, 'The Year of the Relationship', what better way to network with your peers and gain expert insights on the latest tech trends 
TMVE2018 Photo

Event Details:

Date: Thursday 12 September 2019
Venue: Royal Institute of British Architects, London
Registration & Drinks Reception: 6:30pm sponsored by InterSystems. This will be followed by the speaker sessions and a first-class dinner.

Early Bird Rates: Book by 1st May 2019

Early Bird rates for a table of 10 and individual tickets are available and you can book here or contact our event management partner, tx2events on T: 020 3137 2541. For more information please click here.

TechMarketView Event Rates for: 

The TechMarketView Evening is proudly sponsored by:
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Posted by HotViews Editor at '00:00'

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Thursday 21 March 2019

Version 1 bolsters offshore capability with TE4B

Version 1 logoIT services provider Version 1 is continuing its mission to enhance its presence and capabilities in key markets through strategic acquisition and organic growth. Over the last ten months, it has acquired Dublin-headquartered data analytics specialist, Presidion, and London-headquartered HR transformation specialist, Cedar Consulting. Its latest acquisition, of Bangalore-based technology consulting firm, TE4B, bolsters the company’s offshore delivery capability as it pursues its aim of providing digital excellence for clients.

TE4B has 100 employees in two centres in Pune and Bangalore, pushing Version 1’s total headcount up to 1,300. Bringing TE4B into the fold will result in the creation of Version 1’s 2nd centre of excellence in India. TE4B Founder and Managing Director, Srihari Vedante, has been appointed to the Version 1 senior management team and will be responsible for day-to-day operational leadership as well as contributing to the integration and growth of the Indian operations of Version 1.

Following, Version 1’s recent win with the Security Industry Authority (see Version 1 wins Security Industry Authority contract), we highlighted the company as ‘one to watch’ in the UK market. This latest move highlights Version 1’s understanding that a combination of client proximity and access to global resources will be necessary to help its clients accelerate their digital transformation journeys.

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:35' - Tagged: offshore   acquisition   india   M&A   digital   ireland  

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Thursday 21 March 2019

Collabor8 takes construction project management in hand

logoCollaboration tools are a hot topic which is presumably why Manchester-based online project management software startup Collabor8 has secured funding. SME finance provider Maven Capital Partners has invested £150,000 on behalf of Maven Equity Finance, part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund. 

The Collabor8 product provides secure online file sharing and tools for managing teams and projects but organisations can chose to host it internally too. The funds will be used to expand the team, including the appointment of a CTO, strengthen sales, develop the product and fund a marketing campaign to build the business within the construction and associated professional services sector. 

It takes something different to stand out in the project management environment and for Collabor8 that is a focus on a niche sector - construction and related professional services - an area where founder Colin Barnes has extensive experience designing software. Targeting niche sectors is an established strategy for emerging companies and makes all the more sense now when suppliers have to demonstrate deep domain expertise.

Posted by Angela Eager at '08:54' - Tagged: funding   startup   software  

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Thursday 21 March 2019

Solid progress at Sopheon

LogoIn line with the trading update released in January (see here), Sopheon the AIM-listed enterprise innovation management provider delivered a very satisfactory FY18 performance. Revenue for the twelve months ended 31st December increased by 19% yoy to $33.9. EBITDA at $8.9m came in a scooch higher than market expectations up 11% on the prior year.

Growth for the software and services provider was particularly strong in North America, the company’s main regional market. Sale here rose by 25% yoy to $21.6m despite being constrained by hiring challenges. Recurring revenue was also up by a quarter on FY17. This now sits at $15m with Sopheon’s SaaS proposition now accounting for 10% of this number.

Investment in R&D increased by c. 20% yoy in 2018 and two major releases of its core Accolade product platform  were made. Sopheon’s strategy to move to a newer ‘out-of-the-box’ Accolade Express for quicker time to value saw an increase in the volume of transactions.

The company’s management is confident about the 2019 outlook. Revenue visibility now stands at $20.6m and the sales pipeline is reported to contain a number of large opportunities. The pace at which Sopheon grows this year will, however, be determined largely by how successful it is in improving its recruitment practices. The company believes that progress on this front is being made. We should get a better sense of how well this is going come the mid-year.

