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Tuesday 31 March 2020

More scaleups look to lay off staff in struggle for new customers

logoA useful insight into the impact of the C-19 crisis on scaleups was published today by UK startup and scaleup network Tech Nation.

chartPerhaps the most dramatic change that Tech Nation saw among the 116 respondents was the propensity to lay off staff; this rose to being considered by 40% of the respondents vs just 15% a week earlier. Over the same period, concern over new customer acquisition rose from 44% to 80%. The chart to the right shows these and other top concerns among scaleups.

While Tech Nation found little difference in sentiment on a regional basis, the survey suggested that startups are much less likely to apply for the Government’s business support schemes than more established scaleups: 53% of startups do not intend to access loans or the employee retention scheme, as opposed to just 26% of scaleups. That may not come as too much of a surprise as these schemes are not available to loss-making companies, which is the stage that many startups and some scaleups are in.

This paints a somewhat bleaker picture than the straw poll of early-stage funds conducted by Corporate Advisory network, ScaleUp Group last week (see Early-stage funds still investing but at lower valuations). It sounds like money’s still out there to be invested, but startups and scaleups will have to fight even harder to get at it, leaving the others in a dire situation.

You can see the full article by clicking this link.

logoMeanwhile, peer UK scaleup network ScaleUp Institute has just published a COVID-19 page on its website with information and direct links to all of the UK LEPs/growth hubs so scaleups can get local help too. 

The ScaleUp Institute is also working closely with Government, including the  British Business Bank, and  Innovate UK, on the broader facilities needed to address loss making and /or pre revenue scaleups who may need more equity, mezzanine, or, R&D 'grant type' options.

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: funding   startup   scaleup  

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Tuesday 31 March 2020

Tech Goodness: Agilisys develops ‘Helping Hands’ for UK local authorities

In Agilisys logoanother example of ICT companies going the extra mile to quickly spin up solutions to react to COVID-19 related requirements, we see that Agilisys has developed a solution called ‘Helping Hands’.

Over the weekend Agilisys employees worked tirelessly alongside the London Borough of Merton to build a contact management solution to track and monitor outreach to identified vulnerable people, who are isolating, and also to identify their specific needs. Needs might range from plain contact to shopping to prescription collection to transport for medical appointments.

The solution has been built so that it’s suitable for use by all UK local authorities; across the UK 1.5m vulnerable persons have been identified. Accessible on mobile devices, the solution is based on Microsoft technology hosted in the Azure cloud. Microsoft components include Dynamics 365, Dynamics Power Portal and Power BI.

Yesterday I joined one of the two demo calls (it saw over 60 local authority representatives dial in) to showcase the solution which can be accessed by council administrators, as well as council volunteers and staff in touch with the vulnerable. Using the Front-End Portal solution, contact teams complete a questionnaire to gather crucial information on specific needs. Meanwhile in the Back-Office Solution, administrators allocate vulnerable people to each contact team member, and undertake reporting and actioning of requests/tasks.

Agilisys and the council believe that 80% of council needs are covered by the additional functionality. The company states it will shortly be adding Power BI and robotics to automate follow-up contact. In addition, if local authorities require additional functionality, for example the ability to integrate with other council systems (such as payment systems for food parcels), or automation, reporting and BI, that is also possible.

One of the local authorities that dialled into yesterday’s call commented that Agilisys had undertaken the build “extremely quickly and extremely brilliantly”. If any local authority is interested in taking advantage of the solution, they should contact tim.pitts@agilisys.co.uk. Implementation will take no more than 24 hours and user training takes less than an hour.

Posted by: Georgina O'Toole

Tags: publicsector   localgovernment   software   crm   covid-19   coronavirus  

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Tuesday 31 March 2020

Tech Goodness: Free safeguarding solutions for schools

MyConcern logoAs schools grapple with new ways of working, the Department for Education has issued new guidance on safeguarding during the COVID-19 crisis. The guidance states, it is likely that current policies to designed to keep children safe will not accurately reflect new arrangements in response to COVID-19. Schools have been advised to review and revise their child protection policy and keep them under review as circumstances continue to evolve.

CPOMS logoGiven the challenges of safeguarding children at home, as well as vulnerable children and those of key workers still attending school, it’s good to see technology companies stepping up and doing their bit to help.

Both One Team Logic (MyConcern) and CPOMS are now offering their platforms to all schools that don’t currently have a digital record keeping system free of charge until September 2020. These SaaS platforms should help ensure staff in school and working remotely are able to record, manage and monitor any safeguarding, pastoral and wellbeing concerns.

NSPCC has experienced unprecedented demand for its Childline services over the last few weeks. It reported that over half of the young people contacting the service last week did so for mental and emotional health issues relating to isolation, arguments at home and removal of professional support such as that offered by schools. The way schools protect vulnerable children has changed in an instant, so digital tools, such as those offered by One Team Logic, CPOMS and other safeguarding software companies, will have a vital role to play in keeping pupils safe.

Posted by: Dale Peters

Tags: education   saas   schools   covid-19  

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Tuesday 31 March 2020

Tech Goodness: Google launches $800m+ COVID-19 plan

googCEO of Google and Alphabet, Sundar Pichai, has said in a blog post that the firm is committing $800m+ to support SMEs, health organisations/governments, and health workers tackle the COVID-19 crisis. The support will be delivered via a mixture of grants, credits and funding. One of the largest commitments is $340m in Google Ad credits to help firms stay in touch with their client base. Google will also create a $200m investment fund to enable NGOs and financial institutions around the world to provide SMEs with access to capital.

Also as part of the plan, $20m of Google Cloud credits will be made available for academic institutions and researchers as they study potential therapies and vaccines, track critical data, and identify new ways to combat the virus. 

Not surprisingly, Google is far from being alone in putting its technological (and financial) might behind the battle against COVID-19. Fellow hyperscaler, Amazon Web Services, is offering research institutions technical support and promotional credits for the use of its services in a similar way.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is a member of the VentilatorChallengeUK consortium, which is led by the High Value Manufacturing Catapult (set up by Innovate UK, a government agency). Microsoft is working with its partners Avanade, Content & Code, IT Lab and PTC to support the consortium from a technology perspective. Members will have free access to Microsoft Teams and be able to use HoloLens for guided instructions on how to set up the new production processes needed to make the ventilators. The supply chain of the ventilators is being supported by Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management.

Posted by: Kate Hanaghan

Tags: cloud   covid-19  

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Tuesday 31 March 2020

Insurance giant achieves "world record" NLP accuracy

PingAnPing An Technology, the IT arm of Chinese insurance giant, Ping An, has just surpassed the GLUE “world record” for natural language processing (NLP). The Glue benchmark (General Language Understanding Evaluation), provides a global leader board by which the performance of various NLP technologies can be assessed. The ultimate aim of the GLUE initiative is to drive research and development of AI.

The GLUE benchmark involves 9 specific tests, including a Q&A, sentiment analysis, logical semantic analysis and textual entailment. The overall score is the average for each of these areas. Ping An’s NLP recorded and accuracy of 90.6%. This score is the best achieved in the world to date, pushing fellow Chinese technology giant, Baidu, into 2nd place and Alibaba into 3rd. Since the launch of the GLUE benchmark in 2018, the likes of Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Huawei and Alibaba have all become participants, along with a number of world renowned research institutions.

Ping An is one of the World’s largest insurers, with more than 200m retail policyholders. In January, Ping An Technology partnered with Intel to create a joint venture innovation lab in Shenzhen to accelerate the development of technology solutions in areas such as cloud, AI, security and storage.

AI is playing an ever increasing part in the operational effectiveness of financial services organisations (see: Eigen and ING form $5m AI partnership) and will have a major role in service provision going forward. NLP, which allows computers to understand human speech and text, is one of the core technologies supporting AI applications. As the GLUE initiative demonstrates, the technology is improving all the time and 90.6% is a fairly impressive accuracy rate. As someone who has to spellcheck and proof-read his own work carefully, I can vouch for that!

Posted by: Jon C Davies

Tags: AI   nlp  

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Tuesday 31 March 2020

Blue Prism urges caution

Blue PrismRobotic Process Automation (RPA) player Blue Prism updated this morning on the impact COVID-19 is having on its business.

Company Chairman Jason Kingdon outlined how they had been able to “virtualise” both its sales force and the company’s flagship Blue Prism World events, scheduled for later in the year, transitioning the entire staff team to remote working.

COVID-19Financially, Blue Prism has the luxury of both a recurring revenue model in one of the fastest growing software sectors, and cash in the bank to the tune of £42m with a significant deferred billing balance. However, as with so many other tech players at the moment Blue Prism is urging caution and withdrawing its current financial guidance.

The company is still anticipating “good growth in 2020” pointing to a strong pipeline, and as we have covered previously Blue Prism already does a lot of work in the health space (see here), working with public bodies in both the US and the UK, including the NHS, to support frontline care and other essential services. Indeed, we have heard anecdotally that the current crisis has been driving RPA adoption and the demand for the automation of health processes at record speed within NHS Trusts.

