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Wednesday 24 April 2024

SAP cloud up 25% in Q1 24 but restructuring hammers profits

SAPERP specialist SAP has announced results for Q1 2024 (ended 31 March 2024). Total revenue was up 9% year-over-year in constant currency to €8bn, buoyed by double-digit growth in its cloud offerings (cloud revenue up 25% (cc) to €3.9bn, €3.8bn of which from Cloud ERP Suite – growing 32% in constant currency). The company reported record current cloud backlog growth of 28% (cc) to €14.18bn.

SAP reported particularly strong Q1 cloud revenue performance in APAC/Japan and EMEA (calling out Germany and Italy for special mention), and “robust” in the Americas. Key customer wins (across the company’s portfolio) included Maersk, Rabobank, Sky, and Valliant Group.

Profits continued to be impacted by SAP’s restructuring (a €2.2bn hit in Q1, which includes costs associated with its 2024 transformation programme), resulting in an operating loss of -€787m for the quarter. The company has committed to focus on “key strategic growth areas” in 2024 – and for that, read “business AI” (SAP and NVIDIA announced a partnership expansion in March, focusing on bringing GenAI to customers, for instance). The year-long programme of re-skilling and role re-evaluation (towards an AI focus) began in January, affecting around 8,000 positions (as we reported at SAP’s FY23 year-end, see SAP grows 9% in FY23, led by cloud – but AI-driven job cuts beckon). However, SAP expects to exit 2024 with a similar level of headcount overall to the end of 2023… just (in some cases) differently-skilled people, in different areas.

SAP continues to expect FY24 revenues to be in the range €17.0bn-€17.3bn (representing growth of 24% to 27% cc). Although Q1’s €2.2bn restructuring costs are anticipated to cover the bulk of the programme’s expenses, precise costs in some geographies (particularly Germany) are currently unknown, and the company will update in due course.

Posted by: Craig Wentworth at 10:01

Tags: results  

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Wednesday 24 April 2024

Unicorn Perplexity AI targets global expansion

Perplexity logoCalifornia-based start-up Perplexity is a company you are likely to hear a great deal more about in the coming months.

Despite being very much smaller and less capitalised than ChatGPT-maker OpenAI, not to mention Google, Perplexity is making waves in the AI-native search market. The 55-person business, which currently turns over c$20m, has captured both investor and user enthusiasm for generative AI products that can transform the way we do basic things like search the internet.

The disruptor has just raised a further $62.7m - doubling its total valuation to over $1 billion and taking the total raised to $165m - and launched an Enterprise version of its product as it plans global expansion.

This Series B1 funding round, which follows hot on the heels of its $73.6m Series B raise in January this year, was led by Daniel Gross, former head of AI at Y Combinator, with support from a string new high profile individual investors including billionaire Stanley Druckenmiller, plus Laude Capital. Existing big-name investors – notably Jeff Bezos and NVIDIA as well as IVP and NEA – also doubled down on their support.

Founded in 2022, Perplexity is meeting a need for trusted, reliable answers in the new era of AI-powered search. Its AI-native ‘answer engine’ browses the internet in real time and provides complete, verifiable answers with citations, along with multimedia answers that include charts, videos, and images to provide more context.

The chatbot draws on several leading large language models including OpenAI’s GPT-4, Anthropic’s Claude and Meta’s Llama-3, and it’s proving popular with adoption growing rapidly over the last few months to 169 million queries a month.

Further growth is on the cards and global expansion is a top priority for Perplexity with this new funding. Although we’ve yet to see much of it in the UK, Perplexity has just inked new partnerships with two of the world’s largest telecoms firms — Japan’s SoftBank Corp. and Germany’s Deutsche Telekom — to market its capabilities to their 335m consumer and business customers.

Perplexity has also addressed demand from businesses for a B2B offering with increased data privacy, enhanced security and user management capabilities with yesterday’s launch of Enterprise Pro. Priced a $40/user/month, it’s already been adopted by the likes of Databricks, NVIDIA, and Zoom.

Posted by: Tola Sargeant at 09:56

Tags: funding   AI   genAI  

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Wednesday 24 April 2024

Government responds to Policing Productivity Review recommendations

Home Office logoThe Home Office has published its response to the recommendations of the Policing Productivity Review (see Policing Productivity Review calls for greater investment in innovative technology), highlighting the crucial role of technology in improving police efficiency.

The Government commissioned the independent Policing Productivity Review in August 2022. The final report, which was published in November 2023 highlighted the need for greater application of automation, facial recognition, and analytics across police forces in England and Wales. 