Posted by Duncan Aitchison at '08:45' - Tagged: results   software   innovation  

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Thursday 21 March 2019

Veeqo catches Octopus worth £3.3m in Wales

logoIt seems like the funding round was well timed as Swansea-based multichannel ecommerce startup Veeqo had barely £5k left in the piggybank as at 31st August 2018 and some £775k of creditors. Then along came Octopus Investments, which has just led a £3.3m Series B funding round, along with existing backers including crowdfunding platform Seedrs. The funding will be used, among other things, to expand into the US later this year. Founded in 2013, this round brings Veeqo’s total funding so far to just shy of £7m (Source: CrunchBase).

I first tripped across Veeqo back in 2016 after they acquired London-based parcel delivery start-up ParcelBright (see ParcelBright ships to Veeqo as Zenstores ships in funds). Since then, Veeqo has launched its own hand-held scanner and extended its inventory management and order management platform to include purchasing. Next in the product plan is web-based point-of-sale. Veeqo charges retailers from £150 per month to ship 500 orders using basic functionality, up to £5,300 p.m. for 40k orders on the ‘full monty’ platform.

Veeqo has a varied client set of well-known brands including Brompton Bikes, Dove (as in soap etc) and The Harry Potter Shop (I’ll spare you the jokes). I find its messaging very clear and compelling and I Iike the transparency of pricing. Clearly managing cash will be key to Veeqo’s further expansion, so having an experienced VC like Octopus wrap its arms around it should bring additional financial discipline to the management team. Another Welsh success story (I mean in the world of snooker of course, where Mark Williams is the reigning World Champion).

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:28' - Tagged: funding   startup  

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Thursday 21 March 2019

FY18: a big year for scaled up LoopUp

logo2018 was a big year for London based AIM listed conferencing specialist LoopUp as it put up £61.4m to acquire similarly sized audio conferencing provider MeetingZone. It certainly made its mark as LoopUp ‘s FY revenue hit £34.2m (for the year to 31 December 2018). That’s a 96% acquisition fuelled increase; on an organic constant currency basis revenue grew 20% compared to an average of 32% over FY15-17, indicating the effort involved in digesting the MeetingZone meal.

The year wasn’t all plain sailing as the company didn’t manage to open the number of ‘pods’ (LoopUp’s sales model) it expected to, although those that were in operation performed to plan. To that end, operating profit rose 16%, albeit only to £0.9m, with PBT at a slim £385 vs. £729K in FY17. The company has put a recruiting and Pod Academy training scheme in place to get Pod launches on track which includes taking in and training non-sales individuals.

Collaboration tools are a growth area and traction for online conferencing continues to grow but competition is fierce. The MeetingZone acquisition grew the company and added capability but also changed the nature of LoopUp from a pure SaaS provider. However, the plan is to fully integrate the MeetingZone technology so it runs on the LoopUp platform. That could be a costly process but a necessary one.

Posted by Angela Eager at '08:18' - Tagged: results   software  

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Thursday 21 March 2019

UKHotViewsPremium - An Individual Subscription

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

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Posted by HotViews Editor at '00:00'

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Wednesday 20 March 2019

*HotViewsExtra* Will the Government’s ‘Outsourcing Playbook’ put Public Sector outsourcing back on track?

Outsourcing playbookThe recent problems at Interserve (see Interserve faces crucial vote) are another reminder of the perilous state that Public Sector outsourcing finds itself in throughout the UK.

Interserve

Whilst Interserve has ultimately survived to fight another day, the lingering fallout from Carillion’s implosion over twelve months ago (see Carillion's demise is ultimately bad for all Public-sector outsourcers) and recent reoccurring problems with a range of high profiled outsourcing contracts (e.g. Probation service contracts to be cancelled early) has put an industry, where the UK previously led the world, in real jeopardy. 

UKHotViewsPremium LogoThis HotViewsExtra looks at how the Government and UK Plc are trying to put the sector back on track and whether these changes are likely to make the difference.

Read the piece here: Will the Government’s ‘Outsourcing Playbook’ put Public Sector outsourcing back on track?

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '12:12' - Tagged: publicsector  

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Wednesday 20 March 2019

CloudBuy FY18 losses greater than revenue

cloudbuyAIM-listed e-commerce and B2B e-procurement provider, CloudBuy, today announced its results for the 12 months to the end of December 2018 - and it’s not pretty. There was a 26% decline in revenue to £1.1m. Although losses have shrunk (by 25% to £1.6m) due to cost reductions, the firm is still in the unenviable position of losing more than it is generating in revenue.

Sales of Web and ecommerce services decreased 30%; revenue from Company Formation services decreased by 16%; and revenue from coding customers decreased by 33%.

