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Collapse 2018 (57)2018 (57)
Collapse January (57)January (57)
LTG: strong organic growth in FY17
22 Jan 2018
Aveva uptick continues into Q3
22 Jan 2018
IntegraFin investment platform to float on LSE
22 Jan 2018
Computacenter back in its groove for 2017
22 Jan 2018
LBB Contego takes key role in Open Banking revolution
22 Jan 2018
Droning on about drones - again
21 Jan 2018
AskPorter gets £500k to spread the message
21 Jan 2018
HCL pedalling hard towards Wipro!
21 Jan 2018
Wipro pedalling hard towards $8b year
21 Jan 2018
IBM hits milestone as Q4 sees return to growth
19 Jan 2018
WNS grows on analytics
19 Jan 2018
NIIT Tech moves forwards under new exec team
19 Jan 2018
Sweatcoin exercises investors’ cryptophilia
19 Jan 2018
* NEW RESEARCH * UK quoted tech stocks soar in 2017
19 Jan 2018
ARE YOU READY TO BECOME THE NEXT GREAT BRITISH SCALEUP?
19 Jan 2018
Mastek making steady progress
18 Jan 2018
Ian Bell appointed new CEO of Police ICT Company
18 Jan 2018
CGI moves quicky: instates new UK President
18 Jan 2018
M&S extends with Capita
18 Jan 2018
Late payment - the scourge of small business
18 Jan 2018
H2 rally boosts Starcom
18 Jan 2018
Probation firms face punishing losses
18 Jan 2018
CloudCall gets boost from CRM integration
18 Jan 2018
EMIS fails to meet NHS Digital obligations
18 Jan 2018
Mercia coaches Refract with further funding
18 Jan 2018
techUK becomes Great British Scaleup Programme Official Supporter
18 Jan 2018
Services Automation - How to Make a Successful Business Case
18 Jan 2018
Mindtree picks up pace
17 Jan 2018
HeleCloud building in public Cloud
17 Jan 2018
Adept4 doubles FY17 revenue
17 Jan 2018
Actual Experience still hugging the ground
17 Jan 2018
Junior minister, Oliver Dowden, has hands full
17 Jan 2018
Identity platform Yoti valued at £65m
17 Jan 2018
Redwood takes SEP’s £25m to grow overseas
17 Jan 2018
HubBox clicks and collects $1.6m funding
17 Jan 2018
Cryptocurrencies plunge
17 Jan 2018
Honcho’s reverse auction funding surges forward
17 Jan 2018
Recruiter Gattaca hit by Carillion fallout
17 Jan 2018
BeMyEye spies growth with Task360
16 Jan 2018
TCS on a roll in life & pensions
16 Jan 2018
AI bests humans at reading comprehension
16 Jan 2018
Instem makes positive start to 2018
16 Jan 2018
Capita loses the Pru
16 Jan 2018
Communisis stays on track
16 Jan 2018
Trading update shows WANdisco is on form
16 Jan 2018
Anon AI secures £340k seed funding
16 Jan 2018
Hambro Perks joins The Dots with £4m funding round
16 Jan 2018
Sage has clear opportunity as Open Banking arrives
16 Jan 2018
Resurgent NCC Group grows H1 revenue 4%
16 Jan 2018
Divorce, technology style with Amicable!
16 Jan 2018
Government shared services: lacking courage or realistic?
15 Jan 2018
Tax Systems signal steady progress
15 Jan 2018
ATTRAQT CEO steps down
15 Jan 2018
Carillion's demise is ultimately bad for all Public-sector outsourcers
15 Jan 2018
Previse gets funding to go north of the border
15 Jan 2018
**NEW RESEARCH** Open Banking - It's Alive!
15 Jan 2018
Pentech pays attention to Digital Fineprint
15 Jan 2018

UKHotViews©

 

Monday 22 January 2018

LTG: strong organic growth in FY17

LTG logoAs presaged in its October update,  integrated e-learning services and technology provider, Learning Technologies Group (LTG), had an incredibly strong 2017. Some of this due to changes in the terms of a major contract. In the year to end December, its pre-close trading update confirms group revenue up by at least 83% to ≥£51.8m, organic revenue growth of ≥20% (excluding CSL contract in partnership with KPMG) and recurring revenues up from 27% to 39%, primarily as a result of growth in the software business and a maiden contribution from NetDimensions, acquired in March 2017.

The integration of NetDimensions also had a positive impact on adjusted EBIT and net cash. The former is expected to be ≥£14.0m vs. £7.0m (also driven by growth in services and software license sales and continued cost control). The latter was £1.0m at year end (vs. net debt of £8.5m at end of 2016).

LTG now has a diversified client base by market sector and geographic reach. And its ambitious growth plans, as laid out in October, are supported by a “record order book”. LTG also points to an encouraging pipeline of international acquisition opportunities. North America and Europe have been early adopters of e-learning technologies; in the UK the trend has been encouraged by the Government. But other international markets are behind the curve, so LTG should have plenty more opportunities for growth. They area also looking at ensuring they remain relevant in mature markets by adding to their offerings in strategic consultancy, creation, delivery and analytics.

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:29' - Tagged: software   resullts   e-learning  

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Monday 22 January 2018

Aveva uptick continues into Q3

logoThe reverse merger between Aveva Group and the Schneider Electric industrial software business that was expected to close at the end of 2017 is looking at a mid-February 2018 conclusion, which probably reflects the complexity of the move – something that helped scupper earlier merger attempts. In the meantime, business goes on with Aveva continuing the much needed uptick we saw in its H1 results.

Although devoid of hard numbers, the latest Aveva trading update (for the nine months to December 31) cites strong performance “with the improving growth trend seen in the first half continuing into the third quarter,” resulting in constant currency revenue growth across all regions and Asia Pacific doing particularly well. Internal (a focus on sales execution) and external (stabilisation of the Oil & Gas and Marine markets) factors enabled the improvement, along with a significant three year renewal contract with one of Aveva’s large customers that is expected to contribute materially to revenue this FY. The contract appears to be the product of customer consolidation and the amalgamation of business into one agreement but is a positive development because it will have broader scope.

We’ll see how the Schneider Electric industrial software business has been performing when Aveva releases the relevant trading update in February. The other big question is who will be appointed CEO but we don’t expect news just yet. 

Posted by Angela Eager at '09:07' - Tagged: software   tradingupdate  

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Monday 22 January 2018

IntegraFin investment platform to float on LSE

logoIntegraFin Holdings Limited (integrafin.co.uk) is to float on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange. This nearly 20-year-old business operates the UK’s leading independent platform supporting financial advisors. At the end of 2017, the company’s “Transact” platform administered c.£30bn of funds managed (the official term is Funds Under Direction – a new interpretation of the acronym “FUD”) with more than 150k clients via over 5k financial advisors.

Revenue for the group has been growing at c.20%, reaching £80.2m in the year to end September 2017. This generated attributable pre-tax profit of £37m and profit after tax of £29.9m.

The company has a long track record of working with financial advisors and has built the capability to meet the more complex and sophisticated needs of the end investors in a market which is growing strongly, at c.20%p.a.. Integrafin’s scalable platform has been developed by the company and the management considers that the ownership of the IP, coupled with the company’s long experience and scale advantage will enable it to keep up with evolving investor requirements and to sustain a leadership position in the market.

The fundamentals underpinning the wider business of investment and financial advisor platforms remain positive, as regulators demand better audit trails with a more level playing field and greater protection for smaller investors. The costs of servicing investment clients continue to rise and a more standardised, platform-based approach to increase advisor productivity is crucial for even relatively large investment clients. However, expect to see a lot of change in this market area as new technologies such as automation and machine learning enable a greater role for robo-assisted advisory platforms and consequently greater competition for FUD. Integrafin appears to have a strong position, but management will not be able to rest on their laurels.

Posted by Peter Roe at '08:59' - Tagged: investment   listing   regulation  

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Monday 22 January 2018

Computacenter back in its groove for 2017

CCCIn a pre-close trading statement for FY17, Computacenter said adjusted pre-tax results are “anticipated to be ahead of the Board's expectations”. Indeed, the company upgraded expectations several times during the year.

The numbers released today show Group revenue up 12% (constant currency), with Services up 7% and Supply Chain (resale) up 14%. In the UK specifically, revenue increased 9% for the year, with Services up 6% and Supply Chain up 10%.

The performance has also been good in other geographies. German revenue increased 15%, with Services up 7% and Supply Chain up 19%. While in France revenue increased 13%, with Services up 15% and Supply Chain up 12%.

The pre-close figures show a return to form in the UK, following a decline in the services business in FY16 (see where Computacenter ranked in Infrastructure Services based on those figures: Infrastructure Services Supplier Ranking 2017). That performance was in part due to a lack of large deal signings, but the signs were there as 2017 progressed that the company was finding its groove again.

There were some important people moves in 2017, the combined impact of which could be very positive. In October, Neil Hall became the new UK Managing Director. Meanwhile, Andy Stafford (ex-Unisys and Accenture) became COO and has been notable for his work around the development of offerings and improvements to service quality. Mo Siddiqi, Group Development Director, made a return to the company after a short stint at Redcentric; one of the areas he will be looking to develop is Computacenter’s international capability.

