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Tuesday 18 February 2020

Blancco H1 revenue up 15% yoy

Blancco H1 revenue up 15%Blancco continues to show consistent performance gains with reported first half revenue up 16% year on year in constant currency to £17.4m, and pre-tax profit almost tripling to £700k after a flat FY19. Organic revenue growth was 15% once the six months of turnover (around €500k) delivered by recently acquired Irish anti-theft outfit Inhance Technology was taken out of the equation.

The UK contributes around 10% of Blancco's group total, meaning the company was insulated against both Brexit uncertainty and the impact of any pre-election spending delays in the second quarter.

Robust enterprise demand for Blancco’s data erasure solutions is being driven by privacy regulation and compliance initiatives (including the GDPR and the CCPA) which insist that information is efficiently deleted from server and data centre hard drives and virtual machines in a timely manner.

Several new warehouse-based diagnostics and data erasure deals delivered in partnership with ZroBlack in the US are expected to have a positive impact on the second half, although a change in the terms of an ongoing contract with an existing customer (which has contributed 8% of the company’s revenue in the past) may lead to a revision of expectations for the full financial year.

As a newly certified Amazon Web Services (AWS) advanced technology partner, Blancco’s solutions will also be recommended to enterprise customers that want to sanitise their on-premise storage infrastructure as they move workloads to the cloud. With the pace of cloud migration showing little or no sign of deceleration (see our Cloud and Infrastructure Services Market Trends and Forecasts 2019-2022 report here), it will be interesting to see how the partnership brings to customers to Blancco’s table going forwards.

Posted by: Martin Courtney

Tags: results   GDPR   dataerasure   CCPA   H120  

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Tuesday 18 February 2020

Atos/Microsoft target SAP Very Large Instance cloud shifts

logologoAs market-wide attention shifts to moving mission critical workloads to the cloud, Atos has further extended its long established relationship with Microsoft, with the two collaborating to accelerate cloud transformation for large SAP customers.

The bones of the agreement are that Atos and Microsoft will team up to address the SAP HANA market with a joint team to guide developments and go-to-market activities as they look to encourage the running of SAP HANA on Azure. Specifically, they will be targeting the deployment of SAP HANA Very Large Instances (VLI) in Azure bare-metal or virtualized environments. Alongside this Atos will increase its investment in its Center of Excellence for the deployment of SAP solutions on Azure, and Microsoft will help Atos expand its SAP on Azure migration practice, including Migration Services and System Integration capabilities.

By addressing two key issues of the time - running business critical workloads in the cloud, at scale - the partnership has value hallmarks for both parties. Meanwhile, SAP is facing an uphill task, with delays between HANA licence sales and customer go-lives that set the scene for an Atos/Microsoft proposition. Consider too, SAP’s recent decision to extend standard support for ECC by 2 years to the end of 2027 and to 2030 for those paying the extra 2% maintenance fee for extended support. This is SAP recognising customers are taking longer to move forward. There are technical migration, business process and business value issues to be addressed and these are areas where Atos and Microsoft can contribute. Cloud acceleration partnerships are not unusual, but the focus on very large scale deployments is something to build on. It also stands to tackle the problem of Digital Chaos, particularly if the two partners can address business value considerations.

Posted by: Angela Eager

Tags: cloud   partnerships   itservices  

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Tuesday 18 February 2020

HSBC announces $7bn global restructuring as profits slide

HSBCGlobal banking giant, HSBC, has announced a major global restructuring programme, following a sharp decline in profits. The bank reported a Q4 pre-tax loss of $3.9bn which contributed to a 53% fall in annual profits to $6bn. The bank is already in the throes of a largescale transformation and now plans to make further significant changes to its structure. With the release of its full year results, CEO, Noel Quinn, revealed that HSBC will reduce its global workforce by 35k over the next 3 years, as it seeks to reduce complexity and save £3.5bn. The total cost of the programme is expected to be in excess of $7.2bn.

As a result of the latest restructuring, HSBC intends to shrink its investment banking operations and radically reduce its presence in Europe and the US. The bank plans to cut the size of its US retail branch network by 30% and will merge large parts of its investment and commercial banking operations, whilst retaining separate front-office capabilities. It will also close its global private banking arm and integrate the function into retail banking. HSBC also intends to move its fixed-income trading operations to London, whilst moving its structured products division from London to Asia.

HSBC is Britain’s largest bank by assets and employs around 40k people in the UK, out of a total global workforce of 235k. Much of its business is derived from Asia, which accounts for around half of the bank’s revenue and the majority of its profits. However, HSBC has found perfomance challenging of late, with unrest in Hong Kong and the Coronavirus outbreak only adding to the headwinds it is facing. In August last year, the bank removed its CEO, John Flint and placed Quinn in temporary charge, until a permanent replacement is found.

Technology modernisation is a key element of HSBC’s ongoing transformation and further integration and simplification programmes will play an important part in delivering its latest targets. Traditionally, HSBC has tended to be one of those banks that eschewed the major SITS providers and liked to mostly do things in-house. However, things have changed significantly in the face of widespread industry transformation (see: HSBC selects CGI for trade finance transformation) and it’s likely that the latest remodelling of HSBC will provide further opportunities to partner.

Posted by: Jon C Davies

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Tuesday 18 February 2020

LDC designs new funding for CADCAM reseller Solid Solutions

logoThe received wisdom in the world of tech funding is that the money follows the IP, so forget it if you are a product reseller.

Well, I am pleased to dispel that notion, with news that Leamington Spa-based CADCAM product reseller Solid Solutions has a new backer. LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group, has taken a minority stake in the company in a deal which sees the exit of prior backer BGF, which took an £8m minority stake in March 2016.

Solid Solutions is the leading reseller in the UK & Ireland of Dassault Systemes’ CAD package, SOLIDWORKS. Founded in 1998, the company has grown both organically and by acquisition, reaching revenues of £51.6m in 2018 with a 16.5% operating margin. Solid Solutions has 23 offices across the UK & Ireland and employs more than 230 people supporting 15,000 customers.

Indeed, it seems that support is the key to Solid Solutions’ success; the company offers a full range of support services, including product upgrades, technical support and training, which can be bundled into a subscription service. This is a great ‘recurring revenue’ business model, though I can’t see what proportion of Solid Solutions’ revenues it represents.

Solid Solutions is the proverbial ‘nice little earner’ with a solid business model and a real growth story. It’s great to see investors like BGF and LDC eschewing the ‘received wisdom’ and backing a quality business on its own merits.

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: funding  

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Tuesday 18 February 2020

Automation Marketplace open for supplier applications

CCS logoAs highlighted in UK Public Sector Market Trends & Forecasts 2019-22, the shape of the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) frameworks is changing. The agency has been reviewing its approach with the intention of launching more focused frameworks to run alongside the G-Cloud and Digital Outcomes & Specialists frameworks. The contract notice for the first of these new frameworks has now been released in the form of the Automation Marketplace Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS).

The contract covers an initial 24-month period with the option to extend for two further 12-month periods. It is intended to provide central government and wider public sector organisation the opportunity to procure an extensive range of automated applications and has a value of up to £100m. It is also intended to replace the Robotic Process Automation partnership the Cabinet Office signed with Capgemini in 2017, which expires later this year (see Cabinet Office & Capgemini partner to boost RPA adoption).

The DPS, which is similar to an electronic framework agreement but where new suppliers can join at any time, is divided into four category filters: design (strategy and business transformation); build (problem solving with tech solutions); live (resource and training); and licenses (products and services licenses).

The CCS is now inviting suppliers to request to participate in the Marketplace. Successful suppliers will be invited by buyers to submit tenders for relevant services through a call for competition.

