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Friday 18 June 2021

Accenture invests in Beamery for AI talent platform

accAccenture Ventures has made a strategic investment in London-based Beamery. The startup has a data-driven analytical platform to help organisations build the most optimal workforce.

According to Crunchbase, Beamery has received a total of $173m in funding - including $138m in its Series C round (led by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board and including Accenture Ventures, Workday Ventures, and others). There is clearly a lot of interest in the firm from both the investment community and the tech community - and rightly so, we believe. Beamery’s platform can help to rapidly identify possible candidates that are a good fit. It can also help to ascertain the skills and capabilities an organisation needs to create the workforce of the future. Workforce capability and employee experience are absolutely central to success in a digital and post-pandemic world.

Beamery will be part of Project Spotlight. This Accenture Ventures' program targets emerging technology software startups globally. Alongside capital investment, the companies benefit from “unprecedented access” to Accenture’s technology domain expertise and its enterprise clients. They will also co-innovate with Accenture in its Innovation Hubs, Labs and Liquid Studios.

Media reports are suggesting Beamery could be valued at $800m.

Posted by: Kate Hanaghan at 09:40

Tags: funding   investment   talent   workforce  

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Friday 18 June 2021

JPMC mops up Nutmeg in preparation for UK push

NutmegUS banking giant, JPMorgan Chase (JPMC) is set to buy UK digital wealth manager, Nutmeg, in preparation for the launch on its new digital bank later this year. Founded in 2011, by former stockbrokers, Nutmeg provides a “robo-adviser” service driven by AI and automation. The company is yet to turn a profit and most recently saw its losses widen to £22m.

In January, JPMC confirmed longstanding rumours that it was set to enter the UK retail banking market. The new venture will bear the Chase brand and follow in the footsteps of JPMC’s US rival, Goldman SachsMarcus (see: JPMC digital offering to shake up UK banking). JPMC plans to compete directly with the established high street brands as well as the newcomers such as Starling and Monzo.

Crucial to the profitability of the Chase digital venture will be capturing a share of the most profitable areas of the banking value chain. Wealth management is perhaps the most lucrative of these and Nutmeg should provide the US bank with a modern, cost effective, platform and if it chooses to retain it, an established UK brand.

Posted by: Jon C Davies at 09:37

Tags: wealthmanagement   JPMC   Nutmeg   Chase  

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Friday 18 June 2021

Wise the iconoclast has helped turn the tables

Wise, the fintech “Unicorn” formerly known as TransferWise has confirmed plans for a stock market flotation with an IPO planned for July. The London-based cross-border payments specialist, formed to provide a cost-effective way for immigrants and travellers to transfer funds, is expected to be valued somewhere around £7bn when its shares go on sale.

Wise is a true disruptive innovator and has enjoyed phenomenal growth since its foundation in 2010. The founders succesfully challenged the cost-laden status quo within financial services and brought the benefits of efficiency and cost-effectiveness to the end-user community.

As a result of the success of Wise, and that of other payments startups like it, the established players have lost out on significant revenue share. In response, the major banks are increasingly taking steps to try and reverse the trend (see: HSBC wallet addresses fintech attrition).

It is also worth highlighting how the success of Wise has helped to propagate widespread innovation. One of the company's founders, Taavet Hinrikus, is a leading supporter of the fintech and insurtech ecosystems and a major investor in the startup community. Whilst the established brands have latterly started to invest in collaborative innovation, their motives tend to be different, predominantly defensive and based on self-interest.

Interestingly, even in the act of going public, Wise is challenging the status quo. True to its ethos, the planned flotation will be a direct listing. Meaning the shares will go straight to market without the use of brokers and middlemen, who would otherwise be taking a healthy cut. Finally of course, and importantly, Wise is extremely profitable (see: Richard's earlier comments).

Posted by: Jon C Davies at 09:04

Tags: payments   Wise  

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Friday 18 June 2021

Let’s ensure a warm welcome to profitable IPOs

Thanks for all the comments on my Made.com fails to achieve Unicorn status..and why Holway will never be uber-rich post yesterday. Indeed I was touched by the comments that becoming uber-rich was rather less important than helping both young people and businesses to grow.

