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Creandum leads $7m funding to raise Peak performance
17 Apr 2015
Tray carries off $2.2m in seed money
17 Apr 2015
Mindtree pedalling hard to stand still
17 Apr 2015
CurrencyFair raises €10m
17 Apr 2015
TCS crawls over the finish line
17 Apr 2015
*NEW RESEARCH* Mastek: Targeting UK public sector business
16 Apr 2015
Want to get your message across in UKHotViews?
16 Apr 2015
Sopra Steria selected to transform Harrow
16 Apr 2015
Nationwide chooses eggPlant to test digital progress
16 Apr 2015
A strange affair
16 Apr 2015
Rethink consorts with Consort with help from BGF
16 Apr 2015
Xchanging’s procurement profit miss
16 Apr 2015
CSC & Trafford's mission to improve 'patient care co-ordination'
15 Apr 2015
Tracsis on the right track
15 Apr 2015
IVO takes bigger stake in YoYo
15 Apr 2015
Lib Dem Manifesto launch day: education, education, education
15 Apr 2015
Good 2014 gives Target confidence for continued growth
15 Apr 2015
Nokia confirms Euro15.6b bid for Alcatel-Lucent
15 Apr 2015
Intel flat
15 Apr 2015
Smart Meters – the Election Decider!
15 Apr 2015
IBM all set to 'join the dots' in healthcare
14 Apr 2015
South West One: a cautionary reminder
14 Apr 2015
General Election 2015: Conservative Manifesto launch day
14 Apr 2015
Has Lemongrass landed Europe’s largest AWS/SAP implementation?
14 Apr 2015
Traceall tracks £2m funding back to Maven & SLF
14 Apr 2015
Alternative Networks confident for full year
14 Apr 2015
Nokia to buy Alcatel-Lucent?
14 Apr 2015
Quindell decides on new FD
14 Apr 2015
UK keeps up the pace at Michael Page
14 Apr 2015
My proposal makes it to the Labour Party Manifesto
14 Apr 2015
NetDimensions hits record revenues, but losses linger
13 Apr 2015
Good progress for Universe Group
13 Apr 2015
General Election 2015: Labour Manifesto launch day
13 Apr 2015
Shoes
12 Apr 2015
Market soars despite Election jitters
11 Apr 2015

UKHotViews©

 

Friday 17 April 2015

Creandum leads $7m funding to raise Peak performance

logoStockholm-based VC Creandum has led a $7m Series A funding round in Soho-headquartered ‘brain training’ app developer, Peak. Seed funders DN Capital, London Venture Partners and Qualcomm Ventures also participated. This round brings the total raised to $10m.

Founded in 2012 as Brainbow, the Peak team have set out ‘to map the world’s cognitive performance, providing individuals with a way to test, track and train their cognitive functions.’

My brain hurts.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '09:01' - Tagged: funding  

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Friday 17 April 2015

Tray carries off $2.2m in seed money

logoShoreditch-based software start-up Tray.io has raised a further $2.2m in a seed funding round led by San Francisco early-stage VC, True Ventures, along with Menlo Park-headquartered peer, Redpoint Ventures and US incubator/accelerator, Angelpad.

Founded in 2012, Tray is building a platform to integrate cloud-based apps (at least I think that’s what it is!). Tray raised $600k in angel funding at the end of 2012.

I think this is one for the SaaS API techies.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:42' - Tagged: funding  

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Friday 17 April 2015

Mindtree pedalling hard to stand still

logoFor the second successive quarter, revenues at Bangalore-based mid-tier IT services firm, Mindtree, stayed almost static at $148m. Nonetheless, that was enough to lift FY revenues (to 31st March) by more than 16%, to $584m, a growth rate which pipped that of much larger peer, TCS (see TCS crawls over the finish line). Mindtree’s operating margins were squeezed a little in Q4, slipping nearly 3 points yoy to 16.2%. However, its 17.1% FY operating margin is still a creditable result at just 40 bps less than the prior year.

It’s hard work for the mid-tier India-based players here in the UK. But Mindtree management is pushing hard to stake out – and preserve – its claim to an albeit small slice of our market.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:15' - Tagged: results   offshore  

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Friday 17 April 2015

CurrencyFair raises €10m

logoCurrencyFair, the Dublin-based peer-to-peer currency exchange market place has raised €10m in a funding round led by Octopus Investments. The company offers low cost currency transfer and hopes to capture a share of the growing volume of international transfers as trade grows and as an increasingly mobile workforce sends money home.

On the face of it, this business model is a carbon copy of that of TransferWise except that TransferWise seems to have secured a valuation of US$1bn,likely to be well ahead of that achieved by CurrencyFair, see here.

This is a competitive business with lots of companies bidding for a stake in the remittances market, see here, and an increasing interest in peer-to-peer technology, for example with Earthport’s investment in Ripple, see here. Competition is tight and companies go all out to offer better rates than the banks, trading at prices inside the normal spread by netting off buyers and sellers. Growth can also be a chicken and egg problem. Companies have to have a lot of business (transacted at wafer-thin margins) to fund the required sales and marketing expense and generate the necessary volume. Bigger customers will be fickle and shift rapidly to the provider of the best rates.

In our 2014 report, “Finding the winners in UK payments”, we suggest that success is driven by the following factors; performing intrinsically difficult tasks on behalf of the customer, holding valuable data, wide-ranging and scale deployment and first mover advantage. CurrencyFair, and several similar operations don’t appear to score highly (yet) in any of these areas.

It is early days and CurrencyFair may well have the wherewithal and the secret sauce to succeed, but from the outside looking in, we have yet to find it.

Posted by Peter Roe at '08:10' - Tagged: trading   payments  

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Friday 17 April 2015

TCS crawls over the finish line

logoIn truth I should have probably said, ‘TCS stumbles backwards over the finish line’ as, for the first time in six years, quarterly revenues at the leading India-based IT services firm were lower than the prior quarter. But having said that, headline revenues for TCS’ full year (to 31st March) climbed by 15% – the top end of industry association Nasscom’s growth forecast – to $15.5bn which, when all’s said and done, is still a very impressive result, essentially being all organic.