Another Marketplace DPS contract for artificial intelligence is expected later this year—the PIN was published in December and pre-tender market engagement with suppliers is ongoing. CCS has also conducted market engagement for a dedicated cloud hosting framework. These frameworks will initially run alongside G-Cloud, so there will be some overlap, but the intention ultimately is for the specialist Marketplaces to cover these service areas exclusively.  

Digital Marketplace Review CoverPart of the intention in breaking out these services is to highlight the offerings of specialist SMEs. However, with 61% of G-Cloud sales by value going to large suppliers in 2019 (TechMarketView estimate – see: Digital Marketplace 2019 Review) it is hard to see how it will shift the balance towards SMEs in any significant way. It also remains to be seen if this approach will encourage the wider public sector to make more comprehensive use of CCS frameworks (78% of G-Cloud spend was accounted for by central government departments and agencies in 2019) or if organisations will be put off by yet another layer of framework complexity.

Posted by: Dale Peters

Tags: strategy   procurement   automation   government   framework   DPS  

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Tuesday 18 February 2020

Atos technology supports satellite launch

Atos logoEarlier this month we covered CGI’s announcement that it has signed a Memorandum of Intent (MOI) with the European Space Agency (ESA) to “pursue space-based activities utilising 5G communications networks” (see CGI sings MOI with ESA). With 5G promising great things and requiring the use of satellite technology alongside terrestrial technology, companies like CGI, with relevant capabilities, are finding an array of opportunities to support such programmes.

Now we learn that Atos has been involved in a programme, which, over time, will send more than 650 satellites into orbit to provide “affordable, high-speed, Internet access across the globe”. It supported OneWeb Satellites’ Mega Constellation Programme in its launch of 34 satellites from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, earlier this month. Atos has been one of the programme’s ground support equipment suppliers, providing the testing equipment – its Atos ProUST univerSAS suite – to enable satellites to be rigorously tested before launch. The equipment, which was developed by Atos in Austria with Austrian national co-funding via the European Space Agency (ESA), boasts an environmentally friendly design that optimises the power and energy density of satellite power testing.

IT services suppliers, like Atos and CGI, with the industry experience, engineering heritage, and IP investment to support such endeavours, are smartly associating themselves with technology that is set to accelerate the march towards Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solutions or 5G mMTC (Massive Machine Type Communication). IoT is set to impact sectors ranging from manufacturing to logistics, to agriculture, to energy. Being involved at this early 'building block' stage in the technology evolution that will allow ubiquitous communication is a strong differentiator.

Posted by: Georgina O'Toole

Tags: testing   software   space   iot   satellite   5G  

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Tuesday 18 February 2020

Collapse of Laundrapp cleans out backers

logoThere is an interesting article in Laundry & Cleaning Today on how to launch an online laundry. It explains that it costs £50-150k to develop your own app and around £180 p.m. in hosting fees and, voila, you are now an ‘on demand’ laundry service. There’s also useful advice about how you can use the data to improve driver route scheduling and offer loyalty rewards to keep customers coming back for more.

Unfortunately, the article doesn’t mention Miller’s Mantra for Startups: If you spend more than you earn, you will – eventually – run out of cash.

I tell you this because it has just been reported that London-based ‘on demand’ laundry service, Laundrapp, collapsed into administration last Friday, wiping out all its investors. The startup had raised some £15m since its launch in 2014. After an initial £1.5m investment, Laundrapp went on to raise £4m in March 2015 (see Laundrapp cleans up another £4m) which provided funding for its first acquisition (see Laundrapp cleans up Washbox). Two further raises eventually led to its second acquisition in July last year (see Laundrapp zips up Zipjet).

According to a statement by the administrators reported in the FT, “Laundrapp had suffered unsustainable cash flow pressures in recent months after the reserves of the business had been exhausted and further investment from existing shareholders was not forthcoming”.

Here’s another one of Miller’s Mantras. It’s not about the tech, it’s about the business model.

9:30 am UPDATE: I have just seen a tweet from Laundrapp saying "We're still here and fully operational". I will bring you more news when I have it.

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: startup  

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Monday 17 February 2020

Oxford VR secures £10m to expand immersive therapy

Oxford VR logoImmersive clinical technology start-up Oxford VR has closed a £10m Series A funding round led by Optum Ventures and supported by Luminous Ventures. The investment was also supported by previous backers, Oxford Sciences Innovation, Oxford University Innovation and GT Healthcare Capital Partners.

Oxford VR was founded in 2017, building upon the research of Daniel Freeman, Professor of Clinical Psychology at Oxford University and Consultant Clinical Psychologist at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust.

Its automated treatments use virtual reality (VR) technology and a virtual coach to create simulations of the scenarios in which psychological difficulties occur. To date the technology has been used to treat fear of heights and boost social engagement, but Oxford VR intends to cover a wider range of psychological disorders, particularly those that are most complex and costly to treat.

Findings from a large randomised controlled trial, which was published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal, demonstrated that Oxford VR’s technology was highly effective for reduction of fear of heights. The company is also participating in the gameChange project, which with over 400 NHS patients across England, represents the largest ever clinical trial of VR for mental health disorders. Outside of the UK it is working on trials with AXA Hong Kong and The Chinese University of Hong Kong in Asia, and the National Mental Health Innovation Centre in the US.

The latest investment in Oxford VR, which follows a £3.2m round in 2018, will be used to accelerate its US expansion and to continue expansion of its treatment pipeline.

With the NHS planning to spend c.£12bn on mental health in 2019-20, access to mental health services in high demand and therapists in short supply, we expect to see this part of the HealthTech market expand rapidly over the next few years.

Posted by: Dale Peters

Tags: funding   startup   healthcare  

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Monday 17 February 2020

CloudCoCo moves into new lifecycle phase

logoThe release of FY results from Warrington-based provider of managed and professional services to UK SMEs Adept4 - now renamed CloudCoCo following the £6.1m acquisition of the latter in October 2019 – marks the end of a phase for the company that has had problems acquiring new customers (see here).

As the CloudCoCo acquisition closed after the 30 September 2019 year end, the FY results reflect the legacy Adept4 business which showed a decline in revenue from £10.2m in the prior year to £7.3m and deeper operating losses of £5m vs. £3.4m. Having struggled to attract new customers Adept4 decided to concentrate on its existing customer base, while reducing costs. It was also hit by the loss of a significant customer who contributed revenue of £0.7m in the prior year. 

Following this challenging period, the enlarged CloudCoCo entity can look forward to a new phase in its lifecycle. It has set four goals: increasing sales and cash generation, and reducing churn and costs. And there is an enhanced focus on customer satisfaction for both existing and new customers. A lot will be resting on the plans of Andy Mills, former chairman of CloudCoCo who has been appointed CEO; Mark Halpin, CEO and founder of CloudCoCo and now MD at the new entity along with his experienced business development team; and on the performance of the sales team. There is a plenty of experience within the enlarged company so it will be interesting to how it progresses over the coming year.

Posted by: Angela Eager

Tags: results   cloud   sme   infrastructureservices  

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Monday 17 February 2020

Cybersecurity start up OutThink bags £1.2m

OutThinkUK Cybersecurity start up OutThink has completed a £1.2m seed funding round, led by Forward Partners, as it looks to scale towards Series A funding expected at the end of the year. OutThink was founded by a bunch of Information Security professionals as a SaaS based alternative to traditional computer-based security awareness training. 

The company’s approach is all about engaging employees and changing an organisation’s culture towards one where staff better manage security risks in their day-to-day activity. This is done through the usual techniques of behaviour change and gamification etc. turning education on information security into something much more practical and meaningful than the traditional ‘box ticking’ training modules.

