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Wednesday 21 April 2021

Good progress for Unit4 in Q1

Unit4 logoSelective Q1 results from Unit4 for the quarter ending 31 March 2021 indicate progress on the all important cloud subscription line, where subscription revenue rose a rewarding 28% yoy—a significant improvement on the 14% growth of Q120.  

The improvement shows Unit4’s cloud strategy is working well with cloud bookings delivering 9% growth yoy and 18% total bookings growth, although the company did not disclose revenue specifics. Looking at the company in the round, it has several levers it can pull to drive growth and it is working them. Q1 saw customer momentum as it signed up several new customers, while 24 new customers have signed up to the recently launched ERPx cloud platform.  

The partner network is another effective lever—the 204% yoy growth on the value of contracts via partners was an impressive achievement. The addition of 11 new go-to-market partners, including Deel Advanced Consulting, ERP Associates, Pecen Consulting SolutionsLevio Conseils IncKardinya Partners, Paradime Solutions, PREACT, GCC, Rinedata, Counterpart, and WIN-Consultancy show the partner program is delivering results. In addition, HeyCentric signed up as a new ISV partner and Unit4 also extended partnerships with Greenlight, 2opus, and Diesis. With the launch of the Developer4U partner program in March 2021 it still has growth capacity; add the backing from TA Associates and Unit4 has scope for further improvements.  

From what we can see, Q1 was a good period for Unit4. Reassuringly for itself and the wider market, it saw customer demand, which suggests the market is regaining momentum.  

Posted by: Angela Eager at 10:08

Tags: results   partnerships   software  

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Wednesday 21 April 2021

Cerner expands presence in NW London

Cerner logoCerner has signed an agreement with London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust and The Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to implement its Cerner Millennium electronic health record (EHR) platform across the two organisations.

The Kansas-headquartered health technology business agreed the partnership in February, which will see the two Trusts join the Cerner Millennium EHR domain already in use at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. The four organisations comprise a total of 12 facilities and represent four of the nine NHS Trusts in the North West London Integrated Care System (ICS).

This is the first time that four NHS Trusts have been brought together on one domain in this way. It means they will have access to an up-to-date and shared view of a patient’s information, regardless of where they were treated. It should also allow the Trusts to improve efficiency by sharing expertise, resources and clinical pathways.

This is the type of partnership that we expect to see more of as a result of the ICS programme, which is intended to bring together local organisations to redesign care and improve population health—see Government publishes healthcare integration and innovation plans. Having the four Trusts on one EHR should help bolster collaboration and improve the quality of care in the region.

Despite 2020 being a challenging year for Cerner globally, it continues to build its business in the UK (see Health SITS Suppliers, Trends and Forecasts 2020-2023 for further discussion of Cerner's market position and ICS). It has just announced that East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust have signed an agreement to implement its EHR platform. This follows recent deals with County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust and West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust to implement Cerner Millennium EHR.

Posted by: Dale Peters at 09:55

Tags: nhs   contract   collaboration   healthcare   ICS  

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Wednesday 21 April 2021

Who are the best suppliers for transformation?

If you are a technology buyer and/or business decision maker, TechMarketView’s latest Market Readiness Index (MRI) can provide you with unique analysis of the largest IT and Business Process Service providers.

The MRI is designed to help end user organisations determine the ability of suppliers to support them as they transform and is a keystone piece of research within the TechMarketView Tech User Programme – see here

This year’s annual report is our third and as ever provides detailed insight into the largest providers of IT and Business Process Services to the UK market (measured by revenue, according to our latest published analysis, UK SITS Ranking 2020): AccentureAtosCapgeminiCapitaCognizantDXC TechnologyFujitsuHCL TechnologiesIBM, and TCSmri

We’ve questioned and probed, we’ve analysed the numbers, the investments made, and the decisions taken. We've also spoken to customers and undertaken a rigorous scoring and analysis exercise across six key areas:

  • Corporate Resilience
  • Suitability of Offerings
  • Skills & Resources
  • Partner Ecosystem
  • Industry Expertise
  • Delivery & Execution.

The MRI launched in 2019 with our first report looking at how well placed the UK’s Top Ten IT and Business Process Services players were then in terms of their ability to deliver digital transformation. In 2020, TechMarketView published our Market Readiness Index looking at the UK's IT/BP Services providers ranked 11-20.

