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Thursday 09 July 2020

IBM acquires RPA specialist

wdgIBM has acquired Brazilian RPA provider, WDG Automation, for an undisclosed amount.

WDG's AI-infused automation capabilities help to shorten the time between identifying a business process/IT operational issue and responding to it. This capability becomes particularly important when revenue/profit or brand reputation are potentially at risk.

WDG’s technology will be wrapped into IBM’s existing capability bringing “more intelligence to the enterprise workflows that fuel adaptive and resilient businesses”. With the addition of WDG, Big Blue will be able to help clients automate more than just routine tasks within their organisation; automation of more complex tasks and processes gives back valuable time to employees so they can focus on higher value work.

The timing of the acquisition is good and will play to increasing demands from organisations that need to accelerate digital investments in light of the pandemic.

Find out where IBM places in the UK SITS Ranking 2020.

Read our analysis of IBM in: COVID-19 Vulnerability and Resilience: Top 20 SITS Suppliers.

Posted by: Kate Hanaghan

Tags: acquisition  

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Thursday 09 July 2020

Telit gets off lightly with 8% first half dip

Telit gets off lightly with 8% first half dipInternet of Things (IoT) connectivity specialist Telit appears to have got off comparatively lightly so far, with preliminary first half results for the six month period ending June 2020 estimating turnover declined almost 8% year on year to US$166.5m.

In the present circumstances an 8% dip is probably another source of good news for the AIM-listed company, which last month received formal notification from the Financial Conduct Authority confirming no enforcement action would be taken after the Oozi Cats affair back in 2017.

More encouragingly, Telit also saw revenue from its IoT connectivity and platform services division grow almost 12% yoy despite market conditions. Management also expect that adjusted H120 EBITDA will be ahead of H119 (US$16m) due to cost reduction measures implemented early in the pandemic.

We’ll have a much better idea of how the IT industry as a whole is coping with pandemic disruption in August after more companies publish their second quarter results. And if Telit is anything to go by, the damage will be mild for some but severe for others.

Posted by: Martin Courtney

Tags: iot   interims   tradingupdate  

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Thursday 09 July 2020

Atos launches Life Science Centre of Excellence

atos logoAtos continues to carve out a strong position for itself in High Performance and Quantum Computing. It’s a strength that we highlighted in our Market Readiness Index (MRI) assessment of the company.

Aligning to this strategy, is its latest announcement that in agreement with the Wellcome Genome Campus, in Cambridgeshire, it has launched the Atos’ HPC, AI & Quantum Life Sciences Centre of Excellence, complementing the existing Campus compute facilities.  It will provide organisations on Campus, as well as global genome and bio-data institutes worldwide, access to emerging HPC, AI & Quantum technologies, supported by Atos’ products, services and expertise in these sectors. The move combines Atos’ expertise with the research expertise of the genome and biological data research scientists with an eye on boosting Life Sciences discovery and innovation.

The technology that the scientists can access is already being used worldwide. For example, the Atos Quantum Learning Machine is already assisting the research analysis capability of organisations including Bayer in Germany, the Centre of Computation  Research and Technology (CCRT) at the CEA in France, The Hartree Centre in UK and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the US. While its BullSequana X supercomputers are being used across the globe to support the COVID-19 fight.

Atos is also able to provide compelling examples of the work that the Centre is already undertaking as it operates remotely, including providing support to researchers studying different aspects of COVD-19, and developing demos to unlock the value  of HPC and AI to model cardiovascular anomalies and to accelerate the interpretation of medical procedures. The more solid practical examples of the use of HPC and quantum computing materialise, the more exciting the potential of the technology becomes.

TechMarketView subscribers can read more of our research on Quantum Computing:

Posted by: Georgina O'Toole

Tags: lifesciences   AI   HPC   quantumcomputing  

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Thursday 09 July 2020

PQShield raises £5.5m for quantum encryption

PQShield raises £5.5m for cryptographic securityCyber security start-up PQShield emerged from stealth mode with £5.5m of funding behind it, tasked with building unhackable system on a chip (SoC) components and related SDKs that use quantum cryptography to protect embedded data.