We have with employee engagement more generally, that culture change associated with transformation programmes has a much better chance of success if staff feel fully involved in the process rather than having things ‘done to them’ from above. Judging by some of the clients that they have signed up to date – including the Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB), Vodafone, Bunzl and Holland & Barrett – it certainly looks like it is already resonating with the CISO community.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick

Tags: funding   training   cybersecurity  

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Monday 17 February 2020

University-focused marketplace Paperclip attaches more funding

logoIf you want to compete with the many and various online marketplaces out there, you need to have an angle. Maybe Cardiff-based Paperclip has one. It’s basically a community-based marketplace to “buy, sell and swap locally”. Its home base are UK universities where it claims to have over 40 on the platform so far.

Paperclip communities also include interest groups such as cars, electronics, fashion, etc, though these seem to have no ‘localisation’, so I guess in that respect it competes head to head with other marketplaces such as eBay, Gumtree, Shpock, or indeed Swapz which claims to be “biggest, most established and original marketplace where you can swap, trade, sell and deal with like-minded people both locally and nationwide.”

Founded in 2014, Paperclip recently raised a further £750k in a round which included over £420k via Seedrs. The crowdfunding campaign, which completed in September 2019, aimed to raise £300k for 6.59% of the equity, giving Paperclip a pre-money valuation of £4.25m. Paperclip had previously raised £500k in a seed round led by the Development Bank of Wales, a prior investor.

According to the prospectus on Seedrs, Paperclip offers its platform free to universities, and aims to generate income for advertising and marketplace fees, with a revenue share for each students’ union. Paperclip also has ‘premium marketplace features’ (such as mobile app access) for a monthly subscription fee of up to £2,000 per month, which I guess is aimed at its commercial partners.

A quick squizz on the internet tells me there are some 130 universities in the UK, and another 700 tertiary colleges and the like that offer degree-level courses. Apparently, there are over 25,000 universities worldwide. I think this is where Paperclip should focus its efforts – and funds – and leave the other stuff to the more generalised marketplaces.

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: funding   startup   marketplace  

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Monday 17 February 2020

Appeal of crypto assets fuels market growth

EllipticLondon based cryptocurrency compliance startup, Elliptic, has secured an additional $5m in funding from the strategic capital arm of Wells Fargo. The US giant has joined the startup’s Series B funding round, that raised $23m in September from a group of major investors (see: Softbank backs Elliptic…).

Founded in 2013, Elliptic utilises AI and machine learning to make cryptocurrency transactions more transparent and accountable. The company’s AML compliance software and forensic investigation services, prevent, detect, and resolve criminal activity relating to cryptocurrencies. In 2014, Elliptic launched the world’s first crypto asset transaction monitoring system, to help businesses safely engage with the emerging asset class (see: Machine learning and emerging suppliers).

As crypto assets become ever more prevalent within the financial services ecosystem, the mechanisms and controls are still evolving. Providers such as Elliptic, are likely to play an increasingly important role in the future and should help to build greater trust and confidence across the industry.

In a further indication of the emerging significance of digital asset classes, Dmity Tokarev’s, Copper.co, has just raised a further $8m from a variety of backers. The funding follows a $1.3m seed round in 2018, as the fledgling crypto custodian looks to expand its global operations. The startup's bespoke Walled Garden solution now covers 96% of global liquidity in the crypto market and is experiencing transactions volumes in excess of £500m per month.

Posted by: Jon C Davies

Tags: funding   cryptocurrency  

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Monday 17 February 2020

Concirrus makes waves amongst marine insurers

ConcirrusAccording to reports, UK insurtech, Concirrus, has successfully raised an additional $20m in new funding for its innovative marine insurance platform. The latest cash injection has come courtesy of existing backers Eos Ventures and IQ Capital and also includes a contribution from new investor, AlbionVC, the technology arm of Albion Capital

Founded by Andrew Yeoman and Craig Hollingworth, who both have a background in connected technologies, Concirrus is best know for its Quest platform, targeted at the London Market. The software utilises IoT and advanced analytics to provide real-time insights into the behaviours of shipping fleets, to help underwriters better price risks associated with marine industries.

The latest investment follows the insurtech’s last cash call in 2018 (see: Concirrus raises £5m…). In addition to its core marine offering, Concirrus has also branched out into automotive. The company plans to use the latest funding to fuel the development of Quest and to further expand its global footprint.

Quest has already demonstrated the ability of new technology to bring improved process efficiency and loss-ratios to the London Market and specifically marine insurers. Concirrus was one of TechMarketView's early "Little British Battlers" and it's great to see the company's ongoing development, as it helps to shake up the traditional insurance ecosystem. 

Posted by: Jon C Davies

Tags: funding   lbb   FinTech  

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Friday 14 February 2020

Capgemini moves forward with Purpose

capCapgemini has acquired Purpose, a “social impact agency and hub for campaign innovation”. The firm is headquartered in New York but has offices around the world, including in Clerkenwell (just round the corner from Capgemini’s Holborn Viaduct offices). Founded around ten years ago, Purpose creates campaigns, branding, creative content, and social impact strategies for mainly blue-chip clients. It will be slotted into Capgemini Invent, the firm’s digital innovation, consulting and transformation capability, to help clients improve engagement with stakeholders and their impact on society.

It’s an interesting and very pertinent move by Capgemini. An increasing number of organisations are thinking beyond straightforward Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to take a much more fundamental look at their business models, practices and culture. Running this sort of programme internally misses the point, giving the likes of Purpose an essential role as an outside, independent expert. Indeed, Capgemini has explicitly said that Purpose “will continue to operate as a Public Benefit Corporation in pursuit of its mission of advancing a more open, just and habitable world”. To that end, the firm will continue to be run independently - with senior management staying in role.

As Capgemini’s recent results show, it’s a tough market out there. Creating/maintaining differentiation (not least through acquisitions and partner ecosystems) is essential, and we think Purpose will certainly contribute to Capgemini's ‘special sauce’.

Posted by: Kate Hanaghan

Tags: acquisition  

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Friday 14 February 2020

Oracle OpenWorld London: autonomy and data

logoThere’s plenty to chew over following two days at Oracle’s London OpenWorld event but two undercurrents were very apparent. One is that the level of automation is rising, the other is how end user organisations are beginning to really grasp their data and make it work for them. 

The Oracle autonomous database is the most obvious example of automation on the move and the scope continues to expand. As well as flavours for analytics and transactions, there is autonomous Linux too. But autonomy is also making itself known elsewhere, particularly within AI/ML around model and feature selection, and data services. 

Oracle is not alone (think Amazon Web Services SageMaker, Google AutoML) but the company also talks about the ‘AI Tax’. Basically, the data and models carefully put together at the start of a project can degrade over time (as the characteristics of the data being used changes for example ) and need ongoing maintenance – that’s the ‘AI tax’. Automating maintenance is one way of keeping an effective system running without intensive human input (not that they can or should be dialled out completely). Oracle’s work on embedding automated maintenance into applications is another contribution to the much needed wider market move to operationalise AI/ML.  

When it comes to making data work, there were several examples of customers starting to use data for more than the most obvious use cases. The NHS Business Services Authority stood out for its ability to take reams of administrative data and through analysis use it to uncover insights that touch patients, from managing prescriptions more securely to fighting the issue of anti-microbial resistance Indeed, there were a number of end user organisations whose use of data went beyond the scope of the original project, which are heartening examples of additional value being realised from the operational use of data analytics.  

Posted by: Angela Eager

Tags: software   automation   ML  

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Friday 14 February 2020

Cisco Q2 revenue down 4% amidst FireEye acquisition rumours

Cisco Q2 revenue down 4% amidst FireEye acquisition rumoursSteep declines in product sales pushed Cisco’s second quarter revenue down 4% year on year to US$12bn, with only cyber security hardware and software showing any growth (up 9% yoy to US$748m).