This year’s report revisits the ten largest players and assesses where they are now. Tech User Programme members can read the research here: TechMarketView Market Readiness Index 2021.

If you would like to find out more about joining the programme and accessing the report, please contact Deb Seth.

If you are an IT/Business Process services provider and an existing TechMarketView subscription client, reports published within our Tech User Programme are available to purchase. Please also contact Deb Seth.

Posted by: HotViews Editor at 09:40

Tags: digital   transformation   MRI   disruption  

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Wednesday 21 April 2021

Homecare digitalisation start-up gets funding boost

CareLineLive logoAs investment in ‘healthtech’ start-ups continues apace, this week brings news of a £1.2m fundraising for UK start-up CareLineLive, a provider of homecare management software. Led by early-stage investors Haatch Ventures, the funding will be used to support CareLineLive’s growth, international expansion and the continued innovation of its platform, including the development of its family portal. 

CareLineLive was founded in 2014 by Josh Hough, who was frustrated at the lack of access to his grandfather's care. It offers an all-in-one, cloud-based home care management system for domiciliary care agencies to manage the ‘circle of care’. The platform is designed to increase efficiency, capacity and compliance by digitising workflows and automating procedures. As well as giving carers more ‘time to care’, the company claims it has seen agencies improve cashflow and increase revenue by up to 50%.

Homecare is a sector facing tremendous challenges as the population ages and demand for care increases, not just in the UK but around the world. It’s a sector in need of innovation and digitalisation, and CareLineLive has already proven itself with customers including Coastal Homecare in the UK, Clannad Care in Ireland and Home Care Nurses in Australia. Indeed, some 10% of the SME’s customers are now outside the UK and it plans to accelerate international expansion with the new funding. We’ll be watching to see how these plans progress in the coming months.

Posted by: Tola Sargeant at 09:36

Tags: funding   startup   socialcare   healthtech  

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Wednesday 21 April 2021

Parity returns to OP parity – but gross margin paucity

logoIt’s taken a couple of years to get back there, but veteran tech staffing firm Parity has once again turned a full year operating profit – but only just.

When Matthew Bayfield took over as CEO back in February 2019 (see Changing of the guard at Parity) after an 8-month stint as head of its consulting practice, Parity had revenues of some £86m in 2018 but with a wafer-thin operating margin of £723k. Bayfield then set out to ‘transform’ Parity from a barely profitable contractor-led tech staffing and projects business to something more wonderful.

Two years on, after much hacking and burning, the transformation is complete, according to Bayfield. But as best as I can tell, Parity remains a barely profitable contractor-led tech staffing and projects business, but with revenues in 2020 of some £58m and a £23k operating profit – albeit a vast improvement over the £725k operating loss in 2019, especially in a pandemic year.

The ‘something more wonderful’ that Bayfield sees as Parity’s future is ‘data-driven transformation’, and Parity’s polished website waxes lyrical on the topic. But the truth is in the numbers, and the key number in Parity’s case is gross margin, which shrunk from 10.1% in 2019 to 9.6% in 2020. This barely passes muster as a volume-based body shop business, not a premium price professional services business.

Therein lies Bayfield’s real challenge. The ‘data driven’ story is all well and good – but that’s a given in today’s market. It’s all about how you turn the hype into margin.

Posted by: Anthony Miller at 09:07

Tags: recruitment  

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Wednesday 21 April 2021

New Microsoft MoU with UK Government

MMicrosoft logoicrosoft UK’s current Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the UK Government expires on 30th April 2021. But public sector organisations needn’t fear. The Crown Commercial Service has announced that it has successfully negotiated the next iteration of the MoU, which will be available from 1st May. Moreover, those wanting to take advantage of the Digital Transformation Arrangement 21 (DTA21) to achieve savings, will find that it will better support them  as they shift to hybrid or multi cloud-arrangements.  

As well as being able to maintain on-premise server licensing discounts, public sector organisations will be empowered to innovate using new technologies. The arrangement recognises the increasing importance of cloud computing as the Government seeks to accelerate its transformation and ‘build back better’ post-COVID with a focus on sustainability and social value. As examples, users will find pricing discounts on offerings such as Microsoft 365 and Azure, as well as Dynamics 365 and Power Platform. The latter two are new to the arrangement. Any route to market can be used to purchase under the new pricing agreement.