Cash at 31st December 2018 was c£800k, a reduction of £1.6m in the year. Swinging into a profit and achieving cash flow break-even are important objectives for Cloudbuy. In a trading update in February, the firm explained that is was engaged in two opportunities, which if won would enable it to reach cash flow break even without further funding. Unfortunately, one of those wins is now looking unlikely so CloudBuy has agreed to drawdown £500k from an existing facility - to be received this month. A potential further drawdown of £250k would be undertaken should the second opportunity also not materialise.

As explained previously, much rests on CloudBuy’s PHBChoices partnership with NHS Shared Business Services. This is positioned as its “main growth engine” and is apparently showing “strong signs of growth” in the year to date. All eyes will be on this part of the business in the coming months to ascertain what degree of momentum has indeed been built.

Posted by Kate Hanaghan at '10:00' - Tagged: results   ecommerce  

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Wednesday 20 March 2019

EMIS grows despite legacy distractions

EMIS logoIn CEO, Andy Thorburn’s first full year as CEO of EMIS, he has achieved a good performance for the company despite dealing with the distraction of legacy issue resolution.

Total revenues increased by 6% to £170.1m, including a £0.1m two-month contribution from the acquisition of Dovetail (see EMIS places bet on blockchain with Dovetail acquisition). Recurring revenues stood at 83% of the total after increasing 5%. Growth was across all segments of the business. In Primary, Community & Acute Care, representing the lion’s share of the business, revenues increased 3% to £121.7m. In Community Pharmacy, revenues were up 14% to £25m. In Specialist & Care, the increase was 13% to £20.4m. And in Patient, revenues edged forwards 3% to £3.0m.

The big news over the period was EMIS settling with NHS Digital over legacy issues (see EMIS reaches settlement agreement with NHS Digital ). This was an important milestone, as EMIS needed to put itself in the best position possible for the GP IT Futures framework that will replace the GP Systems of Choice (GPSoC) agreement (see NHS Digital publishes GP IT Futures notice). As we have noted previously, the new framework poses a threat to EMIS, along with the other GPSoC suppliers (TPP, INPS and Microtest Health), as it marks a shift towards a more modular approach that is designed to make it easier for new suppliers to enter the market. However, EMIS is investing to make sure that it is aligned with the priorities of the NHS Long-Term plan; it is currently upgrading and extending its EMIS Web System, which serves 57% of GP practices in England, to form a new integrated clinical platform called EMIS-X, which supports NHS Digital’s interoperability standards. Over time, EMIS-X will become the platform for all EMIS Group solutions.

In the period in question, reported operating profit increased by 170% to £28.7m. Adjusted operating profit increased by 1% to £37.6m; this reflected reorganisation costs in 2017 as well as the cost of settling the NHS digital issue. Looking ahead, EMIS is aiming for mid-to-high single digit revenue growth, with a more even split of revenue from the NHS and enterprise sectors. That will mean the future business model more focused on the digital health marketplace. As a result, aside from success on the GP IT Futures framework it is also focused on continuing to develop patient-facing technology. EMIS is also aiming for the profit margin to head towards 30%. That would enable investment in the EMIS-X platform to be self-funded.

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:59' - Tagged: results   health   software   digital  

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Wednesday 20 March 2019

FY18: a better year for SDL

logoIn-line FY18 results for SDL will have come as a relief for the management team after the frustration of the previous year when the company missed its financial goals. The year to 31 December 2018 ended with a 12.6% revenue lift to £323m and adjusted operating profits up 20.8% to £29m.

While all business segments improved (Language Services, Language Technology and Content Technology), performance was helped by acquired Donnelley Language Solutions which contributed revenue of £27.8m and £1.8m adjusted operating profit since the deal completed in July 2018. Without Donnelley, SDL’s total revenue (organic, cc) was up a more sedate 4.5%. Total SDL revenue rose 7.9% at headline level and 3.2% cc in FY17 so there is an improvement on an organic basis.

The company says much of the transformation heavy lifting has been carried out, however plans for 2019 include streamlining the back office. The focus during during the year will be on optimising the Helix business process automation programme (there does appear to be growing traction), further integrating Donnelley to drive deeper into regulated markets and developing its Language Cloud and Linguistic AI, and premium services and solutions.

