Today’s announcement that the MoJ and the Home Office will become customers of Shared Services Connected Limited (SSCL) is a critical development for Steria’s joint venture with the Cabinet Office.
Only yesterday (see Steria outperforms Sopra in Q3 ) we said that SSCL is the key revenue driver for Steria. In ‘Steria's SSCL attracts more major departments’ we outlined that by serving just the initial roster of clients (DWP, Defra, the Environment Agency and UK SBS) SSCL is worth c£500m to Steria over 10 years. Depending on the number of additional public sector organisations, and potentially private sector firms, SSCL’s potential revenues range from £1b to £2b.
A smooth transition for the MoJ and Home Office (plus assistance from joint venture partner the Cabinet Office) will help Steria encourage more central government departments and agencies to utilise SSCL. If SSCL can acquire new customers and expand services in a similar manner to Steria’s NHS SBS joint venture with the Department of Health then revenues of £2b become achievable.
Posted by Michael Larner at '10:24'
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1Spatial, the AIM-listed provider of “software and solutions that manage Spatial Big Data” has returned first-half figures (to end-July) showing revenue up 33% to £10.1m and adjusted EBITDA up 140% to £1.2m.
The company has come a long way since Avisen took over 1Spatial in October 2011, assumed their brand and went about building their portfolio of geographic information systems (very clever maps) and selling to utilities, telcos and governments. See here and work back to see the route they took. The latest acquisition of Belgian software firm Star-Apic contributed the great bulk of the revenue and profit advance over last-year’s comparables. The underlying business showed a 7% revenue growth on a constant currency basis, but this was whittled away by Sterling’s strength.
The company has been able to win a significant contract with the MOD and extend its business with a wide range of utilities. Overall the order book was stable at £7m.
Management is building its sales and professional services teams and there are plans to invest further in international operations (US, AP, Australia). The company is also expanding its portfolio with industry-specific applications, offering cloud delivery and building a strategic partner channel (now with Oracle and ESRI on board).
We, like 1Spatial, are enthusiastic about the potential for the greater use of geospatial data in the management of resources, the environment and the building of smart cities but sales cycles may be extended and near-term returns constrained. We consider that the company is now in a crucial phase, having to balance investment with orders, revenue generation and importantly, cash. With the company on the hunt for further acquisitions the £10m cash pile could disappear very quickly. Management have a lot to do. Hopefully they have their plans mapped out.
Posted by Peter Roe at '09:41'
After preparing the markets for further disappointment earlier this month (see here), document capture and process automation player Kofax has revealed a few glimmers of better performance to come.
Since then, Kofax has now closed one of the two seven figure software deals that slipped at the end of September for c$2m as well as some of the delayed six figure deals.
This of course hasn’t helped Q115. On a non-GAAP basis, adjusted EBITDA margins (before all the nasty bits) halved to 6.3%. At an operating level, losses widened four-fold to $3.3m. Software licences fell 3.5% to $25.2m, and professional services revenue fell 6.5%. Growth in maintenance (effectively supporting existing customers) helped push the top line up 2.3% to $69.3m.
Kofax is going through a very challenging period as its business shifts from its heritage in document management and information capture, towards ‘next generation’ business process automation (BPA) tools and services (see Business Process Automation – a brave new world for BPS providers). Recent acquisitions in these newer areas like BPA player Kapow and electronic signature software company Softpro, helped boost software licence revenue from mobile and new products by more than 80% yoy – and they now account for 35% of total software revenue.
Unfortunately, the majority of Kofax’s business is still in capture, which declined 23% in the quarter due to the delay in several big ticket deals. CE Reynolds Bish believes that growth in the newer technologies will in time help drive new growth in the capture business to mid-single digits. It’s certainly not achieving that aim yet.
Posted by John O'Brien at '09:33'
After suffering its second sequential revenue decline in Q2 (see here), offshore business process services (BPS) pure play EXL Service has decided to up its M&A plans once again, this time buying Overland Solutions Inc. (OSI) in the US property and casualty (P&C) support sector. This adds to the purchase of healthcare provider Blue Slate Solutions last quarter.
Exl paid $53m in cash for OSI, and it should contribute immediately to earnings and add $10m in revenue to Q4 - so c$40m revenue on an annualised basis.
OSI specialises in premium audit, commercial and residential underwriting surveys and outsourced loss control services. It apparently counts 21 of the Top 25 P&C insurers as customers. One of the attractions is OSI's own web-based application OSITrac that can order, track and audit underwriting work. Overland will be integrated into EXL’s outsourcing business and add to its existing Business Process-as-a-Service (BPaaS) offerings into the P&C sector.
EXL's results are still weak following the recent contract losses. Q314 revenue was flat at $122.5m, although up marginally qoq. This included $9.6m reduction for ‘reimbursement and disentanglement costs’ to do with the lost contracts. EXL’s underlying business apparently grew 10.8% organically.
Profitability has taken the real hit. EXL's operating margin fell to 4.4% from 16% last year, and from 5.1% the previous quarter. This is partly down to the contract losses, but it would seem also sharp increase in attrition (38% vs. 25% last time), and investments in decision analytics, where it hired 300 people in the quarter. In the investor call, CE Rohit Kapoor said he is less concerned about analytics margins right now to ensure it achieves scale and leadership.
Posted by John O'Brien at '09:14'
Brazilian ERP market leader Totvs (you pronounce the ‘v’ as a ‘u’) is yet another major software company to come to the realisation that revenues and margins will suffer in the move from on-premise product delivery to SaaS.
Along with its Q3 results, management announced that it was withdrawing its medium-term guidance to achieve a 27-30% EBITDA margin by 2016, along with its prediction of breaking even in its international operations (mostly LatAm bar Brazil) in H2 this year.
The reason? The transition to SaaS.
However, management expressed the opinion that all would come good in the end as ‘the higher volume of recurring revenue tends to raise the level of revenue over the medium/long-term…’.
Oh no it won’t.
Anyway, for the record, headline revenues in Q3 grew by 8.6% to R$446m (c.£115m), belying a 9% decline in licence fees to R$80m. EBITDA margins lost nearly two points, to 23.6%, with a similar decline in EBIT margin, to 18.8%.
You can think of Totvs as the ‘Sage’ of Latin America. You can draw your own conclusions.