Posted by: Georgina O'Toole at 08:59

Tags: contract   saas   cloud   software   iaas   PaaS   microsoft   public+sector  

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Wednesday 21 April 2021

Musing on the recovery as lockdown eases

PrimarkIf you get your economic input from watching the TV, you might, last week, have seen the queues for Primark, the hairdressers open 24/7 to meet demand and a rush for a pint in a crowded pub garden.

I now suspect these media images don’t tell the full story. Indeed the Ipsos Retail Traffic Index for the first week of lockdown easing shows footfall of just 71% of what it was in the same period 2019. The expectation was for a much higher surge.

My own experiences bear this out. I deliberately visited our local department store and bought stuff (that I actually could have bought online cheaper) to support them. I swear there were more staff than customers in the store. We have eaten out twice in the last week at peak times and been surrounded by empty tables – certainly no more than 50% of capacity. I phoned last Monday to book a haircut and was offered a same day appointment. The problem with haircuts is that, once shorn, you will not have another three haircuts in the next month to make up for what you have missed!

Clearly the UK economy is in for a bumper period as it recovers from previous really ‘low lows’. But I am rather more sceptical about how long it will take to return to levels BC. Even then the ‘shape’ of that economy will be very different.

Note- Photo credits Hertslive

Posted by: Richard Holway at 08:40

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Wednesday 21 April 2021

Modern Networks gets £40m upgrade

Modern Networks gets £40m upgradeUK managed IT and connectivity services provider Modern Networks received £40m investment from Horizon Capital with additional debt facilities provided by DunPort Capital Management.

The money will be used to fund targeted acquisitions and organic growth as Modern Networks looks to move further beyond its core business serving property management companies and into adjacent verticals.

Founded in Hitchin 22 years ago, the company provides a range of managed technology platforms to around 2,000 locations in the UK (partners include Microsoft, Cisco and HP), including IT support and maintenance, fixed and mobile connectivity, cyber security, backup and recovery, and print services.

It already has 140 enterprise clients - including architects, accountancy firms, media companies, not for profit organisations and travel agents – on its books, and it this customer base that Modern Networks is focussed on growing.

Posted by: Martin Courtney at 08:39

Tags: funding   ICT   propertymanagement  

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Wednesday 21 April 2021

Is there a read-across from NETFLIX's Q1 results to Big Tech?

NETFLIXI cover NETFLIX largely because they are the ‘N’ in FAANGs and can give a pointer to the main tech Q1 reporting season which kicks off next week.

As we all know NETFLIX had benefitted hugely from the C-19 lockdowns around the world. Indeed, so had most of ‘Big Tech’. But has the rapid growth of 2020 continued into 2021? Indeed what will happen when lockdowns are a distant memory?

Although NETFLIX grew revenues by 24% yoy to $7.16b and profit more than doubled from $720m to $1.71b  in Q1, subscriber growth slowed to ‘just’ 3.75m in Q1 – around 2m LESS than both analysts and the company itself had expected. NETFLIX shares slumped 10% in after-hours trading last night as a result.

So has ‘Peak NETFLIX’ been reached? Most of our friends and family are regular NETFLIX users but that’s been the case for sometime. I personally don’t know anyone who has just joined.

An even more difficult question is what will happen when cinemas open again? Will we all rush back to Cineworld? Last Xmas the most purchased big ticket electronic item was a 65inch TV. Watching premiere movies on a big screen with surround sound, with all the home comforts around, is very appealing. I tell you, if I have to wear a mask for 3 hours in a cinema, I’d certainly prefer to stay at home. I’d then also avoid the guy with popcorn in a pot the size of a dustbin who always seems to have selected the seat next to me!

Is there a read-across from NETFLIX to BIG TECH?

Quite possibly. Most companies have now invested to allow WFH. Unlikely to be repeated in 2021. Indeed, once you’ve made the investment and everyone – including the productivity measurers – seem happy, why throw it all away and return to the office 5 days a week? Most businesses which can be online now are.

More next week when the biggies report Q1.

Posted by: Richard Holway at 08:20

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Wednesday 21 April 2021

*NEW RESEARCH* Spotlight on Emerging Tech: Sights on Computer Vision

Sights on Computer Vision report coverWhen Amazon opened its Fresh branded walk-out, no till grocery store in London in March 2021 it put computer vision in the public’s eye so to speak. It also illustrated how deep learning and neural networks have enabled the technology to advance, making it somewhat more accessible and opening up use cases within both existing and new domains.

