At last month’s presentation by RBS, the company played down the threat of losing share to new competitors due to the time for them to reach a reasonable size and to build a broad portfolio. (Subscribers can read our HotViewsExtra report on the bank’s IT renewal programme here).
They may be right, but perhaps they should think again about the danger posed by Amazon. At the beginning of last week we wrote about their push to offer financing to its partner ecosystem (see Amazon taking a bigger bite at the banking business) and then on Friday they announced their participation in the US$60m funding of Indian financial services marketplace BankBazaar.
BankBazaar is an aggregator of financial services offerings, so that visitors to its website can see a wide range of online offers for loans, credit cards and insurance. These are then backed by contact centre and online support to guide customers through the application process or any administration requirements. This site is aimed at the Indian market where the growth potential is enormous due to the large un-banked and under-insured population, but the techniques learnt will be easily applicable in the UK. Amazon, either directly or through a partner, could quickly assemble a broad portfolio of financial services offerings and offer them across its network, backed by its brand and wealth of marketing expertise.
We have already seen the impact of comparison web-sites on the UK insurance market and this approach can easily be repeated to rip value and market share out of the hands of the established banks. Amazon may well be building the option of being a major channel player in financial services – Simples.
Posted by Peter Roe at '14:48'
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Infosys has made a significant step forward in a deal with Allied Irish Bank, absolutely in line with FinancialServicesViews’ thinking about the evolving relationship between banks and their suppliers. If the banks are going to be able to move fast enough to reduce costs and equip themselves for the markets of the future, then they have to place greater trust in the supplier community and develop strategic relationships with key suppliers.
At the centre of the deal is a new outsourcing agreement for Infosys to provide application development and management as well as transformation and innovation services to AIB. Infosys will transfer up to 200 AIB staff to a new Infosys facility in Dublin. Infosys describes this deal as a strategic partnership and this does appear to give Infosys a better seat at the top table. Other banks will be watching carefully to see how this new level of relationship with an Indian Pure Play (IPP) develops.
Infosys is also pitching in US$10m to an innovation fund for Ireland-based start-ups.
Infosys, along with other IPPs, has continued to grow at above average rates in servicing the Financial Services sector, boosted over the past 2/3 years by supplier consolidation. They may well have been running out of road in established customers and deeper relationships with a wider range of logos will help growth. The greater “strategic” involvement with AIB will also provide Infosys with a shop window for its wider talents (and Finacle banking software?) although it is unlikely to provide much support to the company’s target of 30% margins by 2020 (See Offshore Views – Be careful what you wish for!, to learn more about the progress of the IPPs).
Posted by Peter Roe at '14:56'
We attended The Innovation Group’s (TIG) capital markets day yesterday, where we got a very upbeat view from senior management on the prospects for its worldwide insurer software business. TIG’s Insurer software is now being targeted squarely at the tier one and two insurers, to compete head on with market leaders Accenture Duck Creek and Guidewire.
This is a big shift in position for TIG, which has focused on smaller tier 3/4 insurers till now. But with renewed confidence following its landmark £46m win at Co-Op General Insurance, management are being bold about what can now be achieved (see Innovation Group – the Eagle has landed).
Alongside TIG management was Chris Jackson, UK&I insurance leader for IBM, who went through the rationale behind their new partnership. Jackson sees lots of opportunity for further big insurance software deals over the next three years and is placing his bets on TIG to gain market share. He said ‘the market has arrived’ because insurers need to replace legacy systems to improve customer loyalty, particularly among the digital native millennials. Meanwhile, the technology is now able to deliver.
TIG’s Insurer suite is now IBM’s preferred solution for the property and casualty (P&C) market. Much to the delight of TIG’s management, Jackson said he sees Insurer ‘as a tier one product at a tier three price’. Jackson did put in the caveat, however, that IBM will implement other vendor’s software if the customer wants it.
TIG now sees itself as the main challenger to the big two market leaders, although there are clearly others out there too, like Majesco Mastek, NIIT, Insuresoft and CSC.
The one big gap in TIG’s functionality is commercial lines insurance (e.g. workers compensation/employers liability), which its big competitors already have. This is now a key focus for R&D over the next three years. But that’s a long way off - a limitation that could restrict TIG’s bold ambitions.
Posted by John O'Brien at '09:46'
Last week secure payments and customer engagement provider Eckoh said it was in ‘advanced discussions’ with rival Netcall, about a £88m takeover (see Eckoh offers £88m for Netcall). Just one week later, Eckoh has now pulled out because a major Netcall shareholder is not supporting the merger.
This is quite a u-turn and shows the power of the shareholders in big decisions like these. Last week’s announcement gave Netcall’s shares a 7% boost, nudging it close to Eckoh’s 63.9 pence share offer. This time, the same 7% has been knocked off the share price – so back to square one.
Posted by John O'Brien at '09:31'
Optimal Payments, the provider of online payment and stored-value solutions to merchants over its PCI-DSS Payment Cloud, has given a cursory update on performance. Trading remains strong, echoing the view expressed in its May bulletin, see here.
More noteworthy is the announcement of expected timing of the approval of the Skrill acquisition, which was announced in March. The company expects that the FCA will give its blessing before the end of July, whereupon Optimal expect to complete the acquisition relatively quickly.
The Skrill deal and its integration into the portfolio are central to the growth strategy of Optimal Payments. Together Skrill and Optimal Payments have a pro-forma revenue of nearly US$700m and EBITDA of US$175m, the Skrill acquistion almost doubling the size of the business. Investors will be looking for something special from this combination and will be able to learn more at a November Capital Markets Day. Interim results (for the business ex-Skrill) will be published on 26th August.
Elsewhere in payments, the attractions of the growing market for international remittances have tempted PayPal into bidding US$890m for Xoom, a start-up with operations in 37 countries, proving our point that there’s money in remittances! (see here and work back).
Posted by Peter Roe at '09:15'
Perhaps I missed the announcement that Vodafone had become a bank.
Well apparently it has, at least to loss-making ‘cloud experts’ Outsourcery, to whom it has granted a 48 month, £4m loan at 7.5% p.a. in exchange for a warrant over 3m of Outsourcery’s shares at 30p a share, a 25% premium to last night’s 24p close. Outsourcery’s shares listed on AIM in May 2013 at 110p (see Outsourcery hoping to magic profits from AIM listing) and are 11% down this year.
Outsourcery has also extended the due date on a £1m loan note with Etive Capital, whom I hadn’t heard of, but according to Bloomberg Business ‘operates as a diversified Internet business holding company ... (operating) various Web sites for computer gaming, movies, celebrity gossip, and product search.’ The original loan note was not interest-bearing but will be at 10% from May next year. Etive owned nearly 9% of Outsourcery’s stock as at the end of last year.
Well that’s all fine and dandy then.
Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:48'
I didn’t know that today was Groundhog Day.
