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Friday 17 September 2021

Cabinet Office reshuffle leaves DDaT question mark

Ministerial Appointments web page Gov.UKWe are still awaiting full details of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Cabinet reshuffle and keeping a close eye on developments to determine where responsibility for the Government’s digital, data, and technology agenda will fall. So far, there have been notable departures but not full clarity on who will fill the voids:

  • John Whittingdale, the former Minister for Media & Data at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), has fallen victim to the reshuffle. Whittingdale was co-chair of the National Data Strategy Forum, which launched in May this year. His replacement is Julia Lopez (see below).
  • Julia Lopez, who was Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office, has been made Minister of State for Media and Data within DCMS. At the Cabinet Office, she was responsible for supporting the delivery of cross-government efficiency and public sector transformation, including having oversight of the Government Digital Service (GDS) and the Government’s DDaT (Digital, Data & Technology) function. Her replacement has not been announced.
  • Matt Warman has also left the Government. He was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at DCMS, serving as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Digital Infrastructure. He has been replaced by Chris Philp. Philp had a career in business before he entered politics.
  • Caroline Dinenage has left government. She had been serving as Minister of State for Digital and Culture at DCMS since February 2020. No replacement has been announced.
  • Nadine Dorries has taken over from Oliver Dowden as Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport. Dowden has become Minister without Portfolio at the Cabinet Office. Dorries’ appointment to her new role has taken many by surprise due to her lack of digital credentials. She was famously once criticised for sharing her computer password with staff and interns in her office; she is now charged with – amongst other things - improving cybersecurity in the UK.

Back in July last year, the split of responsibilities between the Cabinet Office and DCMS was altered. Boris Johnson gave the Cabinet Office accountability for Government use of data, leaving DCMS charged with deciding how data could be used to power the UK economy.  In our view, the key moves here are the exit of Julia Lopez from her role in the Cabinet Office and the replacement of Oliver Dowden by Nadine Dorries at DCMS. Both Lopez and Dowden have been clear advocates of technology and the benefits that it can bring both within Government and for the UK economy. With Lopez’ previous position now left empty, and Dowden replaced by someone without any background in digital and technology, it feels like the DDaT ship has been left a little rudderless. We eagerly await news of who will step into Lopez’ shoes.

Posted by: Georgina O'Toole at 16:22

Tags: centralgovernment   government   digital   data   appointments   public+sector  

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Friday 17 September 2021

UBS acquires Datum Datacentres

datumUBS Asset Management Real Estate & Private Markets (REPM) has acquired Farnborough-based Datum Datacentres.

UBS REPM’s intention is to expand the site and “develop the successful business into a broader platform”.

A diverse range of clients currently occupy the Datum facilities, including large public sector and enterprise organisations, and managed IT service providers. Most of these are on long-term contracts. The current facility is being expanded to provide additional capacity to existing clients with potential to develop an additional facility on-site.

UBS says the acquisition will deliver “attractive returns to investors” while also providing the capital to expand the existing “successful model”. It’s a very logical move for UBS, which clearly sees the potential in the business. This is its second infrastructure transaction this year, having previously financed a facility in the re-purposed Lefdal olivine mine in Norway in May.

Datum was originally part of the same Darwin-backed Group as Attenda, which was sold to Ensono five years ago. Darwin has remained a key investor in Datum - alongside other private individuals. Last year we wrote that we wouldn’t be surprised if, given investment timescales, Datum’s owners would seek an exit. Given that, the news of the sale this week is not a complete surprise, and certainly the new owner is one that should leave current customers feeling very reassured.

In 2020, Datum recorded revenue of £5.5m – up from £4.5m. Guidance issued in June of this year indicated revenue would hit £7m in 2021, reflecting another good top line performance.

Posted by: Kate Hanaghan at 09:30

Tags: acquisition   datacentre  

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Friday 17 September 2021

Coinfirm secures $8m to help police crypto ecosystem

CoinfirmCoinfirm, has secured $8m in funding as it looks to develop its crypto focused RegTech proposition. The Series A round was led by Six Fintech Ventures in association with FiveT Fintech and supported by MiddleGame Ventures, Mission Gate and CoinShares.