The main thrust of my article, however, was how I believed that companies should be profitable  Brent Hoberman’s Lastminute.com never made a profit and Made.com has not been profitable since its 2010 creation.

VictorianSelling furniture and selling bathroom fittings via an online portal can’t be very different. But Victorian Plumbing, which is preparing for an AIM IPO, has been profitable since its formation in 2000 - making £26.4m on revenues of £208.7m in the latest full FY to Sept 20. Sales have grown 40% in the first half of the current FY. A valuation of £850m is anticipated and there is therefore a chance of a first few days trading pop to put Victorian Plumbing into Unicorn territory.

You will read elsewhere in HotViews today of the upcoming IPO of (Transfer)Wise.  See Wise the iconoclast has helped turn the tables. Like Made.com it too was formed around 10 years ago. But, unlike Made.com, Wise is profitable-  doubling its profits to £41m in the FY to March 21 on revenues of £421m. A valuation North of £5b is expected providing a major boost to the London market.

Both companies deserve a warm welcome from investors who recognise the importance of actually making profits!

Posted by: Richard Holway at 08:46

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Friday 18 June 2021

Granicus acquires Bang the Table and OpenCities

Granicus logoCitizen engagement specialist, Granicus, has announced it has acquired two Australian-headquartered govtech businesses—Bang the Table and OpenCities—and plans to extend their footprint in the UK.

Bang the Table was founded in 2007 and is headquartered in Victoria. It is responsible for the digital community engagement platform, EngagementHQ, which enables citizens to get involved in planning projects, regional development and community consultations. Bang the Table brought EngagementHQ to the UK in 2018; customers include Kingston, Bury, Enfield, and Bournemouth Christchurch & Poole councils, as well as the Royal Marsden Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Melbourne-headquartered OpenCities was founded in 2008, it provides a low-code platform for local authorities to create community-focused websites and for the creation of interactive forms. Its services are being used by local, county and state governments across North America, Australia and New Zealand.  

The addition of the two Australian companies clearly extends Granicus footprint in Australia and New Zealand, but also has applicability to the UK market. Although these companies have a smaller presence in the UK, the combination of their platforms with Granicus' own govDelivery civil engagement solution and govService intelligent forms platform will enable the business to improve its offering to local government and the wider public sector. It should allow public service providers to gain a more detailed picture of what matters most in their community, improve citizen engagement, and provide more actionable feedback.

As we discussed in our Local Government Supplier & Market Analysis report, demand for digital channels has grown significantly during the pandemic, helping to facilitate council staff working remotely and ensuring citizens can continue to access council services. Granicus has seen a significant increase in the adoption of its citizen service solutions in recent months (see Granicus facilitating channel shift during the pandemic) and with the addition of Bang the Table and OpenCities should be able to extend its footprint across the public sector further.

Posted by: Dale Peters at 08:20

Tags: acquisition   low-code   local+government   public+sector   engagement  

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Friday 18 June 2021

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Posted by: HotViews Editor at 00:00

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Thursday 17 June 2021

*UKHotViewsExtra* AI Award funding gives boost to AI in NHS

NHS X logoThe use of artificial intelligence in health and care in the UK got another boost this week as Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock announced the winners of the second wave of NHS AI Lab’s AI in Health and Care Award. In this phase, 38 innovative projects will share £36m in funding and, importantly, be supported to test and deploy their solutions in the NHS. 

The advantages of using AI in healthcare are increasingly well understood, and as the NHS comes through the pandemic, rather than return to old ways, the emphasis from the centre is – to quote Sir Simon Stevens, CE of the NHS - on “supercharging a more innovative future.” More….

Posted by: Tola Sargeant at 10:56

Tags: nhs   funding   AI   healthcare  

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Thursday 17 June 2021

Bristol City Council turns to Agilisys for IT review

Agilisys logoBristol City Council is working with Agilisys to conduct a review of the local authority's IT services, capabilities and structure.