Posted by Anthony Miller at '09:09'
Reading-based startup, User Replay, developer of a ‘black box’ recorder for website tracking, has scored $3.2m of Series A funding in a round led by Episode 1, along with existing investors EC1 Capital, FSE Group, and previous angel investors. This brings total funding to nearly $6m, including a £335k investment made by EC1 a year ago (see User Replay fast forwards with more funding).
Founded in 2009, User Replay’s original product was a combination of hardware and software installed in the client’s data centre. However the company has just released a SaaS version which it hopes will substantially increase its market potential. Indeed, the new funding is to be used to expand in Europe and open a US office.
Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:35'
Digital Risk, the Florida-headquartered mortgage-related risk, compliance and transaction management software firm acquired a couple of years ago by Mphasis, the Bangalore-based ‘renegade’ offshore services firm controlled by HP (see here), has been fingered as being at least part of the reason behind continuing revenue and profit woes at its parent company due to a slowdown in the US mortgage market.
Headline revenues in Q2 (to 30th Sept) at Mphasis declined by 2.5% to Rs14.6bn (c.$240m) compared to the prior quarter, representing an 11% decline on the nearest period the prior year (Mphasis realigned its FYE this year). Gross profit fell faster (-5% qoq) and operating profit even more so (-14% qoq) leaving operating margins nearly two points down qoq at 13.0%. Revenues derived from HP customers held steady at 36% of the total.
It now looks like management backed the wrong horse when it acquired Digital Risk and can do little about it other than pray for an improvement in the US mortgage market – or, I suppose, ‘stop digging’.
Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:13'
Most people lump Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn together as the leading social media companies. But their business models are quite, quite different. We’ve liked the LinkedIn business model right from the start – possibly because it is a subscription model much like TechMarketView.
Last night LinkedIn produced Q3 results which were better than expected and, unlike both Twitter and Facebook, their shares got a boost after-hours. Revenues rose 45% yoy to $568m. But GAAP losses of $4.3m were reported – up on the $3.4m last year. Non-GAAP profits were $66m compared with $47m last time. Either way you could probably say that LinkedIn was in a breakeven position.
Talent Solutions is LinkedIn’s core recruitment business paid for by recruiters. It represents 61% or $345m of revenues and grew 45% in Q3 yoy. Marketing Solutions is the advertising bit. It grew 45% yoy to $109m. Premium Subscriptions, which allow recruiters much wider access to the data we all supply, grew 43% yoy to $114m.
LinkedIn has a good, sustainable business model. It still makes 60% of its revenues in the US so there really is huge potential in growing business in global markets like China where they launched a Chinese language version in Feb 14. Indeed in Q3, 75% of new LinkedIn members came from outside the US.
It is also one case where I really do buy the story that they could be very profitable if they decided to be.
Posted by Richard Holway at '07:55'
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It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that blue collar support services providers like Interserve (with its Purple Futures partnership) and Sodexo (in partnership with charity NACRO) have been announced the big winners in the Ministry of Justice’s Transforming Rehabilitation (TR) Probation outsourcing programme (see here).
The press have had a field day on the fact that UK business process services market leader Capita lost out on all seven of its bids (see here). This is hugely disappointing for Capita, given the size of the deals (expected to be worth up to £450m in total) and the fact that they accounted for c£1.4bn of contract value or c25% of Capita’s bid pipeline for the year. Capita’s shares took their biggest hit in six years as a result.
The TR deals are about partnering with the voluntary sector, charities, and mutual organisations to support delivery outcomes – 75% of the 300 subcontractors named in the preferred bids were voluntary or mutual organisations. Capita had The Lantern Group comprising St Giles Trust, The Salvation Army, Catch22, Together, St Mungo's and the RISE Mutual. We expect this type of partnering to be increasingly desired by public sector, so having MoJ TR as a reference would have been a real plus.
Taking over the running of large swathes of the UK Probation service would have taken Capita way outside its core knitting in white collar IT-enabled business process services, such as back office HR, IT, finance and pensions administration. These command much higher margins than blue collar BPO. For instance Capita’s FY13 operating margin was 12.9% while Interserve’s was 3.1% and Sodexo’s 5.6%. Capita would undoubtedly have had to lower its margin expectations on these probation deals to compete. How far could well have been a sticking point.
These deals are also quite different from the electronic monitoring (EM), contracts, which Capita took over from scandal hit G4S and Serco (see here). Capita is now sole contractor here, responsible for the national EM service and systems integration and field support.
Nonetheless, this is the way that Government wants to procure future outsourcing deals. Capita and the other BPS suppliers need to find ways to succeed.
Posted by John O'Brien at '10:17'
Fujitsu has released its H1 results, which look pretty good for the UK. There is no breakout in the official release - however having spoken to UK MD, Michael Keegan, we understand that the business has now had 14 consecutive quarters of growth and that H1 revenue was up 8% on the comparable period last year. At the operating profit line, growth was slower at 4%. We don’t have the detail on how the services businesses performed, but understand the product business experienced very good growth, particularly in desktop and mobile. Overall growth has been driven by wins in retail and local government.
At the group level, H1 revenue “exceeded the most recent projections” announced in July by 42.8bn yen. Operating profit exceeded projections by 7.2bn yen. However, Q2 operating profit was 24.9bn yen ($228m) - down 16.1bn yen - while revenue was down 5% to 1,124.1bn yen ($10.31bn). The weaker profit story follows the news from last quarter that the company reached something of a milestone in achieving its first Q1 operating profit since FY10. Group Projections for full-year fiscal 2014 remain unchanged from the projections announced at the beginning of the fiscal year.
Fujitsu is the UK’s third largest provider of infrastructure services. See our analysis of the industry’s 20 ‘leading lights’ in UK Infrastructure Services Supplier Landscape 2014-2015 – it’s the “who’s who” of the UK IS scene.
Posted by Kate Hanaghan at '10:07'
As in Q1, BT’s consumer activities held centre stage. Six-month BT Consumer revenue (24% of Group) was up 9% and reported operating profit ahead by 26%. The focus on Sport and Television is driving up broadband penetration and consumer ARPU was up 7% over the year, helping consumer EBITDA rise 42%. Group figures showed essentially flat revenue and EBITDA while adjusted eps rose 13%. Group cash flow was up by 19%, prompting an increase in interim dividend of 15%.