The DLT startup provides a risk management platform for digital assets that aims to protect stakeholders in the emerging crypto ecosystem. Coinfirm technology is designed to tackle risks such as ransomware hacks, human trafficking, sanctions evasion and terrorist financing by risk scoring entities, addresses and transactions.

In conjunction with the latest cash injection, Coinfirm’s Polish founder, Pawel Kuskowski is stepping down from his leadership role and handing control of the company to a new CEO, Dr Mircea Mihaescu, who joined as Executive Chairman earlier this year. Confirm, which has offices in the UK Japan and Poland has so far secured a number of public and private sector clients and is looking to expand its global footprint and further promote its offering. In particular, the company is focusing on growth opportunities in Asia and the US.

The burgeoning crypto market has led to increased criminal activity and public concerns over the associated threats and companies such as Confirm have an important role to play, reinforcing trust in the ecosystem. As a result, offerings in this area are increasingly attracting mainstream interest, as evidenced by Mastercard’s recent acquisition of CipherTrace (see: Mastercard steps up crypto plans with CipherTrace).

Posted by: Jon C Davies at 09:28

Tags: funding   cryptocurrency  

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Friday 17 September 2021

NTT DATA joins Green Software Foundation steering committee

Green Software Foundation logoAs we race towards COP26 in November and with the ringing warning from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterrers in the forward to the United in Science 2021 report that “Unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to 1.5°C will be impossible, with catastrophic consequences for people and the planet on which we depend,” the green agenda is climbing further up corporate and individual agendas. 

NTT Data logoOne of the green initiatives from the IT sector is the not for profit Green Software Foundation that was launched in May this year by the Linux Foundation and Joint Development Foundation Projects in collaboration with AccentureMicrosoftGitHub and Thoughtworks. The original four founding and steering committee members were joined by Globant and most recently by NTT DATA

The goal of the Foundation is "a 45% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the ICT industry by 2030," one of the benchmarks set via the Paris Agreement, and it is working to develop standards and development tool best practices to reduce CO2 emissions caused by software and disseminate these standards and tools throughout the industry.

In terms of its contribution to carbon neutrality for society NTT DATA has developed the NTT DATA Carbon-Neutral Vision 2050 and is exploring the use of digital technologies and joint development with clients to work towards carbon neutrality. It aims to apply its R&D and system development expertise to enhance the formulation of green specifications for globally standard software and propose, lead and develop mechanisms for calculating CO2 emissions volumes produced by software development.

The greening of IT has become a strong driver within the industry and across TechMarketView’s research agenda. Our series of breakfast webinars that kick of next week include sessions on “Delivering Social Value: Implications for public sector technology suppliers” and “Making Green from Green: is there revenue from the sustainability agenda?”. Click here to find out more and book your place.

Posted by: Angela Eager at 08:50

Tags: softwaredevelopment   sustainability  

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Friday 17 September 2021

CGI extends IQGeo partnership to UK

CGI logoCGI has announced a new integration and delivery partnership with AIM-listed provider of geospatial software to the telecoms and utilities sectors, IQGeo (see Need for resilience plays to IQGeo's strengths in H1). By bringing together complementary expertise, technology and market presence, the partnership aims to support a smooth, more efficient roll out of fibre broadband across the UK.

CGI is bringing its installation and integration services for IQGeo’s geospatial software, as well as a broader suite of consulting and business process optimisation capabilities, to support large and local telecoms operators instal fibre within their communities. The combination of CGI’s services and IQGeo’s software will support inventory accuracy, drive new customer acquisition, and optimise maintenance of existing customer services.

This new UK partnership builds on CGI’s existing partnership agreements with IQGeo in North America and Europe. In the UK business, our estimates suggest the telco sector makes up around 5% of turnover. One of the company’s biggest contracts is with TalkTalk (see CGI TalkTalks telco into transformational outsourcing contract). In collaborating with IQGeo, CGI will be seeking to expand its presence in the sector with an industry-specific offering.