The local authority, which is responsible for providing services to the c.450,000 citizens in the region, has just completed a major Digital Transformation programme. The work was designed to support the council's digital aspirations of improving its digital capability; accelerating channel shift; working smarter; and building on its culture of innovation.

In 2018 it approved a £20m budget to deliver its ICT Future State Assessment programme, which set out the components needed to deliver a modern, secure, flexible and service-aligned IT service. As part of this programme it partnered with Microsoft through the company's Cloud Navigator Program, which is intended to help local authorities envision, plan, and implement major strategic adoption of cloud services. This work involved migrating 54 workloads to the cloud and working with nearly 500 ecosystem partners and staff to deliver its technology foundations.

The council approached Agilisys to act as a ‘critical friend’ to review the impact of the IT Transformation Programme and the opportunities now available to the council. The company has been working with the organisation for nearly a decade, having secured a £33m ERP deal with the council back in 2012; it still provides support and hosting for this implementation.

The comprehensive review is designed to provide a solid foundation for the organisation as it works towards delivering its new digital strategy and the council's long-term One City Plan for Bristol. The review is intended to provide an assessment of the council's current position, how far digital transformation has progressed, and what issues need to be addressed. Early work has already identified some areas where high-cost services are not adding the expected value.

Over the last couple of years, as local authorities have faced tighter budgetary constraints and a more complex technological landscape, we have seen Agilisys position as a trusted advisor, able to help its clients map a digital transformation path to respond to their biggest challenges (see Agilisys: Adaptation to an evolving market). Its work with Bristol City Council is another example of this approach, and it is now well positioned to expand and extend this relationship as the local authority embarks on its next phase of transforming services through digital technologies.

Posted by: Dale Peters at 09:49

Tags: strategy   partnership   local+government   digital+transformation  

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Thursday 17 June 2021

10x pockets $187m for renewed core banking push

10x10x Future Technologies, the core banking startup founded by former Barclays CEO, Antony Jenkins, has secured new investment of $187m. The Series C funding round was led by BlackRock and CPP Investments and supported by JPMorgan Chase, Nationwide, Ping An and Westpac.

The core banking space has always been a challenging market for vendors, especially newcomers. Banks do not take decisions to make changes to their core lightly, due to the risks involved. Founded in 2016, 10x is looking to use its latest cash injection to further develop its cloud-native offering and to explore possible opportunities overseas.

Relative to other cloud-native newcomers such as Thought Machine and Mambu, 10x has perhaps been been slower to gain real traction in the marketplace but it is backed by some major investors. In 2019, in preparation for a planned push into SME banking, UK building society Nationwide selected 10x and made a £15m investment only to cancel the initiative due to the impact of the coronavirus (see: Nationwide cancels SME banking project).

With established market leaders, such as Temenos, now providing open architected cloud-native offerings, the core system software market is likely to remain a tough one for 10x to crack. It will be interesting to see whether the industry’s fresh impetus to transform, driven by the coronavirus, will lead to increased take up.

Posted by: Jon C Davies at 09:42

Tags: banking  

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Thursday 17 June 2021

Octopus helps Minimum squeeze carbon offsets from business

logoWith businesses in a race to go ‘carbon neutral’, there is a huge opportunity for tech start-ups to build products that help them get there.

One such is London-based Mininum (daft name IMO) which claims to allow businesses to make their operations ‘carbon neutral by default’. Hmmm.

They perform this amazing feat with ‘one snippet of code’ (soon to be no-code!) which you embed on your website to link to the Minimum platform, which then calculates the carbon footprint of your products (“or pretty much anything”), and automatically neutralises the impact through ‘market-leading carbon removal projects’.

The example shown on their website is a fictional fashion ecommerce app. On the checkout screen the app displays the value of the carbon footprint of the products you are ordering and you can then select which worthy cause you wish the offset to go to.

Founded in 2020, in Minimum has raised $2.6m in a funding round led by Octopus Ventures, along with Clocktower Ventures, Dutch Founders Fund, Plug & Play Ventures, VentureSouq, and AGO Partners as well as angel investors.

