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The worrying truth in Maistro’s numbers
22 Mar 2019
Robotics player Automata raises $7.4m
22 Mar 2019
Six weeks left to purchase your Early Bird Tickets
22 Mar 2019
Version 1 bolsters offshore capability with TE4B
21 Mar 2019
Collabor8 takes construction project management in hand
21 Mar 2019
Solid progress at Sopheon
21 Mar 2019
Veeqo catches Octopus worth £3.3m in Wales
21 Mar 2019
FY18: a big year for scaled up LoopUp
21 Mar 2019
UKHotViewsPremium - An Individual Subscription
21 Mar 2019
*HotViewsExtra* Will the Government’s ‘Outsourcing Playbook’ put Public Sector outsourcing back on track?
20 Mar 2019
CloudBuy FY18 losses greater than revenue
20 Mar 2019
EMIS grows despite legacy distractions
20 Mar 2019
FY18: a better year for SDL
20 Mar 2019
HCL lands $1.3bn Xerox mega deal
20 Mar 2019
Aquis Exchange continues to grow under the radar
20 Mar 2019
BlackCurve optimises funding with new seed round
20 Mar 2019
Benchmark your Tech Services Business Against the Top Performers
20 Mar 2019
2iC focuses on wearable information architecture to scale business
19 Mar 2019
Tribal revenues down but profit continues to improve
19 Mar 2019
K3 gaining confidence
19 Mar 2019
LTG FY18: confidently building the business
19 Mar 2019
Octopus gains ThirdEye to detect light fingers
19 Mar 2019
IoT investor Tern shrinks losses
19 Mar 2019
Momentum continues to build at Softcat
19 Mar 2019
Time’s up to smell the coffee at Mindtree!
19 Mar 2019
Advanced World 2019 looks to the future
19 Mar 2019
Impressive Invenio attracts investment
19 Mar 2019
Breedr sires £2m funding for pig peak profit
18 Mar 2019
Starcom edges closer to EBITDA profit
18 Mar 2019
FIS and Worldpay agree $43bn merger
18 Mar 2019
Adtech search startup Adthena finds $14m funding
18 Mar 2019
UKCloud secures international investment to scale
18 Mar 2019
Fujitsu wins significant agile contract with DVA
18 Mar 2019
Stephen Kelly joins Kimble as Senior NED
17 Mar 2019
Another bad week for Facebook
17 Mar 2019
Another nail in the coffin of the bank branch network
17 Mar 2019

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Friday 22 March 2019

The worrying truth in Maistro’s numbers

logoThe good news (yes, there is some) is that the £3.1m in pre-tax losses at Exeter-based B2B services and product marketplace, Maistro (the erstwhile and deeply troubled blur Group) were 'only' double revenues in 2018 rather than near 4-times the £592k revenues reported the prior year.

But Maistro is burning operating cash even faster – some £2.2m in 2018 – leaving them with £1.1m cash in the bank at the end of the year. This is after raising £250k in an open offer last November (see Groundhog day as Maistro dashes for cash – again).

More worryingly (to me, anyway) is that Maistro’s gross margin almost halved, from 16.9% in 2017 to 8.7% in 2018. At this level, you’d need huge revenues in order to make their marketplace business model work.

Despite all the warm words from the top team, the truth is in the numbers. And the numbers still worry me.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '09:29' - Tagged: results  

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Friday 22 March 2019

Robotics player Automata raises $7.4m

AuromataAutomata, a UK-based robotics company has raised $7.4m in Series A funding led by Hummingbird Ventures, with participation from firstminute CapitalHardware Club and previous investors LocalGlobe, ABB, and Entrepreneur First. Automata has previously raised $9.5m from earlier round investors.

Founded in 2015 by former employees of Zaha Hadid Architects, Automata produces a portable desktop robot arm for commercial use called Eva. The robot is designed to be lightweight, simple to use (the company claims it can be up and running in 15 minutes) and competitively priced at around £5,000. Automata aims to serve a market looking for compact and affordable alternatives to the large and expensive robots used in areas such as car manufacturing typically costing tens of thousands of pounds. 

Eva runs on proprietary software called Choreograph with 3D programming capabilities, an animation-inspired interface and crucially the ability to run on any web-enabled device.

Robot shipments worldwide are growing double digit annually and Automata is sensibly looking to open up robotics for smaller manufacturers or companies with short production runs or seasonal peaks.

The company intends to use the funds to continue the expansion of the team as well as supporting increased production volumes of Eva.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '09:04' - Tagged: funding   robotics  

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Friday 22 March 2019

Six weeks left to purchase your Early Bird Tickets

TechMarketView LogoWith only six weeks to go until our Early Bird ticket sales close for our 2019 'An Evening with TechMarketView', we don't want you to miss out! So, secure your place now or be sure to book by 1st May. 

More than 200 of UK tech’s ‘great & good’ are expected to attend the evening event which has become a popular fixture in the tech calendar and has been described by attendees as “the best networking event in the industry”. 


With our theme for the year, 'The Year of the Relationship', what better way to network with your peers and gain expert insights on the latest tech trends 
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Event Details:

Date: Thursday 12 September 2019
Venue: Royal Institute of British Architects, London
Registration & Drinks Reception: 6:30pm sponsored by InterSystems. This will be followed by the speaker sessions and a first-class dinner.

Early Bird Rates: Book by 1st May 2019

Early Bird rates for a table of 10 and individual tickets are available and you can book here or contact our event management partner, tx2events on T: 020 3137 2541. For more information please click here.

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Posted by HotViews Editor at '00:00'

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Thursday 21 March 2019

Version 1 bolsters offshore capability with TE4B

Version 1 logoIT services provider Version 1 is continuing its mission to enhance its presence and capabilities in key markets through strategic acquisition and organic growth. Over the last ten months, it has acquired Dublin-headquartered data analytics specialist, Presidion, and London-headquartered HR transformation specialist, Cedar Consulting. Its latest acquisition, of Bangalore-based technology consulting firm, TE4B, bolsters the company’s offshore delivery capability as it pursues its aim of providing digital excellence for clients.

TE4B has 100 employees in two centres in Pune and Bangalore, pushing Version 1’s total headcount up to 1,300. Bringing TE4B into the fold will result in the creation of Version 1’s 2nd centre of excellence in India. TE4B Founder and Managing Director, Srihari Vedante, has been appointed to the Version 1 senior management team and will be responsible for day-to-day operational leadership as well as contributing to the integration and growth of the Indian operations of Version 1.

Following, Version 1’s recent win with the Security Industry Authority (see Version 1 wins Security Industry Authority contract), we highlighted the company as ‘one to watch’ in the UK market. This latest move highlights Version 1’s understanding that a combination of client proximity and access to global resources will be necessary to help its clients accelerate their digital transformation journeys.