As we have commented previously, SDL has the right tools and the market opportunity for its global content management and language translation software and services but operates in a fragmented and consolidating market. Interestingly, instead of trying to acquire its way to the top (although not all acquisition activity has been ruled out), management sees a better future from platform-based solutions that allow seamless interoperability across the localisation and content supply chain and started work on this strategy during 2018. This adaptation is both positive and necessary (and shows SDL has learned lessons from its previous acquistion activity) and is a sign it is updating its business model for the current/future landscape.

Posted by Angela Eager at '09:04' - Tagged: results   software  

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Wednesday 20 March 2019

HCL lands $1.3bn Xerox mega deal

HCLHCL Technologies has signed a seven-year $1.3bn renewal with Xerox to run portions of its global shared service operations, including administrative and support functions, selected information technology and finance functions, excluding accounting. As part of the agreement, a group of Xerox employees will transfer over to HCL. 

XeroxUnder its current contract, HCL manages aspects of Xerox’s mechanical, electrical and software engineering activities for printer and imaging product lines.

Shared services is going through significant change with increasing amounts of automation and robotics replacing the traditional ‘bums on seats’ model. HCL has already been working with Xerox for over 10 years and will no doubt be looking to evolve its shared services into “process-first, technology-led digital operations”. Expect to see significant roll-outs of both RPA and cognitive technologies with an accompanying shrinking headcount.

HCL joins is offshore peers in still being able to land mega-deals in a market lacking sizeable opportunities. Whilst TCS has led the way with a number of ‘dial-shifting’ contracts (see herehere and here) we have also seen Wipro land a 10-year $1.5bn deal with Alight and Infosys bank $2bn in Q2 sales.

Global Shared Service operations remain a huge area of opportunity for digital transformation and SITS suppliers and whilst most end users have started their automation journey few have really matured. 

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '08:54' - Tagged: contract   sharedservices   HCL  

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Wednesday 20 March 2019

Aquis Exchange continues to grow under the radar

aquisInnovative, equity trading marketplace, Aquis Exchange, has announced an encouraging set of full-year results. In its financials for the year ended 31st December 2018, industry disruptor, Aquis, revealed that revenues had doubled during the year to £4m, whilst EBITDA losses were down 18% to £2.7m. At the end of 2018, Aquis had grown its customer base to 27 trading members and accounted for just under 4% of continuous, pan-European trading.

Subscription-based, Aquis was established by the charismatic, investment industry veteran, Alasdair Haynes, the founder of another Pan-European exchange, Chi-X. Haynes is passionate about disrupting existing approaches to trading and is a strong advocate of the benefits of the subscription model. Under Haynes' stewardship, the Aquis Exchange applies a “fair-play” approach to trading, that seeks to eradicate, aggressive, non-client, proprietary trades. As a result, Aquis provides a cost effective and equitable, alternative to other exchanges, with lower toxicity and signalling risk.

Aquis completed its AIM listing in June last year, raising £12m in the process. The exchange is continuing to grow, currently accounting for more than 4.5% of European equity trades. Meanwhile, AkinovA, the electronic marketplace for re-insurance risks, recently announced that it was adopting the matching engine and surveillance tools used by Aquis Exchange in a deal with its technology arm, Aquis Technologies (see: Akinova and Aquis expand their partnership).

The Aquis Exchange is an interesting and genuinely innovative proposition, that has grown largely unnoticed by some in the investment industry. Similar to other areas of financial services technology, there is significant potential for the subscription model, employed by Aquis, to further disrupt the European trading ecosystem and for the exchange to continue to gain market share.

Posted by Jon C Davies at '08:23' - Tagged: results  

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Wednesday 20 March 2019

BlackCurve optimises funding with new seed round

logoThere is joy in simplicity of mission. I said so a year ago and I say so again. I refer to London-based startup BlackCurve, which develops software to help companies optimise product pricing across multiple sales channels and that’s it (see Startup BlackCurve prices in £500k seed funding).

Founding their business in 2016, the son (Philip Huthwaite, CEO) and father (Charles Huthwaite, CTO – now billed as Machine Learning & Analytics Director) team have gone on to raise a further £1.5m in a seed funding round led by Nauta Capital with participation from Mercia Fund Managers. I also note that peripatetic tech investor Nick Kingsbury (and member of TechMarketView’s Great British Scaleup programme advisory partner, ScaleUp Group) is on BlackCurve’s advisory board.