Participants include Kindred Capital, Crane Venture Partners, Oxford Sciences Innovation (the company was incubated at Oxford University in 2018) and various angel investors, including Andre Crawford-Brunt, Deutsche Bank's former global head of equities.

PQShield staff are helping the NIST cybersecurity framework create new cryptographic standards using quantum computing techniques. It already has its first OEM customer – Bosch - interested in protecting Internet of Things (IoT) devices, with end to end encryption for messaging networks and keyless cars also target applications.

If hackers ever manage to harness the power of quantum computing, existing public key infrastructure (PKI) cryptographic standards will be easy targets. It’s therefore critical that PQShield and others working on similar technology can beef up those standards with quantum encryption of their own before they lose the race with cyber criminals.

Posted by: Martin Courtney

Tags: funding   startup   encryption   quantumcomputing   PKI   cryptography  

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Thursday 09 July 2020

COVID cuts Tracsis H2 revenues by a third

TracsisTracsis, the Leeds-based traffic data and transportation software and services provider, estimates that the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on FY20 (the twelve months to 31st July) will be a revenue reduction in the region of £10m. This anticipated downturn (see It’ll be a game of two halves for Tracsis) is severe and implies that H2 sales have fallen to c.£19.6m. The company states in its latest update, however, that since the commencement of the COVID-19 crisis trading has been better than originally predicted. Tracsis now expects to report that turnover for its last financial year has declined by around 6.5% yoy to c.£46m.

The company comprises two core businesses: Rail Technology & Services (RTS), Traffic & Data Services (TDS). These generate 45% and 55% of turnover respectively. The former, underpinned by high levels of recurring software revenue and large multi-year project engagements, performed well throughout the year. TDS division sales are, however, H2 geared and predominantly driven by demand related to large outdoor UK events. With all such gatherings either having been cancelled or postponed indefinitely as a result of the pandemic, the impacts on this segment have been and continue to be grave.

Tracsis took a series of mitigating actions in March including a reduction in casual labour costs, the redeployment of staff, reducing all discretionary spend, and taking advantage of the Government's Job Retention scheme. This has meant that the potential negative effects on FY20 profitability have been considerably lessened. With both the financial support available through furlough scheme being phased out over the next few months and no imminent prospect of a relaxation of the rules prohibiting mass gatherings, however, the company is facing a challenging FY21. Tracsis will issue a more detailed update next month once the July year end draft management accounts have been completed.

Posted by: Duncan Aitchison

Tags: results   transport   software   data  

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Thursday 09 July 2020

Hard Q2 for SAP but hints of C-19 recovery

SAP logoSAP said business activity improved as Q2 progressed, especially during June, the last month of the period. That didn’t mean it wasn’t difficult, as indicated by preliminary results showing just 2% revenue growth to €6.7bn, but any growth is an achievement in the current environment. In contrast, Oracle’s revenue fell 6% in its most recent quarter, to the end of May. 

COVID-19 impact is stark but not the whole story. In the year ago quarter revenue grew 11%, followed by 13% in Q319. But the rate of growth has slowed since then with Q419 delivering 8% revenue growth and partially C-19 impacted Q120 7%. Falling licence revenue played a part and while the 18% drop in Q220 to €0.77bn was steep, SAP said it was better than expected and it was an improvement on the 31% fall of Q120. The tantalizing question is whether these higher levels of licence revenue decline will be a lasting COVID-19 outcome as organisations reassess their needs. 

Cloud revenue was up 21% to €2.04bn, compared to a 40% increase in the year ago quarter and 29% in Q120, so there wasn’t a flight to SAP SaaS and the company said cloud revenue was hit by lower PAYG transactions. 

At €1.28bn and a 55% increase, operating profit was healthy. 

All through this year SAP has been confident business activity would gradually pick up in Q3 and Q4 and was one of the small number of suppliers to continue releasing guidance. That hasn’t changed so today it reaffirmed its 2020 outlook – non-IFRS total revenue of €27.8bn- €28.5bn, up 1% to 3% cc; and non IFRS cloud revenue of €8.3bn-€8.7bn,up 18% to 24% cc; with operating profit of €8.1bn-€8.7bn cc, down 1% to up 6 % - and its 2023 ambition.

More detail will be available when full Q2 results are released on 27 July.