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:35' - Tagged: offshore   acquisition   india   M&A   digital   ireland  

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Thursday 21 March 2019

Collabor8 takes construction project management in hand

logoCollaboration tools are a hot topic which is presumably why Manchester-based online project management software startup Collabor8 has secured funding. SME finance provider Maven Capital Partners has invested £150,000 on behalf of Maven Equity Finance, part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund. 

The Collabor8 product provides secure online file sharing and tools for managing teams and projects but organisations can chose to host it internally too. The funds will be used to expand the team, including the appointment of a CTO, strengthen sales, develop the product and fund a marketing campaign to build the business within the construction and associated professional services sector. 

It takes something different to stand out in the project management environment and for Collabor8 that is a focus on a niche sector - construction and related professional services - an area where founder Colin Barnes has extensive experience designing software. Targeting niche sectors is an established strategy for emerging companies and makes all the more sense now when suppliers have to demonstrate deep domain expertise.

Posted by Angela Eager at '08:54' - Tagged: funding   startup   software  

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Thursday 21 March 2019

Solid progress at Sopheon

LogoIn line with the trading update released in January (see here), Sopheon the AIM-listed enterprise innovation management provider delivered a very satisfactory FY18 performance. Revenue for the twelve months ended 31st December increased by 19% yoy to $33.9. EBITDA at $8.9m came in a scooch higher than market expectations up 11% on the prior year.

Growth for the software and services provider was particularly strong in North America, the company’s main regional market. Sale here rose by 25% yoy to $21.6m despite being constrained by hiring challenges. Recurring revenue was also up by a quarter on FY17. This now sits at $15m with Sopheon’s SaaS proposition now accounting for 10% of this number.

Investment in R&D increased by c. 20% yoy in 2018 and two major releases of its core Accolade product platform  were made. Sopheon’s strategy to move to a newer ‘out-of-the-box’ Accolade Express for quicker time to value saw an increase in the volume of transactions.

The company’s management is confident about the 2019 outlook. Revenue visibility now stands at $20.6m and the sales pipeline is reported to contain a number of large opportunities. The pace at which Sopheon grows this year will, however, be determined largely by how successful it is in improving its recruitment practices. The company believes that progress on this front is being made. We should get a better sense of how well this is going come the mid-year.

Posted by Duncan Aitchison at '08:45' - Tagged: results   software   innovation  

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Thursday 21 March 2019

Veeqo catches Octopus worth £3.3m in Wales

logoIt seems like the funding round was well timed as Swansea-based multichannel ecommerce startup Veeqo had barely £5k left in the piggybank as at 31st August 2018 and some £775k of creditors. Then along came Octopus Investments, which has just led a £3.3m Series B funding round, along with existing backers including crowdfunding platform Seedrs. The funding will be used, among other things, to expand into the US later this year. Founded in 2013, this round brings Veeqo’s total funding so far to just shy of £7m (Source: CrunchBase).

I first tripped across Veeqo back in 2016 after they acquired London-based parcel delivery start-up ParcelBright (see ParcelBright ships to Veeqo as Zenstores ships in funds). Since then, Veeqo has launched its own hand-held scanner and extended its inventory management and order management platform to include purchasing. Next in the product plan is web-based point-of-sale. Veeqo charges retailers from £150 per month to ship 500 orders using basic functionality, up to £5,300 p.m. for 40k orders on the ‘full monty’ platform.

Veeqo has a varied client set of well-known brands including Brompton Bikes, Dove (as in soap etc) and The Harry Potter Shop (I’ll spare you the jokes). I find its messaging very clear and compelling and I Iike the transparency of pricing. Clearly managing cash will be key to Veeqo’s further expansion, so having an experienced VC like Octopus wrap its arms around it should bring additional financial discipline to the management team. Another Welsh success story (I mean in the world of snooker of course, where Mark Williams is the reigning World Champion).

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:28' - Tagged: funding   startup  

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Thursday 21 March 2019

FY18: a big year for scaled up LoopUp

logo2018 was a big year for London based AIM listed conferencing specialist LoopUp as it put up £61.4m to acquire similarly sized audio conferencing provider MeetingZone. It certainly made its mark as LoopUp ‘s FY revenue hit £34.2m (for the year to 31 December 2018). That’s a 96% acquisition fuelled increase; on an organic constant currency basis revenue grew 20% compared to an average of 32% over FY15-17, indicating the effort involved in digesting the MeetingZone meal.

The year wasn’t all plain sailing as the company didn’t manage to open the number of ‘pods’ (LoopUp’s sales model) it expected to, although those that were in operation performed to plan. To that end, operating profit rose 16%, albeit only to £0.9m, with PBT at a slim £385 vs. £729K in FY17. The company has put a recruiting and Pod Academy training scheme in place to get Pod launches on track which includes taking in and training non-sales individuals.

Collaboration tools are a growth area and traction for online conferencing continues to grow but competition is fierce. The MeetingZone acquisition grew the company and added capability but also changed the nature of LoopUp from a pure SaaS provider. However, the plan is to fully integrate the MeetingZone technology so it runs on the LoopUp platform. That could be a costly process but a necessary one.

Posted by Angela Eager at '08:18' - Tagged: results   software  

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Thursday 21 March 2019

UKHotViewsPremium - An Individual Subscription

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UKHotViewsPremium - An Individual Subscription

If you’re a keen UKHotViews reader - who isn’t fortunate enough to have access to a corporate subscription to TechMarketView research - you can now subscribe to UKHotViews Premium, a new service for individuals.

Until now, this invaluable resource – the combination of our searchable UKHotViews archive and our more in-depth UKHotViewsExtra analysis - was only available to our corporate subscribers as part of a subscription to one or more of our focused research streams. But we recognise that there are many individuals that would benefit from access to this rich, searchable source of insight too, so we’ve launched a new service, UKHotViews Premium, especially for you.

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Posted by HotViews Editor at '00:00'

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Wednesday 20 March 2019

*HotViewsExtra* Will the Government’s ‘Outsourcing Playbook’ put Public Sector outsourcing back on track?

Outsourcing playbookThe recent problems at Interserve (see Interserve faces crucial vote) are another reminder of the perilous state that Public Sector outsourcing finds itself in throughout the UK.

Interserve

Whilst Interserve has ultimately survived to fight another day, the lingering fallout from Carillion’s implosion over twelve months ago (see Carillion's demise is ultimately bad for all Public-sector outsourcers) and recent reoccurring problems with a range of high profiled outsourcing contracts (e.g. Probation service contracts to be cancelled early) has put an industry, where the UK previously led the world, in real jeopardy. 

