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Friday 06 December 2019

Dream of a contract for Netcall

logoWhen Netcall reported FY results we talked about the progress it was making behind the scenes, which included integrating the existing Liberty product with its low code capabilities. A contract with Dreams provides a nice proof point. 

The bed retailer has selected Netcall’s Liberty customer experience platform with the aim of delivering a seamless experience to its customers across service channels, enabling changes to be put place quickly and improving agent performance by weaving all channels into a single customer conversation. In switching to the integrated platform Dreams is consolidating and replacing current multiple systems. The Liberty Create low-code solution, will replace Zendesk and the contact centre solutions Converse and Connect will replace AvayaIMImobile and LivePerson.

What is also notable about Dreams is that it is investing to remove silos within its business to create a holistic information management capability. This is a baseline requirement for end user organisations looking to link and scale their digital transformation initiatives. 

Posted by: Angela Eager

Tags: contract   software   low-code  

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Friday 06 December 2019

CGI opens second UK cybersecurity centre

CGI opens second UK cybersecurity centreCanadian IT services provider CGI looks set to considerably strengthen its managed security service (MSS) capabilities with the opening of its second UK cyber security centre in Bridgend.

Operating in tandem wtih CGI's existing facility in Reading, the new centre will eventually employ around 100 cyber security analysts delivering round the clock threat monitoring, intelligence and incident response and forensics to CGI’s UK customers.

MSS is one of the fastest growing sectors of the cyber security market, set to see double digit growth over the next four years according to TechMarketView estimates (see our report Cyber Security Market Trends and Forecasts to 2022 here). There is a real possibility that the ongoing shortage of skilled cyber security professionals could stymie individual MSSP's growth however, and CGI may have to work harder to populate its Bridgend cyber centre than it did to open it.

The company already claims one of the UK’s largest cyber security teams, employing 250 people across the UK and additionally providing IT security product evaluation and testing, secure solution development and consulting services alongside MSS.

Posted by: Martin Courtney

Tags: MSSP   SOC   cybersecurity  

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Friday 06 December 2019

Adtech Ogury Raises $50m

OguryThe advent of regulations like GDPR have negatively impacted the digital marketing space with a number of companies struggling to comply. As a consequence funding into the adtech space has been affected.

London-based Ogury is a clear exception raising $50m in funding from various banks and Idinvest Partners. Ogury's USP is that its marketing engine is driven by choice, allowing users to make transparent, informed, and fair decisions around how, when, and why their data is collected. Compliance of data protection and privacy laws, such as GDPR and the upcoming California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) suddenly become a differentiator from others in the market.

This has seen Ogury reach $100m in annual revenue since it was launched in Islington back in 2014 – all very impressive stuff. CCPA and other US state equivalents will offer the firm huge potential across the pond and the $50m raised will no doubt support growth there. 

Whilst regulations of the likes of GDPR get many of us moaning, it does demonstrate that the UK/EU are often ahead of the curve when it comes to dealing with some of the issues of “digital chaos”, a by-product of which is first mover advantage for some of UK tech, should they wish to use it.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick

Tags: funding   marketing   adtech  

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Friday 06 December 2019

*NEW RESEARCH* Bigger VC funding deals for UK and Irish Tech

chartA number of very large deals, combined with a slightly lower volume of transactions, have lifted the average size of UK and Irish tech VC funding deals to just over £10m for the first time, according to the latest data from corporate finance firm, Ascendant. A total of £2.54b was invested in 254 companies in the sector by 331 investors during Q3 2019 with 72% of the deals involving more than one investor.

The latest edition of IndustryViews Venture Capital has more detail, along with nearly 40 pages of UK tech venture funding deals.

TechMarketView Foundation Service and UKHotViews Premium subscription clients can click on this link to download the report.

Posted by: HotViews Editor

Tags: funding   startup  

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Friday 06 December 2019

Bayer megadeal brings Christmas early to Capgemini

LogoCapgemini has landed a global transformational outsourcing deal with Leverkusen-HQ’d multinational pharmaceuticals and life sciences giant Bayer AG. The six-year contract, which is due to commence at the start of the New Year, is worth in excess of €1b. The agreement will involve the transfer of several hundred Bayer staff to Capgemini.

Won through a competitive tendering process, the objective of the deal is to accelerate the digitalization of the Bayer organization. As part of the new agreement, Capgemini will deliver a wide range of services, including IT infrastructure Cloud transformation; run Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Business Intelligence/Analytics domains management and transformation, as well as the Service Integration of Bayer’s entire new supplier eco-system.  

Bayer has been a key account for Capgemini since they signed a major application and infrastructure outsourcing agreement in 2012. That seven years on the curse of the incumbent has been avoided points to a sustained investment into the deepening of their relationship. Billion-dollar deals are rare beast these days as are six-year contracts. This big win adds a significant cause for celebration at Capgemini during the holiday season.

Posted by: Duncan Aitchison

Tags: outsourcing   digital   transformation   megadeal  

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Friday 06 December 2019

Capita Scaling Partner helps Dragonfly soar!

picI was very proud to represent TechMarketView at the official coming-out party for London-headquartered visual analytics startup, Dragonfly AI (Pic: Yours Truly with cofounders Mark Bainbridge on my left and David Mitchell).

Dragonfly was a participant in the second TechMarketView Innovation Partner Programme we ran for Capita Scaling Partner, the corporate venture unit of UK business services leader, Capita plc, back in December 2018 (see Outstanding contenders in TechMarketView Innovation Partner Programme). After several months of exploratory discussions, we were delighted to announce a formal partnership between Capita Scaling Partner and Dragonfly (see Capita to scale up Dragonfly), and the startup hasn’t looked back!

At last evening’s event, some of Dragonfly’s clients (The Marketing Store; Hachette; NBC Universal) talked about how they are using Dragonfly’s innovative technology. Dragonfly is also building an international client base in South Africa, Dubai and Singapore.

With the backing of Capita Scaling Partner, I would say the sky’s the limit for Dragonfly. Innovative, differentiated British technology deservedly going global.

For more on Dragonfly/Capita Scaling Partner see Scaling innovation through partnering – Q&A with Dragonfly and Capita.

Posted by: Anthony Miller

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Friday 06 December 2019

Banks must act to protect public from IT failures

fcaThe Bank of England’s, Prudential Regulation Authority, and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have issued new guidance for Britain’s financial services providers, aimed at protecting customers from the effects of major service outages. In their latest missive, the regulators have made it clear that technology investments must be prioritised based on the potential impacts on the public. 

