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Monday 06 April 2020

Data privacy startup Privitar goes public on $80m raise

logoDespite the now apparent – but unsurprising – slowdown – in UK VC tech funding comes news of a truly blockbuster (in UK terms) funding round for London-headquartered enterprise data privacy software startup, Privitar, which as raised a further $80m in a Series C round led by new investor Warburg Pincus, with participation from existing backers Accel, Partech, IQ Capital, Salesforce Ventures and new backer ABN AMRO Ventures whose parent company also uses the platform.

Founded in 2014, we picked up on their story back in  2017 with their Series A raise (see Privitar goes public on $16m funding round). Just 10 months ago, Privitar raised $40m in its Series B round (see Privitar raises dosh but fails ‘cookie privacy' test - updated here). Besides London, Privitar now has offices in the US (New York, Austin, Boston), Paris, Poland and Singapore.

Privitar’s functionality includes personal data de-identification, invisible data watermarking and data access policy management, which can be invoked by legacy applications through an API. The platform is used by NHS Digital, as well HSBC, BT and Astra Zeneca.

Looks like the UK has another budding global tech champion on its hands!

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: funding   startup  

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Monday 06 April 2020

Tech Goodness: ScaleUp Group offers free business reviews

logoOur very good friends at corporate advisory network ScaleUp Group are holding out a helping hand to scaleups looking for advice during the COVID-19 crisis.

ScaleUp Group is offering a free, no obligation hour-long call with a member of the ScaleUp Group team – all successful entrepreneurs themselves – to help scaleup founders decide best actions to take during the crisis and how to plan for the ‘new normal’, whenever that finally comes.

The offer is open to CEOs of privately-held B2B UK tech SMEs with a SaaS offering. They should have a headcount of at least 30 and annual recurring revenues of at least £1m, and consider their business to be in growth phase (or at least had been!).

For further information please contact ScaleUp Group Director Paul Excell (paul@scaleupgroup.co).

Posted by: Anthony Miller

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Monday 06 April 2020

Sage: preparing for the COVID-19 downswing

Sage logoSage’s half year trading and COVID-19 update shows a company in the in-between period of business as normal and COVID-19 impact. While organic recurring revenue for the six months to 31 March (c.90% of revenue) was ahead of guidance, the full year tally is expected to be below previous guidance of 8% to 9%. Just how far below, management is not/can't indicate at the moment (unsurprisingly COVID-19 impact is described as “highly uncertain”); updates are expected when interim results are released on 13 May.

The company has begun to feel the impact. Declining SSRS and processing revenue (c.10% of Group sales) is part of its strategy (see here and work back) but the decline accelerated towards the end of March, impacting licence sales and professional services implementations. And it is expected to “accelerate significantly” in the second half, with “some associated impact on margin”.

These comments come as no surprise given the developing global health and economic situation. What is important is how well Sage (and other suppliers) are able to weather the situation. For Sage, identified risks come from customers deferring purchase decisions, thereby slowing down new customer acquisition, licence sales and professional services implementations; and a higher business failure rate leading to an increase in churn. Both will have serious implications and with SMB’s often less robust than larger companies the latter could be particularly serious for Sage. However, fresh SMB’s will emerge in time which Sage could capture, particularly now SaaS-based Intacct is available. Although the c.90% level of recurring revenue is reassuring, the SaaS proportion is still modest but the company has put many of the technology and product pieces in place.

In the meantime, Sage had c.£1.3bn cash and available liquidity as at 31 March 2020, net debt to EBITDA as at 31 March 2020 is expected to be well below 1.0x, and it has loan maturities to call on. Having suspended its £250m share buy-back programme in March, it has now cancelled it (£6m of shares had been purchased).

Posted by: Angela Eager

Tags: software   tradingupdate  

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Monday 06 April 2020

Access Intelligence: adjusting to market changes

logoFull year results from Access Intelligence point to the success it has had embedding its acquisitions and benefitting from its restructuring (see here), resulting in revenue rising 51% to £13.3m in the year to 30 November 2019, and still achieving 42% growth without the strategic data and research-oriented Pulsar acquisition. 

While metrics such as ACV continue to improve for the SaaS-based company (up 46% to £18.1m), the bottom line is still a struggle. Adjusted EBITDA saw a small improvement from £0.03m to £0.8m, but LBT deepened from £1.7m to £2.9m (in part due to acquisition activity).

As a specialist in PR/communications/marketing software, Access Intelligence operates in a fierce area and one that COVID-19 will make all the fiercer. From Access’ perspective it observes that the immediacy and speed of communication is changing the fundamentals of brand engagement, forcing reappraisal of the channels, content and audiences and believes its Vuelio, Pulsar and ResponseSource portfolio will position it to provide the necessary insight, monitoring, evaluation and networking tools. The right portfolio and ability to rapidly adapt to new norms will be factors when to comes to surviving the COVID-19 impact.

Currently, COVID-19 impact varies by country, vertical, product type and scale of organisation. The company has seen slowing demand from brand led PR agencies and is monitoring smaller freelance clients where the risk of default is considered to be greater. However, there has been a rise in demand in some areas as 'new' opportunities have emerged. These are driving demand for Vuelio stakeholder monitoring, media management and Pulsar's online audience analysis which is replacing face-to-face market research to understand audience behaviour.

Posted by: Angela Eager

Tags: results   saas   software  

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Monday 06 April 2020

Corero FY19 sees 3% decline

A strong second half wasn’t enough to propel Corero Network Security’s FY19 into growth, with the cyber security company experiencing a 3% decline in revenue over the 12-month period ending 31St December 2019 while EBITDA losses expanded 33% to US$2.8m.

The writing was on the wall back in August when the AIM-listed distributed denial of service (DDoS) provider saw its first half turnover slump 16% yoy to US$4.2m, with EBITDA losses widening to US$2m from US$1.4m a year before. Business picked up markedly in H2 however, with the largest single order for the company’s DDoS protection as a service (DDPaaS) order to date in Q4 and the addition of 12 new customers, five of which were generated by the partnership with Juniper Networks which belatedly started to bear fruit.

The big question now is whether Corero can continue that second half momentum into a COVID-19 hit FY20 which looks set to be deflated by a vicious slump in spending and supply chain problems in sourcing relevant security hardware.

The two thirds (67%) of Corero’s customer base which are telecommunications service and cloud providers gives cause for optimism, but TechMarketView thinks there is only so long that sector can benefit from increased demand for remote working solutions. A recent surge in COVID-19 related ransomware, phishing and social engineering attacks (see COVID-1 escalates war on digital viruses) may drive security spending elsewhere, but probably not into DDoS and Corero must trust the long-term resilience of its business to ride out the current storm.

Posted by: Martin Courtney

Tags: results   DDoS   FY19   cybersecurity  

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Monday 06 April 2020

Nationwide cancels SME banking project in light of COVID-19

NationwideUK building society, Nationwide, has shelved its plans for a push into the small business banking market, in light of the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. As a result of its decision, Nationwide has also returned £50m that it received from the BCR reparations fund (see: Nationwide invests in Ordo to support SME push).

In preparation for its foray into SME banking, and to the surprise of some in the industry, Nationwide had made a £15m investment in cloud native core banking startup, 10x Future Technologies, (see: Nationwide invests in 10x with new core in mind). As a result of this funding, Nationwide also took a minority stake in 10x, the fintech founded by former Barclays CEO, Antony Jenkins. The vendor has been working with the Nationwide in support of its plans to target the UK’s 6m small businesses.

Nationwide has now revealed that, the impact of coronavirus has meant entering the business banking space is no longer commercially viable and all activity related to the project will cease as a result. It’s estimated that the cancellation will cost the society around £70m in the current financial year. Nationwide hopes that running cost and investment savings will make the decision cost neutral over the next 24 months. Meanwhile, staff engaged in the initiative will be redeployed to other roles within the society.

The news demonstrates the effect that COVID-19 is starting to have within financial services, with end-users reviewing IT projects already in-flight, as well as new spend. It is not just the immediate economic impact that is behind this, but also an uncertainty over timescales, the potential impact on interest rates and investment market performance. As ever in a downturn, there is a focus on core activities, a pull back from investments and initiatives relating to market expansion, coupled with tighter control of costs.

Posted by: Jon C Davies

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Monday 06 April 2020

Accenture says yes to Yesler

Accenture logoAccenture has made another move to deepen its capabilities in a particular area of its business – in this case, in B2B Marketing Services.

It has acquired B2B Marketing Services Agency, Yesler, for an undisclosed sum. The acquired company, which was founded in 2004, and has c400 people globally, is headquartered in Seattle. It also has offices in Portland, Philadelphia, Toronto, Singapore and London. Its London office serves customers in Europe and the Middle East.

Yesler has two divisions: Yesler B2B, which provides full-service digital marketing and management services, and Project line Services, which provides strategic resourcing solutions. Clients globally include Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Marketo, Salesforce, SAP and Wandisco.