Movement restrictions put in place to cope with COVID-19 have played a pivotal role in changing mindsets about how technology like computer vision can be used to overcome challenges.

Combine that with:

·       the unstoppable drive for digital transformation,

·       the acute need to deploy advanced automation in the manufacturing sector,

·       rising demand for vision-guided quality inspection systems,

·       and increasing Health and Safety initiatives including COVID-secure workplace requirements impacting offices as well as industrial environments,

and it’s clear computer vision is positioned to play a key role in the COVID-suppressed world.  

For insight into the Computer Vision sector, developing application areas and emerging opportunities, download the latest TechSectorViews report Spotlight on Emerging Tech: Sights on Computer Vision.

The report examines the expanding industrial and business roles, its position in terms of natural interfaces and as it is not a silver bullet, highlights the limitations of this aspect of the AI tech stack.

Click HERE to access the report – and if you’re not already subscribed to TechMarketView contact Deb Seth to find out how to access our services. 

Posted by: Angela Eager at 08:17

Tags: cloud   software   machinelearning   startups  

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Tuesday 20 April 2021

Growth eludes IBM in Q1

IBMIBM saw first quarter revenue slip 2% to $17.7bn, with a 5% drop in EMEA specifically.

The GBS segment was down 1% to $4.2bn with Consulting back in growth mode (+2%) but Application Management down 8.0%. The firm said the $2.2bn Consulting business saw growth driven by ecosystem and cloud offerings. The GTS business fared worse with an overall decline of 5%, reflecting dips in both Infrastructure & Cloud Services (down 5% to $4.9bn) and Technology Support Services (also down 5% to $1.5bn). Of kyndrelcourse, a chunk of the latter will become kyndryl later this year, enabling IBM to shift from being Services heavy (currently more than 60% of revenue) to having a portfolio where the majority of revenue comes from software and solutions (see: IBM and NewCo: The hard work starts here).

In Q1, the Software business returned to growth (Cloud & Cognitive Software +1% to $5.4bn) - just. Much stronger growth occurred in Cloud & Data Platforms (+10%), with total Cloud revenue across IBM up 18% to $6.5bn.

The split-out of kyndryl is no doubt sucking management time and causing distraction amongst staff. Once IBM is focused around a smaller number of revenue streams in higher growth areas, the next phase will be all about executing against the plan to ensure it maximises those opportunities for growth. 

Posted by: Kate Hanaghan at 09:53

Tags: results   cloud   consulting   AI   hybrid  

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Tuesday 20 April 2021

Atos Q1: Expansion of transformation focus

AtoAtos logos’ Q1 to end March 2021 reveals Group revenues down 1.9% to €2,692m, or by 3.9% organically. However, management highlights that “commercial dynamism remains solid”; the book to bill stood at 96% for the period, while the pipeline was up 14% compared to a year previously.

Reflecting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, performance varied significantly between industries and between geographies. By industry, financial services and insurance (+7.4% ccy) and health and life sciences (+3.4%) proved the most resilient; across the other sectors, declines were between 3% and 7%.

Notably, geographically, Northern Europe (which includes the UK) was one of the strongest regions, alongside Growing Markets and Southern Europe. Turnover increased by 6.2% to €730m ccy. In the region, strong business growth was recorded in TMT, as well as financial services and insurance, and in healthcare and life sciences. But “challenges” were noted in public sector and defence, and resources and services.

Atos continues with its SPRING transformation programme, which involves a reshaping of its offering, go-to-market, and operating model. This, alongside bolt-on acquisitions, three more of which have been announced today (see Atos: Triumvirate of acquisitions), have pushed the proportion of revenues from digital, cloud, security, and decarbonisation, up to 51%. Now, Atos is expanding its transformation focus. Firstly, it will initiate a strategic review of its non-core assets. Secondly, it will further its internal transformation, with the next steps aimed at “aiming at enriching the company’s digital competencies and human capital, reinforcing accountability, as well as implementing cultural changes in full consistency with our “raison d’être””. Interestingly, TechMarketview’s Market Readiness Index analysis (see TechMarketView Market Readiness Index 2021: Top 10 UK IT & Business Process Services Providers ) recently identified ‘skills and resources’ as one of the areas where we saw room for improvement for Atos. 