BoEThe new guidance calls on financial services institutions to identify vital business services that could cause harm if disrupted and to assess the maximum level of disruption that could be tolerated. Furthermore, firms are instructed to explore scenarios that could lead to service disruption and ensure that plans and resources are in place to effectively mitigate against these.

The latest communication from the regulators follows the findings of an independent report into the 2018 service outage at TSB (see: Report lays bare TSB migration failings) and a Treasury Committee report in October that concluded “prolonged IT failures should not be tolerated” (see: MPs criticise banks for IT failings). Whilst the lengthy loss of banking services experienced by TSB customers was the most high-profile case, there have been many other service outages impacting customers of late. In 2018, the number of IT incidents reported to the FCA increased by 187%, with 65% of these occurring in the retail banking sector. 

The prolonged difficulties experienced by TSB customers in 2018 were ultimately caused by some fairly basic failings and poor decision making around back up and disaster recovery. As history has taught us, regulatory oversight appears to be one of the only effective ways to change behaviours within financial services. Whilst I have genuine sympathy for the banks, in light of the scale and complexity of the IT challenges that many of them are currently wrestling with, as the saying goes, “with great power comes great responsibility”.

Posted by: Jon C Davies

Tags: banking   regulation  

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Friday 06 December 2019

No stifled conversation at Stifel gathering!

picA big thank you to our good friend, Stifel’s irrepressible George O’Connor, for inviting me to lunch (and I use the term very loosely), with some truly excellent wine and very stimulating conversation with notables from the UK tech scene (L to R: Yours truly; Hellen Bowey (CEO, Alcove); Caroline de La Soujeole (Analyst, Stifel); The Man Himself; Matthew Trimming (Advisor at Large); Stephen Kelly (needs little introduction – with  exceptionally fine taste in shirts); Neal Gandhi (CEO, Panoply); Serge Taborin (CDO, Capita); Ed Lascelles (Partner, AlbionVC and Wandering Minstrel).

All under Chatham House rules, I’m afraid, but some of this is sure to creep into George’s excellent research!

Posted by: Anthony Miller

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Thursday 05 December 2019

*NEW RESEARCH* Cyber Security Market Trends and Forecasts to 2022

Out now is our Cyber Security Market Trends and Forecasts to 2022 report, containing revenue estimates and trend analysis for companies delivering security hardware, software and services to the UK enterprise market over the next four years.

Fundamental changes in the way that organisations prefer to source and pay for ongoing cyber security protection have forced suppliers to adopt a more flexible approach, and subsequent innovation in product and service portfolios is rebalancing the market in favour of cloud hosted and managed service solutions.*NEW RESEARCH* Cyber Security Market Trends and Forecasts to 2022

Spending on cyber security software and services accounted for just over 3% of the total UK enterprise software and IT services (SITS) market in 2018. Yet with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.5% forecast between now and 2022 it is one of the fastest growing segments of the entire industry.

Intense competition for customers between technology infrastructure and IT services giants, dedicated cyber security specialists, consultancies, start-ups and systems integrators is helping fuel that momentum, but most suppliers know they cannot protect mission critical data and systems alone. Establishing trusted relationships with end user organisations, each other, cloud service providers, law enforcement agencies and government departments to share and implement threat intelligence and bolster the thin ranks of security professionals is essential if they are to minimise UK organisations’ exposure to damaging cyber attacks and data loss.

This anchor report – one of three key components within our SecureConnectViews research stream – includes revenue forecast and segmentation data for the UK enterprise cyber security market to 2022 combined with detailed analysis of the trends that impacted suppliers and end users over the last 12 months and their implications for the future.

SecureConnectViews clients can read the research here: Cyber Security Market Trends and Forecasts to 2022. If you are not yet a SecureConnectViews subscriber but would like to learn more about getting access, please contact Deb Seth to find out more.

Posted by: Martin Courtney

Tags: markettrends   forecasts   revenue   cybersecurity  

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Thursday 05 December 2019

Starling founder to lead Gemini's European push for Winklevoss twins

GeminiJulian Sawyer, the co-founder of leading financial services challenger, Starling Bank, has joined cryptocurrency exchange, Gemini, as it prepares for expansion within Europe. Sawyer was instrumental in establishing and growing Starling Bank and as COO was actively involved in its day to day operations, prior to his departure in July (see: Growing pains at Starling as Sawyer departs).

Gemini is a secure, rules-based marketplace for digital currencies that enables customers to exchange digital assets in a regulated environment. The company was established in 2014, by the Winklevoss twins, of Facebook fame. The brothers are both significant crypto investors and claim to hold bitcoin assets worth in excess of $1bn.

Gemini currently operates predominantly in North America and Asia, and competes with the likes of Coinbase and Kraken. The company is now plotting a European push and Sawyer has been appointed as MD for UK and Europe. Sawyer will be based in London and will be responsible for shaping the company’s regional strategy, developing products and building a team.

This is an interesting move and looks like an exciting new challenge for Sawyer. His expertise, knowledge and record of success in creating a successful FinTech operation, are likely to be extremely valuable to Gemini, as it looks to grow its business in the region. This is still a fledgling space and exchanges such as Gemini are helping to bring greater confidence and security to the trading of crypto assets. The segment has significant potential for growth and I suspect that Europe is likely to prove fruitful for the company with Sawyer at the helm.

Posted by: Jon C Davies

Tags: cryptocurrency  

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Thursday 05 December 2019

OCTO snaps up vehicle data specialist Nebula Systems

Nebula Systems logoBuckingham-based vehicle data business Nebula Systems has been acquired by OCTO Telematics for an undisclosed fee.

Based in Rome, Italy, OCTO provides telematics and data analytics solutions for the automotive insurance industry. It claims to have 6m connected users and to hold the largest global database of telematics data, with more than 248bn miles of driving data collected and over 464,000 crashes and insurance events analysed.

OCTO logoIn 2016, RAC Group acquired 51% of the issued share capital of Nebula for £4m, included a put and call option to acquire the remaining 49%. However, in line with the RAC's strategic focus, the Group sold its stake back to Nebula at the start of 2018 for a cash consideration of £300k.

OCTO started working with Nebula on specialist projects in early 2018. This work highlighted the synergies between the businesses and lead to a strategic partnership and OCTO announcing a minority investment in Nebula in August 2018.

Following the acquisition, Nebula’s cloud-based vehicle diagnostics and data platform will be integrated into OCTO’s Intelligent Mobility solution. This should enable vehicle health, status and operations to be monitored, analysed, diagnosed and maintained, more effectively and reduce mobility management costs for fleet managers. 