Accenture states that the addition of Yesler will add depth in account-based marketing, customer advocacy, sales enablement and marketing automation, “enhancing the complete set of B2B services we provide our clients – from strategy and creative to implementation and ongoing management.” The belief is that the addition of Yesler will allow Accenture to offer a differentiated data-driven approach to B2B marketing.

Such bolt-on acquisitions are business as usual for Accenture; acquiring to add capabilities is a big part of the company’s strategy. As CEO Julie Sweet highlighted when it announced the organisation of the business in January, success requires continually evolving the business in line with the digital demands of its customer base (see Accenture reorganises to bring digital value at speed).

Posted by: Georgina O'Toole

Tags: acquisition   M&A  

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Monday 06 April 2020

Conduent helping track COVID-19

ConduentBusiness Process Services specialist Conduent provided an update on Friday as to how it is responding to the COVID-19 outbreak. Conduent has so far been able to convert some 50% of its global workforce to work-at-home, as it focuses efforts on supporting its clients through the crisis.  

The Public Sector forms a large part of Conduent’s US client base and here the firm is providing Health Bodies with access to its Maven Disease Surveillance and Outbreak Management Platform. Maven is software currently being used by some 40 organisations - primarily U.S. public health agencies - to track cases of more than 90 communicable diseases. These agencies can now access a brand-new module designed to track, manage and report cases of COVID-19.

As we all now know, information sharing is essential in helping “flatten the curve” of highly contagious diseases like COVID-19. Maven is specifically designed to support case management and ethical information sharing among epidemiologists, medical professionals and health departments. The software automates the integration of things like lab test results and reports from the patients themselves. Users can then adapt the platform themselves to track the virus in their specific locality helping visualise outbreak areas and case clusters.

Conduent has put Maven on the AWS Cloud to keep costs down and help organisations scale deployment. The firm is also waiving the license fee for the Maven COVID-19 module to at least the end of June for qualified agencies.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick

Tags: conduent   covid-19  

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Monday 06 April 2020

SOS from SMEs

UK tech StartUps and ScaleUps need urgent help to survive

SMEsWe’ve long been active supporters  - both TechMarketView and personally - of the band of Little British Battlers and Great British Scaleups that are so important both to the tech sector and the UK economy as a whole. The problem is that many of the companies are still in their growth but loss-making phases and therefore ineligible for most of the Coronavirus support schemes so far put in place. The last thing they want to do is furlough their workers - they were hard enough to find in the first place and to not have them continuing to contribute would be to throw in the towel.

Many of these firms are heavily dependent on investor support via the EIS or SEIS schemes. But reports reaching me indicate that recent EIS-based fundraising rounds have been 70% down on what was expected before the crisis hit. If these fledgling companies are to be saved, a bold and simple scheme needs to be enacted. Given the risks to investors, how about upping the tax break from the current 30% to, say, 45%?

Alternatively, how about making it as easy to apply and get loans as the Swiss seem to be able to do? See FT 5th Apr 20 - Swiss lead the way with crisis loans to small businesses. The report cites a Swiss tech company that took just 30 minutes to apply for and receive the funds for a loan of up to 10% of turnover compared with the company’s UK subsidiary investing huge time in applying for an emergency loan only for it to be denied. The Swiss scheme had helped 76,034 business in Week 1 compared to just 983 to date in the UK.

I don’t underestimate both the costs to the economy and risks in making the schemes too easy and generous. But without fast and effective action, many of the brightest UK tech SMEs will fail quickly and not be around to take part in the national recovery when this crisis is over.

Posted by: Richard Holway

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Sunday 05 April 2020

Airbnb - From Hero to Zero

airbnbOn Saturday I was extensively quoted in The Guardian - How the COVID-19 crisis locked Airbnb out of its own homes. I know, from many decades of experience, that often one’s comments are taken out of context. But, to be honest, I don’t even think I said the words I was quoted as saying. Saying “They are stuffed, the IPO just can’t happen’ really isn’t the way I talk! What I did say was that an IPO anytime before the COVID-19 crisis had abated was near impossible. Airbnb had a great business model BC. No real estate - just an intermediary between those wanting accommodation and those happy to rent out a room for night.  My own daughter has made a decent secondary living doing just that for years. Now she has cancelled existing guests and closed her airbnb for the foreseeable future..

My daughter was what Airbnb was designed for. Since then it has been highjacked by people buying properties specifically to rent on a short-term basis on Airbnb. This has taken many properties needed for ‘proper’ renters off the market. So interesting to see that (for example) Rightmove has recorded an increase of 78% in the number of properties in Bath coming back onto the rental market since the COVID-19 Lockdown.  

Airbnb is a real ‘Marmite’ company. Designed for people just like my daughter with a spare room in a City Centre. But not highjacked by people buying up multiple properties just to put those rooms on Airbnb. Nothing wrong with that you say? Well, actually YES. Firstly it deprives many people of an affordable home to rent. Secondly it kills that wonderful army of hotels and B&Bs (who have to obey all kinds of Health&Safety and other regulations) of a livelihood.

Already Airbnb has declared a loss of $322m in the first 9 months of 2019. Goodness know what 2020 will bring. Its hopes of a $31b valuation on IPO have evaporated. Last week CEO Brian Chesky told staff that the new valuation was $26b. Given that every quoted comparative has dropped by 50%+ since COVID-19, I’d suggest that was a bit optimistic!

Bluntly, Airbnb is worthless until the COVID-19 crisis has abated and people are not only happy to travel again but also allow strangers into their homes

Posted by: Richard Holway

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Sunday 05 April 2020

Strictly personal

Amongst our 25,000 readers each day, a number of you know me really well. You’ll know that, apart from my beloved family, I have two real loves - my garden and walking (for the last few years as a Walk Leader for The Ramblers).

GardenI, like the whole population, are subject to the same restrictions on what we can and cannot do. Fortunately we have no COVID-19 symptoms so are not in self isolation. So I can still go on walks. Hugely fortunate as the Greensands Way and North Downs Way form two of the boundaries to our garden. So many and varied walks without getting into my car. On top of that I have my lovely garden. We usually have many visitors at this time of year and have often opened for the National Garden Scheme (NGS) It almost seems selfish to not share its beauty as Spring bursts into flower.

I am so, so fortunate. I really feel for those stuck in a one bedroom flat on the 14th floor of a high rise block with several children. Must be a nightmare. You should read Cononavirus lockdown: ‘If you have a garden, you’re OK. In my flat is hell’ from the Sunday Times today. My heart goes out to her.

My friends know that I post a ‘Flower of the Day’ on my personal website. I get so many comments saying how much it cheers people up. So here is today’s photo. If you want the link email me on rholway@techmarketview.com. Reluctant to give it out more widely for obvious reasons. But happy to share if I know who you are!

Keep safe and healthy.

Posted by: Richard Holway

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Friday 03 April 2020

Ascential: COVID-19 performance impact

logoIndications of the economic impact of COVID-19 on individual companies are emerging. This morning, information, data and analytics provider Ascential announced its decision to cancel its 2020 Cannes Lions Festival for creatives. 

The impact on company financials will be significant because the Festival and associated regional events contributed just over half the revenue earned by Ascential’s Marketing segment in 2019. The Marketing segment delivered revenue of £135.9m (9% organic growth) in FY19, out of total revenue of £416m, during a year when the company was benefitting from efforts to reshape the business around a data base.

Moves to protect the overall business include scrapping the final dividend, cutting the cost base, suspending salary increases, including for Executive and Non-Executive Directors, and temporarily reducing Executive Directors' salaries and Non-Executive Director fees by 25%. Ascential is one of the first wave of companies to detail initial COVID-19 impacts and notes it is aleady seeing "signficant disruption" across the marketing and communications industry.

Posted by: Angela Eager

Tags: software   tradingupdate   covid-19  

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Friday 03 April 2020

*New Research* Digital Marketplace Dashboards P11 2019-20

Dashboard ImageFollowing the publication of our Digital Marketplace 2019 Review in January, TechMarketView are now trialling the introduction of monthly dashboards of the key sales data from the G-Cloud and Digital Outcomes & Specialists (DOS) frameworks.

The first of these updates covers February 2020 (P11 in the government fiscal year 2019-20). In the year to date (covering 11 months from April 2019 to February 2020) total Digital Marketplace spend stood at £2,127m, which was up 19.9% compared to the same period in 2018-19. However, spend in February alone was down 3.4% year-on-year and down 3.2% compared to January 2020.

We typically see a spike in spending in the last period of the financial year, but we will have to wait a few more weeks for the March data to be published before we can see what impact rising fears about COVID-19 had on spend during the month.

February data shows the leading suppliers in both G-Cloud and DOS continuing to do well. Amazon Web Services (AWS) led the way in G-Cloud sales, with its £14.2m income being nearly four times that of Methods in second place. The vast majority of AWS’ business during the month came via the Home Office (see AWS strengthens Home Office relationship with new four-year deal). Kainos continues to perform well through DOS, securing £7.0m in sales—it has now been the leading supplier in nine out of the 11 periods in 2019-20.

