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Wednesday 08 July 2020

Atos launches Scaler, the Atos Accelerator

Atos logoAtos has launched “Scaler, the Atos Accelerator”. It is a new startup and SME program focused on industries, security and decarbonisation, in line with the company’s latest strategic plan, SPRING (see Atos UK: Adjustments, Performance & Prospects).

Every year, 15 startups or SMEs will be selected; they will come together with Atos' technology teams to co-create innovative digital solutions for clients in specific industries. The idea is that those involved will already have proven business use cases, specific industry focus and skills. They will then benefit from a joint and accelerated go-to-market, gaining access to Atos customers as well as Atos resources: international business development experts, coaching advice in customer innovation, data hosting solutions, ideation and DevSecOps platform, Google Cloud Platform, and HPC-as-a-service. The aim is that they will have accelerated their development within 18 months.

The 14 startups selected for the first cohort are spread across healthcare & life sciences, manufacturing, resources & services, financial services & insurance, public sector & defence, telco & media, advanced technology & cyber, and decarbonisation. Amongst them are three that are UK-headquartered: Malinko in healthcare & life sciences (intelligent scheduling software); Tier 1 Asset Management in public sector and defence (IT recycling and computer disposal); and Synchronized in Telco & Media (smart video technology).

As Atos highlights, most of the suppliers will already have worked with Atos once. Indeed, we were already aware of Tier 1 Asset Management working with Atos’ UK business. It has been involved in Atos UK’s local SME Horizon Programme, which has now been established for some time. Any bid by Atos UK public sector team in End User Computing now includes Tier 1; the SME runs a unique prison recycling initiative (read more about it here), which involves a partnership between prison, industry and charity (Antz Junction). With Scaler sitting above Horizon, and Tier 1 identified as one of the best from the Horizon programme, the SME will now benefit from Atos’ global platform too.

Atos has learnt its lesson over the years in terms of working with SMEs. Several years ago, it launched Atos SME Harbour. However, the scheme lacked focus and took on too many SMEs to achieve anything productive. As a result, those involved became despondent. The new schemes, both locally and globally, are zoning in on a smaller set of companies, giving them far more attention, and are ensuring a strong alignment with Atos’ global strategy. They stand far more chance of success.

Posted by: Georgina O'Toole

Tags: sme   scaleup   cybersecurity   sustainability   decarbonisation  

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Wednesday 08 July 2020

First Derivatives maintains growth despite coronavirus slowdown

FDNewry based, analytics specialist, First Derivatives (FD), has released a trading update reflecting a resilient performance in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The statement, ahead of the company’s AGM later today, provides an update on progress during the period ended 30 June 2020, (the first 4 months of the current fiscal).

Total revenue was 6% up year on year, with managed services and consulting revenue up 2% as the company continued to benefit from repeat business via its client engagements. Software revenue grew by 8%, with recurring license and subscription revenue leading the way. This growth was however tempered by a decline in perpetual licenses and also impacted by longer sales cycle during lockdown.

Despite the deferral of some new projects, the financial impact of COVID-19 has been partially mitigated by lower recruitment and cost management. FD has expressed its optimism based on the company’s recent performance but indicated that it is too early to assess the likely outcome for the full year.

FD has a strong offering in the shape of its in-memory “Kx” database that has increasingly demonstrated its appeal across a variety of industries. In May the company signed an important partnership with TCS, as it looks to further accelerate its global growth (see: First Derivative and TCS agree global partnership).

FD is an important contributor to the Northern Ireland economy, and has won several major new contracts recently. Whilst the longer-term economic impact of COVID-19 remains uncertain, as we emerge from lockdown, management will be no doubt hoping to return the company to its impressive recent growth trajectory.

Posted by: Jon C Davies

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Wednesday 08 July 2020

BAE Systems spinout SOC.OS raises £2m

SOC.OS logoSOC.OS, a London-based spin-out of BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, raised £2m in funding from backers including Hoxton Ventures and Speedinvest.