As 2018 commences, Computacenter brings good news to shareholders with its intention to return £100m (more details tomorrow). The company does, however, note that “a number of one-off costs and investments” this year “will hold back the enhancement of profitability in 2018”. The Board characterises 2018 as being a year of “stable profitability”.

Final results will be announced on the 13th March.

Posted by Kate Hanaghan at '08:49' - Tagged: tradingupdate   infrastructureservices   resale  

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Monday 22 January 2018

LBB Contego takes key role in Open Banking revolution

logoContego, a RegTech and compliance solutions specialist which participated in our Little British Battler programme in April 2015 has made another significant step forward. The company has been chosen by the Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE) to use Contego’s solutions to support the key element of identity proofing and verification.

The introduction of Open Banking (as discussed in our report “Open Banking – It’s Alive” last week) is expected to transform the banking, savings and lending business by giving greater choice to consumers and making it easier for new companies to enter the market. This will be facilitated by the use of API’s to connect systems across the banking and financial services ecosystems. For this revolution to occur requires absolute trust in the identity verification process.

Contego’s identity platform accesses a wide range of sources and enables a multi-step, real-time identity verification process. The company has provided the OBIE with a bespoke solution that meets the understandably high standards required, combining automated identity checks with the facility to enable face-to-face verification.

We have followed the progress of Contego closely since its LBB debut, with a number of well-judged steps to build its capabilities and market reach, followed by a funding round last year.

The Open Banking deal however is the strongest endorsement yet of the company’s capabilities in an increasingly important niche of the Financial Services market. It should also open up opportunities across Europe and with ever larger customers and partners. As a consequence, we would expect the business to deliver good growth as the revolution enabled by Open Banking and PSD2 rolls out.

FinancialServicesViews subscribers can also read our reports on the opportunities in RegTech and on the wider questions surrounding Digital Identity.

Posted by Peter Roe at '08:03' - Tagged: lbb   security   banking   regulation   identity   RegTech  

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Sunday 21 January 2018

Droning on about drones - again

A quick scan of the HotViews archives indicates that we have been writing about the potential of drones since our inception. The acceptability of drones is now so widespread that PwC, as we reported, even launched a specialist drone unit last week.

Advances in technology can have great benefits to mankind. But there are also bad uses and associations. Some extremes came to my attention last week.

DroneHM Inspectorate of Prisons last week declared HMP Liverpool to have the worst conditions they had ever encountered. They also reported that at least one drone per week - 32 in the last 6 months - was recovered by staff (so how many actually got through?) The drones are used to carry drugs and mobile phones to inmates.

DroneAt the other end of the scale, a ‘Little Ripper’ Life Saver Drone dropped a life-saving flotation device to two swimmers in trouble off the New South Wales coast. The drone was on a test flight when it was called into active service for the first time.

AmazonWe have long championed the use of drones in all kinds of areas - eg surveying pipelines, cliff erosion, crowd control, crime prevention and surveillance etc. A few years ago, Amazon Prime Air was announced. It sounded like an April Fool’s Joke at the time. But already drones are being used to deliver urgently needed drugs to remote locations in Africa.

Maybe the skies over Farnham will soon be as full of drones as our local roads are full of delivery vans from DHL, Yodel, ParcelForce etal.

Posted by Richard Holway at '18:09'

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Sunday 21 January 2018

AskPorter gets £500k to spread the message

logoWhen you get past the obligatory nod towards artificial intelligence, what we seem to have here is a like a WhatsApp group tailored for the property management industry. London-based ‘proptech’ startup AskPorter has developed a messaging app that links landlords, tenants and services suppliers and has just raised £500k from various angels including David Newnes, the former executive director of LSL Property Services, the company behind estate agencies such as Your Move and Marsh & Parsons, as well as a host of property focused asset management and financial services brands.

There’s undoubtedly more functionality under AskPorter’s covers but it’s hard to tell from the early-stage website, which promises, among other things, to help you ‘boost happiness’, which much surely be reason enough to use it. And no clues on the business model either, though I would hazard a guess to say that it would be free to use for tenants, fee-based for property managers, and maybe a skim off the top from service providers booked through the platform.

In principle, a neat idea. Let’s see if it turns into a neat business too.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '15:54' - Tagged: funding   startup   PropTech  

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Sunday 21 January 2018

HCL pedalling hard towards Wipro!

logoWere Noida-based offshore services major HCL Technologies to slightly exceed the high end of its FY growth guidance, and Bangalore-based archrival Wipro just miss the low end of its FY guidance, then HCL might, just might, overtake Wipro in the Indian pure-play rankings this FY (31st March). And what a result that would be for the company that not so many years ago I used to refer to as ‘Wipro-Lite’ due to its similar heritage and service mix but reduced size.

Certainly HCL’s growth continues to outpace its top-tier peers, including TCS and Infosys, with headline revenue growth for FY Q3 (to 31st Dec.) of almost 14% yoy, to reach $1.99b, just over 3% higher than the prior quarter. HCL is also keeping operating margins pretty steady, though at 19.6% these still lag those of TCS and Infosys by a considerable margin, so to speak.

At the midpoint of management’s guidance, HCL will end the year with revenues of $7.89b. If they can dig up another couple of hundred million dollars in revenues in the next couple of months, there could well be champagne corks popping in Noida come 1st April - and that will be no fooling!

Posted by Anthony Miller at '13:11' - Tagged: results   offshore  

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Sunday 21 January 2018

Wipro pedalling hard towards $8b year

logoI guess management at Bangalore-based Indian offshore service major Wipro were so delighted at breaching the $2b revenue barrier in FY Q2 (see here) that they wanted to do an encore performance in Q3, which they did almost to the dollar. Which is another way of saying that revenues remained flat (in truth, a few dollars light) in Q3, at $2.01b, just under 6% higher than the year-ago quarter. There was also a major ‘accident’ with profitability due to a write-off from a ‘customer insolvency event’ which cost them $50m and thrust operating margins down to 14.8%. Management are forecasting a more optimistic 2% revenue growth this quarter which, if achieved, should push Wipro just over the $8b mark for the FY (ends 31st March), around 4-5% up on the prior year.

When your read the list of deal highlights for the quarter you’d get the impression that Wipro was winning its fair share of business against its rivals. But if so this does not appear to be translating into the numbers, which more suggest that Wipro is pedalling very hard but in a very low gear.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '12:43' - Tagged: results   offshore  

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Friday 19 January 2018

IBM hits milestone as Q4 sees return to growth

IBMAfter 22 quarters of revenue decline, IBM returned to growth in Q4 2017. At constant currency, IBM grew its top line by 1% to $22.5bn. For a company of IBM’s size and portfolio mix that is not as pitiful as it sounds. Indeed, if it can sustain and improve upon this in coming quarters that would be a very positive indicator that its shift to “strategic imperative” areas is producing the intended result.

Looking back at the year as a whole, cloud (including as-a-service), its performance in systems (IBM Z, Power and storage), greater software transactional revenue, and improvements in consulting (led by digital offerings) were key growth drivers.

EMEA was down 1.5% in Q4 with growth in certain countries being offset by “weakness” in the UK, Germany and Italy. This reflects the trend in Q3 – see IBM declines for its 22nd consecutive quarter for more.

We’ve seen other commentary around the potential for IBM to emerge as the next ‘biggie’ cloud vendor after Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. But of course, IBM’s offerings are not just about public cloud services. Its cloud revenue (i.e. public, private and hybrid) increased by 24% to $17bn in 2017, with the as-a-service run rate specifically registering a lower growth run rate of 18%. Where IBM – and frankly, all the system integrators – can really show their worth is in the complexity of making various cloud and on-premise systems work beautifully together.

As 2018 kicks off, projected revenue from the current backlog indicates an “improved revenue trajectory” in both GTS and GBS, with IBM claiming it is entering the new year with “a stronger revenue profile than a year ago”.

** Read IBM’s profile for Cloud and Infrastructure Services in full here: Cloud and Infrastructure Services Supplier Prospects 2018. (Subscription to InfrastructureViews required, please speak to Deb Seth for more information.) **

Posted by Kate Hanaghan at '09:34' - Tagged: results  

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Friday 19 January 2018

WNS grows on analytics

WNSIndian BPS player WNS has released some excellent Q3 results achieving revenues of $185.2m, up 32.4% from $139.8m in Q3 last year and up 1.6% from $182.3m last quarter.

Operating profits of $34.2m are also up compared to $25.2m in Q3 last year and $27.7m last quarter.

Q3 sales were also buoyant adding 7 new clients, growing 7 existing relationships and renewing 9 contracts.

We highlighted last summer that WNS was investing heavily in areas such as robotics, analytics, cloud and platform BPS from which to further scale the business (see WNS benefitting from Automation and RPA). This has seen progress in developing internal IP, forming strategic partnerships and on acquisitions.