Reports of an imminent bid for cyber security cloud software and services company FireEye published in a Spanish newspaper have been denied, but any deal would more than double the size of Cisco’s security business if it were completed.

Turnover from the company’s infrastructure platforms (predominantly routers and switches - US$6.5bn) and applications divisions (US$1.3bn) both dipped 8% yoy in Q2. Cisco blamed weakness in sales to service providers and data centre operators for the shortfall in hardware sales, with a decline in revenue from its unified communications platform depressing software sales.

Services revenue expanded 5% to US$3.3bn however, driven mainly by software and solution support but also by software subscriptions (up 7%) as Cisco shifted customers into cloud-hosted delivery models.

Chief executive Chuck Robbins suggested large customers are pausing spending plans because of global economic uncertainties related to Brexit and the US-China trade deal. Despite the sluggish Q2 performance, we think Cisco retains a broad portfolio that plays well with many growth spots within the IT and networking industries, notably 5G, WiFi 6, 400GbE, SD-WAN, IoT and edge.

Ongoing cloud migration amongst enterprise customers too is likely to simultaneously drive demand for Cisco solutions from telcos and cloud service providers building out the network infrastructure and hosting facilities which will serve them.

Posted by: Martin Courtney

Tags: results   datacentres   q2   cloudserviceproviders   networkinfrastructure  

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Friday 14 February 2020

VMware revamps Customer Experience

VMwareCustomer Experience is now one of the key points of differentiation between service providers and VMware has become the latest player to revamp its offer.

VMware is launching a new 4,000-plus Customer Experience Team under new leadership, that will integrate its activities in this space across the company’s global services, customer success, professional services and technical support teams.

Leading the new team will be Sumit Dhawan as Chief Customer Experience Officer, rehired from cloud security firm Instart and replacing former global chief customer officer Scott Bajitos. Dhawan had a previous five-year stint at VMware leading its end-user computing business from 2013 to 2018, so should know the business well.

Traditionally, firms that are either more sales or engineering led often only get to focus on customer experience around contract renewal time. So, this is a good sign that VMware is serious about putting the customer at the centre of what it does, in a much higher profile, integrated and consistent fashion. The firm said the new CX organisation will help drive revenue growth and increase customer relationships and should see customer experience become more central to the firm’s value proposition.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick

Tags: cloud   software   virtualisation  

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Friday 14 February 2020

Security acquisitions push OBS revenue up 7%

Security acquisitions push OBS revenue up 7%The twin acquisitions of SecureDataGroup and SecureLink helped push Orange’s FY19 enterprise revenue up an estimated 7% year on year to €7.8bn (1% organically).

Also known as Orange Business Services we think most, if not all, of that additional turnover went into the enterprise division’s IT and integration services business, which expanded by almost 7% yoy to €2.9bn from €2.6bn in FY18 as a result.

The French telco now estimates its total security revenue at around €580m, with even organic FY19 growth up 24%. A significant chunk of that total will have come from customers in the UK (where SecureData Group is still headquartered) after the latter recorded around £44m of FY18 revenue in a Companies House statement.

Outside its cyber security activity, OBS also saw strong organic growth in its closely related cloud proposition - up 19% yoy and further boosted by the €350m acquisition of Basefarm in 2018. But the only other product line to see a marginal expansion was the supply of fixed data services (up 1%). Elsewhere fixed voice shrank 7% and mobile 4%, continuing a slow decline due to intense price competition and regulation which is having a similar impact on almost every European telco.

That inexorable contraction of OBS’ core business puts more onus on the company to quickly expand other parts of its portfolio to compensate, which it is doing within cyber security. The company is having some initial success with its SD-WAN proposition (see SD-WAN Builds New Service Models for Network Providers) and is also pushing into IoT (see OBS wins Mobileye IoT connectivity contract) though margins there may be too small to shift the needle unless OBS can establish a greater role in delivering IoT managed service platforms for large MNC customers.

Posted by: Martin Courtney

Tags: iot   SD-WAN   cybersecurity   telecommunications  

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Friday 14 February 2020

Hexaware ends 2019 up and down

logoOne of the few offshore services firms with a calendar year end, Mumbai-based Hexaware closed 2019 with an impressive 17% headline revenue growth to $793m, helped in part by the acquisition in June last year of US consultancy Mobiquity (see Hexaware dishes the dosh for CX play Mobiquity). However, Hexaware’s FY operating margin slipped 40 bps to 13.9%, the lowest level for several years. Management is aiming for at least 15% revenue growth in 2020.

Posted by: HotViews Editor

Tags: offshore  

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Friday 14 February 2020

Santander's v.c. arm woos young talent

MattFordUK challenger bank, Tandem, has lost another member of its core team following the recent exit of its CTO. Matt Ford, who was the bank’s Chief Product Officer, has joined Santander InnoVentures, the venture capital arm the Spanish baking group. According to reports, in January this year, Tandem also lost the services of its CTO, Paul Clark, who stepped down to be replaced by Noam Zeigerson who was previously the bank’s Chief Data Officer.

Whilst movement is not unusual within the startup community, many of the established players are understandably keen to attract innovative young talent into their organisations (see: NatWest's Bó picks up Loot team). The move looks like a great one for Ford who is apparently known for his energy and entrepreneurial drive. At the same time, Ford's new employers are keen to further enhance their credentials amongst startups and expand their network in the UK’s vibrant FinTech scene.

Meanwhile it’s also been revealed today that Banco Santander has hired former Apple executive, Trish Burgess, to lead its global P2P payments operation. Burgess was heavily involved in the European launch of Apple Pay and will be responsible for growing Santander’s global P2P business. 

Posted by: Jon C Davies

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Friday 14 February 2020

Draper Esprit unplugs from Pod Point

logoWith the renewed sense of urgency by car manufacturers to ‘go electric’, stimulated by UK Government’s proposal to ban fossil fuel-powered vehicles, we note that Prolific pan-European tech investor Draper Esprit has realised a 2.3x return with the sale to EDF Energy of its stake in Pod Point, the UK's largest independent provider of electric vehicle charging. The exit generated a 39% IRR since Draper Esprit's original £5m investment back in 2017.

Another canny deal for Draper Esprit, I think the first since new CEO Martin Davis took over the reins at the end of last year (see Draper Esprit cooks up new CEO).

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: acquisition  

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Friday 14 February 2020

Keen to raise your profile in the UK tech market?

Sponsor an ‘Evening with TechMarketView’ this September 

Event imagesWe are pleased to be inviting applications from organisations of all sizes interested in supporting our flagship annual event, ‘An Evening with TechMarketView’. Now in its eighth year, the event is held in September and will be based around our 2020 research theme ‘Digital Chaos’. 

An Evening with TechMarketView attracts over 200 CXOs from across the UK tech market for an evening of analyst insight and convivial networking over drinks and dinner. This year it kicks off at 6.30pm on the 10th September with a drinks reception, followed by an hour of presentations from TechMarketView analysts and then a three-course dinner, all held at the magnificent Royal Institute of British Architects in London. 

Attendees include CEOs and senior management from tech companies large and small, as well as end-users of technology from the public and private sector. Guests from previous years have told us it’s the best networking in the industry. (If you’re keen to book your table you can now do so via tx2 Events at early bird rates). 

Varied Sponsorship packages are available 

Our sponsors use the event as an opportunity to raise their profile, showcase their proposition, and generate leads with prospective partners and clients. There are a variety of packages to suit different budgets with benefits including: 

· A five-minute speaking slot ahead of the analyst presentations (exclusive to Diamond package) 

· Your brand prominent across the event 

· Inserts in the delegate pack & advanced sight of attendee list 

· Your company name & logo in our prolific UKHotViews & social media coverage in months leading up to the event 

· A package of additional Sponsored Posts and Banner adverts in our UKHotViews email. 