In its response, the Government says it is going further than the Review recommended. This includes the Spring Budget announcement of £234m investment, over four years, to deliver pilot schemes with the potential to save police officer and staff time (see Spring Budget 2024: Challenging productivity goals). Approximately £65m is allocated for 2024/25 to support piloting and the roll out of facial recognition, drones as first responders, redaction tools, rapid video response, automated triage of 101 calls, knife detection, and robotic process automation (RPA). Earlier this month it was revealed that £17.6m will be used to enhance police facial recognition capabilities, including up to £4m to support the procurement of purpose-built live facial recognition mobile units (see Facial recognition technology to help tackle retail crime).

The response provides additional information on the Centre for Police Productivity, which was also announced in the Spring Budget. This initiative, which will be based within the College of Policing, will be established from autumn 2024 with the intention of overseeing plans to free-up c.38 million hours of police time over the next five years. This includes establishing a National Policing Data Hub to facilitate data-driven decision-making and the adoption of new technologies, including AI. 

The Government will also establish a fund to support the most promising AI projects for improving productivity in policing, with all use of AI in the sector being subject to the Covenant for Using AI in Policing that was established last year. 

The response acknowledges that it needs to be easier for forces to adopt new science and technology-based solutions at pace, but as policing is operationally independent, the Government will do this by supporting NPCC initiatives such as the Office of the Police Chief Scientific Adviser (OPCSA) and Science and Innovation Coordination Committee (see NPCC Chair calls on policing to push the boundaries of innovation). The need for better collaboration with industry forms part of this work, including establishing the Police Industry Charter, of which TechMarketView is a signatory.

The response concludes by saying the Government has invested in the foundation for change and is looking to policing, to the NPCC, APCC, and Chief Officers across England and Wales, to make the most of this investment and the opportunities presented by the Review’s recommendation. 

Further discussion about the role of technology in improving police productivity can be found in TechMarketView’s Police Suppliers, Trends, and Forecasts and UK Public Sector Predictions 2024 reports. 

Posted by: Dale Peters at 09:44

Tags: strategy   funding   police   policy   automation   government   AI   RPA   drones   productivity   law+enforcement   public+safety   efficiency  

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Wednesday 24 April 2024

1Spatial working to deliver on SaaS potential

1SpatialFull year 2024 results out this morning from Cambridge-headquartered, AIM-listed geospatial software provider and data integrator 1Spatial, have the business heading in a SaaS-based direction, increasing Group revenue by 8% to £32.3m. Gross profit increased by 15% to £17.9m (2022 £15.5m), with a corresponding margin of 55.5% (2022 51.7%). Adjusted EBITDA was £5.5m (2022 £5m) held back by necessary investment into its sales operation, required to take advantage of the launch of two higher margin SaaS solutions. Other headlines saw the UK business up 11%, US up 10%, Australia up 20%, whilst Europe remained flat. Recurring revenues increased by 23%, partially offset by a 5% decline in services and a 23% fall in perpetual licences. Recurring revenue now accounts for 56% of all revenues (FY 2023 49%) which puts the business in good shape for FY25.

As we have been covering over the last year or so (see here and read back), the real opportunity for growth with 1Spatial sits with the potential of its NextGen-9-1-1 (US focused) and 1Streetworks (UK focused) solutions, both of which target large addressable niche markets. For example, 1Spatial now has four live 1Streetworks trials and hopes to commence another ten trials in H1 across a spread of UK based utilities, private sector contractors and traffic management players. Each deal has the potential to be worth between £100k and £3m ARR and its scalable. Less advanced but also attractive is the NG-9-1-1 opportunity in the US where 1Spatial is adapting its go to market approach and already has five SaaS contracts secured.

The NG 9-1-1 and 1Streetworks are both more standardised propositions which have many potential clients – success here (along with good partnering) over the next couple of years will really define the firm’s future growth trajectory. The challenge remains executing on that plan over the medium to long term. 

Posted by: Marc Hardwick at 09:42

Tags: results   software   data   geospatial  

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Wednesday 24 April 2024

Andreades signs off as Temenos delivers Q1 growth

TemenosLeading banking software provider, Temenos, has published its results for the first three months of its new fiscal highlighting improved profitability and modest revenue growth. The financials for the year to 31 March 2024 showed that Annual Recurring Revenue (the vendor’s preferred measure) was up 12% year-on-year to $723.1m whilst EBIT rose by 7% to $46.4m. Total revenue on an IFRS basis was up 1% in constant currency to $229.9m.