The fruits of this are delivering for WNS particularly in the area of analytics where it now employs 2,500 people serving over 50 clients with dedicated analytics centres for the likes of QBE insurance and GlaxoSmithKline. Proprietary IP here includes ‘Branditude’, an Insights-as-a-service analytics platform and ‘SocioSphere’, a social media analytics product, which uses machine learning and artificial intelligence, to create brand equity indexes for clients.

WNS is also embedding analytics in industry specific solutions. For example, its travel offering uses internally developed analytics to help increase ancillary revenue, reduce revenue leakage, minimise flight disruption and manage the end-customer experience.

Finally, WNS also highlighted the fact that it is becoming relatively less reliant on the UK market. Whilst management referenced “a solid quarter in the UK” and remains home to Aviva its largest client, the UK accounted for some 31% of Q3 revenues down from 36% this time last year. Year-to-date UK clients account for 33% revenues compared to 39% last year.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '09:29' - Tagged: results   analytics   IPP   WNS  

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Friday 19 January 2018

NIIT Tech moves forwards under new exec team

logoNoida-based, Indian pure-play NIIT Technologies followed the encouraging trend of mid-tier peers Mindtree and Mastek showing growth in both revenues and profitability. Headline revenues for FY Q3 (to 31st Dec) grew by 9% yoy to Rs7.57b (~$117m), nearly 3% higher than the prior quarter. Operating margins increased for the second successive quarter to 13.0%.

New CEO, Sudhir Singh has now taken over the reins (see NIIT Tech looks to Genpact for next CEO), and has been rebuilding the top team with hires from his earlier ‘alma mater’, Infosys, with Gautam Samanta now leading Europe (see here) and Madan Mohan taking charge of a new Data Services & Automation service line. Ex-Fujitsu exec Anantha Basavaraju has been hired to run APAC.

It does seem that the mid-tier pure-plays are successfully finding the spaces in between the footsteps of the ‘giants’ of the marketplace. Well done them!

Posted by Anthony Miller at '09:06' - Tagged: offshore   management   resullts  

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Friday 19 January 2018

Sweatcoin exercises investors’ cryptophilia

logoThis is a startup that plays to my two greatest aversions: exercise and cryptocurrencies. In fact I thought it was ‘fake news’ when I read that London-based (but Russian led) fitness app Sweatcoin had raised $5.7m in a seed funding round led by Goodwater Capital with participation from Greylock Partners, Rubylight and Seed Camp.

It’s yet another fitness app for mobile phones which tracks your activity, but this one awards you ‘Sweatpoints’ based on the number of steps you take. And Sweatpoints mean prizes – you can exchange them for goods and services, “ranging from anti-gravity yoga classes to high-tech shoes, to iPhones and Apple Watches” – or you can donate them to charity. Each 1,000 outdoor steps generates 0.95 Sweatcoins (why 0.95?) and you can exchange 150 of them for a ‘free’ snack bar (+£1 delivery!). I imagine you need to walk to China to get an iPhone.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, its founders claim that Sweatcoin has become the most downloaded app within the app stores' health and fitness categories.

I’m not clear on Sweatcoin's business model – looks like it’s based on advertising revenues.

I think its investors are utterly bonkers.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:24' - 1 comment - Tagged: funding   startup  

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Friday 19 January 2018

* NEW RESEARCH * UK quoted tech stocks soar in 2017

chartEight UK tech companies joined the London Stock Exchange in 2017, with five departures resulting in a net gain of three. However, the gain in aggregate value was more dramatic, increasing by 58% from £26.2b at the end of 2016 to £41.3b at the end of 2017. This was driven by the general increase in value of tech stocks, the revaluation of Micro Focus – now the UK’s most valuable software company – post the HPE Software acquisition, and the IPO of Alfa Financial Software which was valued at £1.6b at the year end.

Subscribers to the TechMarketView Foundation Service can download the latest edition of IndustryViews Quoted Sector to see our analysis of how the stock performance of UK software and IT services companies listed on the London Stock Exchange compares with their key international peers.

Posted by HotViews Editor at '07:54'

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Friday 19 January 2018

ARE YOU READY TO BECOME THE NEXT GREAT BRITISH SCALEUP?

We can help you find out – and show you how to get there!

logoThe TechMarketView Great British Scaleup programme has already helped several UK tech SMEs test their readiness to scale up further and faster using the ScaleUp Growth Index®, a proprietary scorecard which identifies areas of your business that might be an inhibitor to achieving extraordinary growth. Unlike traditional company scorecards which typically measure past financial performance, the ScaleUp Growth Index® assesses your company’s future scale-up potential.

logoYou can find out your potential too by applying to participate in the third Great British Scaleup Event (GBS3), to be held at the offices of GBS Programee Official Supporter, techUK, in London on Tuesday 6th and Wednesday 7th March 2018. Successful applicants will be invited to participate in a CEO-level closed-door 90-minute workshop session with TechMarketView research directors and executive advisors from ScaleUp Group, the team of successful tech entrepreneurs that have been responsible for accelerating growth and achieving over £4b in successful exits at many well-known tech companies.

Using the ScaleUp Growth Index®, the workshop will measure your company’s scale-up potential in key areas including solution opportunity and competitiveness, business and financial model, and executive leadership to provide you with a baseline to grow from. You can then use the Index to track your progress as you implement your scale-up plans.

logoIn addition, every applicant, whether selected for GBS3 or not, will be entitled to an optional initial infrastructure assessment at no charge and with no obligation by managed cloud and infrastructure services firm Cogeco Peer 1, the Enterprise Cloud & Infrastructure Services Technology Partner for the Great British Scaleup programme.

There are 4 workshop slots available on each of the two days of the GBS3 event. To nominate yourself or a company you know, please fill in the Nomination Form on the TechMarketView website here by Wednesday 31st January 2018. There is no charge to participate, nor any obligation to follow through on the outcomes.

Apply now and let us help you get better prepared for the next stage of your scale-up journey

If you have any queries about the Great British Scaleup programme, please drop an email to gbs@techmarketview.com or call TechMarketView Managing Partner Anthony Miller (020 3002 8463).

Posted by HotViews Editor at '06:00'

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Thursday 18 January 2018

Mastek making steady progress

logoIt was another pleasing quarter for growth and profitability at Mumbai-based mid-tier offshore services firm, Mastek. Headline revenues grew by 5.6% qoq to Rs2.095b (~£24.4m) and adjusted operating margins expanded for the fifth successive quarter to 9.9%.

Revenues in Mastek’s UK units (Mastek UK and acquired ‘agile’ consultancy’ IndigoBlue) grew by 4.6% qoq to Rs1.427b. US revenues – predominantly deriving from the acquisition of US-based Oracle Commerce and CX consultancy, TAIS (Trans American Information Systems) in December 2016 (see Mastek does Dallas with TAIS) – grew faster, at 7.4% qoq, to reach Rs0.624b.

The trends are encouraging.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '17:37' - Tagged: results   offshore  

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Thursday 18 January 2018

Ian Bell appointed new CEO of Police ICT Company

Police ICT Company logoIan Bell, currently Chief Information Officer for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Police forces, has been appointed CEO of the Police ICT Company. He will take over from Robert Leach, who has been leading the Company as Acting CEO since April 2017.

Bell, who will start his new post on 5th February 2018, is also currently Programme Director for the National Enabling Programmes. These programmes are intended to pave the way for the introduction of new ways of working in the police and align to the Policing Vision 2025 strategy—they include: Productivity Services; Security Operations Centre (SOC); and Identity and Access Management (IAM).

As we discussed in our recent UK Police SITS Supplier Landscape & Market Trends report,  the Police ICT Company is intended to “create a bridge between the policing, technological and commercial worlds”; it aims to, “cut the costs of police ICT, reduce duplication, improve collaboration”. It is already managing several commercial agreements e.g. IBM i2 and VMWare National Police EMA, and has more in the pipeline. Most suppliers believe that the aims of the Company are admirable, but have doubts about whether it will be able to achieve them. Bell will have to secure the funding and buy-in from government, police forces and commercial partners to succeed. 

Posted by Dale Peters at '10:00' - Tagged: appointment   police   police   police   police   police  

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Thursday 18 January 2018

CGI moves quicky: instates new UK President

CGI logoIt was a bit of a shock yesterday to hear of the departure of Steve Thorn from CGI. Steve had been with Logica then CGI for 25 years. Most recently he has held the mantle in the UK since September 2016, as UK President. We understand Steve had made the decision to leave the company and seek out new challenges. Having worked with him for many years, we wish him well in his new pursuits and hope our paths will cross again.

Tara McGeehan photoCGI has, positively, been very quick to instate a replacement. Tara McGeehan, previously SVP and Business Unit Leader for the UK Energy, Utilities and Transport and North BU, has stepped into Steve’s shoes with immediate effect. Tara is another long-time CGI member, having been with the company since 2001. Her track record is an impressive one; energy & utilities has been a strong part of the UK business and Tara has been integral to some key successes including CGI’s role on the UK Smart Metering program.