Previous sponsors have included Datto, InterSystems, Wells Fargo, Sage, NetSuite, Kimble, Aqilla (who is now sponsoring the event for the third year running) and Brands2Life. 

For more details of available packages download our Sponsorship Brochure today and contact Paula Miles-Mathewson at TechMarketView to express your interest in supporting the event.

Posted by: HotViews Editor

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Friday 14 February 2020

*UKHotViewsExtra* Endava turns twenty in rude health

LogoLondon HQ'd IT services company Endava marked its twentieth birthday with another set of impressive results. Continuing at the pace set by the company during the first quarter of this FY (see here), constant currency revenue in Q220 (the three months to 31st December) increased by over 20% yoy to just shy of £86m. The declaration of a non-recurring, discretionary employee bonus of £27.7m at the end of last year drove a loss before tax for the period of £17.3m compared to a profit before tax of £9.4m in Q219. Adjusted profit for the last quarter, however, was up 51% yoy to £20.5m generating a margin of 23.8%, up 490 bps on the same period in the prior year.

Most facets of the business again experienced growth during the third quarter with North America leading the charge. Sales in this region increased by 28% yoy. Only Europe failed to increase turnover in Q220. By the end of 2019 Endava’s headcount reached 6,267 up 16% from the level 12 months earlier.

Looking ahead, the company expects that full year revenues will be in the range £349m to £353m, representing constant currency growth of between 25% and 26%. FY20 is shaping up to be another impressive year for this UK tech success story and NYSE unicorn.

We recently caught up with Endava CEO, John Cotterell. All TechMarketView subscription clients, including UKHotViews Premium subscribers, can read more about this company’s performance and plans here HotViewsExtra: Endava turns twenty in rude health.

Posted by: Duncan Aitchison

Tags: results   systemsintegration   itservices   digital  

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Thursday 13 February 2020

Digital mental health scale-up Unmind raises $10m

Unmind logoFast-growing workplace mental health platform, Unmind, has raised a further $10m in Series A funding. Led by Berlin-based Project A with continued support from Felix Capital, this is one of the largest Series A rounds for a European mental health tech business and follows a £3m raise in March last year (see Digital mental health startup Unmind raises £3m).

Unmind’s app is used to help organisations and their employees measure, manage, and improve their mental wellbeing. The start-up has grown strongly since its launch in 2016, reporting revenue growth of more than 300% in 2019, and it counts big brands like John Lewis & Partners, ASOS, Just Eat and British Airways amongst its customers. The additional funding will be used to support the company’s growth around the world – it is already used by 350k employees in more than 50 countries. 

Despite an early mover advantage, Unmind will need to invest its new funds wisely. The digital mental health market is already highly competitive and we expect it to be an area of healthtech that will expand rapidly over the next few years. However, digital mental health is also a market set for continued growth as individuals, businesses and healthcare providers increasingly recognise the importance of mental health and the role that technology can play in supporting it. In the NHS, for example, there is a strong fit with the government’s preventative and personalised care agenda and Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, has singled out apps to support mental health as an area for investment  (see Hancock doubles down on tech in NHS).

For more insight on tech funding by sector check out our recent report UK Tech Investment Patterns, which reveals that healthtech companies attracted the highest level of VC and PE funding in the UK over a six month period last year.

Posted by: Tola Sargeant

Tags: funding   scaleup   healthcare  

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Thursday 13 February 2020

Data protection fears drive CyberArk expansion

Data protection fears drive CyberArk expansionCyberArk capped strong second and third quarter results with an equally impressive FY19 that saw revenue expand 26% year on year to US$434m and GAAP net income jump 32% to US$62m. The EMEA region contributed 30% of total FY19 revenue (US$130m) despite experiencing lower growth rates (16%) than both the Americas and APJ. However, it was post-GDPR and pre-Brexit Britain that led the expansion, as macro challenges undermined performance in Germany and France.

Data protection regulation like the GDPR (and the California Consumer Privacy Act introduced last month) has encouraged organisations in all regions to do what they can to avoid expensive fines for breaches (see ICO fires data protection warning salvo) and demand for CyberArk and other identity access management (IAM) solutions has risen in parallel with public and private sector cloud migration strategies.

CyberArk executives highlighted partnerships with advisory firms including Accenture, Deloitte, KPMG and PwC as a major boost to FY19 performance, alongside success in signing new deals with large software, manufacturing, pharmaceutical and insurance companies protecting tens of thousands of user accounts.

Cyber attacks such as ransomware thrive on gaining privileged access to networks, systems and applications in order to steal sensitive data and cause wider disruption. CyberArk’s privileged access manager (PAM) solutions are designed to strike the right balance between tighter, auditable access controls and usability so as not to increase the security management burden for hard pressed IT staff (see our Cyber Security Market Trends and Forecasts to 2022 report here).

They can also be deployed across cloud infrastructure (see Suppliers lend weight to AWS Security Hub) to provide greater visibility and analytics into how employees and partners access the data, applications and workloads being moved off-premise into third party hosting environments.

We expect demand for CyberArk products and services to keep expanding as more breaches for non-compliance with data protection regulation are made public. The company is equally bullish about its growth prospects, forecasting total revenue in the range of US$511-US$519m for FY20.

Posted by: Martin Courtney

Tags: results   GDPR   IAM   FY19  

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Thursday 13 February 2020

MXC Capital to join AIM ‘Dearly Departed’

logoGuernsey-registered ‘technology focused adviser and investor’, MXC Capital, has decided to throw in the towel on its AIM adventure, as founding CEO and turn-around entrepreneur Ian Smith remains perplexed as to why its shares have traded at a notable discount to the company’s net asset value (NAV) for the past three years. MXC listed on AIM in 2015. MXC had not raised equity capital on AIM for over four years and has no plans to do so.

MXC expects the delisting will save them some £300k p.a. in administrative, advisor and other costs, including the exit of non-exec chairman Peter Rigg and Non-Exec Director Simon Freer. MXC’s shares are expected to delist mid-March.

MXC has a rich and colourful history in tech investment, and I can only suggest you trawl through the UKHotViews archive to savour the flavour.

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: delisting  

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Thursday 13 February 2020

Growth slows but bookings surge for Capgemini

LogoAs we expected (see here), Capgemini experienced a slower Q419. Constant currency sales for the three months ended 31st December increased by just 2.9% yoy to €3.65b, suppressed by weakening demand in both North America and the Financial Services sector. This brought full year top line yoy growth down to 5.3% delivering 2019 revenues of €14.13b - a very respectable performance, albeit below the guidance issued last October. Operating margin improved by 20 bps against FY18 to 12.3%.

Better news came in the shape of bookings. The company saw Q4 order intake jump by over 16% yoy to €4.6b. This surge was underpinned by both the Bayer megadeal signed in December and continuing strong demand for digital and cloud services. The latter now account for over 50% of Capgemini’s global turnover. There was good progress too made by Capgemini Invent - the company’s consulting, digital innovation and transformation unit - whose revenues increased by over 15% last year.

Closer to home the position is less encouraging. Having posted top line improvement on 6.3% in Q3, Capgemini UK & Ireland reported a 3.1% yoy decline in sales for the final quarter of the year to bring FY19 growth in the region down to 4.7%. A “wait-and-see market”, fuelled by the December general election and the impending Brexit date, was cited as the culprit. Despite a flurry of recent large wins with the likes of Barts Health NHS Trust and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the company expects the softness in this geography to continue through Q120. A return to growth not anticipated here until the second half of this year. A number of Capgemini’s competitors will be posting their 2019 results over the next few weeks. It will be interesting to see if they paint a similar picture of the UK SI market.