Posted by: Georgina O'Toole at 08:43

Tags: itservices   data   geospatial   integration   telecoms   partnership  

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Friday 17 September 2021

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Thursday 16 September 2021

Sir Clive Sinclair

ZX81Sad to report that Sir Clive Sinclair has died at the age of 81.

It is probably difficult for most HotViews readers to imagine the excitement of getting a Sinclair Executive calculator back in the 1970s. Before that any calculation was done on a machine the size of a cash register. But it was the ZX80 (costing £99.95), ZX81 (costing £69.95) and later the ZX Spectrum that first brought computing into the Holway family in 1980-1982 and introduced programming to my two young daughters. We played our first computer games on it (ping pong) and I taught them to write their first program. It was an elementary version of a spreadsheet adding rows and columns. It was saved onto a cassette recorder. It wasn’t until we got an Apple Mac in 1984 that the ZX was put to rest in the gadget drawer. The ZX81 sold 250,000 in its first year and made Sinclair a multi-millionaire. It was eventually sold to Alan Sugar’s Amstrad.

But then Sinclair took on the mantle of the ‘mad scientist’ as he launched the C5. On the one hand it was an obvious death-trap. On the other it was years ahead of its time as one of the very first commercial EVs. Sinclair Vehicles later went into administration.

Sinclair had a string of other inventions. The Sinclair TV80 was one of the first attempts to produce a pocket-sized TV. It also failed. Now we all carry pocket TVs!

In many ways Sinclair epitomised the English inventor. Years ahead of his time in so many ways.  But unable to really capitalise on his genius. Unable to build into a British Apple or Tesla. But Sinclair, in the process, paved the way for others to develop his ideas and turn them into commercial successes.

Posted by: Richard Holway at 22:54

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Thursday 16 September 2021

accuRx plans expansions following £27.5m investment

accuRx logoHealthcare communication start-up, accuRx, has raised £27.5m in a Series B round led by Lakestar. Additional participation in the round came from Atomico, British Patient Capital, Encore Capital, Latitude VS, and Trusted Insight.

The London-based company was founded in 2016 by Jacob Haddad and Laurence Bargery. Its software provides healthcare organisations with the ability to SMS patients, schedule messages, run patient surveys, and set up video consultations. Its flagship product, accuRx Desktop, integrates with the EMIS and SystmOne platforms and is used   by over 98% of GP surgeries in England. Its technology has been used extensively during the pandemic as a booking system for the national COVID-19 vaccination programme. 

The latest funding round follows an £8.8m Series A round led by Atomico in 2019 (see Healthtech accuRx gets message about £8.8m funding). The new investment will be used to expand its product offering in primary care and grow adoption in other settings e.g., hospitals and care homes. It plans to expand its team from around 120 people today to close to 300 by the end of 2022, and is in the process of moving to new offices in London. 

This is a great example of a start-up having the right solution at the right time. accuRx has expanded rapidly during the pandemic and is now established at the heart of GP communication. As we discussed in reference to the Health and Care Levy, the ongoing impact of COVID-19, the NHS backlog, an ageing population with increasingly complex needs, and staff shortages all present major challenges for healthcare providers. Improving communication across these settings will be vital to resolving the challenges in the sector, which should create plenty of new opportunities for accuRx.  

Posted by: Dale Peters at 10:09

Tags: nhs   funding   startup   healthcare  

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Thursday 16 September 2021

Resourceful backers package funding to sustain Sourceful

logoIf I had but one concern about the otherwise noble idea behind Manchester-based ‘sustainable packaging’ sourcing marketplace, Sourceful, it’s that they also run a logistics operation from their own warehouse. I would have preferred to see an ‘asset light’ business model, but I am sure the founders have thought this all through.