It will be a busy few months ahead. As highlighted in CGI FY17: UK struggles in Q4, like many of its peers, CGI suffered from the end of certain long-running legacy contracts. We understand things picked up in Q1 (to end December) and the book-to-bill ratio will have improved significantly, driven by the company’s win at Glasgow (see CGI set to sign deal with Glasgow). Nonetheless, challenges remain; we look forward to catching up with Tara when she comes up for air!

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:39' - Tagged: appointment   management   leadership  

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Thursday 18 January 2018

M&S extends with Capita

capitaCapita announced this morning that it has extended its customer contact partnership with Marks & Spencer for another five years.

M&SThis will be welcome news to Capita following on from this week’s announcement that long-standing client the Prudential will be moving over to TCS later this year (TCS on a roll in life & pensions).

Capita has supported marksandspencer.com across voice, online and webchat channels since it acquired the contract from Vertex back in 2011 (see here) and rolled it into its customer management business.

As part of the new agreement, Capita will also extend its customer services support to M&S’s international online business in markets like the US, Australia and France.

The M&S renewal commences April 2018 and is worth approximately £70m over the contract term.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '09:37' - Tagged: retail   customermanagement  

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Thursday 18 January 2018

Late payment - the scourge of small business

As readers know, late payments are a bit of a cause celebra for me. Here at TechMarketView we have 100+ clients in the tech sector and spend too much time chasing payments. Although there are some exceptions, the general rule is ‘The larger the client, the longer the payment time’. Our terms are 30 days but some big companies seem to say ‘120 days or no deal’. That is bully-boy tactics.

This came into my mind again in the last few days as Carillion went into liquidation owing hundreds of millions to many SMEs. Bad enough if it’s just 30 days. But imagine the pain if you are owed 120+ days - remembering that you have probably paid your workforce weekly during that period.

SageAlan Laing - who heads Sage in the UK - was on BBC Breakfast yesterday pointing out what a big issue this was to SMEs - many, of course, being Sage users. A recent Sage survey of 3000 SMEs showed that 17% of all payments were late and that 15 days pa were spent chasing late payments with 50% of respondents saying it was causing a negative impact on their business. I guess the majority of these were ‘one man bands’ as we at TMV spend far more than 15 days pa chasing payments.

In our experience it is often the convoluted payment processing systems at large companies that are to blame - where it can take a month or more just to get your invoice onto ‘the system’. You have have to think that they make it that complex  and their ‘support’ so unhelpful in order to slow payments. Often ‘pending authorisation by a line manager’ is cited. Only then will the 30-60-90-120 days start!

These large global businesses are often sitting on huge cash-piles - so ‘shortage of funds’ is just not part of the reason. It is ‘an attitude of mind’ and it must be changed. SMEs are our lifeblood. If they were paid on time they could invest more and grow faster. It’s about time big business to change their ways. 

Posted by Richard Holway at '09:36' - 1 comment

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Thursday 18 January 2018

H2 rally boosts Starcom

In an upbeat trading update, Jersey-based telematics specialist Starcom Systems has announced that its 2017 results will deliver revenues of at least $5.5m (up by 8% yoy) and EBITDA of some $500k in stark contrast to last year’s losses of $612k. It also paints a buoyant picture for 2018.

After a slow start to last year, Starcom - which focuses on automated systems for remote tracking, monitoring and management of fleets of vehicles, containers and people -saw H2 sales jump by 40% yoy. Strengthening demand for its more profitable products drove gross margins up to 41% (28% in 2016), while a sharp focus on cost control led to a yoy reduction in operating expenses of over 30%.

The uptick has continued into 2018. It has recently signed a three-year supply and support deal for its cargo tracking product Tetis with WIMC Solutions Inc., a US-based provider of products and services for real-time monitoring of international container movements. The agreement has the potential value of approximately $4.5 million over three years.

Its order book and prospect list continue to build and Starcom management already expects that trading momentum will increase through 2018 to drive further performance improvements in both the top and bottom lines. With limited business visibility beyond the first half, however, it will take a few more months to assess whether this confidence is fully justified.

Posted by Duncan Aitchison at '09:33' - Tagged: telematics  

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Thursday 18 January 2018

Probation firms face punishing losses

MoJIn a week when Carillion’s losses forced it into liquidation (Carillion's demise is ultimately bad for all Public-sector outsourcers), further evidence emerges from probation providers that decent profits are becoming harder to achieve in the public sector.

MPs on the Public Accounts Committee were told this week that community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) responsible for supervising more than 200,000 offenders were facing combined losses of more than £100m, even after the Ministry of Justice had provided £342m worth of additional funding.

14 of the 21 CRCs, some of which involve the voluntary sector, are expected to incur losses ranging from £2.3m to £43m by 2021-22, as a consequence declining numbers of offenders being sentenced to community punishments.

Payments to CRC’s are split between a fixed service fee for supervising offenders on community punishments, and payments-by-results for the rehabilitation work with offenders, including 40,000 short-term prisoners upon release.

Payments-by-results or ‘outcomes’ have become increasingly the fashion across the BPS market but come with increased risk. Having reliable and committed to volumes and consistent policy is crucial to be able to forecast and deliver profitably. Both Carillion and the CRCs support the notion that winning the tender is sometimes the easy bit - delivering profitably somewhat harder.

In UK public service delivery, this old saying really is true “Revenue is vanityProfit is sanity. Cash is reality”.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '09:04' - Tagged: outcomes   justice  

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Thursday 18 January 2018

CloudCall gets boost from CRM integration

CloudCall gets boost from CRM integrationCloud-hosted telephony software specialist CloudCall expects FY17 revenue to be around £6.9m, up 41% yoy after a similarly strong first half. A trading update suggests the company has grown its end user base by 3,320 to 23,500 during the period, driven primarily by the integration of its communications software within Bullhorn’s customer relationship management (CRM) platform.

Master services agreement with Manpower Group and Experis and the launch of a new Microsoft Dynamics-based unified communications (UC) solution also played their part, with 87% of CloudCall’s revenue now recurring.

Ongoing relationships with those key strategic partners will ultimately dictate further success, particularly in helping Cloudcall grow its user base and reach new customers and market segments. The company is also developing SMS and instant messaging (IM) tools for its UC platform which it expects to open up new revenue streams, particularly in the US.

Full results are yet to be announced, but it will be interesting to see if CloudCall’s growth has reduced its operating losses further after cutting them from £1.8m to £1.5m in H1.

Posted by Martin Courtney at '08:32' - Tagged: cloud   tradingupdate   telephony   integration   CloudCall  

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Thursday 18 January 2018

EMIS fails to meet NHS Digital obligations

EMIS Group logoEMIS Group has revealed that there has been a failure to meet its service levels and reporting obligations with NHS Digital.

The Leeds-based connected healthcare software and services business said the issues related to its EMIS Web product, which is widely used to help run GP practices in England. Although the exact nature of the problem has not been revealed, the company stated that neither patient safety nor patient data were at risk. The issues were identified following a review of business processes led by Andy Thorburn, who joined as CEO in May 2017 (see EMIS names new CEO).

EMIS is working with NHS Digital to confirm the scale of the issue, as well as the service and contractual impact. The financial consequences are not yet known, but EMIS suggest that it will be “in the order of upper single digits of millions of pounds”.  

EMIS also released a trading statement today, which shows, aside from the issues discussed above, trading has been in line with expectations. Full FY17 revenue (year ended 31 December 2017) was slightly ahead of FY16 and recurring revenue has improved. In FY16 it achieved revenues of £158.7m with 81% recurring revenue.

There are many challenges of operating in the health sector and the risks are high if you get things wrong. Although EMIS has provided reassurance that neither patient safety nor data have been put at risk by the issues reported today, it will reduce confidence. The full scale of the financial impact will be known shortly and final results are scheduled to be published on 14 March 2018.

Posted by Dale Peters at '08:22' - Tagged: results   health  

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Thursday 18 January 2018

Mercia coaches Refract with further funding

logoAbout a year after securing a £500k seed funding round (see here), Newcastle-based sales coaching platform Refract has raised further funding from initial investor Mercia Fund Managers. Terms were not disclosed. Since the original funding round, Refract has refreshed its brand and removed pricing information from its website. All part of the ‘journey’, I suppose.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '07:48' - Tagged: funding   startup  

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Thursday 18 January 2018

techUK becomes Great British Scaleup Programme Official Supporter

logoWe are delighted to announce that techUK, the industry association representing technology businesses operating in the UK, has become an Official Supporter of the TechMarketView Great British Scaleup (GBS) Programme.

GBS was launched in March 2017 in association with business growth advisors ScaleUp Group to assist UK tech SMEs achieve their scale-up potential. GBS comprises a programme of intensive CEO-level workshops to help UK technology business owners identify the opportunities and obstacles to achieving extraordinary growth.

logotechUK CEO Julian David said, “With uncertainty around Brexit, it is a critical time to support growing UK businesses. We are working closely with our members and Government to ensure that the UK is the best place in the world to start and grow a tech business. As an official supporter of the Great British Scaleup programme, we look forward to providing the insights, tools and guidance that tech entrepreneurs need to grow rapidly in the UK. Many of techUK’s 950 member companies have grown from small businesses to be leaders in the industry and we see it as an imperative to work with like-minded partners to help home-grown businesses achieve their full potential.”