Temenos’ focus on ARR sales drove strong growth in recurring revenue streams in the first quarter and SaaS revenue rose by 19% year-on-year to $56.3m. Meanwhile, subscription revenue was down by 41% in the quarter at $20.1m. Term licenses brought in $7.6m (down 25%). The latest financials follow an impressive set of full-year results from the Swiss vendor’s proposition (see: Temenos delivers strong growth and a robust rebuttal). Alongside the first quarter results, Temenos also announced that its long search for a new CEO had concluded. The company revealed the appointment of Jean-Pierre Brulard as CEO effective on May 1, 2024. 

Brulard has spent the last fourteen years at VMWare, where he was EVP of Worldwide Sales and a member of the Executive Committee. During his time there Brulard was responsible for strategic planning, business operations, go-to-market strategy, and management of VMware’s revenue globally. Prior to that, Brulard was SVP and EMEA General Manager, of Business Objects from 2000-2008. He has also previously held roles at Sun Microsystems and IBM.

Once Brulard formally takes office, Temenos’ current CEO, Andreas Andreades, will retire from the company after 25 years. In addition to the role of CEO that he has held since January 2023, Andreades time with Temenos has included 11 years as Executive Chairman. Under his stewardship, Temenos delivered a strong performance in FY23 whilst over the years, clear passion and determination of Andreades have played a key role in helping Temenos to become a leading global brand in banking software.

Commenting on the latest financials and the appointment of Brulard, Temenos’ outgoing CEO expressed his gratitude to all his colleagues for the collaboration and hard work that helped deliver growth in Q1, despite the challenging sales environment. Highlighting the excellence of Temenos team, the product and the company’s client references, Andreades predicted “an exciting future under the new leadership”.

Posted by: Jon C Davies at 09:20

Tags: software   banking   Temenos   financial+services  

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Wednesday 24 April 2024

Tracsis still confident of an H2 uptick

LogoThe H1 results for Tracsis, the Leeds-HQ’d provider of software and services to the rail and transport industries, landed in line with the estimates provided in company’s February trading update (see here). Turnover for the six months ended 31st January was down 6.7% yoy to £36.5m and adjusted EBITDA decreased by 24% to £5.7m. The steep fall in the latter was affected by exceptional costs attributed to an operating model transformation programme running throughout FY24 (£1.3m incurred in H1, with around a further £1m set to fall in H2).

The top line dip stemmed from a £3m drop in revenue from the company’s Rail Technology North America division. This is attributable to two main factors. In H123 Tracsis delivered a £1.2m perpetual software licence deployment which was not repeated in the latest period. In addition, during the first half of the prior year the company generated £1.8m increased revenue from contract milestones based on delivery timelines in the orderbook. Elsewhere across the business, sales by the Rail Technology UK unit were broadly flat yoy at £14.3m in H1, while revenue from the company’s Data, Analytics, Consultancy & Events segment grew by c.3% to £20.1m.

Despite the slow start to the year, Tracsis remains upbeat on the outlook for H224. The company both believes that the programme of actions to transform the Group's operating model is progressing to plan and reports now seeing growth in its pipeline of major software opportunities.  The latter is estimated by Tracsis to have more than doubled in both the UK and North American rail markets during the first half and continues to improve.

The company describes the start to Q3 trading as encouraging and activity levels are said to be high across the business. Post period end, Tracis has secured a number of new contract wins with delivery milestones in H2. The Board's expectations for the full year remain unchanged. It will, however, take a big second half performance – a sequential revenue increase of more than 25% - to get the company into top line growth territory for FY24.

Posted by: Duncan Aitchison at 09:18

Tags: results   transport   software   rail  

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Wednesday 24 April 2024

ActiveOps updates on FY progress

ActiveOpsAIM-listed ActiveOps, the ‘decision intelligence provider’ continues to execute on its growth strategy, updating the market this morning on an expected 5% uplift in Group Revenue, an 11% increase in SaaS revenue, whilst exit Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) was up by 14% (all in Constant Currency over prior year). This should see Group Revenue climb to c. £26.8m for FY 2024 (year ended 31st March 2024) against £25.5m in FY 2023, whilst adjusted EBITDA is expected to improve to at least £2.2m (FY 2023 £0.7m).