There is a school of thought that COVID-19 and any subsequent downturn will help accelerate the adoption of automation technologies. Research out this week from Ernst & Young supports this, revealing that some 41% of company bosses in 45 countries surveyed are currently speeding up plans to automate business processes as staff are forced to stay at home during the virus outbreak.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick

Tags: update   RPA   covid-19  

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Tuesday 31 March 2020

FOUR DAYS TO GO FOR A CHANCE TO PARTNER WITH CGI!

logologoTechMarketView is helping CGI, one of the world’s largest IT and business consulting services firms, find innovative tech companies based in the North of England as potential partners. Apply now for the chance to be one of them.

This is a great opportunity to get onto CGI's radar and potentially leverage your business in these extraordinarily uncertain times. Many UK tech SMEs have already applied - don't be left out.

Applications close this Friday, 3rd April 2020.

Pitch event

We will be running virtual’ pitch sessions over Webex week beginning 27th April 2020 to identify businesses that are the best fit for a strategic partnership with CGI at a date and time to be agreed with successful applicants.

To apply, you must be a UK tech-focused company whose head office is based in the North of England or have a significant presence there. You should have innovative software solutions and/or skills that play to one or more emerging technology themes, in particular:

  • Advanced Analytics
  • Agile/DevOps
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Customer and employee experience
  • Intelligent Automation
  • Smart Cities (including immersive, 5G, drones, digital twin)

These solutions should address particular use cases in at least one of the Manufacturing or Transport & Logistics or Local Government sectors.

Why partner with CGI?

  • Market access – CGI has extensive and strong business relationships with clients across the public and private sectors in the North of England and broader UK.
  • Regional development – the North of England is a key market for CGI. Working together your organisation can benefit from CGI’s growth, and expand its footprint in your local market.
  • Business growth – CGI will help build your pipeline, using its scale to help open large clients and opportunities up to your business.
  • Solution development – working together to meet client demand, CGI can help further develop and refine your solution, whilst respecting your IP rights.
  • Extend your Ecosystem – you’ll have access to CGI’s wider network of Ecosystem partners aligned to emerging technologies to help extend your market reach.

Applications

To apply for the pitch event, please complete the webform HERE by Friday 3rd April 2020. We will advise all applicants on the status of their applications by Friday 17th April.

You can find full details on our website HERE.

For further information please email programmes@techmarketview.com.

Posted by: HotViews Editor

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Monday 30 March 2020

Angels bless Norwich DIY website platform SupaPass with more dosh

logoIf you want to build your own ecommerce website there are many platforms available to do so. But here’s one that is specifically designed for leisure and entertainment content providers. It’s Norwich-based SupaPass, which aims to make it easy for a business to launch its own Netflix-style website and apps “instantly”.

Founded in 2011 by musician, composer and tech entrepreneur Juliana Meyer, SupaPass has raised a further £600k through female founder angel network AngelAcademe. SupaPass has undertaken several seed funding rounds over the past six years (Source: Crunchbase), including an oversubscribed raise of £654k via Cambridge ‘super angel’ network, SyndicateRoom, in August 2017.

Supa Pass has recently reduced its fees due to the C-19 pandemic and now charges $19 per month (was $95 p.m.) for a pre-built website, or up to $399 p.m. (was $799 p.m.) including ecommerce and mobile apps. Its top end white-label 'Platinum' service starts at $1,000 p.m. (was $2,000 p.m.). SupaPass does not take a slice of ecommerce transactions payments itself; content providers only pay merchant processing fees (Stripe; Apple; Google).

In truth I don’t get the USD-only pricing, and the Supa Pass website only has three client testimonials: TV fisherman Matt Hayes; ‘celebrity hypnotherapist’ Joel Thielke; and ‘tutor and mentor’, Dr John Park. Hayes’ website is very polished (he must have paid for the Platinum service as it doesn’t sport the SupaPass brand), whereas Thielke’s looks very ordinary indeed. I couldn’t find Park’s at all.

Nonetheless, SupaPass is differentiated from general DIY website platforms, so why not?

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: funding   startup  

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Monday 30 March 2020

Tech Goodness: Recite.me offers free Accessible landing page

logoGood to hear that Gateshead-based Recite.me is making their platform available for free to any business to create an accessible landing page for their own website.

Recite.me will create a live mirror of a landing page on its own website which will allow the Recite Me accessibility toolbar to be automatically activated. The toolbar provides text to speech functionality, reading support aids and a translation tool with over 100 languages, including 35 text to speech voices and many other features.

Recite.me was founded by CEO Ross Linnett back in 2009 as a result of his frustration with the technology then available to help him overcome dyslexia.

Good on him!

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: covid-19  

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Monday 30 March 2020

Upbeat messaging from recruiter Robert Walters – but how come?

logoA press release issued last week by UK-headquartered, international recruitment company Robert Walters, seems to fly contra to what we are hearing from other UK-based recruitment firms.

Earlier this month, its eponymous CEO reported that tech-related recruitment was holding up well (see UK tech recruitment ‘holds up well’ at Robert Walters), while last week’s PR talked about a 33% increase in permanent tech vacancies and 38% in contractor roles in Q1 2020 compared to Q1 last year. The PR also reported “a spike in interest from firms seeking contractors – in particular for business-focussed or critical roles within tech.”

If so, Robert Walters is very fortunate. Recent warnings from peers suggest quite the opposite: see Recruiter Gattaca cuts pay by 20% due to COVID-19 impact; Recruiter FDM scraps final div as COVID-19 precaution; Recruiter PageGroup echoes peers; Virus adds to recruiter Nakama’s woes.

I wonder what it is that makes Robert Walters different?

TechMarketView research service and UKHotViews Premium subscribers can see all our commentary on the UK tech recruitment sector by clicking the tag ‘recruitment’ in any of the aforementioned posts.

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: recruitment   covid-19  

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Monday 30 March 2020

MiPasa uses blockchain to power COVID-19 data

While staying at home is the most important thing we can do as individuals at the moment, safely re-starting socialising and re-opening the world’s economy will be dependent on governments having a deep understanding of the underlying patterns of COVID-19. By testing millions of people, we will be able to map who tested positive and where, where people can and can’t go, and how quarantine procedures can be most effectively used. mipasa

The challenge for decision makers, however, is the lack of integration of verified data sources. Furthermore, data being moved between hospitals, government agencies and other partners can be inconsistent and difficult to share.

MiPasa has been established to make improvements to data usage. It is a global-scale control and communication system to support rapid and more precise early detection of COVID-19 carriers and infection hotspots. Behind MiPasa is a multi-disciplinary group of health professionals, software/application developers and privacy experts – all trying to improve the quality of, and access to, data sources. The onboarding of the data is done through the Unbounded Network, powered by HACERA and running a production version of The Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric. This sits across multiple clouds including IBM Blockchain Platform, Oracle Blockchain Platform, Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services.

The MiPasa project is adapting the data analytics and privacy tools that were once the reserve of elite financial institutions for public health services and the greater good. Another example of how the COVID-19 outbreak might change the way things are done for good.

Interested and qualified researchers, data providers, developers or anyone else interested in collaborating can learn more at MiPasa.org.

Posted by: Kate Hanaghan

Tags: cloud   blockchain   covid-19  

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Monday 30 March 2020

Price of fish

FishIt seemed all too easy to predict who would lose and who would gain in the lockdown that COVID-19 has necessitated. Obviously everything that required a physical presence - like hairdressers, travel companies, cruise lines etc.- would likely suffer. Conversely, anything that helped remote working and home delivery would gain.

The FT, however, carried a report - Why food delivery apps are struggling even under UK lockdown -  reporting on a sharp fall in business for Uber Eats, Just Eat and Deliveroo. The majority of their business came from restaurant deliveries - many of which have closed and do not offer takeaways. Eg McDonalds and Wagamama. Conversely those involved in grocery deliveries - like Ocado - have been so overwhelmed with orders that they have had to close their websites.

We’ve been long-term, regular users of the CornishFishmonger. Fresh fish delivered from Cornwall. Again, what I hadn’t twigged was that retail sales accounted for only a small part of the trade landed by fishermen. The largest and most lucrative part was supplying restaurants. This trade had evaporated. The shellfish market has stopped completely, and the price of white fish has plummeted. Pollock has gone from £4 per kilo to 80p. See Fishing industry reeling from coronavirus shutdown.

About a third of all food used to be consumed outside of the home. The sudden cessation of that has had huge effects all the way through the supply and distribution change. If, as HMGovt is now suggesting, the lockdown extends for up six months, I really do wonder how many of these businesses will survive. Indeed, I understand that many young people are now turning to cooking at home. Maybe that trend will continue even when restaurants are open again.