“We are extremely grateful for techUK’s support of the Great British Scaleup Programme”, commented TechMarketView Managing Partner, Anthony Miller. “We believe that there is tremendous potential among UK tech SMEs to grow further, faster. Having techUK as an Official Supporter will materially help us identify and assist these companies on their scale-up journey.”

For further information about the Great British Scaleup Programme, please contact gbs@techmarketview.com

About techUK

 techUK represents the companies and technologies that are defining today the world that we will live in tomorrow. More than 950 companies are members of techUK. Collectively they employ approximately 700,000 people, about half of all tech sector jobs in the UK. These companies range from leading FTSE 100 companies to new innovative start-ups. The majority of our members are small and medium-sized businesses.

Posted by HotViews Editor at '07:11' - Tagged: gbs  

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Wednesday 17 January 2018

Mindtree picks up pace

logoMuch more encouraging trends at Bangalore-based mid-tier offshore services firm Mindtree on both revenues and margins. Headline revenues in FY Q3 (to 31st Dec.) surged ahead by 11.5% yoy to $214m, almost 4% higher than the prior period, growth rates exceeding those of both TCS and Infosys. Mindtree’s operating margin continued its recovery (see Mindtree gets a margin breather) and is now back into double digits at 12.0%.

There looks to have been a goodly number of orders added too, with TCV up nearly 20% in the quarter to $244m of which over half the value is attributed to ‘digital’ engagements.

Management’s challenge is to keep up the pace!

Posted by Anthony Miller at '17:19' - Tagged: results   offshore  

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Wednesday 17 January 2018

HeleCloud building in public Cloud

logoMaidenhead-based technology consultancy HeleCloud (helecloud.com) is gathering momentum as companies move to Cloud, offering solutions on the hyperscale Cloud provider Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Two deals illustrate HeleCloud’s recent progress. Both are in financial services, where disruptors are keen to benefit from lower overall cost, no upfront spend and flexible processing capacity by using the public Cloud. These customers contrast with many established banks and insurers which in our view remain cautious, viewing a move to public Cloud as a step too far for their core activities.

Zopa is building on its foundation as a marketplace for borrowers, having raised £32m as it sets out to build a bank. Over the past year it has been migrating elements of its mission-critical systems to the AWS platform to deliver scalability, high performance and availability to support its rapidly growing business. Working closely with the Zopa teams, HeleCloud built and implemented high level designs and reference architectures for Zopa’s infrastructure environments.

NEX, the spin-off from financial markets company ICAP, is not only focused on financial technology excellence but also looking to improve margins as competition intensifies and as new EU regulation bites (MiFID2). Central to NEX is its Infinity platform which runs on AWS, with stringent controls, a microservices architecture and comprehensive security and system management processes. HeleCloud supported NEX’s in-house teams in establishing Infinity on AWS via Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) processes, providing project management services and adopting best practice in automating infrastructure provisioning.

HeleCloud, led by ex-AWS regional CTO Dob Todorov and several experienced entrepreneurs, is focused on those customers that are intent on using public Cloud to transform their business model. As it supplies specialist help to support established in-house teams, HeleCloud is proving successful in building both its reputation and longer-term revenue base.

Posted by Peter Roe at '14:27' - Tagged: cloud   financialservices   FinTech  

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Wednesday 17 January 2018

Adept4 doubles FY17 revenue

Adept4 doubles FY17 revenuePreliminary results for Warrington-based managed service provider (MSP) Adept4 suggest the company has enjoyed a very good year, more than doubling its revenue from £4.9m in FY16 to £10.3m in FY17 (up 7% organically) after extensive M&A activity in FY16 (Ancar-B, Pinnacle Technology Group, Weston Communications).

Adjusted EBITDA rose 66% yoy to £1.5m while pre-tax losses shrank to £800k from £1.4m in FY16, much of it attributable to a impairment of goodwill charges, integration and reorganisation costs, dispute costs following the sale of assets to Chess ICT and a termination payment to the outgoing Executive Chairman.

Adept appears to have put its former troubles (then trading as Pinnacle Technology Group) behind it after MXC Capital rescued the struggling company with fresh investment, restructuring and impetus in 2015. Management changes last year saw Executive Chairman Gavin Lyons step down in August, to be replaced by Jill Collighan (also group finance director at MXC Capital) indicating the same tight fiscal controls will continue to be applied.

Significant customer demand for Adept4’s hosted Microsoft Azure and Office365 solutions boosted recurring revenue to £7.3m (FY16 £3.2m), now 71% of the total, supplemented by sales of product (£2.2m) and professional services (£800k). Notable contracts secured in FY17 included a three year IT as a Service (ITaaS) contract worth up to £800k, and the £300k renewal of a telephony maintenance contract with a large university.

FY18 also appears to have started positively for the AIM-listed firm, with a new contract to deliver Workstreampeople’s Anaywhere365 contact centre and dialogue management worth around £300k and a reseller agreement with US endpoint security specialist Nyotron, leading to a £200k contract from a major business process outsourcer.

Adept4 is going in the right direction, though management has warned that its current reliance on Microsoft could spell trouble if that relationship changes whilst the rising cost of hardware imports may have to be passed on to its customers at some point.

Posted by Martin Courtney at '09:43' - Tagged: ITsupportservices  

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Wednesday 17 January 2018

Actual Experience still hugging the ground

logoA business based on the digital voice of the customer, delivering through Analytics-as-a-Service ought to be flying but for all its potential FY17 results show Actual Experience is still on the ground. This time last year we said it was critical for the company to make headway on its financials during FY17 but this didn’t happen – revenue fell from a sparse £0.72m to a threadbare £0.36m while losses before tax soared to £7.9m. The company did raise £17.5m during the year, which shows shareholder faith in its offering.

The story behind the numbers (year to 30 September 2017) is that the company virtually put sales on hold as it applied its resources to make the shift to a channel sales model happen. It now has four large partners on board and spent the year changing operations and processes and investing in technology and infrastructure (e.g. a 24 hour support centre) to support partner requirements. It sounds like some of the work has been taxing but the good news is that the process of bringing the fourth partner on board was said to be smoother than earlier ones and more sales were made through the channel than Actual Experience expected; channel sales now represent 68% of business vs. 60%.

Having made the preparations during 2017, management expects the fruits in 2018 in the form of large scale partner sales and deployments rather than that small ones of 2017. That means 2018 will be another critical year for Actual Experience on the revenue generation front, and one where hopefully it can reduce its losses too. For now, it is still lagging behind its potential. 

Posted by Angela Eager at '09:42' - Tagged: results   software   analytics   digitaltransformation  

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Wednesday 17 January 2018

Junior minister, Oliver Dowden, has hands full

Oliver Dowden photoWe have been waiting to find out which Government Minister would take on responsibility for the digital transformation of UK Government (see May’s cabinet reshuffle: most interesting moves). Responsibility for the Government Digital Service had previously fallen to Caroline Nokes, Minister for Efficiency & Resilience in the Cabinet Office. Now, Oliver Dowden CBE, who was made Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office last week, has taken the reins as Minister for Implementation.

Dowden is a junior minister, having become an MP in 2015. Prior to that, he served in Downing Street from 2010-2015, as special advisor and deputy chief of staff for then-Prime Minister, David Cameron. He has also worked for PR company, Hill & Knowlton.

There had been high hopes from the ICT industry that a more senior minister - ideally one with some digital and ICT experience - would take on this role. But it was not to be. Perhaps more concerning is the extremely wide range of responsibilities that Dowden has taken on in this role. As well as ensuring that departments deliver on the commitments in their Single Departmental Plans, his remit includes efficiency & controls; cyber & resilience; the Infrastructure & Project Authority, civil service HR, shared services, government property, and behaviour change.

While all his responsibilities are interlinked, they would surely challenge even the most senior of ministers. Perhaps, Dowden’s degree in law from Cambridge University will stand him in good stead for dealing with connected issues around Brexit and GDPR. However, for now, he is going to have his hands full dealing with the fallout from the collapse of Carillion. Everything else will surely be taking second place.

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:41' - Tagged: public+sector   centralgovernment   government   digital   appointments  

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Wednesday 17 January 2018

Identity platform Yoti valued at £65m

logoLondon-based Yoti has raised an additional £8m to fund the growth of its consumer network, having set itself the target of achieving 2 million subscribers by the end of the year. An impressive number, but Yoti provides an innovative smartphone-based solution to the problem of identity verification which is rapidly growing in importance as more and more of people’s lives take place online. As well as protecting against online scams, Yoti’s approach also helps in “real-life” situations, like proving your age in a pub. The latest fund-raising round now values Yoti at £65m.

TechMarketView published a comprehensive view of the Digital Identity landscape in its FintechViews report in September last year (available to FinancialServicesViews subscribers, here) which showed that there are many initiatives in this area, and consequently many ways to skin this particular cat.