All well and good, and management are confident, repeating full year guidance despite adverse forex movements. However, the picture is less rosy when you look beyond the consumer business. BT Global Services (BTGS, 38% of Group revenue) and BT Business (18%) were flat year on year. Wholesale (12%) declined 11% yoy as managed solutions and calls and lines revenue tanked. BT Openreach revenues (28% of group) declined by 2%.
Inside BTGS, UK public sector revenues declined but growth in international operations compensated with new contracts in managed voice and data services. Underlying EBITDA was up 5%. New products in security and managed cloud-based storage are also welcome. Additional investment is under way in new international Points of Presence to improve margins on Internet and Ethernet traffic. Nevertheless, with capex down a further 7% yoy, this is hardly the action of a management priming a potential growth engine to diversify longer term sources of profit. Underlying costs declined 2% and as we commented after Q1 figures, the rate of decline is slowing, but management now look for “cost transformation”. We still consider that the BT top team need to re-examine its approach to BTGS, providing additional resources to develop repeatable and scale propositions with relevance to specific verticals. Without this, BTGS will find life increasingly difficult.
Posted by Peter Roe at '09:55'
A partnership between Twitter and IBM will see Twitter data available for deep analysis by IBM customers. The plan is to integrate Twitter data into tools like Watson Analytics and the IBM Bluemix PaaS offering. In a move that echo’s the iPad/iPhone partnership with Apple, IBM will build new data-driven applications to make use of Twitter data (the first will be one aimed improving customer engagement), and will train 10,000 consultants to write custom Twitter-fed applications.
The idea is to mine Twitter data (and Twitter data combined with other data streams) to enable enterprises to go beyond sentiment analysis based on a product or company, to understand the wider themes, trends, and debates and use that to make better business decisions.
IBM will benefit from having a wealth of data to apply its advanced analytics tools to (which is still a sticking point) and will be hoping the data-driven analytics applications will be a showcase for advanced analytics thus driving revenue in their own right, but also opening up much needed new services opportunities (see IBM’s Q3 pain).
Twitter is becoming more enterprise-savvy (it acquired Gnip earlier this year in order to use its enterprise-level platform to deliver social data) so the IBM partnership will add to its enterprise credentials and provide exposure to IBM’s enterprise customers. It will also boost Twitter’s emerging data licencing revenue stream which generated $70m in FY13, $100m so far this year and is on target for $140m (about 10% of total revenue) by the end of FY14. Monetising data represents a new and high margin revenue opportunity for SITS suppliers (see Does the market need Big Data driven applications?) – the challenge is presenting data in a usable way and that is what makes the IBM/Twitter partnership potentially powerful.
Posted by Angela Eager at '09:34'
Steria (now part of Sopra Steria has released Q3 results (to end September 2014) and what a veritable mixed bag they are, by service line, vertical and geography. The good news is that once the mix of good and bad is thrown in, out comes a very respectable 7.3% like-for-like revenue growth (to €454.4m). Meanwhile for Sopra organic growth was just 0.5% over the same period, with the UK reporting a 7.4% decline to €21.2m. The combined Sopra Steria Group reported total Q3 revenues (including a 2-month contribution of €302.8mfrom Steria) of €644.3m.
For Steria, the UK continues to shine brightly; aided in no small part by the SSCL Joint Venture and hence strong growth in the public sector (see Steria & SSCL: a pivotal deal). The UK is the largest geography – now well ahead of France in revenue terms (just €127.7m in Q3). Total revenues in the UK were up 24.7% to €215.6m. Notably BPS revenues, which accounted for 53% of UK revenues, were up 52%. Even so, some number crunching reveals that non-BPS revenues were also up, albeit by a more modest 4%. It’s also comforting to see that SSCL isn’t the only growth driver. Other subsectors also thrived – defence revenues were up 7.6%, homeland security up 37.4% and telco/utilities transport up 5.4%. The finance sector continues to decline.
Across the other geographies, the picture was not quite so rosy. ‘Other Europe’ grew but France’s revenue declined 5.4% with blame put on a sluggish environment and the distraction of the Sopra merger. Revenue growth is expected to return in Q4. Meanwhile Germany suffered a significant 15.1% revenue decline. Replacing the management team and changing the business in 2013 was intended to improve the situation, but the result was more problems to deal with as the attrition rate increased. These operational issues are dragging down profitability, the result being that Steria is now predicting it won’t meet its 2014 margin target; indeed, a slightly negative net attributable profit is expected.
It is unclear how the SSCL deal, the most significant revenue growth driver, is contributing to profitability; with a large proportion of the deal based on transaction volumes, much will depend on number of users. The good news is that there should be more contributing in due course, as we have yet to see revenues from the Home Office and Ministry of Justice start to flow (see SSCL attracts more major departments). However, it won’t be until January 2015, at which time Sopra Steria is expected to be a legal entity, that we will see what actions the new Group will take to find profit-boosting operational synergies across the business.
Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:05'
Anyone attending my ‘State of the ICT Nation’ speeches over the last few years will know of my enthusiasm for healthcare related wearables. Although now increasingly established in the ‘fitness’ category, it is in the wider health monitoring market that I think wearables will really take off.
One example I have used is telling audiences that soon your doctor will call YOU to warn that you are about to have a heart attack and an ambulance is on the way.
A couple of recent announcements therefore attracted my interest:
Microsoft has entered the wearables market with the Microsoft Band (cost c$199) which has ten sensors. As I have oft said, the winners in the wearables space will be the devices with multiple sensors leaving third party developers to develop the apps. Just like a conventional watch, most users will not want to wear multiple devices. According to the BBC, ‘the Microsoft Band can track heart rate, calories, stress and even a person’s sun exposure’. Unlike other wearables, the MS Band will work with most OS (including Apple’s) and it has a two day battery life. Must admit, the spec looks better than the Apple Watch but knowing Microsoft probably will not be so ‘cool’.
My speeches have also featured smartpills. I recount how my dear old Mum had a plastic box, marked with days of the week, containing the myriad pills she had to take. But she still never knew what she had taken. So the Google announcement some time ago of a pill that, once swallowed, sent a message to your wristband or mobile, really did look like a useful app. No doubt of the market size - the world consumes 1 trillion prescription pills a year. Only problem is cost.