Posted by: Duncan Aitchison

Tags: results   systemsintegration   itservices  

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Thursday 13 February 2020

Losses mushroom at Takeaway.com as CMA ponders Just Eat deal

logoWhile its acquisition of UK-headquartered food delivery hero, Just Eat, is all but done (barring the small matter of an investigation by the UK Competition & Markets Authority, that is), Amsterdam-based Takeaway.com has reported its final set of results pre-deal.

These showed net losses of €115.5m, up from €14.0m in 2018, on gross revenues up 78% at €426.8m. For the record, Just Eat fell back into net loss at half-time last year, on revenues of £464.5m (see Just Eat back in loss ahead of Takeaway ‘merger’).

On the bright side, Just Eat recently displaced Uber Eats as exclusive delivery partner for McDonald’s in the UK & Ireland (see Just Eat eats Uber Eats’ lunch at McDonald's).

Meanwhile,  the CMA is also investigating Amazon’s investment in loss-making Deliveroo from back in May last year (see Amazon Primes Deliveroo).

Can anyone make any money from food delivery?

Posted by: Anthony Miller

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Thursday 13 February 2020

NHSX: Striking the balance between AI regulation and innovation

NHSX logoIn his latest blog post, Matthew Gould, CEO of NHSX, has reiterated the potential AI has to reduce the burden on the NHS by improving patient outcomes and increasing productivity. However, he said there are gaps in the rules that govern the use of AI and a lack of clarity on both standards and roles.

These gaps mean there is a risk of using AI that is unsafe and that NHS organisations will delay employing AI until all the regulatory gaps have been filled. Gould says, “The benefits will be huge if we can find the sweet spot” that allows trust to be maintained whilst creating the freedom for innovation but warns that we are not in that position yet.

At the end of January, the CEOs and heads of 12 regulators and associated organisations met to work through these issues and discuss what was required to ensure innovation-friendly processes and regulations are put in place.

They agreed there needs to be a clarity of role for these organisations, including the MHRA being responsible for regulating the safety of AI systems; the Health Research Agency (HRA) for overseeing the research to generate evidence; NICE for assessing whether new AI solutions should be deployed; and the CQC to ensure providers are following best practice.

They discussed the aim of creating a platform to bring all the regulatory strands together, creating a single point of contact, advice and engagement to ensure innovators can easily navigate the regulations. They also agreed that all the sandbox initiatives in different regulators should be pulled together under a joined-up regulatory sandbox that gives innovators a single, end-to-end safe space to develop and test their AI systems.

The group also discussed the need to develop sufficient capability to assess AI systems at the scale and pace required; the progress that needs to be made in regulating machine learning; and how they keep clinicians, innovators and the public informed of progress. The NHS AI Lab will play an important role in this work.

NHSX has made a good start in looking to simplify and streamline technology regulation in the sector. The UK has the potential to lead the way in healthcare AI and the technology has the power to transform the NHS, but it will only meet this potential if the right balance between innovation and regulation is achieved.

Posted by: Dale Peters

Tags: nhs   regulation   AI   healthcare  

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Thursday 13 February 2020

Hybrid and multicloud push Equinix revenue up 10%

Hybrid and multicloud push Equinix revenue up 10%Global interconnection, colocation and data centre hosting firm Equinix grew its organic FY19 revenue 9% year on year in constant currency to US$5.6bn, with net income soaring 39% yoy to US$507m.

Reported EMEA revenue was up 16% to US$1.8bn (representing 32% of the global total) led by an expansion of Equinix’ colocation (up 16.5% to US$1.4bn) and interconnection turnover while sales of managed infrastructure services in the region declined 4%. London remains the epicentre of the European data centre market (see our report The London data centre market: Shaped by cloud and corporate activity) and though Equinix doesn't split out its UK revenue we expect a disproportionate chunk of its EMEA turnover to be generated from MNCs wtih offices in the city.

On a global basis the company closed 17k deals in FY19 (many through expanding reseller sales) and saw record Q419 bookings in the content and digital media vertical as over the top (OTT) streaming companies in particular created ad hosted more content online. Similar levels of demand came from customers in gaming, publishing, eCommerce and financial services segments as they built out hybrid and multicloud architectures that demand off-premise colocation capabilities.

Using its Platform Equinix and Cloud Exchange Fabric interconnection proposition to entice customers onto its large and geographically diverse hosting infrastructure is proving a sound strategy for the company, which is benefitting from widespread enterprise migration to multicloud that demands reliable, secure links between customer and provider data centres spanning multiple countries or regions.

2019 was an unusually quiet year for Equinix on the acquisitions front, but a recent deal for Axtel in Mexico (US$175m) and joint venture with GIC in Singapore will swell the company’s FY20 revenue further, expected to be in the range of US$6bn.

Posted by: Martin Courtney

Tags: results   colocation   datacentres   interconnection   FY19   multicloud   hybridcloud  

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Thursday 13 February 2020

MWC cancelled

Effect of the spread of coronavirus on the global economy

Following up on my post yesterday which referred to the likely cancellation of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) which was due to start in Barcelona on 24th Feb 20, the event has indeed now been cancelled.

MWCGiven the size and importance of this event, the decision must have been very hard. It looks as if the GSMA (which organises MWC) had wanted the Spanish health authorities to declare an emergency. That would have triggered the ability to make an insurance claim concerning, what I would expect to be, the massive associated costs relating to its cancellation. The many large companies who have spent big on their attendance can probably handle the loss. But for the legion of small companies who exhibit, this is probably the biggest part of their annual marketing budget.

Many other global events are under threat. The Chinese Grand Prix in April has already been postponed indefinitely. Japan is increasingly worried about the Olympics in the summer. Conversely the stock markets both here and in the US seem to have shrugged off the threat to the global economy. Indeed NASDAQ is up 8.1% in 2020 to date - another 3.4% in the first 12 days of Feb alone.

That is getting harder and harder to justify. China is in lockdown. China is nearly 20% of the world economy as well as being part of the supply chain for most of the world’s largest brands. I just don’t see how this can not have a major effect on the global economy.

Posted by: Richard Holway

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Thursday 13 February 2020

New CEO for Alexander Mann Solutions

logoI must admit to having lost track of UK-headquartered, ‘masters of recruitment process outsourcing (RPO)’ Alexander Mann Solutions (AMS) back in 2013 when their then private equity owner Graphite Capital sold the business to US-based New Mountain Capital (NMC) for £260m (see Graphite sells Alexander Mann Solutions). Graphite had acquired AMS from Advent back in 2007 via a £100m MBO. NMC sold AMS on to Canadian pension plan investor, OMERS, in 2018 for an enterprise value of £820m.

picI tell you this as I had a most delightful lunch yesterday with David Leigh, who took over as only the third CEO of AMS in November last year. I first met Leigh when he was Group Business Development & Commercial Director at Xansa (long since acquired by Sopra Steria). Since then he has taken on many roles, including CEO of ‘talent assessment’ firm, SHL.

The AMS story is really interesting – it is a true innovator and survivor in the UK recruitment market thanks to then-CEO (and now non-exec chairman) Rosaleen Blair (see Alexander Mann Solutions make recruitment the process). According to its most recent accounts, AMS billed £1.26b in 2018, from which it derived £147m in turnover, £124m in NFI (gross profit) and £31m operating profit.

Leigh has some rather exciting plans for AMS. I’ll be sure not to lose track again!

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: recruitment   management  

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Wednesday 12 February 2020

Adult Social Care gets £4.5m digital boost

NHS DigitalNHS Digital is investing £4.5m as part of the NHS’ Digital Transformation Portfolio to help bridge the technology gap between the NHS and adult social care. 

