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Shock, horror! Smart meter rollout not so smart
21 Jul 2018
Speakers confirmed for TechMarketView Evening 2018 – Breaking the Boundaries
20 Jul 2018
Microsoft breaks $100bn barrier, propelled by cloud
20 Jul 2018
WNS Q1 profits up 31% on automation drive
20 Jul 2018
BGF starts 'multimillion pound' journey with Click Travel
20 Jul 2018
Guild takes on WhatsApp, why don't you
20 Jul 2018
'Frugal' Ignitho making headway
19 Jul 2018
*NEW RESEARCH* UK tech stocks bounce back in Q2
19 Jul 2018
Marketing automation specialist Dotdigital gains momentum despite GDPR
19 Jul 2018
SAP confident on cloud
19 Jul 2018
Accenture selected by Coventry Building Society
19 Jul 2018
IBM scratches 7-year revenue itch
19 Jul 2018
OBS boosts cloud and big data with Basefarm buy
19 Jul 2018
Mastek UK: Eight consecutive quarters of topline growth
19 Jul 2018
Genpact acquires to deliver Supply Chain Transformation
19 Jul 2018
More backing for Provenance to track provenance
19 Jul 2018
Will Google be 'fine' after fine?
19 Jul 2018
Legaltech Clarilis secures £3.1m to fuel expansion
19 Jul 2018
SaleCycle raises £11.5m to convert more sales
19 Jul 2018
Capita wins at Southern Water but looks for a new CFO
19 Jul 2018
Momentum builds at NIIT Tech
19 Jul 2018
Adam Hale joins revitalised Tech Nation Board
19 Jul 2018
Learn how to avoid 5 mistakes made by Professional Services teams
19 Jul 2018
Mindtree delivers strong first quarter
18 Jul 2018
2iC's name in lights in Dunne report
18 Jul 2018
More to Microsoft/Walmart alliance than battling Amazon/AWS
18 Jul 2018
Eight Roads refers $7m to Mention Me
18 Jul 2018
Ofcom Media Nation Reports shows 'We are all streamers now!'
18 Jul 2018
Glint funds a golden future
18 Jul 2018
The Operational Research Society's Annual Conference
18 Jul 2018
Speakers confirmed for TechMarketView Evening 2018 – Breaking the Boundaries
17 Jul 2018
Some thoughts on AI and the jobs market
17 Jul 2018
EACS buys Sentronex for disaster recovery
17 Jul 2018
Pi-top secures $16m to drive global expansion
17 Jul 2018
Salesforce boosts marketing cloud with Datorama
17 Jul 2018
SDL buys and raises
17 Jul 2018
Lender Proportunity gets funds to bet on property prices
17 Jul 2018
NCC Group beats expectations with 8% growth
17 Jul 2018
Netflix disappoints
17 Jul 2018
Ideagen delivers 9 years of consecutive growth
17 Jul 2018
Undoing problems secures further funding for Undo
17 Jul 2018
Digital Risks get £2.25m to cover startups
17 Jul 2018
Green Running's Verv more than a token offering
17 Jul 2018
Overcoming the barriers to data centre modernisation
17 Jul 2018
Elon Musk - From Hero to Zero
16 Jul 2018
Every man for himself in latest Brexit move!
16 Jul 2018
FCA must look ahead as it shakes up Investment platform market
16 Jul 2018
Infosys Q1 sets the scene
16 Jul 2018
BP helps put £2.5m in Voltware's tank
16 Jul 2018

UKHotViews©

 

Saturday 21 July 2018

Shock, horror! Smart meter rollout not so smart

picI awoke this morning to the gentle strains of the Radio Four Today programme (being a gentleman of a certain age) to hear the news that the parliamentary Big Infrastructure Group has just published a report heavily critical of the Government's smart meter rollout programme.

You can only imagine my surprise on hearing this news.

Not!

While I while away more of my life poring through this report, you may wish to refresh your memories on the story so far. Start with Smart Meter Madness (8): 10m down, 40m to go and work your way back through the UKHotViews archive.

There's a smidgen of a chance I may have more to say on the matter.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '17:55' - Tagged: smartmeters  

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Friday 20 July 2018

Speakers confirmed for TechMarketView Evening 2018 – Breaking the Boundaries

tmvIt's TechMarketView's tenth anniversary year and to celebrate we are announcing a formidable line-up of speakers to enlighten, inspire and surprise you at our annual Evening with TechMarketView.

Hosted by TechMarketView Chairman Richard Holway MBE, the evening focuses on TechMarketView's theme for 2018, Breaking the Boundaries, and you will be hearing from:

  • Tola Sargeant, TechMarketView Managing Director, who will bring the theme alive and challenge the way you look at the UK tech market by illustrating how buyers and sellers of enterprise technology are breaking their own boundaries to try to keep one step ahead of the pack
  • Chief Analyst Georgina O’Toole showcasing brand new TechMarketView analysis that examines the contrasting performances of the ‘legacy’ and the ‘new’ segments of the UK SITS market and ask the question: ‘what needs to happen to return to the halcyon days of double-digit growth?’
  • TechMarketView’s Martin Courtney hosting a ‘fireside chat’ with our special guest Andrew Johnson from Shell. One of the world’s largest retailers with a significant UK presence, Shell is three years into its digital transformation journey and Andrew will share his experiences, which touch everything from digital payments to autonomous vehicles
  • Kate Hanaghan, Chief Research Officer, who will unveil TechMarketView’s Market Readiness Index to share findings from our new end-user analysis and explore how buyers and suppliers can work better together to Break the Boundaries
  • Anthony Miller, TechMarketView Managing Partner, who will be putting his own inimitable slant on the changing fortunes of the leading UK tech suppliers over the past decade and what the future may hold for them over the next.

The event will be held on Thursday 13th September 2018 at the magnificent premises of the Royal Institute of British Architects in London with registration and a networking drinks reception, sponsored by InterSystems, commencing at 6:30 pm. This will be followed by the speaker sessions and a first-class silver service dinner. tmve

The TechMarketView Evening is the only event where over 200 leaders from tech industry giants, mid-market specialist suppliers, aspiring 'Great British Scaleups' and innovative early stage companies, as well as advisors, investors and end-user organisations, get the chance to meet and form new friendships and partnerships – and learn what TechMarketView believes the future may hold!

You can book individual seats for the event, or why not recognise your key clients and partners by booking a table for ten. 

For more details and to book your place click here or contact our event management partner, tx2 Events on 020 3137 2541.

Don’t forget that if you are a TechMarketView subscription client, a UKHotViews Premium client, or from one of our Little British BattlerGreat British Scaleup or Early Stage Partner programme companies, you qualify for the discounted ticket price.

Posted by HotViews Editor at '09:47' - Tagged: TMVE2018  

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Friday 20 July 2018

Microsoft breaks $100bn barrier, propelled by cloud

logoIt was a big quarter and a big year for Microsoft as CEO Satya Nadella’s prioritisation of cloud and AI delivered and with upbeat expectations, there should be more to come. With an immediate 4% rise in the already high share price (which has risen across the year), investors are happy with Microsoft’s direction and execution.

The year to 30 June saw Microsoft break the $100bn revenue barrier as revenue rose 14% to $110.4bn. Net profit was down 35% to $16.6bn but as it was impacted by one off US tax changes and restructuring costs along with investments in data centres, it did not disturb the positive vibes and operating income was up 17%. Productivity and Business Processes and Intelligent Cloud revenue expanded 17% and 15% respectively to $35.9bn and $32.2bn. Growth within More Personal Computing was more modest at 7%. Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics 365 continued to be key drivers of growth.

Q418 showed plenty of double digit growth, including revenue up 17% to $30bn and net income up 10% to $8.9bn. Intelligent Cloud hit $9.6bn revenue, up 13%. Within that Azure maintained high growth, up 89%, while Server and cloud products increased 23%. This points to popularity around the hybrid proposition and investment in the Azure on-premise stack as part of enterprise’s cloud migration. There is significant ‘lift and shift’ but enterprises are also buying into higher value services. Tellingly, the number of $10m+ Azure deals doubled yoy while commercial cloud sales grew 56% to $6.9bn. Commenting on FY17 and Q417 we said Microsoft hadn’t caught up with the AWS juggernaut but had established itself as a strong and accelerating challenger – and that situation has only improved over the past 12 months.  

Double digit growth across Office Commercial (10%), LinkedIn (37%) and Dynamics (61%) sent Productivity and Business Process division revenue up by 13% to $9.7bn. Even More Personal Computing fared well – up 17% to $10.8bn because sales of Windows were better than expected. Add in the pending acquisition of GitHub, which could bring the additional developers Microsoft needs to attract, and it is in a good place for FY19.