A major key to success is, predictably, subscriber numbers and acceptance across a wide range of activities and organisations. People will not want to have a multiplicity of identity systems on their smartphone or in their wallet. Yoti is making the right moves, it has a simple and straightforward on-boarding procedure and looks to provide a good user experience. It must now achieve its 2m target and then drive on to even bigger numbers, as well as convincing other key players (banks, etc.) both in the UK and internationally to link in with its scheme.

Posted by Peter Roe at '09:22' - Tagged: funding   payments   identity   FinTech   authentication  

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Wednesday 17 January 2018

Redwood takes SEP’s £25m to grow overseas

redwoodScottish Equity Partners (SEP) has taken a minority stake in Bracknell headquartered Redwood Technologies Group, a provider of communications and cloud contact centre technology.

SEP’s £25m investment is the first external investment Redwood has accepted and will help accelerate expansion overseas, with an Asia-Pac regional office scheduled to open in Tokyo early this year. Redwood already has offices in Europe and North America.

Redwood owns the cloud communications provider Content Guru and serves a blue-chip client base of utilities, travel, financial services and retail organisations, as well as public-sector bodies. Operating across all the main channels including voice, email, chat, web forms, social, text, video and Internet of Things, services are built using Redwood’s own IP and delivered through Content Guru’s network of cloud platforms. 

Originally founded in 1993 by brothers Sean and Martin Taylor, Redwood has experienced strong growth of late with revenues increasing by 30% in both 2017 and 2016.

SEP is a serial investor in UK tech including luxury fashion destination Matchesfashion.com and Skyscanner (see here), the global travel search business sold to Ctrip for £1.5bn. Recent investments include leading scientific informatics software and services provider Dotmatics. Andrew Davison, a Partner at SEP, has joined the board of Redwood.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '09:11' - Tagged: cloud   funding   contactcentre  

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Wednesday 17 January 2018

HubBox clicks and collects $1.6m funding

logoThe option to ‘click-and-collect’ online purchases is increasingly popular, but relies on the convenience of the location of pick-up points. London-based startup, HubBox, aims to simplify this for retailers with a platform that integrates into popular e-commerce packages along with a network of 3,500 collection points.

Launched in 2015, HubBox has now raised $1.6m in a pre-Series A funding round backed by KM Capital, Angel Tech Investors, Nexus Investment Ventures and Alan Halsall, the ex CEO of Silver Cross Prams, among others. HubBox had raised angel funding on August 2015. According to a report in UKTN, Rob Fraser, former CIO of Boots and Sainsbury’s, joined the startup as chairman.

HubBox doesn’t charge retailers for its software, instead taking a fee on each purchase transaction. Retailers treat a HubBox delivery just like any other home delivery so don’t need to change logistics providers either.

All sounds very convenient.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:49' - Tagged: funding   startup  

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Wednesday 17 January 2018

Cryptocurrencies plunge

BitcoinGiven how many articles (or rather ‘warnings’) I have written about cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, I guess I should note the huge plunge in their value in recent days. When I last wrote, the combined value of all the 1300+ cryptocurrencies exceeded $700b. Yesterday that had fallen to $559b (according to Coinmarketcap). Bitcoin has dropped from a high <1 month ago of nearly $20,000 to $11,120 yesterday. Ether and Ripple also fell 23% and 33% respectively.

I had also reported on my bewilderment that so many HotViews readers (who, surely, must be at the ‘sensible’ end of the population?) had Bitcoin investments. But emails have revealed that their investments were mainly at the c£100 level and were made to see how it worked. Given that £100 is about what I expect to lose on my once a year visit to the races, I can understand. The problem that even these small punters found was not buying Bitcoin, but selling them.

Posted by Richard Holway at '08:16' - 1 comment

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Wednesday 17 January 2018

Honcho’s reverse auction funding surges forward

logoAbout a week after writing about Durham-based insuretech startup Honcho’s crowdfunding endeavours (see Clock ticks for Honcho’s reverse-auction app funding), I received a missive from its Commercial Director adding some ‘colour and movement’ to my commentary. I was concerned that Honcho’s ‘reverse-auction’ platform for car insurance might be less attractive to insurers than traditional price comparison websites (PCWs).

The Honcho team begs to differ and promises to reveal why in due course. Meanwhile, I am pleased to advise that Honcho’s crowdfunding round closed last week mightily oversubscribed, raising some £850k from 713 investors, including a £150k slug from Maven Capital Partners, vs its £650k target. Indeed, Honcho’s press release advised that the exposure generated by the fundraising (including UKHotViews I would imagine!) encouraged more brokers and insurers to express interest in their platform.

Honcho aims to launch later this year.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:08' - Tagged: funding   startup   insuretech   insurtech  

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Wednesday 17 January 2018

Recruiter Gattaca hit by Carillion fallout

logoThe crisis at construction and outsourcing group Carillion (see Carillion's demise is ultimately bad for all Public-sector outsourcers) continues to ripple through the broader industry with news from the Fareham-based group of Engineering and Technology recruitment firms, Gattaca, that they are one of Carillion’s creditors.

Gattaca, which has had its share of troubles (see Half-time blues at recruiter Gattaca and work back) mainly supplies Carillion’s public sector contracts and advise that ‘the majority’ of its owings are covered by credit insurance, with under £100k left exposed. Gattaca was earning some £0.5m of gross margin from Carillion, less than 1% of the total.

Given the nature of Carillion’s highly subcontracted business model, one wonders which other recruiters may be left holding the baby?

Posted by Anthony Miller at '07:42' - Tagged: warning   recruitment  

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Tuesday 16 January 2018

BeMyEye spies growth with Task360

logoTheir tagline has changed but the business hasn’t. This is London-based – though European spread – startup, BeMyEye, which alluded to themselves as ‘the European leader in mobile crowdsourcing’ when they raised Series B funding in May 2016 (see BeMyEye spies €6.5m and acquires). Now BeMyEye styles itself as ‘Europe’s leading crowdsourced in-store data as a service (DAAS) provider’ and has since raised a €10.5m Series C round and has just acquired UK look-alike startup Task360. Terms were not disclosed.

Not to put too fine a point on it, BeMyEye pays people (they call them ‘Eyes’) to spy on shops on behalf of its clients (typically large multinationals), for example to check that their products are being displayed and promoted as agreed, or act as ‘mystery shoppers’ to assess service levels.

All’s fair in love, war and retail, it seems.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '17:36' - Tagged: acquisition   funding   startup  

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Tuesday 16 January 2018

TCS on a roll in life & pensions

TCSWe reported earlier that long-standing Capita life and pensions client Prudential was off for pastures new (Capita loses the Pru). We now know that the Prudential contract will be transferring to TCS / Diligenta as of 31st July 2018.

TCS is riding high in life and pensions, capitalising on the strength of its BaNCS platform which is proving to be extremely compelling in the market as both new first-time outsources and second-generation deals look to digitally transform. In the last six months TCS / Diligenta has won big, with Lloyds coming across in September (Lloyds moves more jobs to TCS) and Transamerica signing on just last week (Transamerica banks on TCS’ BaNCS).

The Prudential deal is a 10-year contract worth over £500m supporting some four million customer policies. At circa £50m revenue per year it is a smaller annual contract than the £80m Capita received in 2017. These planned for annual savings demonstrate the ambition of the upcoming digital transformation programme.

TCS’s digital expertise and its ability to deploy its BaNCS platform to digitise front, mid and back-office operations will have been crucial in winning this contract, which will see 1,100 roles in the UK and 700 offshore in India transfer over from Capita. In addition, TCS will also pick up some 180 roles from Prudential’s internal IT operations which will TUPE across to support the digital transformation.

TCS currently has real momentum in life and pensions just as the market kicks back into life in a big way. TechMarketView will be visiting Diligenta’s headquarters in Peterborough in a few weeks’ time and we’ll bring you more then.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '12:45' - Tagged: offshore   lifeandpensions   Capita  

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Tuesday 16 January 2018

AI bests humans at reading comprehension

logologoThe news that Alibaba and Microsoft algorithms have both squeaked past humans on the Stanford Question Answering Dataset that tests reading comprehension is another breakthrough for machine intelligence (specifically deep neural networks). And because it relates to the difficult area of comprehension, aruguably it even goes beyond the computing power and memory fueled ‘Go’ achievement.

Although there are plenty of natural language processing AI challenges remaining and we can say the AI doesn’t comprehend in the same way a human does, the breakthrough brings the inevitable - mainstream deployment of conversational AI systems in customer facing scenarios – closer (we highlighted maintream bots in Enterprise Software Predictions 2018). Given the current level of development, we need a way to assess AI systems and the Stanford test is widely accepted but a long range question is whether we should be assessing AI on tests designed for humans, given that AI operates differently so can potentially do more things and do them differently to how a human would. Don't human-centric tests limit AI systems? (Let’s not get into the relevant but complex discussion about transparency in this HotView). 

The other significant development was that through Alibaba it was China who was the first to beat the human Stanford dataset score. There is a race to lead the machine intelligence market because of the economic, political and security spoils. 