Well it must be, because I find myself writing yet again that troubled, Cambridge-based, AIM-listed ‘location intelligence’ solutions firm Ubisense has issued yet another profit warning for the half-year just closed and for the FY too, as more contracts slip to the right.
The news comes just days after its CFO jumped ship (see Ubisense senses need for new CFO) and a month after yet another dash for cash (see Ubisense senses need for even more cash).
Ubisense non-exec director and vice-chairman, Peter Harverson, who was asked to lead the sales team on an interim basis, is also leading a restructuring of the company’s operations.
Perhaps the restructuring should commence at the very top of the business.
Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:04'
Cleverly coinciding with Employee Ownership Day, a day created by the Employee Ownership Association in 2013 (see here); Agilisys has announced it has become a “John Lewis-style” employee-owned mutual. An Employee Ownership Trust now owns the majority shareholding in the company on behalf of all employees.
Over the last two or three years there has been a tidal wave of support for employee-owned business models, with the Government, in particular, endorsing such arrangements. Agilisys states that the new model will “ensure the continuation of Agilisys as a successful, independent and professionally managed business for the benefit of employees”.
This move demonstrates Agilisys remains constantly in tune with the markets it is targeting. Though the majority of revenues are attributable to local government, as we have previously highlighted, it has had one eye on the central government market (see Agilisys: Into central government with Legal Aid Agency). Most recently it’s been trialling its Agilisys Automate software with DWP (see Agilisys Automate trials at DWP). UK Government is a huge advocate of ‘mutuals’; in July 2014, it announced 100 new British businesses had been spun out from the public sector with support from the Cabinet Office. Moreover, the support goes beyond public sector mutuals. This is evidenced by Cabinet Office Minister Matthew Hancock’s statement on Agilisys’ move: “I am delighted that Agilisys recently adopted the new ‘John Lewis-style’ Employee Ownership Trust model.... Research shows that giving employees a stake in the organisation they work for drives increased performance in the services they provide, delivers improved employee commitment, and is overall better for the UK economy”.
A big ‘hats off’ to Agilisys for taking the company in this direction. Having presented at several of Agilisys’ Investing in Leadership (IIL) events, I know that the collaborative culture and principles needed for a ‘Mutual’ to work were already in place in the organisation. So this formalises a culture and ‘employee-centric’ way of working that already existed. Not many companies will be able to go down this route; that Agilisys has so easily been able to, will be an extra feather in its cap as it seeks to grow its Whitehall relationship.
Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '08:00'
When Mumbai-based offshore services firm Tech Mahindra issued a profit warning earlier this week (see here), I mooted that this may be the shape of things to come for other Indian pure-plays (IPPs).
And so it has come to pass with New Jersey-headquartered IPP Cognizant warning that some $100m of H2 revenues will go AWOL as the planned implementation of a $2.7b, 7-year master services agreement with US health insurer Health Net scheduled to begin in mid-2015 is being deferred because of a just announced $6.2b bid for Health Net by peer Centene Corp. However, Cognizant management are holding to their 19% revenue growth forecast for 2015.
Based on its guidance for Q2 (ended 30th June), Cognizant will have almost reached the halfway point of it $12.24b FY guidance, leaving $6.3b to go. The revenue hit rather limits management’s opportunity to beat guidance – indeed the ‘beat’ on its 2014 revenues of $10.26b was around $100m.
And who knows what other bumps in the road there may be before the year is out. And then there's next year to worry about ...
Once again I strongly commend to you the latest edition of TechMarketView OffshoreViews (see IPPs – Be careful what you wish for!) if you want to understand what’s actually happening with the IPPs and why.
Posted by Anthony Miller at '07:33'
Subscribers to TechMarketView's PublicSectorViews' research stream, can now download the 4th edition of our recently launched Public Sector Opportunities Bulletin. The latest bulletin focuses on SITS supplier opportunities in the health, local government and police sectors. They represent developments that we have picked up in our everyday research and we think are interesting, not just from the perspective of the specific opportunity, but because there are potentially broader implications for the market and its suppliers.
In this edition, we look at the Metropolitan Police Service's search for an integrated operational policing system; at Ireland's plan for a 5-year investment in e-Health; at the Transport for London's network Tower procurement; and at attempts by the Scottish Government to consolidate its datacentre estate. If you are a PublicSectorViews subscriber, you can download the bulletin now, otherwise please contact Deb Seth to find out more.
Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '12:55'
A couple of big announcements from Accenture show how important its core focus in end-to-end IT and business process services and all things ‘digital’ are becoming (see Accenture’s digital services growing at 30%).
Accenture is selling its low cost airline booking business Navitaire to rival Amadeus for $830m, with the two companies forming an alliance specifically to focus on ‘digital travel services’. The emphasis will be on commercial passenger operations, 'to provide a more seamless traveler experience from ‘door to door’. Accenture will also become a strategic partner to Amadeus for management and technology consulting, systems integration, BPO and digital services.
Amadeus is a €4bn business, and has invested heavily in its cloud-based Altea platform, which is in use by full service carriers – and it’s a growth market, with Q115 revenues up 14%. Navitaire by contrast appears to have a more traditional on-premise offering. Amadeus intends to invest in the platform to enhance services and functionality to their combined customer base.
Very much core to Accenture’s knitting, is business process services (BPS), where it won an extension to a long-term procurement BPS deal with Deutsche Bank (DB), taking the relationship through to 2021.
This deal reflects the shift towards Business Process-as-a-Service (BPaaS) using cloud-based platforms and services, and business process automation (BPA). Accenture will migrate DB’s on-premise procurement system, to an on-demand cloud-based platform from Ariba, an SAP company, while continuing to provide procurement operations and accounts payable processing. It will seek to further automate the source-to-pay process, including invoice processing and contract compliance management.
Both announcements highlight the impact of the digital shift across Accenture’s operations – in terms of both the challenges (e.g. ability to become best-of-breed in a next generation industry platform) and the opportunities (e.g. digitising and cloud-enabling business processes). This dynamic makes our theme for 2015 Joining the Dots more relevant than ever (see The (digital) elephant in the room).
Posted by John O'Brien at '09:47'
Yesterday Atos completed its acquisition of the ITO business of struggling copier and BPO giant Xerox (see Atos zeroes in on Xerox ITO for the detail). The deal was originally announced in December last year. The final net purchase price totalled US$966m (€811m).
With the acquisition closed, North America becomes Atos’ largest geography with approximately US$2b of revenues (US$1.3b of which comes from the Xerox business). 9,600 Xerox employees are welcomed into the Atos fold (4,300 in the US). In the UK&I, Atos is taking on an additional 570 people, out of a European ITO business employing >1,000.
The acquisition makes sense for Atos. There is a strong ‘story’ around the deal. Atos asserts that by acquiring Xerox ITO it is “reinforcing its position as a global leader in digital services”. Certainly upping its scale in North America is important as the company strengthens its positioning as a global rather than European centric IT services player. In addition, with much preparation under its belt prior to the deal closing, Atos will now look to leverage Xerox’s customer centric approach when bidding for digital transformation work. Atos’ new go-to-customer-centric go-to-market strategy makes sense in this context.