Google has already suggested a smart contact lens that can measure glucose levels in your tears and alert diabetes sufferers – a huge advantage over taking blood samples several times a day. Google this week floated an even more ambitious project to develop a pill that could diagnose cancers, heart attacks, stokes and other diseases. See the BBC Report for more details. Nobody is suggesting availability anytime soon but it shows the potential.
Personally I find these developments hugely exciting. My doctor once described me as one of his many ‘worried well’ patients - so clearly there is a market!
Posted by Richard Holway at '09:00'
After a cracking start to its new FY (see Tech Mahindra quick off the starting blocks), Tech Mahindra, the Mumbai-based, self-styled ‘specialist in digital transformation, consulting and business re-engineering’ (i.e. offshore services firm) accelerated the pace in Q2 (to 30th Sept,), with headline revenues nearly 19% higher at $900m, some 5% up on the prior quarter. EBITDA margins expanded by nearly 2 points over Q1, to just under 20%, though over 3 points down yoy.
It’s still Tech Mahindra’s legacy telecoms services business that is driving growth – and now represents 52% of the total, up from 48% a year ago. Services to the Manufacturing sector, ex-Satyam’s heartland, sits at 18% of the business, about 1% less than the prior year.
As usual, we'll have much more to say about the India-centric IT services players – including their UK performance – in the next edition of OffshoreViews.
Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:51'
After little progress in the first half year, see here, we expressed the hope that we would see more decisive action in the second half. So far, as evidenced by the Interim Management Statement for the period to end October, our hopes have been in vain. There have been “no significant changes in the trading or financial position”.
The Aptitude Software business has at least developed its portfolio with a partnership with Cloudera in Hadoop and a new version of the accounting hub which add to the earlier releases which included the Aptitude Revenue Recognition Engine (perhaps Tesco should give Microgen a call). Microgen is also developing its customer base in the telecommunications sector with a multi-year $5m contract in the US and other potential customers.
In the newly ring-fenced Financial Systems business the decline continues as legacy products are sunsetted. There is a lot happening in the wealth management sector as companies respond to new regulation, attempt to build scale and improve their back office and customer management systems. Microgen seems to be missing out on this opportunity with no visible progress as yet, although “a number of acquisitions … continue to be progressed”.
The third leg of Microgen’s strategy as revealed after their Strategic Review in 2013 was to grow and diversify by acquisition – always a challenging task and as yet there is no sign of progress after being rebuffed by Elektron Technology, see here. We look for more action, although we are not holding our breath.
Posted by Peter Roe at '08:16'
Now are you paying close attention?
Once upon a time there was a managed infrastructure provider and reseller called Redstone run by ‘buy-and-build’ IT entrepreneur Ian Smith and best mate Tony Weaver, also the founders of corporate finance firm MXC Capital (sponsors of the TechMarketView Little British Battler programme).
At the beginning of last year Redstone spun out its network managed services operations into a separately quoted company, Redcentric (see Redstone reconfigures ‘sum of the parts’), headed by Weaver, leaving Redstone effectively a shell company subsequently rebranded Castleton Technology, though still hanging on to a few bits of mid-market services firm Maxima. These bits were finally disposed of last month (see here).
OK so far?
Meanwhile Castleton acquired Montal, a Surrey-based IT managed services firm in which MXC Capital had an 18% stake through an earlier investment (see Smith begins next ‘buy and build’ at Castleton). Montal has a strong presence in the UK public sector, notably in social housing and care providers. Barely a month later, MXC listed on AIM by reversing into Broca, the remains of Manchester-headquartered, contactless mobile solutions firm, 2 ergo, then run by Smith (see 2 ergo directors er…gone!).
Finally the rationale behind all of this became clear today with the announcement that Castleton is to acquire privately held Documotive, the West Midlands-based provider of EDRM (electronic document and record management) software to the social housing sector, for £4m (£3m cash + £1m loan notes). The deal is part financed by a £5.5m placing at 1.1p per share.
But there’s more!
MXC is also backing a new mobile application developed by the Documotive founders, called Agile, in which MXC will take a 25% stake for £1m. Who knows, with MXC behind Agile, perhaps we will have another Little British Battler in the making!
Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:09'
Mid-market network and hosting services group, Six Degrees, has just filed its FY14 accounts for the year to end March 2014. Total turnover increased 34% to £68.9m while EBITDA grew 37% to £15m. From an organic perspective, the top line was fairly flat and the EBITDA margin stayed roughly steady at c21%.
The company is now six months into its current financial year and the patterns look quite different, reflecting the fact that no acquisitions have taken place during the period. The overall top line is on track to return to growth of 2%, while the contract base looks set to grow “high single digits”. The EBITDA margin is also moving in the right direction and is expected to increase to 24% for the year (based on a run rate EBITDA of just over £17m), due to synergies from integration work and an increase in higher margin cloud services sales.
Six Degrees was formed in 2011 from data centre player UKSolutions, MPLS provider NetworkFlow and voice services company Protel in a £60m buy-and-build venture backed by UK mid-market private equity firm, Penta Capital. It then very quickly set about building out its portfolio via a series of acquisitions (13 so far).
Penta Capital is now 3.5 years into its investment cycle, meaning that logically it could well look to exit within the next 12 months or so. It therefore seems like now is a good time to assess the Six Degrees story thus far.
Subscribers to InfrastructureViews can read the research note here: Six Degrees: Is the buy and build approach working?
If you do not currently subscribe to InfrastructureViews and would like to, please contact Deb Seth.
Posted by Kate Hanaghan at '08:06'
EMC has announced it is buying two cloud startups. Maginatics (California-based) has a software platform that manages private and public clouds, while Spanning (Texas-based) provides data backup and recovery services for cloud-based applications. The acquisitions closely follow EMC’s purchase of Cloudscaling, which provides Openstack technology to help customers operate private and hybrid clouds.
Combined, these capabilities help EMC build out its hybrid cloud offering, supporting its newly launched Enterprise Hybrid Cloud Solution. The company has also just created a new cloud management and orchestration product organisation to capitalise on the increasing interest organisations have in running multiple cloud types.