This will see Sixteen organisations that deliver, and commission adult social care services receive funding to help scale local digital projects. Grants are designed to supports initiatives that have already been piloted locally to drive wider adoption. Successful “Digital Pathfinders” will now commence a 13-month implementation phase with projects looking to standardise information and develop new digital ways of collaboration between health and care organisations. Examples include:

South Gloucestershire Council and London Borough of Sutton, who are providing care homes with access to the existing Local Health and Care Record portals so they can in turn view and update records. The two projects are collaborating together with the aim of developing “red bag” standards and a blueprint for roll out nationally.

Wirral Council is working to scale up the Digital Discharge process for hospital patients who require care and support when they are discharged with information plugged directly into a Council’s social care system ahead of the patient being discharged and where there is a change in circumstances, removing the need for further assessment.

Integrating health and social care is one of the biggest healthcare challenges of our time and although £4.5m is a small sum of money, NHS Digital will be hoping to seed scalable and proven solutions that have national potential. 

Posted by: Marc Hardwick

Tags: nhs   socialcare   digital  

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Wednesday 12 February 2020

Deutsche Bank courts AWS, Google and Microsoft Azure

DBTroubled German banking giant, Deutsche Bank, is looking to the public cloud to accelerate its ongoing transformation. According to the Reuters news service, teams from AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure are on site in Frankfurt and have been invited by submit proposals for the next phase of the bank’s multi-billion pound renewal.

Deutsche Bank has undergone significant restructuring in recent years and is currently in the midst of one of European financial services largest technology transformation programmes. In July the bank announced it would spend €13bn on new technology over the next 4 years, as part of a radical overhaul of its operations and cut 18k jobs (20% of its workforce). Several major SITS providers, including TCS, HCL, DXC and HPE, are actively involved at Deutsche Bank and are likely to play a role in any future cloud orchestration.

In 2018 Deutsche Bank suggested that around two-thirds of its applications could be migrated to the cloud to drive improved efficiency, security, resilience and reporting (see: Financial Services Predictions…). It’s no surprise therefore that the “three wise men” of public cloud have been flown in to accelerate the transformation. Perhaps it is a surprise that they have not been more heavily involved in the project already. However, in light of the sheer scale and complexity of the German Bank’s IT estate and the many business challenges it faces, perhaps it had other fires to fight first.

Posted by: Jon C Davies

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Wednesday 12 February 2020

UKAR delays hold back Computershare

ComputershareAustralian share registrar Computershare’s H1 results showed revenue and profits falling for the six months to 30th December with a number of factors at play. Revenue fell 9.4% to $1,125.8m ($1,242.1m H12 19), whilst profits halved to $124.7m impacted by the disposal of its Indian financial services company Karvy.

UK performance certainly played its part - Ever since its UKAR win (see - Computershare beats Capita for ‘bad bank’ BPS) Computershare has become a very significant player in the UK BPS space. Integrating UKAR accounts onto its existing platform continues and combining this business with its other mortgage operations gives it a very strong position in UK Mortgage Process Outsourcing (MPO). Here Computershare has subsequently added further UK business (see - Computershare to administer £5.3bn of mortgages sold to Barclays) with a particular focus on delivering organic growth through targeting challenger banks.

However, the UK business has its challenges – Firstly its fixed fees for administering the UKAR portfolio are (as planned) reducing, impacting margins and where delayed migration of the UKAR portfolio has further impacted the profitability of the UK Mortgage Services business. Added to this, the decision of some Retail challenger banks to exit the new lending market in the UK (see today’s N26 announcement) will also impact long-term origination volumes.

These issues have all been known for some time and at a previous Investor day Computershare announced a restructure of the UK business with associated cost saving plan designed to address the issues. Here on the plus side it now expects UK Mortgage Services migration to be completed by May 2020 and is seeing cost reductions in line with expectations.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick

Tags: results   mortgageservices  

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Wednesday 12 February 2020

Welcome the flip phone...again

SamsungExactly a year ago, in Feb 19, I wrote about Samsung and Huawei launching foldable smartphones. I really liked the concept and wondered how long we would have to wait for the Apple iPhone Fold? As it turned out, those foldable phones were disasters as the hinge bit  broke within hours.

Very much older readers will recall my concept phone for Blackberry in the early 2000s which was basically a smaller version of a laptop with a physical keyboard and screen in an A6 format that would fit easily into your pocket. As far as I know, nobody produced such a device but we did get many versions of the ‘Clamshell’ phone.

Yesterday, Samsung unveiled the Z Flip. It is the size of a powder compact and, as far as I can see from the advertising blurb, is many aimed at women (although I am sure that is now a sexist remark!) It has the added advantage of, when open, being able to stand on a desk for a handsfree video call (or the ultimate selfie) Only downside is that it costs £1299.

Yet again, Holway really likes this form factor. The current smartphone design has now been around for 13 years since established by the iPhone launch in 2007. About time we had something new.

Footnote - After a string of high profile exhibitors -  like Amazon, Facebook Ericsson, Cisco, Sprint, LG, Sony, Nvidia, Intel etc - pulled out, the fate of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) is in doubt. It was due to open in Barcelona on 24th Feb. Coronavirus is the culprit. Big blow for both the organisers and Barcelona as over 100,000 usually attend - over 6000 from mainland China... I well remember  when Richard Holway Ltd was part of Ovum in the early 2000s, how the MWC was the biggest event in their annual calendar.

Posted by: Richard Holway

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Wednesday 12 February 2020

N26 Pulls Out of the UK in the Wake of Brexit

N26Leading German challenger bank, N26, is pulling out of the UK, in the wake of Brexit and the country's decision to leave the EU. The app-based bank only launched onto the UK market late in 2018 and despite the fact that the referendum result was known at the time, it apparently hoped the decision would ultimately be reversed.

N26 is one of Europe’s most successful neo-banks and has grown steadily since its launch in 2016. The bank grew by more than 40% last year and now has more than 5m customers worldwide, including 200k in the UK. To date, N26 has raised over $670m and is valued in excess of $3.5bn. The bank operates in Europe, the Nordics and the US and will exit the UK on 15 April 2020.

Although there have been reports that N26 has found the UK tougher to crack, compared to its phenomenal success in other territories, there can be little doubt that Brexit is the key factor in its decision. N26 is well financed and growing strongly and to leave these shores after only 15 months is a significant volte-face. As recently as April 2019 N26 announced plans for a major investment in new jobs to support its UK operations.  

As well as its market presence, the bank has also been a key contributor to the UK’s thriving FinTech scene. N26 has funded or partnered with a number of leading FinTechs including the likes of TransferWise, Form3 and Stripe. Whilst there is no indication that those elements are under review, hopefully the impact of its withdrawal will be limited to its immediate operations.

The UK’s financial services industry is a unique asset and a vital engine for our economy, which needs global access to flourish. Our future relationship with Europe remains the factor most likely impact the prospects of our financial services sector and the associated SITS market (see: Financial Services Predictions 2020).

As reported last week, UK FinTech, Mi-Pay, which derived around 43% of its revenues from Europe, cited Brexit as it ceased operations (see: Impact of Brexit seen as Mi-Pay faces liquidation). Whilst there may have also been other factors at play in that instance, let us hope that this latest news is not an emerging trend.

Posted by: Jon C Davies

Tags: FinTech   brexit  

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Wednesday 12 February 2020

Impala leaps higher with new funding

logoWhen I wrote about London-based traveltech startup Impala back in April 2018 (see Backers help TravelTech Impala take leaps and bounds), I was curious about the attraction of its very simple proposition – an API that interconnects with hotel property management systems (PMS).

Well, it seems that Impala has legs, so to speak. That seed funding round was followed in October last year with an $11m Series A raise, and now a $20m Series B round led by Lakestar, with Latitude Ventures also participating.