Posted by Angela Eager at '09:39' - Tagged: results   cloud   software   AI   machinelearning   digitaltransformation   machineintelligence  

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Friday 20 July 2018

WNS Q1 profits up 31% on automation drive

WNSSpecialist BPS player WNS saw Q1 revenue increase 11.8% to $196m year-on-year (up 10.3% on a constant currency basis), all of which was organic.Adjusted net profit was up 31% year-on-year to $30.9m, compared to $23.6 million in Q1 last year. Adjusted operating margin was 18.8% as compared to 17.1% in the same quarter last year.

WNS has been focusing for some time on developing a series of industry specific solutions underpinned by a significant investment in RPA and intelligent automation

Most RPA deployment historically has been centered around high volume, low complex functions but WNS is now seeing clients increasingly asking it to point automation at higher value industry specific processes, previously managed in-house.  As a result, technology is proving to be a catalyst for existing clients to expand relationships. WNS has now deployed RPA and intelligent automation in 10 of its top 25 accounts and has another five clients in pilot stages. Whilst WNS admitted that automation had cannibalised some revenue it claims that this is more than made up by reductions in its operating costs.

The UK has been a strong growth driver for WNS over the last few quarters usually delivering high-single or low-double digit growth, but it looks like this has stalled with the UK Q1 revenue now flat. However, WNS was clear not to put the blame on Brexit with it still seeing UK clients making long term strategic decisions.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '09:11' - Tagged: results   RPA   WNS  

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Friday 20 July 2018

BGF starts 'multimillion pound' journey with Click Travel

logoNot a startup as such – they were founded in 1999 and turned over £164m in 2017. Nonetheless, Birmingham-based, business-focused travel management company Click Travel has attracted a 'multimillion pound' investment from BGF (Business Growth Fund) following "a sustained period of technological advances and new client wins".

The technology bit is Click Travel's booking tool, travel.cloud, which is essentially a free-to-use self-service platform for "the solo entrepreneur needing a train down to London, to the workforce of large organisations requiring flights and accommodation all over the world!"

Besides earning commission from ticket sales, it appears that Click Travel also offers value-add services for corporate travel management teams.

Obviously the bulk of Click Travel's turnover is passed through to the travel and accommodation providers, which left the business with just over £10m gross profit in 2017 of which about one-third converted to operating profit. The business is cash generative, so I assume that the new funding aims to take Click Travel to a destination it could not reach under its own steam. Good on them!

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

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Friday 20 July 2018

Guild takes on WhatsApp, why don't you

logoArguably, you have to be brave or bonkers (or perhaps both) to take on Facebook-owned WhatsApp at its own game, and that is precisely what Ashley Friedlein and Matthew O’Riordan, cofounders of London-based 'private professional messaging' startup, Guild, have set out to do.

Friedlein, whose LinkedIn profile also shows his other 'day job' as President, Centaur Marketing (among other roles), and O'Riordan, whose LinkedIn profile omits mention of Guild, but lists him as CEO of messaging technology startup, Ably (for which Friedlein is chairman), also cofounded digital and events-led information provider Econsultancy, which the pair sold to Centaur Media for an initial £12m in 2012 and £38m deferred (the pair apparently walked away with a total of £24m).

Founded this year and with plans to launch this autumn, Guild has raised £880k in a seed funding round from 28 backers (including the founders) using the SeedLegals platform, a startup launched in March 2017 to facilitate multi-round seed fund raising.

As far as I can see, Guild doesn't have a business model – there's no fee and it doesn't accept advertising – but plenty of chutzpah, so this one should be interesting to watch.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:12' - Tagged: funding   startup  

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Thursday 19 July 2018

'Frugal' Ignitho making headway

logoLondon-headquartered, onshore/offshore rapid application development startup Ignitho Technologies is making steady headway convincing leading brands of its 'frugal innovation' application development methodology (see Ignitho starts 'frugal' journey with Paycasso).

Most recently Ignitho added supermarket giant Sainsbury's joint venture with facilities management company Arcus to its client list as well as becoming an approved vendor with airline loyalty scheme Avios (now part of International Airline Group) for their Digital & Innovation projects.

Ignitho also won the “Innovation in Business” category award at the recent Brighton & Hove Business Awards, so congratulations are due to co-founders Joseph Olassa and Roney Soloman.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '15:32' - Tagged: offshore  

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Thursday 19 July 2018

*NEW RESEARCH* UK tech stocks bounce back in Q2

chartAfter a poor start to the year, most of the UK tech indices we track (see here) recovered some of the losses during Q2. The FTSE SCS index, a proxy for UK listed software and IT services (SITS) companies and the worst performer in Q1 with a fall of 30%, gained 15% in Q2 but is still 20% down year to date despite strong recoveries from Sophos (up 49% qoq), Aveva (up 41% qoq) and Micro Focus (up 34% qoq).

Subscribers to the TechMarketView Foundation Service can see the detail and the numbers in our latest quarterly review, IndustryViews Quoted Sector Q2 2018.

Posted by HotViews Editor at '15:00'

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Thursday 19 July 2018

Marketing automation specialist Dotdigital gains momentum despite GDPR

Dotdigital logoAIM-listed dotdigital Groupcontinues to show strong momentum as it strengthens its position in omnichannel marketing automation platforms. Today’s trading update for the year to end June, revealed group revenue increased by 35% to £43.1m, average revenue per user was up by 18%, the number of customers signed during the year was 26% higher than the year before at 689, and profits continue to be in line with market expectations.  

This strong momentum has continued into the new financial year giving management confidence in the FY19 outlook as dotdigital retains its focus on three core areas to support organic growth: product innovation, geographic expansion and developing strategic partnerships.  

We were pleased to see progress in all three areas during the year. And particularly encouraged to hear that EMEA revenue, which was impacted in the first half by delays in customer spending ahead of GDPR implementation, has normalised delivering double-digit growth for the full year. In fact, the business has seen no material impact on either email volumes or recurring revenues from existing clients following GDPR implementation to date.

The acquisition of Comapi, which is now fully integrated, has also enabled dotdigital to accelerate the integration of new product features in the mobile and social space. Similar acquisitions may well be on the cards in the coming year with CEO Milan Patel saying this morning that he will “continue to look for acquisitions of an earnings enhancing or strategic nature that could add to the platform capabilities”. More when the full results are announced in October.

Posted by Tola Sargeant at '09:45' - Tagged: trading   software   marketing  

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Thursday 19 July 2018

SAP confident on cloud

logoThe significant lines in SAP’s Q218 results related to cloud growth and with cloud subscriptions and support up 30% to €1.2bn and new cloud bookings up 24% to €421m there was reason to be confident. SAP is so confident in its cloud progress that it has raised both 2018 and ‘2020 ambition’ guidance on the back it.

Cloud growth for a software company with roots in the on-premise environment usually means declines elsewhere but SAP held up fairly well, indeed overall revenue was up respectable 4% to €6bn (including €54m positive impact from the move to IFRS 15). Profit before tax was up a healthy 8% to €720m, with operating profit benefitting from a 13% lift to €1.04bn. This contrasts with Q217 when revenue growth was higher (10%) but operating profit declined (down 27%). EMEA performance was described as “very strong” with cloud subscriptions and support up 40% and the UK picked out as a highlight. The UK also saw “strong double digit” software revenue growth.

Some disturbance was evident. Inevitably software licence revenue was down at group level: down 9% to €996m. The Q2 cloud figures will have been boosted by the April 2018 $2.4bn Callidus acquisition. And while SAP talked of S/4HANA growth (8900 customers, up 41% yoy; 600 added in Q2 of which 40% were net new), the limited detail on HCM and the significant Leonardo products was notable. There was a baseline established for future comparison of newly launched (May 2018) C/4HANA, with $242m revenue (constant currency).

While cloud progress will continue to dominate assessments of SAP’s progress, attention will also be paid to C/4HANA because it is the spearhead of a push into CRM. It seems late in the day to be launching such an initiative but the company aims to double CRM business in the next two years via bundled sales and marketing, customer service, and data protection products. Within 9 months it plans to have an integrated suite combining Callidus cloud assets and SAP’s existing CRM components and plans to break out CRM as a separate reporting line under a CX heading. SAP is back office heavy so a CRM focus could bring better balance and make entry into the SAP portfolio easier but with Salesforce still ascendant, it will be a tough market to work – and the deliver the triple digit growth SAP is expecting from CRM products. 

Posted by Angela Eager at '09:44' - Tagged: results   cloud   software   digitaltransformation  

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Thursday 19 July 2018

Accenture selected by Coventry Building Society

Accenture logoAccenture is strong in financial services in the UK; we estimate it represents c40% of its UK SITS revenues (see UK Financial Services SITS Supplier Prospects: 2018 and beyond) due to a broad range of UK and global clients. Now it has added a new client to the fold: one of the UK’s leading building societies, Coventry Building Society.

Accenture has been selected as the organisation’s delivery partner for a major transformation of its core banking platform. The new system will be based on IRESS’ and Temenos’ core banking solutions, supporting key business functions like mortgage and savings origination, product management and customer servicing.

Coventry BS highlights Accenture’s understanding of the industry and its track record delivering core platform solutions. Indeed, Accenture is a global certified partner of Temenos. One of Accenture’s other major implementations of the platform is with Nordea (across the Nordics), by whom it was selected in 2015.