The Executive team at EMC is clearly working over-time at the moment in an attempt to remodel the business, with lots of corporate activity of late: the much-rumoured merger talks with HP, the changes at VCE, and then of course these most recent acquisitions.
We think these are all good signs. EMC is rather like IBM (see IBM’s Q3 pain): it’s big and large swathes of its revenue are linked to the legacy world of IT. For players like this to remain relevant to organisations with large technology budgets, they need to ‘re-cast’ themselves. For that reason, much more corporate activity by the large players is inevitable going forward.
In terms of EMC’s specific story, what still remains unclear is what will happen to its VMware business. As EMC goes on building its own cloud capabilities, we wonder whether its leadership team will start to feel more comfortable about spinning it off. Time will tell.
Posted by Kate Hanaghan at '09:58'
Immersed in all things HR at the SuccessFactors SuccessConnect European conference it was bit of a jolt to hear Mike Ettling President, HR line of business at SuccessFactors and SAP declare: “the future of HR is no HR." It was a smart attention-grabbing statement and obviously he is not predicting the demise of the HR function, rather that HR needs to operate beyond its traditional area of transactional back office processes and get truly engaged as a function that enables the business.
IT is developing its role as a business enabler - providing the tools to enable the business to achieve its objectives - and HR is heading that way too but its tools are people and their skills. Making sure the right people are in place, with the right skills sets, that the right people are being trained to ensure effective succession management is what should be driving HR activity - how else will a company be able to execute properly let alone expand into new areas or respond to market change and competition. This is behind the growth in talent management and learning systems that HR vendors like SuccessFactors, Taleo, Workday, Cornerstone, Saba, PeopleFluent, smaller players like Fairsail (see here) - and many more - are benefitting from. Even Sage is becoming more active in this area (see here).
Enterprises are still grappling with the change which means there is ongoing opportunity for suppliers, although it is a crowded market and becoming more so. The challenge is handling the complexity and many touch points of a modern HR system (e.g. BPM, finance, social media, collaboration, multiple data sources, cloud and on premise), and maintaining the connection between traditional systems of record HR and the new form which is essentially HR as a system of engagement. The path for SaaS HR application vendors is clear but as HR becomes more strategic application services providers will have a harder time adapting to modern HR requirements.
Posted by Angela Eager at '09:48'
2014 has already proved to be a very dynamic year for developments in payments, but this activity may just be the preliminary skirmishes before a significant amount of blood-letting in 2015.
On both domestic and international fronts we are seeing key players moving to establish positions for the next series of battles in the payments market. A potentially very important move may be on the way as Alibaba and Apple cosy up to each other and invite speculation about a potential “marriage” in the payments space. Alibaba sees this as a way to expand quickly in the US and it would accelerate Apple’s China plans. PayPal’s growth forecasts are already in the firing line as Apple Pay recruits users and would likely be the major casualty of such a link-up as it would open the door to Alibaba in US and European online payments. This is not good timing with respect to PayPal’s emergence as a separately quoted company, see here.
Elsewhere in the payments world credit card issuers will have to look to their business model as new entrants bid for a greater slice of the available margin and as they deal with competition from Faster Payments services and the erosion of interchange fees.
Looking ahead, customers will demand more in terms of the service and user experience. Retailers will also want to leverage their consumer data and to increment margin and the likes of Google, Amazon and Facebook will make further forays into the payments market. Banks (see our comment on Lloyds strategic update here) will also look to reinforce their role in the market and ecosystem players such as Monitise will be aiming for scale, value and margin. Developments in 2015 will make interesting reading for FinancialServicesViews subscribers.
Posted by Peter Roe at '09:35'
It’s the first time I am aware of that an Indian angel network has invested in a UK tech startup - but I guess there’s a first time for everything.
Such being the case, Indian Angel Network (does what it says on the tin) has invested an undisclosed sum in London-based Lowdown, developer of an iOS meeting productivity app. This investment may – or may not – be the £135k unattributed funding round that TechCrunch recorded for Lowdown last month, which followed two prior angel rounds totalling £260k early this year. New Delhi-based Indian Angel Network is apparently India’s oldest (2006) – and Asia’s largest – business angel group.
Lowdown was co-founded by David Senior, who has a rich history in the ‘legacy’ UK IT sector, including Computacenter, SCC, BT and HP. Good to see a UK tech entrepreneur with some real life experience in tech!
Posted by Anthony Miller at '07:55'
Last night I was writing a post about slowing growth, increased losses, lowered expectations and a slumping share price at Twitter. See Twitter and the Dawning of the Age of Reality.
Tonight, I’m writing a somewhat different story about Facebook. Here is a company that is now seriously profitable. Q3 Profits up 90% yoy to $806m on a GAAP basis on revenues up 59% at $3.1b. High growth AND High profits – the killer combination in anyone’s books. Eat your heart out all the way from Amazon to Salesforce.com – few achieve that.
Mobile now makes up over two thirds of ad revenue. Facebook now accounts for a colossal c8% of the global ad market according to eMarketer. But Facebook also managed to grow its user numbers by 14% yoy to 1.35b. You really would think that everyone capable or willing to have a Facebook account was already on it! But Facebook reckons that is ‘just’ half the ‘Internet-connected world’. An amazing 864m check their Facebook account at least once a day. Hands up, I’m one of them!
Within these figures are Whatapp which Facebook bought for $22b. It lost $232m in H1 on effectively zero revenues. But it has 500m users which can be ‘mined’ in the future (although the overlap with Facebook must be huge) Whatapp contributed to a 41% increase in Facebook’s expenses in Q3.
Shareholders had been richly rewarded with a 47% rise in the share price in 2014 YTD. But, looking at the screen at 10.30pm, they have slumped 11% in after-hours trading. This seems to be as a result of comments from CFO Dave Wehner in the conference call, just ended, warning of a ‘55%-75% spike in expenses next year’ due to investment in, amongst others, Whatsapp. Some observers had also been ‘disappointed that Facebook hadn’t exceeded expectations by a larger extent’.
Whatever, in my books Facebook is an object lesson in how to do it in this New Social World of ours. The bigger Facebook gets, the more difficult it will be for rivals to erode their position. But, as Microsoft and others know to their cost, even the most powerful should not be complacent. Facebook's continued investment in innovation shows they are hardly that.