There’s nothing I can see on Minimum’s business model; do they get a cut of products sold? Or even of the ‘carbon offset’ value? But my real issue with Minimum is that some may confuse it with a marketing tool that plays on the sustainability theme to boost sales while coating the business in a green sheen. But I have no idea who might possibly be that confused.

Posted by: Anthony Miller at 09:37

Tags: funding   startup   sustainability  

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Thursday 17 June 2021

Blue Prism growing at 24%

blue prismRobotic Process Automation (RPA) vendor Blue Prism’s share price was up over 8% early doors off the back of its first half results, that saw revenue climb 24% to £80.4m (H1 2020 £66.6m). Losses are expected to decrease to an EBITDA loss for the year of c. £25m (FY 2020 -£40.3m).

Results were pretty much as expected given that the key numbers had all been released in May’s trading update (see here). Headlines include first half bookings of £98m, (up 35% on H1 2020), a net retention rate of 115% (FY 2020 113%) and closing Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) of c.£168m. Acceleration to the cloud continues with Blue Prism Cloud accounting for 22% of new bookings, an increase of 65% on H1 2020, and provides some insight on the impact of the Thoughtonomy acquisition.

The automation market continues to mature with buyers becoming more sophisticated and strategic users of the various technologies available. It’s also becoming extremely competitive with well-funded rivals UiPath and Automation Anywhere investing heavily and ‘hitting the accelerator’ (see UiPath growing at 64%), whilst numerous others have entered the market with various RPA solutions. Blue Prism’s response has been to focus on being the “Enterprise Grade” solution, positioning itself as the most robust technology in the market that remains extremely popular with customers and users. It’s also investing more, at the recent Blue Prism World shindig a number of product enhancements were announced resulting from an increased investment in R&D. Indeed, there are plans in place to double product function headcount by calendar year end.

Automation remains a very hot market and where Blue Prism remains well placed, however keeping up with the competition is clearly going to be an expensive business.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick at 09:09

Tags: results   RPA  

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Thursday 17 June 2021

Stormburst goes two-up with funding for OneUp

logoThere is essentially only one way to motivate a sales team and that is with money. However, it can’t hurt to make chasing the number a fun experience (I use the term loosely), which is what Tamworth, Staffordshire-based Stormburst Studios (t/a OneUp) aims to do.

Their OneUp sales management platform includes gamification features so you can set up, for example, fantasy-sports inspired leagues, collaborative missions or head-to-head-challenges for your sales teams. Then they can all log in to see how miserably they are performing compared to peers. Deep joy.

There’s the usual sales analytics stuff too, of course, and the platform can integrate with various CRM and call management systems.

Established in 2014 by two games developers and launched in 2016, Stormburst has raised a further £600k from the MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund, which is managed by Mercia and part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF), and Mercia’s EIS funds. This follows its first funding round in 2017 from Mercia’s EIS funds (see Mercia showers £150k funding on Stormburst).

Stormburst charges £32 per salesperson per month to use OneUp which they reckon is paid for ‘multiple times over’ if you can eke even one extra deal per year from each salesperson (I suppose that depends on the size of the deal, of course).

While there is no shortage of sales analytics products in the market, adding gamification is a neat twist and may well help remote-based sales teams feel more engaged and motivated. Stormburst’s challenge, though, is getting in front of sales managers who are usually too busy chasing the numbers to listen to the OneUp sales pitch.

Posted by: Anthony Miller at 08:56

Tags: funding   startup  

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Thursday 17 June 2021

Made.com fails to achieve Unicorn status...

...and why Holway will never be uber-rich

I sometimes think that the major reason I am not uber-rich is my insistence that the companies that I setup, lead, invest in or sit on the board of should be profitable. Of course, not initially. But that ‘Path 2 Profitability’ should be both clear and is actually achieved in the targeted timeframe.

Many years ago I had a bit of a run in with Brent Hoberman when I asked him if he had ever led or founded a company that had actually made a profit. He seemed to find the question impertinent. Of course, Lastminute.com was (in)famous as the dot.com posterchild. It never made a profit but it propelled Hoberman to become a spokesman for the digital economy with Govt appointments and NEDs. Yet the tech sector that we address here at TechMarketView employs many more people in UK and, in almost all cases, makes a profit and therefore pays huge amounts in taxes. But its value to the economy and its voice is rarely appreciated. It seems that, important as they are, the only thing that matters is the number of startups, scaleups and unicorns that the UK produces.