Posted by: Angela Eager

Tags: results   saas   cloud   software  

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Thursday 09 July 2020

Brum goes hybrid with Nutanix

Nutanix Britain’s largest local authority Birmingham City Council has appointed Nutanix to migrate its legacy hardware to a hybrid cloud infrastructure.

Birmingham completed its ICT insource from long-term provider Capita just under a year ago and becomes the latest organisation to opt for a hybrid cloud model, now becoming the target operating model of choice.

Birmingham City CouncilBirmingham have made it clear that they want to deliver their next phase of ICT and digital transformation on their own terms and chose Nutanix as “they can now implement a complete, end-to-end solution providing a single pane of management to help empower the Council to take full control of its IT infrastructure.” Another key factor selecting Nutanix appears to be the ability to split the council infrastructure across multiple datacenters, as well as replication and disaster recovery to deliver continuity of service.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that Birmingham has gone down the hybrid route. The Council have traditionally been at the forefront of ICT delivery trends within local government with ambitions to be a leader in digital transformation for the sector. Given Birmingham’s scale - a population of over 1.1 million, some 450 applications, 11,500 council employees, 12,500 devices, and 1.3 petabytes of data – it’s also a fantastic win and shop window for Nutanix.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick

Tags: localgovernment   contract   cloud   hybridcloud  

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Thursday 09 July 2020

CMA disrupts Pignataro's plans as ION/Broadway deal hits the buffers

IONThe UK's Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) has expressed “serious concerns” over ION Group’s proposed takeover of US financial markets specialist, Broadway Technology. Following an initial investigation into the deal, the CMA has indicated that the planned takeover could have a detrimental impact on the market for electronic trading systems.

Dublin-based financial services technology provider, ION, has been highly acquisitive in recent years and appears to have made Broadway its latest target, having established a controlling interest in the company earlier this year. Somewhat under the radar, ION has become an integral part of the UK financial services ecosystem and its services underpin many of the fundamental processes of the financial markets sector, including debt, equities and derivatives. 

We recently highlighted ION as “one to watch” in our latest UK SITS Supplier Rankings analysis. The company, which now has global revenues approaching £1bn, is the brainchild of Italian billionaire, Andrea Pignataro, who has discreetly built a significant footprint across global financial markets technology. ION has bought more than 20 companies since 2005. Recent acquisitions include the £1.5bn purchase of treasury specialist, Fidessa, in 2018 and last year’s £1.4bn deal for a majority stake in data services provider, Acuris.

As Pignataro pursues his latest expansion, the CMA has highlighted that ION is by far the largest technology provider in the fixed income trading space and Broadway is one of the company’s only real competitors. The other is Bloomberg, (who’s founder, like Pignataro, is also ex-Salomon Brothers and is the man rumoured to be the inspiration for the Italian’s own personal financial markets technology empire).

If the planned acquisition of Broadway goes ahead, it would give ION a very significant share of the fixed income and currency markets, where trillions of pounds changes hands every day. The investment banks are understandably rather nervous of the potential impact on fees and the threat of effectively being held to ransom. ION has 5 days to respond to the CMA's concerns, if it is to see-off the unwelcome prospect of a far more in-depth investigation into the proposed deal. Watch this space…

Posted by: Jon C Davies

Tags: M&A   financialmarkets  

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Thursday 09 July 2020

Manchester University selects cloud computing partners

University of Manchester logoThe University of Manchester has announced the names of the five suppliers appointed to its £50m Cloud Computing Services framework.

The higher education institution published the contract notice for the opportunity in November 2019. It was seeking to establish a framework to allow procurement of cloud-enabled IT services including, but not limited to, cloud hosting; cloud compute; cloud network and storage services; marketplaces for PaaS and SaaS; and cloud-related consulting, training, professional services and managed services.

The framework is divided into five lots, with the first three focusing on the global cloud service providers: Microsoft, AWS and Google. The University already has a number of current projects that are built around Azure, AWS and Google Cloud Platform. The fourth lot is intended to allow the University to access other cloud computing services for projects that are not yet defined, and the fifth lot will be used for any new call-offs associated with future business and projects.