Posted by Richard Holway at '22:37'
Lloyds, the largest UK bank in terms of current accounts (a 30% share), announced 3Q figures and a Strategic Update today, showing progress on many fronts. Underlying 9-month profit grew 35% to nearly £6bn helping the bank pass the latest EBA stress tests (reported here). However, a lot of hard work remains, much of which will depend on IT.
Being “the best bank for customers” is central to the new 3-year plan – to create the best customer experience, make the bank simpler and more efficient and deliver sustainable growth.
Management plan an additional £1bn spend on enhanced services, online, telephony and mobile capabilities, better analytics and greater personalisation. 150 (7% of) branches are to go reflecting the new realities of consumer banking. £1.6bn is to be spent on simplification and increased automation and in total 9,000 jobs will be shed. Much of the planned investment will have to come from the closure of other IT programmes and other cost savings.
Lloyds talks about building “new capability in digital and IT” and reducing third-party spend, but it must not waste money on replicating commodity (or soon-to-be-commodity) operations internally. Greater use of utility services would be welcome. Also, real customer service improvements require significant changes in the way data is captured, stored and utilised and this is not a trivial task. Also, management talk about the £1bn of investment over the past 3 years and of “building a resilient, secure, digital infrastructure”, but the problems of legacy systems are deep-rooted and all the new customer demands will bring additional stress and risk to the bank’s core systems.
The bank is saying many of the right things, but has much to do. To succeed it must focus its IT resources on the areas that matter and in our view place greater reliance on its SITS suppliers.
Posted by Peter Roe at '09:55'
Endava, the near-shore but London HQ’d mid-tier IT services provider has just demonstrated that the impressive results of FY13 (to June 30 2013, see Endava's endeavours paying off big time) were not a one-off, by topping them with greater growth in FY14 as its focus on larger accounts (those with the potential to deliver £5m revenue to Endava annually) and digital transformation delivered.
Revenue was up 50% to £63.9m (98% of which was organic) but it was also profitable growth with EBITDA up 78% to £11.1m and PBT up 113% to £9.69m. The digital picture within Endava is particularly interesting. Revenue has risen from £7m/31% of revenue in 2009/10 to £34.5m/54% of revenue in the year to June 30 2014. It closed two major digital transformation deals during the most recent year – a £45m/3 year contract with Worldpay and a £50m/10 year contract with Trinity Mirror.
These wins demonstrate that large digital transformation contracts are out there but they take patience and upfront resources to bring in (something we discuss in ESAS Market Trends & Forecasts 2014/15) - Endava worked with Wordpay and Trinity for two years on establishing a roadmap and demonstrating its delivery competency. Those timescales mean the traditional areas of the business have to flourish. The ability to combine digital transformation with traditional IT services work and create a bridge between the two environments is also an important factor in Endava’s success and something that all IT services suppliers should be cognizant of for themselves.
Posted by Angela Eager at '08:55'
UK software and IT services (SITS) merger and acquisition activity decreased in Q3 2014 after a particularly strong second quarter. There were 93 UK buyers and 85 UK sellers (including 49 domestic deals) according to data from corporate finance firm, Regent Partners.
Once again, industry sector expertise was in highest demand with vertically focused software companies accounting for 24% of all UK SITS deals. Acquisitions of enterprise software companies accounted for 14% of the deals in the quarter. Services companies account for 54% of the deals and again, demand for industry expertise made vertical solution providers the largest target portion of this at 18% of the overall total, followed by consultancies & SIs and managed services providers each with a 14% share.
TechMarketView Foundation Service subscribers can read more about corporate activity in the UK software and IT services scene in the latest edition of IndustryViews Corporate Activity right here, right now!
Posted by HotViews Editor at '08:53'
After dipping its head below the waterline last FY (see Nakama treads water), AIM-listed digital media and IT recruitment firm Nakama returned to profit in first half (to 30th Sept.) on the back of 29% revenue growth to £11.1m. Even though gross margins trimmed 30bps yoy to 24.4%, Nakama converted a £31k net loss (H1 2013) into a £224k net profit, driven by a recovery in its APAC operations (notably Australia), which now account for nearly 30% of total revenues but 45% of segment profit.
Unfortunately we can’t see what’s happening under the covers, as Nakama still operates under its component brands – Nakama (IT/digital in UK and APAC), and Highams, the veteran UK/Europe financial services IT recruitment firm acquired (in effect) three years ago (see Last waltz for Highams as Nakama reverses in). However, management alludes to ‘increased demand for IT and Change services’ in the UK financial servies sector and ‘rising demand for advertising technology and specialist software engineering skills across the corporate client base’.
I must admit I thought Nakama would struggle to recover after its near-death experiences last year, but a resurgent UK economy and (I suspect) better execution in APAC has been their lifeline. Given their size (or lack thereof) it’s surely got to be all about ‘focus, focus, focus’ if management is to maintain the momentum.
Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:36'
I guess the most ‘popular’ discussion I have had over the last 6 months is ‘are we in another bubble?’ Increasingly people seem to be agreeing with me that many of the valuation are unsustainable because mega growth rates always have to come down to earth at some point and, as we ‘boringly’ continue to point out, you have at some point to make a profit else you go out of business.
Twitter is a pretty good case in point. In Q3 2011, Twitter users grew at 125% yoy, in Q3 2012 growth was 75% yoy, in Q3 2013 growth was still nudging 50% yoy - but in Q3 2014, released last night, Twitter growth was ‘just’ 23% yoy and just 5% qoq. Every other metric showed stalling usage. Indeed existing users are using Twitter less frequently. User growth in the established US market is c3%.
Although revenues in Q3 increased 114% yoy to $361m (85% from mobile users), losses under GAAP increased from $64m to $175m. Of course, if you exclude stuff like interest, tax, depreciation and, crucially, stock based compensation, Twitter is profitable. But we all know that the allure of stock options - and therefore your ability to give stock options instead of real salary - deflates when the share price bubble bursts. IPOed at $26 a year back in Nov 13, Twitter shares ended their first day's trading at $44. Last night in after hours trading they were down 11% at $43.