If you are an existing PublicSectorViews subscriber, you can view the dashboards now. If you’d like to discuss an extension to your existing subscription or would like details of how to subscribe to TechMarketView, please email Deb Seth.

Posted by: Dale Peters

Tags: government   g-cloud   data   dos   digitalmarketplace  

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Friday 03 April 2020

iomart update points to squeezed margins

iomartIn its trading update for the year to the end of March 2020, iomart says it expects revenue growth of 8% to c£112m. Organic growth in the Cloud Services division was 6%, lifted in particular by a “strong performance by our hardware reseller team”. However, a change in the revenue mix in the year – combined with increased investment in the sales organisation – pushed the adjusted operating profit margin down to c22% from 25.7%.

In the past couple of months, the firm completed two acquisitions. In February, it bought the managed private cloud division of privately owned ServerChoice Limited, for an initial consideration of £2.1m (with a further maximum consideration of £900k). Then in mid-March it acquired Memset for an initial consideration of £3.3m (also with a further maximum consideration of £900k). Both acquisitions are expected to be immediately earnings enhancing.

Given the timing of iomart’s year end, we are unlikely to see any impact from the COVID-19 crisis on the financials. The firm says its datacentres remain operational “to high standards of security and resilience” and that all customer support has been maintained. So far, business levels have not been impacted – partly due to the nature of iomart’s recurring revenue model and lack of exposure to the hardest hit sectors.

While the uncertainty will increase from here on in, the direction of travel towards cloud is not likely to change for most of its customers. Ultimately, however, even if a tech firm is resilient and well run, its business is only as good as the investment ability of its customer base. Verticals such as retail, travel and hospitality have clearly been hit the hardest in the first instance, but any potential recession would have a much broader impact.

Posted by: Kate Hanaghan

Tags: cloud  

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Friday 03 April 2020

Tech Goodness: PPE logistics from Cambridge Uni and RedBite

logoTech-enabled grassroots initiatives to tackle pressing COVID-19 challenges continue to emerge. University of Cambridge has set up a logistics centre to process PPE equipment donated by the university labs, its partners and alumni for distribution to local GP surgeries, clinics and hospitals. And it is using object tracking software from its IoT-centric spin-out RedBite to help manage the process. logo

RedBite’s Itemit software allows information about the donations to be logged, which means only NHS-approved equipment is forwarded and local services in need can view the items in real time and place orders.

This initiative (one of several ways the University is contributing to the fight against COVID-19), highlights the value of tech to support and bring efficiencies to volunteer activities, and the value of connecting physical and digital environments to reduce friction within operations. Post pandemic, the operational value of point solutions like RedBite that play a largely unsung role in connecting processes could well rise. For more thoughts around this, see Introducing Frictionless Fabric: Architecting the ultimate digital entity

Posted by: Angela Eager

Tags: software   Techgoodness  

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Friday 03 April 2020

Tech Goodness: IBM's Watson Assistant answers questions on COVID-19

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve reported on numerous ways in which AI is being deployed to support the fight against COVID-19, from modelling the consequences of moving NHS resources (Tech Goodness: NHS plans Covid-19 response with AI support), to helping to diagnose the disease itself (see Intelligent Ultrasound makes good progress in AI medical image analysis). Although it may not attract as many headlines, AI is also being used by government agencies and healthcare organisations to put critical data and information on COVID-19 into the hands of citizens. 

IBM logoIBM has, for example, deployed ‘Watson Assistant for Citizens’ around the world to provide responses to COVID-19 questions. It has made the technology, which can be used online or by phone, available at no charge for at least 90 days on the IBM public cloud. The offering brings together Watson Assistant, Natural Language Processing (NLP) from IBM Research, and AI search capabilities from Watson Discovery, to understand and respond to common questions about COVID-19.

The Watson Assistant has already been deployed in the US, Czech Republic, Greece, Poland and Spain to provide responses to COVID-19 questions. It will also shortly go live in Wales where NHS Wales Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board plans to use CERi, an English and Welsh speaking virtual assistant, to support healthcare workers and the general public in Wales who need information on the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. 

As with other digital technologies that are being rapidly deployed as a result of COVID-19 (see for example COVID-19: Forcing a gear-change in employee workplace experience?), it is likely that organisations and individuals will get more accustomed to using digital assistants in this way and their use will remain more prevalent after the crisis has passed. As Rob Thomas, General Manager IBM Data & AI, said: “The current environment has made it clear that every business in every industry should find ways to digitally engage with their clients and employees.” 

Posted by: Tola Sargeant

Tags: AI   nlp   healthcare   covid-19  

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Friday 03 April 2020

Tech Goodness: National Business Response Network launched

BITCBusiness in the Community (BITC) the business-led membership organisation, has launched a National Business Response Network to enable firms to support local organisations during the COVID-19 crisis. BITC is a 40-year-old business network originally launched by HRH The Prince of Wales to champion responsible business.COVID-19

The National Business Response Network is a support hub and website that enables organisations who are in need of support because of Covid-19 to be matched with businesses who are able to help. Requests for help are posted by schools, charities, local authorities and other community groups, and a quick scroll through the current list of requests shows them to be highly relevant to tech companies and businesses in the tech sector. Examples of support needed include hardware to support remote working, assistance with website design and development, training and data support.

Tech companies able to help can sign up on the site outlining the kind of support they are able to provide - the network then matches this with help needed on a regional and local basis.

As we have seen with our ‘Tech Goodness’ series there are a huge numbers of businesses of all shapes and sizes helping the national response to Coronavirus. However, its often really difficult to know where to begin and to target help to those who need it most. BITC’s National Business Response Network looks like a great way of getting help on the ground quickly, in a really practical and targeted way. For those interested in helping you can link here.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick

Tags: covid-19   Techgoodness  

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Friday 03 April 2020

Vendors relax partner obligations to ease pressure

hpIn recognition that tech firms need to be funnelling their efforts into the welfare of their staff and continuity of service to customers right now, some vendors are relaxing programme obligations for partners.

One such vendor is HP, which is making changes to its programme to take the pressure off its partners and reduce the financial burden. For example, it’s relaxing compensation models and extending the deadline for submission of proof sales/performance.

Meanwhile, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has told partners they will be able to maintain their 2019 Tier status throughout this year. That could well be welcomeaws news for very small players in particular as enhanced tier requirements were introduced this year that would have required additional investment. All new upgrades to partner status will need to meet the established programme criteria, but the company’s standard compliance review will now not resume until 2021.

However, should customers be worried that this means they will be on the receiving end of a reduced quality of service from the channel? On the contrary, the purpose of these temporary changes is to reduce the resource commitment required from a supplier so it can be focused on customer delivery/service. Each year vendors typically make efforts to improve the quality of their programmes and therefore the scope/quality of what partners are able to deliver to customers. However, that doesn’t mean that what was in place in 2019 is insufficient for high quality delivery in 2020.

Posted by: Kate Hanaghan

Tags: channel   partner  

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Friday 03 April 2020

Spring bounce preps Redcentric

Redcentric TURedcentric’s FY19 trading update was short on actual numbers but big on details of its anticipated performance in what may prove to be the key COVID-19 hit months of March and April. Trading performance for the year ended 31st March 2020 is in line with expectations, which could be seen as either a good or a bad thing given the 9% decline reported in H1.

The AIM-listed IT Services provider reported a “material increase in sales opportunities” as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in the second half of March, with particularly strong demand for increased network bandwidth and secure remote access products driven by swathes of employees suddenly forced to work from home.

That led to a bounce in new recurring revenue contracts and sales leads which are expected to drive some additional volumes from existing clients in April amidst lower levels of churn and contract cancellations. New customers though will prove much harder to come by, with the company expecting a reduction in sales and slowdown in major change projects for the duration of the crisis, likely to be exacerbated by delayed payments and client bankruptcies.

Redcentric’s strong public sector focus is a definite advantage. Around 90% of its revenue is recurring and half of that comes specifically from the health sector after the company was appointed as a preferred supplier to the Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) and Public Services Network (PSN). Reappointment to the G-Cloud and a place on the government’s £5bn Network Services 2 purchasing framework too should help sustain other elements of its public sector business.

But there’s no getting away from the fact the company has seen consistently flat or declining sales since its FY16 accounting restatement and subsequent investigation. The challenging macro-economic conditions caused by COVID-19 are unlikely to improve any recovery in FY20 if the widely anticipated short-term collapse of private sector sales stretches on for long.

Posted by: Martin Courtney

Tags: g-cloud   hscn   tradingupdate   networkinfrastructure   remoteworking  

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Friday 03 April 2020

Tech Goodness: Intelligent Ultrasound training clinicians at NHS Nightingale

Intelligent Ultrasound logoLast week we reported that AIM-listed Intelligent Ultrasound Group had launched a COVID-19 training module for its BodyWorks ultrasound simulator (see Tech Goodness: Intelligent Ultrasound launches COVID-19 training simulator).