Operationally, the Group points to success on the sales front with the winning of three “significant ControliQ enterprise contracts” as it migrates customers onto ControliQ Series 3.  ActiveOps is working towards the release of Series 4, promising expanded AI and ML capabilities. The Group also  strengthened its senior leadership team back in March with three new appointments that we covered here (ActiveOps positions for growth with three new appointments). FY 2024 results are out in full on 25th June which we will cover in detail.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick at 08:31

Tags: software   operations   trading update  

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Tuesday 23 April 2024

Crown Hosting banks BoE contract

Crown Hosting Data Centres logoCrown Hosting Data Centres (CHDC) has won a significant contract with the Bank of England to provide Information Storage Co-location Services. The contract started on 1st March this year and will run until the end of February 2031 (seven years) and is valued at just over £22m.

CHDC is a joint venture (JV) between the Cabinet Office and Ark Data Centres, dedicated to providing Data Centre Services to the UK Public Sector. The original Crown Hosting framework agreement, for the provision of data centre colocation facilities for the ICT of public sector customers, was signed with Crown Hosting Data Centres (CHDC) in 2015.

CHDC had initial success as public sector customers took advantage of the new arrangement; from 2016 to 2020, the company achieved a strong compound annual growth rate of 80%. However, over the years growth slowed. In its FY21 and FY22 (Y/E 30th June) the CAGR was just 9%. The good news for CHDC is that double-digit growth returned in FY23, as CHDC saw revenues climb 28.6% to £57.6m. Profits also grew: by 10% to £2.9m, representing a 5% margin.

Ex-CEO, Steve Hall, was still at the helm during CHDC’s FY23 (see From Crown Hosting CEO to Littlefish CRO: Steve Hall | TechMarketView). Early in 2023, we caught up with him about the new hosting agreement signed in October 2022: Crown Hosting II (see Crown Hosting II: Game changer? | TechMarketView). The new framework agreement represented more than just a simple extension. Many of the changes looked set to give departments and agencies more cause to consider Crown Hosting as a viable alternative when putting in place legacy migration strategies.

It appears that is what has happened. CHDC explains its “significant” FY23 growth as being a result of “more eligible entities (using) Crown Hosting for their datacentre requirements”. Those entities have included organisations in the wider public sector, such as London Ambulance Service NHS Trust and NHS Arden Greater East Midlands Commissioning Support Unit.  

In January this year, CHDC welcomed a new CEO. Jason Liggins initially joined Ark Data Centres in January 2014 as its CTO. Simultaneously he also served as CIO of CHDC. In 2020, Jason left to become a consultant at the Cabinet Office and Crown Commercial Service, within the Crown Hosting Framework Authority to “assist with the steering of central government’s aims towards a public cloud future, using Crown hosting as a bridging step from traditional IT services”. He, therefore, was heavily involved in the changes to the UK Government’s Cloud First Policy, as well as the award of Crown Hosting II.  

Posted by: Georgina O'Toole at 09:51

Tags: contract   colocation   hosting   legacy   framework   migration   financial+services  

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Tuesday 23 April 2024

Cognizant and Microsoft buddy up on Gen AI

LogoCognizant and Microsoft have announced an expanded partnership focused on the software giant’s generative AI and Copilots. The companies will collaborate to deliver industry-specific solutions using the Copilot Studio platform. Target vertical sectors for the joint initiative include retail and consumer goods, financial services, life sciences, manufacturing and communications and media.

As part of the enhanced partnership, Cognizant purchased 25,000 Microsoft 365 Copilot seats for Cognizant associates, along with 500 Sales Copilot seats and 500 Services Copilot seats. In addition, Cognizant will work to deploy Microsoft 365 Copilot to a million users within their global 2000 clients and across 11 industries. Through Cognizant's Synapse skilling program, 35,000 Cognizant developers have been trained on Github Copilot, with an additional 40,000 developers slated to receive training. 

The expansion of the alliance with Microsoft is the latest component of Cognizant’s three-year $1bn generative AI investment programme. Earlier this month, the company declared that it will use the NVIDIA BioNeMo Gen AI platform for drug discovery in the Life Sciences industry. In March, Cognizant opened its Advanced Artificial Intelligence Lab focused on the science of AI and at the beginning of the year the company launched its gen AI software engineering platform, Cognizant Flowsource™️.

The big bet on Gen AI is, however, not set to reignite company growth in the nearer term. The latest guidance from Cognizant anticipates that FY24 revenue will land somewhere 2% down and 2% up yoy at constant currency (see here).