But there were some other stumbles too. Operating margins in Q4 crashed by nearly 13 points yoy to 16.4%, the lowest on record, as the company awarded a $423m ‘One-time Special Employee Reward’ shared among employees with more than a year’s service. The extra pay was announced as being in recognition of the 10th anniversary of TCS’ IPO (ah yes, I remember it well – but that’s a story for another day). But, fortuitously I am sure, it also coincided with a sudden jump in employee attrition, to 14.9%, another record peak for the company with traditionally (and still) one of the lowest attrition rates in the industry.

But management can take some solace from the fact that, by our estimates, TCS burst through the £1.6bn annual revenue barrier in the UK, about 9% higher than the prior year. No other India-based player comes close. But – and there’s always a but – this result belies a gradual decline in growth rate as TCS struggles to replace the planned revenue attrition from Diligenta, its closed-policy UK Life & Pensions business process services unit (see here and work back). Therein lies the real challenge.

The rest of the India-based players report over the next couple of weeks. TCS has set the bar they have to jump over - or indeed limbo under!

Posted by Anthony Miller at '07:50' - Tagged: offshore   resullts  

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Thursday 16 April 2015

*NEW RESEARCH* Mastek: Targeting UK public sector business

Mastek LogoMastek’s ambition in the UK is to move away from an exclusive sell with/through model with partners to build up a strong direct ‘sell to’ highly focused on Government, Healthcare, Retail and Financial Services. Indeed, Mastek has identified the UK as one of its Tier One markets for growth in the next decade.

In this latest PublicSectorViews research note, Georgina O’Toole analyses Mastek’s UK public sector business and considers if it is on the right track to continue its steady growth. The analysis finds Mastek is doing many of the right things to fulfil its ambition: raising its profile, investing in its skills and capabilities in areas like agile development and open source, expanding and maturing its partner relationships, and opening up to commercial innovation. But the company must also be aware of changing Government policies and be ready to adapt.

PublicSectorViews subscribers can download the research note - Mastek: Targeting direct public sector business - now. If you are not yet a subscriber, please contact Deb Seth to rectify the situation!

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '21:33' - Tagged: public+sector   offshore   ApplicationServices  

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Thursday 16 April 2015

Want to get your message across in UKHotViews?

SP imageDid you know you can now embed a Sponsored Post directly within the main body of the UKHotViews e-newsletter and have it appear on TechMarketView’s website for seven days, as well as in our Twitter feed?

UKHotViews is arguably the UK’s most respected, authoritative newsletter for informed opinion and analysis on what’s happening in the UK Software and IT Services (SITS) market.

Considered a must read for anyone with ‘skin in the SITS game’, UKHotViews enjoys a high calibre readership of some 20,000 decision makers in UK tech. It reaches a broad spectrum of companies from the largest SITS players to emerging SMEs; as well as key players from the investment community, press, government and CIOs.

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If you'd like further details on Sponsored Posts, or to request an advertising brochure, contact Helen McTeer in our client services team. 

Posted by HotViews Editor at '09:18'

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Thursday 16 April 2015

Sopra Steria selected to transform Harrow

Sopra Steria logoSopra Steria has been awarded a five year contract with Harrow Council (ahead of incumbent Capita) worth £37m, a 20 percent saving compared with the current contract. The sizeable win will reinforce the position of Sopra Steria’s UK operations  (see  UK cheerleader co-leads Sopra Steria) as the second largest in group.

The company is tasked with not only upgrading the IT systems across the council but also to underpin the council’s digital transformation agenda; ensuring that both council staff and Harrow’s residents can take full advantage of digital technologies.

Contract designs in local government have evolved from simply requiring SITS suppliers to save them money. For example, Worcestershire County Council has tasked HP with improving the skills of the local population and supporting SMEs (see HP UK public sector: Upturn continues with win at Worcestershire CC) while Agilisys, has been required to develop programmes to upskill their clients’ constituents (see Agilisys wins City of London ITS deal).

Sopra Steria has committed to support a number of Harrow’s community initiatives including apprenticeships, work placements, work tasters, jobs for residents and support for events plus a commitment to pay the London Living wage.

SITS suppliers need to remember that transformation and improving residents’ prospects are often equal priorities for authorities.

Posted by Michael Larner at '09:17' - Tagged: localgovernment   contracts   apprentice   transformation  

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Thursday 16 April 2015

Nationwide chooses eggPlant to test digital progress

logoNationwide, the world’s largest building society, a top-3 provider of mortgages and a business that seems to be doing well, in part due to the (painful) renewal of its core banking system, has chosen TestPlant to provide testing for the next stage of its digital transformation.

Privately-owned TestPlant is head-quartered in London with operations on the US West Coast and in Shanghai. They are also setting up in Berlin to access the opportunities in Continental Europe, see TestPlant preparing for European growth.

Nationwide will use a wide range of the company’s eggPlant portfolio of testing tools to provide end-to-end testing across the Nationwide IT estate. eggPlant tools automate the traditionally manual process of software testing and validation and are used by over 500 organisations worldwide.

Nationwide has again shown a progressive approach, by making (and also announcing) the choice of the eggPlant testing tools and this should put TestPlant firmly on the radar as other large financial services companies re-assess their testing regimes. In banking, testing is becoming more complex given the necessary interactions between many systems, often of different generations.

Recently, we have seen many large FS companies consolidate their supplier lists, driving more work into the larger system integrators and particularly the India-centric players. The move to use TestPlant is contrary to that trend, but is a clear indication of the importance of testing as a driver of high quality, faster time to market and low cost. It is probably also recognition that companies like Nationwide are unhappy to let these larger players “mark their own homework”.

Posted by Peter Roe at '09:14' - Tagged: testing   software   legacy   banking  

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Thursday 16 April 2015

A strange affair

AffairOn the one hand I have longed for new tech IPOs on the London market. On the other I have queried ‘what is a tech company?’ in the light of IPOs like AO.com and JustEast.com.

Today we have news that Canadian Avid Life Media is to undertake a $1b IPO raising $200m on AIM. Avid Life operates a number of websites including CougarLife.com and EstablishedMen.com. But its most ‘controversial’ website is Ashley-Madison.com which puts together married people lusting for an affair. It has 34m members – second only to Match.com. Its slogan is “Life is short. Have an affair”. It had revenues of $115m in 2014– up 45% yoy.