It has now been announced that the training simulator has been made available in the emergency simulation centre established at the NHS Nightingale Hospital at London's ExCel centre (see Tech Goodness: NHS Nightingale IT deployed in less than a week). The training simulator, which includes examples of lung ultrasound appearances typical of COVID-19 infection, will be supported by Intelligent Ultrasound staff on site helping train clinicians to rapidly acquire and practice lung ultrasound skills.

The low cost and safety of ultrasound compared to radiological tests such as CT scans, its repeatability and ease of disinfection, as well as its ability to help reduce patient movement by facilitating point of care use, means it could be a great asset to clinicians working in the NHS Nightingale Hospitals. As well as the site at ExCel in London, new hospitals are being established in Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol and Harrogate. 

Posted by: Dale Peters

Tags: nhs   healthcare   covid-19  

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Friday 03 April 2020

Tech Goodness: Helping you teach STEM from home

ICGI logot’s a situation so many of us are in. Trying to keep our children motivated and engaged with their home-schooling while also trying to do our own jobs. A tough ask!

It’s why CGI’s initiative piqued my interest. While its ‘STEM from home’ programme was initially targeted at its own members' children, it was so successful it's now being opened up externally to anyone who has children to entertain.

TRobotics Resource Pack from CGIhe programme consists of weekly STEM-based activity packs that can be completed by children aged 6-14.  Activities will encompass all aspects of STEM, including coding, environmental sustainability and robotics. There will be a range of activities each week, involving activities with technical, practical and physical elements.

The first two activity packs are available and ready to go at Stem from Home… they are on ‘Introduction to Coding & Design’ and ‘Robotics’. Let CGI know whether they are useful to you; you can share pictures and comments on social media with the hashtag #STEMfromHome and #ExperienceCGI.

Posted by: Georgina O'Toole

Tags: education   STEM   covid-19   coronavirus  

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Friday 03 April 2020

LAST CHANCE TODAY TO PARTNER WITH CGI!

logologoTechMarketView is helping CGI, one of the world’s largest IT and business consulting services firms, find innovative tech companies based in the North of England as potential partners. Apply now for the chance to be one of them.

This is a great opportunity to get onto CGI's radar and potentially leverage your business in these extraordinarily uncertain times. Many UK tech SMEs have already applied - don't be left out.

Applications close at 6pm TODAY, Friday, 3rd April 2020.

Pitch event

We will be running virtual’ pitch sessions over Webex week beginning 27th April 2020 to identify businesses that are the best fit for a strategic partnership with CGI at a date and time to be agreed with successful applicants.

To apply, you must be a UK tech-focused company whose head office is based in the North of England or have a significant presence there. You should have innovative software solutions and/or skills that play to one or more emerging technology themes, in particular:

  • Advanced Analytics
  • Agile/DevOps
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Customer and employee experience
  • Intelligent Automation
  • Smart Cities (including immersive, 5G, drones, digital twin)

These solutions should address particular use cases in at least one of the Manufacturing or Transport & Logistics or Local Government sectors.

Why partner with CGI?

  • Market access – CGI has extensive and strong business relationships with clients across the public and private sectors in the North of England and broader UK.
  • Regional development – the North of England is a key market for CGI. Working together your organisation can benefit from CGI’s growth, and expand its footprint in your local market.
  • Business growth – CGI will help build your pipeline, using its scale to help open large clients and opportunities up to your business.
  • Solution development – working together to meet client demand, CGI can help further develop and refine your solution, whilst respecting your IP rights.
  • Extend your Ecosystem – you’ll have access to CGI’s wider network of Ecosystem partners aligned to emerging technologies to help extend your market reach.

Applications

To apply for the pitch event, please complete the webform HERE by 6pm TODAY,, Friday 3rd April 2020. We will advise all applicants on the status of their applications by Friday 17th April.

You can find full details on our website HERE.

For further information please email programmes@techmarketview.com.

Posted by: HotViews Editor

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Thursday 02 April 2020

*NEW RESEARCH* Future Growth in RPA

Our new research (download here) looks at where the Robotic Process Automation (RPA) market is today, what adoption of automation looks like in practice, and what is likely to drive the next wave of growth within the market. It concludes with a range of recommendations for both software vendors and service providers.

RPA reportThere has been a sense in the SITS market for some time, that RPA has lost its way as a technology. RPA vendors have focused on the more eye catching, “sexier” aspects of the what automation technologies can deliver, such as AI driven RPA platforms and human/robot blended workforces, often promoted to help justify lofty valuations. Whilst there is, of course, nothing wrong with looking to the future, the focus on the technologies themselves has led to a neglect of how they might add value to client organisations. The result has been market hype running well ahead of reality which has led to both disappointment and frustration within client organisations.

In our 2020 predictions we have suggested that this is the year that RPA must get “back to basics” -  scaling what is working and delivering client value, industrialising those areas that are delivering genuine business outcomes for clients. In this report (download here) we will have a look at how far the market has come in the UK, reflect on where it is working well and then identify the best route to future growth.

If you are not yet a Tech Insights subscriber, please contact Deb Seth to find out how you can access this research.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick

Tags: newresearch   RPA  

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Thursday 02 April 2020

IEG4: COVID-19 impact on local government demand

IEG4 logoWe are slowly gathering intelligence on how the COVID-19 situation is impacting companies operating in the UK tech sector. The insights will help us shape our view of the market over the coming year and beyond.

One of our former Little British Battlers, SME IEG4 (see UKHotViews archive), provider of digital solutions for the local government and health sectors, has highlighted to us the increased demand for its offerings in the current climate.

IEG4 chart showing forms completed per dayIt has just come to an end of its financial year (to end March 2020) and states it will report small year-year growth and an increased profit. But it’s what has happened over the last month that is particularly striking. The last month has seen a 50% growth in the amount of benefits forms submitted via its service (see graph). It is now ramping up the development and provision of other COVID-19 related forms related to crisis measures.

It is undertaking specific initiatives for customers free of charge (in line with our Tech Goodness series) so that local authorities can respond effectively to citizens and businesses needing to make contact during this period. These include mobile-responsive forms for citizens (to capture details and determine assistance required) and businesses (e.g. related to business rates, sick pay, self-employed assistance etc.); a revised version of the Social Fund application to capture information relevant in the current situation; a benefits Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system for users of the Northgate or Capita back office benefits system; and enhancements to IEG4 customer support.

Longer-term, IEG4 believes, as others have also highlighted, that the benefits of channel shift have been brought into the spotlight. The belief is that the upsurge in demand for digital transformation solutions will endure as councils become more convinced of the potential to cut costs and drive efficiencies. Local authority laggards, in particular, will need to pick up the pace to ensure they are delivering basic online functionality.

Posted by: Georgina O'Toole

Tags: publicsector   localgovernment   saas   software   crm   covid-19   coronavirus   Techgoodness  

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Thursday 02 April 2020

Tech Goodness: IBM gives free access to public cloud

ibmIBM is making a variety of its public cloud services freely available to customers to support the specific challenges that are arising as a result of the “stay at home” protection measures in place around the world.

It is hoped that by opening up these services, IBM will be able to make it easier for its customers to run their businesses remotely. Those services covered include IBM Cloud (hybrid cloud platform with AI capabilities), IBM Video Streaming (for events to public audiences), IBM Aspera (high speed file sharing) and IBM Sterling (for addressing supply chain disruptions). IBM is also increasing the capacity of its public cloud data centres around the world and making sure it is on hand to provide advice to customers.

As well as supporting the day-to-day business activities of its customers, those new to these services will get a chance to try them out where they may not have done so before. Indeed, it’s clear that in many ways, when we emerge from this current crisis, some things will have changed forever (e.g. see COVID-19: Forcing a gear-change in employee workplace experience?).

Other public cloud providers are also playing their part in helping to either fight the battle against COVID-19 or to support businesses are they try to survive the extreme economic situation that is emerging (e.g. see Tech Goodness: Google launches $800m+ COVID-19 plan).

IBM’s technology is being used in a variety of other ways to help fight the pandemic. For example, The Weather Channel (backed by Watson AI) to track confirmed cases of Coronavirus and its Blockchain Platform for integrating critical virus data (MiPasa uses blockchain to power COVID-19 data).

Posted by: Kate Hanaghan

Tags: PublicCloud   covid-19  

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Thursday 02 April 2020

Kids language start-up Lingumi raises another £4m

Lingumi logoEdtech start-up Lingumi has raised £4m in a Series A funding round led by Chinese investment firm North Summit Capital with additional contributions from existing investors LocalGlobe, Entrepreneur First and Accelerated Digital Ventures (ADV). It follows a Seed Round in 2018 that raised £1.2m (see Lingumi raises £1.2m to improve language learning).

Lingumi was founded in 2015 by Toby Mather, a languages graduate of University of Oxford, and UCL computer science graduate Adit Trivedi. The business, which is based in London and Cardiff, uses a combination of mobile app, Club Lingumi, and physical resources to help two to six-year-olds around the world begin learning English.