Atos also continues to investigate the internal control weaknesses and revenue recognition issues identified within two of its US legal entities. Though the Group “has not identified any material misstatements for the 2020 consolidated financial statements”, it has recognised that the accounting errors and internal control weaknesses deserve serious focus and is taking actions as a result; those actions include the implementation of a strong remediation and prevention plan.

Posted by: Georgina O'Toole at 09:42

Tags: results   itservices   digital  

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Tuesday 20 April 2021

Finastra's Hack to the Future III focuses on community

Finastra

Global banking technology provider, Finastra, has announced Bloinx, a blockchain-based application to help community savings projects, as the winner of its 3rd global hackathon “Hack to the Future”. Finastra’s latest event, invited developers from around the World to utilise Finastra’s open innovation platform to create a new generation of apps.

Bloinx was selected as the grand prize winner from more than 600 entrants, each of which had developed offerings utilising Finastra’s FusionFabric.cloud (see: Finastra embraces open banking). The event, which this year had a particular focus on communities, attracted participants from more than 50 countries with a diverse and inclusive mix of developers that included many female-led teams.

Launched in May 2019, Finastra’s innovation platform has become a thriving environment for developers focused on opportunities around open banking. The FusionFabric.cloud is built on Microsoft Azure and utilises Power BI, PowerApps and Microsoft Dynamics. The platform provides a wide variety of open APIs, across Finastra’s retail and corporate banking products and contains functionality for consumer lending, mortgage, payments and treasury and capital markets.

Posted by: Jon C Davies at 09:13

Tags: Finastra  

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Tuesday 20 April 2021

Nvidia's acquisition of ARM referred to the CMA on grounds of national security

ARMMy views on Softbank’s acquisition of ARM back in 2016 are well publicised. See So it’s goodbye to ARM as an independent UK tech company from Aug 16. My comments in that article were extensively used in The Evening Standard.

“As you know, I am very sad about this as I consider ARM to be the best tech company the UK has produced. Certainly in the last 20 years. Whatever 'promises' made, they will now be a subsidiary of a highly indebted foreign company. Although a base might well be maintained in Cambridge, all the corporate decisions will be made abroad. The UK/LSE will lose yet another UK quoted company with the attendant loss for accountants, lawyers, brokers, PR people - even analysts and newspaper journalists.

Ever since I started my analysis company in 1986, the takeovers have practically all been one way.  So I have to say that EVERY quoted ( and private) UK tech company is vulnerable. All the way from Imagination to Sage to MicroFocus to Aveva etc with everyone in between. The devaluation of the £ makes UK companies even more attractive. The US tax rules, making it difficult to repatriate overseas profits, also encourages US companies to acquire in the UK.

I guess I am resigned to it. Conversely, as the UK is 'the best place in the world' to setup and ScaleUp a tech company, knowing you will get an 'exit' is no bad thing. Maybe that is our destiny - as an incubator of tech companies and serial entrepreneurs. There are probably worse fates!”

 Last Sept, Nvidia announced it would acquire ARM from Softbank in a $40b deal. This elicited even more howls of protest. At least Softbank was a neutral party whereas Nvidia was a competitor to many of ARM’s own customers. On top of that it appeared that Nvidia was not taking on the workforce and location guarantees given by Softbank.

The last year has seen an even greater reliance on the semi conductor market. Indeed current shortages are affecting many industries – most acutely the automotive sector.

I’ve been lobbying for HMGovt to stop this takeover and now the deal has been referred to the Competitions & Markets Authority. The referral is on grounds of national security. But there are many other reasons why this is against our national interests.

ARM must remain HQed in the UK if we are to rebuild the UK’s new tech economy. I guess it is too much to hope that one day ARM would once again be listed on the London Stock Exchange. I was a happy and proud  shareholder from its early days until I reluctantly had to accept the Softbank offer in 2016 . My dream is to be able to become an ARM shareholder again.

Posted by: Richard Holway at 09:12

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Tuesday 20 April 2021

Low code/service automation crossover with Atlassian ThinkFit acquisition

Atlassian logoDevelopment and collaboration software company Atlassian is one of the latest suppliers to further its investment in low code, with the acquisition of Australia-based ThinkTilt. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. 