This is another example of a promising UK tech business being acquired by an overseas company (see Topping the global rankings for 'inward investment' is not such a 'good thing'), but it does look to be a great opportunity for the business. 

Posted by: Dale Peters

Tags: cloud   telematics   data   automotive   insurTech   vehicles  

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Thursday 05 December 2019

Black Dragon Capital snaps up Maginus

MaginusFavourable exchange rates continue to attract US investment into the UK tech sector. Miami-based private equity firm Black Dragon Capital (BDC) has acquired Manchester-based e-commerce provider Maginus. Financials were not disclosed.

Black Dragon CapitalMaginus principally serves the retail and distribution sectors with UX, design, build and implementation services and has a list of well-known clients including SmegFarrow & Ball and The Wine Society. BDC plans to combine Maginus with another portfolio company, Digital Goodie a Finnish digital commerce provider, with a view to developing market share in the Order Management System (OMS) sector principally serving retailers.

Earlier this week figures out from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) showed that the value of foreign direct investment (FDI) into the UK outstripped British investment abroad for only the second time on record last year, as Americans piled into the country and Europeans withdrew. Very little FDI goes into creating new businesses (greenfield investment). Instead, it is spent acquiring existing assets such as companies and property, all made more attractive by a weak Pound. Given where the Pound remains relative to the Dollar, expect to see more of this.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick

Tags: acquisition   retail   ecommerce  

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Thursday 05 December 2019

Business model-free Otta recruits backers to improve candidate experience

logoI greatly admire the chutzpah of young entrepreneurs setting out to try to ‘disrupt’ the recruitment market. But I really do wonder why they bother. Especially if there’s no business model to speak of.

But it’s all good entrepreneurial experience if you can find backers to feed and water you on the journey. Such is the case for London-based Otta, which has just raised £850k in its first funding round, backed by LocalGlobe and various angels.

Founded in June this year by three ex-employees of online estate agent Nested, and launched in August, Otta’s USP is that it only allows a ‘curated’ set of employing organisations on the platform, whom candidates apply to directly. Otta doesn’t charge companies to post jobs, neither does it charge candidates to apply. In an interview with TechCrunch, the founders said they are not currently monetising the platform, adding “We have committed to only making money in a way that improves the experience for candidates”.

Awesome.

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: funding   startup  

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Thursday 05 December 2019

‘Ethical’ survey platform Prolific gets funding boost

logoBack in April 2017, I started my commentary about survey startups with the words, “If you believe that what the world needs now is more surveys, then I have jolly good news for you. There’s another technology platform vying to help corporates do their market research.” (see Investors ‘Attest’ the need for a better survey engine). Well, here’s another one.

Prolific was founded in 2014 by two Ph.D. students initially for university research surveys. According to an interview with the founders in TechCrunch, the most widely used tool for academic research is Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, but this is apparently heavily US and India-centric, so they set about building their own platform. Prolific has since grown beyond academe, with over 3,000 customers and a network of more than 70,000 research participants.

Prolific has just raised a further $1.2m in a seed funding round co-led by Silicon Valley-based Pioneer Fund, and Altair Capital, with support from various angel investors.

Prolific’s USP is claimed to be its “ethical and trustworthy” research, in so far as research participants are paid a minimum of $6.50 per hour. Research sponsors only pay per data point collected, but the fee is not disclosed on its website. Prolific also claims to verify and monitor participants: “You only pay for data you approve”.

Like all well-served markets, especially ones with dominant players such as SurveyMonkey as well as Mechanical Turk, there’s usually space for focused, differentiated entrants. Indeed, besides consumer research focused Attest mentioned above,  we have also commented on Mercia-backed video survey startup Voxpopme (see Mercia and mates pop more dosh into Voxpopme).

But as ever, it all comes down to whether they can make any money from the business. In that regard, I am not sure how the numbers in Prolific’s business model stack up.

By the way, for an “ethical” research outfit, it would be nice if they gave you the option to chose which cookies to enable on their website rather than just show a boilerplate GDPR disclaimer.

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: funding   startup  

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Thursday 05 December 2019

Do you have a clear view on your marketing plans for 2020?

TechMarketView Advertising Offer

Posted by: HotViews Editor

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Wednesday 04 December 2019

Vodafone brings AWS Wavelength to Europe

Vodafone logoPartnerships are becoming a growing feature of Vodafone Business’ strategy. We covered, in depth, the company’s partnership with IBM, which led to the venture’s first major customer being signed in the summer (see Vodafone and IBM: Benefits of an enduring partnership). Then, last month, we learned of a new partnership with Google; Vodafone is moving data processing and storage from its own premises to Google Cloud and using Google’s real time analysis/AI tools to develop new services for business clients and streamline its operations across 24 countries.

AWS logoThe latest announcement is of a collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to “bring edge computing closer to customers”. Vodafone will be the first telco to make AWS Wavelength available in Europe. The first regions to benefit will be the UK and Germany; this will be followed by expansion to other Vodafone markets across Europe.

AWS Wavelength supports ultra-low latency by enabling compute and storage services at the edge of telecoms’ providers 5G networks. Developer are able to service use cases where responsiveness is critical e.g. AI, augmented and virtual reality, video analytics autonomous vehicles, robotics and drone control.

Like the Vodafone-IBM venture, this arrangement sees Vodafone partnering to ensure it can offer its customers the best capabilities in relation to advanced technologies like 5G, augmented reality and edge computing. Cloud has been the best performing area of Vodafone Business this past year; such relationships seek to ensure that situation continues.

Posted by: Georgina O'Toole

Tags: cloud   partnerships   5G  

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Wednesday 04 December 2019

All UK police forces sign-up for HOLMES2

Unisys logoSecurity-centric technology company Unisys has announced all UK police forces and associated law enforcement agencies will be live on the latest version of its HOLMES2 platform early in 2020.

In 1986, police forces started using the original version of the ‘Home Office Large Major Enquiry System’, better known as HOLMES. In 1994 a plan to introduce a new version of HOLMES was announced, with Unisys winning the contract to deliver HOLMES2 in 1997. When this contract expired in 2015 police forces took the decision to continue using HOLMES2, signing individual agreements with Unisys via G-Cloud.

Unisys started developing a new version of HOLMES2 based on its Unisys Law Enforcement Application Framework (U-LEAF) and subsequently utilised an upgraded version of U-LEAF, Digital Investigator, which went live in 2016; this brought additional functionality and browser-based delivery via Unisys’s secure cloud service. With the exception of one police force, which will go live early next year, all forces are now receiving HOLMES2 as a cloud service.