UKHotViewsPremium LogoThis HotViewsExtra looks at how the Government and UK Plc are trying to put the sector back on track and whether these changes are likely to make the difference.

Read the piece here: Will the Government’s ‘Outsourcing Playbook’ put Public Sector outsourcing back on track?

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '12:12' - Tagged: publicsector  

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Wednesday 20 March 2019

CloudBuy FY18 losses greater than revenue

cloudbuyAIM-listed e-commerce and B2B e-procurement provider, CloudBuy, today announced its results for the 12 months to the end of December 2018 - and it’s not pretty. There was a 26% decline in revenue to £1.1m. Although losses have shrunk (by 25% to £1.6m) due to cost reductions, the firm is still in the unenviable position of losing more than it is generating in revenue.

Sales of Web and ecommerce services decreased 30%; revenue from Company Formation services decreased by 16%; and revenue from coding customers decreased by 33%.

Cash at 31st December 2018 was c£800k, a reduction of £1.6m in the year. Swinging into a profit and achieving cash flow break-even are important objectives for Cloudbuy. In a trading update in February, the firm explained that is was engaged in two opportunities, which if won would enable it to reach cash flow break even without further funding. Unfortunately, one of those wins is now looking unlikely so CloudBuy has agreed to drawdown £500k from an existing facility - to be received this month. A potential further drawdown of £250k would be undertaken should the second opportunity also not materialise.

As explained previously, much rests on CloudBuy’s PHBChoices partnership with NHS Shared Business Services. This is positioned as its “main growth engine” and is apparently showing “strong signs of growth” in the year to date. All eyes will be on this part of the business in the coming months to ascertain what degree of momentum has indeed been built.

Posted by Kate Hanaghan at '10:00' - Tagged: results   ecommerce  

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Wednesday 20 March 2019

EMIS grows despite legacy distractions

EMIS logoIn CEO, Andy Thorburn’s first full year as CEO of EMIS, he has achieved a good performance for the company despite dealing with the distraction of legacy issue resolution.

Total revenues increased by 6% to £170.1m, including a £0.1m two-month contribution from the acquisition of Dovetail (see EMIS places bet on blockchain with Dovetail acquisition). Recurring revenues stood at 83% of the total after increasing 5%. Growth was across all segments of the business. In Primary, Community & Acute Care, representing the lion’s share of the business, revenues increased 3% to £121.7m. In Community Pharmacy, revenues were up 14% to £25m. In Specialist & Care, the increase was 13% to £20.4m. And in Patient, revenues edged forwards 3% to £3.0m.

The big news over the period was EMIS settling with NHS Digital over legacy issues (see EMIS reaches settlement agreement with NHS Digital ). This was an important milestone, as EMIS needed to put itself in the best position possible for the GP IT Futures framework that will replace the GP Systems of Choice (GPSoC) agreement (see NHS Digital publishes GP IT Futures notice). As we have noted previously, the new framework poses a threat to EMIS, along with the other GPSoC suppliers (TPP, INPS and Microtest Health), as it marks a shift towards a more modular approach that is designed to make it easier for new suppliers to enter the market. However, EMIS is investing to make sure that it is aligned with the priorities of the NHS Long-Term plan; it is currently upgrading and extending its EMIS Web System, which serves 57% of GP practices in England, to form a new integrated clinical platform called EMIS-X, which supports NHS Digital’s interoperability standards. Over time, EMIS-X will become the platform for all EMIS Group solutions.

In the period in question, reported operating profit increased by 170% to £28.7m. Adjusted operating profit increased by 1% to £37.6m; this reflected reorganisation costs in 2017 as well as the cost of settling the NHS digital issue. Looking ahead, EMIS is aiming for mid-to-high single digit revenue growth, with a more even split of revenue from the NHS and enterprise sectors. That will mean the future business model more focused on the digital health marketplace. As a result, aside from success on the GP IT Futures framework it is also focused on continuing to develop patient-facing technology. EMIS is also aiming for the profit margin to head towards 30%. That would enable investment in the EMIS-X platform to be self-funded.

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:59' - Tagged: results   health   software   digital  

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Wednesday 20 March 2019

FY18: a better year for SDL

logoIn-line FY18 results for SDL will have come as a relief for the management team after the frustration of the previous year when the company missed its financial goals. The year to 31 December 2018 ended with a 12.6% revenue lift to £323m and adjusted operating profits up 20.8% to £29m.

While all business segments improved (Language Services, Language Technology and Content Technology), performance was helped by acquired Donnelley Language Solutions which contributed revenue of £27.8m and £1.8m adjusted operating profit since the deal completed in July 2018. Without Donnelley, SDL’s total revenue (organic, cc) was up a more sedate 4.5%. Total SDL revenue rose 7.9% at headline level and 3.2% cc in FY17 so there is an improvement on an organic basis.

The company says much of the transformation heavy lifting has been carried out, however plans for 2019 include streamlining the back office. The focus during during the year will be on optimising the Helix business process automation programme (there does appear to be growing traction), further integrating Donnelley to drive deeper into regulated markets and developing its Language Cloud and Linguistic AI, and premium services and solutions.

As we have commented previously, SDL has the right tools and the market opportunity for its global content management and language translation software and services but operates in a fragmented and consolidating market. Interestingly, instead of trying to acquire its way to the top (although not all acquisition activity has been ruled out), management sees a better future from platform-based solutions that allow seamless interoperability across the localisation and content supply chain and started work on this strategy during 2018. This adaptation is both positive and necessary (and shows SDL has learned lessons from its previous acquistion activity) and is a sign it is updating its business model for the current/future landscape.

Posted by Angela Eager at '09:04' - Tagged: results   software  

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Wednesday 20 March 2019

HCL lands $1.3bn Xerox mega deal

HCLHCL Technologies has signed a seven-year $1.3bn renewal with Xerox to run portions of its global shared service operations, including administrative and support functions, selected information technology and finance functions, excluding accounting. As part of the agreement, a group of Xerox employees will transfer over to HCL. 

XeroxUnder its current contract, HCL manages aspects of Xerox’s mechanical, electrical and software engineering activities for printer and imaging product lines.

Shared services is going through significant change with increasing amounts of automation and robotics replacing the traditional ‘bums on seats’ model. HCL has already been working with Xerox for over 10 years and will no doubt be looking to evolve its shared services into “process-first, technology-led digital operations”. Expect to see significant roll-outs of both RPA and cognitive technologies with an accompanying shrinking headcount.

HCL joins is offshore peers in still being able to land mega-deals in a market lacking sizeable opportunities. Whilst TCS has led the way with a number of ‘dial-shifting’ contracts (see herehere and here) we have also seen Wipro land a 10-year $1.5bn deal with Alight and Infosys bank $2bn in Q2 sales.