Posted by: Richard Holway

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Monday 30 March 2020

Tech Goodness: Northern Ireland COVID-19 app launched

Civica logoNI covid-19 appIn another example of tech being rapidly developed to support the fight against COVID-19, the Northern Ireland Department of Health has launched a new COVID-19 information app, which was commissioned and delivered in just two weeks by Civica and its partner Big Motive. The app is designed to be a trusted single source of information to provide Northern Ireland’s population with immediate advice to ease pressure on GP surgeries, pharmacies and hospitals. 

The app has three core functions: an in-app symptom checker for COVID-19 leading the user to appropriate medical advice and onward links to further information; a chat bot with natural language interface to answer users’ questions which will be enhanced and expanded with time, usage and feedback; and a push notification service with the ability to push messages out to user’s devices alerting people to things like significant changes to official status or advice.

Like other tech companies, Civica told us it is making every effort to assist in response to the crisis and has also been working around the clock to update its software to support changing requirements, for example, enabling its Trac software to support specific temporary NHS recruitment.

Posted by: Tola Sargeant

Tags: software   healthcare   covid-19  

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Monday 30 March 2020

Tech Goodness: FutureGov and councils collaborate on COVID-19 response

Futuregov logoBuckinghamshire Council and Camden Council have begun prototyping a tool that will help people search for and find support services near them during the COVID-19 crisis.

The tool builds on code FutureGov, part of The Panoply, developed with Buckinghamshire Council to help citizens access adult social care support and the council’s coronavirus support directory. It also draws on Camden Council’s COVID-19 online guidance and support, and lessons learned from the NHS.

The online portal provides a shared directory of local services that pulls together insight and data from digital customer experience and voluntary community services. It is designed to enable citizens to access the information they need on voluntary community services and local support, including food packages, medical help, mental health support and pet care.

The portal has been built using open data principles and is available and open for reuse by other public service providers. The code is being shared on Github: http://github.com/wearefuturegov/camden-service-directory

The initiative forms part of the work FutureGov has been doing to help bring together councils, organisations and communities during the outbreak. It is reaching out to its network of public service providers to form a local response to coronavirus. By working together, the coalition aims to address the most urgent challenges and coordinate an agile response to shared problems during the crisis.

Local authorities are at the forefront of the fight against the virus. COVID-19 will have a substantial impact on their ability to continue to provide services to citizens and will lead to significant changes to how councils manage these responsibilities. Using digital resources such as the platform developed by Buckinghamshire Council, Camden Council and FutureGov, will help citizens find the help they need whilst reducing demand on council services. 

Posted by: Dale Peters

Tags: localgovernment   digital   open+source   councils   covid-19  

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Monday 30 March 2020

Lanister enters the fray armed with £2m

LanisterAnother banking startup has joined the UK fintech scene with the launch of neobank, Lanister. Armed with £2m of seed funding, mainly from family sources, founder Gurhan Kiziloz, is targeting the app-based bank at customers in the 18-35 age bracket.

Based in Hammersmith, Lanistar claims to have 45 full-time workers on its payroll and has bold plans for expansion. Similar to the now defunct Loot (see: NatWest's Bó picks up Loot team), the company aims to utilise aspirational and lifestyle branding to target the Generation-Z and Millenial demographics.

CEO, Kizilov, is something of a serial entrepreneur and has a varied background, having been involved in a number of previous ventures, including property and training consultancy. Lanister’s first product will be a debit card equipped with personal finance tools and is scheduled to launch towards the end of this year.

Although it is clearly a challenging time to be launching a business, the current Coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated the value of modern banking technology. It’s hard to imagine how we could have continued to function if we all still relied on physical cash and high street branches.

Posted by: Jon C Davies

Tags: funding  

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Monday 30 March 2020

Synnex puts Concentrix Spin-off on hold

ConcentrixUS IT distribution giant Synnex has announced last week that it is to delay the planned spin-off its Concentrix subsidiary into a separate company citing market uncertainty related to COVID-19.

Synnex CEO Dennis Polk put it “We can’t bring this business to the market ... when the focus will be on the virus pandemic, response, and recovery. We will bring Concentrix to the market when the focus will be back on the strategies and prospects of the business,’ 

Synnex acquired Concentrix back in 2006 when it was a “mere” global marketing company and has grown it, primarily through acquisition, into a $4.6bn customer management specialist servicing a very different market to its parent. 

To succeed over the next decade Concentrix’s operating model is going to have to change dramatically with significant investment required in new technologies as it pivots to digital. The theory at least, will be that as a separate entity it will be easier for Concentrix to secure the necessary investment into its core business which often got a little lost when wrapped into the wider Synnex story.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick

Tags: customerexperience   covid-19  

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Monday 30 March 2020

Tech Goodness: Eton College offers free online courses

Eton logoEton College has provided another welcome example of people and organisations pulling together to support the national effort. As well as staying open to support the children of key workers and vulnerable children in the local area, Eton is offering its EtonX online self-study courses to every secondary school in the country, free of charge. Its Future Skills Programme is a series of short online courses designed to equip young people with the practical, entrepreneurial and soft skills they need for university entrance and a successful career beyond. The courses include guidance on writing CVs and preparing for interviews, as well as improving creative writing and essay writing skills. For further information visit www.etonx.com.

Posted by: Tola Sargeant

Tags: education   covid-19  

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Monday 30 March 2020

Capita updates on COVID-19

CapitaCapita updated the market on Friday on the impact COVID-19 was having on the business, withdrawing its financial guidance for 2020 issued at the beginning of March.

COVID-19Capita remains one of the largest private sector employers in the UK with some 40,000 staff based here, and confirmed that employees not able to work from home or required to come into their normal workplace (as key workers) would have their roles “furloughed” in accordance with the Government scheme covering 80% of base salary. It has also temporarily closed a number of offices not required for the provision of “essential services”.

Capita has seen its share price hammered over the last month and was looking to reassure investors, outlining £100m worth of measures being taken to mitigate the virus’s impact on profits. This will include reducing central overheads to a bare minimum, reducing the use of contractors and discretionary spend, temporarily cutting senior management pay and putting £25m from planned restructuring and capital expenditure on hold. Capita is also making use of HMRC’s policy to defer VAT payments of c.£100m to 2021. The firm also outlined it has cash available of more than £450m to help see it through.

The government’s response to the crisis will inevitably throw work Capita’s way, and the company confirmed that it was “exploring more than 100 situations to support the UK Government COVID-19 response with additional services”, including contributing resource to healthcare call centres as well as being part of an initiative to set up health testing centres. Some private sector clients have also asked for additional help to respond to higher customer demand.

Separately, Capita confirmed that it had won a number of new contracts post results, including a three-year extension to an Ministry of Justice contract (worth £114m), new work with a high street bank (worth £33m over three years) and a healthcare contract win in its Software division (worth £19m over seven years).

Posted by: Marc Hardwick

Tags: Capita   update  

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Monday 30 March 2020

FIVE DAYS LEFT FOR A CHANCE TO PARTNER WITH CGI!

logologoTechMarketView is helping CGI, one of the world’s largest IT and business consulting services firms, find innovative tech companies based in the North of England as potential partners. Apply now for the chance to be one of them.

This is a great opportunity to get onto CGI's radar and potentially leverage your business in these extraordinarily uncertain times. Many UK tech SMEs have already applied - don't be left out.

Applications close this Friday, 3rd April 2020.

Pitch event

We will be running virtual’ pitch sessions over Webex week beginning 27th April 2020 to identify businesses that are the best fit for a strategic partnership with CGI at a date and time to be agreed with successful applicants.

To apply, you must be a UK tech-focused company whose head office is based in the North of England or have a significant presence there. You should have innovative software solutions and/or skills that play to one or more emerging technology themes, in particular:

  • Advanced Analytics
  • Agile/DevOps
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Customer and employee experience
  • Intelligent Automation
  • Smart Cities (including immersive, 5G, drones, digital twin)

These solutions should address particular use cases in at least one of the Manufacturing or Transport & Logistics or Local Government sectors.

Why partner with CGI?

  • Market access – CGI has extensive and strong business relationships with clients across the public and private sectors in the North of England and broader UK.
  • Regional development – the North of England is a key market for CGI. Working together your organisation can benefit from CGI’s growth, and expand its footprint in your local market.
  • Business growth – CGI will help build your pipeline, using its scale to help open large clients and opportunities up to your business.
  • Solution development – working together to meet client demand, CGI can help further develop and refine your solution, whilst respecting your IP rights.
  • Extend your Ecosystem – you’ll have access to CGI’s wider network of Ecosystem partners aligned to emerging technologies to help extend your market reach.

Applications

To apply for the pitch event, please complete the webform HERE by Friday 3rd April 2020. We will advise all applicants on the status of their applications by Friday 17th April.

You can find full details on our website HERE.

