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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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Wednesday 15 September 2021

Darktrace ups guidance

LogoRecently IPOed Darktrace has posted an impressive set of FY21 results. Confirming the performance outlined in its July trading update (see here), the Cambridge-based cyber security company saw turnover for the twelve months ending 30th June increase by 41% yoy to $281m with improvements evident in all geographic markets and contract sizes. Adjusted EBITDA for the period more than doubled against the prior year to $29.7m

Growth in Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) and customer numbers was faster still. Both indicators rose by over 45% yoy. At the end of the financial year ARR stood at $344m in constant currency with the client list having swollen to over 5600 organisations.

The increase in business momentum noted in H221 is reported to have carried through into the current financial year.  Darktrace now expects FY22 yoy revenue growth of between 35% and 37% (previously 29% to 32%), driven by a yoy increase in constant currency ARR of between 34% and 36% (previously 32% to 34%).

The company has seen its share price jump by over 150% since its flotation on the London Stock Exchange last April and earlier this month it was announced that Darktrace is to join the FTSE 250 (see here). It has been a more than promising start to life as a publicly quoted company for this UK tech success story.

Posted by: Duncan Aitchison at 09:54

Tags: results   cybersecurity  

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Wednesday 15 September 2021

Trustpilot upgrades on H1 results

TrustPilotDanish headquartered customer review website Trustpilot Group upgraded its forecasts for the full year after strong revenue growth in the first half. Interim results out this morning saw revenue grow 31% (22% in constant currency) to $62.5m in H1 2021 (H1 2020 £47.7m). Losses widened to $11m (H1 2020 $2m) partly down to associated costs of its March IPO. Bookings which provide visibility of future revenue, grew 28% in CC (H1 2020 16%). Bookings had slowed down during Covid but have seen a re-acceleration from the disruption caused by the pandemic.

Trustpilot has been around for 14 years and hosts reviews of businesses worldwide. Nearly a million new reviews get posted each month and the site offers a range of services to businesses. In addition to a free service, Trustpilot also provides several paid subscription modules offered on a SaaS basis. It has also done a good job of developing and embedding its brand as a mark of digital trust. 

Its IPO on the London market was a big boost for the City post Brexit in that it might just as easily have gravitated towards Amsterdam or New York. Although the business is headquartered in Copenhagen, it has a significant focus on the UK which accounts for around 40% of revenue and is its biggest market. The ‘Rest of World’ (mainly Continental Europe) contributes 36% whilst North America contributes 24%. In the UK it saw 27% CC revenue growth in H1, reflecting strong bookings growth from last year and benefiting from the successful positioning of its brand here. UK Bookings continued to grow strongly up 27% in CC.

Trustpilot’s stock has performed well since IPO and despite a dip in recent days is still up some 50% on March. Previous guidance was for high-teens constant currency revenue growth in 2021 and this has now been revised up to a rate for the full year consistent with H1.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick at 09:40

Tags: results   digital+marketplace  

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Wednesday 15 September 2021

Tutorful to expand following latest investment

Tutoful logoOnline tutoring start-up, Tutorful, has raised £3m in a funding round led by Mercia-managed Northern Venture Capital Trust (VCT) and NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance. It follows a £3.2m investment from NVM Private Equity (NVM) in 2019.

The Sheffield-based business was founded by Mark Hughes and Scott Woodley in 2015 with the aim of taking the hassle out of finding a private tutor. The company used to provide face to face tutoring but moved to online tuition only earlier this year.  

The business achieved significant growth in 2020 as the pandemic dramatically increased demand for remote learning. It now has over 11,000 registered tutors covering more than 300 subjects from early years to postgraduate education.

This is a hugely competitive part of the edtech market, so Tutorful will need to invest its new funds wisely. It intends to use the new investment to further develop its platform, expand internationally and increase the size of its South Yorkshire team.

Posted by: Dale Peters at 09:31

Tags: education   startup   investment   edtech  

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Wednesday 15 September 2021

Commercial and comms VR adoption ramping up for VR Education

VR Education logoVirtual reality technology is gradually making the move from the gaming world into corporate and education spheres, something the pandemic provided additional stimulus for, and VR Education is one of the drivers and beneficiaries. H1 results (to the end of June 2021) for the provider of VR tech to the education, communication and virtual event sectors show revenue growth of 83% to €1.25m. 

The demand for VR tech that accelerated during 2020 as organisations explored alternatives to video conferencing for interactive team communications has continued into 2021. VR Education is confident of ongoing demand for its  expanding ENGAGE platform as the technology becomes more accessible (e.g. it has launched ENGAGE Mobile which allows the audience to attend virtual events without requiring a VR headset or device), and the drive for sustainability impacts the amount of travel individuals undertake. ENGAGE platform revenue accelerated 33% to €0.9m during H1 and now accounts for 72% of total revenue. It has 130 commercial customers and new sign ups include Abbott Laboratories, KPMG, MongoDB and the US State Department.  Overall company performance was also supported during the period from the company taking its first steps in the Middle East and partner HTC beginning to sell VR Education products as part of a solution in China.

Expansion and investment meant the pre-tax loss widened to €1.3m (vs. €1.1m), although EBITDA loss was essentially flat at €1.0m. It did benefit from a successful £7.7m placing during H1. 

Part of the investment went into the development of the intriguing ENGAGE Oasis corporate metaverse. Expected to launch in H1 2022, Oasis is positioned as a digital world where businesses, professional users, educators, and digital artists can connect and provide services directly to each other and to the public (see here). Part of the plan is to enable organisations to build their own MetaWorlds. Interestingly, VR Education is taking a no code approach, using templates and simple block construction to make development simpler and more accessible. As one of the challenges with VR development is 3D skills, moves to dial down skills requirements and improve accessibility will be important in encouraging adoption.