Global Shared Service operations remain a huge area of opportunity for digital transformation and SITS suppliers and whilst most end users have started their automation journey few have really matured. 

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '08:54' - Tagged: contract   sharedservices   HCL  

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Wednesday 20 March 2019

Aquis Exchange continues to grow under the radar

aquisInnovative, equity trading marketplace, Aquis Exchange, has announced an encouraging set of full-year results. In its financials for the year ended 31st December 2018, industry disruptor, Aquis, revealed that revenues had doubled during the year to £4m, whilst EBITDA losses were down 18% to £2.7m. At the end of 2018, Aquis had grown its customer base to 27 trading members and accounted for just under 4% of continuous, pan-European trading.

Subscription-based, Aquis was established by the charismatic, investment industry veteran, Alasdair Haynes, the founder of another Pan-European exchange, Chi-X. Haynes is passionate about disrupting existing approaches to trading and is a strong advocate of the benefits of the subscription model. Under Haynes' stewardship, the Aquis Exchange applies a “fair-play” approach to trading, that seeks to eradicate, aggressive, non-client, proprietary trades. As a result, Aquis provides a cost effective and equitable, alternative to other exchanges, with lower toxicity and signalling risk.

Aquis completed its AIM listing in June last year, raising £12m in the process. The exchange is continuing to grow, currently accounting for more than 4.5% of European equity trades. Meanwhile, AkinovA, the electronic marketplace for re-insurance risks, recently announced that it was adopting the matching engine and surveillance tools used by Aquis Exchange in a deal with its technology arm, Aquis Technologies (see: Akinova and Aquis expand their partnership).

The Aquis Exchange is an interesting and genuinely innovative proposition, that has grown largely unnoticed by some in the investment industry. Similar to other areas of financial services technology, there is significant potential for the subscription model, employed by Aquis, to further disrupt the European trading ecosystem and for the exchange to continue to gain market share.

Posted by Jon C Davies at '08:23' - Tagged: results  

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Wednesday 20 March 2019

BlackCurve optimises funding with new seed round

logoThere is joy in simplicity of mission. I said so a year ago and I say so again. I refer to London-based startup BlackCurve, which develops software to help companies optimise product pricing across multiple sales channels and that’s it (see Startup BlackCurve prices in £500k seed funding).

Founding their business in 2016, the son (Philip Huthwaite, CEO) and father (Charles Huthwaite, CTO – now billed as Machine Learning & Analytics Director) team have gone on to raise a further £1.5m in a seed funding round led by Nauta Capital with participation from Mercia Fund Managers. I also note that peripatetic tech investor Nick Kingsbury (and member of TechMarketView’s Great British Scaleup programme advisory partner, ScaleUp Group) is on BlackCurve’s advisory board.

BlackCurve’s customer list includes solid, but lesser-known (at least, to me) names, such as Donaghy Bros, Electrical World and Ribble, but I do live a sheltered life. This suggests that BlackCurve is finding itself a market beyond the domain of the well-served mega-retailers, which seems a smart move to me.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '07:57' - Tagged: funding   startup  

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Tuesday 19 March 2019

2iC focuses on wearable information architecture to scale business

2iC logoLast week, we met up with Graham Booth, CEO and co-founder, and non-executive director, Charles Ward, of 2iC. 2iC was one of our 2015 cohort of Little British Battlers (see Little British Battlers: The Sixth Sense). Since then, we have kept a close eye on its progress (see 2iC: Innovation at its core); the company is revenue generating with profit being reinvested into product development.

2iC’s heritage lies in the frontline of defence. When founded, its raison d’être was to be the most innovate software company for the secure digital interoperability of field operations. However, over the last year or so, the company’s mission has evolved. Its focus, now, is on wearable information architecture, i.e. how to interconnect between individual wearable systems and other ‘things’ to deliver value in a system of systems. It is a subtle shift but one that, while drawing on the aspects of its work in the 5-Eyes defence markets of UK, Australia, New Zealand and the US, has relevance to a broader array of industries. This seems like an eminently sensible move, particularly as the UK defence market has proven to be very slow-moving and frustrating from an innovation perspective. One of those industries is health: 2iC is now pursuing opportunities around pandemic surveillance as well as the wellness of device-dependent patients after they have left the hospital environment. In these examples, 2iC can deliver individual wellness data combined with situational data to improve health and well-being outcomes.

The company has also formed several new partnerships to help it scale. In Australia, it has formed a partnership with systems engineering provider, Luminact, to offer smart integration and interoperability to the defence and industrial sectors.   While in the US, it is working with Kopis Mobile, developer of electronics and mobile applications for soldiers and first responders, in a similar fashion. These partnerships are designed to act as territory beachheads bringing 2iC closer to the customer with added local delivery capability. In the UK, meanwhile, it is working with 4Secure to form a Joint Venture around small information guards suitable for wearable (battery powered) or vehicle mounted use at the network edge. This JV will build on 2iC’s 2013 DSEI innovation award for a product enabling the co-ordination of behaviour between IT systems in separate domains.

Little British Battler programme logoThe increased activity means 2iC has had to ramp up is resources; it is busy hiring and has taken on a Software Development Director to focus on leading delivery and product development. Graham is, therefore, freer to focus on the sales and growth strategy. 2iC is also attracting the interest of growth investors as it scales internationally and into adjacent sectors. The biggest opportunities are still to come, as customers transition from trials into full deployments.

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '13:31' - Tagged: health   defence   lbb   internetofthings   littlebritishbattler   scaleup  

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Tuesday 19 March 2019

Tribal revenues down but profit continues to improve

Tribal logoTribal Group’s revenue for the year ended 31 December 2018 fell by 5.7% to £80.1m (FY17: £84.9m) reflecting the impact of IFRS 15 accounting changes, currency fluctuations and the end of its Ofsted contract in its Quality Assurance Solutions (QAS) division.

The education software and services supplier saw revenue growth in the UK (up 8.7% to £42.6m) but found business elsewhere more challenging. Revenue from Asia Pacific fell 17.5% to £17.8m and Rest of World was down 19.2% to £9.7m. Annually recurring revenue improved by 2.7% to £38.5m (FY17: £37.5m).  

This time last year Tribal returned to full year statutory profit for the first time since 2013, and it continued to make progress in 2018. Statutory profit was up 58.3% to £4.1m. Adjusted operating profit for the year improved by 26.4% to £10.8m (FY17: £8.5m) and statutory operating profit was up 23.0% to £4.6m (FY17: £3.7m).