For further information please email programmes@techmarketview.com.

Posted by: HotViews Editor

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Sunday 29 March 2020

*UKHotViewsExtra* Early-stage funds still investing but at lower valuations

logoA straw poll conducted by our very good friends at Corporate Advisory network, ScaleUp Group, suggests that early-stage funds (Series A and up) are still investing, although the vast majority expect valuations will be significantly lower than pre-C-19. The poll included both VCTs (venture capital trusts) and non-VCTs.

Among the funds who responded, nearly 80% said that C-19 has not stopped them investing in new opportunities or in their existing portfolio, but of those, 90% said that they expected valuations to be significantly lower, especially for sectors such as hospitality, travel, sports and leisure.

However, most (90%) of funds who continue to invest in new opportunities did not expect that the C-19 crisis would significantly lengthen the due diligence process.

It must be said that this poll is not a fully representative selection of the more than 80 funds that ScaleUp Group regularly deal with. However, the polarisation of the responses to each question suggests that these responses may be a useful indicator as to the thinking of other funds. If so, I think these results are encouraging. Since the beginning of March, we have published commentary on funding rounds of no fewer 30 startups and scaleups in UKHotViews (TechMarketView research subscription service clients can search on posts tagged ‘funding’) compared with 31 in February and just 23 published in March 2019.

UKHotViewsPremiumTechMarketView research service and UKHotViews Premium subscribers can also see some of the anecdotal comments from the funds polled in UKHotViews Extra.

We will be publishing our regular quarterly analysis of UK tech funding deals in the next edition of IndustryViews Venture Capital in a few weeks’ time. The Q4 2019 edition is available now for download by TechMarketView research service and UKHotViews Premium subscribers.

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: funding   startup  

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Friday 27 March 2020

Recruiter FDM scraps final div as COVID-19 precaution

logoEmployed contractor-focused tech recruiter FDM Group has announced it will scrap its final dividend and has postponed its AGM in light of COVID-19. CEO Rod Flavell reported that only a few ‘Mounties’ (employed contractors) have returned from client deployment, while “the vast majority of them continue to work on their client engagements, typically remotely.”

Just a couple of weeks ago, Flavell was predicting a further year of “good operational and financial progress” after a “promising” start to 2020, albeit with caution over COVID-19 and the associated “challenges relating to remote working” (see Recruiter FDM shines again as storm clouds gather).

I’ve said it before, FDM’s business model has seen them weather many market storms. While not immune to the impact of COVID-19, they seem to be more resilient than traditional tech recruiters.

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: recruitment   covid-19  

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Friday 27 March 2020

Recruiter Gattaca cuts pay by 20% due to COVID-19 impact

logoThe effect of COVID-19 on some companies has been like kicking a man while he’s trying to get back up. Such is the case for Fareham-based group of Engineering and Technology recruitment firms, Gattaca. This time last year, Gattaca was celebrating a return to profit despite being one of the many victims of the collapse of construction and outsourcing group, Carillion (see STEM recruiter Gattaca back to black).

By January 2020, Gattaca warned of declining revenues for all the usual pre-COVD-19 reasons (Brexit etc etc) along with the (now postponed) introduction of changes to HMG’s IR35 legislation (see UK ill winds hit FDM, Gattaca).

Today’s interim results not surprisingly paint a bleaker picture, with CEO Kevin Freeguard announcing he is placing over one-third of their UK workforce into the Government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and reducing working hours and pay for the remaining (now work-from-home) workforce by 20%. Gattaca is also planning to close its loss-making business in China.

Like almost every other business, management is not giving guidance on the financials, and is in ‘constructive dialogue’ with its bank ‘to address any covenant issues’. Gattaca had £19m cash in the bank at the end of H1 after paying back a £16m working capital facility. The business generated £23m net operating cash.

The results themselves show Gattaca fell back into a small net loss in the six months to 31st January 2020, attributed to the effect of loss-making discontinued operations. Revenues declined by 8% to £298m, but a 12% decline in net fee income (gross profit) shaved NFI margins by 50bps 10.8%. Operating profit was halved, leaving operating margins at 1.1%. Gattaca’s UK business comprises 96% of its worldwide revenues.

It will indeed be a very difficult year.

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: recruitment   covid-19  

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Friday 27 March 2020

*NEW RESEARCH* Public Sector Supplier Prospects 2020 and Beyond

Prospects Report TitleTechMarketView's Public Sector Supplier Prospects 2020 report is now available. In this publication we look at the Top 20 suppliers in the UK public sector software and IT services (SITS) market, reviewing recent progress, looking at the key market challenges and assessing what suppliers need to do to maximise their potential in 2020 and beyond.

The Brexit impasse that had been hanging over the UK was finally resolved in 2020 and we appeared to be entering a period of renewed investment in public services. However, as 2019 came to an end the first reports of a viral pneumonia outbreak in China were starting to appear; little did we know, just a few months later, the world would be facing the unprecedented challenge of tackling the spread of COVID-19. For public sector SITS suppliers, success in 2020 will first and foremost rely on an ability to navigate this crisis.

Notwithstanding the impact of COVID-19, there are steps that suppliers must take to make sure that they remain relevant for the future. The relative importance of these steps varies across the Top 20 UK public sector SITS suppliers featured in this report, but each should be considered if suppliers aim to position themselves as an indispensable partner to public service providers.

Suppliers featured in this report: Accenture, Agilisys, Atos, BAE Systems, BT Group, Capgemini, Capita, CGI, Civica, Computacenter, Dell Technologies, DXC, Fujitsu, IBM, Leidos, Microsoft, Northgate Public Services, Oracle, Serco and Sopra Steria. This report should be read alongside our UK Public Sector SITS Supplier Rankings 2019 and UK Public Sector SITS Market Trends & Forecasts 2019-2022 reports.

If you are an existing PublicSectorViews subscriber, you can read the report now. If you’d like to discuss an extension to your existing subscription or would like details of how to subscribe to TechMarketView, please email Deb Seth.

Posted by: Dale Peters

Tags: government   legacy   transformation   prospects   covid-19  

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Friday 27 March 2020

Microsoft joins the 5G telco push

logoThere is a definite slant towards the telco sector with Affirmed NetworksMicrosoft’s latest acquisition, which also adds to its 5G and edge computing capabilities.

The tools provided by network specialist Affirmed Networks are geared towards managing capacity on wireless communication networks and network slicing (prioritising types of traffic on the network). Through integration with Azure, Microsoft aims to bring this capability to the cloud, which aligns with the trend within the telco sector to move from proprietary platforms to cloud based systems. An end goal is the provision of software defined networking services to operate and manage 5G networks in the cloud. 

Terms were not disclosed but Affirmed Networks brings over 100 customers, including Vodafone, Orange and AT&T. As the company had previously secured funding of $155m, the purchase price was probably not insubstantial.

Microsoft is not the only supplier courting the telco sector at a time when 5G is bringing change and opportunity. Google Cloud has an Anthos version for telcos and announced the Global Mobile Edge Cloud earlier this month. AWS has Wavelength which combines its compute and storage services with 5G networks capability. HPE has the 5G Core Stack and VMware has a version of its NSX product providing virtual networks for telcos. 

Posted by: Angela Eager

Tags: acquisition   cloud   software   networkinfrastructure  

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Friday 27 March 2020

Tech Goodness: NHS plans Covid-19 response with AI support

NHS logoAWSMicrosoftPalantir and UK tech SME Faculty AI are working together with the NHS to help plan the response to the Coronavirus pandemic. According to a report from the BBC, the project stemmed from a meeting of tech suppliers at 10 Downing Street on 11 March and is due to be signed off by Health Secretary Matt Hancock shortly. 

The plan is to model the consequences of moving resources to best tackle the coronavirus pandemic by combining data that the NHS and its partners already hold. Data collected via the NHS 111 telephone service, for example, can be combined with data on ventilator usage, levels of staff sickness, patient occupancy levels, capacity of A&E departments and the length of stay of patients with Covid-19. This would enable the NHS to understand how the virus is spreading at a local level in order to identify risk to vulnerable populations; proactively increase resources in emerging hotspots; ensure critical equipment is supplied to facilities with the greatest need; and divert patients to the facilities that are best placed to care for them. An excellent example of AI being used for good.

AWS is understood to be providing the cloud computing resources, Microsoft Azure is to be used for the data store, and Palantir is providing its Foundry software to draw all the data sources together. The involvement of Faculty AI alongside these US-headquartered giants is noteworthy. The London-based SME has previously worked with the Home Office to detect terrorist propaganda online and announced a partnership with NHSX to build its new AI lab two weeks ago. It’s another example of very small tech companies playing an important role in the battle against Covid-19 – in its last fiscal year (to end March ’19) Faculty AI employed an average of just 74 people and was too small to need to file full accounts with Companies House.