Officially launched last month, the start-up was borne of a collaboration with cyber security accelerator Cylon after SOC.OS participated in the latter’s 2019 cohort 9 programme.

Many internal and external cyber security experts are being swamped by the sheer volume of security alerts produced by the threat protection and detection tools they run for signs of active or imminent cyber attacks (see our Cyber Security Market Trends and Forecasts to 2022 report here).

The SOC.OS platform is designed to help those teams manage that data by automatically stripping out up to 80% of non-critical threats, with only the most suspicious triaged for further analysis by investigators.

Early customers include the UK Atomic Energy Authority and The University of Sussex, with the £2m funding earmarked for further business growth.

Posted by: Martin Courtney

Tags: funding   security   cyber   threatintelligence  

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Wednesday 08 July 2020

Tesla in first UK battery venture

HarmonyI was really interested to read that Tesla was to deploy its battery storage equipment and AI software in the UK for the first time. The project is at Holes Bay in Poole in partnership with Harmony Energy and Spain’s Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV). Tesla will supply  6 Megapack, lithium batteries with a 15MWh capacity allowing the storage of energy from renewable sources to provide energy to the National Grid at times of peak demand.

There is also talk of Tesla siting its 4th GigaFactory for battery production in the UK.

I’ve written several times before about my belief that Tesla and Elon Musk will be best remembered for their advances in the use of battery technology to store energy produced from renewable sources. See Elon, The Battery Boy.

The advances in battery technology over the last decade are pretty impressive - reducing from over $1000 per kilowatt hour in 2010 to $156 in 2019 and the ‘magic $100’ likely to be announced before 2023. Source - Article in Cleantechnica. Tesla has played a major role in these advances. In part because range is all-important for the acceptability of electric cars. Tesla is close to announcing a car with a 500 mile range with a battery both smaller and a tenth of the price as fitted in its first Roadster in 2010.

Powerwall‘I have a dream’

In 2016, in my last ‘State of IT Nation’ Prince's Trust speech,  I forecast that by 2030 many homes would be ‘off grid’. Roofs would be constructed from solar panels (even in the UK) which would feed home battery packs (like Tesla’s PowerWall) and charge your electric car. Whole cities would be powered by renewable (wind, solar etc) energy stored in battery farms. The effect on the environment could be game-changing.

Embracing this dream could  be the making of the UK in the next decade. We should aim to become a world leader in battery technology and production and its use in cars, trucks and in the home.

Posted by: Richard Holway

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Wednesday 08 July 2020

Confidential IPO in progress for Palantir

Palantir logoBig Data and Analytics software provider Palantir is planning an IPO but because it is using the confidential IPO option there’s no insight into when, the number of shares and share price range, or its financials. 

It is not the only company to take this increasingly popular route – UberLyftSpotifySlack took the confidential IPO path – which goes some way to preserving privacy during the early stages of the process and provides flexibility to pick the best time for the IPO. It befits a company that describes itself as having its roots in counterterrorism and software that incorporates the principles of privacy by design. Founded in 2003, the company is known for its work with US intelligence and national security services but its client list of public and private sector companies also includes NHSX and NHS England and Improvement where Palantir is part of a consortium enabling a consolidated data store to support the COVID-19 response. 

Little is known about its financials although during a 2015 fundraising round it was valued at $20bn and media reports suggest the valuation could be closer to $29bn now. Last month it started a round to raise $961m, of which c.$550m has being secured (from Japanese insurance company Sompo Holdings, and Fujitsu - $50m plus a strategic technology alliance), with commitments for the remainder. Previous funding is believed to have raised c.$2.2bn. 

With its two products - Gotham that integrates and transforms disparate data into a single, coherent data asset, and Foundry that includes a front end to ease the processes of tapping into enterprise data – Palantir operates in a growth market and makes the most of it by bridging the back and front ends of the data requirement. Its actions to support COVID-19 responses for the NHS and other public bodies have brought it into the limelight. Whether the purpose of the IPO is to raise further funds or its profile is unclear. 