MadeI was thinking of this reading about Made.com’s IPO yesterday. Made.com was founded in 2010 by Brent Hoberman, Ning Li  and Chloe Macintosh. Hoberman has since reduced his shareholding considerably. It had hoped to achieve that magical £1b Unicorn valuation. But the float price of 200p, at the lowest end of the expected range, valued Made.com at £775m. It then joined the ignominious list of IPOs to end their first day’s trading at a loss.

Made.com has never made a profit. Indeed they managed to lose £14.2m on revenues of £247m last year. As Patrick Hosking wrote in The Times ‘The danger is that this is as good as it gets for online furniture sellers. The end of lockdown will see many return to conventional shops and spending money on holidays and going out, not sofas and table lamps. Sceptics will wonder if Made.com hasn’t been able to make a profit in these benign circumstances, will it ever?

The ‘profits’ to be made from Made.com have already been made by its investors pre IPO. They will undoubtedly move on to invest in other businesses that won’t make a profit either. Many readers will probably say ‘Good for them’. The fact that Holway doesn’t share that sentiment is clearly the reason why he will never be uber-rich!

Posted by: Richard Holway at 08:40

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Thursday 17 June 2021

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Wednesday 16 June 2021

Cloud momentum at Oracle in Q421

Oracle logoOracle’s Q4 results indicate its cloud investments are coming home to roost: revenue was up 8% to $11.2bn while net income increased 29% to $4bn in the period to the end of May. 

Cloud ERP (Fusion and NetSuite) was a significant contributor and growth is accelerating, as is the case with Gen2 Cloud Infrastructure, leading CTO Larry Ellison to declare “our strategy to develop cloud applications with cloud infrastructure is now beginning to drive top line growth”. 

Revenue grew 4% across the full year to $40.5bn, breaking the decline of the past two years, with net income up 36% to $13.7bn. Oracle expects FY22 revenue to grow faster than FY21, with constant currency revenue growth “somewhere in the mid-single digits.”

The company continues to push forward with its cloud initiatives with plans to expand its roster of industry specific applications. More significantly, it will also roughly double its cloud capex spend in FY22 to about $4bn – although it looks like this spending plan was behind the slight drop in Oracle’s share price despite Q4 results beating expectations and the investment geared towards accelerating the top line. The investment also reflects a determination to capture both SaaS, and cloud infrastructure market share where despite over 100% growth in the past year Oracle remains significantly behind Amazon Web ServicesMicrosoft Azure and Google Cloud

In the UK, Oracle’s cloud prospects are promising with a fresh MoU signed with the Crown Commercial Service that includes all cloud services (but up and coming Workday recently signed a UK government MoU too); and the dual-region government cloud offering private cloud facilities exclusively for UK government customers

Posted by: Angela Eager at 09:52

Tags: results   saas   cloud   software  

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Wednesday 16 June 2021

CCS appoints suppliers to TS3

CCS logoThe Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has appointed 253 suppliers to the latest version of its Technology Services framework.

The Prior Information Notice (PIN) for Technology Services 3 (TS3) was published in February 2020, with the Contract Notice going live in October 2020. The framework, which will be open to UK public sector bodies, covers a wide range of technology services; from strategy through to transition and operational deployment. TS3 launches in July 2021 and will run for four years; it replaces TS2, which is due to expire in September 2021.

The framework spans eight lots/sub-lots:

  • Lot 1 – Technology Strategy and Service Design
  • Lot 2 – Transition and Transformation
  • Lot 3a – End User Services
  • Lot 3b – Operational Management
  • Lot 3c – Technical Management
  • Lot 3d – Application and Data Management
  • Lot 4 – Major Service Transformation Programmes
  • Lot 5 – Service Integration and Management

Changes from TS2 include the removal of sub-lots from Lot 4; the introduction of a new Service Integration and Management (SIAM) Lot; and new call-off terms designed to better reflect the diversity of technology services, whilst making them simpler to use for both customers and suppliers. TS3 has also been designed to make it easier for SMEs to become suppliers. A total of 253 suppliers have been appointed to the new framework, with 64% classed as SMEs, up from 52% for TS2.