Founded in 2017, the idea behind Impala is that software developers are able to sell their apps to hotels, connecting via Impala’s API to access the data on the various PMS’s. Impala is also planning to integrate with other travel industry platforms such as Amadeus. As one media report mooted, Impala is aiming to be the force behind ‘open banking’ but for the travel industry.

Impala is bit more coy on pricing now. The prior reference to a £1k per month subscription fee is now in effect ‘POA’ plus a per-hotel fee of between €17-39. This is somewhat complicated by the option to charge the per-hotel fee directly to the hotel rather than to the licensee of the Impala API, but I assume they know what they’re doing.

While I ‘get’ the proposition, I still struggle to comprehend the realistic size of Impala’s market opportunity, i.e. whether there is a sufficient number of hotel chains, travel industry platforms and app developers for whom it makes commercial sense to use Impala’s API. Or maybe I miss the point. Anyway, the tech looks great; it all comes down to the business model – as ever.

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: funding   startup   traveltech  

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Tuesday 11 February 2020

New appointment as Keytree continues NA expansion

logoKeytree, the fast expanding UK-based consultancy and product developer, has added to its team as it gears up its international expansion. It has appointed Greg Lashbrook as VP, North America, who brings experience in management consulting, business development and Supply Chain, ERP and CRM. 

Based in Toronto, Canada where SAP-centric Keytree already has an established a base, his remit is to continue Keytree’s expansion into North America. The company has had significant success in the region and sees substantial opportunities in the short, medium and long term. 

Keytree is moving forward on several fronts. Significant moves over the last year included the opening of a facility in Bangalore and also the expansion of the Port Talbot facility in Wales and formal launch of the managed services offering. On the product front the KIT digital sales tool for the retail sector is moving ahead, along with the Matrix booking solution, while Fielder the “digital toolbox” for field service engineers in the Utilities sector was launched in late 2019. 

The move towards pre-packed solutions for specific industry sectors is another growth opportunity, alongside innovation around digital products and services. This is an area where Keytree has racked up some interesting developments including the Protecht IoT-enabled gumshield developed with SAP and Sports & Wellbeing Analytics (SWA) that is used by the Ospreys professional rugby union club to reduce concussion risks. 

Posted by: Angela Eager

Tags: software   appointment   digital   consultancy  

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Tuesday 11 February 2020

Accenture enhances AXA’s cyber insurance service

LogoAccenture has extended its partnership with AXA XL, the property & casualty and specialty risk division of insurance giant AXA. The firm now provides its Cyber Incident Response Service to help AXA XL’s clients outside the US respond to and recover from cyberattacks.

This latest move follows some four months after the two organisations announced that they were to collaborate in the cyber insurance arena. The initial focus for the partnership was on helping AXA XL’s clients gain a deeper understanding of their cyber risks and to supply them with actionable reports on cyber threats. The broadening of the arrangement sees Accenture additionally supporting these companies with post-breach security services, including incident management and IT forensics.

The hook up between these two businesses highlights the growing significance with which Accenture is viewing the cybersecurity market opportunity. A relatively small player in this arena in the UK (see our latest Cyber Security Supplier Ranking report), Accenture has been beefing up its managed security services capabilities (MSS) of late. Its recent acquisition of Symantec’s security services assets from Broadcom (see here) expanded the firm’s MSS business by a considerable margin, adding around 300 staff, a cloud-based security monitoring, threat intelligence and incident response platform and six security operations centres (SoCs) in the UK, US, India, Australia, Singapore and Japan. The collaboration with AXA XL also points to the strategic value that Accenture now places on alliances, be they either in support of service delivery to its clients or to expand the firm’s addressable market (read Accenture and the importance of partnering for more detail on this).

Posted by: Duncan Aitchison

Tags: insurance   cyber   managedsecurityservices  

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Tuesday 11 February 2020

New deal sees Barclays and Visa remain the best of friends

BarclaysUK banking group, Barclays, has agreed a new, multi-year partnership with US payments giant Visa. The deal builds on the longstanding relationship between the two companies at a time of great change within the payments industry.

Barclays, which processes around 50% of all the UK’s card transactions, has worked closely with Visa for more than 50 years. The new Europewide agreement will ensure the Barclays continues to utilise Visa’s card scheme services for UK customers. The deal will also see the two financial services providers seeking to drive innovation and product development, in an effort to maintain market share and fuel growth, including within new and emerging segments.

Despite the traditional approaches that are the foundation of the relationship between the two, both Barclays and Visa have also been investing heavily in innovation. Most recently, Visa splashed out more than $5bn for specialist provider of API-enabled data aggregation services, Plaid (see: Visa earns its open banking stripes…). The latest refresh of one of financial services most enduring relationships further demonstrates that despite the changing dynamics of the payments industry, the established players are here to stay.

Posted by: Jon C Davies

Tags: payments   cards  

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Tuesday 11 February 2020

SteelEye secures $10m to increase its span

SteelEyeLondon based, RegTech startup, SteelEye, has successfully raised $10m to support its analytics based, compliance technology proposition. The Series A funding round was led by Fidelity’s, Eight Roads, and was supported by existing investor, Illuminate Financial.

Founded in 2017, by David Haines and Shankar Vasudevan, SteelEye provides regulatory compliance solutions utilising advanced analytics techniques. The tools help to ensure compliance with a variety of international regulations such as MiFID II and Dodd-Frank.

To date the company has secured more than 50 clients within 7 different countries. SteelEye’s latest funding brings the total raised to date to just under $20m. The company plans to use the cash to broaden its footprint and further fuel its expansion.

Regulatory compliance is a growing area of focus for technology innovation and startups. End user organisations within financial services in particular, consistently place this business imperative at the top of their list of priorities. Only yesterday, another fast growing RegTech firm secured £2m to further its own expansion in the UK (see: Scottish Enterprise invests £2m in RegTech Encompass).

Posted by: Jon C Davies

Tags: funding   RegTech  

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Tuesday 11 February 2020

Starling flies the nest with another £60m

StarlingUK challenger bank, Starling, has raised an extra £60m in funding, as it seeks to fuel its expansion into Europe. The latest investment has been provided by two of the bank’s existing backers, Merian Global Investors and JTC bringing the total funding raised to date to £323m.

Starling currently has around 1.25m accounts in the UK and has attracted in excess of £1.25bn in deposits. The bank’s plans for a European launch have been disrupted somewhat by the impact of Brexit, but it intends to proceed with its overseas expansion, armed with the latest cash injection.

Starling, which was founded in 2015 by John Humpish and CEO, Anne Boden, currently has a workforce of 800 across the UK. In September the bank opened a new operations centre in Southampton (see: Starling spreads its wings…). It is estimated that its management and staff currently own around 20% of the bank. As a result of the latest funding, the bank has pledged to provide its employees with additional shares in the business.

Starling is continuing to grow strongly off the back of some significant investments and doubled its customer base during its fiscal 2019. Last year, in addition to its funding via traditional sources, Starling also received £100m from BCR, the administrators of the £775m RBS State Aid Alternative Remedies Package (see: Challengers boosted by BCR injection).

Posted by: Jon C Davies

Tags: funding  

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Tuesday 11 February 2020

Virus adds to recruiter Nakama’s woes

logoThe impact of the Coronavirus on troubled UK-headquartered recruiter-of-two-halves Nakama’s Asian business has only added to its woes (see Recruiter Nakama hits cash crunch), leading to today’s warning for its final quarter (to 31st March).

CEO Robert Thesiger remains touchingly optimistic about Nakama’s prospects despite the fact that “… the Group still urgently requires an injection of capital.”

As yet, nobody seems to be responding to his SOS.

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: warning   recruitment  

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