Posted by: Angela Eager

Tags: software   ipo   analytics   data  

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Wednesday 08 July 2020

*UKHotViewsExtra* Harrow Council looks to the future with Version 1

Version 1 logoFor the last 15 years Harrow London Borough Council has been running its IT services via large-scale outsourcing contracts. This year it is taking a different approach to support its IT estate. It has recently appointed Version 1 as its partner to support its ambitions to transform services through digital technology.

With its contract with Sopra Steria coming to an end in October 2020, the council started considering its next steps, including the benefits of moving to a disaggregated model. The council decided to take some services back in house and started looking for a new IT partner.

Harrow Council logoVersion 1 was selected after demonstrating the relevant knowledge, approaches and roadmaps for transition, transformation and innovation at the local authority—the value of the contract has not been revealed. The council was also impressed with the community-centric approach Version 1 took towards supporting the council through a dedicated Social Value Programme of work focused on improving the employability of residents in Harrow.

The company was awarded a two-year contract via G-Cloud for the Hosting, Application Maintenance and Support of the local authority’s IT Estate—it will commence delivery of the service in November 2020. The contract covers 310 managed applications, of which approximately 20 are key line of business, critical to the efficient running of the council’s services. Version 1 will help the council decommission its legacy data centre and move towards a public cloud focused approach utilising Azure. It will also help the council move core systems to SaaS delivery.

UKHotView PremiumSpeaking to TechMarketView, Ben Goward, Harrow Council’s Director of ICT, said the council's IT estate is in significant need for a refresh, but now has the opportunity to make a step change in its digital services. He stressed that Harrow Council is only at the beginning of the journey towards comprehensive digital transformation. It is about getting the basics right and creating the foundations for the future—fixing the plumbing. However, the council can apply the lessons learned from those local authorities that are further along their transformation journey and, working in partnership with Version 1, make a positive step change in IT services over the next few years. 

TechMarketView subscribers, including those signed up to UKHotViews Premium can find out more about Harrow Council's plans in UKHotViewsExtra: Harrow Council looks to the future with Version 1. If you are not yet a subscriber, please contact Deb Seth to find out how to access this and much more.

Posted by: Dale Peters

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Wednesday 08 July 2020

Marine expert Concirrus brings CommerzVentures on board

ConcirrusInnovative UK insurtech, Concirrus, has secured an additional £6m in funding as part of a strategic investment by CommerzVentures. The deal follows the company’s successful Series B funding in February that raised $20m via Eos Ventures, IQ Capital and the technology arm of Albion Capital (see: Concirrus makes waves amongst marine insurers).

Founded by Andrew Yeoman and Craig Hollingworth and chaired by respected industry veteran, Richard Little, Concirrus is one of the new breed of data driven innovators that are helping to transform some of the most traditional corners of the insurance ecosystem. Best known for its Quest platform, Concirrus utilises advanced analytics and IoT to help underwriters better price risks associated with marine industries.

The involvement of CommerzVentures appears to be an astute move by Concirrus. The company’s new funding partner is a good fit in terms of industry knowledge and expertise. CommerzVentures was originally the corporate venture arm of Commerzbank AG and has already invested in some of Europe’s leading disruptive innovators including Mambu, iwoca and By Miles.

Interestingly, despite the widespread global impact of the pandemic, some within the marine insurance industry are reporting significantly improved fortunes of late. Marine infrastructure still needs to be insured and even though the movement of goods and physical assets has reduced somewhat, the market has firmed up in terms of premium levels.

Posted by: Jon C Davies

Tags: funding  

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Wednesday 08 July 2020

Royal Marsden HR team gets virtual assistance from IBM Watson

IBM logoThe COVID-19 crisis has put healthcare providers around the world in urgent need of the added agility that technology provides. This applies not just in the clinical setting, but in the way hospitals operate behind the scenes too. The Royal Marsden, a world-leading cancer centre with hospitals in London and Surrey, is a fantastic example of this rapid digital transformation in action. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the Royal Marsden has turned to IBM Watson to help it launch its first ever virtual agent, Ask Maisie, to support the human resources team.