Revenue in Tribal’s Student Information Systems (SIS) business, which represents 71% of total revenue, fell by 5% to £57.0m (FY17: £60.0m)—this is largely blamed on the impact of IFRS 15. It won four new higher education customers during the year and added a number of new further education customers.

In QAS, revenue fell by 6.2% to £16.7m (FY17: £17.8m) largely as a result of its Ofsted Early Years contract concluding in March 2017. Adjusting for the end of this contract, revenue improved by 10.2%.

In the other part of Tribal’s business, including i-graduate, revenue fell by 9.9% to £6.4m (FY17: £7.1m). This part of the business has been restructured and combined with QAS to form a single line of business in 2019 called Education Services.

Tribal sees a good pipeline of UK opportunities in 2019 and it secured a contract, in partnership with Sopra Steria, with the Construction Industry Training Board at the start of the year. However, it says there are few new customer opportunities in Asia Pacific. Tribal has done well to continue to drive efficiencies and remove costs, but it is proving far more challenging to achieve revenue growth. 

Posted by Dale Peters at '10:13' - Tagged: results   education   software  

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Tuesday 19 March 2019

K3 gaining confidence

logoThe encouraging signs that have been emerging from K3 Business Technology Group over the past year (see here) were confirmed with the release of full year results that showed a return to operational profitability alongside a reduction in net debt and improved cash generation as the benefits of two years of transformation started to come through.

Reported results for the 12 months to 30 November 2018 were compared with a 17 month prior period. They showed revenue declining from £118.2m to £83.3m, however an (unaudited) 12 month comparison indicates a 0.8% increase. This reflects the business shift from licence to subscription revenue and the transformation effect. However, the 12 month gross profit increased 5.5% as K3 benefitted from more sales and higher margins from its own IP. Even with a 17 month comparative key metrics moved in the right direction, including a gross margin of 52.7% vs 51.6%. The company also turned an adjusted loss of £1.6m into a profit of £4.6m.

The K3 story is one of a company transitioning from a VAR to a product-led company that is also relying more and more on its own IP, while maintaining its 3rd party software and managed services business units. Revenue from its own IP has been ramping up and contributed £17.5m during 2018, 21% of total revenue (vs. 19.8% for the prior 17 months). Gross profit on its own IP is also increasing: 73.6% vs. 64.1% for the preceding 17 months.

Reassuringly, the pool of its own IP has been growing. Where its K3 I fashion product was the prime offering, K3 has added K3 I Imagine, its cloud based micro service architecture, technology agnostic platform that is hosts itself, and its Dataswitch offering. The Imagine platform, which provides customers with application integration and the ability to access new functionality (e.g. IoT) is already opening doors within existing customers. But it is also taking K3 into new areas of business such as kiosks, and enabling it to engage with the ecosystems of key customers like Ikea. It is very early days for Imagine so revenues are negligible but the interest appears to be there – the British Heart Foundation has hooked into the product – which bodes well for future K3 revenue growth.

The need for change never ends and work continues at K3 but the company is gaining confidence as its own IP portfolio expands. 

Posted by Angela Eager at '09:53' - Tagged: results   cloud   software  

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Tuesday 19 March 2019

LTG FY18: confidently building the business

LTG logoLearning Technologies Group (LTG)’s aim is to “build a leading end-to-end workplace digital talent and learning solutions provider, to partner global clients through the creation, implementation and maintenance of their integrated talent and learning strategies.” It is setting out to achieve that though a combination of acquisitive and organic growth.

A big step on this path was the acquisition of PeopleFluent in May 2018 (See  LTG benefits from successful acquisition integration), which has been integrated ahead of schedule and expectations. It extended LTG’s reach from corporate digital learning into talent management. That acquisition, as well as a full year contribution from NetDimensions, had a major influence on the FY18 results (to end December 2018).

Headline revenues increased by 83% to £93.9m. And within the new total, the changing shapre of the business is highlighted: 68% of recurring revenues vs. 38% a year prior, due to the transition towards a software license model, and 74% of revenues now coming from outside the UK vs. 45% in FY17.

It is the software and platforms business (64% of the business) that is driving growth – up 9% organically, with growth across all software businesses. Meanwhile, in the reported period, the content and services business (excluding the Civil Service Learning contract) suffered an 8% organic decline (due to a strong prior year comparator). The transition of the Civil Service Learning contract added another £3.3m of revenue decline. The content and services business operates on a fixed price, non-recurring, projects basis, so it is welcome that it now accounts for a smaller proportion of the business.

The strong EBIT margin (adjusted, up 300bp to 29%) and cash generation (which allowed net debt to fall to £11.5m) means that management can continue to invest to achieve its strategic aims – a goal of £200m revenue and run rate EBIT of at least £55m by 2021. Run rate R&D now stands at £17.5m (19% of software and platforms revenue), with much focus on integrating the product set for greater functionality. And the company points to a “healthy pipeline of acquisition opportunities); the recent acquisition of Watershed added useful data analytics capability inhouse.  LTG is answering the call for a more comprehensive set of learning and talent management services by large corporations and Government organisations; it continues to display confidence in its approach.

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:50' - Tagged: results   software   learning   talent  

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Tuesday 19 March 2019

Octopus gains ThirdEye to detect light fingers

logoIt’s a bit confusing, this, as there are at least three startups with variations on the name Third Eye. There’s Israeli drone startup Third Eye Systems, US-based ThirdEye Technologies, which develops systems for the visually impaired; and there’s London-based ThirdEye Labs, which develops software to interpret CCTV footage in retail stores, the one we’re interest in. They’ve just raised £2m in a Series A funding round led by Octopus Ventures along with retail and consumer sector specialist investor, True. Original seed investor Episode 1 Ventures also participated.

Founded in 2016, ThirdEye Labs take footage from in-store CCTV cameras and analyses shop-floor activity. Though mainly designed to detect theft, the software can also be used to analyse footfall to optimise shop layout or to make sure staff are in the right place at the right time. The app side of the platform software works in real-time and issues alerts; there’s also a back-office app for fuller analysis of the video footage.

If it ‘does what it says on the tin’, you can see how ThirdEye’s platform might help bleary-eyed security staff peering at multiple camera images in a darkened room catch more thieves. However, they are not first in this game. For example, Dublin-based Kinesense has developed software which can ‘analyse thousands of hours of video’ though I think this is only done offline. There are other purveyors of forensic image processing too. But ThirdEye may be the first with a specific focus on the retail sector, and claims to have ‘caught an average of 27 thefts per camera month’.

One to watch – if they don’t watch you first!

Posted by Anthony Miller at '09:48' - Tagged: funding   startup  

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Tuesday 19 March 2019

IoT investor Tern shrinks losses

tern2018 results are out for Tern the investment company specialising in the Internet of Things (IoT). 