Clearly investors have, as Sourceful has raised $12.2m in a seed funding round led by Index Ventures with participation from Eka Ventures, Venrex and an induvial investor. Founded just last year, Sourceful is aiming for a formal launch next year but has already scooped some pilot customers like bespoke curtain maker, Stitched, online florist, Floom, and Manchester coffee shop chain Foundation.

That’s a goodly raise for a neat idea. But, as I say, I always get nervous when physical assets are involved in online businesses.

I worry about things like that.

Posted by: Anthony Miller at 09:32

Tags: funding   startup   marketplace  

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Thursday 16 September 2021

Cavendish Learning Trust partners with Civica

Civica logoCavendish Learning Trust (CLT) has selected Civica to help it provide a joined up view of schools across the multi-academy trust (MAT).

Based in Staveley, on the outskirts of Chesterfield, CLT runs four academies covering early years, primary and secondary education. The MAT currently has 1700 pupils and 265 staff, but has plans to grow and incorporate new schools into the organisation.

CLT has signed a three-year partnership that will see the organisation implement Civica's Education FinancialsLIVE and PeopleLIVE software. The cloud-based solutions will provide centralised financial and HR operations, including procurement, planning, payroll and budgeting. To date, CLT has relied upon on-premise services, which has created challenges when trying to access systems outside of school hours, particularly during the COVID-19 crisis. The new solutions should provide the MAT with a more efficient, accurate and resilient approach.

Civica has expanded its education proposition over the last 18 months, including the acquisitions of Fretwell-Downing Hospitality and Parago in 2020 and Calibrand earlier this year. Last year it announced significant education contracts with Education Scotland and the Singapore Ministry of Education, and last month it launched CivicaEats, an app designed to allow pupils or parents to order school meals in advance.

Posted by: Dale Peters at 09:29

Tags: contract   education   cloud   software   schools  

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Thursday 16 September 2021

Exponential-e preps AI cloud for NPIC

Exponential-e provides AI cloud for NPIC

The selection of Exponential-e as a delivery partner for the National Pathology Imaging Co-operative (NPIC) will showcase the company’s cloud hosting and connectivity expertise in the key healthcare market.

NPIC is a collaboration between NHS, academia and industry partners focussed on applying research to the diagnosis of cancer and other diseases, one of five centres to develop the use artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare set up in 2018. The project will deploy digital pathology scanners in a network of over 30 NHS hospitals across England, including the full digitisation of pathology labs in 15 hospitals across the North of England. These scanners will enable pathologists to create, store and analyse over 2.4m images a year, at least 3 petabytes of data, and develop artificial intelligence tools to speed up diagnosis through automated recognition of disease patterns.

Terms of the contract were not disclosed but Exponential-e came through a public sector procurement governed by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. It will provide NPIC with a centralised image archiving and communication system using Dell EMC PowerScale storage systems and ECS Enterprise Object Storage platform hosted in two of its data centres. The company will initially provide information lifecycle management, archiving and high speed network connectivity to the hospitals which are partners on the NPIC programme, layering AI platforms on top of that infrastructure platforms at a later date.

Exponential-e has been steadily expanding its healthcare business over the last few years. It was awarded a place on the G-Cloud 11 framework in 2019 and is an accredited supplier of Health and Social Care Network services which replaced the NHS N3 network in 2016. The company won NHS-Digital contracts to connect up to 15,000 GPs to the HSCN remotely at the start of the pandemic and expanded its customer base further with the acquisition of Vysiion Group last year.

Posted by: Martin Courtney at 09:27

Tags: AI   hscn   healthcare   cloudstorage  

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Thursday 16 September 2021

Oxford Nanopore activates IPO sequence

logoAs previously signalled, Harwell-based DNA sequencing technology innovator, Oxford Nanopore Technologies, has today filed its Intention to Float registration with the London Stock Exchange.

Included in the document was the announcement that the company recently entered into a memorandum of understanding with Oracle, “whereby the two companies will explore collaboratively a number of potential new solutions to address opportunities in the applied and clinical markets, and related go-to-market strategies.” In addition, “a vehicle controlled by Oracle” is to buy £150m of Oxford Nanopore shares at the offer price.