Royal Marsden logoWhen COVID-19 struck, it created an unprecedented flood of information requests from hospital workers into its HR team as employees looked for answers about childcare, shielding, workplace arrangements, testing and more. The Royal Marsden has therefore been working with IBM at pace to create a virtual agent that will help deliver the support that key workers need while reducing the strain on the human resources team.

Maisie, the virtual agent launched at the weekend, brings together IBM Watson Assistant and its Natural Language Processing capabilities delivered via the IBM public cloud, to understand and respond to common questions about COVID-19. Keyworkers can access Maisie at any time via the hospital’s intranet to get rapid and consistent information. The virtual agent will continue to enhance its knowledge base and learn from interactions with users. With common questions answered more quickly through automation and AI, the HR team will be able to focus on more complex areas, or issues requiring a more personal touch.  

As the pandemic moves to the next phase, we expect to see more healthcare providers accelerating their digital transformation plans, both to give clinicians time to focus on patients, and to support the smooth running of the hospital.

Posted by: Tola Sargeant

Tags: nhs   automation   AI   nlp   covid-19   healtcare  

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Tuesday 07 July 2020

Backers organise funding campaign for Organise’s campaigns

logoWith examples such as the recent unmasking of online retailer BooHoo’s supply chain (see BooHoo shares crash 23%), the premise behind London-based start-up Organise is ‘right time, right place’. But they are not the only player in this space.

Describing itself as a worker-driven network, Organise ‘does what it says on the tin’, connecting workers in and across enterprises to organise campaigns for better working conditions. Organise was founded in 2017 by Nat Whalley (CEO) and Bex Hay, who had both worked for London-based online campaigning organisation 38 Degrees, though not at the same time.

Now with some 500,000 members in the network, Organise surveys 10% of the membership each week about their working conditions, which they use to spot shared challenges that collective action could address. Members can also start a campaign (petition, survey or open letter) directly through the platform. Recent campaigns include helping Amazon workers win a £500 COVID-19 bonus, a petition to retailer Primark to for more security “after customers don't follow pandemic rules”, and submitting responses to government about universal basic income.

Organise had been running on the proverbial ‘whiff of an oily rag’. The platform is free, but there’s a premium support option at £2 per month as well as a donations page. Therefore the just-announced £570k in seed funding will be most welcome. The round was led by Ada Ventures, in its remit to back “overlooked markets and founders”. Also participating is Form Ventures, RLC Ventures (a seed-stage fund who commit a portion of their profits back to charitable causes chosen by founders), and Ascension Ventures via its Fair By Design Fund.

What seems to differentiate Organise from 38 Degrees is its focus specifically on workers’ rights. 38 Degrees, which was founded in 2008 and now has two million members, seems to have a much broader campaign remit (e.g. “Do everything you can to stop a no-deal Brexit” and even “Happy Birthday Boris Johnson!”), but also includes workers’ rights campaign such as for NHS employees. 38 Degrees is also funded by donation and has an online shop for campaign merchandise.

Whalley and Hay clearly know the campaign territory and assumedly believed that 38 Degrees didn’t cut the mustard on workers’ rights, so good luck to them with Organise, I say.

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: funding   startup  

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Tuesday 07 July 2020

UK Government-led consortium buys into satellites

OneWeb logoIt has been widely reported that a consortium, led by UK Government, is acquiring London HQ’ed satellite constellation operator, OneWeb. With UK Government in the consortium is Bharti Global, part of Bharti Enterprises. Both parties are contributing $500m towards the $1b acquisition, with the UK taking a 20% stake and Bharti supplying business management and commercial operations for the firm.