I guess it is true that adultery, like prostitution, has been around since the birth of man (and woman) kind. Technology has played its part. I wonder how many illicit affairs have started and continue thanks to text messages, Facebook etc?

Conversely, last week my wife and I had dinner with a similar business-related couple. Apparently his board had recently been discussing the best way of preserving the wealth they had individually accumulated. “Stay married to your wife” was the best advice offered

Posted by Richard Holway at '08:34'

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Thursday 16 April 2015

Rethink consorts with Consort with help from BGF

logoRecently delisted IT recruitment firm Rethink Group (see Rethink’s ‘departure’ confirmed) has made its first acquisition since returning to private life, that of City of London-based recruitment firm, Consort Group. Terms were not disclosed, though the Business Growth Fund, the private equity business launched in 2011 by Britain's major banks, has invested £2.5m in Rethink to facilitate the deal. It looks like BGF is in it for the long haul, anticipating further funding rounds “for organic growth and future selective acquisitions - a number of which have already been identified”.

Rethink had a pretty rocky time as a listed company, at one stage making the dreadful mistake of trying to incubate an enterprise content management/business intelligence consultancy under the covers (see ReThink rethinks Aiimi). Since disposing of Aiimi in late 2013 Rethink has stuck to the knitting – always the best strategy I feel.

With BGF behind it, and out of the glare of the public eye, Rethink has a much better chance of establishing itself as an even more formidable player in the UK IT recruitment market.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:25' - Tagged: acquisition   funding   recruitment  

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Thursday 16 April 2015

Xchanging’s procurement profit miss

lA Q1 update from Xchanging points to more trouble for the embattled business process services (BPS) provider. Procurement is now expected to deliver a greater H1 loss than last time, and will fail to reach profitability in 2015 (see Xchanging full year revenue slumps).

The reason for the underperformance is the transition from legacy procurement BPO to its new procurement Software as-a-Service (SaaS) and Business Process as-a-Service (BPaaS) offering based on the MM4 cloud-based procurement platform (see here). It recently bolstered this with the purchase of UK-based spend analytics provider Spikes Cavell in February (see here).

There is clearly integration work to be done as well as restructuring as Xchanging moves to the leaner SaaS/BPaaS business model. The problem is that cost reduction has ‘lagged the exit from…legacy contracts’. Ironically this seems to have been compounded by the fact that MM4 performed extremely well on the revenue front. In March, Xchanging revealed it had grown 60% in FY14 and added 40 new customers.

Getting the balance right between managing legacy assets and processes and newer, leaner SaaS/BPaaS models is a real challenge not just for Xchanging, but also many other BPS providers. Xchanging’s problems are just more obvious since it is trying to change the business across multiple fronts, while still in decline. It's a topic we will be exploring in a forthcoming BusinessProcessViews report on digital business process platforms. 

There was also an update on the protracted takeover of Agencyport Europe (see Xchanging's Agencyport takeover docked). Xchanging was given the provisional green light by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in March. However the final decision isn’t going to be made till 24th May. So still a little time for competitor insurance software providers to make their voices heard. 

Posted by John O'Brien at '08:17' - Tagged: bps   insurance  

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Wednesday 15 April 2015

CSC & Trafford's mission to improve 'patient care co-ordination'

Right care logoLast month it was announced that, subject to the conclusion of contract negotiations, CSC and its partners had been chosen by NHS Trafford Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to deliver a brand new Patient Care Co-ordination Centre (PCCC) in Trafford. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed but according to the OJEU documents it was expected to be worth £13m over five years.

Trafford’s PCCC contract is, as far as we know, the first of its kind in the UK. The CCG’s vision of co-ordinated care, with its outsourced approach to solving the problems associated with siloed healthcare provision, makes an interesting case study in its own right.

But if Trafford is seen to be successful with its PCCC, the model could be adopted more broadly providing future opportunities for software, IT services and business process services suppliers. Even if the model isn’t followed to the letter, we expect to see further deals aimed at better joining up health and care provision - either through data/systems integration of some sort and/or more proactive management of patients - whichever flavour of Government the UK has after May’s General Election.

For our detailed analysis of Trafford’s project and its implications, PublicSectorViews subscribers can download our latest AnalystViews research, Improving Patient Care Co-ordination: CSC & Trafford, from today.

If you’re organisation doesn’t yet subscribe to our public sector-focused research stream and you’d like to know how to put that right, Deborah Seth from our Client Services team would be very happy to help.

Posted by Tola Sargeant at '11:36' - Tagged: contract   bpo   socialcare   healthcare   research  

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Wednesday 15 April 2015

Tracsis on the right track

Tracsis logoTracsis (the AIM listed SITS provider of data capture, reporting and resource optimisation to the transport industry) has announced that results for the six months ended 31st Jan were well ahead of plan. Revenue increased by 22% to £12.0m (2014: £9.8m) and adjusted pre-tax profit increased 24% to £3.2m (2014: £2.6m).

Data Capture & Passenger Counting division collects and analyses data regarding people, vehicle and rolling stock movements for transport planners, public transport operators and highways authorities. The continuation of a piece of work for a major UK Transport agency, revenue from framework agreements plus projects in Australia drove revenues of £6.95m (H1 2014: £5.4m).

The Rail & Bus Operations division works with many of the UK’s train operating companies. Revenues of £3.8m (H1 2014 £2m) benefited from May 2014’s acquisition of Datasys, a provider of rail management systems.

Tracsis provides remote condition monitoring technology which identifies problems and aids preventative maintenance of critical infrastructure.  Following the fulfilment of a large order for a major UK based customer reported revenues declined from £2.3m in H1 2014 to £1.3m H1 2015. However the division has gained new customers and post period end received an additional UK Framework Agreement order for £1.1m.

Today 88% of revenues are generated in the UK and so international expansion is on the agenda. North America is a key focus for remote condition monitoring activities with the signing of a two year contract with a US distributor and two technology pilots established with Class 1 rail operators.

Improving the effectiveness of transport planners and transport operators plus monitoring the condition of critical infrastructure will enable Tracsis to be at the heart of Smart City initiatives both in the UK and overseas.   