The contract attracted 27 tenders, with the successful suppliers and potential contract values as follows:

  • Lot 1 - Azure: ANS Group - £15m
  • Lot 2 - AWS: Tech Mahindra - £15m
  • Lot 3 - Google: Cloudreach - £10m
  • Lot 4 - Others: HCL and UKCloud - £5m
  • Lot 5: All suppliers from Lots 1 to 4 - £5m

The duration of the framework is 48 months with the total value expected to be in the range of £20m to £50m.

Cloud adoption in higher education is more advanced than other parts of the public sector in the UK and has been growing steadily as universities seek to enhance the scalability and agility of their operations. However, the rapid shift towards online learning and remote working driven by the pandemic will accelerate demand for cloud services—the University of Manchester's procurement plans have been well timed in that respect.

Posted by: Dale Peters

Tags: contract   education   framework   university  

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Thursday 09 July 2020

Tech Goodness: Bytes for Heroes seeks tech firm support for NHS

NHS Free Takeaway photoIn the early days of the COVD-19 pandemic, we were bombarded with ‘Tech Goodness’ stories, all of which can still be found in the UKHotViews archive. At that time, we were alerted to the work of a new tech charity initiative – Bytes for Heroes – that had been set up by technology entrepreneur Peter Rossi to feed as many NHS workers as possible during the coronavirus outbreak.

In a reminder that ‘Tech Goodness’ is continuing, and that help is still required even as lockdown eases, we received an update from the charity. So far, the initiative has raised over £40k and provided 10,000 hot meals to NHS frontline staff.

But they aren’t done yet. Bytes for Heroes is now launching a program through July and August called “The Lift Shift”, which will see catering teams across London, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle provide £10k worth of Deliveroo vouchers to enable NHS workers to get a ‘lift after their shift’ with a snack or takeaway. The scheme will support staff at specialist cancer hospitals, including The Royal Marsden in London, which have acted quickly to work with NHS England, local networks and the private sector to create COVID-protected Cancer Hubs. These hubs are now bracing themselves for peaks in demand as referrals for cancer treatment increase post-lockdown.

Bytes for Heroes is now looking for donations from local and national tech firms across the UK to donate by supporting #LiftShift or by straight donations to fund supporting local caterers and keyworkers at hospitals. The charity states: “donations can be across the UK or specific to local hospitals close to company offices or which have a particular importance. It is also on the lookout for more caterers across the region to work with us to ensure this can see us through the next few and undoubtedly challenging weeks.” A great way for tech firms to support the NHS.

Posted by: Georgina O'Toole

Tags: nhs   charity   covid-19   coronavirus  

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Thursday 09 July 2020

IMImobile weathering COVID storm

IMImobileTrading update this morning from cloud communications provider IMImobile shows the firm performing pretty well during the period of lockdown (April-June 2020). Financials released by the firm show gross profit increased 20% year-on-year for the company as a whole and up 30% year-on-year for its core cloud communications suite.

Whilst a good portion of this growth will be attributable to last year’s acquisition of 3Cinteractive Corp which expanded its North American operations significantly. Elsewhere, they are seeing volumes and activity levels in core sectors such as Banking, Mobile operators and Logistics counteract declines in sectors more adversely affected by the pandemic, notably Healthcare, SMEs and of course Retail.

Whilst there is clearly huge uncertainty within IMImobile’s client base, its cloud communication platform is exactly the sort of digital offer that should be in a position to capitalise on changes to working patterns and the workplace coming off the back of COVID - So definitely “glass half full” for IMImobile.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick

Tags: cloud   communications   tradingupdate   covid-19  

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Wednesday 08 July 2020

Atos launches Scaler, the Atos Accelerator

Atos logoAtos has launched “Scaler, the Atos Accelerator”. It is a new startup and SME program focused on industries, security and decarbonisation, in line with the company’s latest strategic plan, SPRING (see Atos UK: Adjustments, Performance & Prospects).

Every year, 15 startups or SMEs will be selected; they will come together with Atos' technology teams to co-create innovative digital solutions for clients in specific industries. The idea is that those involved will already have proven business use cases, specific industry focus and skills. They will then benefit from a joint and accelerated go-to-market, gaining access to Atos customers as well as Atos resources: international business development experts, coaching advice in customer innovation, data hosting solutions, ideation and DevSecOps platform, Google Cloud Platform, and HPC-as-a-service. The aim is that they will have accelerated their development within 18 months.