The IPO is expected to raise £300m gross and should leave some 25% free float shares at a mooted valuation of some £4b. Oxford Nanopore was valued at £2.5b at its last funding round in May (see Oxford Nanopore close to £2.5bn valuation with new funding).

For further background, start with Tech Goodness: Harwell Campus, Oxford Nanopore and the fight against COVID-19 and work forwards.

They are one of my heroes!

Posted by: Anthony Miller at 09:07

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Thursday 16 September 2021

Lightyear boosted by retail investment buzz

LightyearUK startup, Lightyear, has secured seed funding worth $8.5m as it goes live with its fledgling retail investment platform. The investment was provided by Mosaic Ventures and supported by existing investors including Taavet Hinrikus. The funding follows a $1.5M pre-seed round earlier this year that attracted support from a variety of fintech investors.

Lightyear’s founders are former Wise employees, Martin Sokk and Mihkel Aamer. The startup offers users an app-based, investment tool that provides multi-currency access to global markets. The platform is completely free to use up to a limit of £3k per month. Once trading exceeds that limit, Lightyear carries a 0.35% FX fee.

The highly competitive UK wealth management sector has seen significant change in recent years, influenced by new technology-based approaches. The use of self-service tools and robo-advisers to guide decisions without the need for costly investment advice is increasingly prevalent, particularly in the mass affluent segment (see: The Wealth Management Challenge).

The pace of change is demonstrated by the fact that Lightyear has gone from concept to reality inside 10 months, having raised over $10m in that time. Meanwhile, the number of people managing their own investments has grown rapidly of late, with lockdown(s) helping to drive this trend. This area of the market is one that has significant potential for further growth and the appeal of free investment tools seems obvious.

Posted by: Jon C Davies at 09:04

Tags: funding  

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Thursday 16 September 2021

Checkit looking to capitalise on intelligent operations

CheckitCambridge-headquartered minnow, Checkit, is another software provider looking to help organisations manage operations more smartly in a hybrid working environment. Interim results out from the workflow and asset management specialist have the business expanding revenue by 13% to £7.9m (H1 2021: £7.0m), whilst operating losses grew to -£1.7m (H1 2021 -£1.5m).

Checkit's USP is that it helps organisations manage its staff and its physical assets (buildings/equipment/inventory) through a combination of workflow, asset and buildings management. Given the challenges and complexity of managing (often paper based) operations in new hybrid arrangements, when staff are working remotely, buildings are underutilised, and supply chains are strained, Checkit should be “pushing at an open door”.

Operating across a range of sectors including healthcare, retail, life sciences, facilities management, catering, education, hospitality and commercial property (e.g., NHS, BP, Waitrose, Sodexo and Center Parcs) its pivoting towards a SaaS model with 39% of revenue recurring, (up 5% vs H1 2021). Annual recurring revenue saw an increase of £0.9m (+16%) in H1 at a run rate of £6.6m, as new subscription contracts went live.

Given the opportunity presented by clients increasingly looking for intelligent operations, Checkit is looking to accelerate growth out of the pandemic. It has invested more is sales and marketing (hence the expanded operating losses) and has acquired a business in the US (Tutela Monitoring Systems) as it looks to grow stateside. Net result is an expanded pipeline which has quadrupled since the start of the year. This coupled with macro trends towards hybrid working offer the firm a huge opportunity to drive growth. Focus now needs to be on converting the opportunity to the top and bottom lines.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick at 08:50

Tags: results   software   workflow   operations  

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Thursday 16 September 2021

Cazoo reconditions SMH

logoIn its quest to dominate the global ‘online’ used car market, recently NYSE-listed Cazoo has made another asset-heavy acquisition, that of Worcestershire-HQ’d vehicle preparation, logistics & storage business, SMH Fleet Solutions. Cazoo acquired SMH from mid-market private equity investor LDC and other minority shareholders for around £70m cash.