Posted by Michael Larner at '10:02' - Tagged: transport   analytics  

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Wednesday 15 April 2015

IVO takes bigger stake in YoYo

iiyoyoImperial Innovations (“IVO”), the AIM-listed tech “incubator” arm of London’s Imperial College, has led a further £5.9m Series A funding round for YoYo Wallet, the smartphone-based loyalty-programme app start-up launched in 2013 by IVO’s “entrepreneur in residence”, Alain Falys (see IVO goes yoyo over YoYo). IVO led a £2.8m seed funding round in Yoyo (then branded JustYoYo) in May last year (see IVO spins YoYo another £2.8m). The new funding round increases IVO’s (non-controlling) stake in Yoyo to 51.4%.

The mobile wallet market is in a state of turmoil, with major players such as Apple and PayPal as well as the Mobile Network Operators and banks bidding alongside a host of smaller players for position in a market that everyone believes will be huge.

YoYo is making progress through its connections across universities and in the wider market with contracts with five retailers and three corporate canteens. The product’s combination of payment and loyalty operations, double-tokenised security and a closely-linked toolset to enable targeted offers could provide some differentiation, but the key driver of success will be the experienced and entrepreneurial leadership team pulling the strings. In a very dynamic market, Imperial Innovations will be looking to make a tidy return on their investment.

Posted by Peter Roe at '09:42' - Tagged: mobile   mcommerce   retail   payments  

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Wednesday 15 April 2015

Lib Dem Manifesto launch day: education, education, education

Education pictureEducation, education, education. Today it’s the turn of the Liberal Democrats to launch their manifesto (as well as UKIP). As with the other launch days (see UK General Election 2015: Labour Manifesto Launch Day and UK General Election 2015: Conservative Manifesto Launch Day), the manifesto won’t be launched until later, but the party representatives have been on radio and TV highlighting the key points.

For the Liberal Democrats it’s all about finding the biggest holes in the Manifestos of the two parties leading the polls, in the areas that mean most to the voters, and pledging that they can do better. They also want to convince the electorate that they’ll be able to influence the other party (or parties) in any coalition. Most notably, the Liberal Democrats claim they will invest more in education, from ‘cradle to college’. Though all parties have highlighted the importance of education, Labour and the Conservatives have put more emphasis on further and higher education with a greater focus on apprenticeships and vocational qualifications (see My proposal makes it to the Labour Party Manifesto). In addition, though Labour has heralded that they would protect total school funding in real terms, actually, as pupil numbers increase, that means pretty much the same as the Conservative pledge: a real terms per pupil funding cut. The Liberal Democrats say they would invest more in education (increasing in line with economic growth, resulting in £2.5b extra funding). But there is no commitment to increase education expenditure until the 'books have been balanced', and that, they say, wouldn’t be until 2017-18... based on their spending plans. Moreover, with pupil numbers increasing, this would only have the effect of maintaining existing per pupil funding.

Realistically, our view is that regardless of the outcome of the 7th May election, the education market, at the schools level, is going to remain tough for software and IT services suppliers.  Though ICT will be central to turning on its head the way education is delivered (see UK education SITS: market trends and supplier landscape), suppliers will continue to find themselves chasing limited budgets in a fragmented marketplace. PublicSectorViews subscribers can find a detailed analysis in UK General Election Main Party Pledges: Supplier Impact.

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:26' - Tagged: public+sector   education   election   government  

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Wednesday 15 April 2015

Good 2014 gives Target confidence for continued growth

logoOne company that has been quietly making solid progress over the past couple of years is Cardiff-headquartered Target Group (www.targetgroup.com) a provider of software and outsourcing into the financial services sector. Their annual report published earlier this month shows that after a good 2013 they were able to generate a 33% growth in turnover to £46.1m. EBITDA for the year rose to £5.5m, up from £3.3m in 2013.

Target supports a number of major clients (including Credit Suisse, Yorkshire Building Society and LV=) in the provision of software, managed services and BPO into lending, investment and insurance operations. Over the past year the company has been able to migrate additional customer portfolios onto its loan processing platform, resulting in a 29% increase in the value of asserts serviced on Target’s systems. Additionally, the company is building a hosted payments processing business with a contract for the DVLA. Further layers of regulatory complexity, in this case in the mortgage market, should drive more business for Target’s platform and outsourcing operations. Management also appear to have a keen eye for growth segments in their specialist areas, with opportunities in challenger banking and peer-to-peer lending. Target has also announced that it will enter the UK structured product market under the “Hartmoor Financial” brand, having recruited specialist management to lead this operation.

In the FinancialServicesViews Market Trends and Forecast report and also in our latest analysis of Evolving Delivery Models in FS, we have consistently highlighted the need for financial services enterprises to delegate more of their operations to specialists with scale and experience. The shift to such sourcing models is now accelerating. Target is clearly benefiting from this trend and appears to have positioned itself well for further revenue and profit growth.

Posted by Peter Roe at '08:56' - Tagged: bpo   software   financialservices   services  

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Wednesday 15 April 2015

Nokia confirms Euro15.6b bid for Alcatel-Lucent

NFurther to my post on the proposed Nokia acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent? Nokia has within the last hour comfirmed its Euro15.6b all-share acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent. That’s a 28% premium over the price before the deal was rumoured. Euro900m savings identified. As Nokia has so much cash (from that Microsoft deal) indebted Alcatel-Lucent will save cEuro200m in interest payments. Nokia also says it is putting its Here mapping business up for sale.

The fact that Nokia shares fell but Alcatel-Lucent’s rose by 16% summarises the views of many. Indeed the FT this morning has one observer describing the deal as ‘crazy’. Pointing out the torrid time Nokia had integrating Siemens and, indeed, the even more torrid time Alcatel had integrating Lucent. Big acquisitions like this rarely work – or to be more accurate take much, much longer and create far more pain than anyone anticipates. Some readers might recall my long running Holway’s Acquisition Indigestion checklist. This current deal definitely qualifies as a ‘big meal’. One of the bits of advice on the checklist is to sell the buyer and take the money if you own the seller. You can always buy back in 3-5 years in the inevitable trough.

Posted by Richard Holway at '08:19'

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Wednesday 15 April 2015

Intel flat

IAs we trailed a month ago – see Intel warns on Q1 revenues - Intel reported flat revenues of $12.8b in Q1 with profits up $3% at $2b. The results covered the spectrum of the tech sector today. Intel’s desktop sales fell a pretty dramatic 16% as the blip caused by last year’s XP refresh fell away. Data centres however rose an equally dramatic 19% and, at $3.7b, now represent nearly 30% of Intel’s revenues. Growth in the cloud – particularly the private cloud – was the driver.