Its platform is now being used by more than 100,000 families across the world. It has expanded rapidly in China over the last year and saw a significant increase in its user base during the COVID-19 lockdown. As one of the online learning businesses seeing an increase in demand during the crisis, it’s good to see Lingumi giving something back (see COVID-19 accelerating online learning). The company has just announced it is donating 20% of its revenue over the next month to the Global Fund for Children and it is also releasing free activity packs and videos for families.

Posted by: Dale Peters

Tags: funding   startup   language   edtech  

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Thursday 02 April 2020

CEO shift at Attraqt

logoHaving reported full year results last month that revealed both headwinds and prospects, an update reveals an unexpected change at Attraqt as CEO Luke McKeever steps down from the role due to family reasons. He will be working to deliver a smooth handover and will remain on the board as a NED. Non-Executive Chairman Nick Habgood will step into the role of Interim Executive Chairman during the search for a permanent CEO.

Despite operating in the hard hit retail sector, the provider of omnichannel search, merchandising, and product & content personalisation software says it has not experienced a material impact from the COVID-19 situation. It is conscious of the challenges facing the sector but says it is too early to predict broader outcomes. However, it believes its recurring, multi-year contracts provide “a degree of resilience”. At the end of the financial year on 31 December 2019, it had £4m in cash and exit annual recurring revenue of £19.2m. 

The economic impact of COVID-19 will be a real test of the SaaS centric recurring revenue business model adopted by Attraqt and the wider software community.

Posted by: Angela Eager

Tags: software   retail   leadership   tradingupdate  

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Thursday 02 April 2020

It’ll be a game of two halves for Tracsis

LogoLeeds-based traffic data and transportation software and services provider, Tracsis began 2020 by closing out a a strong H1 (the six months to 31st January). Fuelled by acquisitions, revenue for the period surged ahead by over 40% yoy to £26.4m (organic growth 9.6%) and EBITDA increased by 19% yoy to £5.2m. Cash balances also improved significantly to stand at £26.0m at the end of the first half, up by over £7m on the same point in 2019. These will no doubt prove helpful as the company contends with an altogether more challenging COVID-19 affected second half.

Tracsis comprises two core businesses: Rail Technology & Services (RTS), Traffic & Data Services (TDS). These generate 45% and 55% of turnover respectively. The former, which is underpinned by income from remotely delivered, multi-year contracts, is in a comparatively good position to weather the pandemic storm. Revenue from this segment does, however, face some coronavirus related exposures from the significant decline in rail passenger numbers and the closure of partner production facilities in the UK.

TDS division sales, on the other hand, are both second half geared and predominantly driven by demand related to large outdoor UK events. With all such impending gatherings now either cancelled or postponed for the foreseeable future, the impacts on this segment are likely to be severe. As a result, Tracsis taken a series of immediate, mitigating actions including a reduction in casual labour costs, the redeployment of staff, reducing all discretionary spend, and taking advantage of the Government's Job Retention scheme.

In view of the current uncertainties, the Board has not surprisingly deferred the payment of the interim dividend. This decision will be reviewed later in the year once the company has more clarity about the ongoing effects of the pandemic on its business.

Posted by: Duncan Aitchison

Tags: results   transport   software   data   traffic   interims  

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Thursday 02 April 2020

SME Hospify ramps up secure messaging in NHS

Hospify logoHospify has had a very busy month. Founded by two NHS surgeons and a digital platform specialist in 2014, the tiny start-up has spent five years slowly trying to build credibility and win customers in the NHS for its secure messaging app – a process that in normal circumstances is notoriously slow. 

In late February, Hospify celebrated securing £0.5m in seed funding and days later came news that its app had been approved for the NHS Apps Library. In fact, it is the first – and so far, only – clinical messaging app to have passed the rigorous testing required to be included in the Library and approved for use by NHS professionals and patients across the NHS. Last week, NHS Wales also approved the app for use across Wales.

As the NHS has ramped up coronavirus preparations over the last few weeks, Hospify’s app has gone from being a ‘nice idea’ to an urgent requirement for many, according to CEO James Flint. The number of clinical sites using the app has at least doubled to more than 200 (including both acute Trusts and GP surgeries) and the user base for the free app has tripled. “We’ve had more people sign up in the last month than in the last six years,” James told us.

Hospify’s app was created after co-founding surgeons Neville Dastur and Charles Nduka were unable to contact a third, key surgeon during an emergency operation. It offers similar functionality to popular messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger but with additional security features to make it a secure platform for sharing patient information, both between clinicians and with patients. GDPR and NHS IG-compliant, the messaging service is available for free via Apple and Android app stores. A premium version called Hospify Hub is also available for healthcare teams, featuring an online admin portal for onboarding staff, a web app that syncs with users’ phones, broadcast messaging with document attachments and a survey and data collection tool.

The NHS has now permitted the use of WhatsApp during the coronavirus pandemic, but ongoing clinical and privacy concerns mean this is likely to be only a temporary move. Hospify, in contrast, is approved by the NHS for the long term. It is surely set to be one of the SMEs that benefit for years to come from being in the ‘right place at the right time’ in the fight against COVID-19.

Posted by: Tola Sargeant

Tags: startup   healthcare   covid-19  

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Thursday 02 April 2020

Tech Goodness: Ordo facilitates community payments

OrdoUK fintech, The Smart Request Company, operating under the Ordo brand, has launched a free payment service to help facilitate community support during the coronavirus pandemic.

Whilst measures are in place to control the spread of COVID-19, Ordo has made its new Neighbour2Neighbour service available for person to person payments.

Neighbour2Neighbour enables people who are helping others, such as those collecting shopping or prescriptions, to use Ordo to make and receive secure payments, free of charge, using only a mobile phone number or email.

Founded in 2018 by Craig Tillotson, a former CEO of the UK’s Faster Payments scheme, Ordo utilises open banking technology to facilitate the swift settlement of invoices and payment requests (see: CGI partners with fintech Ordo).

Whilst the coronavirus outbreak has clearly created a business opportunities, as well as challenges, for many fintech providers, this type of service will hopefully be useful to the army of volunteers working in support of their communities during the crisis. 

Posted by: Jon C Davies

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Thursday 02 April 2020

Serco battens down the hatches

SercoSerco is the latest UK SITS firm to update the market on the likely impact of Coronavirus on its business. Whilst CEO Rupert Soames has predictably withdrawn previous 2020 guidance, he pointed to a strong cash position with £508m of committed credit facilities and further headroom of £286m. Serco also has the luxury of a pretty conservative debt position (£215m net debt) and confirmed it would be using the UK Government's deferral of VAT and Job Retention Schemes as well as cutting planned capex expenditure, all to conserve cash.

COVID-19Serco has the benefit of a strong start to the year, with a first quarter that should see organic revenue growth of around 10%, and underlying trading profit at or slightly ahead of budget. There has been decent demand for Serco’s services with a book-to-bill ratio of over 100% with order intake including the Gatwick Airport Immigration Removal Centre contract and an extension for Fiona Stanley Hospital in Australia already this year.

Operationally COVID-19 is driving significant demand for Serco’s contact centre business as citizens urgently try to talk to government during the crisis. Serco has added 2,000 staff to its contact centres in the UK alone (more than doubling capacity) but is finding it hard to scale up given the number of people off sick or self-isolating. Indeed, this is a significant issue that we have heard from a number of contact centre providers to both public and private sectors, struggling with huge spikes in demand at a time when it’s hard to source capacity. 

Serco’s financial guidance (like everyone else’s!) remains up in the air, concluding - “At this early stage of the crisis it is however impossible to foresee with any reliability what overall impact the virus will have on our business. To state the obvious, it all depends on how long the crisis lasts, and on the actions of our government customers, both of which are currently unknowable.”

Posted by: Marc Hardwick

Tags: update   Serco   covid-19  

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Thursday 02 April 2020

Tech Goodness: Free Learning at Home packs

Hamilton logoMany parents are now facing the challenge of working from home while schooling their children. Although schools have been trying to help parents as they struggle to remember all the things they have forgotten since they left school, many will be appreciative of additional support.

Yesterday we heard from Mike O'Regan, who, as many of you will know, co-founded Research Machines (now RM) with Mike Fischer back in 1973. Indeed, many of our more experienced readers would have had their first introduction to computing through their school’s RM 380Z, 480Z or Nimbus machines. Mike (O'Regan) was an executive director at the Oxfordshire-based education technology business until 1992 and a non-executive director until 2004.

In 1988 he founded Hamilton Trust to support the education of children in the Blackbird Leys, Rose Hill and Barton estates in Oxford. Professor Ruth Merttens joined Hamilton in 1996 as co-director leading to the establishment of its Maths and Reading projects. The organisation now works to enable children from areas of socio-economic disadvantage to create for themselves the life opportunities they deserve through high-quality education. This includes supporting teaching and learning through its website and projects.

In response to the coronavirus situation, and in support of teachers and parents, Hamilton have designed ‘Learning at Home Packs’ of activities that teachers can put on their school website or parents can access themselves. They are publishing new packs for English and Maths each week, for children aged 4 to 11, and will continue to do so, for free, for all the summer term. You can access them here: https://www.hamilton-trust.org.uk/blog/learning-home-packs.