Headline figures saw it recognise a loss for the year of £0.3m, compared with losses of £1.7m in 2017, driven in part by year-on-year turnover up 58% among portfolio companies. Employment within the businesses also increased by 52% in the year.

Tern, previously known as Silvermere Energy, has a history of investing in tech start-ups going back to 2013 and has continued to build up its IoT portfolio with new investment made in FundamentalVR, a virtual simulation business targeting the medical sector. Other portfolio companies include Device Authority (IoT security automation), InVMA (an IoT systems integrator) and Wyld Networks (IoT connectivity).

Further funds were raised in 2018 with a placing in July bringing in £2.9m, taking total fundraising last year to £6m and making it look likely the portfolio will expand further. 

The IoT product and services market remains on the cusp of significant growth and Tern’s strategy to invest across the IoT value chain has positioned it suitably to take advantage.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '09:46' - Tagged: results   internetofthings  

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Tuesday 19 March 2019

Momentum continues to build at Softcat

Softcat logoSoftcat has published another set of solid results, achieving strong revenue and profit growth in the six months ended 31 January 2019 (H1 FY19).

Revenue was up 21.1% compared to the same period last year, reaching £434.0m (H1 FY18: £358.3m). Growth was strongest in Hardware, which was up 24.7% to £195.0m. Software improved by 19.4% to £200.9m and Services by 13.4% to £38.1m.

Gross profit improved by 26.5% to £94.7m (H1 2018:  £74.8m) and operating profit was up by an even more impressive 40.4% to £33.9m (H1 2018: £24.1m). Gross profit per customer also improved, reaching 18.7% (H1 2018: 14.5%).

Softcat added 620 new customers during the period and has now extended its run of delivering year-on-year income and profit growth to 54 consecutive quarters. Not surprisingly, CEO Graham Watts, said he was “delighted” with the trading performance, which saw growth across all customer segments and technology areas. Enterprise was the fastest growing area of the business, but SMB and public sector were not far behind.  

The company estimates its share of the market to be 6%, so it sees plenty of opportunity for future growth. The business has won new customers, but it has also invested in forming deeper relationships with existing customers. It is seeing continuing demand for hybrid cloud, security, software and services, and is actively developing its teams to support its new public cloud and security support services. Management expects full year outcomes to come in marginally ahead of previous expectations.

Posted by Dale Peters at '08:58' - Tagged: results   cloud   software   services   hardware  

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Tuesday 19 March 2019

Time’s up to smell the coffee at Mindtree!

logoAs we signalled last week (see Mindtree buyout moving closer?), it’s ‘game on’ for Bangalore-based mid-tier Indian pure-play (IPP), Mindtree. Mumbai-based peer LTI’s (L&T Infotech) parent company, Indian industrial conglomerate Larsen & Toubro (L&T), has acquired the 20.3% stake in Mindtree held by Indian entrepreneur, VG Siddhartha, founder-owner of the Café Coffee Chain business. L&T is paying Rs980 per share for the stake, about 2% over the previous day’s close.

L&T has also issued an order to purchase up to a further 15% of Mindtree stock at the same price or lower, along with an open offer to purchase up to an additional 31% of Mindtree’s stock on the same terms. After hitting a Rs1,162 peak in September 2018, Mindtree’s shares had plummeted to Rs770 by October until rumours of the deal revived interest in the stock. If successful, L&T intends to keep Mindtree an independent listed business though would ‘extend support … going forward’. Besides it’s IT services pure-play subsidiary LTI, L&T also own a Technology Services unit which provides engineering and R&D services to industry.

Mindtree was founded back in 1999 by executives from top-tier Indian pure-play Wipro. Since then, Mindtree has built a successful business, often winning against larger peers. Most recently, Mindtree was recording double-digit growth and margin expansion despite a slowdown in its business in Europe (see Mindtree advances – US surges, Europe stalls). Management is vigorously opposing L&T’s bid.

L&T (in)famously – and unsuccessfully – attempted to acquire the late, great Satyam after its fall from grace (see L and T: If we don’t get Satyam we’ll buy someone else!). More recently, management has been on a quest to turn LTI, currently with annual revenues of some US$1.3bn, into a US$2bn revenue company by 2019. A merger with near-US$1bn Mindtree would do the trick nicely!

You can see our prescient preview of this deal – and who else among the mid-tier IPPs might be up for grabs – in OffshoreViews Musing on the Mid-Tier Indian pure-plays.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:52' - Tagged: offshore   acquisition  

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Tuesday 19 March 2019

Advanced World 2019 looks to the future

AdvancedYesterday a couple of us made the trek to Birmingham to participate in the impressively attended Advanced World annual conference.

Business software supplier Advanced’s annual shindig, primarily for its for partners and suppliers, was an upbeat event grouped under the theme of ‘rethinking, recharging and reshaping’ business models to accommodate ever faster and greater levels of change. As you would expect AI, Machine Learning, Data and Intelligent Automation all featured prominently and were weaved throughout the entire conference.

Proceedings were kicked off by a keynote from Advanced CEO Gordon Wilson that also saw the launch of MyWorkplace – a Cloud-based platform designed to help customers accelerate their digital transformation by joining up the various different systems they are running all in one place. The resulting ‘ecosystem’ of different applications benefits from a single sign-on and an API platform for partners and is tailored to a range of different sectors. 

Other keynote speakers included Carolyn Fairbairn, Director-General of the CBI who provided a positive outlook on the future of British business and in particular the tech sector despite the risks of a cliff edge no deal Brexit now just 10 days away. Themes included the importance of tech transfer and collaboration between British Universities and Business and the very real value of Corporate Social Responsibility.  

The final keynote was an interesting take on the future of the workplace by recruitment firm Hays’s MD Mark Staniland and looked at the role technology will play helping firms deal with issues such as an ageing workforce and skills shortages and how machines and humans will likely coexist in the workforce of the future.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '08:51' - Tagged: advanced  

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Tuesday 19 March 2019

Impressive Invenio attracts investment

LogoFast-growing SAP-centric services provider Invenio Business Solutions has secured £11.6m of funds from BGF, the UK’s most active investor. The money will be used to help the business scale by expanding its offering, improving its services and growing through acquisition.

Formed in 2006, the specialist Reading-based SI has established strong footholds in both the tax and revenue management processes segment and the media industry sector. Last FY (the twelve months to 31st March 2018) Invenio turned over £25.5m, up 51% yoy. Operating profit increased almost fourfold to just over £7m. Since that time the company’s headcount has grown by a further c.50% suggesting that the heady pace of expansion has continued unabated.