There is the potential for the project to raise privacy concerns but to counter these the NHS has reportedly said it intends to only use anonymised data and will destroy the records once the crisis is over. It's a reminder that, despite these unprecedented times and the need to act quickly, it is important that any exceptional measures that may be required – whether related to privacy concerns or procurement processes, for example - are clearly justified, then evaluated and if necessary rolled back once the crisis has passed.

Posted by: Tola Sargeant

Tags: AI   healthcare   covid-19  

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Friday 27 March 2020

Services Exec to become Softcat UK MD

softcatColin Brown, Softcat’s UK Managing Director, is set to step down from his role at the end of July. Brown has been at the firm for almost eight years, having previously had senior positions at Microsoft (GM, UK Services) and Computacenter (CEO, Germany).

Brown worked with former CEO, Martin Hellawell, to IPO the company back in 2015 and has been a critical part of the business, which has enjoyed a long period of success. Reports in the media suggest his successor will be Softcat long-timer, Richard Wyn Griffiths, who joined the firm back in 2002 as a graduate sales executive. He currently runs the Solutions Sales teams, which includes managed services, networking, security, cloud and end user computing. In FY19, Services revenue was £84.4m (of total turnover of £991.8bn, +24.4%), up 21.8%.

The first half of the current year was strong again (see Softcat charges through H1), with CEO, Graeme Watt, reporting no "material impact from the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak” at the time. However, he warned there could be “uncertainty for the remainder of the financial year”. Indeed, the difficulty in making accurate forecasts is having a significant impact across the industry.

Richard Wyn Griffiths will provide excellent continuity and we’ll be interested to see if the firm’s strategy around solutions/services changes course once he is in the Managing Director position.

Posted by: Kate Hanaghan

Tags: people   leadership  

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Friday 27 March 2020

Tech Goodness: COVID-19 tracking apps

COVID-19In another example of the important role tech is playing in the fight back against COVID-19, a number of organisations have been working on apps to help track the spread of the virus.

KCLKing’s College London launched earlier this week a new app that tracks symptoms related to COVID-19, allowing anyone to self-report daily. To trial the app King’s has recruited around 5,000 twins and their families from the TwinsUK cohort study, which will track in real time how the disease progresses. The aim of the app is to help slow the outbreak, by helping researchers identify how fast the virus is spreading in specific areas, the high-risk areas of the country and who is most at risk, by better understanding the symptoms linked to underlying health conditions.

Separately NHSx is in the process of developing a contact tracking app to monitor the spread of coronavirus. This app, which requires an opt-in, will alert people to new cases in their area as well as allowing people to input their own symptoms. If an individual develops symptoms of the virus, they are able to put that information into the app, which then shares the data with relevant health authorities. The information is then used to track where the virus is spreading and also alert other app users that cases are rising in their area. The data should also help NHS Digital develop an “algorithm” which will help identify patients who are most at risk of developing complications from coronavirus. The algorithm will consider factors such as age, clinical history and prescribing history.

NHSxMatthew Gould, chief exec of NHSX, said: “NHSX are looking at whether app-based solutions might be helpful in tracking and managing coronavirus, and we have assembled expertise from inside and outside the organisation to do this as rapidly as possible.”

To see other ways in which the tech sector is reacting to COVID-19 please access our brand new research - COVID-19 Tech Sector Impact  - published today.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick

Tags: nhs   app   covid-19  

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Friday 27 March 2020

VMware/Dell withdraw Q1 guidance as FCA urges reporting delay

The decision made by VMware and Dell to withdraw their 2021 fiscal guidance illustrates the problems organisations currently face in preparing financial statements with so many staff working from home, as well as the difficulty in making accurate forecasts on future revenue and profitability in a market characterised by economic turmoil and supply chain problems.

VMware cited “increased level of uncertainty” in the past month as the reason behind its decision, while Dell said it was “unable to predict” the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic may adversely impact its business operations and financial performance.

Other tech companies have already taken similar measures. Twitter withdrew its Q1 revenue outlook this week after seeing a rapid deceleration in its global advertising revenue. Mastercard revised its previous Q1 guidance down by 1-3% and withdrew its FY outlook completely due to changes in consumer and business spending habits caused by the virus. BPS provider EXL too withdrew its 2020 annual guidance after several of its operations centres were disrupted by local restrictions on facilities access, promising to reassess the situation in April.

TechMarketView expects many other US and global IT companies to follow suit in the coming weeks, while UK organisations have been urged to delay the publication of preliminary financial results. The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) issued advice last week which requested that “all companies listed on the main market of the London Stock Exchange” delay publication of their preliminary annual results for “at least two weeks”.

There is no requirement for any UK-listed organisations to issue preliminary results, only that full audited financial statements are published within four months of the financial year end. Given the current stress on external auditors and finance departments the COVID-19 crisis is certain to be exerting, we expect many UK companies will now either delay or abandon plans to issue preliminary results (as LTG did earlier this week, followed by social video specialist Brave Bison today) leaving investors and analysts to wait until the summer for an accurate insight into financial performance in some cases.

Posted by: Martin Courtney

Tags: results   forecasts   Finance   outlook   FY20   FY21   guidance  

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Friday 27 March 2020

ONE WEEK LEFT FOR A CHANCE TO PARTNER WITH CGI!

logologoAs previously announced,TechMarketView is helping CGI, one of the world’s largest IT and business consulting services firms, find innovative tech companies based in the North of England as potential partners.

In light of the COVID-19 situation, we now intend to run pitch sessions over Webex week beginning 27th April 2020. This will also allow much greater flexibility in scheduling pitch sessions to suit applicant companies and their executive team. We are also extending the application deadline by two weeks until Friday 3rd April 2020.

This is a great opportunity to get onto CGI's radar and potentially leverage your business in these extraordinarily uncertain times .

Pitch event update

We expect to run ‘virtual’ pitch sessions over Webex week beginning 27th April 2020 to identify businesses that are the best fit for a strategic partnership with CGI at a date and time to be agreed with successful applicants.

To apply, you must be a UK tech-focused company whose head office is based in the North of England or have a significant presence there. You should have innovative software solutions and/or skills that play to one or more emerging technology themes, in particular:

  • Advanced Analytics
  • Agile/DevOps
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Customer and employee experience
  • Intelligent Automation
  • Smart Cities (including immersive, 5G, drones, digital twin)

These solutions should address particular use cases in at least one of the Manufacturing or Transport & Logistics or Local Government sectors.

Why partner with CGI?

  • Market access – CGI has extensive and strong business relationships with clients across the public and private sectors in the North of England and broader UK.
  • Regional development – the North of England is a key market for CGI. Working together your organisation can benefit from CGI’s growth, and expand its footprint in your local market.
  • Business growth – CGI will help build your pipeline, using its scale to help open large clients and opportunities up to your business.
  • Solution development – working together to meet client demand, CGI can help further develop and refine your solution, whilst respecting your IP rights.
  • Extend your Ecosystem – you’ll have access to CGI’s wider network of Ecosystem partners aligned to emerging technologies to help extend your market reach.

Applications

To apply for the pitch event, please complete the webform HERE by Friday 3rd April 2020. We will advise all applicants on the status of their applications by Friday 17th April.

You can find full details on our website HERE.

For further information please email programmes@techmarketview.com.

Posted by: HotViews Editor

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Thursday 26 March 2020

*New Research* COVID-19 Tech Sector Impact

COVID-19 Tech market impact report coverTechMarketView is about to embark on its annual cycle of UK software and IT services market forecasting. We will seek, as usual, to predict the growth (or decline) of the UK SITS market over the next four years, through to 2023.

Never have we faced such uncertainty. We are in the throes of a rapidly developing global situation – one which sees us entering uncharted territory and has an indeterminable length and impact (initial outbreaks could be followed by secondary outbreaks). We can expect news – both worldwide and domestically – that is both positive and negative.

Much will be dependent on whether the fiscal stimulus provided by the UK Government is enough to prevent the UK economy entering a period of recession in H2 2020.

The TechMarketView team is currently considering the potential future scenarios we might face and the likely impact on the UK tech market. In this, our latest research, we outline how tech suppliers have reacted to the crisis to date. We highlight what their customers are saying. And we provide our initial thoughts on the short-term and long-term consequences.

History shows that following any sort of economic crisis, market leaders tend to be the ones to benefit while weaker competitors are at a disadvantage. We expect this diversification in the performance of UK tech companies to be equally true during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. But it will not just be about market leaders vs. the rest. Other factors will play a part: the industry sectors in which their clients sit, their types of contract, the resilience of their business models and supply chains, and the strength of client relationships will all play a part.

If you are a TechMarketView subscriber, you can download the research now. If you are not yet a subscriber, please contact Deb Seth to find out how you can access more research and analysis as we navigate uncharted territories.