Mike said, “We’re very pleased that we’re able to make this contribution to the national response against how coronavirus is affecting our schools, children, teachers and parents.” We’re sure parents and schools alike will be grateful for the additional support.

Posted by: Dale Peters

Tags: education   schools   covid-19  

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Thursday 02 April 2020

AdEPT applies prudence and caution to FY20 outlook

A trading update suggests the last 12 months have been good to unified communications (UC) specialist AdEPT Telecom despite the COVID-19 induced disruption of the last few weeks. But the company’s outlook for FY20 is a different story, with management having decided not to issue any guidance after conducting several stress test scenarios to analyse the impact of the crisis on its revenue, profitability and cash position over the next six months.

The £5.2m acquisition of Advanced Computer Systems (ACS) Group last year helped expand AdEPT’s revenue for the year ending 31st March 2020 19% year on year, with EBITDA expected to rise 13%. AdEPT’s cash position is healthy at £12m, which should help it smooth any turbulence ahead. Its net debt of £28m came in at £3m below market expectations, attributed to the share placing in February 2020 offset by several public sector organisations extending credit collection across year end absorbing more than £500k of working capital.

Full results will be published in July this year. By that time AdEPT should have a better idea of whether it will pay any final dividend, having already cancelled the £1.2m interim dividend due for payment in April 2020.

On the face of it, AdEPT looks in a better position than most to ride the storm having seen increased demand for remote working and cloud telephony solutions from Avaya and Microsoft. Almost half (45%) of its turnover comes from public sector (NHS, education and Government) and it is playing a key role in delivering remote schooling to around 3.3k schools and 100 universities and colleges. The company also maintains data networks and UC platforms within over 30 NHS Trusts, public and private hospitals, and GP practices, any disruption to which is likely to be minimised.

The same can’t be said for the company’s private sector business however, where AdEPT is now prepared for reduced order volumes, delays in installation times, extended credit collection periods and higher customer churn as client revenue bases shrink and others go out of business. Management will continue to monitor and review those assumptions but stand ready to pause acquisition activity, implement a pay and recruitment freeze and replace staff overtime payments with time in lieu in a bid to reduce costs where appropriate and seek Government support if necessary.

Posted by: Martin Courtney

Tags: unifiedcommunications   outlook   tradingupdate   FY20   covid-19  

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Thursday 02 April 2020

Tech Goodness: Trad3r founder pledges free meals for NHS workers

GianniGianni O’Connor, the young British entrepreneur and founder of the social trading app, Trad3r, has pledged to provide free meals for NHS staff working on the frontline during the COVID-19 crisis. In a gesture of gratitude and goodwill, O’Connor has invited health service workers to email nhs@trad3rapp.com to claim a code that will entitle them to a free meal of their choice via Deliveroo.

Since Trad3r was established in 2016, its founder has become something of a role model and mentor to many other budding young entrepreneurs (see: O’Connor and Trad3r look to change the rules). I can testify personally that O'Connor is indeed an inspirational young man with a strong altruistic streak.

Trad3r is one of those companies that has benefitted from the lockdown, with the app enjoying significant growth in usage during recent weeks. It’s great to see that the company's founder has been quick to share some of this success, by putting something back in support of NHS workers.

Posted by: Jon C Davies

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Thursday 02 April 2020

JUST TWO DAYS LEFT FOR A CHANCE TO PARTNER WITH CGI!

logologoTechMarketView is helping CGI, one of the world’s largest IT and business consulting services firms, find innovative tech companies based in the North of England as potential partners. Apply now for the chance to be one of them.

This is a great opportunity to get onto CGI's radar and potentially leverage your business in these extraordinarily uncertain times. Many UK tech SMEs have already applied - don't be left out.

Applications close at 6pm tomorrow, Friday, 3rd April 2020.

Pitch event

We will be running virtual’ pitch sessions over Webex week beginning 27th April 2020 to identify businesses that are the best fit for a strategic partnership with CGI at a date and time to be agreed with successful applicants.

To apply, you must be a UK tech-focused company whose head office is based in the North of England or have a significant presence there. You should have innovative software solutions and/or skills that play to one or more emerging technology themes, in particular:

  • Advanced Analytics
  • Agile/DevOps
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Customer and employee experience
  • Intelligent Automation
  • Smart Cities (including immersive, 5G, drones, digital twin)

These solutions should address particular use cases in at least one of the Manufacturing or Transport & Logistics or Local Government sectors.

Why partner with CGI?

  • Market access – CGI has extensive and strong business relationships with clients across the public and private sectors in the North of England and broader UK.
  • Regional development – the North of England is a key market for CGI. Working together your organisation can benefit from CGI’s growth, and expand its footprint in your local market.
  • Business growth – CGI will help build your pipeline, using its scale to help open large clients and opportunities up to your business.
  • Solution development – working together to meet client demand, CGI can help further develop and refine your solution, whilst respecting your IP rights.
  • Extend your Ecosystem – you’ll have access to CGI’s wider network of Ecosystem partners aligned to emerging technologies to help extend your market reach.

Applications

To apply for the pitch event, please complete the webform HERE by Friday 3rd April 2020. We will advise all applicants on the status of their applications by Friday 17th April.

You can find full details on our website HERE.

For further information please email programmes@techmarketview.com.

Posted by: HotViews Editor

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Wednesday 01 April 2020

Share Indices in Mar 20 and 2020 YTD

March turned out to be the most momentous month in my memory as COVID-19 hit share prices throughout the world.

  • NASDAQ dropped 7.5% in Mar 20 - 12.8% YTD
  • FTSE100 dropped 13.8% in Mar 20  - 24.8% YTD
  • FTSE SCS Index dropped 16.9% in Mar 20 - 26.6% YTD

HVPThe variations in performance, however, were really stark. Indeed there were some notable gainers with products and services addressing the needs of a world in lockdown. Conversely 90% of the stocks we cover recorded falls in Q1. Some, like Capita, with 80% declines in their share price.

The Future? Some tech companies could be the winners once this crisis is over as the world is unlikely to go back to its past ways. Our clients, including Hotviews Premium subscribers can read  more in Share Indices for March 20 and 2020 YTD

Posted by: Richard Holway

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Wednesday 01 April 2020

Social housing: MRI picks from the Orchard

MRI Software logoSpecialist provider of software solutions for the UK housing sector, Orchard Information Systems, which has offices in Newcastle, UK, and Donegal, Ireland, has been snapped up by Solon, Ohio, headquartered, MRI Software, “a global leader in real estate software solutions”.

This is an example of a major global player picking up a small local specialist company. MRI Software’s solutions help residential, build-to-rent, leasehold block management, and mixed-use properties. The company employs 1300 people worldwide, generated c$300m in turnover in its last financial year, and has been an aggressive buyer, particularly of regional organisations over the last few years. In EMEA and the UK it boasts c4,100 clients. Meanwhile, Orchard Information Systems has been performing well, but is far smaller in comparison - £17.1m turnover in its FY19 to end April (up from £16.0m) and c200 employees.

Orchard Information Systems logoMRI Software states the acquisition adds to its offering in the UK residential market. Its aim is to be able to “address the varying needs and evolving business models” as demand for social housing increases in the UK. As part of MRI, Orchard will benefit from additional resources, technology and expertise that will allow the company to continue growing its product range. It will also benefit from MRI’s cloud offerings, residential portal and accounting capabilities. In the last few years Orchard has added a range of functionality to its market offering, including analytics.

A range of players – including Northgate Public Services, Civica, Advanced and Castleton Technologies – have benefited from an active UK social market over the last few years (see UKHotViews archive), as the sector has turned to traditional software solutions, as well as emerging technologies, to deliver a better service and support tenants. As part of MRI, Orchard will be able to accelerate the expansion of its offering. The risk is that it will become less visible as a specialist provider.

Posted by: Georgina O'Toole

Tags: localgovernment   acquisition   software   M&A   housing  

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Wednesday 01 April 2020

Palo Alto expands SD-WAN with CloudGenix buy

Palo Alto expands SD-WAN with CloudGenix buyPalo Alto Networks’ proposed US$420m cash acquisition of CloudGenix will expand the company’s software defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) proposition to help it compete on a more even footing with rivals Cisco and Fortinet.

CloudGenix’ AppFabric uses on-premise ION devices which connect to virtual SD-WAN hosted on Google Cloud Platform to enable simple centralised management of multiple sites. It sets policies to enforce compliance with company and regulatory security protocols across distributed locations, particularly useful for organisations operating large numbers of branch offices whose employees regularly access cloud-hosted data, applications and workloads.

Founded in 2013 the company has accumulated around 250 customers in healthcare, retail, manufacturing, finance, banking, tech and hospitality verticals to date. Based in Silicon Valley it has raised around US$100m, with investors including neighbours Intel Capital and Mayfield as well as Bain Capital Ventures and CRV.