ThinkTilt provides ProForma which is a Jira-centric no/low code platform that has obvious synergies with Atlassian’s own Jira software project and service management tools. The service management element is an area where Atlassian is investing resources: Jira Service Management was launched last November. Its aim is to being development and operations teams together through a unified platform but also enable non-technical teams such as HR or finance to create their own workflow-based service functions. With ThinkTilt’s ProForma low code offering integrated into Jira Service Management, expansion into non-tech areas ought to get easier because non-tech teams should be able to use ProForma to capture the information needed for specific workflows, leaving Jira Service Management to handle the backend. 

Viewed from a broader perspective, the move is another marker on the no/low code sectors’ journey to combine with process and workflow automation as recent moves by Appian (acquisition of RPA software house Novayru Solutions) and Boomi (enhancements to its Flow low code workflow automation service) indicate (see here), and  Netcall has been driving for some time. Note also that Zoho, has just launched a workflow automation product too, Qntrl. Collectively, the moves point to no/low code putting automation within reach of mid-sized companies; while within enterprises, developments that effect user and customer experience can be moulded by the non-tech experts who understand the nuances of the situations.

Posted by: Angela Eager at 09:11

Tags: acquisition   software   low-code  

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Tuesday 20 April 2021

Avail hauls in more dosh to match HGV drivers with jobs

logoIn a crowded market, niche is good. Which is what caught my eye about the haulage industry recruitment platform developed by Avail Technologies, which matches HGV (heavy goods vehicle) drivers with haulage operators. Neat!

Founded in 2018 in Stockton-on-Tees by a former British Army logistics specialist, Avail has raised a further £300k in a funding round led by existing investor NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance. This brings the total raised to date to £650k.

Avail clearly does not fritter its funding on a flashy website – but I think that’s to its credit. However, I am struggling to understand Avail’s business model, but it looks operators set their own driver pay rate for each job and then Avail charges the operator a flat fee of £7.50 per driver per day. Simples!

If the numbers work, looks like Avail is a nice little business. And if it spends a lot more money on sales and marketing, it could even become a nice big business.

PS I would respectfully suggest Avail changes its brand as there are too many other businesses with the same name – and even similar logos.

Posted by: Anthony Miller at 09:09

Tags: funding   startup   recruitment  

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Tuesday 20 April 2021

Atos: Triumvirate of acquisitions

Atos logoThere’s a triumvirate of acquisitions from Atos today. One UK-headquartered. One with offices in the UK. And one with IP that looks like it could be used within the UK business.

The UK-based buy is of Ipsotek; it is an enhanced video analytics software provider, which was established in 2001 and is based in London. The company, which brings with it a team of 50 “highly skilled professionals” adds key software capabilities in Edge Vision and Computer Vision and advances Atos’ position in Edge AI/ML. Its scalable AI platform, VISuite, “enables users to efficiently manage automatically-generated alerts in real-time”. It can be used across a range of use cases including crowd management, smoke detection, intrusion detection, perimeter protection, number plate recognition and traffic management. It also provides multi-camera tracking capabilities. It has carried out 600 projects in 38 countries. Atos will target the public sector, retail, manufacturing, transformation, and critical infrastructure sectors once the acquisition closes in Q221.

Meanwhile, the acquisition of Processia is also expected to close in Q2. Though headquartered in Canada, the company, which was founded in 2000, also has a footprint across Europe, including in the UK. It is a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems integrator and Dassault Systèmes Global Service Partner. Globally, Atos’ Industry 4.0 offerings already cover Siemens, PTC, and Dassault Systèmes services. Processia’s 250 employees provide consulting, integration and managed services for business in the aerospace, automotive, transportation, life sciences, discrete manufacturing, and high-tech sectors. In the UK, management has been focused on strengthening the offering to the manufacturing sector; at a time when the manufacturing industry is looking to strengthen the product data backbone in support of digital transformation, this acquisition helps to reinforce Atos’ PLM and engineering solutions portfolio.

Finally, Atos expects to close the acquisition of German company, cv cryptovision GmbH – a provider of state-of-the-art cryptographic products and solutions for securing digital entities, in Q3. Founded in 1999, cryptovision has a track record in successfully addressing organisations’ digital security challenges, particularly in the public sector and defence sectors. According to Atos, the combination of the two companies will enable numerous synergies in their go-to-market approach: “Atos will benefit from cryptovision’s strong network of resellers and global technology partnerships in the e-ID markets. cryptovision will benefit from Atos’ trusted relationship with European government customers and the Group’s ability to deliver end-to-end integrated solutions on national and international scale.” The strengthening of Atos’ cybersecurity product line is in line with the company’s ambitions to be a leader in secure and decarbonised digital.