Posted by: Georgina O'Toole

Tags: markettrends   covid-19  

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Thursday 26 March 2020

Another digital twin born in Newcastle

picBuilding Information Modelling (BIM) is the ‘next big thing’ for the construction industry. As the term suggests, it’s about creating a digital model of all aspects of the construction of a building. I see it as an evolution of CAD (computer aided design) which architects have used for years to design building plans. BIM brings this to life by creating a 3D model of the building and managing all aspects of its construction through the entire lifecycle of the project.

The giant in the BIM sector is (not surprisingly) Autodesk, who have been in the CAD business since 1982. A slew of UK startups are now invading this space and we have written about a number of them including Disperse, Iotic, 3D Repo and, most recently, XYZ Reality, each with a different angle on BIM.

logoI have just seen news of yet another newcomer to the BIM fray, Newcastle-based Twinview, which very much ‘does what it says on the tin’. Twinview is one of three autonomous businesses in the 60-year veteran Newcastle-based architecture practice now known as Space Group (formerly ‘Waring and Netts Partnership’ after its founders). Twinview was unveiled last month at BIM Show Live in Newcastle (I guess it’s like Strictly Live but with fewer sequins) and is apparently being trialled with a number of clients.

I really don’t know how much space there is in the BIM market for all these startups (plus of course many in the US and elsewhere) but each seems to be digging its own niche with the support of anchor clients. The only one I have seen demonstrated personally is XYZ and it is the only one I have seen that uses proprietary VR/AR technology, which I thought was pretty whizzy, but I am not in the construction industry.

A very interesting market to watch.

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: startup   PropTech   bim  

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Thursday 26 March 2020

Tech Goodness: Zoom lifts restrictions for UK schools

Zoom logoSan Jose headquartered video communication and collaboration business Zoom is doing its bit to help schools during the COVID-19 crisis. To ensure all schools can use their platform for virtual classrooms and online learning during the lockdown, Zoom has temporarily removed the 40-minute meeting limit on free Basic accounts.

The company began removing the restrictions at the start of the month in the US but has now extended the offer to a larger number of regions, including the UK. This means schools will be able to hold unlimited meetings for up to 100 participants, including audio, video, screen sharing, whiteboarding, annotation and breakout rooms for free.

In addition to lifting the restriction, Zoom is also providing live and recorded training to help teachers make effective use of the platform, as well as highlighting additional resources for home learning.

Like many communication and collaboration providers, Zoom has seen a surge in its user base precipitated by the COVID-19 outbreak. It has gone from 2m users in 2019 to 4.2m in March this year and has pledging to increase its data centre capacity to deal with those new customers and the bandwidth issues they are expected to bring (see Telecoms and conferencing rise to remote working challenge).

Further information for schools is available here

Posted by: Dale Peters

Tags: education   communications   video   schools   covid-19  

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Thursday 26 March 2020

Hard cash for SoftIron

LogoSoftIron Ltd., a London-based provider of purpose-built and performance-optimised data centre appliances, has raised $34m in Series B equity funding. The round was led by company co-founder Norman Fraser, a serial entrepreneur whose previous ventures include UK IT success story Endava (see here). The company, which designs, develops and assembles its hardware in California, will use the monies to both support geographic expansion across North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, and invest in further product development.

Founded in 2012, SoftIron initially focused on the development of software defined storage platforms built on Ceph. In more recent times the company has added HyperSwitch™, a top-of-rack switch that uses Microsoft’s open-source SONiC software, and HyperCast™, a transcoding solution for real-time video streaming, to its product portfolio.

SoftIron has been somewhat of a slow-burner. The company last went to the investment well in 2017 when it secured $7m of Series A funding. There are signs, however, that it has been ramping up its operations in recent times with the six employees reported in the company’s 2018 filing having expanded to an estimated c.40 personnel today. This latest raise would certainly point to a significant changing of the gears.

Posted by: Duncan Aitchison

Tags: funding   datacentres   hardware   open+source  

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Thursday 26 March 2020

Tech Goodness: SME GoodSAM powers 'Volunteer army'

GoodSAM logoIt is hugely heartwarming that some 560,000 people have already responded to the call for volunteers to support the NHS in the quest to defeat Coronavirus. But the story of the tech behind the programme is equally inspiring. 

The ‘army’ of NHS Volunteer Responders are signing up via a platform provided by SME GoodSAM (Smartphone Activated Medics). Once they’ve registered and checks are completed, the volunteers will be provided with a log-in to the GoodSAM Responder app and be able to see local volunteer tasks to pick from nearby. 

Founded in 2013, GoodSAM is too small to need to file full accounts with Companies House and only had two employees during its last financial year. One of those was Neurosurgeon and London Air Ambulance doctor Mark Wilson, who helped develop the original app with London’s Air Ambulance. From the outset, the apps have been designed to harness the community for the benefit of the community, alerting first responders who may be nearby in an emergency. 

Now operating internationally, GoodSAM apps incorporate an advanced emergency alerting and dispatching platform with a community of trained and trusted responders. The apps are used by Ambulance, Police and Fire services, as well hospitals, universities and charitable and commercial organisations. 

The SME must have worked incredibly quickly to enable the NHS Volunteer Responders to also use the platform, with the service delivered by the Royal Voluntary Service. Volunteers can sign up to help with Community Support, Patient Transport, NHS Transport or Check-In and Chat. For more details and to sign up visit https://www.goodsamapp.org/nhs.

Posted by: Tola Sargeant

Tags: sme   bluelight   healthcare   covid-19   Techgoodness  

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Thursday 26 March 2020

Humio logs $20m for log management platform

HumioHumio, a London-hq'd log management platform has raised $20m Series B funding led by Dell Technologies Capital, with participation from existing investor Accel who led the firm’s $9m Series A round early last year.

Log management platforms collect data about what’s happening across a company’s infrastructure and help identify problems - all designed to help optimise infrastructure and applications in increasingly complex environments. Humio’s USP has been to allow clients to log everything in real time in a cost-effective way, rather than having to be selective about what gets logged when. This is currently something that few organisations are doing but is clearly proving popular with revenue growing 550% over the last twelve months.

The customer base is currently large organisations across a range of sectors including financial services, education, healthcare and cloud-based service providers such as BloombergNetlifyHP ArubaMichigan State UniversitySpareBank 1, and Vijilan.

Bringing Dell on board is designed to help accelerate growth internationally and further develop its range of self-hosted and SaaS products.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick

Tags: funding   infrastructureservices  

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Thursday 26 March 2020

Intelligent Ultrasound makes good progress in AI medical image analysis

Intelligent Ultrasound logoAIM-listed ultrasound AI software and simulation company Intelligent Ultrasound has announced its preliminary results and details of progress made in the year ended 31 December 2019.

The Cardiff University spinout provides ultrasound training through simulation and, following the acquisition of Intelligent Ultrasound Ltd in 2017, expanded the business into the development of real-time AI-based software for integration into ultrasound equipment (see MedaPhor to pilot ultrasound AI software). The company, formerly known as MedaPhor Group, changed its name at the start of 2019 to reflect its strategic intentions in AI clinical software.

Revenue for the year was up 11% to £5.9m (2018: £5.3m)—all generated by its Simulation Division—with gross profit up 22% to £3.5m (2018: £2.8m). Its operating loss increased to £4.6m (2018: loss of £3.6m), largely attributable to investment in R&D activity increasing to £2.7m (2018: £1.9m). Its balance sheet was strengthened following a placing and open offer in August 2019, which raised £5.8m.

The pre-revenue Clinical AI Division, which is developing deep learning-based algorithms to make ultrasound machines smarter and more accessible, made significant progress during the year, signing a co-development and long-term licence agreement for its ScanNav product with a leading ultrasound equipment manufacturer. The first royalty per unit revenues are expected during 2021.

As well as ScanNav, which utilises machine-learning based algorithms to automatically identify and grade ultrasound images, Intelligent Ultrasound is developing its AnatomyGuide product. This aims to simplify ultrasound-guided needling by providing the user with real-time AI-based needle guidance software for nerve blocks. However, the company is currently prioritising its resources on developing additional variants of its COVID-19 lung ultrasound training module (see Tech Goodness: Intelligent Ultrasound launches COVID-19 training simulator).

AI will have a significant impact on medical imaging over the next few years and Intelligent Ultrasound is positioning itself to be at the forefront of that change. Despite not having the resources of the larger medical image analysis companies, it has made good progress to date. However, management has warned COVID-19 restrictions may compromise some aspects of its business and it has implemented associated cost-saving measures.

Posted by: Dale Peters

Tags: AI   machinelearning   healthcare   covid-19  

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Wednesday 25 March 2020

Tech Goodness: COVID-19 hackathon

imageThe World Health Organisation (WHO) and tech suppliers including Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter,  Slack, Pinterest, Giphy, TikTok, and WeChat have come together to run an online hackathon, tapping into the skills and imaginations of developers worldwide, to create software that can have a positive impact on COVID-19 problems. 