Nobody is doubting either Twitter’s success or its business/social value. Indeed, there is a high chance you will be reading this HotViews post after being alerted on your Twitter feed. But we pay nothing for that and neither do you. But if growth is slowing, how can Twitter justify a valuation of 13x forward revenues? It could actually dispense with its growth ambitions and become super profitable. But that would unfortunately justify an even lower valuation in the eyes of investors.
Perhaps, as with Amazon and others, we are seeing the dawning of the Age of Reality?
Posted by Richard Holway at '08:16'
UK banks have come through the latest round of (significantly tougher) stress tests from the European Banking Authority (EBA) unscathed, but they are not out of the woods yet.
Certainly passing these tests is good news for the UK banks, but it does not mean that we can now expect a move to a more expansive strategy or a major acceleration in investment. Third-quarter results from the major banks (due over the next week or so) will show that they are only part-way through some serious long term restructuring of their cost base, a focusing of their product portfolio and a multi-faceted renewal of how they interact with customers. All these changes will take many years to embed into the complex and labyrinthine organisational structures and system stacks of the established banks.
But will more money be available for these renewal projects? We expect a slight easing of budget discipline in 2015, but CTOs and suppliers should not get too excited as most “change the bank” projects will still have to be funded from savings in “run-the-bank” programmes. Nevertheless we see an expansion in spending across the wider sector, to 4.2% growth in 2015, (see our UK SITS Market Trends and Forecasts report, available here).
And for CTOs more onerous stress tests still have to be overcome. Established banks still face massive legacy issues, with rising volumes of customer interactions (mobile presenting the biggest change) mounting customer expectations and aggressive competition from agile newcomers. Bank CTOs will be looking to accelerate the rate of change and this should mean a greater use of private and hybrid cloud, shared services and more standardised software. These are the areas where CTOs will need to focus their attention – and build convincing business cases.
Posted by Peter Roe at '09:59'
After full year results on Thursday, see here and work back, Earthport, the AIM-listed cross-border payments service provider, is keeping the positive news flow going. It has announced that it has signed a deal with the United Nations Federal Credit Union, leveraging its extensive global reach and adding a prestigious name (albeit a rather small one at US$4bn of assets) to its customer list.
At the full year figures, Earthport management quoted a pipeline of 25 clients in process of going live on the network, nearly double the number that went live in the past financial year. This gives some confidence regarding revenue growth but analysts, including our friends at Panmure Gordon, are highlighting the effect of higher costs of staff and infrastructure. In their view these will result in a continued loss at the operating level in the current year (to June 2015), pushing the move to operating profit into FY 2016.
Driving volume across its network is now the key success factor for Earthport. We would look for similar announcements (with bigger customers) over the coming months.
Posted by Peter Roe at '09:56'
Accenture has highlighted the completion of a 20-week pilot program with London’s Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) focused on developing an analytics solution for fighting gang crime in London. The aim, taking data from various crime reporting and criminal intelligence systems, was to help assess the likelihood of known individuals reoffending.
As we highlighted in our recently published UK Police SITS Market Trends & Supplier Landscape 2014-15 report, the latest buzz phrase in the police sector is ‘predictive policing’. Part of that is about making ICT more about ‘crime fighting’ than ‘crime reporting’ i.e. understanding where, who and when in relation to a potential crime. Analytics gives police a greater chance of achieving this.
We are seeing an increasing interest in SMAC (social media, mobile, analytics and cloud) technologies within the police sector. Indeed, Accenture, despite being only 10th ranked in our police sector rankings, has been one of the players at the forefront of working with police forces to implement modern digital technologies. Its deals at both West Midlands Police (see Accenture cops West Midlands Police contract) and Police Scotland (see Accenture secures Police Scotland deal) draw on data analytics. Indeed, the increasing desire to utilise such technology is opening up the market to other players, for example HP and IBM, that currently have a tiny footprint.
Accenture’s press release on the pilot gives no indication of how successful it was in achieving its aims. Historically, police forces have struggled to take full advantage the technology they have implemented, often because there has been a failure to transform their organisations and processes at the same time. Accenture is also in the process of supporting MPS in the development of its new ICT strategy; we assume that the findings of this pilot will feed into that.
Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:20'
Accenture has won a contract with the London insurance market to help design and manage the tender process to select a supplier for its ‘placing technology platform’ – a standard electronic platform that will enable London insurers and brokers to place business and process contracts more efficiently.
Accenture’s role is as as a ‘trusted advisor’ to Placing Platform Limited (PPL), a body created by the International Underwriting Association (IUA), Lloyd’s Market Association (LMA) and the London and International Insurance Brokers’ Association (LIIBA), to manage the placing technology procurement.
Accenture's role is to oversee quality assurance, production of tender documentation to standard transparency and objectivity principles, briefings of potential suppliers and development of the evaluation criteria.
There’s no doubt the London insurance market could benefit from technology-led change. Still today too much work remains paper-based and with that comes huge administrative inefficiencies.
There doesn’t appear to be any restriction on Accenture bidding for the technology piece. However a more likely contender would be Xchanging, which is already the incumbent on the Insurance Market Repository (IMR) infrastructure (see here), and actually launched its own e-placing platform in March this year in partnership with our Little British Battler TIW Group and messaging provider Web Connectivity (see here).
TIW offers on-premise and cloud-based productivity and workflow technology in to the London market (see Little British Battler update – TIW Group). Xchanging is partnering for TIW's ePlacing mobile ‘app’ - a tie-up which could prove a real breakthrough for TIW if Xchanging were to succeed in the overall procurement.
Posted by John O'Brien at '09:14'
Real time location intelligence system provider Ubisense will have a new six figure contract to help boost its performance as it approaches the end of its financial year. A major off-road vehicle manufacturer will deploy Ubisense Smart Factory in one of its US plants in order to improve end-of-line process efficiency - i.e. proactively spotting and fixing problems before the vehicle is delivered - by replacing manual processes with digital ones (although we hope Ubisense is advising them to do more than just replace existing processes). It is not clear whether this is an extension contract with an existing global automotive customer or a new logo but either way it will help build credibiity in the vertical.