BlackCurve’s customer list includes solid, but lesser-known (at least, to me) names, such as Donaghy Bros, Electrical World and Ribble, but I do live a sheltered life. This suggests that BlackCurve is finding itself a market beyond the domain of the well-served mega-retailers, which seems a smart move to me.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '07:57' - Tagged: funding   startup  

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Tuesday 19 March 2019

2iC focuses on wearable information architecture to scale business

2iC logoLast week, we met up with Graham Booth, CEO and co-founder, and non-executive director, Charles Ward, of 2iC. 2iC was one of our 2015 cohort of Little British Battlers (see Little British Battlers: The Sixth Sense). Since then, we have kept a close eye on its progress (see 2iC: Innovation at its core); the company is revenue generating with profit being reinvested into product development.

2iC’s heritage lies in the frontline of defence. When founded, its raison d’être was to be the most innovate software company for the secure digital interoperability of field operations. However, over the last year or so, the company’s mission has evolved. Its focus, now, is on wearable information architecture, i.e. how to interconnect between individual wearable systems and other ‘things’ to deliver value in a system of systems. It is a subtle shift but one that, while drawing on the aspects of its work in the 5-Eyes defence markets of UK, Australia, New Zealand and the US, has relevance to a broader array of industries. This seems like an eminently sensible move, particularly as the UK defence market has proven to be very slow-moving and frustrating from an innovation perspective. One of those industries is health: 2iC is now pursuing opportunities around pandemic surveillance as well as the wellness of device-dependent patients after they have left the hospital environment. In these examples, 2iC can deliver individual wellness data combined with situational data to improve health and well-being outcomes.

The company has also formed several new partnerships to help it scale. In Australia, it has formed a partnership with systems engineering provider, Luminact, to offer smart integration and interoperability to the defence and industrial sectors.   While in the US, it is working with Kopis Mobile, developer of electronics and mobile applications for soldiers and first responders, in a similar fashion. These partnerships are designed to act as territory beachheads bringing 2iC closer to the customer with added local delivery capability. In the UK, meanwhile, it is working with 4Secure to form a Joint Venture around small information guards suitable for wearable (battery powered) or vehicle mounted use at the network edge. This JV will build on 2iC’s 2013 DSEI innovation award for a product enabling the co-ordination of behaviour between IT systems in separate domains.

Little British Battler programme logoThe increased activity means 2iC has had to ramp up is resources; it is busy hiring and has taken on a Software Development Director to focus on leading delivery and product development. Graham is, therefore, freer to focus on the sales and growth strategy. 2iC is also attracting the interest of growth investors as it scales internationally and into adjacent sectors. The biggest opportunities are still to come, as customers transition from trials into full deployments.

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '13:31' - Tagged: health   defence   lbb   internetofthings   littlebritishbattler   scaleup  

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Tuesday 19 March 2019

Tribal revenues down but profit continues to improve

Tribal logoTribal Group’s revenue for the year ended 31 December 2018 fell by 5.7% to £80.1m (FY17: £84.9m) reflecting the impact of IFRS 15 accounting changes, currency fluctuations and the end of its Ofsted contract in its Quality Assurance Solutions (QAS) division.

The education software and services supplier saw revenue growth in the UK (up 8.7% to £42.6m) but found business elsewhere more challenging. Revenue from Asia Pacific fell 17.5% to £17.8m and Rest of World was down 19.2% to £9.7m. Annually recurring revenue improved by 2.7% to £38.5m (FY17: £37.5m).  

This time last year Tribal returned to full year statutory profit for the first time since 2013, and it continued to make progress in 2018. Statutory profit was up 58.3% to £4.1m. Adjusted operating profit for the year improved by 26.4% to £10.8m (FY17: £8.5m) and statutory operating profit was up 23.0% to £4.6m (FY17: £3.7m).

Revenue in Tribal’s Student Information Systems (SIS) business, which represents 71% of total revenue, fell by 5% to £57.0m (FY17: £60.0m)—this is largely blamed on the impact of IFRS 15. It won four new higher education customers during the year and added a number of new further education customers.

In QAS, revenue fell by 6.2% to £16.7m (FY17: £17.8m) largely as a result of its Ofsted Early Years contract concluding in March 2017. Adjusting for the end of this contract, revenue improved by 10.2%.

In the other part of Tribal’s business, including i-graduate, revenue fell by 9.9% to £6.4m (FY17: £7.1m). This part of the business has been restructured and combined with QAS to form a single line of business in 2019 called Education Services.