OneWeb entered bankruptcy proceedings at the end of March when its major private investor, SoftBank, backed out, and it failed to raise additional funding to pursue its mission. The company is building out a broadband satellite network, to provide access to low-latency, high-speed, broadband via low Earth orbit satellites. Prior to its bankruptcy it had launched 74 of the 650 satellites it planned.

The benefits for the UK Government, and the UK, appear threefold. Firstly, according the BBC, there is a possibility that OneWeb might relocate some of its existing manufacturing capability, which is currently in Florida (in partnership with Airbus) to the UK; this would be a boon at a time when many are losing their jobs in the sector. Secondly, the satellite constellation has the potential to support the UK Government’s stated pledge to help spread “gigabit capable” broadband ISP networks across the UK by the end of 2025; high-quality, affordable, connections, will be more important as home-working becomes more prevalent. And thirdly, it would be possible to utilise the satellite constellation of a second purpose – for Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) services to replace  access to the EU’s satellite navigation resource which it lost in January.

The importance of satellite technology, or SpaceTech, for UK public services, as well as commercial applications and, hence, to the UK economy, is high. Much of our critical national infrastructure relies on satellite technology. And it is estimated (by London Economics) that sectors generating 11.3% of UK GDP are supported directly by Global Navigation Satellite Systems, and an even wider range is supported indirectly. A report by London Economics in 2017 stated “The economic impact to GNSS-reliant present-day UK of a loss of GNSS has been estimated at £5.2b over a five-day period”.

Posted by: Georgina O'Toole

Tags: satellite  

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Tuesday 07 July 2020

DXC hit by ransomware attack within Xchanging arm

DXCDXC Technology has revealed that its Xchanging subsidiary has been hit by a ransomware attack. According to a statement released by DXC, the security breach is thought to be isolated to the Xchanging environment and has not compromised the wider DXC network.

In response to the cyber-attack, DXC has implemented a series of containment measures in an effort to control and resolve the situation. The company has indicated that it is actively working with those customers that have been affected as it works to try to restore access to their operating environment.

Business process specialist, Xchanging, was acquired by DXC’s previous incarnation, CSC, in 2016 for £480m. The company is a major supplier to the UK insurance industry and operates on a standalone basis. In the UK Xchanging manages DXC’s flagship relationship with the London Market.

DXC has enlisted the help of law enforcement agencies and external cyber security specialists to investigate the security breach. The company has indicated that it will continue to update customers, shareholders, and staff as it works to mitigate the impact of the ransomware attack.

Regardless of the immediate operational and potential financial implications, the security breach is highly unfortunate for DXC in terms of its battered corporate image. The US technology giant is currently wrestling with a multitude of challenges as it seeks to turn its fortunes around and significant, ongoing cuts to staffing levels are unlikely to have helped the situation (see: Salvino circles the wagons as DXC’s decline continues).

Posted by: Jon C Davies

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Tuesday 07 July 2020

Micro Focus: managing its way through disruption

Micro Focus logoMicro Focus managed its way through the six months to 30 April so was able to turn in performance that was consistent with previously issued guidance of February and March, while dealing with C-19 impact and progressing internal changes initiated following its earlier strategic and operational review.  

That meant constant currency revenue from continuing operations of $145bn, a decline of 11.3%, with Adjusted EBITDA down 15.5% to $552m. 2% of the revenue decline was attributed to C-19 impact but cost management mitigated the impact on Adjusted EBITDA. Business line performance was mixed and overall business slowed in April as customers deferred projects. Some maintenance renewal delays also impacted the top line. However, with around 70% of its revenue from recurring sources and products that are embedded into organisations and support critical business operations Micro Focus has a strong baseline.

It was a busy period internally, including successful debt refinancing so the company now has no long term loans maturing until June 2024. It has also been working through its plans to evolve its operational model and transition its go-to-market to improve sales effectiveness. Planning is progressing in terms of accelerating the shift to SaaS and subscriptions for security and Big Data in particular but the pace could be faster. C-19 lockdowns impacted execution of its core systems transformation programme so it is now aiming for the latter of two possible cut over scenarios of November 2020 and February 2021 (vs. May and November 2020), which could impact the costs of the programme. It also faced a swirl of - totally unsubstantiated - rumours of acquisition by Open Text or a move into private ownership.  