The platform is used to investigate serious crimes and to manage disaster response during terrorist incidents or natural disasters. It provides a real-time view of live operations to assist decision-making and management of police resources. HOLMES2 also features new functionality for the UK Police Major Incident Public Reporting Site, which is led by Durham Constabulary and is designed to improve online engagement with citizens by giving them the ability to respond to public appeals for information.

Unisys generates the greatest proportion of its UK public sector revenue from policing. This is mostly through its command and control contract with the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), secure services delivered to local and national agencies, and HOLMES2. With the MPS moving to a new command and control supplier in the near future (see UK Public Sector SITS Market Trends & Forecasts 2019-22) it was vital for Unisys to maintain its presence in UK law enforcement by securing these contracts for the latest version of HOLMES2.

Posted by: Dale Peters

Tags: contract   saas   cloud   software   police   bluelight  

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Wednesday 04 December 2019

Growth hiatus worrying for i-nexus

Logoi-nexus Global plc, the Coventry-based strategy execution software platform provider, has made a disappointing start to its life as a public company. In the first full post-IPO financial year (the twelve months to 30th September 2019) top line growth all but stalled. Revenue for the period increased by just 0.3% yoy to £4.76m. Absent of higher sales to offset its investments, the company’s losses deepened sharply rising to over £4m from £627K in FY18.

The slowdown in the second half of the year is of greater concern. H119 revenue was up 3% yoy (see here) meaning that growth flatlined in the second half. Having acquired seven new customers during the first six months of the year, i-nexus could only add one more to the pot in H2. This left the total for FY19 two short of the prior year number. Licence sales for the year receded slightly and professional services billings (the only area of growth in the year) weakened in the second half.

On a more positive note, upsells and cross sells in the company’s existing accounts were substantially higher in FY19. Customer churn, however, largely outweighed this improvement and i-nexus exited the year with closing monthly recurring revenue barely unchanged at £340k (FY18 exit: £335k). This lack of stickiness is worrisome going forward.

Despite the weak performance, company management is cautiously optimistic about the coming twelve months. They believe that their three-pronged strategy of enhancing the company's go to market capabilities, develop its products capabilities and scaling the its partner programme will pay dividends. Its target market of US and European Fortune 500 companies is, however, both a notoriously tough nut to crack and a space where sales cycles are usually long and unpredictable. More positive signs of progress will be needed in 2020 to demonstrate that i-nexus is on the right track.

Posted by: Duncan Aitchison

Tags: results   cloud   software   digital  

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Wednesday 04 December 2019

Salesforce and Workday: different stages but similar transition journeys

logologoSalesforce and Workday both reported Q320 results (to 31 October 2019) overnight, both beating expectations although both also saw their share price bounce around in after-hours trading.

Salesforce stormed through with revenue up 33% to $4.5bn and a stated long-term goal of $34bn-$35bn in FY24, although near term guidance was considered a little light. It dropped back into net loss of $109m compared to the modest $105m net profit of the year ago due to acquisition activity. This included the $15.3bn Tableau investment, which contributed $308m during Q3. Clicksoft’s contribution was not specified but Mulesoft, the strategic integration acquisition of last year contributed $185m. 

In fact Salesforce spent $24bn on acquisitions over the past 18 months as it matured, expanded into new areas and progressed towards more sales of integrated solutions and hybrid integration. A measure of its maturity – and the need to expand to maintain the growth rates expected of it – was the growth rate of the original Sales Cloud in Q3. Although strong at 15%, it lagged the 73% of the Salesforce Platform, 24% of the Service Cloud, and 32% of the (much smaller) Marketing and Ecommerce Clouds.

Over at Workday, revenue rose 26% to $938.1m and the net loss decreased somewhat to $116m (vs. $153m) on its base of 3000 customers. It too is expanding the scope of the business having already moved from HR into Financial Management (which now has 800 customers). Acquisitions have played their part, including the 2018 $1.55bn Adaptive Insights transaction. The $540m acquisition of esourcing and procurement software provider Scout is currently in progress as Workday builds Spend Management capability into another leg of the business – more investment is anticipated here. 

There are similarities between Salesforce and Workday’s expansion journeys, something Workday CEO Aneel Bhusri highlighted: “I would point you to the transition that Salesforce went through. They're 6 years older than us, one of our best partners. They went from being a sales company to a sales and services company to a sales and service and marketing company and platform. Now they've got analytics. We're going through that same journey and growth rates kind of ebb and flow as the different pillars take off.”

Posted by: Angela Eager

Tags: results   saas   software  

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Wednesday 04 December 2019

Reed Smith automating Ts&Cs

Reed SmithWhilst much of the innovation in the lawtech space is coming from the cluster of start-ups springing up in the UK, the key to commercialising and driving adoption of new technologies still somewhat lay with the law firms themselves, particularly the very big ones. Translating good ideas into commercially viable products and services has seen several of the big law firms launch incubators and establish tech subsidiaries.

Term JetHowever, much of the early investment in legal automation has been very task orientated, designed to improve profitability for the partners and/or reduce costs for clients – not what you would call genuinely disruptive. It’s taken time, but we are now starting to see entire legal processes (the law itself) get automated.

A good example of this has just come out of work done by law firm ReedSmith and its lawtech subsidiary, GravityStack, with additional support from the European arm of kids’ entertainment brand Cartoon Network. The product is called TermJet and it automates the production of terms and conditions (T&Cs) for online competitions, prize promotions and sweepstakes. By answering a series of basic questions through a user interface, individuals without any legal qualifications can create online Ts&Cs there and then, conforming to local laws and languages. The platform is updated centrally to reflect any legal developments and ensures businesses remain compliant, as well as ensuring Ts&Cs benefit from digital efficiencies.

In the work on lawtech adoption that we published earlier in the year (on behalf of the Law Society), we saw that Legal Services were very much behind the curve relative to other sectors when it came to digital adoption. This type of spin out is most welcome and a really good example of how the sector is maturing rapidly.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick

Tags: lawtech  

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Wednesday 04 December 2019

OMERS counts out dosh to boost Quorso’s business performance

logoIt seems there’s always room in the market for another business management software platform, so it’s good to see London-headquartered Quorso attracting investor interest. Founded in 2016 by two McKinsey consultants, Quorso has closed a £4m/$5.2m Series A funding round led by OMERS Ventures, with existing investor Hambro Perks joining in the raise. This brings total funding so far to $12.6m (Source: CrunchBase). Quorso’s clients include National Express, Edwardian Hotels, and Compass Group.