This follows the acquisition just a couple of weeks ago of VC-backed vehicle pricing platform, Cazana for approximately £25m (see Cazoo: a 'chutzpah' update - and a shrewd acquisition). And in reference to that post, it appears that Cazoo’s ‘pre-SPAC’ shares have now been registered with the SEC and its market cap is now showing ‘correctly’ at $6.77b as at close of play last night.

Cazoo has a lot more dosh in the pot yet to be spent.

Posted by: Anthony Miller at 08:47

Tags: acquisition  

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Thursday 16 September 2021

Cognizant extends FCA relationship

LogoHot on the heels of its big win at HMRC, Cognizant has successfully signed-up the Financial Conduct Authority for a further eighteen months. The new £31.5m contract will see the offshore centric major continue to deliver a suite of applications development and testing services to the regulatory body.

Cognizant has been working with the FCA since 2011. This latest agreement prolongs an engagement which began four years ago (see here). It focuses on implementing new digital technologies to transform the FCA’s technology portfolio and quality assurance processes.

The contract extension makes another positive contribution to the company’s strategic ambitions in the UK Public Sector market. Cognizant has been building its presence in this arena in recent times. Along with the £90m HMRC deal signed last month, the firm was also appointed earlier this year as one of twelve suppliers on the £800m Digital Capability for Health framework.

Posted by: Duncan Aitchison at 08:17

Tags: contract   systemsintegration   applications   public+sector  

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Thursday 16 September 2021

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Wednesday 15 September 2021

Wipro lands £32m deal with National Grid

LogoWipro has secured a data centre transformation contract with National Grid. The five-year deal, which contains two twelve month extension options, is valued at $44.5m (c.£32m). The engagement will see Wipro help the UK and US energy company move to a hybrid cloud infrastructure.

This award follows just six months after Wipro subsidiary Appirio was selected by National Grid to deliver an omnichannel customer experience for its 68 million customers across two continents. The data centre deal is also the latest in a series of recent successes by the offshore major in the utilities sector. These include wins at E.ON, Southern Water Services and SSE.

Wipro does appear to be regaining its mojo under the leadership of CEO Thierry Delaporte. The company leapt off the starting blocks with headline Q122 revenue growth of almost 26%. This is the first time in more than nine years that Wipro has exceeded single-digit yoy growth in any quarter. In no small part, this was driven by renewed success in the big deals arena with Wipro landing 12 contacts worth $1.4b in aggregate during FY21.

Posted by: Duncan Aitchison at 10:04

Tags: offshore   contract   datacentres   infrastructureoperations  

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Wednesday 15 September 2021

Construction specialist Eleco rising?

Eleco logoAIM-listed Eleco plc is not a company we have followed to date but with structural changes within the business it could become more visible within the software sector. 

It is a construction sector specialist providing software and services to the Architectural, Engineering, Construction and Owner/Operator (AECO) industries and interior furnishing sector from locations in the UK, Sweden, Germany, Netherlands and the US. Its solutions cover project management, estimating, timber engineering, CAD and visualisation, asset and facility management and cloud-based digital marketing solutions, which places it in several key digital transformation areas. 

The construction sector was badly impacted by the effects of the pandemic but according to its H1 results (to the end of June 2021) Eleco delivered a very creditable 13% revenue lift to £13.8m, with PBT up 17% to £2.2m. It made progress despite the challenges and some major operational restructuring, describing H1 as a transformational half year during which it reshaped and repositioned the company and launched its refined growth strategy.

The transition includes moving from a product-led company to a customer-centric business, organising around customer segments for priority geographic markets, and removing product silos. To help deliver it has undertaken significant structural changes including merging two of its German visualisation businesses, rebranded as Veeuze; merging three UK Building Lifecycle businesses; created the Northern Europe Building Lifecycle operation; expanded the focus of its Swedish Building Lifecycle operation; and identified stand-alone niche business areas. We’ll keep eyes on the company to see what effect the changes have on performance and visibility, especially given the broad market trend for specialist capabilities and suppliers over generalists. 

Posted by: Angela Eager at 10:02

Tags: results   software   construction  

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