The management team remains rightly cautious in these uncertain economic times and ready to take further action if needed but has acted to strengthen the balance sheet and continues to address operational issues. Its strength lies in its diversified customer base and deeply embedded software infrastructure products that have a role in supporting organisations’ digital transformation initiatives.

Posted by: Angela Eager

Tags: results   software  

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Tuesday 07 July 2020

RM: a tale of two quarters

RM logoEducation technology and resources business RM plc started its fiscal year positively but subsequently was heavily impacted by the school closures and the cancellation of examinations that stemmed from the COVID-19 crisis (see RM updates on COVID-19 impact).

Revenue for Q1 was up 2% year-on-year (YoY), but a 33% fall in Q2 resulted in revenue for the six months ended 31 May 2020 dropping 17% to £79.3m (H1 2019: £95.5m). Adjusted operating profit was down 57% YoY to £4.2m (H1 2019: £9.7m) and statutory profit before tax fell 74% to £2.2m (H1 2019: £8.4m).

The RM Resources division was most heavily impacted by the closures and restricted access to schools and nurseries. Revenue was down 29% to £35.1m compared to last year (H1 2019: £49.2m) resulting in an operating loss of £2.1m (H1 2019: £3.1m). Revenue for RM Results fell 10% to £15.1m (H1 2019: £16.8m) due to the cancellation of exams, resulting in adjusted operating profit of £3.0m (H1 2019: £4.5m). On a brighter note, the division secured a new contract with the IEA to deliver the e-assessment technology for the TIMMS programme (see RM secures e-assessment deal with IEA).

The strongest performance came from RM Education, its core software and services business, where revenue declined by less than 2% to £29.1m (H1 2019: £29.5m). The division added two school chains (see here and here) during the period. Adjusted operating profit for the division improved by 12% to £4.9m (H1 2019: £4.3m).

It has been a tale of two quarters for RM—a positive Q1 was followed by an extremely challenging Q2. Despite the difficulties, RM remains in a strong financial position. Management reports trading has begun to improve, but it remains difficult to predict the impact of the pandemic in H2. Longer term, the business will benefit as states and individual education establishments invest in technology to counter future disruption from COVID-19, which is likely to accelerate digitisation in the sector (see COVID-19: The impact on UK public sector SITS for further discussion).

Posted by: Dale Peters

Tags: results   education   H1   schools   covid-19  

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Tuesday 07 July 2020

Big 4 face operational split of audit practices

LogoDeloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC must implement the operational separation of their audit practiceslogo from the rest of their activities by June 2023. New principles announced by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), an independent Logobody in the UK and Ireland responsible for regulating auditors, accountants and actuaries, aim to ensure that audit practices are focused primarily on delivery of high-quality audits in the public interest, and do logonot rely on cross subsidy from the rest of their firm. The Big 4 each need to provide a transitional timetable for this hiving-off within the next four months.

The move is one element of the FRC’s strategy to improve the quality and effectiveness of corporate reporting and audit in the UK. It follows the Kingman, Competition and Markets Authority and Brydon reviews which were triggered by the recent spate of high-profile audit debacles including those at BHS and Carillion. They include the stipulation that the total amount of profits distributed to the partners in the audit practice does not persistently exceed the contribution to profits of the audit practice

The implications for the Big 4, which together audit 97% of FTSE 350 companies, are potentially significant. Audit fees accounted for c.30% of their total revenues last year with management consulting generating around a quarter of combined FY19 sales. Throughout the various reviews, they have consistently argued against proposals that would see any form of separation of the audit businesses from the rest of their firms.