This really is a crowded market, but perhaps Quorso’s focus on just a few verticals (Retail, Restaurants, Hotels, Transportation) may help differentiate the product from more generalised ‘performance management’ platforms.

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: funding   startup  

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Wednesday 04 December 2019

Not a good start to the month for tech stocks

SharesMaybe the tech shareholders amongst our readers (and there are a lot!) should band together to stop Holway going on holiday (stocks almost always crash when I do) or tweet comments like “The tech indices we follow just keep going up-and-up. Looks like 2019 will be a vintage year unless December tanks...” My monthly Review of tech share performance in November had reported another fantastic month for tech stocks both on NASDAQ and in the UK. Had been pretty good for FTSE100 stocks too.  

But in first two trading days of December, NASDAQ has slumped 2.5%, the UK’s FTSE SCS Index is down 2.1% and the FTSE100 is off an even higher 2.6%.

There are two major reasons for this:

  • President Trump has made all kinds of comments to raise the temperature in the current trade wars. Not just indicating that an end to the trade wars with China might not be as close as the markets had hoped. But also threatening trade wars with any country that dared to introduce what is referred to as the Digital Tax on large US tech companies. France was threatened with 100% tariffs on its wine and other goods. All UK parties have put a similar tax in their manifestos. But no threats against the UK...yet!
  • The £/$ exchange rate has risen to over $1.30 to the £. As most of the FTSE100 make their money outside the UK, their earnings are adversely effected as the £ strengthens. And, of course, if your tech share portfolio is mainly in $ denominated stocks (like the Holway Portfolio) you are going to get a double-whammy when the likes of Apple fall and you get hit again when the share price is converted back into £s.

So many ‘unknowns’ at the moment that almost anything could happen in the next few weeks. Trump is quite capable of making further statements which could send the market up or down. And we will know the result of the UK General Election which could easily put the £/$ up OR down 10%.

We certainly live in uncertain times!

Posted by: Richard Holway

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Wednesday 04 December 2019

Julie Meyer’s VIP backs fleet management software firm, Drive

logoI don’t usually write about funding rounds if the value of the raise is not disclosed. But I was curious to learn more about Stevenage-based fleet management software developer Drive Software Solutions, which was reported to have secured unspecified funding from Swiss investment firm, VIVA Investment Partners (VIP).

To be honest, I hadn’t heard of VIP before, so digging just a little deeper it appears that it was cofounded in July 2018 by well-known tech entrepreneur Julie Meyer, previously Founder & CEO of London-based Ariadne Capital, which went into administration in December 2017 (Source: Business Insider) and was subsequently sold in 2018 to Zurich-based  Pelion Pension Advisors SA, chaired by Dr. René Eichenberger.

On VIP’s LinkedIn page, Meyer reveals that Drive is VIP’s first investment and that she had been courting the company since August 2018 with a view to acquisition and installation of a new CEO (Alastair Houston) and chairman (Eichenberger) i.e. a management buy-in. Houston was managing director at Sandicliffe Motor Contracts and prior, he held a number of executive roles at UK commercial vehicle hire business, Northgate plc. Eichenberger is Meyer’s cofounder at VIP.

Founded in 2002, Drive now operates in over 50 countries worldwide and plans to use the new funding to drive further global expansion.

I really hope this works.

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: funding  

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Wednesday 04 December 2019

HPE updates hybrid cloud strategy with GreenLake Central

hpeHPE has announced the latest evolution of its hybrid cloud strategy, with the promise of delivering a “cloud-like experience” to its customers, on premise. HPE GreenLake Central was revealed to great fanfare at the HPE Discover More summit in Munich yesterday, by the company’s President and CEO, Antonio Neri. The development is part of HPE's declared aim to position itself as the leading "Edge to cloud platform as a Service company".

GreenLake Central is HPE’s response to the growing popularity of public cloud and aims to allow its customers to enjoy many of the benefits of public cloud, whilst retaining their HPE on premise infrastructure assets. In response to customer feedback, HPE is planning to provide customers with the business agility, flexible pricing models and consumption-based terms that the rivals of AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud are offering via the public cloud.

To support its strategy, HPE has developed a unique hybrid cloud management dashboard that will enable its customers to actively manage all of their storage and processing, whether on premise or in the cloud. The platform has been designed to provide users with visibility of the capacity and utilisation of on-premise data centres, so that they can maximise efficiency and control cost, in a similar fashion to the point and click nature of some public cloud provision.

Although some significant automation of end user infrastructure will be required to make HPE’s vision a reality, the approach is certain to be appealing to many. HPE GreenLake Central promises to address many of the drivers of public cloud adoption and thus help customers and HPE extract maximum benefit from their physical assets. The strategy also highlights the value of HPE’s financing arm, HPE Financial Services, which is underwriting the company’s offer to provide its customers with as a Service, pay as you go pricing, for on premise data centres.  

Posted by: Jon C Davies

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Wednesday 04 December 2019

**UKHotViewsExtra**AWS ReInvent 2019: Delivering value faster

awsAWS ReInvent 2019 has been a fast-paced dive into Amazon Web Services’ most recent – and forthcoming – product releases. Today, CEO, Andy Jassy, used his impressive three-hour keynote to walk the audience through a whole raft of new releases – and he brought various high profile brands on stage to demonstrate just how AWS is helping its customers. Cerner’s CEO, for example, spoke about how it has reduced hospital re-admission rates for the largest care-giver in the US to the lowest level in a decade through preventative actions using Machine Learning (ML) services from AWS. The CEO of Goldman Sachs explained how AWS underpins the firm’s Marcus product, and Verizon’s CEO talked about how it will use AWS Wavelength –the platform for edge computing – on its 5G network.

Jassy strongly believes that AWS technology can give organisations access to transformative technology, and the value it can bring, more quickly and without the need for highly specialised (and scarce/expensive) developers/data experts. For example, he talked through a raft of SageMaker (its toolkit for ML modeling) announcements that bring further depth to the offering. Jassy argues that the only way to bring ML into an organisation in a meaningful way is to make it much more accessible to a much greater number of developers. More....

Posted by: HotViews Editor

Tags: cloud   machinelearning   EdgeComputing  

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Tuesday 03 December 2019

A BIG THANK YOU from GOSH!

GOSH RBC Race for the Kids CertificateNow the final total is confirmed, we want to say a huge THANK YOU to all the TechMarketView readers that supported TechMarketView’s RBC Race for the Kids for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity (GOSH CC).