As we highlighted in Atos zeroes in on Xerox ITO (update) Atos expects the deal to be immediately accretive to earnings and deliver a 10% margin in the first year. This will involve consolidating and integrating the business into Atos' managed services operations. Fortunately in the UK&I Atos has a successful track record integrating much larger acquisitions!
Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:34'
Originally founded in Norway in 2013 but now headquartered in London, healthcare app developer Your.MD has raised $5m in a seed funding round led by the increasingly ubiquitous Smedvig Capital (see Captify captivates Smedvig to capture £8m funding). Your.MD had raised $2.3m in a couple of prior angel funding rounds.
Your.MD’s ‘smart health assistant’ aims to take some of the hairy scary out of Googling your medical symptoms through its AI-driven search algorithms based on age and gender. It then asks useful questions like ‘Does you head hurt’ (my brain hurts most of the time, actually). It then comes up with the most likely diagnosis, e.g. for Measles it comfortingly tells you that it is ‘a highly infectious viral illness … and possibly leads to serous complications, including blindness and even death’. Nothing to worry about there, then.
The app is free but apparently Your.MD hopes to make money from ‘value add services’ such as, according to TechCrunch, ‘the option to talk to a doctor, get more specialised information, or book a test etc.’.
Wrong answer – no one is going to pay for that.
What people might pay for is connection to a wearable health monitoring device which analyses your vitals in real time taking into context your medical history and then alerting you to all the medical problems you could be up for (in a gentle sort of way).
Posted by Anthony Miller at '09:00'
Media reports are awash with news that IBM has won a prime position in the transformation of the Post Office’s IT as the organisation looks to renew its systems to better resist increasing competition and take advantage of the major opportunities arising from the changes in the financial services sector. MP Andrew Bridgen is the source, claiming to have seen an email naming IBM as the successful supplier in the front office component of a wider programme with multiple towers.
The requirement is for a scalable and flexible solution, enabling the Post Office to grow with customer needs and to support a wider range of products. The Post Office is looking for greater agility in terms of faster time to market for services from across its partner ecosystem, as well as of course, substantially reduced running costs. If correct, this deal will add to the list of IBM wins in the Cloud area, most notably in ABN AMRO, a contract which would have been a good reference in discussions with the Post Office. Subscribers of InfrastructureViews can read our report on IBM’s successes in strategic infrastructure outsourcing, here. In December, Computacenter won a contract to provide the end user tower within the Post Office renewal programme, see here.
Posted by Peter Roe at '07:49'
Much as mooted at the recent Capgemini analyst event (see Compagnie à grande vitesse - Capgemini?), the acquisition of New Jersey headquartered, NASDAQ-listed – but very much India-centric – IGATE proceeded tout suite and the deal is now done, little over two months since announcement (see Capgemini, IGATE and “Parties A, B and C”).
Capgemini now has almost half its 170k+ workforce in India, the highest proportion among any US or European IT services player (see IPPs – Be careful what you wish for!). Let’s see what they can do with it!
Posted by Anthony Miller at '07:31'
Coming just a couple of weeks after majority shareholder Fidelity announced an unsolicited bid to buy the remaining shares it does not yet own in Colt (see here), management at the troubled telecoms services firm has decided to throw in the towel on its IT services business. Colt generated €78m of its €1.5b 2014 revenues from IT services, and this is expected to drop off through contract attrition by around €20m p.a. through to 2017.
This makes perfect sense but will surely not be the last change to the business that Colt will undertake assuming (or even if not) Fidelity takes full control. It is completely symptomatic of the challenge that faces all telcos that try to muscle in on the traditional IT services market. Mind you, much the same applies to IT services firms who try to muscle in on the telecoms services market. It’s just not the same ‘knitting’!
Posted by Anthony Miller at '18:14'
We are delighted that so many of you have already booked your places at the third annual TechMarketView Presentation & Dinner in September. The event was completely sold out last year and is well on the way to being so again, so if you haven't reserved a place yet don’t leave it until the last minute – book now!
Sponsored by Wells Fargo Capital Finance and Avnet Technology Solutions, the event is to be held on 9 September 2015 in London at RIBA, Portland Place from 6pm onwards.
The theme for this year mirrors TechMarketView’s overarching research theme for 2015 - ‘Joining the Dots’. Top of the agenda will be the opportunities and challenges for technology suppliers as the number of ‘things’, datasets and systems that need to be joined together grows.
During the evening TechMarketView’s analyst team, topped and tailed by Chairman Richard Holway MBE and Managing Partner Anthony Miller, present their latest views on the UK software, IT services and business process services markets. TechMarketView’s research directors will highlight emerging trends, hot new opportunities, growing threats and suppliers worth watching, in their respective fields.
The analyst presentations will be preceded by welcome drinks and followed by a pre-dinner drinks reception and then a sumptuous three course dinner. The event, which is attended by ‘the great and the good’ in UK tech, has been a sell-out for the last two years and the networking opportunities are second to none.
Tickets for the event cost £395+VAT per person for TechMarketView subscription clients and £495+VAT for everyone else. There are also some tables of 10 available on a first come, first served basis.
To reserve your place at this year’s TechMarketView Presentation & Dinner click here or contact Tina Compton (Tel: 020 7331 2011) at techUK, who is organising the event for us.
The TechMarketView Presentation & Dinner 2015 is sponsored by:
Posted by HotViews Editor at '17:01'
Unconditional trading in Sophos shares began yesterday. IPOed at 225p with a valuation of £1b, the shares edged up slightly to 234p – against the general downward trend.
Ed Vaizey called it ‘a landmark moment for the thriving UK technology sector’ and LSE CEO Xavier Rolet said it ‘underlined the exceptional investor appetite for dynamic London-listed IT companies’.
All very good to hear.
Posted by Richard Holway at '09:24'
In Anite’s first year as a focused wireless testing company, the business has recovered well; with H2 showing an improvement over the first half (see Encouraging Anite). In the year to end April, revenue from continuing operations increased by 8.4% to £118.4m. On a constant currency basis and excluding the impact of acquisitions (Xceed and Setcom), revenue increased by 7%.
Across the business, the larger Device & Infrastructure Testing business (previously called the Handset business) grew revenues by 5% to £81.5m, while the Network Testing business increased revenues by 16% to £36.9m. Due to the nature of Anite’s business, Asia dominates representing around half of revenues. EBITDA for the continuing business was up 27.9% to £30.7m. Group net cash increased from £6.1m to £37.0m thanks to the net proceeds from the disposal of the Anite Travel business (see Anite waves off its travel business).