The 14 startups selected for the first cohort are spread across healthcare & life sciences, manufacturing, resources & services, financial services & insurance, public sector & defence, telco & media, advanced technology & cyber, and decarbonisation. Amongst them are three that are UK-headquartered: Malinko in healthcare & life sciences (intelligent scheduling software); Tier 1 Asset Management in public sector and defence (IT recycling and computer disposal); and Synchronized in Telco & Media (smart video technology).

As Atos highlights, most of the suppliers will already have worked with Atos once. Indeed, we were already aware of Tier 1 Asset Management working with Atos’ UK business. It has been involved in Atos UK’s local SME Horizon Programme, which has now been established for some time. Any bid by Atos UK public sector team in End User Computing now includes Tier 1; the SME runs a unique prison recycling initiative (read more about it here), which involves a partnership between prison, industry and charity (Antz Junction). With Scaler sitting above Horizon, and Tier 1 identified as one of the best from the Horizon programme, the SME will now benefit from Atos’ global platform too.

Atos has learnt its lesson over the years in terms of working with SMEs. Several years ago, it launched Atos SME Harbour. However, the scheme lacked focus and took on too many SMEs to achieve anything productive. As a result, those involved became despondent. The new schemes, both locally and globally, are zoning in on a smaller set of companies, giving them far more attention, and are ensuring a strong alignment with Atos’ global strategy. They stand far more chance of success.

Posted by: Georgina O'Toole

Tags: sme   scaleup   cybersecurity   sustainability   decarbonisation  

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Wednesday 08 July 2020

First Derivatives maintains growth despite coronavirus slowdown

FDNewry based, analytics specialist, First Derivatives (FD), has released a trading update reflecting a resilient performance in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The statement, ahead of the company’s AGM later today, provides an update on progress during the period ended 30 June 2020, (the first 4 months of the current fiscal).

Total revenue was 6% up year on year, with managed services and consulting revenue up 2% as the company continued to benefit from repeat business via its client engagements. Software revenue grew by 8%, with recurring license and subscription revenue leading the way. This growth was however tempered by a decline in perpetual licenses and also impacted by longer sales cycle during lockdown.

Despite the deferral of some new projects, the financial impact of COVID-19 has been partially mitigated by lower recruitment and cost management. FD has expressed its optimism based on the company’s recent performance but indicated that it is too early to assess the likely outcome for the full year.

FD has a strong offering in the shape of its in-memory “Kx” database that has increasingly demonstrated its appeal across a variety of industries. In May the company signed an important partnership with TCS, as it looks to further accelerate its global growth (see: First Derivative and TCS agree global partnership).

FD is an important contributor to the Northern Ireland economy, and has won several major new contracts recently. Whilst the longer-term economic impact of COVID-19 remains uncertain, as we emerge from lockdown, management will be no doubt hoping to return the company to its impressive recent growth trajectory.

Posted by: Jon C Davies

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Wednesday 08 July 2020

BAE Systems spinout SOC.OS raises £2m

SOC.OS logoSOC.OS, a London-based spin-out of BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, raised £2m in funding from backers including Hoxton Ventures and Speedinvest.

Officially launched last month, the start-up was borne of a collaboration with cyber security accelerator Cylon after SOC.OS participated in the latter’s 2019 cohort 9 programme.

Many internal and external cyber security experts are being swamped by the sheer volume of security alerts produced by the threat protection and detection tools they run for signs of active or imminent cyber attacks (see our Cyber Security Market Trends and Forecasts to 2022 report here).

The SOC.OS platform is designed to help those teams manage that data by automatically stripping out up to 80% of non-critical threats, with only the most suspicious triaged for further analysis by investigators.

Early customers include the UK Atomic Energy Authority and The University of Sussex, with the £2m funding earmarked for further business growth.