Posted by: Georgina O'Toole at 09:04

Tags: acquisition   manufacturing   M&A   cyber   AI   PLM   edge   ML   EdgeComputing  

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Tuesday 20 April 2021

Zilch secures $80m for BNPL push

ZilchZilch, the buy now pay later (BNPL) finance provider has raised an additional $80m to help drive the growth of its point of sale credit proposition. The conclusion of the startup’s Series B round included contributions from M&F Fund and Gauss Ventures. In December 2020, Zilch revealed that is had so far secured $30m in pre-Series B funding (see: PoS startup Zilch raises $30m).

Zilch, which launched its app in 2019, is a FCA authorised credit provider and now boasts around 500k customers. The company offers short-term loans customers when making a purchase from a wide variety of retail partners (including Amazon and ebay). The finance provided by Zilch is underwritten by Mastercard.

Point of sale finance is a growing market, with the likes of Klarna demonstrating the significant potential (see: Cash injection propels Klarna to No. 1 spot). Zilch is straightforward and easy to use and the option of spreading the cost of purchases in an increasingly tough economic climate is likely to prove appealing.

Posted by: Jon C Davies at 08:55

Tags: funding  

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Tuesday 20 April 2021

Cognizant’s BPO push lands Inchcape

LogoCognizant’s increased focus on the Business Process Operations (BPO) market has begun to fruit in the UK. The company has just secured a multi-year, global Finance and Accounting (F&A) deal with automotive distributor and retailer Inchcape. Under the contract, Cognizant will both help to digitally transform the client’s F&A function and take responsibility for a number of the supporting transactional services.

Inchcape, which is now led by former Fujitsu EMEIA head Duncan Tait, has built up a plethora of different financial systems, processes and services through the multiple acquisitions it has made around the world. The markets in which the company operates are evolving to become digital and data-led to support the omnichannel interactions demanded by customers. The alignment, simplification and standardisation of its F&A operations is seen by Inchcape as a strategic enabler of its growth ambitions.

Cognizant, which last year did not appear on our list of leading UK Business Process Operations suppliers (see here), has been investing to better position itself to benefit from the accelerating trend towards tech-enabled BP services which combine automation and human labour. Last October, for example, the company hired former Accenture and Capita BPO leader, Duncan Mears to lead the charge here on this front.

In our recent conversations with the offshore major, it has commented on a significant increase in its pipeline of UK BPO opportunities. Further deal announcements should be expected over the coming months.

Posted by: Duncan Aitchison at 08:47

Tags: contract   bpo   F&A  

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Tuesday 20 April 2021

UK's digital currency plans may have a sting in the tail

HMTThe UK government has revealed that it is taking steps to explore the introduction of a new national digital currency. The Treasury and the Bank of England have announced the creation of a new joint taskforce to consider the ramifications and weigh up the risks, opportunities and possible timelines.

Advances in technology and the exponential growth in smartphone usage have fuelled the rapid adoption of convenient and cost-effective digital alternatives to traditional payment methods. Meanwhile, the pandemic has further accelerated the declining use of “physical” cash (See: Dirty money loses its appeal). The UK is now following in the footsteps of a number of national governments, some of which (like China) are far further down the line in terms of the development of their own central bank issued digital currencies.

Earlier this year, in a pivotal decision, US regulator the OCC, approved the use of stablecoins enabling banks to legitimately embrace cryptocurrencies as core infrastructure. Despite this being a US domestic ruling, the long-term, global implications of this move were extremely significant (see: OCC ruling set to make 2021 year of the stablecoin).

With bitcoin enjoying a significant resurgence and the benefits of digital ledger technology (DLT) well established in respect of cross-border payments and currency transactions, the UK’s move is perhaps somewhat overdue. Meanwhile, for the general public, one of the more concerning facets of any national digital currency, is the ability of the central bank to implement negative interest rates. With unprecedented levels of debt having been run up by the UK government over the past 12 months, this is perhaps more than just a theoretical possibility.

Posted by: Jon C Davies at 08:43

Tags: payments  

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