This will be Anite’s last set of results as an independent business; it is awaiting shareholder approval for the acquisition of the business by Keysight Technologies (see Goodbye Anite). Anite expects to be better able to withstand market volatility as part of a larger, stronger organisation; indeed, Anite confirms in this latest set of results that the market remains “mixed”. At the moment, though, it is business as usual and the company continues with “intelligent and sustained” investment in R&D (total spend up in the year and representing 20% of revenue) so that it can be in a position to benefit from the increasing need for customers to reduce their product testing times. It is also building on its recent acquisitions by leveraging the sales channel to expand into new geographies.
Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:21'
Mobile commerce is taking on a new meaning for bus travellers in London. Proxama, the specialist in proximity marketing and solutions for card issuers, has equipped 500 London buses with Bluetooth Low Energy beacons. These will enable bus passengers to receive targeted messages and earlier trials in Norwich have indicated a high click-through rate. The high penetration of smartphones, coupled with the extended journey times in London is likely to enable a high level of customer engagement.
Proxama and their partner Exterion Media expect to roll this service out to 8,500 buses in London, with the long-term aim of deploying the technology nationwide.
2015 will prove to be a busy year for Proxama, with proximity marketing contracts moving to implementation on public transport, in airports and shopping malls, together with the evolution of card services where Proxama is serving banks and card issuers with end to end payment and management solutions. For more information on Proxama’s progress, see here and work back
Posted by Peter Roe at '08:54'
The close relationship between Monitise, the mobile money company, and Banco Santander, one of the world’s top 12 banks, is developing further with the creation of a 50:50 joint venture to invest in and scale up FinTech businesses. Monitise will receive an up-front licence fee (to the tune of several million pounds) and each partner has agreed to invest up to £10m over the next 2 years.
This is not Santander’s only investment in FinTech start-ups, with Santander Innoventures, a UIS$100m fund having been set up in 2014, but the Monitise jv will add expertise and focus in m-commerce. It will also leverage Monitise’s investment and expertise in the core platform technology and the presentation of services via smartphones.
This operation clearly intends to accelerate the rate of new proposition and service development and. Mobile commerce is a very dynamic market, with rapid changes in technology as well as in customer behaviours and expectations. This looks like a good way to ensure that the portfolios of both Monitise and Santander are cutting-edge and to maintain the momentum of the overall partnership, which is a crucial component of Monitise’s move to scale and profitability.
(You can access our recent HotViews and reports on Monitise through this link and by working back).
Posted by Peter Roe at '08:51'
You might have noticed that there are a few problems in Greece. The FTSE100 had its worse quarter in 3 years – at 6521 now down 8% since its April 27th high of 7104 and now lower YTD. But the Chinese stock market has plunged 20% in the last few weeks. It matters as China is fast becoming the biggest market for many tech companies and undoubtedly contributed to ARM’s 10% fall this month on fears that smartphone sales were slowing. Certainly slower growth in China and global economic issues affected sentiment. But somehow we feel that buying the latest smartphone will remain high on many people’s priority lists regardless.
It’s interesting how well the UK’s FTSE SCS Index has performed this year v NASDAQ. Up a massive 18% v ‘just’ +5.3% for NASDAQ. Of course, some of that was due to M&A activity but many of our ‘native’ UK SITS companies have done well. Although the FTSE SCS Index fell 3.4% in June, that was half the 6.64% fall in the FTSE100.
But still the number of fallers this month outnumbers the gainers by 3:1.
Natural Language Generator software provider Arria NLG led the list of gainers with a massive 388% rise after managing to raise £3.75m. See Arria comes back from the abyss. Arria is a high growth business which tripled revenues in H1 whilst halving losses to £2.7m. But their shares are volatile, to say the least. Despite this month’s massive rise, they are still down 43% YTD.
Triad rose a massive 73% this month (25% YTD). Triad has been on a roller coaster this year after Tenacious Triad Back to Black in Dec 14.
Access Intelligence – chaired by Michael Jackson and with Elderstreet as a major investor – had an eventful month. Outed by the CMA then on to acquire Cision/Vocus and saying goodbye to its CFO. See Access accesses Cision/Vocus…and some dosh. Shares up 36% (42% YTD)
M&A was behind several share price hikes this month. We said Goodbye Anite as it was acquired by Keysight causing a 28% share price rise this month (60% YTD). Promethean World, which supplies classroom systems, was up 21% (35% YTD) after entering bid discussions with Netdragon Websoft. Fidelity bid for the remaining shares in Colt which therefore rose 26% (41% YTD)
There were so many double-digit falls this month that I’ll just concentrate on the biggest. Sage’s Capital Markets Day this month had the opposite effect to what Stephen Kelly wanted; sending their shares down 10% in June but still up 10% YTD. See Sage reduces client to tears and Sage by George – both well written, damned good reads!
The Indian Pure Plays (IPPs) were badly hit with Tech Mahinda down 14% (26% YTD). See Tech Mahinda warns on revenues and profits. I commend you to read Anthony’s excellent review of the IPPs in the latest edition of OffshoreViews.
HP was down another 10% (down 25% YTD) after results at the end of May showing declines in all of its divisions with HP Enterprise Services faring worst – down 10% in Q2.
Who knows what July will bring? Another fudge in Greece causing markets to recover? Or an increasing number of bad news stories causing stock markets to plunge? I can admit ‘I don’t know’ because I really don’t think anyone does.
Posted by Richard Holway at '08:24'
Mphasis, the renegade Bangalore-based offshore services business, majority owned by HP, has offloaded most of its domestic BPO operations, branded MsourcE, to Hinduja Global Solutions, the BPO arm of the family-led Indian diversified conglomerate, Hinduja Group, for approximately nuppence (well, under $3m or thereabouts according to media reports). This represents about 11% of MsourcE’s revenues. HGS turned over some $460m last FY.
The move turns Mphasis closer to an IT services pure-play, but whether this will provide any succour to parent HP is moot (see Mphasis moves ever further from HP clients).
Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:19'
As we pointed out in a previous post Serco one step back, but two steps forward, Serco is making slow progress recovering from where it was this time last year. Management echoed sentiment in the H1 trading update, pointing out the performance for the six months to 30 June, was ‘a little better than expected’.
H1 revenue is expected to be at least £1.7bn vs. £2bn this time last year. Trading profit (before all the nasty bits) should be flat at £45m. Good news is that net debt is anticipated to be c£350m – almost half where it was at the end of December.
Revenue is unsurprisingly being hit by a number of issues related to: reductions in volumes and rates at the Australian Immigration Services; and contract disposals (Docklands Light Railway, National Physical Laboratory, US intelligence agency IT support services and visa processing work, and a small amount for the Great Southern Rail disposal in the UK).
New business is the real sticking point – although again largely expected. Serco won just £1bn worth of business – 50% down on last year’s £2bn. The majority was securing existing relationships, with extensions or rebids, including BPO services for a major international financial services company, air traffic control in the US and IT support services for European agencies.
Then there’s the ongoing saga around the Private Sector BPO business disposal. This has clearly not gone to plan, and management is now ‘considering a number of alternative options’. Management needs to draw a line through this situation soonest, to move on with restoring stability to its new core, Business to Government services.