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:36' - Tagged: contract   software   financialservices   banking  

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Thursday 19 July 2018

IBM scratches 7-year revenue itch

ibmThe second quarter of FY18 (to end June) saw IBM turn in its best constant currency growth in seven years (+2% to $20bn).

To us it seems Big Blue is improving from an execution perspective, competing well against its peers and snaring some of the larger outsourcing deals out there. Hybrid cloud and managed security services are important components in these deals, and IBM claims that nearly 30% of its outsourcing backlog is now in cloud.

The GBS and GTS businesses were flat in constant currency terms, with declines held off by improved backlog dynamics. Consulting services for cloud alongside migration, modernisation and new-builds have been notable areas of activity. Indeed, there is no reason why this trend shouldn’t strengthen even further as more large corporates face up to tackling their more complex cloud conundrums.  

Services gross margin was down 25 basis points over last year but IBM will see the benefits of Q1 productivity actions coming through in due course. 

Things have improved specifically in the UK, which was given a ‘hat-tip’ by IBM’s CFO in the analyst briefing for contributing to "accelerated" EMEA growth. This is great to hear as 2017 was incredibly painful in the Services business - subscribers can read more here: UK SITS Supplier Rankings 2018.

We see good stories emerging around Watson (e.g. Royal Bank of Scotland is amongst several FS clients named as new users of Watson Assistant) and Blockchain (IBM launched the We.trade trading platform with nine large banks including Deutsche Bank and HSBC). However, Cognitive Solutions revenue actually declined in the quarter (-1%). Patience is still required in a variety of ‘digital’ areas – not just by IBM but across the industry.

Listen to our analysts talk about how to best tackle the shift to new technologies and services at the TechMarketView Evening in September: Speakers confirmed for TechMarketView Evening 2018 – Breaking the Boundaries.

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

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Thursday 19 July 2018

OBS boosts cloud and big data with Basefarm buy

OBS boosts cloud with Basefarm buyOrange Business Services’ (OBS) proposed €350m acquisition of Nordic managed service and cloud specialist Basefarm Holding will boost the French provider’s European capabilities and add key application management, big data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) technology to its portfolio.

OBS, the enterprise division of French telco Orange, has long sought to expand its cloud provision as it shifts the revenue mix away from network connectivity and into managed services, and estimates that its cloud business is currently growing around 15-20% a year. Indeed cloud and cyber security were the standout growth areas for OBS in FY17 (just as in FY16) as continuing declines in revenue from traditional voice and data services pushed overall turnover down 1%.

Basefarm operates 8 data centres across the continent, offering a mix of AWS and Microsoft Azure Stack hybrid cloud platform, security and big data solutions for customers including Air Shuttle ASA, Nordkap, Yellowstar Solutions, Deutsche Post Direkt and BMW Group.

Subject to regulatory approval, the acquisition will contribute around €100m of revenue and boost OBS staff numbers by around 550. Most of that expertise is based at sites in Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Austria and Germany, which we think will complement an OBS’ proposition built on providing multinational corporates (MNCs) like Hertz, PMI and Siemens with global network connectivity and hosting capabilities spanning multiple countries, including the UK.

Posted by Martin Courtney at '09:29' - Tagged: acquisition   OBS   BasefarmHoldings  

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Thursday 19 July 2018

Mastek UK: Eight consecutive quarters of topline growth

Mastek logoMumbai-based mid-tier offshore services firm, Mastek, has had another good quarter in its Q119 to 30th June 2018 (see Mastek marching onwards and upwards (mostly) for FY18 commentary). At the headline, revenues increased by 31.5% to Rs.24.4b, equating to 23.7% growth at constant currency. The total EBITDA margin stood at 13.8% versus. 13.2% in the comparable quarter last year.

Growth was strong across all Mastek’s key verticals – up 20% in Government (representing 31.5% of the total), up 29% in retail (representing 36% of the total) and up 50% in financial services (representing 22% of the total).

In the UK, total revenues increased by 41.8%, compared to the year ago quarter, to Rs.17.4b c£191m. According to our estimates, that equates to c28% ccy growth. Sequential growth was 7.9% (after a particularly good Q4), or 6.1% at ccy. The UK represents 71.3% of total revenues. The strong performance represents eight consecutive quarters of top-line growth for the UK. The 2015 acquisition of London-based agile consultancy IndigoBlue was fully integrated into the business on 30th June 2018 so is no longer reported separately.

We recently met with Mastek CEO John Owen and Mastek’s UK MD, Prahlad Koti. Koti stated that he expects future UK growth to be more weighted towards the public sector in the years ahead, highlighting that the quality of bids it has recently won has increased, and that they are often replacing larger players such as Capgemini and Accenture. Meanwhile, Owen is determined to re-establish a significant business presence in the US following the acquisition of Dallas-based (and offshore-enhanced) Oracle Commerce and CX consultancy, Trans American Information Systems (TAIS) as its new beachhead into the territory (see Mastek does Dallas with TAIS). We will have more on our conversations with Mastek’s executive team for subscribers soon.

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:11' - Tagged: results   public+sector   offshore   financialservices   retail   ApplicationServices   agile   IPP  

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Thursday 19 July 2018

Genpact acquires to deliver Supply Chain Transformation

GenpactGenpact has been on the acquisition trail of late acquiring specific domain expertise to help focus its considerable scale advantages. Its latest move is the acquisition of Barkawi Management Consultants designed to help grow its Supply Chain Management transformation services.

Barkawi is a consulting business specialising in supply chain management, supply chain technology and aftersales services. Originally established in Germany, in 1994, the company now employs 200 or so management consultants providing advisory and technology services globally. Clients include big blue chips in industries including consumer goods, life sciences, manufacturing, and aerospace.

Transforming the supply chain is important for a wide range of organisations who need agile operations that can quickly respond to fluctuating demand levels, market changes, and increased supply chain complexity. Genpact believes that it can overlay Barkawi’s consulting expertise on top of its broader digital transformation capabilities and its platforms to open up this market.

We are seeing BPS players invest in industry specific capability in increasing numbers. Deep industry domain expertise is becoming a real differentiator and we expect to see more of this as market demand moves towards specialisation.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '09:08' - Tagged: acquisition   supplychain   genpact  

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Thursday 19 July 2018

More backing for Provenance to track provenance

logoIt's been year to the month that London-based supply-chain tracking startup Project Provenance raised £650k in a seed funding round from a wide range backers keen to support CEO Jessi Baker's mission to bring greater transparency to the food industry supply chain.

Chain is the operative word here, as Project Provenance's platform is based on blockchain technology, and aims to track fresh produce from origin to supermarket. Provenance's pitch is slick ("Use our digital tools to share your product’s journey and your business impact on environment and society") and is designed to develop a governance and marketing story for each participant of the food industry supply chain, particularly at the retail end-point.

Established in 2013, Project Provenance now has a new backer, musician Peter Gabriel, who joined a funding round (amount undisclosed) led by Working Capital, along with Digital Currency Group, Merian Ventures and Plug and Play.

Project Provenance sounds like such a clever idea, combining 'good cause' themes (food provenance; sustainability) with hot technology themes (blockchain; mobile apps) into a supply chain governance and marketing platform. Indeed, according to a recent article in the FT, supermarket giant Walmart was among the first retailers to employ blockchain for this purpose, using the technology to establish the provenance and quality of pork in China.

Of course, blockchain is just the underlying technology to move data between the parties. How you record the data in the first place – and ensure the integrity of the product it represents as it travels through the supply chain – involves both technology (e.g. bar codes, sensors, etc) and 'process'. As the FT article points out, "sticking a tracking code on a hessian sack of coffee beans (is) something not always easy in hot and humid weather"!

Posted by Anthony Miller at '09:02' - Tagged: funding   startup  

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Thursday 19 July 2018

Will Google be 'fine' after fine?

GoogleNever thought I’d see the day when a Euro4.3 BILLION fine on a company made no difference at all to its share  price. But that’s what happened yesterday to Google when it was fined by the EC. I guess that’s because Google has a $100+ Billion cash pile.

Android is installed on 80% of all the smartphones used worldwide. Although Android is ‘free’, Google insists that their Google’s search engine is pre-installed. Although users can install other search engines <1% bother to do so. So Google continues its lucrative advertising business. Of course, Google search is preinstalled on iPhones too. But Google pays Apple billions for that privilege. Maybe Android phone makers - like Samsung - will do likewise? But, there again, Google might start charging for Android.

All echoes the EC’s case, 10+ years back, against the preinstallation of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. That gave a great boost to Google!

Wonder whether there is a new Google waiting in the wings ready to exploit the new situation?

Posted by Richard Holway at '08:42'

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Thursday 19 July 2018

Legaltech Clarilis secures £3.1m to fuel expansion

ClarilisLegaltech is an area that TechMarketView is seeing an increasing amount of interest and activity in as companies look to disrupt the Legal Services market. 