Tribal sees a good pipeline of UK opportunities in 2019 and it secured a contract, in partnership with Sopra Steria, with the Construction Industry Training Board at the start of the year. However, it says there are few new customer opportunities in Asia Pacific. Tribal has done well to continue to drive efficiencies and remove costs, but it is proving far more challenging to achieve revenue growth. 

Posted by Dale Peters at '10:13' - Tagged: results   education   software  

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Tuesday 19 March 2019

K3 gaining confidence

logoThe encouraging signs that have been emerging from K3 Business Technology Group over the past year (see here) were confirmed with the release of full year results that showed a return to operational profitability alongside a reduction in net debt and improved cash generation as the benefits of two years of transformation started to come through.

Reported results for the 12 months to 30 November 2018 were compared with a 17 month prior period. They showed revenue declining from £118.2m to £83.3m, however an (unaudited) 12 month comparison indicates a 0.8% increase. This reflects the business shift from licence to subscription revenue and the transformation effect. However, the 12 month gross profit increased 5.5% as K3 benefitted from more sales and higher margins from its own IP. Even with a 17 month comparative key metrics moved in the right direction, including a gross margin of 52.7% vs 51.6%. The company also turned an adjusted loss of £1.6m into a profit of £4.6m.

The K3 story is one of a company transitioning from a VAR to a product-led company that is also relying more and more on its own IP, while maintaining its 3rd party software and managed services business units. Revenue from its own IP has been ramping up and contributed £17.5m during 2018, 21% of total revenue (vs. 19.8% for the prior 17 months). Gross profit on its own IP is also increasing: 73.6% vs. 64.1% for the preceding 17 months.

Reassuringly, the pool of its own IP has been growing. Where its K3 I fashion product was the prime offering, K3 has added K3 I Imagine, its cloud based micro service architecture, technology agnostic platform that is hosts itself, and its Dataswitch offering. The Imagine platform, which provides customers with application integration and the ability to access new functionality (e.g. IoT) is already opening doors within existing customers. But it is also taking K3 into new areas of business such as kiosks, and enabling it to engage with the ecosystems of key customers like Ikea. It is very early days for Imagine so revenues are negligible but the interest appears to be there – the British Heart Foundation has hooked into the product – which bodes well for future K3 revenue growth.

The need for change never ends and work continues at K3 but the company is gaining confidence as its own IP portfolio expands. 

Posted by Angela Eager at '09:53' - Tagged: results   cloud   software  

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Tuesday 19 March 2019

LTG FY18: confidently building the business

LTG logoLearning Technologies Group (LTG)’s aim is to “build a leading end-to-end workplace digital talent and learning solutions provider, to partner global clients through the creation, implementation and maintenance of their integrated talent and learning strategies.” It is setting out to achieve that though a combination of acquisitive and organic growth.

A big step on this path was the acquisition of PeopleFluent in May 2018 (See  LTG benefits from successful acquisition integration), which has been integrated ahead of schedule and expectations. It extended LTG’s reach from corporate digital learning into talent management. That acquisition, as well as a full year contribution from NetDimensions, had a major influence on the FY18 results (to end December 2018).

Headline revenues increased by 83% to £93.9m. And within the new total, the changing shapre of the business is highlighted: 68% of recurring revenues vs. 38% a year prior, due to the transition towards a software license model, and 74% of revenues now coming from outside the UK vs. 45% in FY17.

It is the software and platforms business (64% of the business) that is driving growth – up 9% organically, with growth across all software businesses. Meanwhile, in the reported period, the content and services business (excluding the Civil Service Learning contract) suffered an 8% organic decline (due to a strong prior year comparator). The transition of the Civil Service Learning contract added another £3.3m of revenue decline. The content and services business operates on a fixed price, non-recurring, projects basis, so it is welcome that it now accounts for a smaller proportion of the business.

The strong EBIT margin (adjusted, up 300bp to 29%) and cash generation (which allowed net debt to fall to £11.5m) means that management can continue to invest to achieve its strategic aims – a goal of £200m revenue and run rate EBIT of at least £55m by 2021. Run rate R&D now stands at £17.5m (19% of software and platforms revenue), with much focus on integrating the product set for greater functionality. And the company points to a “healthy pipeline of acquisition opportunities); the recent acquisition of Watershed added useful data analytics capability inhouse.  LTG is answering the call for a more comprehensive set of learning and talent management services by large corporations and Government organisations; it continues to display confidence in its approach.