Cisco has cemented itself as the market leader in SD-WAN by revenue after tying its proposition closely to its broader network security portfolio to maximise upselling. Fortinet too has seen its revenue soar after combining network security and SD-WAN within a single hardware appliance built on its own custom silicon (see UKHotViewsExtra report Fortinet goes from strength to strength).

Palo Alto will hope the addition of CloudGenix will have a similar effect on its own security sales, with its technology harnessed to accelerate the onboarding of remote branch offices and relation locations onto its Prisma Access SASE platform. Subscribers to TechInsights can read more analysis of the UK SD-WAN market in our report SD-WAN Builds New Service Models for Network Providers here.

Posted by: Martin Courtney

Tags: acquisition   cloud   compliance   SD-WAN   cybersecurity  

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Wednesday 01 April 2020

Infoshare CEO named in DataIQ 100

Pamela CookInfoshare logoWe’re pleased to share news from one of TechMarketView’s erstwhile ‘Little British Battlers’ Infoshare, whose CEO Pamela Cook has been named as one of the most influential people in data and analytics in the UK. Pamela has taken her place in the DataIQ 100 ‘power list’ alongside titans from very much larger organisations including Zurich Insurance, Warner Media and Aviva. We’re delighted for Pamela who has been the CEO of data quality software SME Infoshare since 2010 and is truly passionate about the importance of good data that is used ethically.

Posted by: Tola Sargeant

Tags: people   awards   data  

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Wednesday 01 April 2020

HPE seeks to simplify 5G deployments

HPE logoHewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has launched the Open Distributed Infrastructure Management initiative, an open source program to simplify the management of large-scale geographically distributed physical infrastructure deployments.

As telcos roll out their 5G networks, they face the huge complexity inherent in trying to connect to multiple sites that house equipment of different generations and from different vendors. The Open Distributed Infrastructure Management initiative aims to simplify network operations using one unified solution to manage the configuration and operations of compute, storage and networking infrastructure resources across multiple vendors. 

The solution is based on industry-defined specifications, including the DMTF Redfish open source initiative, of which HPE is a founding member. The firm also has a very established presence in the telco industry with more than 300 customers in 160 countries. However, its hope is that as the Industrial Internet of Things takes hold, and as data analysis becomes more distributed, the Open Distributed Infrastructure Management initiative will become relevant to other industries. An enterprise version of the offering will be available in Q2. 

Earlier this month, HPE launched a new portfolio of as-a-service offerings designed to help telecos build and deploy new 5G services with speed across the telco core, the telco edge and into the enterprise. For example, the HPE 5G Core Stack (an open, cloud-native, container-based software stack) gives telcos the core network capabilities to rapidly deliver new 5G services. The edge-to-cloud 5G-ready technologies are available on a pay-as-you-go or subscription basis via HPE GreenLake. 

These 5G offerings illustrate the breadth of capability HPE has built. Its challenge is ensuring customers understand the full range of its current portfolio, especially in light of the multiple divestments/acquisitions it has undertaken in recent years.

Posted by: Kate Hanaghan

Tags: 5G   networks  

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Wednesday 01 April 2020

K3 borrows to bolster liquidity

LogoStruggling supply chain focused solutions provider K3 Business Technology Group is its bolstering liquidity position through a combination of an initial £6m in loans and an exit from a loss-making subsidiary. The additional cash funding is required to strengthen the Group's finances during the coming COVID-19 disrupted months.

The loans have been secured equally from Barclays and K3’s two major shareholders, Kestrel Partners LLP and Johan Claesson. It is intended that other major institutional shareholders of K3 will be offered the opportunity to participate in further lending of up to £2m.

In parallel, the company is to place into administration its UK Dynamics subsidiary. This Microsoft Dynamics centric unit posted operating losses of over £3m on a turnover of £21m in K3’s last financial year (the twelve months to 30th November). It is also expected generate significant further negative EDITBA and cash outflows in FY20.  At the same time, K3 will seek interest in the sale of this business and/or its assets. Neither of these would, however, seem to be probable outcomes within the context of the current market malaise.

K3 has been having a tough time of it of late. A warning of lower profits and higher debt for the last financial year was issued in October (see here). Last week the company announced a delay to the publication of its final 2019 results. The difficulties associated with providing revenue forecasts for the current FY in the face of coronavirus related contract delays and deferrals were cited as the cause. K3 also took that opportunity to declare a markedly worsening net debt position which had reached £5.5m on 20th March 2020, up from both around £2.2m five months ago and just £0.6m twelve months earlier to that. Things are unlikely to get appreciably easier soon for this multi-faceted VAR.

Posted by: Duncan Aitchison

Tags: funding   sofftware   supplychain  

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Wednesday 01 April 2020

*NEW RESEARCH* UK Financial Services SITS Sub-Sector Comparison

The newly published UK Financial Services SITS Sub-Sector Comparison, introduces TechMarketView's segmentation and analysis of the main sub-sectors that constitute the UK financial services industry. 

FS SegmentationThe report explains the various vertical business functions that comprise each of the four segments and explores the major technology trends impacting each of them. The research also discusses the market drivers for software and IT services (SITS) relevant to each of the sub-sectors, in the context of the UK financial services SITS market as a whole.

Subscribers to TechMarketView's FinancialServicesViews research stream can download the UK Financial Services SITS Sub-Sector Comparison now.

If you do not currently have access to this research, please contact Deb Seth for further information about TechMarketView’s subscription services.

Posted by: Jon C Davies

Tags: insurance   banking  

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Wednesday 01 April 2020

Loadsure aims to modernise London Market processes

LoadsureLondon based InsurTech, Loadsure, has successfully raised $1.1m in seed funding as it looks to modernise the freight cargo insurance market. The investment was led by Insurtech Gateway and was supported by a number of corporate and angel investors. Loadsure intends to use the funds to expand its footprint and establish partnerships with other players in the freight transport industry.

CEO and founder, Johnny McCord, is a former Lloyds cargo broker who recognised the need to streamline and automate the costly, manual processes associated with issuing cover via the London Market. Loadsure is a Lloyds Managing General Agent (MGA) and also a member of the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA), another UK InsurTech with a focus on the freight spot market.

Loadsure has developed an end-to-end, cloud-based insurance solution that leverages technology to automate previously manual processes. The company’s offering utilises predictive analytics to provide a solution that is targeted at the spot freight cargo community and can be integrated with modern transportation management platforms.

Whilst many processes within Lloyds and the London Market continue on a largely traditional basis, there has been innovation elsewhere and a variety of new electronic platforms and ecosystems have emerged to meet the growing demands of the industry. Innovation is taking hold (see: Concirrus makes waves), but radical change won’t come overnight. The London market is immensely valuable to the UK economy and improvements in efficiency, fuelled by technology have real potential to help drive future growth.

Posted by: Jon C Davies

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Wednesday 01 April 2020

Tech Goodness: NHS Nightingale IT deployed in less than a week

Cerner logoIn a remarkable team effort, the IT for the temporary NHS Nightingale Hospital at London’s ExCel Centre has been deployed in less than a week. The whole IT project has been delivered incredibly quickly by extending the Cerner Millennium electronic health record (EHR) platform already in place at Barts Health NHS Trust – the largest NHS trust in England. The necessary infrastructure has also been put in place with support from Cisco and Block.

Sharing Bart Health’s EHR has numerous advantages in addition to speed of deployment. Staff working at the Nightingale Hospital will be able to use most of the systems already implemented across the Trust’s five hospitals – reportedly including the radiology information system Sectra and CliniSys pathology software - and any staff from Barts providing care at the temporary hospital will already have access to those systems. The EHR is also already connected to the network of pathology services providers in East London so staff at the Nightingale will be able to request tests and access results rapidly. 

Moreover, patient information will be able to be shared across London as Barts Health is already connected to Cerner’s Health Information Exchange for the exchange of information with local primary and community care providers. Patient information can also be shared with other London acute Trusts via the OneLondon Local Health and Care Record Exemplar (LHCRE).

Cerner’s software is tried and tested in the NHS, with the US-headquartered firm providing its EHR services to 24 NHS trusts, including many in London.  Note also that it’s St Bartholomew’s Hospital’s Chief Executive, Charles Knight, who is tasked with running the Nightingale in London. 

Above all though, this rapid deployment shows just what is possible when organisations and individuals pull together. As Cerner UK MD Distie Profit said: “Working closely together, NHS and Cerner teams have managed to get this new facility created within the system in just a matter of days. This goes a long way to show the great things we are all able to achieve when we work together towards a single goal, and for the benefit of millions.”

Posted by: Tola Sargeant

Tags: software   healthcare   covid-19  

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Wednesday 01 April 2020

EMIS helps recruit GP practices for urgent COVID-19 research

EMIS logoEMIS Health has joined forces with Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) to help develop a deeper understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic in general practice.

The RCGP Research and Surveillance Centre (RSC) relocated to University of Oxford from the University of Surrey last year. It is an active research and surveillance unit that collects and monitors data from GP practices across England and has produced a weekly report of influenza, respiratory and other infections in primary care for over 50 years.