Intel also broke out its revenues from embedded systems – more commonly referred to as IoT. At $533m, this was 11% higher than last year. But still only 4% of revenues. NAND sales were also up 14%.

Intel really has to get associated with some ‘in fashion’ markets again. It has paid a high price for its reliance on the PC market and it missed out big time in the smartphone sector. Perhaps the most telling take-away from Intel results is that it is forecasting flat revenues for the whole of 2015.

Posted by Richard Holway at '08:17'

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Wednesday 15 April 2015

Smart Meters – the Election Decider!

picOK, maybe I jest. But it’s a very high value jest - £11bn, to be imprecise. That’s the current projected cost of the Government’s ill-considered plan to replace 53m existing gas and electricity meters in 28m premises in the UK with smart meters by 2020 (see Smart meters: progress or delay? DELAY!!). 

In the context of the election promises being bandied about by both major parties, I reckon £11bn would be a handy source of funding would they wake up to the fact that this rollout is simply pouring the money into a deep, black hole.

But, alas, the Conservative Party Manifesto (see General Election 2015: Conservative Manifesto launch day) is very much sticking to the script, committing that “We will ensure that every home and business in the country has a Smart Meter by 2020, delivered as cost-effectively as possible, so consumers have instant, accurate bills and can switch to an alternative provider within one day.”

It will never happen!

The Labour Party Manifesto (see General Election 2015: Labour Manifesto launch day) doesn’t broach the issue at all. Its commentary on the energy market us summed up thus: “We will help with household bills freezing energy prices until 2017, while reforming the broken energy market.

Both major parties tip-toe around the real energy issue – self-sufficiency. The Conservative Party Manifesto alludes to securing “decent, affordable energy supplies not just for the coming years, but for the coming decades”, using a combination of nuclear, wind and shale gas. The Labour Party will create an Energy Security Board “to plan and deliver the energy mix we need, including renewables, nuclear, green gas, carbon capture and storage, and clean coal.”

Wouldn’t an extra £11bn help, whoever it is that walks into 10 Downing Street on 8th May?

Posted by Anthony Miller at '07:51'

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Tuesday 14 April 2015

IBM all set to 'join the dots' in healthcare

IBM logoIBM has taken things up a gear in the healthcare and life sciences markets with a string of announcements from the US overnight. It has entered new partnerships with Apple, Johnson & Johnson and medical devices company Medtronic to optimise consumer and medical devices for data collection, analysis and feedback; acquired Explorys and Phytel to advance its healthcare analytics capabilities; and is extending its Watson cognitive computing platform for the sector, launching a new Watson Health business unit, headquartered in Boston, that aims to help patients, clinicians, researchers and insurers “use data to achieve better health and wellness for all”.

With these strategic moves, IBM is staking a claim to the potentially very lucrative global personal healthcare and healthcare analytics markets. Although making better use of personal health data (even when anonymised) will always have its critics, it is the clear direction of travel in the sector. According to IBM’s analysis, with the increasing prevalence of devices collecting real-time personal medical information – from fitness trackers, to connected medical devices and implantables - each person is likely to generate one million gigabytes of health-related data in their lifetime, equivalent to more than 300 million books. Connecting these pools of information with more traditional sources, such as doctor-created medical records, clinical research and genomic data, to enable timely evidence-based decisions about health issues is the ‘Holy Grail’. It’s this that IBM is hoping to facilitate with Watson.

Although these announcements are US-based they have implications for IBM in the UK, where it continues to push back into the healthcare market. At #12 in TechMarketView’s UK Healthcare SITS Rankings last year, IBM already looks set to break into the top 10 in 2015/6 having signed a c£60m IM&T deal with University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust in December 2012 and been chosen as the preferred supplier to replace McKesson on the NHS’ Electronic Staff Record (ESR) contract, worth £200-£400m, at the end of last year. IBM’s enhanced capabilities in healthcare analytics and partnerships with companies like Apple and Medtronic can only raise its profile in the NHS at a time when the UK government is also keen to make better use of health data and personalise care (see also Personalised Health & Care 2020: SITS Implications and Opportunities).

Posted by Tola Sargeant at '10:00' - Tagged: acquisition   partnership   healthcare   analytics  

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Tuesday 14 April 2015

South West One: a cautionary reminder

South West One logoTaunton Deane Borough Council has announced that it is reviewing its future options because hoped for savings from participating in Southwest One (SWO) have failed to materialise. As councils examine a range of options (joint ventures, shared services, mergers, a commissioning model, in-house, increased automation and citizen self-serve) to cope with budgetary cuts, SWO is a cautionary reminder for both councils and suppliers alike.

Taunton announced that “the original target for procurement savings was £10m, but SWO have revised this to circa £5m. In practice only circa £3m savings have been identified to date.” 

The contract between IBM and the SWO members expires in 2017. Other members are also reviewing their options. Avon and Somerset Police is exploring a potential back office services arrangement with Wiltshire Police Force while Somerset County Council is creating alternative service delivery units.

In UK local government: progress in shared services we showcased SWO. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but there are takeaways for councils and suppliers.

Don’t predicate savings on today’s funding environment. The original savings target for SWO was £172 million over ten years but budgetary cuts at Somerset Council have resulted in less work being transferred to SWO.

Don’t be overly ambitious. The disparate nature of SWO’s participants meant that the first years of the contract were spent establishing the shared service functions; resulting in losses for the venture.

Jam today not tomorrow. SWO planned to grow by attracting new partner authorities but given the negative perceptions (criticisms in the press, technical glitches and the requirement for an emergency loan) it was always going to be an uphill task.

Suppliers and public sector bodies need to reconcile ambition with pragmatism. We are unlikely to see future shared services ventures outsourced with the same scale and scope as SWO. Alternative options are numerous and proving far more attractive in the current environment. 