Posted by: Angela Eager at 09:30

Tags: results   software   virtualreality  

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Wednesday 15 September 2021

HPE announces new CTO

HPEFidelma Russo has joined Hewlett Packard Enterprise at its new Chief Technology Officer.

She replaces Kumar Sreekanti who is retiring and who joined the company via its acquisition of BlueData in 2018.

Russo’s role will be to lead the innovation agenda and technology roadmap for the company. Crucially, she will also manage the design and development of the firm's GreenLake platform.

In her 30 years in the industry, Russo has held leadership roles spanning cloud services, machine learning and analytics, IT services, servers, storage, networking, backup, and infrastructure. Most recently she was Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Cloud Services business unit at VMware. Her skills seem a very good fit with HPE’s broad portfolio of technology.

The success of GreenLake is critical for HPE. It is central to its strategic aim to channel its portfolio through a consumption-based model - a move that Dell and Lenovo have also more recently announced. There was positive news earlier this month with the $2bn GreenLake win at the National Security Agency - evidence that the platform is gaining momentum.

Posted by: Kate Hanaghan at 09:30

Tags: people   leadership  

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Wednesday 15 September 2021

CattleEye milks investors to shake up animal welfare tech

picThis is the first time I have seen a website with a strapline that begins, “Unleash your cow’s potential”. The rest of the strapline reads, “with autonomous video monitoring”, which is the USP for Belfast-based livestock monitoring technology company CattleEye.

Founded in 2019 by Terry Canning, the son of a dairy farmer from Co Armagh Northern Ireland, and Adam Askew, an image analytics expert, CattleEye has developed a hands-free (should that be hoof-free?) video monitoring system that only needs a basic low-cost security camera mounted over the entrance or exit of the milking parlour. The CattleEye platform analyses each animal’s behaviour to detect locomotion deviations, which are highly correlated to lameness in dairy cows. Lameness has been identified as the top syndrome impacting cattle production and welfare in the UK.

CattleEye has closed a $2.5m seed investment round from a syndicate led by Techstart Ventures and including Paris-based venture capital firm Seventure Partners and Turntide Technologies, a Silicon Valley venture backed by Amazon.

The CattelEye team PR photo shows everyone wearing wellie-style plastic shoe protectors, though as they are all scrupulously clean, I suspect none of the team had actually been in the cowshed milking the livestock.

Puns aside, I am mooved to venture that CattleEye looks like being an important breakthrough in both animal welfare and food production. CattleEye is aiming for commercial launch later this year and the technology is currently being used by a group of pioneer dairy farms along with UK retailers Tesco and Marks & Spencer. The US Council of Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB) is also utilising the technology to explore how CattleEye data can be used in genomic selection to help improve overall hoof health in dairy cows worldwide.

Posted by: Anthony Miller at 09:08

Tags: funding   startup   agtech  

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Wednesday 15 September 2021

The Panoply increases full year guidance

The Panoply Holdings logoRecent performance has allowed The Panoply to announce a big uplift in its revenue growth prediction for its full year (to 31st March 2022). The original target was 10-15% growth. The company now thinks organic like-for-like revenue growth will be between 15% and 20%, leading to revenue in excess of £77m.

The confidence comes after a strong five-month period to the end beginning of September. Order intake was up 177% with c£50m of new contracts won. The wins include a five-year contract with a utilities company valued at up to £10m.

The higher target for organic growth is worthy of note because, as we noted in July, if The Panoply can achieve to the higher end of the new target range, it will not require any further funding to make the acquisitions it will require to make its £200m revenue target by 2025 (see The Panoply: Ambitious new FY25 target).  

The Group has been investing in creating a single brand and further consolidating its various acquisitions. Signs are that is having a great impact, allowing it to win larger digital transformation projects. The expanded capabilities, e.g., the managed services brought into the fold through the acquisition of Keep IT Simple (see The Panoply keeps it simple with its biggest acquisition) are also having a positive impact. And, although 75% of The Panoply’s turnover is from the public sector, a recent major win in the utilities sector suggests success in other new markets shouldn’t be ruled out.

Posted by: Georgina O'Toole at 08:00

Tags: publicsector   digital   utilities   tradingupdate   digital+transformation  

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Wednesday 15 September 2021

Apple - Incremental improvements but no show-stoppers

AppleiPhoneI’ve covered Apple product announcements for many decades. They used to be really exciting in the days of Steve Jobs  ‘and one more thing’.  Even under Tim Cook, these ‘shows’ were more like rock gigs with the audience whooping and screaming at every new feature. C-19 stopped the audience participation and now the announcements are pre-recorded. Of course, they are uber-slick. But the excitement has gone.

Last night Apple announced a range of improvements to its iPad, Watch and iPhone ranges. A free Fitness App is available across the range which syncs with the Apple Watch. So much so that the shares of Peleton and Weight Watchers fell as this was seen as a new rival. On the iPad and iPhone, the improvements were mainly around battery life and the camera.

I’ve been particularly impressed with the camera on my iPhone 12. The iPhone13 takes it to another level with greatly improved low light capabilities. The new Cinematic feature (basically allowing you to alter focus area whilst shooting) is particularly impressive for those who like producing movies on their iPhone.

I remember when you were lucky if a computer had 16K of memory. The new iPhone 13 comes with a min of 128G and the top of the range iPhone 13 Pro Max has 1 Terabyte.

None of these announcements are game-changing. But the whole Apple range just gets better and better and will cement Apple’s lead position in the premium end of the market.

Posted by: Richard Holway at 07:59

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