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:50' - Tagged: results   software   learning   talent  

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Tuesday 19 March 2019

Octopus gains ThirdEye to detect light fingers

logoIt’s a bit confusing, this, as there are at least three startups with variations on the name Third Eye. There’s Israeli drone startup Third Eye Systems, US-based ThirdEye Technologies, which develops systems for the visually impaired; and there’s London-based ThirdEye Labs, which develops software to interpret CCTV footage in retail stores, the one we’re interest in. They’ve just raised £2m in a Series A funding round led by Octopus Ventures along with retail and consumer sector specialist investor, True. Original seed investor Episode 1 Ventures also participated.

Founded in 2016, ThirdEye Labs take footage from in-store CCTV cameras and analyses shop-floor activity. Though mainly designed to detect theft, the software can also be used to analyse footfall to optimise shop layout or to make sure staff are in the right place at the right time. The app side of the platform software works in real-time and issues alerts; there’s also a back-office app for fuller analysis of the video footage.

If it ‘does what it says on the tin’, you can see how ThirdEye’s platform might help bleary-eyed security staff peering at multiple camera images in a darkened room catch more thieves. However, they are not first in this game. For example, Dublin-based Kinesense has developed software which can ‘analyse thousands of hours of video’ though I think this is only done offline. There are other purveyors of forensic image processing too. But ThirdEye may be the first with a specific focus on the retail sector, and claims to have ‘caught an average of 27 thefts per camera month’.

One to watch – if they don’t watch you first!

Posted by Anthony Miller at '09:48' - Tagged: funding   startup  

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Tuesday 19 March 2019

IoT investor Tern shrinks losses

tern2018 results are out for Tern the investment company specialising in the Internet of Things (IoT). 

Headline figures saw it recognise a loss for the year of £0.3m, compared with losses of £1.7m in 2017, driven in part by year-on-year turnover up 58% among portfolio companies. Employment within the businesses also increased by 52% in the year.

Tern, previously known as Silvermere Energy, has a history of investing in tech start-ups going back to 2013 and has continued to build up its IoT portfolio with new investment made in FundamentalVR, a virtual simulation business targeting the medical sector. Other portfolio companies include Device Authority (IoT security automation), InVMA (an IoT systems integrator) and Wyld Networks (IoT connectivity).

Further funds were raised in 2018 with a placing in July bringing in £2.9m, taking total fundraising last year to £6m and making it look likely the portfolio will expand further. 

The IoT product and services market remains on the cusp of significant growth and Tern’s strategy to invest across the IoT value chain has positioned it suitably to take advantage.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '09:46' - Tagged: results   internetofthings  

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Tuesday 19 March 2019

Momentum continues to build at Softcat

Softcat logoSoftcat has published another set of solid results, achieving strong revenue and profit growth in the six months ended 31 January 2019 (H1 FY19).

Revenue was up 21.1% compared to the same period last year, reaching £434.0m (H1 FY18: £358.3m). Growth was strongest in Hardware, which was up 24.7% to £195.0m. Software improved by 19.4% to £200.9m and Services by 13.4% to £38.1m.

Gross profit improved by 26.5% to £94.7m (H1 2018:  £74.8m) and operating profit was up by an even more impressive 40.4% to £33.9m (H1 2018: £24.1m). Gross profit per customer also improved, reaching 18.7% (H1 2018: 14.5%).

Softcat added 620 new customers during the period and has now extended its run of delivering year-on-year income and profit growth to 54 consecutive quarters. Not surprisingly, CEO Graham Watts, said he was “delighted” with the trading performance, which saw growth across all customer segments and technology areas. Enterprise was the fastest growing area of the business, but SMB and public sector were not far behind.  

The company estimates its share of the market to be 6%, so it sees plenty of opportunity for future growth. The business has won new customers, but it has also invested in forming deeper relationships with existing customers. It is seeing continuing demand for hybrid cloud, security, software and services, and is actively developing its teams to support its new public cloud and security support services. Management expects full year outcomes to come in marginally ahead of previous expectations.

Posted by Dale Peters at '08:58' - Tagged: results   cloud   software   services   hardware  

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Tuesday 19 March 2019

Time’s up to smell the coffee at Mindtree!

logoAs we signalled last week (see Mindtree buyout moving closer?), it’s ‘game on’ for Bangalore-based mid-tier Indian pure-play (IPP), Mindtree. Mumbai-based peer LTI’s (L&T Infotech) parent company, Indian industrial conglomerate Larsen & Toubro (L&T), has acquired the 20.3% stake in Mindtree held by Indian entrepreneur, VG Siddhartha, founder-owner of the Café Coffee Chain business. L&T is paying Rs980 per share for the stake, about 2% over the previous day’s close.