Posted by John O'Brien at '08:04'
You know what? If Exeter-headquartered, AIM-listed blur Group really is, as claimed, “the world's largest online marketplace for business services”, then that’s not saying a whole lot about the global online business services marketplace!
I say that because, in a cheekily announced set of FY results issued after markets closed yesterday, and six months after the year closed, blur reported revenues of just $4.7m. This, nearly 10 years since the business was founded.
Now, you might say ‘but this was 36% higher than in 2013’.
And then I might say, ‘yes, but net losses were 67% deeper, at $10.5m’ – and make that $12m if you include foreign exchange losses.
Meanwhile, blur continues to operate under the shadow of a Financial Reporting Council inquiry (see blur unsticks from the script) which has already led to a restatement of the 2013 accounts.
I give no credence whatsoever to blur chairman & CEO Philip Letts’ eloquent pronouncements on the prospects for the business, most notably the one that reads ‘we plan by the end of this Strategic Planning period, to be a profitable, cash generative and trusted business’. Previously Letts had been more specific on dates, with an objective ‘to drive the business to profitability in early 2016’. Pipedream.
At the risk of boring you witless I say again, there is nothing wrong in principle with the concept of an online services marketplace. But there is plenty wrong with blur’s business model and execution.
Posted by Anthony Miller at '07:45'
It is amazing what can be achieved when the IT industry comes together to support an important cause. I have learnt that the HP Charity Ball on 4th June 15 in aid of the Prince’s Trust raised a truly amazing £190,000. Over 700 attended and the evening was supported by a whole range of IT companies. The Platinum Sponsors were Computacenter, Kelway, Oracle, SCC and Tech Data.
On behalf of the Prince’s Trust a HUGE thankyou to HP and all its supporters for this magnificent result.
Posted by Richard Holway at '20:59'
Ad-tech startup Captify – located in an ‘ex banana warehouse' in London – has raised £8m in a Series B funding round led by London headquartered (and also Nordic focused) growth capital private equity firm, Smedvig Capital. Existing investors including Panoramic Growth Equity also participated. London and Glasgow-based Panoramic led a £1.2m seed funding round in Captify in July 2013.
Captify was founded in 2011 and styles itself as the leading holder of Search Data in Europe. Its clients include all of the top advertising agencies including WPP, Aegis and Publicis as well as major corporate brands such as Microsoft, British Airways and Barclays. Let's hope there aren't any slip-ups along the way!
Posted by Anthony Miller at '18:36'
Everybody’s pointing at it and talking about it. Some are even trying to feed it. Nobody can ignore it. It’s the digital elephant in the room.
Going digital is today’s ‘big thing’ and it is shaping the direction of travel of the UK software and IT services (SITS) market and the fortunes of its suppliers.
Of course, IT has always been digital by definition. But the term has now been repurposed to suggest, broadly speaking, the transformation of traditional business applications and business processes using modern technologies to take the end-user—and most important of these is the customer—on a ‘journey’ from start to finish, and make the journey such a pleasurable experience they will want to repeat it.
The technologies most frequently employed to facilitate digital transformation are the so-called ‘SMAC stack’, i.e. Social media; Mobile technologies—in which class we should include micro-mobile sensor-based technologies, alluded to as the Internet of Things (IoT); Analytics and big data; and of course, Cloud computing. Indeed, one of the best definitions we have heard for ‘digital’ is ‘integrated SMAC’. It’s the combination of these technologies that holds the promise of transforming the ‘customer journey’.
And therein lies the rationale for TechMarketView’s theme for 2015 Joining the Dots that we launched at the end of last year.
‘Joining the Dots’ represents huge opportunities for IT suppliers. The opportunity starts at the very top of the customers’ businesses, with high-level consulting around the ‘art of the possible’, through to nitty-gritty, nuts-and-bolts installation, integration and support.
But be prepared. The underlying ‘rules of the game’ in the UK SITS market have not changed. Customers still want more for less (and better for less!) from their suppliers and ever will. And customers want to minimise the inherent and considerable risk in digital transformation by doing things step-by-step and, in any event, seeking to transfer as much of that risk as possible to their suppliers. With the deflationary nature of new technologies, suppliers will find digital transformation challenging for both revenues and margins.
Which is why you really will want and need to read and inwardly digest our annual keynote reports, UK Software and IT Services Market Trends & Forecasts 2015, and UK Software and IT Services Supplier Rankings 2015, published today.
In UK Software and IT Services Market Trends & Forecasts 2015, TechMarketView analysts outline the trends that will drive the market over the next few years across key segments and verticals, and present their forecasts for market growth.
The accompanying report, UK Software and IT Services Supplier Rankings 2015, reveals our authoritative rankings for the leading suppliers of software and IT services (including business process services) to the UK market.
You’ll see some highlights from both reports here in UKHotViews.
UK Software and IT Services Market Trends & Forecasts 2015, and UK Software and IT Services Supplier Rankings 2015 are now available for download by subscription clients of the TechMarketView Foundation Service. If you are not thus blessed, then don’t forget to contact Deb Seth on our client services team who will point the way.
Just remember – you can’t ignore an elephant!
Posted by HotViews Editor at '10:15'
Capita retained its crown as the leading supplier of software, IT and business process services (SITS) to the UK market in 2014 for a second year, widening the gap with second-placed HP and third-ranked IBM.
There’s little sign that the fortunes of the world’s two largest systems vendors are going to change any time soon—or that Capita is going to lose the plot—so we’d expect no change at the top of the rankings for some time to come.
There was no change in the relative ranking of the top five suppliers and the same names appear in the rest of the top ten albeit in a slightly different sequence. This typifies the jockeying for position in a low-growth market, in which ascendancy is achieved by taking share – or by taking a competitor out!
UK Software and IT Services Supplier Rankings 2015, reveals our authoritative rankings for the leading suppliers of software and IT services to the UK market. Rankings are presented by key segment, including Enterprise Software, Application Services, Infrastructure Services, and Business Process Services.
UK Software and IT Services Supplier Rankings 2015, is available for download by subscription clients of the TechMarketView Foundation Service.
Posted by HotViews Editor at '10:14'
It was a better year than we had expected for the UK software and IT services (SITS) market in 2014, with headline growth of 2.1% to £43.6b. But excluding the effects of inflation, this equated to growth in real terms of a mere 0.6%, though this is good news compared to the 0.7% real terms decline in 2013.
And things are going to get better—a little bit.
We forecast faster headline market growth this year, at 2.3% which should represent just over 2% growth in real terms. Market growth will remain pretty close to 2% for the next few years, probably till the end of the decade if not beyond.
As in prior years, business process services (BPS) is the fastest growing segment of the UK SITS market at 5.0% cagr, and will reach £8.5b in 2018. In contrast, the UK infrastructure services market—the largest segment—returned to growth in 2014 but we expect only marginal ongoing improvement to reach £14.2b in 2018.