Along these lines NVM Private Equity (NVM) has invested £3.1m into Midlands-based Clarilis, a provider of drafting automation solutions to Legal Services.

Co-founded by James and Kevin Quinn, Clarilis launched in 2015 with a technology platform designed to automate document drafting for the legal community. The business employs a team combining the expertise of both lawyers and automation experts working to increase the speed and quality of document drafting. Clarilis counts both corporate in-house teams and private legal practices amongst its customer base, including firms such as Travers Smith, Addleshaw Goddard, Burness Paull and Baker McKenzie.  

The UK Legal market is currently at a record high (buoyed no doubt by work coming out of Brexit), but is suffering from client pressure on fees and often old-fashioned methods of service delivery. Increasing competition, particularly from new market entrants is driving a focus on innovation and technology to maintain profitability. The market is ripe for disruption and whilst there are many barriers to digital adoption we expect to see an increasing amount of activity in this space.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '08:33' - Tagged: funding   legaltech  

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Thursday 19 July 2018

SaleCycle raises £11.5m to convert more sales

logoNews of this investment appeared to have slipped through our net a couple of weeks ago but is worthy of mention as a great example of a UK scale-up going global.

Durham-based sales conversion marketing automation platform developer SaleCycle has scored an £11.5m investment from BGF. Founded in 2011 with angel backing, SaleCycle reportedly generates sales of £15m to major brands across Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific, including Tommy Hilfiger, Radisson Hotels, HP, Ikea and Virgin Atlantic.

Very impressive on all counts.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:00' - Tagged: funding   startup   emarketing  

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Thursday 19 July 2018

Capita wins at Southern Water but looks for a new CFO

CapitaCapita continues its recent run of form sales wise landing a £30m five year deal with utility Southern Water, as its new customer services provider. 

southern waterThe £30m deal might be relatively small by Capita’s standards but is very much aligned with the new strategy and where Capita wants to be delivering. Efforts will be focused on improving the customer experience and of course increasing self-service by deploying insight, analytics and automation platforms. 

Capita has been running the back-office billing processes as well as correspondence-handling, print and mail for the past six years and is now consolidating that relationship to take onboard a wider customer experience remit. Southern Water had previously also been working with TCS on a contract to transform the customer services and revenue operation signed back in 2013. 

Separately Capita announced that it has started the search for a new CFO with Nick Greatorex stepping down from the Board. Greatorex took on the role as CFO in 2015 under previous CEO Andy Parker and had served as interim Chief Executive during the period immediately prior to current CEO Jon Lewis’s appointment. Greatorex will remain with the company to assist with the transition over the coming months.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '07:56' - Tagged: contract   Capita   CFO   utilities  

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Thursday 19 July 2018

Momentum builds at NIIT Tech

LogoPresenting the Q1 2019 results for the three months ended 30th June, management at mid-tier offshore services firm NIIT Technologies painted an upbeat outlook for the business. First quarter revenue was up c.13% yoy to $124.3m. In US dollar terms against the same period last year, operating profit improved by over 20% and operating margin expanded by a further 90 bps. At $151m, Q119 order intake increased by more than 50% yoy and continued the upward trend established over the last five quarters.

Growth was broad based. All three of NIIT Tech’s focus vertical sectors – BFS, Insurance, and Travel & Transportation - and all of its geographic regions reported top line improvements. Sales of “the new” (cloud, digital, automation, analytics) leapt by 53% yoy and now account for 27% of total revenue.

Following NIIT Tech’s analyst event two months ago, we commented on the positive impact that the now completed realignment of the business was having on performance (see here).  The move from a horizontal service line focused organisation to a vertical industry led structure appears to be serving the company well. Ramping-up recruitment of senior Tier 1 talent, coupled with increased focuses on both expanding the number of larger accounts and closing more $20+m deals, is also bearing fruit.

Reporting on NIIT Tech’s FY18 performance in May, we concluded that the company was set fair for this new financial year (see here). These latest results only reinforce our view. NIIT Tech CEO Sudhir Singh expects top line and margin momentum to continue to build as 2019 unfolds. With the business firing on all cylinders he has ample cause for such optimism.

Posted by Duncan Aitchison at '07:24' - Tagged: offshore   resullts  

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Thursday 19 July 2018

Adam Hale joins revitalised Tech Nation Board

Tech NationInteresting to see that our old friend Adam Hale - who many will know from Russell Reynolds/Prince’s Trust/Fairsail and now Ch of DevOpsGroup- has been appointed to the board of Tech Nation. Other new board members include Lesley Eccles - co-founder of FanDuel, founder and CEO of Relish, Emma Jones - founder of Enterprise Nation, David Richards - founder and CEO of WANdisco and Sarah Wood - co-founder and chair of Unruly. The Tech Nation board is chaired by Eileen Burbidge, partner at Passion Capital and HM Treasury’s special envoy on fintech.  Previous board members Tim Luke and Wendy Tan-White will be re-joining the board.

Adam Hale said “As someone whose company has benefitted from Tech Nation’s Future Fifty, I’m delighted to be joining Eileen and Gerard as they broaden Tech Nation’s important work connecting and supporting ambitious entrepreneurs, right across the country. I’m also delighted to join to represent the Thames Valley area on the board and the vibrant scale-up scene outside London.”

Tech Nation is a ‘new’ organisation formed in Apr 18 but has its roots in Tech City and Tech North. Its mission is one that we wholeheartedly support - To make the UK the best place in the world to imagine, start and grow a digital tech business”.

As you have read in HotViews countless times since we started 10+ years ago, this is part of OUR mission too. 20 or even 10 years ago that would have seemed ‘Mission Impossible’. But recently many of the indicators (like funds raised) show that the UK is indeed THE place to start a tech business. Much of that has been due to the ‘Clusters’ of VCs, investors, advisers, universities, research parks etc that have been formed. But it has also been because the UK has been a welcoming place for entrepreneurial and technical talent. Many of these new start-ups have been formed by non-UK citizens.

Many - and I count myself as one of them - fear that BREXIT (Soft or Hard) will put a brake on that. Already France is making major overtures to grab the UK’s ‘Start-up Crown’.

So Tech Nation is needed more than ever before and it is great to see real talent like Adam Hale playing a major role.

Note - Photo shows (from L to R)  Eileen Burbidge, Adam Hale, Wendy Tan-White, Emma Jones, Frances Hemingway (Technation), Gerard Grech.

Posted by Richard Holway at '06:00'

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Wednesday 18 July 2018

Mindtree delivers strong first quarter

logoResults for the first quarter for mid-sized IPP Mindtree showed a continuation of the significant “flourish” reported in last fiscal’s final quarter. Revenue was up to US$241.5m, a year-on-year increase of 20.7%. The relationship with SAP paid dividends as Mindtree won a major implementation project in the world’s largest auto manufacturer as well as a contract to implement a SAP HANA-powered financial reporting solution in a FTSE Top20 company. There was a 53% yoy advance in EBITDA, providing a good foundation for higher profitability for the year.

When we met to discuss Mindtree’s UK operations a few weeks ago, we heard of other good progress in the insurance sector, with a strong emphasis on automation, and the move of back office services for both insurance and market trading companies to the cloud. Elsewhere in the UK there has been some signal successes in the manufacturing sector and with a large US pharma company. Close cooperation with partner SAP was again a significant contributor to this recent pharma win.

The group-wide growth in the use of BOTs (autonomous software agents) both on customer sites and to transform internal operations is building the company’s referencability and credentials in larger contracts. This success, coupled with the company’s tighter focus on digital, where revenue was up 35% yoy, should add to momentum going forward

Posted by Peter Roe at '13:32' - Tagged: insurance   automation   digital  

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Wednesday 18 July 2018

2iC's name in lights in Dunne report

2iC logoIt was pleasing to see Little British Battler 2iC (see UKHotViews archive) referenced in the Dunne Report. Former Minister for Defence Procurement Philip Dunne MP launched his independent review – ‘Growing the Contribution of Defence to UK Prosperity’ - earlier this month.  The report was commissioned by Secretary of State Gavin Williamson in support of the Modernising Defence Programme review. It highlights the wider economic impacts of defence spending.

Dunne Report front cover2iC is referenced (in a case study on page 43) in relation to the adoption of open architecture to make the most of new digital capabilities for the armed forces and improve collaboration. It was back in 2012 that 2iC won an MoD Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) R&D project, worth £87K, for a proof of concept demonstration of Battlefield interoperability. As the Dunne Report highlights, success ensued with the publication of the software resulting from the research (Lean Services Architecture) being published by the MoD in 2014 under the Open Government License. 2iC also developed a commercial suite of software products, which has been used by a range of partners like Ultra Electronics, BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin.