Posted by Michael Larner at '09:35' - Tagged: transformation   councils  

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Tuesday 14 April 2015

General Election 2015: Conservative Manifesto launch day

Conservative Manifesto front coverYesterday it was Labour’s turn to launch its manifesto (see General Election 2015: Labour Manifesto launch day). Today it is the Conservatives (and the Greens). The key message from the two main parties is that they can also do what the other party stands for. For Labour, that meant delivering the message that the economy would be safe in their hands. For the Conservatives, that means giving the message that they are the party for working people, “offering (you) security at every stage of your life” –in the form of your own home, a job, education/training, healthcare and an ability to rely on the NHS. This morning, the media has focused on the Conservative’s pledge extend the ‘Right to Buy scheme’.

The Conservative Manifesto won’t be launched until later this morning. But, if the Labour Manifesto is anything to go by, there will be few new policies revealed. Rather, we will see a packaging of pledges made informally over the last few months, including those spoken about in the Pre-Election Budget (see Pre Election Budget 2015: technology impacting policy). In Labour’s Manifesto, the few new promises included a new National Primary Childcare Service to ensure wraparound childcare for all primary schools, and a revision of the minimum wage policy, promising to reach £8 by 2019 (a year earlier than previously).

Overall though, we expect our view of the likely impact on the software and IT services (SITS) market to remain unchanged from those we laid out in General Election 2015 Main Party Pledges: Supplier Impact. In the report we have pushed aside the campaign ‘noise’ and focused on the areas that really matter for ICT suppliers. In doing so, we have identified a number of common threads across the political party pledges that have the potential to drive demand in the SITS market over the next Parliament. Those include the need to tighten up immigration controls, the drive to join up health & social care, and the increased emphasis on mental health. Subscribers to PublicSectorViews can download the report here.

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:15' - Tagged: policy   election  

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Tuesday 14 April 2015

Has Lemongrass landed Europe’s largest AWS/SAP implementation?

lemongrassLast week we were made aware of a contract inked by UK SME, Lemongrass Consulting, to migrate the SAP estate of Seaco onto the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud. Seaco has one of the largest sea container fleets in the world and now runs its entire IT estate on Amazon. Its global AWS-hosted SAP landscape now includes: ERP, CRM, Business Warehouse, Enterprise Portal, Business Intelligence, Gateway, Content Server and Solution Manager. In addition, all management tools and applications previously hosted in a traditional data centre were migrated to AWS. In all, Seaco says it will be able to reduce costs by 50%.

This project caught our eye for a couple of reasons. Firstly, this is a significantly sized implementation carried out not by a Capgemini or an Accenture, for example, but by a UK-based consulting firm turning over just c£3m. Indeed, a definite trend has emerged whereby small UK consultancies – such as Lemongrass, Smart421 and Cloudreach – have established themselves as key AWS implementation partners taking on some of the most progressive public cloud projects.

Secondly, as we explain in “AWS and the cloud upstarts: Death knell for the established players?” (July 2014), AWS does not disclose how many enterprises have put full production SAP workloads into its cloud. (At the time of the report AWS offered just three European references – News Corporation, News International and the University of Amsterdam – but argued there are more besides.) We are of the view that the Lemongrass/Seaco deal is certainly amongst the largest SAP production migrations to AWS in Europe. Indeed, it could even be the largest.

This is certainly something of a coup for Lemongrass and a fantastic reference customer. The question is: How many other enterprises are ready to make the same leap as Seaco? The answer: There are many that are very interested in doing so, but only a relatively small number that will be likely to make the commitment this year.

Posted by Kate Hanaghan at '09:02' - Tagged: AWS   SAP  

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Tuesday 14 April 2015

Traceall tracks £2m funding back to Maven & SLF

logoGlasgow-based supply chain track-and-trace software developer, Traceall Global, has received a total £2m investment from the Scottish Loan Fund (SLF) and Maven Capital Partners, the spin-out private equity arm of Aberdeen Asset Management. The investment comprises £1.5m in debt finance from SLF and a £500k equity stake from Maven clients.

Traceall caters mainly to the food and beverage sector, with marquee logos on the books including Cocal Cola, McDonald’s, Burger King and Jamie Oliver.  The company has been in business for 15 years and this appears to be the first time it has taken external funding.

Their website (which unfortunately follows the current trend of designing for kindergarten kids with outsized text and artwork and suffers the curse of eternal scrolling) alludes to a monitoring module to “capture and deliver real-time data of customized variables including location, temperature, humidity, impact, CO2, (et al)”. This sounds like instrumentation to me but it’s not clear whether Traceall provides the complete solution including sensors or just the software. Whichever, at least they resisted the temptation to brand themselves an ‘Internet of Things’ company, for which arguably they might have more justification to do than many others sporting the IoT label.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:56' - Tagged: funding  

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Tuesday 14 April 2015

Alternative Networks confident for full year

anNetwork and hosting provider, Alternative Networks, has updated the market on its first half performance to the end of March. It describes trading as being “robust” giving it “confidence that its full year expectations” will be met.

The company reports by three business lines, where performances were mixed: Advanced Solutions, Mobile Network Services (30% of revenue) and Fixed Line Services (20% of revenue). Advanced Solutions is where the acquired hosting firms, Control Circle (see Alternative Networks buys Control Circle) and Intercept IT (see Alternative Networks buys Intercept for beefed up IT services) now reside. These were both purchased back in January 2014. In H1, Control Circle’s performance was described as being “satisfactory”, with trading impacted by two major customers that have put new business on hold pending internal strategic reviews. This has resulted in lower non-recurring revenues. Meanwhile, Intercept, which is focused on the provision of hosted desktops, saw double-digit revenue growth and improved margins over H1 last year. Alternative Networks expects to conclude the integration of the firms by year-end.

Elsewhere in the business, the Mobile Network Services division is trading “ahead of expectations”, with revenue up 9% on an underlying basis. In Fixed Line Services, line rental revenues continue to decrease as expected.

Trading aside, H1 has been a busy period for Alternative Networks with a number of investments (e.g. £500k in technology investments for Control Circle and Intercept) and structural changes (e.g. streamlining the property portfolio and opening a new head office). All of which is about creating a “platform for growth” for the company.

First half results will be released on June 3rd. 

Posted by Kate Hanaghan at '08:55' - Tagged: hosting   tradingupdate   networks  

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Tuesday 14 April 2015

Nokia to buy Alcatel-Lucent?