Thanks to your generosity the sum raised for the hospital was a staggering £6,575.21. As you’ll see from our letter of thanks from GOSH, this extraordinary hospital relies on support from donations. The money will help fund: wards and medical facilities designed around children to help with treatment; pioneering research to tackle complex childhood illnesses; advanced equipment for treating tough conditions; support services that make life in hospital as normal as possible.

GOSH RBC Race for the Kids letterOver the ten years that my son, Thomas, has been treated at the hospital we have benefited greatly. From the understanding that the whole family is affected; to the play specialists at hand to help through difficult procedures; to the wonderful staff that have made Sky Ward a home-from-home. We feel privileged to have experienced this wonderful place. Thanks to the TechMarketView team that ran the 5K around Hyde Park on a very wet Saturday, and all our supporters, more children will be given the same chance.

If you can spare a couple of minutes, a great way to show further support and make a child’s stay in GOSH at Christmas a little more bearable, is to send a Christmas Stocking message – the stockings are hung on the Wards. They really do help! Go ahead and Write a Christmas Message…..

THANK YOU!

Posted by: Georgina O'Toole

Tags: charity  

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Tuesday 03 December 2019

HelpSystems buys Clearswift

ClearswiftFurther consolidation in the cybersecurity market as US-HQ’d HelpSystems acquires Clearswift, a UK-based content threat protection software company. No details of the deal have been released.

HelpSystems has some 18,000 customers supported out of 25 offices globally (including in Fleet) and has a portfolio already spanning Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Document Management, Business Intelligence and Enterprise Workload Automation among other things. It is expanding its cybersecurity portfolio adding Clearswift’s content inspection capabilities which scans information as it enters or leaves an organisation, allowing data to be securely transmitted via email, or other web-based methods. There is clear potential to cross and up sell to both sets of existing customers.

Mergers and acquisitions continue to ramp up in this space. The last 12 months has been a very buoyant period for cyber security M&A in all segments of the market, pointing to the fact that a long overdue consolidation of a diverse supplier landscape is finally underway. Larger firms have always been on the lookout for innovative start-ups in the pursuit of both IP and cyber skills as well as products, services and customer bases and HelpSystems will hope Clearswift fits the bill. 

Posted by: Marc Hardwick

Tags: acquisition  

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Tuesday 03 December 2019

EY UK acquires specialist SAP HANA consultancy

LogoEY UK&I has acquired Oxford-based AgilityWorks, a consulting business which specialises in the deployment of HANA based SAP technology. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Founded in 2006, AgilityWorks grew by over 30% last year generating revenue of £16.9m, 90% of which came from UK engagements. Profit before tax for the twelve months to 31st December 2018 more than doubled yoy to £1.2m. The company’s team, which numbered 122 people at the start of this year, will join with the EY UK&I SAP practice and operate as EY AgilityWorks.

AgilityWorks adds materially to EY UK&I’s capabilities in a hot area of the market. Demand for SAP S/4HANA, and therefore by inference its associated consulting services, remains strong. The three months to 31st September saw SAP sign-up over 500 customers for the ERP platform taking the total number of S/4HANA clients over the 12,000 mark, up 25% yoy. Other specialist UK SAP service providers such as Keytree have also experienced rapid expansion in recent years.

This latest acquisition should provide EY UK&I with a much needed top line boost. The Big Four consultancy has been finding growth elusive of late (see here). Its FY19 advisory services sales shrank by 3% yoy to around £630m. Given that this line of business is dominated by the provision of SITS related advice it must be assumed that turnover from this too struggled to make any ground during the last financial year. The firm still has much more to do, however, if it is avoid falling further behind its rivals Deloitte and PwC.

Posted by: Duncan Aitchison

Tags: acquisition   SAP   big+4  

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Tuesday 03 December 2019

Motion measurement moves Oxford Metrics forward

logoThree years into its five year growth plan and investments are bearing fruit at Oxford Metrics. The provider of motion measurement and infrastructure asset management software to the government, life sciences, entertainment and engineering sectors reported Adjusted PBT of £5.5m (up 5.7%) on revenue up 11.7% to £35.3m in the year to 30 September 2019. 

It wasn’t a perfect year – despite new customer wins, at £7m revenue was marginally down within the cloud based Yotta asset management division due to the (now completed) SaaS shift and slower than expected customer implementations. ARR increased however. The division was also rejigged with the sale of Yotta surveying assets. 2020 will be an important year for this newer division of the business.

What was particularly encouraging was the performance of the Vicon motion measurement division. This is the largest and longest established division of the business yet it delivered a 16% increase in headline revenue. The vibrant engineering sector was a contributor: revenue expanded by 37.7%, with new contracts with European Space Agency, Thales Alenia Space, Northrup Grumman and NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab. And as per the overall growth plan, the division also entered into adjacent markets - elite sports and location based VR. 

Oxford Metrics, a long time participant in the motion measurement business, is benefitting from what it describes as the “Augmented Age”, where lives are being enhanced and augmented through digital interfaces. Simply put, the market is coming to Oxford Metrics (e.g. smartwatches, fitness trackers, smartphones, robots, VR rigs and vehicles all routinely track movement). It is benefitting now (see here for the background) and has the scope to continue to do so as customers across industries find more uses for motion measurement.  

Posted by: Angela Eager

Tags: results   software  

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Tuesday 03 December 2019

Mercia gets VCT boost with NVM deal

logoThe big news accompanying half-time results from recently rebranded Mercia Asset Management plc (see New brand, new focus, new chair for Mercia) is an agreement to acquire the venture capital trust (VCT) fund management business of NVM Private Equity LLP for up to £25m cash and shares. The acquisition will be part-funded by a £30m placing at 25p per share, a not insubstantial 22% discount to Mercia’s 32p closing price yesterday.

This is a significant acquisition for Mercia, boosting its VCT portfolio by some £270m, and increasing Mercia’s total assets under management by over 50% to £770m. Both Mercia and NVM are prolific investors in UK tech, sometimes in the same business (see Mercia and mates pop more dosh into Voxpopme). On the face of it, this deal makes good sense. Mercia gets a huge boost to its core VCT business, while (I assume) NVM gets to focus on its knitting (small management buyouts).

I met up again with Mercia CEO Mark Payton just the other week. He has taken Mercia from being a Midlands-focused university spin-out investor to a publicly quoted, regionally focused broad-based backer of young, high-growth UK tech companies. Payton reiterated his aim to grow Mercia into an operationally profitable business (not there yet) with £1b of assets under management. The NVM deal gets him substantially closed to the latter objective. Prudent management will be required to achieve the former.