L&T has also issued an order to purchase up to a further 15% of Mindtree stock at the same price or lower, along with an open offer to purchase up to an additional 31% of Mindtree’s stock on the same terms. After hitting a Rs1,162 peak in September 2018, Mindtree’s shares had plummeted to Rs770 by October until rumours of the deal revived interest in the stock. If successful, L&T intends to keep Mindtree an independent listed business though would ‘extend support … going forward’. Besides it’s IT services pure-play subsidiary LTI, L&T also own a Technology Services unit which provides engineering and R&D services to industry.

Mindtree was founded back in 1999 by executives from top-tier Indian pure-play Wipro. Since then, Mindtree has built a successful business, often winning against larger peers. Most recently, Mindtree was recording double-digit growth and margin expansion despite a slowdown in its business in Europe (see Mindtree advances – US surges, Europe stalls). Management is vigorously opposing L&T’s bid.

L&T (in)famously – and unsuccessfully – attempted to acquire the late, great Satyam after its fall from grace (see L and T: If we don’t get Satyam we’ll buy someone else!). More recently, management has been on a quest to turn LTI, currently with annual revenues of some US$1.3bn, into a US$2bn revenue company by 2019. A merger with near-US$1bn Mindtree would do the trick nicely!

You can see our prescient preview of this deal – and who else among the mid-tier IPPs might be up for grabs – in OffshoreViews Musing on the Mid-Tier Indian pure-plays.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:52' - Tagged: offshore   acquisition  

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Tuesday 19 March 2019

Advanced World 2019 looks to the future

AdvancedYesterday a couple of us made the trek to Birmingham to participate in the impressively attended Advanced World annual conference.

Business software supplier Advanced’s annual shindig, primarily for its for partners and suppliers, was an upbeat event grouped under the theme of ‘rethinking, recharging and reshaping’ business models to accommodate ever faster and greater levels of change. As you would expect AI, Machine Learning, Data and Intelligent Automation all featured prominently and were weaved throughout the entire conference.

Proceedings were kicked off by a keynote from Advanced CEO Gordon Wilson that also saw the launch of MyWorkplace – a Cloud-based platform designed to help customers accelerate their digital transformation by joining up the various different systems they are running all in one place. The resulting ‘ecosystem’ of different applications benefits from a single sign-on and an API platform for partners and is tailored to a range of different sectors. 

Other keynote speakers included Carolyn Fairbairn, Director-General of the CBI who provided a positive outlook on the future of British business and in particular the tech sector despite the risks of a cliff edge no deal Brexit now just 10 days away. Themes included the importance of tech transfer and collaboration between British Universities and Business and the very real value of Corporate Social Responsibility.  

The final keynote was an interesting take on the future of the workplace by recruitment firm Hays’s MD Mark Staniland and looked at the role technology will play helping firms deal with issues such as an ageing workforce and skills shortages and how machines and humans will likely coexist in the workforce of the future.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '08:51' - Tagged: advanced  

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Tuesday 19 March 2019

Impressive Invenio attracts investment

LogoFast-growing SAP-centric services provider Invenio Business Solutions has secured £11.6m of funds from BGF, the UK’s most active investor. The money will be used to help the business scale by expanding its offering, improving its services and growing through acquisition.

Formed in 2006, the specialist Reading-based SI has established strong footholds in both the tax and revenue management processes segment and the media industry sector. Last FY (the twelve months to 31st March 2018) Invenio turned over £25.5m, up 51% yoy. Operating profit increased almost fourfold to just over £7m. Since that time the company’s headcount has grown by a further c.50% suggesting that the heady pace of expansion has continued unabated.

Invenio now has over 750 employees working for customers worldwide with delivery centres across seven countries - UK, India, Mauritius, Saudi Arabia, Fiji, USA and UAE. Its customers include Universal Music Group, Kuehne & Nagel, the BBC and the Fijian and Saudi Tax authorities.

The SAP services market, estimated to be worth over £2b in this country alone, continues to provide a happy hunting ground for ambitious challenger SI’s. Great British Scaleup Keytree (see here), for example, has doubled in size every three years and now boasts one of the largest SAP practices in the UK. One suspects that the Invenio growth story is far from over.

Posted by Duncan Aitchison at '07:49' - Tagged: investment   systems+integration  

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