Posted by Angela Eager at '10:01' - Tagged: software   AI   machineintelligence  

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Tuesday 16 January 2018

Instem makes positive start to 2018

Instem logoShares in Instem hit a high of almost 30% above yesterday’s close this morning (185p) after it announced a significant new contract win and confirmed a positive trading outlook.

For a number of years, the AIM-listed provider of IT solutions to the global life sciences market has been anticipating a substantial uplift in 2018 in the volume of SEND ("Standard for the Exchange of Nonclinical Data") studies required following a mandate by the US Federal Drugs Administration (FDA). This trend should benefit Instem, which has a SEND services business and SaaS-based technology platform to support it.  Today’s contract win provides welcome evidence of the anticipated uplift – the SME believes it has signed the largest ever outsourced SEND services contract, a deal with a top five global nonclinical contract research organisation worth more than £1.7m over the initial two-year period. Indeed, CEO Phil Reason confirms that Instem is already contracted to deliver five times more SEND assignments in 2018 than it completed in 2017.

This contract win is a good start to FY18 for Instem, which, according to today’s trading update, closed FY17 (to end December) “in-line with market expectations”. After a slower than expected first half (Instem H1: New COO shakes up business) when profits suffered, the second half was reportedly much stronger. Revenue increases and expense reductions (cost savings of £0.75m were achieved in the second half) delivered an increase in full-year profit. Net cash as at 31 December was £3.1m (2016: £4.2m). We’ll know more when the full year results are announced in due course.

Posted by Tola Sargeant at '09:49' - Tagged: trading   contract   pharma   lifesciences  

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Tuesday 16 January 2018

Capita loses the Pru

CapitaMore bad news from Capita this morning that long-standing life and pensions client the Prudential will be transferring to a new supplier on 31st July 2018.

This will be particularly painful for Capita as the Prudential has been a longstanding partner for over 10 years and remains one of its largest clients, contributing revenues of around £80m a year. Capita will however continue to administer Prudential's international operations.

We are seeing the life and pensions market return to activity after a few quiet years with both new first-generation deals coming to market and existing agreements return in search of greater innovation. Whilst Capita remains by far and away the largest player in the sector, it is facing increased competition from the likes of TCS / Diligenta and Atos both of which have been winning new deals over the last year or so (see Transamerica banks on TCS’ BaNCS and Atos secures £200m BPS partnership with Aegon).

The Prudential announcement is also not related to discussions with a separate life and pensions client previously disclosed in Capita’s half year results, which may lead to the continuation of the contract with amended terms or its termination.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '09:42' - Tagged: lifeandpensions   Capita  

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Tuesday 16 January 2018

Communisis stays on track

CommunisisA trading update this morning from integrated marketing services provider Communisis, shows the company to be on track to deliver full year results in line with expectations.

The good progress shown in the first six months of the year (Communisis, managing the transition) has continued with growth seen in sales and profitability and with a further reduction in net debt to £24.3m (£30.4m in 2016).

Communisis continues to look well-positioned to provide a broader range of services under the “digital” banner and further validates CEO Andy Blundell’s strategy to focus the business on becoming a digital provider of “personalised customer communication services”.

Highlights include the resigning of one its major UK high street banking clients to a five-year digital transformation deal and the expansion of its North-East operations to meet the demand for campaign fulfilment from the UK spirits sector.

Expansion into continental Europe remains an important growth stream and trading appears to have been particularly strong in France, Spain and Poland.

Progress has also been made to reduce the deficit related to its Defined Benefit pension scheme to £38m (£55.5m in 2016).

We will report in more detail when full year results are published on 8th March.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '09:08' - Tagged: results   communisis  

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Tuesday 16 January 2018

Trading update shows WANdisco is on form

logoFollowing the H117 of ‘Plenty of positive firsts’, WANdisco kept the growth going in H2 with bookings up 28% yoy to $12.3m, resulting in record bookings across FY17 of $22.5m, a 45% increase. Today’s trading update signals a company back on form after some dire times.

What is particularly notable is WANdisco’s ability to move with the fast changing market it operates in, first with the introduction of Wandisco Fusion ‘Active Data Replication’ some years ago and more recently making the shift from a Hadoop focus towards the provision of a general data replication platform which has usefully expanded its addressable market. It has also expanded its partner channel which is also delivering results.

The company is still a two division operation – Fusion and Source Code Management – with the latter only performing in line with expectations but this is effectively WANdisco’s legacy business because the future lies with Fusion and after a painful period it is experiencing a growth spurt.

Posted by Angela Eager at '09:05' - Tagged: software   bigdata   tradingupdate  

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Tuesday 16 January 2018

Anon AI secures £340k seed funding

Anon AI secures £340k seed fundingUK-based cyber security start-up Anon AI raised £340k in pre-seed funding from a combination of sources, including the UCL Technology Fund, the London Co-Invested Fund, AI Seed and Ascencion Ventures.

Cisco is named as an advisor, and also sponsored the Elevator Pitch Award won by Anon AI in October last year.

That is a process that could offer real advantage for companies that need to keep close control over personal information they store, process and transmit to comply with new and existing data protection regulation (including the GDPR).

London-based Privatar – which closed US$16m of Series A funding back in July – takes a similar approach, and we expect to see more security tools designed to separate personal identifiers from other data to protect privacy and aid compliance emerge over the coming year.

Anon AI will use the money to improve its prototype and build a developer tool within the UCL community.

Posted by Martin Courtney at '09:02' - Tagged: funding   startup   cybersecurity   Cisco   AnonAI  

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Tuesday 16 January 2018

Hambro Perks joins The Dots with £4m funding round

logoIt’s a bold move to try to disrupt the disruptors, but that’s what innovation – and spotting a gap in the market – is all about. The disruptee in this case is LinkedIn and the budding disruptor, London-based startup The Dots, which is building a social network-cum-recruitment portal for ‘creatives’ - the so-called ‘no-collar’ workers.

Founded in 2014, The Dots recently raised £4m in a funding round led by Hambro Perks. Founder and ex-TV marketing exec Pip Jamieson had raised seed funding of £1.5m in 2015 through advertising guru Sir John Hegarty, who became The Dots’ chairman.

Like LinkedIn, The Dots operates a ‘freemium’ business model, charging employers for recruitment ads, with clients including BBC, Warner Music, and Airbnb. I must say that its website is very well designed and much more ‘of the moment’ than LinkedIn’s tired look. Though not a ‘creative’ myself (some might disagree), it looks like it would attract the right community. No Collars rule, OK!

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

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Tuesday 16 January 2018

Sage has clear opportunity as Open Banking arrives

logoThe Open Banking revolution that is beginning to break out across the UK and Europe (see yesterday’s report, “Open Banking – it’s Alive”) is providing a huge opportunity for global accounting software provider Sage to play a substantive role in helping its SME customers manage their money and finances more efficiently.

Seamus Smith, the Sage EVP Global Payments and Banking, estimates that the value of receivables and payables passing through the company’s accounting packages is of the order of £3trillion per year. This underlines the scale of the opportunity for Sage.

The move to sell its US payments processing business last year was part of the repositioning of its Global Payments and Banking business, embracing a forward-looking strategy to take advantage of the forthcoming changes in regulation, Sage’s broader market position and its successful transition programme.

We see this opportunity to play a greater role in managing the payments and wider finances of its customers being realised in three ways. Adding links to payment service provider and acquirer partners into its software can facilitate an easier and quicker payments process for the customer. Wider liquidity management can be enabled as Sage can connect across multiple bank accounts (enabled by Open Banking) and Sage can also link with specialist providers to offer more intelligent management of payments and cash across the wider ecosystem of Sage users. In addition, Sage has access to masses of data about trading behaviour that could be used to support client on-boarding, lending decisions and liquidity management.

Sage has a clear vision as to how it can act as a digital aggregator of payments activity and an enabler of value added services into its worldwide customer base as regulations open up the banking sector. There is a substantial opportunity here.

Posted by Peter Roe at '08:43' - Tagged: payments   banking   regulation   software.  

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Tuesday 16 January 2018

Resurgent NCC Group grows H1 revenue 4%

Resurgent NCC Group grows H1 revenue 4%Cyber security specialist NCC Group saw healthy revenue growth in the first half, up 4% organically yoy to £118m, buoyed by the strong performance of its core Assurance division which now represents 84% (£99m) of the company’s turnover.

The total H118 figure does not include the £12m revenue (H117 £16m) recorded by NCC’s web performance and software testing businesses, currently up for sale as NCC narrows its focus to cyber security, risk mitigation and business continuity services.

That divestiture is just one element of a broader restructuring after a strategic review last year. New CEO Adam Palser took the helm on December 1st, and the Assurance division has been re-organised along geographic lines (UK, North America, Netherlands and Denmark). The Group’s sales structure/go-to-market approach has also been revamped to focus on professional services and specific verticals such as hardware and automotive.

NCC's net debt shrank 9% to £44m in H118, but operating profit fell 11% to £6.6m yoy. This was largely due to higher spending associated with NCC’s relocation to its new Manchester HQ (which incurred £3.7m capex) and investment in its Centre for Evolved Next Generation Threat Assurance (CENTA), a new global advisory practice and security testing centre aimed at public sector organisations and regulated industries.