Using technologies of their choice, developers are tasked with creating solutions that will have a positive social impact. Themes suggested include:

·      Ways to support frontline healthcare workers

·      Supporting the elderly and vulnerable members of the community

·      How to scale telemedicine

·      Solutions for lessening the mental impact of social isolation

·      Alternative learning environments for students

·      Entertainment

but the scope is as wide as individual and team imaginations and solutions can be local or global. Individuals and teams can sign up, and there is an online community for collaboration and where individuals can go to connect with potential teammates.

#BuildforCOVID9. Another example of tech being used for good. 

Posted by: Angela Eager

Tags: software   covid-19  

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Wednesday 25 March 2020

*NEW RESEARCH* AWS: Operationalising AI/ML

imageHow is Amazon Web Services (AWS) helping with the challenges end user organisations face when moving AI/ML-backed projects into production across the enterprise, to deliver the type of substantive, transformational business change expected?

Download AWS: Operationalising AI/ML for insight into its three layer approach and areas of focus; and how they compare to Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud.

A layered approach catering to different user communities is common across all three suppliers but there are differences in emphasis, with AWS proactive in areas such as ‘applied’ services and tooling for production environments. 

There is more than customer adoption at stake when it comes to AI/ML; this technology area opens the door to deeper business-level conversations with the C-suite, which is one of the reasons there is so much to play for. A comparison of the Microsoft and Google Cloud approaches is available in the companion Microsoft and Google Cloud: Operationalising AI/ML report.

If you’d like to read these reports but don’t have a TechMarketView subscription, email Deb Seth for information on how to subscribe. 

Posted by: Angela Eager

Tags: cloud   AI   machinelearning   hyperscalers  

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Wednesday 25 March 2020

Advanced acquires Tikit from BT

Advanced logoAdvanced has acquired legal, accounting and professional services software business Tikit from BT, which originally bought it for c£64m in 2012 (see BT makes cash offer for Tikit). The deal is Advanced’s fifth acquisition in twelve months and the first sizeable deal since BC Partners’ investment in Advanced in August 2019. For BT, the divestment of Tikit aligns with its ongoing transformation programme and strategy of focusing on converged connectivity and services (see BT accelerates consolidation). 

The terms of the deal have not been disclosed but it’s clearly a significant investment and demonstrates Advanced’s focus on growing its professional services expertise and particularly its offering for the legal market, which CEO Gordon Wilson describes as a strategic growth priority for the business. Tikit broadens the market opportunity for Advanced’s software to the top 100 to 200 UK law firms, complementing its existing customer base in small to medium sized law firms. The addition of Tikit will also expand Advanced’s presence in North America, Australia and EMEA.

In general, the two businesses seem very complementary. UK-headquartered Tikit focuses its solutions around four key business challenges for professional services firms: Practice and Case Management; Time and Billing; Document Lifecycle; and Marketing and Business Development. Tikit’s customers will also benefit from the breadth of products and services that Advanced brings.

Today’s acquisition, which follows Advanced’s purchase of CareWorks in November 2019, is unlikely to be its last. With backing from both BC Partners and Vista Equity Partners, Advanced is continuing to invest both in supporting acquisitions and product innovation to deliver its growth plans. For more detail on Advanced’s strategy see our report Advanced: Developments & Differentiation published last October. 

Posted by: Tola Sargeant

Tags: acquisition   software   legal  

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Wednesday 25 March 2020

Markets

Markets soar

CovidWe certainly live in the most incredible (word used correctly!) times. Day after day after day my Markets Crash headline can be reused. But now it is the opposite. Last night the US markets recorded near record gains with the NASDAQ up 8.1%. In the UK, the FTSE100 was up 9% and is registering another 4.4% rise as I write this morning. Indeed, my Holway Portfolio screen is now a ‘Sea of Green’. I said yesterday that Amazon and Slack (#WORK) were my only gainers on the year. Today they have been joined by Allianz Technology Trust (#ATT) - where their 10% rise this morning means a 2% rise YTD. As readers know I stepped down from the board in Dec 19 after 13 years. But I am still a big shareholder and in touch with their fund manager - Walter Price - working from home in California. Extremely difficult times to be running a fund that has to stay pretty much fully invested. So pretty good performance as ever!

The problem with all this is that underlying problem is still there. Indeed, if any of this is based on President Trump’s assertion that it will all be back to normal by Easter... Well, it won’t. Looks like the countries that take the most draconian measures to eliminate social contact are the ones that might recover fastest. The US seems to have its head in the sand. If (when) the virus really explodes over there, the markets could be hit extra hard.

Working together

TMVFinally I made the point yesterday that we can only really get through this by ‘working together’. We, like many SMEs, are doing everything we can to continue a near normal service to our customers. Our people are working the strangest hours to fit work with childcare. So this really isn’t the right time for big companies to extend the already long periods they take to pay SMEs or, indeed, to delay contract renewals or projects. This is the time for us all to support one another.

Posted by: Richard Holway

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Wednesday 25 March 2020

Stronger finish to the year at ECSC

logoAfter the H1 stall, business picked up in the latter half of the year resulting in creditable performance across the full year for cyber security services firm ECSC Group. Revenue expanded 10% on an organic basis to £5.9m for the year to 31 December 2019.

As has previously been the case, performance varied between the two divisions, with the important and recurring revenue-heavy Managed Services division growing an impressive 48% to £2.59m. While Consulting moved back into growth in H2, it wasn’t enough to make up for the poorer H1 performance so across the whole year consulting revenue declined 6% to £2.9m. H2 was a good period in terms of new client wins (118) and repeat business however, which is significant because it is an important ‘feeder’ for Managed Services, ECSC’s priority revenue growth stream. 

There was promising news on the bottom line with the company achieving break even on an adjusted EBITDA basis for the year. ECSC was one of TechMarketViews' Hot 10 UK Cyber Security Suppliers.

Looking at the current year, COVID-19 has not impacted Q1 so far but management anticipates a reduction in consulting activity through both delays and cancellations. It is more confident about the Managed Services business and does not anticipate a reduction in recurring revenue. The potential upside of COVID-19 for ECSC is that the move to remote and cloud working stands to increase cyber security incidents which could drive increased demand for some ECSC services.

Posted by: Angela Eager

Tags: results   security   cyber  

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Wednesday 25 March 2020

Tech Goodness: CGI & COVID-19 Clinical Study

CGI logoWe are making it our mission to highlight the way in which tech firms large and small are supporting the fight against COVID-19. Today, in our pursuit of Tech Goodness, we spot that CGI has announced its involvement with a COVID-19 clinical study in Canada designed to determine whether short-term treatment would reduce the risk of pulmonary complications and related deaths.

The Montreal Heart Institute has announced the study, called COLCORONA, by its Research Center. It is being coordinated by the Montreal Health Innovations Coordinating Center (MHICC) and funded by the Government of Quebec. Alongside CGI, pharmaceutical company, Pharmascience, is also supporting the study.

The announcement states: “COLCORONA will evaluate the phenomenon of major inflammatory storm present in adults suffering from severe complications related to COVID-19. The researchers hypothesized that the treatment could reduce the complications associated with COVID-19. The clinical study will involve the recruitment of approximately 6000 participants followed for 30 days. Initial results will be available a few days after study completion.”

We continue to seek stories of Tech Goodness and would be delighted to highlight anything your organisations or communities are doing to help in the fight against Coronavirus.

Posted by: Georgina O'Toole

Tags: covid-19  

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Wednesday 25 March 2020

Capgemini embraces WhiteSky thinking

LogoCapgemini has signed an agreement to acquire Australia-based MuleSoft consultancy WhiteSky Labs. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Founded in 2009, WhiteSky Labs now employs more than 150 personnel. From its original home base in Sydney, the firm has progressively expanded operations to include offices in Melbourne, Manila and Singapore. WhiteSky Lab’s actvities span multiple sectors and include full-stack consulting services on the MuleSoft Anypoint Platform™, managed support services, license management and training services. The company’s clients include Qantas, Sumitomo Corporation, 7-Eleven, Penske and Energy Australia.

Capgemini has been an approved MuleSoft integration partner since 2015. This collaboration has proved successful especially in the banking industry. The company has built up a world-wide cadre of over 600 MuleSoft certified practitioners to which the WhiteSky Lab’s team will bring both considerable additional strength and wider geographic coverage.

The impacts of the current global turmoil notwithstanding, this would appear on the face of it to be a logical acquisition in a digital services capability hot spot. The transaction is due to close in the coming weeks.

Posted by: Duncan Aitchison

Tags: acquisition   saas   systemsintegration   crm   consultancy  

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Wednesday 25 March 2020

Pupil raises €14.9m for digital interiors

PupilPupil is the London-based spatial technology company raising €14.9m to digitise real estate, backed by Singapore’s City Developments, bringing its total raised since founding to €24.5m.