NokiaAOnce upon a time Nokia was THE mobile phone company commanding a majority of the market. Then along came smartphones and the iPhone in particular. Stephen Elop’s famous burning platforms speech ‘the decision now is akin to a man torn between burning alive or drowning in icy waters’ didn’t save them. Nokia’s mobile phone bit slipped in the icy waters that is Microsoft in return for $7.2b in Sept 13.

But that left Nokia with a rather attractive telecomms equipment business. Indeed Nokia sans phones has done rather well since. In 2014 it had revenues of Euro12.7b and made operating profits of Euro1.6b. Nokia shares have doubled since the Microsoft deal. Indeed it has done so well that today they confirmed that they were looking to acquire the whole of Alcatel-Lucent – their French competitor.

Reading the history of Alcatel-Lucent – I see it dates back to 1898 and includes Bell Labs in its genealogy. You might also remember that BT’s CEO Ben Verwaayan left to join Alcatel-Lucent in 2008 but departed in 2013. But the recent restructuring seems to have worked as Alcatel-Lucent shares have tripled since. Despite its much higher revenues, Alcatel-Lucent is valued at Euro12b compared to Nokia’s Euro30b. I also note that HP is Alcatel-Lucent’s main outsourcer.

So this is quite an interesting story. Nokia’s resurgence. Alcatel-Lucent’s downfall. French company gets acquired by non-French company. However, it will obviously need French Govt approval which is by no means a shoo-in.

Actually, it all sounds extremely sensible to me but will await the all important financial terms

Posted by Richard Holway at '08:51'

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Tuesday 14 April 2015

Quindell decides on new FD

lQuindell has settled on a replacement for outgoing group FD Laurence Moorse, once the sale of its professional services business to Slater & Gordon completes (see here). Meanwhile, it has also begun the search for a new CEO to replace Robert Fielding.

Quindell is appointing four-month Quindell ‘veteran’ Mark Williams to the FD position. Williams has been providing consultancy to Quindell’s board since January 2015. He is a chartered accountant with 15 years’ at board level for insurers like AXA, Cofunds, Guardian Royal Exchange, Legal & General, Old Mutual and Skandia. It's unclear whether he has held the FD position before.

This appointment marks a new start for Quindell - or whatever name it is to have in the future post sale and re-branding. We now watch with interest to see who replaces Fielding. Someone with experience in motor, insurance and technology start-ups would make sense to help steer the new focus as an incubator of connected car/telematics, insurance claims and brokerage technology.

Posted by John O'Brien at '08:35' - Tagged: bps   telematics   iot  

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Tuesday 14 April 2015

UK keeps up the pace at Michael Page

logoUK gross profit growth kept up the pace at UK-headquartered recruitment firm Michael Page International (aka PageGroup), very much reflecting the buoyancy seen at peers Hays and Robert Walters.

In line with the prior quarter, PageGroup UK gross profits grew by 11.3% to £36.5m in Q1 (to 31st March) ahead of the 7.2% headline group GP growth, which totalled £135.6m. The weak euro in particular depressed headline GP growth, with the 12.1% constant currency increase in EMEA (40% of total GP) translating back to a mere 2.6% in sterling. The only market to go backwards was Braziil, where GP plummeted by 14% on the back of ongoing economic and political turmoil in the land of the samba sun.

It’s very encouraging to see that even the proximity to, and the uncertainty about the outcome of the UK general election does not seem to have deterred UK businesses from hiring. Long may that last!

Posted by Anthony Miller at '07:56' - Tagged: trading   recruitment  

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Tuesday 14 April 2015

My proposal makes it to the Labour Party Manifesto

LAs I reported last year in Sept 14, I had been asked by Maggie Philbin to make a submission to the UK Digital Skills Taskforce. You can read my suggestions here. I admit that I am not a Labour supporter but I thought it my duty to make my views known to anyone who would listen. Many of my proposals were quoted in a speech Ed Miliband made in Sept 14. See Ed Miliband and entry-level jobs in the UK.

I see that one of my main proposals made it to the Labour Party Manifesto yesterday. To quote Every firm getting a major government contract, and every large employer hiring skilled workers from outside the EU, will be required to offer apprenticeships.”

As most of you know by now I am passionate about the creation of entry-level IT jobs in the UK. Be they at Graduate, A or GCSE level or, indeed, for the youngsters with no qualifications that the Prince’s Trust helps. Over the last 15 years many companies in the UK have used low skill/low cost offshore resources instead of creating those entry level jobs here in the UK. That has been, in my view, the single greatest cause of our current IT skills shortage. Of course, we should allow those with high-level IT skills to work here. But we will never create those high-level skills of our own unless we create entry-level jobs here. Of course, it will take time. But if we never start we will never solve the problem.

The offshorers are now major suppliers to the UK market – they didn’t register in our charts 15 years ago. Offshorers have created practically no entry-level jobs in the UK but are now increasingly winning public sector contracts.

I hope that whoever wins the General Election will adopt this policy.

Note – See our excellent report General Election 2015 – Main Party Pledges – Supplier Impact

Posted by Richard Holway at '07:21'

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Monday 13 April 2015

NetDimensions hits record revenues, but losses linger

netdimensions logoNetDimensions, the AIM-listed provider of performance, knowledge and learning management systems, reports record revenues of $22.7m in the year to end Dec 2014, up an impressive 40% on last year. The level of invoiced sales from new business is encouraging too – up 102% on last year to just over $10m – and includes 66 new customer wins. The company, which is transitioning to the SaaS model, is still loss-making though. Pre-tax losses held steady at $5m.

NetDimensions’ accelerated growth (last year it grew by 17%) suggests that its strategy of focusing on ‘high consequence industries’ – within which it includes heavily compliant and highly regulated industries such as healthcare, financial services, aviation, transportation, telecommunications and life sciences – is paying dividends. By geography, EMEA remains NetDimensions’ largest market accounting for 47% of turnover, closely followed by North America with 41% of turnover. EMEA saw particularly strong growth – up by 49% to $10.6m – on the back of a number of new client wins, notably in manufacturing.

The move to the SaaS model continues apace with SaaS revenue up by 36% to $8.3m and recurring revenues under contract now totalling $19m. Given that the SaaS model is costly during growth times, the relatively steady state of operating and pre-tax losses is an achievement (both are hovering around the $5m mark). But naturally we’d love to be able to report a move back into profit before too long!