Management is confident those overheads will stabilise in H218 however, with NCC also striving to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of its internal business processes to help margins.

All in all we think NCC is now making good progress after its poor performance last year (subscribers to our SecureConnectViews research stream can access our Cyber Security Supplier Prospects 2018 report here) but much will depend on how well demand for its core cyber security and business continuity services holds up over the next 12 months.

Posted by Martin Courtney at '08:34' - Tagged: results   cybersecurity   H1   NCCGroup  

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Tuesday 16 January 2018

Divorce, technology style with Amicable!

logoThere are plenty of apps to match you with your ideal partner, and now there’s one to help you untie the knot. London-based startup Amicable offers app-driven fixed price divorces for those couples that want to take the DIY approach. Founded in 2015 and launched in 2017, Amicable has raised just shy of £500k through angel investment club Qventures, its second round of funding.

Amicable’s website trumpets “an amicable divorce … from as little as £300”, based on its Basic Divorce Service (no financial or childcare arrangements) at £100 p.m. for 3 months, rising to £475 p.m. for 3 months for the full service (do all divorces only take 3 months?), though it is not clear whether this is per person or per couple. Court fees are additional, though the cost includes fees for its partner law firm that does the final paperwork. This contrasts, Amicable claims, with a typical £8k bill for a ‘traditional’ divorce.

Amicable also aims to address many of the important issues that may arise during the process, including “Who keeps the cat? All your pet custody questions answered”.

OK, it’s easy to take the Michael, but co-founders Pip Wilson and Kate Daly believe there is a market for quickie-style, self-service ‘amicable’ divorces and so there may be. But besides the obvious question of ‘can they make money?’, what happens, I wonder, if ‘amicable’ turns ‘nasty’?

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:22' - Tagged: funding   startup  

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Monday 15 January 2018

Government shared services: lacking courage or realistic?

Shared Services_Future Tech RoadmapWe were promised that the UK Government’ shared services strategy would be reinvigorated. And at the end of last week, the Cabinet Office launched its new agenda, setting a direction for the next ten years. The response on Twitter was far from positive; one digital government journalist (@ad_greenway) stated, “The most disappointing document the UK government has put out in at least 7 years”. His tweet was retweeted 59 times and liked 129 times.

The reason for the criticism? Mainly that there is a persistent commitment to the use of the large traditional ERP players: SAP and Oracle. The third platform to be developed will be a “cheaper alternative for smaller departments”. Unit 4’s Agresso platform, which was the original platform for the DfT shared services centre, but is now only used at DiFID, doesn’t get a mention in the forward view.

The ten-year roadmap is not bold enough for some. But if we are to be kinder, it would be to say that the strategy is, instead, realistic. Read more...

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:59' - Tagged: public+sector   centralgovernment   erp   bpo   sharedservices   government  

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Monday 15 January 2018

Tax Systems signal steady progress

logoOSMO acquirer and supplier of corporation tax software and services, Tax Systems have updated the market on their trading. Full calendar year results are expected in April.

It looks as if things are progressing in line with their positive half-year statement, benefiting from a broader base of operations and improved prospects as the industry accelerates its progress towards automation and digitisation. The company also benefits from a high level of recurring revenue and a stable customer base. Although the company still has some £20m of debt in its balance sheet, there is the prospect of faster growth and some more inorganic additions to the group’s portfolio.

Posted by Peter Roe at '09:45' - Tagged: software   financialservices  

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Monday 15 January 2018

ATTRAQT CEO steps down

logoATTRAQT, the online merchandising software firm, has announced that André Brown has stepped down from his role of CEO with immediate effect. Nick Habgood, the non-exec Chairman, will stand in while a new CEO is recruited.

This move follows on from a negative trading statement at the end of October, which saw revenue guidance for the full calendar year cut by 10%. Since then, trading and order intake have been in line with the updated guidance. Full year results will be announced on March 8th which should see revenue around £13.6m, although the lower growth will depress expectations for 2018.

André Brown was one of the business’s original founders and when we met him last year was extremely enthusiastic about the company’s prospects, particularly after the bold acquisition of the significantly larger competitor Fredhopper, a year ago. Although details of the fall from grace are not forthcoming, it looks as if this deal has not worked out as well as expected – at least as far as André’s position in a much larger and more complex organisation is concerned.

Posted by Peter Roe at '09:42' - Tagged: ecommerce   retail  

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Monday 15 January 2018

Carillion's demise is ultimately bad for all Public-sector outsourcers

CarillionThe crisis at construction and outsourcing group Carillion has resulted in today’s announcement that it has entered into compulsory liquidation with immediate effect.

Carillion has issued three profit warnings in six months as it struggled with £900m of debt and a £590m pension deficit. Problems have stemmed in part from cost overruns on public-private partnerships including: the £350m Midland Metropolitan Hospital in Birmingham, the £335m Royal Liverpool University Hospital and the £745m Aberdeen bypass.

What happens to these and other key Public-sector contracts remains for now unclear but Chairman Phillip Green said this morning “We understand that HM Government will be providing the necessary funding required by the Official Receiver to maintain the public services carried on by Carillion staff, subcontractors and suppliers."

Carillion may no longer be a standalone SITS provider, having sold its IT services arm to Capita some years ago (see here), but its demise is still likely to have an impact on the wider sector.

Both ‘blue and white-collar’ Public sector outsourcing remain controversial with some, and the demise of one of its leading suppliers gives ammunition to those wishing to taint the entire sector as guilty by association. It also proves right the fundamentals, that any risk transfer to the private sector is only ultimately as safe as the strength of the provider’s balance sheet. Which begs the question as to why contracts were still being awarded to Carillion even after recent profit warnings.

The demise of Carillion is sad but perhaps predictable as it has suffered from a muddled strategy for some time. Outsourcers are ultimately judged by growth, requiring new contracts to be added on a regular basis. This in turn leads some into an increasing range of new areas taking on ever greater risks with the potential for disastrous consequences.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '09:25' - Tagged: public+sector   publicsector   carillion  

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Monday 15 January 2018

Previse gets funding to go north of the border

logoThere are few challenges more critical to small business success (indeed survival!) than getting paid on time, and this is what London-based startup Previse aims to help with. When I wrote about Previse’s seed funding round last July I did rather get the wrong end of the stick, which the company kindly alerted me to and their comment is published in full on our website (see Fintech Previse scores £2m for buyer scorecard).

And now it’s onwards and northwards for Previse, which has just received a £800k R&D grant from Scottish Enterprise to set up a new development centre in Glasgow, creating 37 new data science jobs, and from where it plans to start rolling out its first instant-payments programme with a number of blue chip multinational buyers.

It is ironic that as a small business ourselves TechMarketView often gets paid more promptly by our SME clients than by some of the largest multinationals (no names, no pack-drill), especially when procurement and accounts payable departments reside in far-away lands. There are notable exceptions, for which we are truly grateful (Amen). But whether platforms such as Previse can alleviate what appears to be systemic payment bottlenecks in large organisations would likely depend more on corporate policy than on technology.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:32' - 1 comment - Tagged: funding   startup  

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Monday 15 January 2018

**NEW RESEARCH** Open Banking - It's Alive!

cover2018 is going to be a year when a tidal wave of regulatory change hits the banking sector, with the EU’s Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD 2)/Open Banking and the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) both launching in the first half.

The first to go live was the UK’s Open Banking initiative, which came into operation this weekend, requiring the UK’s nine largest banks to open up their data and payment rails to authorised third parties. We covered the regulations in detail in our report Open Banking & PSD 2 , but the key question now is whether this is going to be a damp squib, a charter for cyber-criminals or a revolution in the way we bank?

It is important for SITS suppliers to the financial services industry to be fully briefed on the factors that are in play, so that they can anticipate the needs of their Financial Services clients and help them think through the impacts of Open Banking and how to deal with them.

Subscribers to FinancialServicesViews can access our latest FinTech report “Open Banking – It’s Alive”, here. If you don’t yet subscribe to this research stream, please contact Deb Seth on dseth@techmarketview.com

Posted by Peter Roe at '08:07' - Tagged: banking   regulation   FinTech  

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Monday 15 January 2018

Pentech pays attention to Digital Fineprint

logoYou should always pay attention to the fine print, and that is exactly what VC Pentech Ventures has done, leading a £2m funding round for London-based insuretech startup Digital Fineprint. New backer Force Over Mass also participated along with existing investors.

Spun out of Oxford University in 2016, Digital Fineprint, which has developed a social media analytics platform for lead generation in the insurance sector, raised seed funding a year ago (see Investors accept the Digital Fineprint).

Insuretech/insurtech is hot, hot, hot (see The problem with ‘insuretechs’ (or is that ‘insurtechs’?)! If you can think of a risk you want to insure against, there’s probably a startup out there working on it!

Posted by Anthony Miller at '07:56' - Tagged: funding   startup   insuretech   insurtech  

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