The UK application services market—the second largest segment—is expected to fare little better, with 1.4% cagr to reach £13.8b in 2018. The UK software market is expected to show 3.0% cagr to reach £10.7b in 2018.
The UK public sector SITS market fared better in 2014 than previously forecast as the expected pre-election slowdown in the second half of the year did not come to pass. We now forecast cagr of 1.8%, reaching a market size of £12.4b in 2018. We expect slightly faster growth in the UK private sector SITS market, at 2.1% CAGR, to reach £34.8b at in 2018.
Low-single digit market growth may look unexciting, but it belies tremendous diversity in the performance of the players, some of whom have grown well into double digits and others shrinking by almost as much. The opportunities are there for the taking for those suppliers willing and able to ‘join the dots’ for their customers.
UK Software and IT Services Market Trends & Forecasts 2015, is available for download by subscription clients of the TechMarketView Foundation Service.
Posted by HotViews Editor at '10:08'
Capita is continuing to build up its outsourced mortgage administration business, this time taking over Vertex Mortgage Services (Vertex MS) for £35m, on its usual cash-free, debt-free terms.
Capita is taking on 340 people within Vertex MS and its subsidiaries, which include UK and Canadian mortgage providers Vertex Financial Services Ltd and MS Canada Ltd; and UK unit trust and pension administrators Jessop Fund Managers Ltd.
This deal sees Capita paying 1.5x revenue for Vertex MS, which had turnover in FY14/15 of £22.9m and delivered pro forma EBITA of £1.3m (5.7% margin). Vertex MS is however projected to grow 45% over the next twelve months to reach turnover of £33.1m, and an EBITA of £2.7m (8.1%). Capita expects the acquisition to achieve its target return on investment of 15% in 2017.
For Vertex, this disposal pretty much signals its exit from the UK, having already sold off its UK Public Sector business to Serco in 2012 (see here) and its UK Private Sector business to Capita in 2011 (see here). That deal saw Capita take on some 1,400 Vertex employees across five sites in the UK.
This is the second acquisition for Capita in mortgage administration, following the £7m purchase of Crown Commercial Management last May. That deal has already proved very lucrative, enabling Capita to win a £325m, 10-year deal mortgage BPO deal with Co-Operative Bank last November (see Capita cooperates with Co-op). Capita will be hoping to replicate, or even better, this kind of success with Vertex MS.
With the UK housing market continuing to perform well; banks seeking ways to trim costs and respond to new regulation; and new challenger banks entering the market, the mortgage BPO opportunity should be very buoyant in the UK right now.
Posted by John O'Brien at '09:38'
A year is a long time in Mobile Money. Last year's interim results for eServGlobal showed revenue up 24% and a small EBITDA profit from the core business. Things appeared to be looking up, with growing demand and a new Chairman. However the intervening 12 months have seen a significant fall from grace, with the CEO and new Chairman departing, concern over the core business, higher development costs and calls for additional finance. Shares are down 60% over the year. (See here and work back).
Today they report half-year revenues down 24% (to Aus$12.8m, £6.7m) and an EBITDA loss, of Aus$7m. Nonetheless, the new management are confident that full year revenue and profit will at least equal those of last year and look to sustained growth.
Underlying their optimism is the potential seen in their new standardised platform (PayMobile 3.0). With easier and more rapid deployments they should be able to work through their project backlog (of £3.7m, up 59%) and new orders, booking margin against each project. Also, existing customers are running at 94% of their license capacity, suggesting scope for (profitable) license extensions.
HomeSend, now 35% owned by eServGlobal, looks to be making good progress, with over 200 countries connected and a decision to use the HomeSend platform as the international hub for the broader MasterCard Send proposition. This is a clear sign of commitment from MasterCard to this operation which drives opportunities for eServGlobal’s mobile wallets (supported by PayMobile 3.0).
Significant risks lie ahead, not the least political risk within the emerging markets served by eServGlobal, but the outlook appears more positive. Delivering a good H2 performance via new deployments, coupled with further progress at HomeSend would provide a welcome start to the renewal of eServGlobal’s fortunes.
Posted by Peter Roe at '09:35'
It probably doesn’t qualify as one of the “tough choices” referred to by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in his recent mission setting memo to staff (see Further reorganisation at Microsoft?) but the decision to pretty much shut down the display advertising business and also sell off some of Microsoft’s map generation technology to Uber, are action points on areas “where things are not working.”
The company has announced that AOL and AppNexus will effectively take over Microsoft’s display advertising business, leaving Microsoft to focus on search advertising, based on Bing. A 10 year agreement will see AOL opt for Bing as its default search engine (replacing Google) with AOL handling direct advertising sales across Microsoft's content sites. AppNexus will take on programmatic advertising for Microsoft. Media reports suggest c1200 jobs will go but staff are being offered positions with AOL, and Uber.
Display advertising was under the former Microsoft Online group which lost around $10bn over a five year period so the decision to withdraw is not a surprising one. Indeed Microsoft has been extricating itself over the past few years, including taking a $6.2bn write down on the acquired aQuantive online advertising business (see here), and selling aspects of it to Facebook where it emerged as the Atlas advertising platform. The move will not fundamentally impact the business but will reduce a headache and allow Microsoft to concentrate on search advertising which it considers a strength - and its bigger strategic focus on cloud, mobile and productivity solutions.
Posted by Angela Eager at '08:56'
Natural language generation (NLG) software provider Arria NLG is doing its best to come back from the abyss following the loss of its flagship contract with oil and gas giant Shell in May (see here).
It managed to raise a further £3.75m from existing investors at the end of H1, and now claims to have ‘adequate resources to continue in operational existence for the foreseeable future’. Before the fund-raising, cash had slumped 76% to £1m.
This is a high growth business, albeit from a very low base. H1 revenue almost trebled to £904k, from £330k last year, meanwhile, operating losses narrowed to £2.7m from £5.4m last time. Nonetheless the costs are clearly outstripping Arria’s ability to grow – quite simply not sustainable long-term.
We actually think Arria’s technology has lots of potential if it ‘does what it says on the tin’. It uses artificial intelligence and algorithms to mine large amounts of data, which it then converts it into text or voice reports. The technology is in use at the Met Office where Arria’s software is now producing 5,000 reports a minute for localised weather updates.
There are lots of opportunities, with new clients coming on board at 1 per month. Arria would be wise to go after disruptor brands and providers though rather than large incumbent organisations. A new proof of concept with a major online travel company to develop personalised tailored responses to queries, is good win.
Arria fits squarely in our next-gen Business Process Automation space (see Business Process Automation – a brave new world for BPS providers), using innovative technology to automate processes, and improve efficiency and accuracy. Arria is however one of very few to have braved AIM at this early stage. Let's hope it continues to brave these difficult waters, and avoids the murky depths.
Posted by John O'Brien at '08:50'
We are delighted to announce the publication of the sixth in the series of TechMarketView Little British Battler reports, profiling the companies that participated in the most recent event.