Invenio now has over 750 employees working for customers worldwide with delivery centres across seven countries - UK, India, Mauritius, Saudi Arabia, Fiji, USA and UAE. Its customers include Universal Music Group, Kuehne & Nagel, the BBC and the Fijian and Saudi Tax authorities.

The SAP services market, estimated to be worth over £2b in this country alone, continues to provide a happy hunting ground for ambitious challenger SI’s. Great British Scaleup Keytree (see here), for example, has doubled in size every three years and now boasts one of the largest SAP practices in the UK. One suspects that the Invenio growth story is far from over.

Posted by Duncan Aitchison at '07:49' - Tagged: investment   systems+integration  

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Monday 18 March 2019

Breedr sires £2m funding for pig peak profit

logoAnd cattle and sheep too – indeed all livestock. This is Exeter-based ‘farmtech’ (if there is such a term – and if there isn’t, there is now!) startup Breedr, which has developed a data-driven app to help farmers maximise livestock profitability. Breedr has raised £2.2m in a seed funding round led by LocalGlobe with participation from Mons Investment (which also backs Berlin-based farming services startup InFarm) and angel investors

Founded in 2018 by an Aussie-born son of a farmer, Breedr collects life-cycle data (I guess you’d call it that) on livestock, such as breeding history, medicines and health, through to regular weighings, and provides analytics so that farmers can determine the best time for selling (which can be done through its marketing portal), breeding or slaughter.

Breedr works with industry standard EID (ear identification) tags and selected tag readers, and there are plans to integrate the product with popular farm management systems. Breedr charges a subscription fee to use the platform and also levies a 0.5% transaction fee should livestock be sold through the portal.

Livestock monitoring is of course not a new idea and there are many products already established in the market. Breedr’s ‘raison d’etre’ about ‘peak profit’ is a great marketing differentiator and may well catch farmers’ attention. The platform is still early stage, but if Breedr can develop a large network of farmers (currently just UK, but with plans to extend to Australia and the US this year), then the value of the data should be multiplied many times over – as will its uses. And the value of the startup too, of course.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '09:23' - Tagged: funding   startup   farmtech  

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Monday 18 March 2019

Starcom edges closer to EBITDA profit

Starcom delivers on interim promiseJersey-based telematics firm Starcom grew its FY18 revenue 10% yoy to US$6m, boosted by exchange rate gains and an US$1.1m deal for its Helios vehicle tracking equipment and services to a North African government buyer late last year.

Though it failed to match management expectations of becoming EBITDA positve, the company came tantalisingly close to breakeven as its EBITDA loss shrank from US$193k in FY17 to just US$8k. Net loss too fell 32% to US$920k whilst gross margin improved to 40% due to increased sales of more profitable products such as Tetis, Kylos and Watchlock.

Multiple contracts signed in the last couple of months indicate a strong pipeline for FY19. These include a three-year US$500k agreement with Xplosive Solutions to monitor cattle in South Africa and a five-year US$600k deal to track shipping containers for Israel Chemicals.

Further contracts with electric motorcycle manufacturer Zero Motorcycles and US air cargo shipment provider Cubemonk should also help Starcom grow its recurring revenue. We look forward to seeing whether new products can contribute to further growth and push Starcom over that all important EBITDA profit line in the current financial year.

Posted by Martin Courtney at '09:07' - Tagged: results   telematics   iot   StarcomSystems  

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Monday 18 March 2019

FIS and Worldpay agree $43bn merger

fisGlobal payments provider, Worldpay, and financial services technology giant, FIS, have today announced plans to merge. Under the terms of the agreement FIS shareholders will own approximately 53% of the combined entity and Worldpay shareholders approximately 47%. Worldpay shareholders will receive approximately 0.93 FIS shares and $11 in cash for each Worldpay share.

FIS and Worldpay look like a good fit and the two companies have fairly, complementary offerings. FIS is no stranger to largescale M&A. Traditionally strong in retail banking and payments, the company boosted its presence in capital markets, asset and wealth management solutions, with the 2015 acquisition of Sungard. (See: FIS makes a sizeable bet on Sungard). Similar to Worldpay, prior to its acquisition, Sungard was itself a leader in its own core segments.

The $43bn deal is the latest sign of the accelerating pace of change in the global payments space and comes during worldpayan active period for M&A in the sector (see: Visa wins Earthport battle as Mastercard buys Transfact). The announcement follows a healthy set of full year results for FIS, off the back of strong growth in its core North American markets. During the recent earnings call, FIS leadership discussed the company’s willingness to acquire capabilities and scale in the face of the evolving marketplace.

The transaction is subject to regulatory and shareholder approvals and is expected to close in the latter part of 2019.

Posted by Jon C Davies at '08:25' - Tagged: payments   M&A  

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Monday 18 March 2019

Adtech search startup Adthena finds $14m funding

logoI am inclined to overlook the rather excitable marketing hype that styles London-based Adtech startup Adthena as “The Ultimate Search Intelligence Solution” acknowledging the fact that founding CEO, Ian O’Rourke won the Developing Entrepreneur award at the WCIT Enterprise Awards in 2016.

And it’s testament to investor confidence in its market success that Adthena has raised a further $14m in a Series A funding round led by Updata Partners, bringing the total raised so far to some $18m. Founded in 2012, Adthena reported a £3.36m net loss in 2017 (latest accounts on record) on revenues of £2.82m. With offices also in Austin and Sydney, Adthena boasts over 200 clients including marquee brands across many industry verticals. The new funding will be used to expand Adthena’s US presence as well as boost R&D.

I assume the search for profit will probably take a little longer.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:19' - Tagged: funding   startup   adtech  

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Monday 18 March 2019

UKCloud secures international investment to scale

UKCloud logoUKCloud, the provider of secure multi-cloud hosting dedicated to the public sector, has attracted international investment from Digital Alpha Advisors, LLC of £25m.

Digital Alpha highlights the potential it sees for the UKCloud business due to the low levels of cloud penetration in the UK public sector to date. UKCloud was created to provide a secure, scaleable, and cost-effective cloud platform to drive the digital transformation of UK public services. It has differentiated by offering hyperscale cloud technologies and traditional Enterprise technologies on a single platform hosted within secure UK datacentre facilities.

It has, over the last couple of years, expanded its offerings (see UK Cloud: responding to a changing market), for example, through the launch of UKCloudX last summer, targeted at the OGD community, defence and security/intelligence agencies (and involving a £15-20m investment( and UKCloud Health, launched in 2017. It has also expanded its sovereign cloud platform in the face of Brexit uncertainty.

Digital Alpha is an investment firm focused on digital infrastructure and services required by the digital economy, with a strategic collaboration agreement with Cisco Systems, Inc. The agreement will support the further enhancement and expansion of teams and technologies behind the UKCloud platform, allowing new product lines to be shaped that are pre-packaged with Cisco’s multi-cloud offering, as well as strengthening alignment with Cisco in the UK. Cisco were one of UKCloud’s first alliance partners, providing many of the data centre technologies which power the UKCloud platform.