Posted by: Martin Courtney

Tags: funding   security   cyber   threatintelligence  

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Wednesday 08 July 2020

Tesla in first UK battery venture

HarmonyI was really interested to read that Tesla was to deploy its battery storage equipment and AI software in the UK for the first time. The project is at Holes Bay in Poole in partnership with Harmony Energy and Spain’s Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV). Tesla will supply  6 Megapack, lithium batteries with a 15MWh capacity allowing the storage of energy from renewable sources to provide energy to the National Grid at times of peak demand.

There is also talk of Tesla siting its 4th GigaFactory for battery production in the UK.

I’ve written several times before about my belief that Tesla and Elon Musk will be best remembered for their advances in the use of battery technology to store energy produced from renewable sources. See Elon, The Battery Boy.

The advances in battery technology over the last decade are pretty impressive - reducing from over $1000 per kilowatt hour in 2010 to $156 in 2019 and the ‘magic $100’ likely to be announced before 2023. Source - Article in Cleantechnica. Tesla has played a major role in these advances. In part because range is all-important for the acceptability of electric cars. Tesla is close to announcing a car with a 500 mile range with a battery both smaller and a tenth of the price as fitted in its first Roadster in 2010.

Powerwall‘I have a dream’

In 2016, in my last ‘State of IT Nation’ Prince's Trust speech,  I forecast that by 2030 many homes would be ‘off grid’. Roofs would be constructed from solar panels (even in the UK) which would feed home battery packs (like Tesla’s PowerWall) and charge your electric car. Whole cities would be powered by renewable (wind, solar etc) energy stored in battery farms. The effect on the environment could be game-changing.

Embracing this dream could  be the making of the UK in the next decade. We should aim to become a world leader in battery technology and production and its use in cars, trucks and in the home.

Posted by: Richard Holway

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Wednesday 08 July 2020

Confidential IPO in progress for Palantir

Palantir logoBig Data and Analytics software provider Palantir is planning an IPO but because it is using the confidential IPO option there’s no insight into when, the number of shares and share price range, or its financials. 

It is not the only company to take this increasingly popular route – UberLyftSpotifySlack took the confidential IPO path – which goes some way to preserving privacy during the early stages of the process and provides flexibility to pick the best time for the IPO. It befits a company that describes itself as having its roots in counterterrorism and software that incorporates the principles of privacy by design. Founded in 2003, the company is known for its work with US intelligence and national security services but its client list of public and private sector companies also includes NHSX and NHS England and Improvement where Palantir is part of a consortium enabling a consolidated data store to support the COVID-19 response. 

Little is known about its financials although during a 2015 fundraising round it was valued at $20bn and media reports suggest the valuation could be closer to $29bn now. Last month it started a round to raise $961m, of which c.$550m has being secured (from Japanese insurance company Sompo Holdings, and Fujitsu - $50m plus a strategic technology alliance), with commitments for the remainder. Previous funding is believed to have raised c.$2.2bn. 

With its two products - Gotham that integrates and transforms disparate data into a single, coherent data asset, and Foundry that includes a front end to ease the processes of tapping into enterprise data – Palantir operates in a growth market and makes the most of it by bridging the back and front ends of the data requirement. Its actions to support COVID-19 responses for the NHS and other public bodies have brought it into the limelight. Whether the purpose of the IPO is to raise further funds or its profile is unclear. 

Posted by: Angela Eager

Tags: software   ipo   analytics   data  

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Wednesday 08 July 2020

*UKHotViewsExtra* Harrow Council looks to the future with Version 1

Version 1 logoFor the last 15 years Harrow London Borough Council has been running its IT services via large-scale outsourcing contracts. This year it is taking a different approach to support its IT estate. It has recently appointed Version 1 as its partner to support its ambitions to transform services through digital technology.

With its contract with Sopra Steria coming to an end in October 2020, the council started considering its next steps, including the benefits of moving to a disaggregated model. The council decided to take some services back in house and started looking for a new IT partner.

Harrow Council logoVersion 1 was selected after demonstrating the relevant knowledge, approaches and roadmaps for transition, transformation and innovation at the local authority—the value of the contract has not been revealed. The council was also impressed with the community-centric approach Version 1 took towards supporting the council through a dedicated Social Value Programme of work focused on improving the employability of residents in Harrow.