The companies are:
Each company has been critically assessed by the TechMarketView research team on its proposition and strategy, market positioning, business performance, and future objectives, and includes a succinct SWOT analysis.
TechMarketView Foundation Service subscription clients can download Little British Battlers – The Sixth Sense right here, right now. Others will have to wait until these companies become Big Global Battlers (maybe!) – unless, of course, you contact Deb Seth on our client services team to find out how you can become a subscriber!
Posted by HotViews Editor at '18:10'
Although not strictly speaking banking per se, Amazon is planning to extend its practice of providing loan finance to the growing army of small companies in the UK that use the Amazon platform and logistics services. The company had already provided short-term working capital loans in the US and Japan, but according to a Reuters report this morning, this service will be extended to selected sellers in the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain as well as to Canada, China and India.
Amazon is in a good position to provide such loans as it would usually have a lot of data about the market, the competition and the individual company’s activities. This step by Amazon provides another attraction for companies to use its distribution network and broadens its scope for value creation. It will also disintermediate any bank that might have been expecting to provide short term finance to the SME.
Supply Chain Finance is becoming big business, with communities of buyers and suppliers being built up by the likes of Tungsten, Taulia, PROACTIS and cloudBuy, with innovative financing and discounting packages being introduced. Amazon may well have eyes on this business going forward. In the UK particularly, the government is easing the road to greater competition, see “Fanning the competitive flames in banking”, and whatever Amazon’s plans, more and more activity is being sucked away from the banking establishment.
Posted by Peter Roe at '11:16'
When we wrote two weeks ago that Six Degrees Group (6DG) had got new backers, we suggested that it wouldn’t be long before the company hit the acquisition trail again. Today’s announcement that 6DG has acquired Capital Support Group (CSG) therefore comes as no surprise. CSG is a cloud, software and managed services provider focused on the financial services sector which returned £14m of revenue and £2.5m of EBITDA in 2014. (6DG, in comparison generated £68.9m of revenue and £15m of EBITDA in the year to March 2014).
Charlesbank Capital Partners, 6DG’s new owners have been enthusiastic consolidators in attractive markets (see the progress of Zayo) and is obviously keen to finance 6DG’s strategy of building in the financial services sector. 6DG had already built a position with 7 of the larger investment banks and the new addition brings 170 customers, many of whom are in the hedge fund, private client and alternative investment market, with operations across Europe, North America and the Middle East.
The combination of the two companies should give additional scale benefits in infrastructure and support, as well as opening up cross-selling opportunities, with Unified Communications, particularly UCaaS, being highlighted by CSG management. Our October 2014 report on Six Degrees, available to InfrastructureViews subscribers here, stated that 6DG aims to be the go-to provider of converged technology infrastructure for UK mid-market companies. This deal should further that ambition, with the added appeal of increasing the company’s exposure to the fast-growing, though competitive market in the financial services sector.
This is the first acquisition by 6DG for over two years, but with new backers and a dynamic market for cloud-based services, we will probably not have to wait another two years before the next acquisition.
Posted by Peter Roe at '11:13'
After moving to a 31st March FYE IS Solutions, the AIM-listed systems integrator and value-added reseller, announced preliminary results for 15-months with total revenues of £12.9m, gross profits of £4.7m (after acquisition costs of £270k) and operating profits of £0.7m. In terms of revenue mix Analytics posted revenues of £6m, Portals £5m and Enterprise Content Management (ECM) £2m.
In January the firm completed the acquisition of Speed-Trap Holdings Limited; parent company to Celebrus Technologies Limited which has contributed revenues of £540K since acquisition. IS Solutions and Celebrus have been working with SAS and Teradata on a number of POCs (Proof of Concept) in the financial and retail sectors. The plan being for the POCs to move to a full scale roll out in 2015, boosting licence sales and revenues for professional services and on-going support.
Portals revenues were flat as a result of a major client requesting more of the work to be carried out off-shore. Enterprise Content Management (ECM) posted revenues of £2m after a weak start to 2014. R&D will be the key focus for the ECM business as it’s currently based on legacy technology.
Management sees analytics as an opportunity to provide higher margin license sales plus greater project and recurring revenues. However one only has to refer to a couple of UKHotViews posts to appreciate that this is a keenly contested part of the SITS market (see Silwood Technology speeds move to Big Data, Fusionex signs Giant deal in insurance).
We have commented several times on how disjointed the business is and now portals and the ECM business are not even mentioned in the ‘Outlook’ statement. We think it is time that IS Solutions considered more carefully the ‘sum of the parts’ and made some decisions about the future shape of the company.
Posted by Michael Larner at '10:11'
Redcentric, the UK IT managed services provider built by acquisition, has secured an interesting new contract with England’s Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC). Procured via the G-Cloud framework, the deal is worth in excess of £3.5m over two years and will see Redcentric provide Database as a Service (DBaaS) to power a national repository for healthcare data in England.
The award of the contract for this critical data repository, which will enable a range of reporting and analysis to support the NHS, is a significant vote of confidence by the HSCIC in Redcentric’s high availability cloud database environments. It no doubt helps that Redcentric, which now has annual revenues of more than £100m, is already well known to HSCIC through the InTechnology business that it acquired in December 2013 (see here). InTechnology signed a previous contract with HSCIC through G-Cloud in February 2014 and the mid-market specialist has a track record in the UK healthcare sector. Other NHS clients of Redcentric include Kings College Hospital London NHS Foundation Trust, Surrey & Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust and The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust.
We expect to see more of Redcentric in the UK healthcare sector over the coming months. The business, which was formed by the coming together of Redstone Managed Solutions, Maxima Managed Services and InTechnology Managed Services plus the recent addition of Calyx Managed Services (see Calyx MS finds new home at Redcentric), has demonstrated its expertise in healthcare and its mid-market fit with the sector. Moreover, the NHS is increasingly willing to consider private sector partners and cloud-based managed services as it battles to cut costs and improve efficiency (see Personalised Health & Care 2020: SITS Implications & Opportunities for more background if you’re a PublicSectorViews subscriber).
Posted by Tola Sargeant at '09:54'
If you felt so inclined, you could now have your own .BANK domain name. That is as long as you meet the strict eligibility requirements (namely, that you are actually a bank, that you are supervised by a government regulatory authority and that your systems meet certain security requirements). This new, more secure domain is managed by CentralNic FinTech, a London-based specialist domain industry registry, and 4,000 .BANK domain names have already been applied for. The idea is to give greater protection to banking customers as they will be more able to identify legitimate bank websites and also to the banks in terms of reputation and brand identity. The CentralNic Group listed on AIM in September 2013 and in calendar 2014 generated £6m of revenue and £520k of pre-tax profit.
The .BANK domain name may well be a useful enabler as banks look to ways to retain the trust of their customers and give them the confidence to migrate to lower cost, on-line services.