With Smart Factory and its ability to use sensors to link multiple information sources and extract actionable data and automated alerts, Ubisense is tapping into the digital transformation and Internet of Things aspects of the market but has yet to find its groove in this early and dynamic sector. In H1 it saw its losses deepen (in part due to an acquisition) while revenue rose 40% to £17.3m (see here) and early in the year held a £4.2m placing to raise cash. Ubisense in is a potentially lucrative market - as GE demonstrates with its software platforms and use of sensors to connect industrial assets to improve asset management and optimise operation - but requires a tighter strategy to capitalise on it.
Posted by Angela Eager at '08:43'
While it seems that venture capital funding is mainly focused on the ‘SMAC’ space, it’s good to see that private equity is still very much interested in helping ‘traditional’ UK tech companies reach the next growth step.
Such is the case for Circencester-based IBM mid-market value-added reseller APSU, which has just received £7m from the Business Growth Fund, the private equity business launched in 2011 by Britain's major banks. APSU was itself formed in 2011 from the merger of AssurIT with Apex Computers International and is forecasting turnover of £25m next year. The funding is apparently to be used “to recruit technical personnel in the UK to support overseas customers and build a bigger sales and operational capability to address the US and other overseas markets”. Acquisitions are part of the plan.
I’m assuming this is all about supporting the UK operations of international companies rather than trying to take a stake in the US mid-market per se which would be, shall we say, a very ‘bold and courageous’ move!
Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:38'
Regular UKHotViews readers will know of my personal and professional interest in ‘the land of the samba sun’, and so I feel moved to comment on the wafer-thin victory of the incumbent, Dilma Rousseff, in Brazil’s presidential elections last night. Dilma (everyone refers to everyone by their first name in Brazil) secured a mere 35k vote edge over rival Aecio Neves in a poll where some 110m people pressed the buttons on electronic voting machines across the country and around the world (indeed my wife voted yesterday afternoon in the Brazilian Consulate in the West End).
Just a few weeks ago I had the privilege of hosting a dinner in Sao Paulo for the leaders of the Brazilian IT sector. It would be fair to say that the prospect of another Dilma victory spurred much heated debate among my guests. Without delving into the mire that is Brazilian politics, I got the impression that ‘industry’ would have preferred to see an Aecio victory as his party (PSDB) is perceived to be more ‘business friendly’ than Dilma’s (PT), which is seen as more allied to – and has done much good for – the poor and working classes.
This is of huge significance to the Brazilian IT sector, whose growth is structurally constrained (in my opinion) by longstanding underinvestment in the country’s basic infrastructure (see Still pipedreaming in the Brazilian IT market). This is a country that fails to get sufficient water to the capital of its most populous state and struggles to get its bountiful natural resources to international markets. Brilliant IT is not going to solve these fundamental problems.
After such a close shave in the polls, the received wisdom is that Dilma has ‘got the message’. For the sake of that wonderful country I truly hope so!
Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:00'
Back in 2003, at my annual ‘State of the ICT Nation’ address, I introduced the theme of Holway’s Martini Moment with the aim of being able to access the internet ‘Any time, Any place and from Any Device’. It was also the first time I ‘came out’ as an Archer’s addict as I used the long running Radio 4 soap as my ‘test’ of the ultimate ‘Holway’s Martini Moment’. It seems strange that it was only 12 years ago when you could only listen to the Archers ‘live’ at 7.00pm. I would often time my car drive home to coincide with the programme. It is also worth noting that in 2003 I was the proud owner of a Vodafone ‘dongle’ allowing access to the internet on my laptop whilst on the train. It was painfully slow but, at the time, I was often the only one on the train doing their emails.
I’ve reported on my Martini Moment progress ever since – indeed it is one of the most quoted phrases if you do a HotViews Archive search!
I was reminded of this because last week was the 10th anniversary of the launch of the BBC podcast service. Since then there have been 1.1b programme downloads and it is still growing. In Aug 14 some 24m programmes were downloaded – up 36% on Aug 13.
And you’ll never guess what the most downloaded programme is? Well, perhaps you might! The Archers has been downloaded 63.4m times in the last 10 years.
Of course, podcasts did not achieve Holway’s Martini Moment. This only really came with the launch of the BBC iPlayer in 2007. Indeed I was rather chuffed when Ashley Highfield (who at that time was behind its development at the BBC) referred to Holway’s Martini Moment during the official launch.
Since then I have listened to The Archers in a sampan in the Mekong Delta, mid flight on a Singapore Airlines A380, in the Arctic on a cruise liner …and most often on the train home to Farnham from Waterloo late at night!
Footnote – Since I ‘came out’ as an Archers fan, I have been surprised at the number of top executives in the UK tech industry who have emailed me saying they too are fans…but they want to keep it secret for some reason. As 5m listen to the Archers each day, it stands to reason that this must include a number of HotViews readers. Maybe one day I will ‘out’ you all!
Posted by Richard Holway at '07:04'
Are you a guru in ‘all things digital’? We are looking to recruit a principal analyst to join TechMarketView to boost our research in the ‘digital space’.
The role will involve working across all of our research streams (see our website) to support our research into ‘digital transformation’ and related trends. As such, the ideal candidate will have at least three years’ experience researching the UK IT industry and have deep insight into trends in SMAC (social media, mobile, analytics/big data, cloud) and related areas such as ‘Internet of Things’.
Ideally you are already an experienced industry analyst, but your background could also be in market intelligence for an IT supplier, or as a tech journalist.
You must have proven skills communicating an informed opinion based on your research, both in writing and face-to-face with our clients. Our extensive client list includes top executives in the IT industry, government officials and investors. We hold a privileged position with many of our clients as advisors as much as analysts.
This is a very demanding but highly stimulating role. You must be self-motivated, confident, disciplined, and deadline-focused. We all work from our own homes but this is not just a ‘work at home’ job as you will be spending much of your time out in the market meeting clients and attending company briefings, as well as talking to the media. This means you should ideally live within an hour’s commute of central London.
TechMarketView is the very definition of ‘small but perfectly formed’! The compensation is competitive, the working hours are flexible, and there is plenty of opportunity for the right candidate to take on greater responsibility if they prove their worth. But perhaps the most significant reward is the recognition you get from being part of the most respected brand in the UK IT research industry.
If you think you might fit the bill, please email your CV with covering note to TechMarketView Managing Partner, Anthony Miller.
Posted by HotViews Editor at '10:00'
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