The company was awarded a two-year contract via G-Cloud for the Hosting, Application Maintenance and Support of the local authority’s IT Estate—it will commence delivery of the service in November 2020. The contract covers 310 managed applications, of which approximately 20 are key line of business, critical to the efficient running of the council’s services. Version 1 will help the council decommission its legacy data centre and move towards a public cloud focused approach utilising Azure. It will also help the council move core systems to SaaS delivery.

UKHotView PremiumSpeaking to TechMarketView, Ben Goward, Harrow Council’s Director of ICT, said the council's IT estate is in significant need for a refresh, but now has the opportunity to make a step change in its digital services. He stressed that Harrow Council is only at the beginning of the journey towards comprehensive digital transformation. It is about getting the basics right and creating the foundations for the future—fixing the plumbing. However, the council can apply the lessons learned from those local authorities that are further along their transformation journey and, working in partnership with Version 1, make a positive step change in IT services over the next few years. 

TechMarketView subscribers, including those signed up to UKHotViews Premium can find out more about Harrow Council's plans in UKHotViewsExtra: Harrow Council looks to the future with Version 1. If you are not yet a subscriber, please contact Deb Seth to find out how to access this and much more.

Posted by: Dale Peters

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Wednesday 08 July 2020

Marine expert Concirrus brings CommerzVentures on board

ConcirrusInnovative UK insurtech, Concirrus, has secured an additional £6m in funding as part of a strategic investment by CommerzVentures. The deal follows the company’s successful Series B funding in February that raised $20m via Eos Ventures, IQ Capital and the technology arm of Albion Capital (see: Concirrus makes waves amongst marine insurers).

Founded by Andrew Yeoman and Craig Hollingworth and chaired by respected industry veteran, Richard Little, Concirrus is one of the new breed of data driven innovators that are helping to transform some of the most traditional corners of the insurance ecosystem. Best known for its Quest platform, Concirrus (a former TechMarketView "LBB") utilises advanced analytics and IoT to help underwriters better price risks associated with marine industries.

The involvement of CommerzVentures appears to be an astute move by Concirrus. The company’s new funding partner is a good fit in terms of industry knowledge and expertise. CommerzVentures was originally the corporate venture arm of Commerzbank AG and has already invested in some of Europe’s leading disruptive innovators including Mambu, iwoca and By Miles.

Interestingly, despite the widespread global impact of the pandemic, some within the marine insurance industry are reporting significantly improved fortunes of late. Marine infrastructure still needs to be insured and even though the movement of goods and physical assets has reduced somewhat, the market has firmed up in terms of premium levels.

Posted by: Jon C Davies

Tags: funding  

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Wednesday 08 July 2020

Royal Marsden HR team gets virtual assistance from IBM Watson

IBM logoThe COVID-19 crisis has put healthcare providers around the world in urgent need of the added agility that technology provides. This applies not just in the clinical setting, but in the way hospitals operate behind the scenes too. The Royal Marsden, a world-leading cancer centre with hospitals in London and Surrey, is a fantastic example of this rapid digital transformation in action. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the Royal Marsden has turned to IBM Watson to help it launch its first ever virtual agent, Ask Maisie, to support the human resources team.

Royal Marsden logoWhen COVID-19 struck, it created an unprecedented flood of information requests from hospital workers into its HR team as employees looked for answers about childcare, shielding, workplace arrangements, testing and more. The Royal Marsden has therefore been working with IBM at pace to create a virtual agent that will help deliver the support that key workers need while reducing the strain on the human resources team.

Maisie, the virtual agent launched at the weekend, brings together IBM Watson Assistant and its Natural Language Processing capabilities delivered via the IBM public cloud, to understand and respond to common questions about COVID-19. Keyworkers can access Maisie at any time via the hospital’s intranet to get rapid and consistent information. The virtual agent will continue to enhance its knowledge base and learn from interactions with users. With common questions answered more quickly through automation and AI, the HR team will be able to focus on more complex areas, or issues requiring a more personal touch.  

As the pandemic moves to the next phase, we expect to see more healthcare providers accelerating their digital transformation plans, both to give clinicians time to focus on patients, and to support the smooth running of the hospital.

Posted by: Tola Sargeant

Tags: nhs   automation   AI   nlp   covid-19   healtcare  

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