Posted by Peter Roe at '09:54'
Ian Manocha, the new CEO of Gresham Computing, was probably delighted to be able to announce a new contract and potentially important use case for his flagship CTC solution after less than a month in his new position. Over the past couple of years we have highlighted the lengthening list of areas where the CTC reconciliation engine can be employed, see “Insurance brokers underwrite Gresham Computing’s progress” and work back.
This contract with a North American solutions provider in the pre-paid products market will apply the CTC solution to reconcile payment transaction data in the company’s settlement and accounting operations. This contract extends Gresham’s successes in North America and also benefits from the recent PCI-DSS accreditation for use in credit card transactions. It should boost revenues in the current year and provide additional medium term growth.
At the end of March the company talked positively about the current year and we look forward to more information about the company’s progress with the announcement of the results for the six months to June, due early August.
Posted by Peter Roe at '09:52'
You may have read Richard’s comment on the news that Google Ventures has backed two UK tech start-ups (see Lost my...), one of which (Lost my Name) rather stretches the definition of ‘tech’.
However, the other doesn’t. It’s London-based ecommerce predictive analytics firm Yieldify, which has raised $11.5m in a Series A funding round led by Google Ventures and SoftBank Capital. According to the indispensable TechCrunch, existing seed investor Hoxton Ventures also participated.
Founded in 2013, Yieldify’s software aims to increase conversion rates on ecommerce sites. It’s not the only game in town – almost literally actually – as this is precisely the space that UK SME Postcode Anywhere’s Triggar platform aims to serve (see Postcode Anywhere to take Triggar everywhere!). I’m sure there’s room for more than one player in this market.
Yieldify is to use the funding to shoot for the stars – indeed their website has job ads for no fewer than 27 positions from data scientists to finance manager and all stops in between. Will $11.5m be enough, then?
Posted by Anthony Miller at '09:17'
I can’t remember seeing a profit warning from an 'Indian pure-play' (IPP) for a long time, but Mumbai-based ‘business of two halves’ Tech Mahindra has just announced that ‘some headwinds and tailwinds (sic) … could see a risk of marginal decline in both revenue and EBITDA on a sequential basis’. Given that Q1 finishes tomorrow, I’d say that ‘risk’ looks pretty much like a 100% certainty.
Management called out a ‘seasonally weak Mobility business’ (since when is 'mobility' seasonal, I wonder?), and H1B visa costs (see Rising rhetoric on IPP US H-1B visas) as the ‘drag’, though ‘favourable currency movements could help both revenue and margins’. Tech Mahindra had recently announced a £50m, 10-year deal with CircleHealth which operates a network of NHS and private hospitals (see here).
The IPP reporting season commences in a couple of weeks. Tech Mahindra’s warning portends the shape of things to come.
I strongly commend to you the latest edition of TechMarketView OffshoreViews (see IPPs – Be careful what you wish for!) if you want to understand what’s actually happening with the IPPs and why.
Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:40'
Troubled, Cambridge-based, AIM-listed ‘location intelligence’ solutions firm Ubisense is on the lookout for a new CFO as incumbent Robert Parker has jumped ship. Parker joined Ubisense in January 2014.
This is not good news for Ubisense, which has been wracked with deepening losses (see Ubisense senses another ‘miss’) and a seemingly perpetual need to raise cash (see Ubisense senses need for even more cash). Frankly, I don’t think just hiring a new CFO is going to solve the problem.
Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:19'
After an £860k mercy dash for cash a couple of months ago (see MXC cornerstones Pinnacle Technology rescue), Northampton-based, AIM-listed managed services buy-and-build player Pinnacle Technology Group feels it is ready to step back onto the acquisition trail again.
Not that Pinnacle is quite out of the mire as yet. Half-time revenues (to 31st March) were 6% down yoy to £4.0m, though operating losses halved to £0.5m. With the cash raised in April, it looks like Pinnacle will have something like £1m in the coffers with which to go shopping, though they burned through £316k (operating) cash in the half year.
Pinnacle is by definition a business of many parts. Management talks about ‘a more sharply defined focus’ for the company, but this is not yet evident from the broad mix of client industries and ICT services. Perhaps the planned acquisitions ought to be accompanied by some strategic disposals!
Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:01'
Fujitsu UK & Ireland has a new CEO today. Regina Moran, who previously led Fujitsu Ireland, has been elevated to the role. Moran takes over from Michael Keegan who only took over the UK role a year back – See Fujitsu UK appoints Michael Keegan as CEO – when Duncan Tait was promoted to lead Fujitsu EMEIA. Keegan is moving to help design Fujitsu’s product business across the whole of Europe. Keegan will also take the post of Chairman of the UK & Ireland business, where “he will support Moran in her new position and continue to represent Fujitsu in the wider market”.
This is the first change since Tait was appointed to Board of Fujitsu in March 16 – the first non-Japanese person to hold such an appointment. This all seems part of a wider move by Tait to reorganise EMEIA.
We’ll be meeting Moran shortly.
Posted by Richard Holway at '06:26'
On Thursday, I addressed a class at my old school who were taking GCSE Computing. Even though the school is co-ed, not one girl was present which is deeply disturbing. I understood that one girl was in the course but had another engagement. Last year nationwide just 2000 took GCSE Computing and 90% were male. That is just not good enough.
One subject I discussed with these students was apprenticeships and the value of a degree. Almost all of the pupils from my old school go to university. Gaining the qualifications to go to university are, in my mind, vital. (I admit I failed to get the A level grades I needed to go to uni – maybe the best failure in my life!) But whether completing the university course and gaining the degree is a passport to success is questionable. Most of the titans of our industry – Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg – crashed out of uni before graduating.
I was therefore really interested to read today that 52,000 UK students – some 15% of all graduates - had already set-up a company before leaving uni. Many (27%) believed they could make more money working for themselves. But ‘worries about finding suitable job opportunities’ was cited by 20%.
Personally I find this surge of entrepreneurial spirit hugely encouraging. Having said that, I still think that working for a large corporation for a few years before venturing out on your own, is the best route.
Posted by Richard Holway at '13:30'
I’ve mentioned Becky – now 9 3/4 – on HotViews before as Becky came up with the great idea of a shoe that could work out if your feet had outgrown it and order you a new pair. This was all part of a normal conversation about the IoTs over dinner in the Holway household! See Out of the mouths of babes. I followed this up with a report – Shoes - about the Shoefitr service that Amazon had bought.
On Friday I was reminded of this when the FT ran a review of Sensoria - headlined Talking Socks. They have developed a way of weaving ‘textile sensors’ into such things as running socks, sports bras, jogging T-shirts. These are then connected to a little processor on your ankle (or wherever...) which transmits the info to a smartphone app. It can tell you all sorts of things about your exercise technique and, back to Becky, whether your running shoes are rubbing. As the founder Davide Vigano says "Forget smartwatches and fitness trackers - the garment is the computer". I rather like/agree with that!
The FT concluded that they were only for ‘serious athletes such as marathon runners’. Well, socks at $149 a pair are a bit more than even Anthony pays.
Posted by Richard Holway at '12:43'
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