Pupil was established in 2015 by entrepreneurs James Marshall, Oliver Breach and David Mullett and its USP is to digitise property interiors to a very high degree of accuracy. Pupil’s software is used to create a 3D reconstruction of a building’s interior or an individual dwelling or room. The company currently operates two brands – “spec” which is aimed at the residential market and “stak” which will be geared to commercial asset management. Spec claims over 500 agents in London alone are already using the software including name checking all the “big boys”.

So much real estate is marketed or indeed bought online, with Pupil offering a much more powerful (not to mention accurate) sales tool than simple digital photos, artists impressions or “fly through” videos.

We have seen an increasing amount of investment in the digitisation of real estate and other assets, indeed, both proptech and “digital twinning” are hot areas for investment at the moment –see here and here for plenty of examples of where investment is flowing.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick

Tags: funding   PropTech  

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Wednesday 25 March 2020

Tech Goodness: Intelligent Ultrasound launches COVID-19 training simulator

Intelligent Ultrasound logoAIM-listed Intelligent Ultrasound Group (formerly MedaPhor Group) has launched a COVID-19 training module for its BodyWorks ultrasound simulator—it was made available free to existing hospital users yesterday.

The Cardiff University spinout provides ultrasound training through simulation and, following the acquisition of Intelligent Ultrasound Ltd in 2017, expanded into the development of AI software to guide and support doctors and sonographers in clinical ultrasound scanning (see MedaPhor to pilot ultrasound AI software).

Intelligent Ultrasound’s new training simulator includes examples of lung ultrasound appearances typical of COVID-19 infection to enable clinical staff to safely practice and train in the use of the technology.

The standard method for patients with fever and respiratory symptoms involves an examination followed by chest radiography or chest computerised tomography (CT). (See Using AI to fight COVID-19 for more detail on CT scans and COVID-19.) However, as a recent article in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine journal suggests, these methods can increase the possibility of contamination of the medical devices and nosocomial (originating in a hospital) spreading of the virus. The Italian researchers conclude the use of ultrasound is now essential in the safe management of COVID-19 outbreaks, as it permits bedside clinical examination and lung imaging at the bedside by the same clinician.

The low cost and safety of ultrasound compared to radiological tests, its repeatability and ease of disinfection, as well as its ability to help reduce patient movement by facilitating point of care use, means it has significant utility for the management of respiratory related COVID-19 disease. The challenge is the number of staff trained to use and interpret the results, but Intelligent Ultrasound is doing its bit to help.

Posted by: Dale Peters

Tags: AI   healthcare   covid-19  

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Wednesday 25 March 2020

CGI IS STILL LOOKING FOR PARTNERS WITH 'NORTHERN EXPOSURE'!

logologoAs previously announced,TechMarketView is helping CGI, one of the world’s largest IT and business consulting services firms, find innovative tech companies based in the North of England as potential partners.

In light of the COVID-19 situation, we now intend to run pitch sessions over Webex week beginning 27th April 2020. This will also allow much greater flexibility in scheduling pitch sessions to suit applicant companies and their executive team.

We are also extending the application deadline by two weeks until Friday 3rd April 2020.

This is a still great opportunity to leverage your business in these uncertain times through a partnership with CGI, one of the world’s largest IT and business consulting services firms.

Pitch event update

We expect to run ‘virtual’ pitch sessions over Webex week beginning 27th April 2020 to identify businesses that are the best fit for a strategic partnership with CGI at a date and time to be agreed with successful applicants.

To apply, you must be a UK tech-focused company whose head office is based in the North of England or have a significant presence there. You should have innovative software solutions and/or skills that play to one or more emerging technology themes, in particular:

  • Advanced Analytics
  • Agile/DevOps
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Customer and employee experience
  • Intelligent Automation
  • Smart Cities (including immersive, 5G, drones, digital twin)

These solutions should address particular use cases in at least one of the Manufacturing or Transport & Logistics or Local Government sectors.

Why partner with CGI?

  • Market access – CGI has extensive and strong business relationships with clients across the public and private sectors in the North of England and broader UK.
  • Regional development – the North of England is a key market for CGI. Working together your organisation can benefit from CGI’s growth, and expand its footprint in your local market.
  • Business growth – CGI will help build your pipeline, using its scale to help open large clients and opportunities up to your business.
  • Solution development – working together to meet client demand, CGI can help further develop and refine your solution, whilst respecting your IP rights.
  • Extend your Ecosystem – you’ll have access to CGI’s wider network of Ecosystem partners aligned to emerging technologies to help extend your market reach.

Applications

To apply for the pitch event, please complete the webform HERE by Friday 3rd April 2020. We will advise all applicants on the status of their applications by Friday 17th April.

You can find full details on our website HERE.

For further information please email programmes@techmarketview.com.

Posted by: HotViews Editor

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Tuesday 24 March 2020

Bob Fawthrop

picWe were saddened to hear of the passing of Bob Fawthrop who lost his brave fight against cancer today (Tuesday). As was told to me, “he had the will to keep going to meet his latest granddaughter, who was born last week.  He spent his last weekend with his beloved family and moved to the hospice yesterday. Val was of course with him to the end”. 

I first met Bob in the late 1990’s when he was MD for Logica’s outsourcing unit. He subsequently went on to lead outsourcing consultancy, Morgan Chambers, after which he took on various advisory roles at several tech companies through his personal consultancy business, Bob Fawthrop Associates.

Bob had been a client of TechMarketView and its predecessors for over twenty years. Indeed, we were proud to present Bob with a special award for being the longest serving personal subscriber to our research at TechMarketView’s 10th birthday party back in June 2018. Bob let us know of his condition not long afterwards but did not want it made public.

Bob was one of the true gentlemen of the UK tech industry, widely respected by the many people who knew him and worked with him.

Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.

Posted by: Anthony Miller

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Tuesday 24 March 2020

Computacenter to boost France business with BT buy

Computacenter to boost France business with BT buyThe proposed sale of BT’s domestic operations in France to Computacenter represents another step in the telco’s continuing divestiture of non-core assets while adding what looks like a thriving support and maintenance, networking and professional services business to Computacenter’s French division.

If it makes it past the lengthy scrutiny of the French government, the deal will add around €118m of annual revenue to Computacenter’s turnover, which totalled €645m in FY19 when global turnover passed the £5bn milestone. Chief executive Mike Norris highlighted the importance of delivering and maintaining secure, reliable network connectivity to customers, more so during a COVID-19 pandemic that puts significantly more pressure on existing remote working tools and policies (see UKHotViewsExtra COVID-19 escalates war on digital viruses).

It is the second divestiture announcement in a week for BT, which also flagged an agreement to sell some of its operations and infrastructure in 16 Latin American countries last Thursday. That deal will see ownership of two fibre networks with total length of 650km, 2000km of leased fibre lines, four data centres and five teleports pass to CIH Telecommunications Americas, shaving another £110m from BT’s annual revenue.

Neither Computacenter or CIH revealed how much they are paying for BT’s assets but both transactions are part of the ongoing transformation of its Global division (see BT Global Services strategy update: trust and technology take centre stage) as the telco seeks to trim its product/service portfolio and focus on delivering software defined networking (SDN), cloud and security services to key multinational corporate (MNC) accounts.

Posted by: Martin Courtney

Tags: acquisition   telecommunications   networkinfrastructure  

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Tuesday 24 March 2020

Cognizant makes third Salesforce acquisition

LogoJust eight weeks after its purchases of Paris-based EI-Technologies and Code Zero in Atlanta, Cognizant is acquiring a third Salesforce Platinum Partner; Indiana-HQ’d Lev. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Founded in 2006, Lev is a privately-held Salesforce Marketing Cloud focused consultancy. Today the firm employs some 200 personnel and has offices in both Indianapolis and Arizona. The company provides strategic consulting, architecture design, technical optimisation and application integration services.  Clients include major brands in healthcare, life sciences, entertainment, technology, utilities, financial services, and education.

Cognizant has been finding the going tougher of late (see Cognizant cuts for growth). We noted in over coverage of the its FY 19 results, however, that the company is continuing to invest in key battleground areas including Data, Digital Engineering, IoT and Cloud. The making of three Salesforce-centric acquisitions in the last two months is a clear manifestation of this strategy. In less turbulent times, one might confidently expect further similar moves from Cognizant as 2020 progresses.

Posted by: Duncan Aitchison

Tags: acquisition   marketing   systemsintegration  

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Tuesday 24 March 2020

After a pivotal year LTG faces up to the COVID-19 challenge

LTG logoDigital learning and talent management specialists Learning Technologies Group (LTG) has provided a trading update for the year ended 31 December 2019. It was originally scheduled to release its preliminary financial statements today but has followed the advice of the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) and recommendations of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for companies to observe a moratorium on the publication of preliminary financial statements for at least two weeks.

As the trading update shows, LTG have a lot to sho