The RCGP RSC has written to nearly 4,000 GP practices in England using EMIS Health systems asking them to contribute patient data to enable researchers to understand the spread of COVID-19. The data, which will be shared according to strict governance guidelines, will help the RCGP RSC to track when the virus peaks and help to inform government strategy for managing the pandemic.

Practices are also being asked to supply samples from both symptomatic patients and asymptomatic patients having routine blood tests to improve public health surveillance. Some are also being asked to take part in rapid clinical trials of selected medicines to reduce the duration and severity of the virus—the first of these trials will need up to 3,000 patients.

The RCGP RSC works with c.100 practices as part of the national influenza surveillance scheme, including EMIS Health customers, but it urgently needs more practices to join if the clinical trials are to be successful. EMIS is the logical partner for the RCGP RSC—it has a dominant market share in England, with 57% of GP practices, and already has automated systems in place to share data with the organisation. Interested practices can find out more about joining the network here: https://www.rcgp.org.uk/rsc

Posted by: Dale Peters

Tags: nhs   data   healthcare  

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Wednesday 01 April 2020

Confidence boosting licence deal for Seeing Machines

logoWhen computer vision company Seeing Machines, who provides systems for operator monitoring within the transport safety sector, reported H1 results a few weeks ago it pointed to ongoing program engagements within the automotive sector that were positioned to generate revenue. That is starting to come through, as it has signed a licence agreement for its Driver Monitoring System with a tier one automotive partner that will generate revenue of $5m before June 2020, plus further royalty payments. It marks the first DMS licence agreement with a tier one automotive partner. 

This agreement is a welcome development for the company who saw a 13% increase in revenue to A$15.8m in H1, and could well be the first of several as the company had nine ongoing program engagements with six automotive OEMs as of the end of the first half of the year. As we’ve said before, Seeing Machines is holding its nerve as its market develops; that ability will all the more important given the added and unknown impact of COVID-19 on global business activity and the economy. 

Posted by: Angela Eager

Tags: contract   software   AI   machinelearning  

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Wednesday 01 April 2020

NO APRIL'S FOOL JOKE THIS - IT'S A CHANCE TO PARTNER WITH CGI!

logologoTechMarketView is helping CGI, one of the world’s largest IT and business consulting services firms, find innovative tech companies based in the North of England as potential partners. Apply now for the chance to be one of them.

This is a great opportunity to get onto CGI's radar and potentially leverage your business in these extraordinarily uncertain times. Many UK tech SMEs have already applied - don't be left out.

Applications close this Friday, 3rd April 2020.

Pitch event

We will be running virtual’ pitch sessions over Webex week beginning 27th April 2020 to identify businesses that are the best fit for a strategic partnership with CGI at a date and time to be agreed with successful applicants.

To apply, you must be a UK tech-focused company whose head office is based in the North of England or have a significant presence there. You should have innovative software solutions and/or skills that play to one or more emerging technology themes, in particular:

  • Advanced Analytics
  • Agile/DevOps
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Customer and employee experience
  • Intelligent Automation
  • Smart Cities (including immersive, 5G, drones, digital twin)

These solutions should address particular use cases in at least one of the Manufacturing or Transport & Logistics or Local Government sectors.

Why partner with CGI?

  • Market access – CGI has extensive and strong business relationships with clients across the public and private sectors in the North of England and broader UK.
  • Regional development – the North of England is a key market for CGI. Working together your organisation can benefit from CGI’s growth, and expand its footprint in your local market.
  • Business growth – CGI will help build your pipeline, using its scale to help open large clients and opportunities up to your business.
  • Solution development – working together to meet client demand, CGI can help further develop and refine your solution, whilst respecting your IP rights.
  • Extend your Ecosystem – you’ll have access to CGI’s wider network of Ecosystem partners aligned to emerging technologies to help extend your market reach.

Applications

To apply for the pitch event, please complete the webform HERE by Friday 3rd April 2020. We will advise all applicants on the status of their applications by Friday 17th April.

You can find full details on our website HERE.

For further information please email programmes@techmarketview.com.

Posted by: HotViews Editor

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Tuesday 31 March 2020

More scaleups look to lay off staff in struggle for new customers

logoA useful insight into the impact of the C-19 crisis on scaleups was published today by UK startup and scaleup network Tech Nation.

chartPerhaps the most dramatic change that Tech Nation saw among the 116 respondents was the propensity to lay off staff; this rose to being considered by 40% of the respondents vs just 15% a week earlier. Over the same period, concern over new customer acquisition rose from 44% to 80%. The chart to the right shows these and other top concerns among scaleups.

While Tech Nation found little difference in sentiment on a regional basis, the survey suggested that startups are much less likely to apply for the Government’s business support schemes than more established scaleups: 53% of startups do not intend to access loans or the employee retention scheme, as opposed to just 26% of scaleups. That may not come as too much of a surprise as these schemes are not available to loss-making companies, which is the stage that many startups and some scaleups are in.

This paints a somewhat bleaker picture than the straw poll of early-stage funds conducted by Corporate Advisory network, ScaleUp Group last week (see Early-stage funds still investing but at lower valuations). It sounds like money’s still out there to be invested, but startups and scaleups will have to fight even harder to get at it, leaving the others in a dire situation.

You can see the full article by clicking this link.

logoMeanwhile, peer UK scaleup network ScaleUp Institute has just published a COVID-19 page on its website with information and direct links to all of the UK LEPs/growth hubs so scaleups can get local help too. 

The ScaleUp Institute is also working closely with Government, including the  British Business Bank, and  Innovate UK, on the broader facilities needed to address loss making and /or pre revenue scaleups who may need more equity, mezzanine, or, R&D 'grant type' options.

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: funding   startup   scaleup  

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Tuesday 31 March 2020

Tech Goodness: Agilisys develops ‘Helping Hands’ for UK local authorities

In Agilisys logoanother example of ICT companies going the extra mile to quickly spin up solutions to react to COVID-19 related requirements, we see that Agilisys has developed a solution called ‘Helping Hands’.

Over the weekend Agilisys employees worked tirelessly alongside the London Borough of Merton to build a contact management solution to track and monitor outreach to identified vulnerable people, who are isolating, and also to identify their specific needs. Needs might range from plain contact to shopping to prescription collection to transport for medical appointments.

The solution has been built so that it’s suitable for use by all UK local authorities; across the UK 1.5m vulnerable persons have been identified. Accessible on mobile devices, the solution is based on Microsoft technology hosted in the Azure cloud. Microsoft components include Dynamics 365, Dynamics Power Portal and Power BI.

Yesterday I joined one of the two demo calls (it saw over 60 local authority representatives dial in) to showcase the solution which can be accessed by council administrators, as well as council volunteers and staff in touch with the vulnerable. Using the Front-End Portal solution, contact teams complete a questionnaire to gather crucial information on specific needs. Meanwhile in the Back-Office Solution, administrators allocate vulnerable people to each contact team member, and undertake reporting and actioning of requests/tasks.

Agilisys and the council believe that 80% of council needs are covered by the additional functionality. The company states it will shortly be adding Power BI and robotics to automate follow-up contact. In addition, if local authorities require additional functionality, for example the ability to integrate with other council systems (such as payment systems for food parcels), or automation, reporting and BI, that is also possible.

One of the local authorities that dialled into yesterday’s call commented that Agilisys had undertaken the build “extremely quickly and extremely brilliantly”. If any local authority is interested in taking advantage of the solution, they should contact tim.pitts@agilisys.co.uk. Implementation will take no more than 24 hours and user training takes less than an hour.

Posted by: Georgina O'Toole

Tags: publicsector   localgovernment   software   crm   covid-19   coronavirus  

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Tuesday 31 March 2020

Tech Goodness: Free safeguarding solutions for schools

MyConcern logoAs schools grapple with new ways of working, the Department for Education has issued new guidance on safeguarding during the COVID-19 crisis. The guidance states, it is likely that current policies to designed to keep children safe will not accurately reflect new arrangements in response to COVID-19. Schools have been advised to review and revise their child protection policy and keep them under review as circumstances continue to evolve.

CPOMS logoGiven the challenges of safeguarding children at home, as well as vulnerable children and those of key workers still attending school, it’s good to see technology companies stepping up and doing their bit to help.

Both One Team Logic (MyConcern) and CPOMS are now offering their platforms to all schools that don’t currently have a digital record keeping system free of charge until September 2020. These SaaS platforms should help ensure staff in school and working remotely are able to record, manage and monitor any safeguarding, pastoral and wellbeing concerns.

NSPCC has experienced unprecedented demand for its Childline services over the last few weeks. It reported that over half of the young people contacting the service last week did so for mental and emotional health issues relating to isolation, arguments at home and removal of professional support such as that offered by schools. The way schools protect vulnerable children has changed in an instant, so digital tools, such as those offered by One Team Logic, CPOMS and other safeguarding software companies, will have a vital role to play in keeping pupils safe.

Posted by: Dale Peters

Tags: education   saas   schools   covid-19  

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