The report does not refer to the struggles that 2iC has had working with the MoD since. However, pertinently, much of the Dunne report does focus on breaking down the barriers to SMEs and others working with the department. It also highlights the broader issue regarding the necessity to drive a stronger innovation culture within the MoD and allow new technology to be adopted more rapidly. The MoD’s struggles here – in modernising the procurement process, in finding an equitable way to share risk and reward, in setting out its future roadmap, and in instilling innovation into every part of the MoD and into larger procurements – is the reason why 2iC has found greater opportunities for growth in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand (see 2iC: Strong growth driven by international contracts) and, even, in adjacent sectors. It is good to see those issues being addressed in the Dunne Report. It would be even better if the MoD increased its Science & Technology (S&T) spending target as a percentage of the defence budget (currently committed to 1.2%)  in line with the Government Industrial Strategy target to raise total UK R&D investment to 2.4% of GDP by 2027. Whether the current level is sufficient is under consideration.

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:33' - Tagged: public+sector   defence   sme   innovation   littlebritishbattler  

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Wednesday 18 July 2018

More to Microsoft/Walmart alliance than battling Amazon/AWS

logoThere’s no doubt that the five year strategic and technology partnership between Microsoft and Walmart is an alliance against Amazon/AWS (a direct competitor to both), with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella hinting as much in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, but that is not the be all and end all. A successful relationship should provide at scale digital transformation insight, including practical demonstrations of AI/machine learning and IoT.

The partnership sees existing customer Walmart position Microsoft as its preferred and strategic cloud provider as Walmart continues its digital transformation journey. Specifically, Walmart is looking to make it easier for customers to shop (i.e. improve the CX), improve employee productivity through better collaboration and communications and boost operational efficiency. The enablers will be Microsoft’s cloud services, including AI/machine learning, IoT and data platform products.

There is nothing new about the types of outcomes Walmart want to achieve, which is actually reassuring because it ties advanced technologies with practical, mainstream use cases. Walmart will use Azure and Microsoft 365 across the company, migrate applications and customer facing websites to Azure. More interestingly, it will build a global IoT platform on Azure (Microsoft ramped up IoT investment earlier this year- Microsoft sees big IoT opportunity), use machine learning to route delivery vehicles, optimise HVAC and refrigerator units' performance to save energy, and work on extracting value from the customer data Walmart holds. No doubt there will be more adventurous projects too (possibly a rival to Amazon’s Go cashierless shops) but these early stage ones have the potential to make a significant difference to Walmart.

In addition to acting as a test ground for AI/machine learning and IoT, success within a retailer of Walmart’s scale should open other retail doors for Microsoft. This high profile partnership comes with risks though. Microsoft needs to be able to show deployment and tangible results within Walmart in a reasonably short timescale. And even though Azure is in hyper growth mode, success will also be important in countering the Amazon/AWS trajectory. 

Posted by Angela Eager at '09:16' - Tagged: cloud   partnership   iot   machinelearning  

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Wednesday 18 July 2018

Eight Roads refers $7m to Mention Me

logoIf you are to believe the marketing hype, it is Detroit-based Ambassador that is the world's leading referral marketing platform and Berlin-based Aklamio that does it for Europe. But they are certainly not alone.

A quick squizz on the internet introduced me to many others, including London-based Mention Me, (I like companies that 'do what they say on the tin' – and in their case, demand it!) which has just raised $7m in a Series A funding round led by Eight Roads Ventures. Founded in 2013, Mention Me had previously raised an unspecified sum in an angel funding round in 2015, according to CrunchBase.

The premise behind referral marketing is dead simple. You refer someone to a company's brand and both you and they get a reward if they buy. However, Mention Me's business model is somewhat different from the subscription fee pricing that some other referral platforms use. Instead, Mention Me charges brands a bespoke setup fee and then takes a commission on the first order of referred customers. As such, Mention Me claims to be profitable, "having introduced nearly 1m customers and grown its client list from 20 to 300 in the past three years".

Mention Me claims it takes as little as seven hours to implement a referral scheme on its platform ("just two javascript tags on your site"), which also suggests it is relatively easy to switch between referral marketing platforms to find the one that delivers the best result!

Posted by Anthony Miller at '07:38' - Tagged: funding   startup  

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Wednesday 18 July 2018

Ofcom Media Nation Reports shows 'We are all streamers now!'

OfcomFurther to my Tuesday report - Netflix disappoints - interesting to read an Ofcom Media Nations report released today which shows that nearly 40% of UK households now subscribe to streaming services like  Netflix, Amazon, Now etc and more than the 15.1m who subscribe to traditional satellite and cable TV like Sky, BT, Virgin etc. Indeed revenues from those traditional services FELL for the first time last year. No wonder that Sky sees its future as part of a larger media group to enable it to compete with the ‘streamers’.

Sharon White, Ofcom’s CEO, wants to see BBC, ITV, CH4 & C5 work together to create a ‘British Netflix’.

Spending on content by the likes of BBC, ITC, Ch4 has dropped by 28% - whereas spending by Netflix has soared. Time watching broadcast TV continues to fall - lead by the youngsters. The age of those watching ‘conventional’ TV has also changed with viewing by 15 year-olds down 15% yoy and down 12% yoy for 16-24 year-olds. Watching by Oldies (like me) is unchanged. Indeed the age of an average BBC & ITV watcher is now 60 years old! Watching on mobile devices is soaring. The average 16-34 year-old spends an hour a day watching stuff on Youtube.

In the UK music streaming has overtaken physical sales. Revenues from streaming services grew an impressive 38% to £577m whereas physical music sales dropped to £470m.

The Ofcom report is always a good read - packed with loads of charts and tables to satisfy data-junkies like me. You can explore and download it Click here.

Posted by Richard Holway at '07:28'

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Wednesday 18 July 2018

Glint funds a golden future

logoGlint (www.glintpay.com) offers its growing customer base a unique opportunity: the ability to pay for everyday items using gold. This is not just a marketing gimmick. It enables individuals to hold some of their wealth in a store of value that has really stood the test of time. Using an Apple or Android app, account holders lodge a sum of money in a ring-fenced account, selecting whether to hold their money in gold, sterling, dollars or euros. The physical gold is stored in an accredited Brinks facility in Switzerland. When the account holder decides to pay a bill he/she can pay in currency or link the Glint Mastercard payment card to their gold account, with the merchant receiving the currency equivalent as calculated at the then market rate.

Glint launched in Q1 2018 having begun the development of its proprietary platform in 2014 and having gained an FCA eMoney licence and regulatory approval across the EEA. Over 15k customers have already registered for the service.

tmvShoreditch-based Glint is now part-way through a £15m Series A financing round which includes a £1.25m crowdfunding exercise. The money raised will fund further development of the platform and accelerate Glint’s partnership activity, linking with the Bud plug and play financial services platform and working with financial planning practices whose clients want to access Glint’s facility to hold cash balances in gold. The company plans to launch its service in the US by the end of the year, having already signed several distribution deals and a strategic partnership in the region.

With a stated target of over 500k clients on its platform by then end of next year, Glint is setting out to be the Gold Standard of the Fintech community.

Posted by Peter Roe at '06:27' - Tagged: funding   payments   banking   FinTech  

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Tuesday 17 July 2018

Speakers confirmed for TechMarketView Evening 2018 – Breaking the Boundaries

TMVIt's TechMarketView's tenth anniversary year and to celebrate we are announcing a formidable line-up of speakers to enlighten, inspire and surprise you at our annual Evening with TechMarketView.

Hosted by TechMarketView Chairman Richard Holway MBE, the evening focuses on TechMarketView's theme for 2018, Breaking the Boundaries, and you will be hearing from:

·      Tola Sargeant, TechMarketView Managing Director, who will bring the theme alive and challenge the way you look at the UK tech market by illustrating how buyers and sellers of enterprise technology are breaking their own boundaries to try to keep one step ahead of the pack

·     Chief Analyst Georgina O’Toole showcasing brand new TechMarketView analysis that examines the contrasting performances of the ‘legacy’ & the ‘new’ segments of the UK SITS market and ask the question: ‘what needs to happen to return to the halcyon days of double-digit growth?’

·     TechMarketView’s Martin Courtney hosting a ‘fireside chat’ with our special guest Andrew Johnson from Shell. One of the world’s largest retailers with a significant UK presence, Shell is three years into its digital transformation journey and Andrew will share his experiences, which touch everything from digital payments to autonomous vehicles

·     Kate Hanaghan, Chief Research Officer, who will unveil TechMarketView’s Market Readiness Index to share findings from our new end-user analysis and explore how buyers and suppliers can work better together to Break the Boundaries

·     Anthony Miller, TechMarketView Managing Partner, who will be putting his own inimitable slant on the changing fortunes of the leading UK tech suppliers over the past decade and what the future may hold for them over the next.

TMV Evening drinks

The event will be held on Thursday 13th September 2018 at the magnificent premises of the Royal Institute of British Architects in London with registration and a networking drinks reception, sponsored by InterSystems, commencing at 6:30 pm. This will be followed by the speaker sessions and a first-class silver service dinner.