The new FRC rules fall short of ordering a full structural split under which an audit firm would not be permitted to sell any form of consultancy to audit clients. They do, however, seek to address the concerns both that audit services have been used as “loss leaders” by the Big 4 to secure strong account positions from which to sell more lucrative consulting and advisory services, and that the scale and the profitability of non-audit client revenues risk influencing the rigour of audit practices.

It is too soon to tell whether this announcement will ultimately lead to a repeat of the post-Enron reforms driven spin-offs of twenty years ago. These saw EY and PwC sell their consulting businesses to Capgemini and IBM respectively and eventually resulted in the acquisition of KPMG’s UK consulting practice by Atos. This is, however, a space that we will be watching closely.

Posted by: Duncan Aitchison

Tags: big+4   consultancy  

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Tuesday 07 July 2020

Altitude feels the COVID impact

altPromotional products provider, Altitude Group, has updated the market on business for the period from March 2020. These months obviously take in the lockdown period, and the firm reports that supplier partners saw declines of up to 80% in regular promotional product orders.

Around 25% of revenue comes from subscription and fixed program fees, which have so far been only “minimally affected” by the pandemic. However, other revenue (which is reliant on transactional volume) was hit in the quarter to end June. Altitude says this will “adversely impact the Company's cashflow in the quarter to September”.

In March, we pointed put that the firm’s personalised products market looked highly vulnerable. However, against a very challenging backdrop, Altitude moved swiftly to manage discretionary spend and cash accordingly - and remains debt-free. Encouragingly, the firm says it has been able to do this while adapting to the changing needs of its Members and suppliers.

Due to the high levels of uncertainty with regards to market conditions, the firm remains unable to give guidance for its year to the end of March 2021. It intend to announce full year results for the 15 months ended 31 March by the end of September 2020.

Posted by: Kate Hanaghan

Tags: tradingupdate  

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Tuesday 07 July 2020

PCI-PAL forges ahead in H2

PCI-PALPCI-PAL, the payment security and customer engagement specialist, has released a trading update highlighting its continued strong growth. The statement, in advance of the company’s full year results for the fiscal ended 30 June 2020, indicates that PCI-PAL expects to report revenue of £4.4m, an increase of over 55% year on year.

In particular, the excellent growth rate enjoyed by the company reflects a healthy increase in the Total Annual Contract Value (TACV) of deals signed to date. PCI-PAL’s TACV has grown by 68% year on year to £6.7m. During the last 12 months, PCI-PAL has also secured new contracts with a recurring Annual Contract Value (ACV) of £2.6m and enjoyed a strong H2 performance, despite previous fears of an impending slowdown (see: Delays force PCI-PAL to lower H2 outlook).

As a provider of secure, contactless payments, the impact of the coronavirus and the realities of lockdown, are likely to have helped to fuel PCI-PAL’s excellent growth. Meanwhile, the company’s channel strategy has also proved to be a major success and has transformed PCI-PAL’s fortunes over the last 24 months. Around 80% of the new contracts signed during FY20 were generated via partners, and this route to market appears to demonstrate the main opportunity for the company as it continues to scale its global operations.

Posted by: Jon C Davies

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Tuesday 07 July 2020

BotsAndUs raises $6m for its service robot

botsandusBotsAndUs, a London-based manufacturer of service robots targeting the travel and retail sectors, has raised $6m including an equity funding round led by Kindred Capital and Capnamic Ventures. The company has also benefited from funding from the European Union as well as Innovate UK.

robotBotsAndUs’s core product is a 1.25-metre-high robot designed to help shoppers in-store with information or passengers needing travel assistance within a terminal building – think interactive mobile kiosks on wheels. Clients include Heathrow Airport and British Airways.

Whilst we have seen a growing number of kiosks within both travel and retail, robots are pretty thin on the ground in busy and noisy environments that can pose problems for bots.

The recovery and long term trajectory of hospitality, travel and retail is likely to see more automation, however funds for investment are likely to be in short supply for the foreseeable future, so success here will likely require pretty rapid return on investment if it’s to get the “green light” in these extremely challenging times.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick

Tags: funding   robotics  

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