Update: Just heard back from Mark Payton - the NVM deal will push Mercia into monthly profitability and he expects they will be profitable on a trading basis in FY2021. Good stuff!

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: acquisition  

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Monday 02 December 2019

**NEW RESEARCH** Cloud and Infrastructure Services Market Trends and Forecasts

Live now for TechMarketView clients is our latest Cloud and Infrastructure Services Market Trends and Forecasts research.

Accounting for almost 40% of the total UK IT Services, the Infrastructure Services market is set to see improvements over our forecast period. In spite of the steep declines in Heritage segment areas (e.g. some traditional data centre services), the market overall will see growth rates tick upwards. That is because consistent picgrowth in New – and increasingly large – market areas (namely public and private cloud services, cloud brokerage, and multi-cloud/hybrid IT management) will begin to outstrip Heritage declines.

But this market is as complex as it is large. Digital Chaos is causing difficulties for buyers who know they must make a much more substantial financial commitment to the Infrastructure Services that will form the bedrock foundations for digitising the core of their organisation. Cloud platforms, supported by a very clear digital strategy, can become the “islands of stability” in this Digital Chaos; a way to deliver core Infrastructure Services in a transformative way, but also as a ‘gateway technology’ to new services based on Blockchain, AI and quantum computing, for example.

However, for an IT service brand to be truly synonymous with digital transformation, it must be able to make an unequivocal commitment to delivering business outcomes. Understanding and addressing core business problems is the critical entry point for suppliers who want to cultivate larger and much more extensive digital-based deals.

This report highlights the key trends in the Infrastructure Services market and makes suggestions for how suppliers can approach these in a successful way. It is essential reading for any supplier looking to understand their place – and evolve their position – in a market that is undoubtedly full of opportunity and challenge in equal measure.

TechMarketView clients can read the research here: Cloud and Infrastructure Services Market Trends and Forecasts 2019-2022.

For more information, please contact Deb Seth.

Posted by: HotViews Editor

Tags: cloud   automation   hybrid  

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Monday 02 December 2019

Just what you've always wanted...

HVP image

Posted by: HotViews Editor

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Monday 02 December 2019

CGI, the Metro Model, and CSR

CGI logoNo-one can accuse CGI of pursuing its Metro Model strategy half-heartedly. The UK business has fully embraced the model, which combines global reach with local proximity, and it is proving beneficial to the business (see CGI: Strong FY19).

Last week saw the opening of its Liverpool office, as part of the company’s wider plan to drive growth and investment in northern England, and in the North West, in particular. The new office is located in the South Edward Pavilion by the Albert Docks and will, initially, host 70 CGI members, a large number of whom will be supporting the region’s anchor Disclosure & Barring Service IT services contract (DBS – see CGI bars, the competition, disclosing DBS win).

CGI’s proximity model focuses on helping communities in which its members live and work. In Liverpool, CGI has joined forces with a local charity, the Royal Albert Dock Charitable Foundation, which focuses on the education of children and young people. It is also a member of the Canal & River Trust Corporate Membership Programme and intends to organise five volunteering days a year, with one or more of those in Liverpool.

CGI Liverpool Office opening photoA further display of Corporate & Social Responsibility (CSR) from the company was evident in the Scottish Borders last week. Michael Herron, CGI UK’s Vice President of Central Government, and senior leader responsible for Environmental Issues in the UK, was present at the Liverpool Office opening (see him pictured alongside Paul Cherpeau, Chief Executive, Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, Paul Buxton, Vice President Consulting Services, and Gary Millar, Deputy Mayor of Liverpool). He then made his way further north, joining CGI’s Business Unit Leader in Scotland, Lindsay McGranaghan, on Borders Forest Trust land at Talla and Gameshope Estate, near Tweedsmuir, Peeblesshire. There, they launched CGI’s new UK-wide initiative entitled ‘No Planet B’. ‘No Planet B’ will see 5,500 trees – one for every CGI worker in the UK – planted in the Scottish Borders; the trees will form part of a new programme to create a 250-acre public access native woodland.

Gary Blanchard, Chief Operating Officer at DBS, summed up the view of CGI that this strategy gives clients: “the opening of the Liverpool office shows (CGI's) commitment both to working with DBS, and to the local area”. Meanwhile James Hepburne Scott, of Forest Carbon, cried out for more firms to “get behind forward thinking initiatives like these that offer tangible social and environmental benefits.” For us, the key word here is ‘commitment’, not just in monetary investment, but also in time. Doing good always proves to be good for business.

Posted by: Georgina O'Toole

Tags: csr   office   charity  

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Monday 02 December 2019

Troubled Maestrano gambles on transport to delight

LogoMaster data management and business analytics platform specialist Maestrano Group plc faces an uncertain future. The decision at the back end of its last financial year (the twelve months to 31st June 2019) by the its largest customer, a US bank to cease investment in the company’s product was followed soon after by the end of Maestrano's other major contract held with an Australian bank. Together, these two clients generated 90% of FY19 revenues.

A fundamental strategic reassessment of the AIM-listed business ensued. This led to the closure of its New York and London offices leaving only the company’s Sydney operations intact. It also produced the decision to shift Maestrano’s vertical industry focus from the banking arena to the transport sector through the acquisition in September of Airsight Holdings Pty Ltd, an Australian provider of engineering surveying services with digital recording devices for transport corridors, such as rail and road networks.

As for the full year results themselves, not surprisingly they did not make for happy reading. Turnover for FY19 was down 7% yoy to £905K and losses before tax increased sharply by 39% to £2.68m (£1.93m in FY18). On a more positive note, the company ended the year with cash and receivables totalling £2.74m.

The level of corporate reinvention being attempted by Maestrano, as it seeks to establish itself as the artificial intelligence platform for transport corridor analytics, is both massive and risky. The announcement last week of a new contract with the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy, won by Airsight, provided some early encouraging news. The company’s road to recovery, however, is likely to prove both long and difficult to navigate.

Posted by: Duncan Aitchison

Tags: results   transport   platform   AI   MDM  

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Monday 02 December 2019

Iotic: €7.5m to connect digital twins

logoIotic is a child of its time, blending digital and heritage technologies and bridging physical and digital environments with its digital twin proposition. The concept of a digital twin is well established but often refers to the virtualisation of a single item. The latest evolution is virtualising multiple items which requires a blend of virtualisation and secure interconnectivity (middleware to use the traditional term) and that’s where Iotic comes in. 