The TechMarketView Evening is the only event where over 200 leaders from tech industry giants, mid-market specialist suppliers, aspiring 'Great British Scaleups' and innovative early stage companies, as well as advisors, investors and end-user organisations, get the chance to meet and form new friendships and partnerships – and learn what TechMarketView believes the future may hold!

You can book individual seats for the event, or why not recognise your key clients and partners by booking a table for ten. 

For more details and to book your place click here or contact our event management partner, tx2 Events on 020 3137 2541.

Don’t forget that if you are a TechMarketView subscription client, a UKHotViews Premium client, or from one of our Little British BattlerGreat British Scaleup or Early Stage Partner programme companies, you qualify for the discounted ticket price.

TMVE banner

Posted by HotViews Editor at '16:55' - Tagged: event  

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Tuesday 17 July 2018

Some thoughts on AI and the jobs market

Humans vs robots

You have probably seen the media coverage of the PWC report forecasting that AI would create >7.2m UK jobs by 2037 - slightly more than the 7m jobs it would displace. PwC estimated that c20% of all jobs would be automated over the next 20 years. Healthcare and social work were highlighted as the ‘biggest winners from AI’. Manufacturing would be amongst the biggest losers - closely followed by Transport and Storage.

The main gainers would be those in scientific and technical areas - particularly in London.

So ‘no need to worry then…’

Well, actually a lot to be worried about. I’ve just been reading What’s the Future by Tim O’Reilly. BTW - It is a long (400pages) and tedious (mainly a CV of the author) book which I wouldn’t recommend. But, it had some interesting stats. It quotes a McKinsey Global Institute study which indicated that c580m people - ie c70% of households in the 25 most advanced economies - had seen their incomes fall or flat between 2005 to 2014. Between 1993 and 2005, fewer than 10m (ie <2%) had the same experience. The main reason was the automation of jobs. Conversely the Top US CEOs now earn 383x the income of the average worker - up from 42x in 1980.

Today, we learned that employment in the UK had reached record highs. 32.4m now in employment with the jobless rate at 4.2% (BTW - a figure of <5% is almost always referred to as ‘full employment’)  But average earnings are up just 2.5% yoy - barely keeping pace with inflation. Apparently, the average person is worse off than they were 10 years ago.

The conclusion from all the reports from various sources that I read would indicate that:

  • Automation or AI disrupts the job market but creates more jobs than it displaces
  • BUT, those new jobs are at a lower relative level - certainly a lower earnings level - than the old jobs.
  • Those that gain from automation and AI are already at the top levels of the skills ladder - be it managerial, scientific or technical.

The effects of this on society are significant. Maybe the greatest reason for the ‘popularist’ uprisings that have disrupted politics in the UK, US and around the world.

I’m not suggesting for one moment that AI should be resisted. Indeed it is impossible to do so. But sometimes I think the consequences are not fully appreciated. Before WW2, the underdogs in our society could still put bread on their families’ table by working down a mine, in the fields, in a factory or as a foot soldier. These jobs - of which most people were very proud to do - have largely disappeared to be replaced by jobs that don’t have that same sense of pride and certainly don’t maintain the same earnings ratio. Society is poorer as a result. And the outlook, as a result of automation and AI,  is even bleaker for ‘the many rather than the few’.

Posted by Richard Holway at '16:51' - 1 comment

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Tuesday 17 July 2018

EACS buys Sentronex for disaster recovery

EACS buys Sentronex for disaster recoveryEACS - formerly Streamwire and one of TechMarketView’s Little British Battlers (LBBs) from 2016 – doesn’t look so little any more after its acquisition of London-based disaster recovery (DR) firm Sentronix for an undisclosed sum.

The buy is expected to push EACS’ FY18 revenue to £30m, and provide a solid foundation for a concerted push into the key financial services sector where Sentronix has been providing DR and managed IT services and consultancy to City firms since 2005.

EACS CEO Kevin Timms has long expounded his plan to turn the company into a £50m business, forging a steady path to that goal with the acquisition of Apple technology support specialist EvEnt Computer Services in 2015, followed by EACS itself in 2017.

The challenge for EACS now will be the seamless migration of Sentronix’ existing customers and the integration of the two business various managed services, cloud and consultancy portfolio into a single entity able to capitalise on any upselling opportunities.

Posted by Martin Courtney at '09:50'

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Tuesday 17 July 2018

Pi-top secures $16m to drive global expansion

pi-top logoUK-based build-it-yourself computer business pi-top has secured $16m (c.£12m) in a Series B funding round led by Hambro Perks and Committed Capital. The investment follows Series A funding at the end of 2016 (see pi-top tops up with £3.5m funding), which was also led by Hambro Perks and Committed Capital. In total it has now raised $22.5m.

Pi-top was founded by Jesse Lozano and Ryan Dunwoody in 2014. It started life as a crowdfunded (via Indiegogo) build-it-yourself Raspbery Pi laptop that aimed to make hardware creation more accessible. It produces both modular laptops and desktops, a range of additional components, and a suite of software, including pi-topOS.

The company states that it has now manufactured more than 100,000 devices and it currently employs c.80 people worldwide, with its headquarters in London and offices in Texas and Shenzhen. It intends to use its latest investment to continue to expand its manufacturing, marketing, sales and operations capabilities and to drive international growth.

Like competitor Kano (see Kano announces investment from Sesame Ventures), pi-top has proved popular in the education sector. Over 2,000 schools are using its products and it recently announced the pi-top Learning System, a package that includes the hardware, software, curriculum content, training and support to help schools deliver the computer science and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) curriculum.

We have covered the many problems associated with computing in schools over the last 12-months (see here, here and here for a start). Pi-top can certainly be part of the solution, but if we are to meet the future skills requirements much more must be done.

Posted by Dale Peters at '09:43' - Tagged: education   funding   startup   edtech  

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Tuesday 17 July 2018

Salesforce boosts marketing cloud with Datorama

logoMedia reports suggest Salesforce is paying $800m+ for Israeli founded/New York based Datorama. It would be a very successful outcome for the company (and its share-holding staff and investors) that was founded in 2012 and has received $50m in funding.

What Datorama offers is AI/machine learning enabled marketing software, providing insight, intelligence and analytics. It is clearly an attractive offering because the 3000 customers of the company (who has 400 staff) include PepsiCo, Unilever, Foursquare, Trivago and Ticketmaster. The customer base also demonstrates Datorama’s ability to span traditional companies and digital-natives in the provision of digital services.

There are obvious synergies with Salesforce. Datorama can boost the Salesforce Marketing cloud that was built around the $2.3bn ExactTarget acquisition in 2013. It has since grown through in-house development and several acquisitions as Salesforce goes head-to-head with Adobe around digital marketing. Datorama will also add to Salesforce’s important - and targetted - analytics capability.

One of the areas where there is rising activity among enterprises is the B2B2C space as companies who haven’t traditionally had a direct relationship with their customer base, look to make a connection. This is an area where Salesforce is seeing demand and in its view successful B2B2C operations require a combination of customer service, commerce and marketing capability. Customer service was one of its earliest clouds, it built its Commerce Cloud on the 2016 Demandware acquisition with smaller add-ons such as ecommerce provider CloudCraze in 2018 and has been investing heavily in the Marketing Cloud in recent years, with Datorama representing the latest – but probably not the last – marketing acquisition. B2B2C is still an emerging market but with its typical energy and determination Salesforce is staking its claim and claiming market share. Capturing a share of emerging markets is also key to maintaining the high growth rates expected of Salesforce.

Posted by Angela Eager at '09:35' - Tagged: acquisition   cloud   software   analytics  

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Tuesday 17 July 2018

SDL buys and raises

LogoMaidenhead-based language services and technology provider SDL plc is buying Donnelly Language Solutions (DLS) for c.£60m on a cash-free, debt-free basis. The deal will be funded through both the drawdown on new debt facilities and a recently completed share placing which raised £36.2m. The acquisition and placing taken together is expected to be earnings enhancing in the first full year of ownership, being the twelve months ending 31st December 2019.

SDL has been having a difficult time of late. Despite initiating an extensive change programme nearly three years ago, the company delivered a poor set of FY 2017 results (see here).

The purchase of DLS, the first major acquisition made by SDL since the sell-off of its non-core assets in 2016 (see here), should help to restore profitable growth. The combination of the two business will not only strengthen significantly SDL’s position in the “premium” financial services and life sciences industries, but also beef up its presence in the Asian markets. It will move the balance of SDL’s revenues into services, which will account for over 70% of sales post acquisition. The deal will also provide SDL with the opportunity to improve margins through the deployment of neural machine translation into the DLS service portfolio, bringing more human translation services in-house, back-office consolidation and automation, and office location rationalisation.

We noted earlier in the year that SDL was doing the right things, albeit that this had yet to result in improved financial performance. Profitable scale was the challenge and company management acknowledged that it had been hampered by its infrastructure and delivery capabilities. It must be hoped that operations have been strengthened sufficiently to make the most of what appears to be sensible acquisition.

Posted by Duncan Aitchison at '09:27' - Tagged: services   acquisiiton   software.  