As to the outlook, NetDimensions’ recent customer wins and high levels of recurring revenue give it a strong foundation on which to continue to build in 2015. Its focus on the hot topic of talent management within high consequence industries provides plenty of opportunity.

Posted by Tola Sargeant at '09:48' - Tagged: results   saas   software   hr  

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Monday 13 April 2015

Good progress for Universe Group

logoRevenue for the year to December 2014 for Universe Group, the AIM-listed developer of point-of-sales, payment and loyalty systems, was up 31% to £20.8m, boosted by a couple of 2013 acquisitions. The underlying growth reported by the core HTEC business was extremely healthy, at 16%. EBITDA rose to £3.5m, up 39%, benefitting from the new management’s attention to the cost base and thorough review of existing contracts.  A recent policy of broadening the customer and product base has reduced the company’s dependence on a narrow group of notoriously parsimonious large corporates.

As in our HotView earlier this month, since 2013 Universe has been buying expertise in the supply of systems to the convenience store sector, see here, adding portfolio and customer contacts. The petrol station business and that of convenience stores are increasingly overlapping and this will provide Universe with substantial opportunities for up-sell and cross-sell of its portfolio. This will include the GemPay card acceptance solution, an outdoor payment terminal and, increasingly, loyalty systems for smaller retail chains. Universe already runs two of the UK’s largest loyalty systems; Morrison’s and Esso.

The existing target markets of petrol retail and the bigger population of convenience stores should give room for revenue growth this year and the likely maintenance of margins. However, the company’s medium term ambitions include new retail verticals (such as pharmacies, hospitality, etc.) and international expansion via partners. These plans are expected to follow the company’s philosophy of a high services and support component and clear focus on the specific needs of target verticals, with acquisitions being sought to accelerate progress. The Universe management seems to have a clear view of how to build on the company’s strengths and we expect further progress in 2015.

Posted by Peter Roe at '09:46' - Tagged: cloud   retail   payments  

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Monday 13 April 2015

General Election 2015: Labour Manifesto launch day

Miliband photoToday it’s Labour’s turn to launch its General Election 2015 Manifesto. Tomorrow it’s the turn of the Conservatives. After Labour leader Ed Miliband ‘forgot’ to mention the national deficit in his party conference speech in September, the focus today is on convincing the British public that Labour can be trusted to reduce the deficit year-on-year over the next Parliament while still committing to its spending plans.

It looks like there will be very little new in terms of pledges. Last month, for PublicSectorViews subscribers, we published General Election 2015 Main Party Pledges: Suppler Impact, outlining those pledges from the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats most likely to have an impact on the UK public sector SITS market. During our research we scoured pre-Manifestos, press interviews and politician’s speeches to determine the main promises being made. So, we envisage few surprises today. Instead the launch is all about packaging the pledges in order to challenge the Tories’ campaign, particularly around the economy. Importantly, one of the main points being questioned by commentators is the amount each party claims they can save (and consequently invest in public services such as the NHS) by clamping down on tax avoidance and evasion. The Tories are claiming £5b (see Pre-Election Budget 2015: technology driving policy). Labour is claiming £7.5b. Really it is anyone’s guess, but SITS suppliers will be keen to show that technology can help get close to one of those figures.

Actually though, there is another bit of news today that may grab the attention of SITS suppliers. The Liberal Democrats have promised a Digital Rights Bill should the party form a fresh coalition; the Bill would protect citizens’ privacy, stop personal information being misused and protect people’s rights to freedom of speech. In addition, though, it is clear that the party seeks a balance between privacy and getting value out of data; one element would involve making government data “accessible to the public to use and share” to allow people to benefit from new products and services. As we heard from Lib Dem spokesperson Julian Huppert at a recent TechUK General Election Question Time Debate, the Lib Dems believe we are not yet at our technical limits: “we can still have better privacy and better security; it doesn’t need to be one or the other”.

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:43' - Tagged: public+sector   election  

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Sunday 12 April 2015

Shoes

SizeguideI really do not have a shoe fetish but you might think this given the number of articles I have written on the subject.

It all started when I reported a conversation with Becky - one of my 8 year old ‘Little Ones’ - on the subject of the IoTs. You see you don’t get fed in our house unless you partake in some market research. Becky suggested a good application would be to determine if you had outgrown your shoes and order a new pair from the shoe shop. I reported this in Nov 14 – See Out of the mouths of babes – only for a reader to report Boogio which seemed to do that already.

But now Amazon has bought Shoefitr. I understand that shoes are about the last thing people buy on the internet (or more relevantly via Amazon). Fit is clearly more important here than in any other purchase. Shoefitr doesn’t actually measure your feet but you enter your shoe size and the other brands you have bought in the past which fit you. It then suggests others that might fit you too.

Don’t know what Amazon has paid but apparently Shotfitr reduces returns (very expensive) by 20%.

Still think Becky has the best idea.

Note - Source and picture from TechCrunch.

Posted by Richard Holway at '15:07'

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Saturday 11 April 2015

Market soars despite Election jitters

SSometimes it is difficult to understand markets. Since the UK General Election campaign began at the start of April, most commentators would say that the Tories have not had a good time. ‘Bruising’ was how the FT’s front page described it this week. Most polls now put Labour on track for the most seats. The prospect of a Labour Govt led by Ed Miliband, and supported by giving in to SNP demands, looks rather too likely. To many in the business world this looks… Well, it was described by some business leaders recently as a ‘catastrophe’.

So, you’d expect the stock markets to plunge? Have none of it. I’ve just updated my charts and the FTSE100 is up 4.7% this month. Indeed closing Friday at a record 7089. The UK TechMark100 is up 4%, our FTSE SCS Index up 3.6% and the FTSE Telecom Index up 4%. All are at or near 10+ year highs (although still not back to those crazy dot.com days of early 2000)

So either the markets think the polls are wrong or they are dismissing the effects that a Labour Govt would have on business and markets. Personally I think it is even more irrational than that. In a week when the Swiss issued bonds with negative interest rates, most investors see equity markets as the only hope of a decent return. I, of course, hope that the good times will continue to roll. But my fears mount by the day.

Posted by Richard Holway at '10:29'

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