The startup provides a cloud-based brokered interoperability layer between multiple systems (from heritage to IoT), data, assets, places and even people, alongside the capability to create the virtual models that includes semantic modelling, event analysis and automation tools. Iotic ticks many of the right Industry 4.0 and Enterprise 4.0 boxes, hooks digital technologies like AI/ML, IoT and intelligent automation into existing IT environments, and holds the promise of a practical tool to turn digital agendas into practical realities. 

The proposition has secured funding of €7.5m from IQ CapitalTalis Capital and Breed Reply for the company that was founded in Cambridge in 2014, is now based in London and has recently opened a US office. It cites Rolls-Royce Power Systems and BAM Nuttall as customers and the initial target markets are manufacturing, construction and infrastructure, large sectors that are starting to ramp up investments in digital-enabling technologies.

Posted by: Angela Eager

Tags: funding   startup   software   manufacturing  

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Monday 02 December 2019

Corero makes early gains with hybrid DDoS solution

Corero makes early gains with hybrid DDoS solutionA trio of new contract wins and extensions should boost Corero Network Security’s revenue for the current financial year and beyond, with the company’s automated distributed denial of service (DDoS) platform attracting cloud and hosting service providers in the UK, US and Asia Pacific keen to stave off the sort of volumetric flood attack that took Wikipedia servers offline earlier this year.

Two new customers signed deals to lease Corero’s new SmartWall DDoS Protection as a Service (DDPaaS) solution while another extended an existing agreement, guaranteeing Corero additional turnover of around US$1.1m over the next three years.

The company may well need the money. A trading update suggested it endured a difficult first half after revenue dipped 16% yoy to US$4.2m in H119 as previous momentum from its global retail partnership with Juniper Networks appeared to stall.

That relationship further deepened last month when Corero received another US$1.4m of equity investment from its partner. Future revenue growth will depend to a certain extent on Juniper’s success in selling Corero’s SmartWall Threat Defense Director (TDD) software and services alongside its own MX Series routers, but DDPaaS adds another dimension to Corero’s portfolio which reflects the increasingly hybrid nature of modern cyber security solutions (read our report Cyber Security Market Trends and Forecasts here)

Posted by: Martin Courtney

Tags: contracts   DDoS   cybersecurity   cloudserviceproviders  

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Monday 02 December 2019

Mixed blessings for Pelatro Asian telco win

PelatroLondon-based AIM-listed precision marketing software minnow Pelatro, specialises in the telco space and serves a very international client base. Asia has been a particularly happy hunting ground for the firm, and it has won a major new contract with an unnamed Asian telco, described in today’s trading update as one of the largest global telcos in the world”.

The contract will be delivered on a managed service basis for an initial period of 5 years, and is expected to be worth between $10m to $12m. Pelatro sees this contract win as “highly significant for the long-term prospects for the Group” as it looks to build a sustainable business with high recurring revenues.

However, it looks like the time and management resource spent to secure the contract win has taken its toll on this year’s financial performance. The firm blames this for likely 2019 revenue coming in below expectations.

On the plus side, the new contract should help Pelatro start the new year in a stronger position than twelve months ago and despite the slow conversion and sales cycle the current pipeline at $15m looks pretty healthy.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick

Tags: contract   telcoms   update  

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Monday 02 December 2019

Struggling TechFinancials faces an uncertain future

Financial trading software provider, TechFinancials, has announced substantial changes to its structure and market presence, in light of significant operating challenges. The British Virgin Islands based FinTech has also taken the decision to withdraw from the AIM market and maintain a listing on the NEX Exchange Growth Market ("NEX").

tfIn the face of mounting losses and increased regulatory pressure, TechFinancials has closed its 51% owned joint venture, DragonFinancials, with immediate effect. The move means the company has exited the B2C sector. Meanwhile, TechFinancials struggling B2B arm is likely to be hit hard by the closure of DragonFinancials, which was its major customer. The Company is therefore currently reviewing the viability of its the remaining B2B operations.

TechFinancials performance has been erratic for some time now and the company has previously made unsuccessful efforts to diversify into new areas such as FOREX and CFDs (see: TechFinancials sorts out its portfolio). Interim results in August revealed a 45% drop in revenues, coupled with a 34% rise in operating losses (see: H1 results reveal difficult times for TechFinancials).

Going forward, TechFinancials plans to focus on its initiatives around blockchain applications. However, with H1 blockchain trading revenues down 32% and the company’s fledgling, sports ticketing subsidiary, Footies, still looking for its first client, the future looks far from certain.

Posted by: Jon C Davies

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Sunday 01 December 2019

Hastee secures £208m investment

HasteeHastee, where my old friend, colleague and ex-CEO of Cap Gemini Geoff Unwin is Chairman, has secured £208m of investment led by Umbra Capital Partners supported by IDC Ventures. It is made up of £8m funding and a £200m credit line to roll out its Loans to Employees service more widely.

I guess most HotViews readers are paid monthly. For some waiting a whole month to get paid for work you have already done is a long time - causing all kinds of cash flow issues. Basically Hastee allows you to draw down 50% of your salary as you earn it. The first £100 drawdown is interest free - then it’s a 2.5% transaction charge on further withdrawals. The loan is repaid directly by the employer at the end of month. Mitchell & Butlers, Avery Care Homes and London City Airport are amongst early clients. Clearly a no cost benefit for the employer whose cashflow is unaffected.

I do have some issues with the concept. The 2.5% fee on amounts over £100 is a not insignificant annual interest rate for a few weeks - particularly if the employee has to resort to using this facility month-after-month. But it is certainly better and cheaper than turning to a loan shark. It is much more difficult to get into a spiral of debt with Hastee as the loan is automatically repaid each month. But maybe a better solution would be for workers to have the right to get paid weekly or fortnightly if they so wished. I seem to remember I was offered that when I started work in London in 1966 at the age of 18. I don’t think I could have survived in those early months without it.

Maybe the better employers using Hastee will pay the transaction charges on behalf of their employees? Now that really would make this a benefit all round. Also this seems like a natural addon for traditional payroll services providers.

Footnote - Hastee is not alone in providing this kind of service. HotViews readers should also read:

- Backers advance £40m to salary advance fintech Wagestream

- Lyft and Uber both offer drivers the option to draw down pay by Debit Card when what they are owed hits a minimum figure.

- Instand Financial offers a free to use Visa-backed payment card. See Tradional payroll services companies take note!

Posted by: Richard Holway

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