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Tuesday 17 July 2018

Lender Proportunity gets funds to bet on property prices

logoI have a problem when a money-lender cloaks itself in the mantle of artificial intelligence with a proposition to homebuyers "to understand the potential of tomorrow".

So let's be clear about what London-based startup Proportunity does. It offers five-year, fixed term, interest-only loans to first-time homebuyers for up to 15% of the purchase price to supplement the mortgage deposit. The buyer needs to have already raised a 5% deposit and must repay Proportunity 15% (or the percentage borrowed) of the current market price when the loan falls due or when the property is sold. There is no mention on Proportunity's website of interest rates or exit valuation methodology.

And if you are thinking, "aha – what happens if the value of the property goes down over the term of the loan?" Well, that's where the AI bit comes in. Proportunity claims that its technology can accurately forecast house prices and only lends money on what it considers sure-fire bets (my words, not theirs).

According to TechCrunch, Proportunity has secured £5m in credit to start making loans (expected Q3 2018) and has raised £2.7m in a funding round backed by Global Founders Capital, Concrete VC and various angel investors. And in what I would consider the height of hubris, some of the Proportunity team are reportedly taking out loans on the platform "to show we're eating our own dog food".

There are other ways for first-time buyers with a 5% deposit to get mortgages which do not involve having to pay back an unknown amount of money five years into the loan. For example, the UK Government's Help to Buy scheme is interest free for the first five years and you can borrow as much as 40% of the property value in Greater London.

By the way, according to comparison website uSwitch, "it’s unlikely you will be offered a mortgage if you decide to get a loan for your mortgage deposit." Just saying.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '09:26' - Tagged: funding   startup   PropTech  

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Tuesday 17 July 2018

NCC Group beats expectations with 8% growth

NCC Group FY18Better than expected FY18 results at NCC Group bumped the company’s share value up as much as 9% this morning, with reported group revenue growing 8% yoy to £233m. Adjusted organic growth neared 12% once the impact of currency fluctuations and various acquisitions and divestitures are taken into account, with a strong second half building on a solid H1.

The cyber security consultancy and pen testing specialist even posted a pre-tax profit of £12m, a considerable improvement on the equivalent loss of £45m in FY17, with diluted earnings per share up to 4.4p from -17p a year earlier (net debt too improved to £28m from £44m).

As part of the strategic review that heralded the departure of former CEO Rob Cotton, NCC has revamped its structure and operations. By managing to keep its cost of sales at FY17 levels whilst simultaneously growing its turnover, the company saw a 23% yoy increase in gross profit to £96m. A broader group rationalisation also saw NCC sell its web performance business to TechMarketView Great British Scaleup Eggplant (formerly Testplant) for £7.5m, and offload its software testing division to QualiTest for £3.6m.

It is too early to tell if the leaner, tighter focussed NCC Group under CEO Adam Palser can maintain its current performance in the cyber security market. Much may depend on whether any surge in demand for its professional services and cyber consultancy services (revenue from which grew 17% yoy to £159m) fuelled by GDPR and NIS compliance initiatives extends into FY19 and beyond

But the company is undoubtedly in a better place today than it was in FY17 (subscribers to our SecureConnectViews research stream can access our Cyber Security Supplier Prospects 2018 report here) and we wait to see what new chief financial officer (CFO) Tim Kowalski (previously Group Finance Director at Findel) and recently opened cyber security research labs in Cheltenham can add to the mix.

Posted by Martin Courtney at '09:22' - Tagged: resullts   cybersecurity   consultancy   NCCGroup  

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Tuesday 17 July 2018

Netflix disappoints

NetflixThe ‘problem’ with being a FAANG is that your ever-booming market valuation is ‘Priced for Perfection’. Nothing else will do.

Netflix shares have doubled in the last month but fell c13% in after-hours trading last night as they missed one of their KPIs. Q2 Profits rose from $66m to $384m yoy - which beat expectations and revenues rose from  $2.8b to $3.8b. The ‘problem’ was that the rise in paying subscribers - in particular outside of the US - was about 1m less than had been expected which could point to difficulties ahead. The disappointment was exacerbated as the outlook statement issued just 3 months back was so upbeat.

The bigger problem is that Netflix looks to be facing more-and-more competition. Not just from the ‘new disruptors’ like Amazon Prime, Apple, Youtube and Facebook  but from the established players ‘fighting back’. In the US, that new competition could come from a combined AT&T and Time Warner.  Walt Disney and Comcast are fighting for 21st Century Fox. Here in the UK the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 all have ever improving ‘catch-up/streaming’ services.

All this assumes that consumers will be prepared to pay multiple subscriptions on top of their licence fee. I don’t think that’s a ‘given’. Subscriptions are a ‘discretionary spend’ and, if the economy falters, could be hit.

Having seen one FAANG take a bath, it will be interesting to see how the others fare as the Q2 reporting season gets underway.

Posted by Richard Holway at '08:44'

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Tuesday 17 July 2018

Ideagen delivers 9 years of consecutive growth

IdeagenFull year results from Ideagen, the AIM-listed specialist in Information Management software show the firm growing revenue and EBITDA for the 9th consecutive year. Revenue increased 33% to £36.1m (FY2017: £27.1m) with underlying organic revenue growth of 11% (FY2017: 10%). Adjusted EBITDA increased by 40% to £11m (FY2017: £7.9m).

Ideagen’s strategic focus has been on transitioning to a recurring revenue model whilst integrating the four acquisitions it made in the previous year. Recurring revenues now represent 62% (FY2017: 57%) of total revenues whilst SaaS bookings were up 174% with 106 new logo SaaS customer wins including Scandinavian Airlines, AirAsia and Northumbrian Water

Ideagen principally supplies regulated industries such as aviation, banking and finance and life sciences and has been particularly targeting international growth. Results were boosted by its first US acquisition of Medforce Inc which added 300 US healthcare customers, IP, recurring revenues and a platform for further expansion in North America.78% of all new SaaS logo wins were outside of the UK.

This was the last set of results under previous CEO David Hornsby, who has become Executive Chairman – with a specific remit around strategy, M&A and Investor Relations. To sustain the objective of doubling revenues and adjusted EBITDA every three years the company has now turned to Ben Dorks (former Chief Customer Officer) who takes on Hornsby’s position as CEO – focusing in particular on operational performance, customer acquisition and retention, and product development.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '08:34' - Tagged: results   software  

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Tuesday 17 July 2018

Undoing problems secures further funding for Undo

logoFounded in 2005, ‘record, rewind, replay’ software debugging provider Undo has made quiet but steady progress (supported by two funding rounds in 2014 and 2016 securing $1.25m and $3.3m respectively) and has now been rewarded with $14m Series B funding from investor Cambridge Innovation Capital.

The company seems to have taken off in 2012 when founder and CEO Greg Law gave up his job to concentrate full time on Undo. It has 30 customers, including brand names such as SAP, IBM, Arm, Cadence and Mentor Graphics. The funding will be used to expand the development team, for product development and for US expansion.

Product development could include expanding beyond compiled code to Java and other JM-based languages and there is also discussion around more accountable software (where programmers/organisations know exactly what a program has done and account for what the software does). In a world moving towards automation, this could be a very valuable capability with widespread applicability. We can see Undo’s pathway opening up. 

Posted by Angela Eager at '08:27' - Tagged: funding   startup   software  

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Tuesday 17 July 2018

Digital Risks get £2.25m to cover startups

logoInsurtech company Digital Risks (www.digitalrisks.co.uk) offers high-growth technology and media companies a new way of buying insurance. Companies in the dynamic and volatile technology and media markets need to ensure that they are protected from a growing number of risks, ranging from the more conventional areas of accidents or damage to office equipment and employer’s liability, to protecting against a data breach or the effects of making a mistake on a website or company blog. Selecting the appropriate cover is complex and time-consuming, made all the more difficult when the scope and scale of the underlying business may well be changing on a monthly basis.

London-based Digital Risks has developed an online offering, automating the process of buying and managing insurance. This approach enables the company to offer insurance cover aligned to a customer’s specific needs, placing each risk with the most appropriate underwriter. Cover is provided on a monthly subscription basis so that it can be changed quickly and easily.

A £2.25m funding round has been led by Concentric, with the money being targeted at increasing the marketing effort and developing new online insurance products. This should drive additional growth and enable the company to expand into Europe over the next 12 months. With the proliferation of technology start-up companies focusing on an ever-wider range of sectors, there looks to be an exciting market opportunity for Digital Risks and its innovative approach.

Posted by Peter Roe at '08:23' - Tagged: funding   insurance   FinTech   insurtech  

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Tuesday 17 July 2018

Green Running's Verv more than a token offering

logoMany thanks to Stuart McKnight, MD at corporate finance firm Ascendant (and data partner for TechMarketView's IndustryViews Venture Capital report series) for alerting me to Verv, the energy monitoring device developed by London-based startup Green Running (and now its trading name). Verv appears to work on similar lines to the platform developed by BP Ventures-backed Voltaware (see BP helps put £2.5m in Voltware's tank) in that it takes high frequency samples of the electricity supply to detect when appliances are switched on and off.