With an estimate value of £2bn, TS3 is a major pan government collaborative framework agreement. Securing a place on this framework, which has call-off contract durations from two to seven years, was important for public sector suppliers. In the 2020-21 government year, TS2 spend reached £361m with orders coming in at £571m.

Posted by: Dale Peters at 09:32

Tags: contract   government   framework   public+sector  

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Wednesday 16 June 2021

Online debt collector Ophelos collects pre-seed funding

logoSome might think that ‘debt collection’ and ‘social purpose’ are a contradiction in terms. However, London-based start-up Ophelos (apparently derived from the Greek for ‘help’) seeks to prove otherwise.

Ophelos is essentially an online debt collection agency with a ‘consumer-friendly’ app. Founded in 2019, Ophelos has raised £1.6m in a pre-seed funding round co-led by Connect Ventures and Fly Ventures.

There is no doubt that the Covid pandemic has greatly exacerbated consumer debt. But I really do struggle with the righteous marketing tone of Ophelos’ messaging, viz “Reimaging (sic) debt collection is just a first step towards a world where everyone is financially educated, empowered and equal.”

Let’s be under no misapprehension. Ophelos is there to make a profit, which comes from a skim of any debt collected through its platform. While its website gives contact details for various agencies that can advise consumers struggling with debt, first and foremost they want to collect.

Ophelos presents itself as “a new kind of debt collection agency - one with a social purpose and mission”. They say this is not “marketing fluff”. I beg to differ.

Posted by: Anthony Miller at 09:27

Tags: funding   startup   FinTech  

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Wednesday 16 June 2021

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council backs Unit4's cloud ERPx

Unit4 logoBasingstoke and Deane Borough Council has selected Unit4 ERPx plus Talent Management to replace its legacy finance and HR systems, with Embridge Consulting providing implementation services.

This is another welcome win for the new ERPx product in the local government sector where Unit4 has traditionally fared well against the likes of SAP and Oracle. The Council was part of Unit4’s ERPx early adopter program and according to the Contract Award Notice the two year contract for the SaaS solution is worth £414k, running from January 2021 to December 2022. It covers finance, HR and Payroll for the Hampshire council that employs 580 people and serves a population of c.176,000 citizens with a budget of £170m. The aim is to improve operational efficiency and reduce costs by streamlining processes and optimisng projects and the Unit4 Public Sector implementation model will be used to drive rapid time to value.

The contact is not on the same scale as the £30m Surrey County Council but continues to support Unit4's profile within local government – e.g. Guildford Borough Council opted for the Unit4/Embridge/Ignite combo when replacing its ERP solution in mid 2019. And it is the latest in a series of important ERPx cloud wins across public/private sector. 

Posted by: Angela Eager at 08:33

Tags: publicsector   erp   contract   software  

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Wednesday 16 June 2021

XYZ Reality gets more real with Series A funding

logoI was super impressed when I met David Mitchell, founder and CEO of construction industry augmented reality start-up XYZ Reality in March last year (see Amadeus constructs funding reality for XYZ’s ‘ARBIM’ platform).

I was immersed in a demo of what was then called ARBIM (augmented reality building information management) and is now branded a much zingier HoloSite, wandering around a virtual building site looking like an extra from the Tron movie. Anyway, as I say, was very impressed and excited.

And I’m pleased to say that XYZ has now raised a further £20m in a Series A funding round led by Octopus Ventures, along with backing from existing investors including Amadeus Capital Partners, who led the prior round.

Just last month, XYZ announced a government grant-supported partnership with UCL to look at how advanced AR technology can be used to ensure complex hospital building projects are completed on time and budget.

Great technology with real promise.

Posted by: Anthony Miller at 08:32

Tags: funding   startup  

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Wednesday 16 June 2021

Enhance your strategic decision making with a TechMarketView webinar

Enhance your strategic decision making with a TechMarketView webinar

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