UKCloud generated c£45m of revenues from IaaS and PaaS in the UK public sector in its last completed financial year (to end March 2018). It has been a year-on-year growth story. However, growth has slowed and recent investment has been designed to support the return to punchy growth that CEO Simon Hansford is keen to see. According to Hansford, this Digital Alpha investment, designed to scale up the business, will “accelerate our investment in sales, marketing, customer experience and new markets”.  The timing couldn’t be better. Once Brexit uncertainty is out the way, Whitehall will be focused on ensuring that systems and processes are Brexit-ready; in some cases that will result in the acceleration of digital transformation and a shift to the cloud. UKCloud faces significant competition so its ability to differentiate will be crucial to picking up market share.

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '07:00' - Tagged: public+sector   funding   investment   iaas   PaaS   PublicCloud  

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Monday 18 March 2019

Fujitsu wins significant agile contract with DVA

Fujitsu logoFujitsu has won a contract with the Northern Ireland Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) to develop a new booking and rostering software system, supporting its other software applications and providing call-off development services.

Valued at c£16m over seven years, with an option to extend by three years, this is a significant win as part of the DVA’s Strategic Partner Procurement involving agile development at scale. Under the contract, which is due to begin in October, the DVA has stated that it may want to integrate the system with others in the department or across other areas of the Northern Ireland Civil Service.

The system development will be undertaken using an agile and DevSecOps approach around a Microsoft.Net platform. Fujitsu has over 1000 employees certified in its global Microsoft practice, 200 of which are in the UK. In Northern Ireland, Fujitsu states it has a “diverse, highly skilled and agile capable workforce”.

This is great news for Fujitsu. In its UK public sector business, which accounts for over half of its total Services revenue, Fujitsu faces the prospect of further disaggregation of its legacy contracts (see UK Public Sector Supplier Prospects). It has started to build digital reference sites the UK public sector, for example in the Home Office Biometrics Programme (HOBS – see Fujitsu identifies with Home Office HOBS programme) and in the Northern Ireland Causeway programme (data sharing – see Fujitsu extends NI Causeway contract). However, to have a case study of this scale will be surely welcome.  

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '06:11' - Tagged: public+sector   contract   agile   digital   DevSecOps  

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Sunday 17 March 2019

Stephen Kelly joins Kimble as Senior NED

KimbleKellyStephen Kelly is to join the board of Kimble as the Senior Non Executive Director with immediate effect.

I’ve known Stephen for many decades starting with his time at Chordiant. Then as CEO of Micro Focus before moving to become COO at HMGovt. Then finally as CEO of Sage until his departure on 31st Aug 18. See - Sage CEO steps down.  I doubt there is anyone else around with that breadth of experience.

I’ve also known Sean Hoban for getting on for 20 years. First via Edenbrook - where I was investor via Elderstreet. Then, more recently in 2012, because I became an early stage investor (with Kelly) in Kimble where Sean is the CEO. A year back, in Mar 18, Accel KKR made a significant investment in Kimble which also enabled angel investors (like me) and management to sell some of their shares. I am not at liberty to divulge the valuation but I have said publicly that, in % terms, it was the best investment I have made this decade (so far!)

Kimble is really motoring at the moment - in particular in the all-important US market. 50% of new business now comes from the US where Kimble has opened offices in San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and Atlanta. Kimble is aiming for revenues of c£20m in 2019 representing a growth rate of over 50%. Kimble is now a global leader in professional automation software (PSA); listing many of TechMarketView’s own clients like NTT, TCS and Kainos (See - Catching the TMV spark) as customers.

Given both Kelly’s background & experience and Kimble’s ambitions, they seem a great match. I am even more sure that my shareholding is in safe hands!

Posted by Richard Holway at '15:40'

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Sunday 17 March 2019

Another bad week for Facebook

Facebook As every week nowadays seems to be bring bad news for Facebook, last week was yet another bad week for  Mark Zuckerberg.

The week started with extensive media coverage that Facebook should be broken up. This as a response to Zuckerberg’s plans to integrate Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger - which would, of course, make a breakup even harder. Was this Zuckerberg’s plan to thwart the breakup all along?

Then, this was followed by the longest outage of Facebook ‘s services on Thursday - See Facebook down - World doesn’t end.

That was followed by news that two of Zuckerberg’s most trusted and long-serving lieutenants were to leave. Chris Cox - Chief Product Officer and Chris Daniels - head of the WhatsApp division.  Although not explicitly stated, it did seem that both departures were because they disagreed with the direction Zuckerberg was taking the company.

Then the awful shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand saw Facebook in the headlines yet again as the atrocity was live streamed on Facebook for 17 minutes - and then reloaded thousands of times. I’ve written countless times about Facebook’s contention that it is a ‘platform’ and not a ‘publisher’. But it has taken huge amounts of advertising revenues from responsible publishers. As Facebook is learning, you need lots of staff costing megabucks to monitor and censor stuff. But can you see any responsible publisher airing that video? Or, come to that, the large amount of horrible stuff - from self-harm manuals to vicious trolling and bullying?

I hear of more and more people disengaging from Facebook. Indeed the number of users in the developed world is indeed on a plateau and is expected to fall in the near term.

Posted by Richard Holway at '15:04' - 1 comment

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Sunday 17 March 2019

Another nail in the coffin of the bank branch network

ChequeThere was a time as recently as ten years ago, when we visited our branch of Lloyds in Farnham everyday to pay in cheques. Now it is a complete rarity.

On Saturday I received one of those rare cheques. I normally use the web version of Lloyds excellent online banking system. But, as I didn’t want to traipse in to town again, I used the mobile version which allowed me to take a photo of the cheque and upload it to my account. It worked first time and the cheque was immediately credited to my account.

As paying in cheques was the only reason for my rare visits to my branch, this was yet another nail in the coffin of keeping open an expensive branch network. But when I celebrated this on Facebook I had several comments reminding me that a third of people over the age of 65 didn’t use the internet. Indeed the news media is full of negative reports about branch closures. I suppose I ought to have some sympathy with those who still rely on visiting their branch. Must admit on the rare occasion I have queued to see a teller, the person at the head of the queue seems to be using it to have a long chat about non-banking issues. So should bank branches remain open as a social amenity for old people?

I’m afraid to say that I think the branch network is in terminal decline. They say ‘Use it or Lose it’. Well, I’m afraid I can’t now see any reason to use my Lloyds branch at all.

Posted by Richard Holway at '09:36'

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