Originally founded in 2010, Green Running raised nearly £1.2m in November last year on crowdfunding platform CrowdCube in a round which originally aimed to raise £500k for a 4.46% equity stake at a £25m (!) pre-money valuation. British Gas parent Centrica had previously backed Green Running to the tune of £750k and the startup had also received some £250k in project funding from Scottish Power Networks. The Verv Home Hub was launched in 2015 and costs £249.

Perhaps even more interesting is that Green Running has also formed a subsidiary called VLUX which has announced the 'pre-sale' of an Initial Token Offering (ITO) to create tokens "that will enable energy to be traded on the renewable energy trading platform that Verv has developed". This venture was recently backed by blockchain-focused Scytale Ventures with a £250k investment. Verv is planning for a "full-scale international roll-out" of the VLUX token in Q1 2019.

I am very willing to admit that blockchain is 'above my pay grade' and I have no idea whether VLUX is going to change the way of the world for energy trading or just blow a fuse or two. Irrespective, the case for the Government's smart meter rollout programme gets more tenuous by the day – or rather, by the startup!

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:23' - Tagged: funding   startup   smartmetering  

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Monday 16 July 2018

Elon Musk - From Hero to Zero

MuskI’ve held up Elon Musk as something of a ‘hero’ of mine for many years now. But that hero status is being tested in all kinds of ways right now.

A couple of months ago Musk hit the headlines by calling an analyst question ‘bonehead’. All the analyst was questioning was Tesla’s need for more cash. As a shareholder that is the kind of question I would have asked - and wanted answered!

Then Musk criticised people for referencing him as ‘a billionaire’. He would prefer ‘scientist’ or ‘engineer’. I sort of ‘get that’. I remember the late, great Jim Feeney - CEO of Hoskyns - insisting that his occupation was listed as ‘Programmer’ on his passport. But if you are a billionaire it seems a bit rich to really complain when people refer to you as such. ‘If only..’ I say!

Last week Musk was unmasked as a Top 50 donor ($40,000) to the Republican Party. I won’t bore you with my views on President Trump but, let’s be honest, his views on the environment seemed a million miles away from those of Musk and his championing of everything ‘green’. Made even worse when Musk said the donation was ‘false news’ even though it was in an FEC filing.

That Elon Musk jumped quickly to help the boys stuck in the cave in Thailand was praiseworthy. Indeed, his first idea of a plastic tube which could be inflated and drained of water to let the boys walk out, was - in my mind - quite inventive. The mini sub he sent was clearly not. But to accuse the British diver who played a part in the rescue, but criticised Musk’s idea in ‘colourful language’, of being a paedophile just because he lived in Thailand, was inexcusable.  

Tesla shares are down 3.3% today with many saying this is due to the adverse reaction to Musk’s comments.

Having met Elon Musk, I have to agree that he has behavioural issues. Some might suggest he is some way along the autistic scale. I also think that many geniuses have similar issues. Whether mere human beings like us should accept/tolerate such behaviour in return for the gifts that such geniuses provide for mankind, is an interesting debate. Indeed one that we have in our family regularly!

Posted by Richard Holway at '18:00'

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Monday 16 July 2018

Every man for himself in latest Brexit move!

brexitcityAt TechMarketView we would not presume to predict where the Brexit debate will end up, particularly since the Chequers “accord”, and with the prospect of more problems in Parliament.

However, it is clear that there has been a major shift in the Government’s stance towards the Financial Services sector as the proposed solution from Theresa May looks to have thrown the services sector (representing 80% of the economy) to the proverbial wolves!

There seems no prospect of the negotiations including any ways of maintaining easy access to EU market for the Financial Services industry. This means that companies will have to set up meaningful operations within other EU countries resulting in the significant migration of jobs, capital and expertise outside the UK. Many companies had taken a “wait-and-see” approach as we discussed in our latest Market Trends and Forecasts report, but now we expect that there will be a rush to implement contingency plans, shifting attention and investment into Amsterdam, Dublin, Paris, Frankfurt, etc.

The Financial Services sector is a jewel in the UK’s crown, as well as being a major source of growth and prosperity. As such, it would have been a major asset in any negotiations with the EU. However, it seems to have been dismissed as being of any value in this latest proposal, a move which could have serious and long-term repercussions.

Posted by Peter Roe at '09:36' - Tagged: financialservices   brexit  

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Monday 16 July 2018

FCA must look ahead as it shakes up Investment platform market

LogoThe FCA has just published its interim report on its study of investment platforms. With the rapid increase in use (and diversity of) investment platforms as financial services institutions seek cost-effective ways to provide advice and execution services, the FCA is keen to address some important problems.These centre on five specific areas;

  • The difficulty of switching to a different (and more suitable) platform
  • Enabling better price comparisons
  • Improving the comparability of providers and their model portfolios
  • Highlighting the opportunity cost of holding large cash balances, and
  • Supporting individuals who are no longer receiving advice from a financial advisor.

To this end, the FCA has proposed a package of remedies to these problems, at the same time attempting to increase the level of competition between asset managers. It is looking for feedback on its initial findings, hoping to publish its final conclusions about the market in early 2019.

However, the investment platform market is at the nexus of a huge amount of technological change as a growing number of companies seek cost-effective and differentiated ways to service this potentially lucrative market. These changes include; the use of artificial intelligence to derive new investment strategies, the automation of the investor:advisor interface, the scouring of many more data sources to predict investment performance, the management of regulatory reporting and investor protection, the safeguarding against fraud and money-laundering. The list goes on.

Given all these changes, the FCA will need help from the software and IT services community to avoid regulating this important market using the rear-view mirror!

Posted by Peter Roe at '09:33' - Tagged: platformbasedbps   automation   regulation   AI  

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Monday 16 July 2018

Infosys Q1 sets the scene

logoFirst quarter figures from Infosys appear to presage another year of hard graft. After the new CEO had set the company on course for faster growth, total revenues came in at US$2.8bn for the three months to end June. This is just shy of Salil Parekh’s 7-9% guidance, showing an increase of 6.8% on the previous year.

India watchers will note that this falls short of TCS’s Q1 mark of 10% as reported last week. Infosys’s slight uptick in gross margin, to 64.3% provided a little comfort but operating margins shaded to 23.7%, in line with Parekh’s guidance of slightly lower operating margins.

Further comparisons with TCS make for uncomfortable reading in the vital area of “digital”. While TCS trumpeted growth of nearly 45% yoy in digital revenues, Infosys reported a comparative of plus 25.6%. Digital accounted for 28.4% of total revenue dollars. Products and Platforms now account for 4.8% of dollar revenues, down from 5.4% in Q1 2017, possibly a foretaste of future trends given the change in top management.

Financial Services continued to decline as a proportion of the total, to 31.8% compared with 33% in Q1 2017, in fact falling by 0.2% in constant currency terms. Revenue growth in constant currency for the European region was 2.1%.

There are grounds for optimism. Agile Digital and AI-driven services are gaining traction and the group is working hard to develop its large client base, increasing the number of US$100m+ clients to 24. Utilisation rates were also at an all-time high of 85.7% (although this could prove to be a two-edged sword if not carefully managed). It is still early days for the new CEO and he will be looking to provide top management stability and clear direction, in an increasingly competitive market.

Posted by Peter Roe at '08:37' - Tagged: financialservices   digital   IPP  

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Monday 16 July 2018

BP helps put £2.5m in Voltware's tank

logoRegular readers of UKHotViews will be familiar with my rants on 'Smart Meter Madness', the Government's misguided programme to replace every gas and electricity meter in the land with a smart meter by 2020 (if not, start with Smart Meter Madness (8): 10m down, 40m to go and work back through the UKHotViews archive).

My 'problem' isn't that smart meters are a silly idea per se; it's about the business case. Smart meters are being 'sold' to the public through media campaigns (at our expense, of course) as a way to reduce monitor energy usage, even though there are – and have been for some years – cheap and easy ways for consumers to do this.

London-based startup Voltaware ('does what it says on the tin') is such an example, though just for electricity. Like many consumer energy monitoring devices, Voltaware's sensor is installed 'non-invasively' on your fuse box. It collects data every time an appliance is switched on or off and an app analyses your energy usage by appliance.

Voltaware has attracted a £1.5m from BP Ventures which led a £2.5m Series A funding round for the startup. First Imagine! Ventures and Contrarian Ventures also participated.

A fundamental part of Voltware's platform is its API to allow partners such as energy suppliers and telcos to integrate. Voltware's sensor currently only supports domestic 'single phase' electricity supply, but they are developing a sensor for industrial supply too.

I see the next step is for platforms such as Voltaware to communicate directly with sensors in the appliances themselves (my Samsung washing machine has an app for just this purpose). If appliance manufacturers could just agree on a base set of standards for remote device monitoring we really would be 'cooking with gas', so to speak!

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

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