Posted by: Duncan Aitchison at 09:29

Tags: offshore   partnership   genAI  

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Tuesday 23 April 2024

£8m funding to boost AI in maritime industry

logoThe UK government has launched an £8m Smart Shipping Acceleration Fund to drive maritime innovation and harness the benefits of AI to boost productivity.

The Smart Shipping Acceleration Fund will kickstart feasibility studies to develop smart shipping technologies such as AI, robotics, and autonomous vessels. The winning projects will also require match funding – leveraging further investment from the private sector. Ports will be able to use AI to detect safety hazards, optimise port activities and reduce their environmental impact.

This latest funding forms part of the UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emissions (UK SHORE) programme. Launched in March 2022 and with £206m in funding, the programme is helping the sector reach net zero.

Maritime Minister, Lord Davies, made the funding announcement while visiting Ocean Infinity, a Southampton-based marine robotics company creating robotic and uncrewed vessel technology. The company is using the funding it won from the UK SHORE programme to develop decarbonisation projects, including future propulsion systems.

AI companies targeting the maritime industry include AIM listed Windward who grew 31% in FY23, See - Windward closes FY23 with revenue up 31% - and provides a range of solutions from an AI driven decision support platform, to solutions to predict fuel consumption and advise on sanctions compliance.  Another is Dublin based Protex AI, which uses existing CCTV infrastructure and computer vision technologies to capture unsafe events autonomously in a variety of settings such as manufacturing facilities and ports. See - Protex AI raises $18m to enhance workplace safety.

Posted by: Simon Baxter at 09:24

Tags: AI   maritime  

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Tuesday 23 April 2024

Eleco’s SaaS transition progresses

LogoConstruction software specialist, Eleco made further strides along its strategic shift to a SaaS-based business model during FY23. Total recurring revenue ncreased by 22% yoy to £20.7m to account for nearly three quarters company turnover for the twelve months ended 31st December.

The accompanying cannibalisation of Eleco’s perpetual license revenue however, limited overall top line growth at constant currency to just 6% over the prior fiscal year. The company generated sales of £28m in 2023, of which £1m came from the acquisition last June of Project Portfolio Management (PPM) software provider, Best Outcome. The bottom line for the FY improved at faster pace with EBITDA up 12% yoy to £5.8m.

Eleco’s UK business was the star of last year’s show. Revenue in this country jumped by 22% yoy (12.6% organically) to just over £13m. Overseas revenues decreased by 6% to £15m with sales in Germany and Sweden impacted by divested and end-of-life products. There was better news from across the pond where the implementation a direct sales channel secured more than 40 new customers in the USA. FY23 turnover in this region rose by 7.5% yoy to £1.2m.

Despite the continuing headwinds in the construction sector, Eleco remains confident about its prospects for the current year. Annualised Recurring Revenue increased by almost a quarter in 2023 providing a solid platform for growth. The recent purchase of Romania-HQ’d software developer Vertical Digital (see here) together with the full year benefit of the Best Outcome buy will also bolster the FY24 top line. Investors appear to share the company’s optimism. At the time of writing Eleco’s share price stood over 25% higher than twelve months ago.

Posted by: Duncan Aitchison at 09:21

Tags: results   saas   software   construction  

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Tuesday 23 April 2024

HealthKey secures seed funding

HealthKey logoHealthtech startup HealthKey has secured £1.13m in a seed round led by Aviva Ventures, with participation from Ascension, Oxford Capital, and Cur8 Capital.

The company was founded by David Joerring and Tudor Cotop in 2022 with the intention of making it easier for people to access the ever-expanding range of digital healthcare providers. 

HealthKey helps employers offer health and wellbeing benefits to its staff, supporting recruitment, retention, engagement and duty of care. It provides a free platform that acts as a marketplace of vetted healthcare providers. Employers can allocate HealthKey Budget to their staff through this portal, allowing them to spend it on services that cover a broad range of areas, including mental health, women’s health, chronic conditions, health insights, sexual and reproductive health, parenting and children's wellbeing, and physiotherapy. Employers are charged as these Budgets are used by employees to access these services. 

The seed funding follows a pilot project conducted in partnership with Aviva, which saw c.800 employees participate over a nine-month period. The investment will help HealthKey enhance its platform’s capabilities, broaden the range of services available to users and expand its interactions with employers, insurers, and health plan providers. 

Helping employers and their staff navigate the increasingly complex ecosystem of digital healthcare providers is a sensible approach. It should provide employees with an easier way to explore and select the most appropriate digital healthcare service for their individual circumstance. 

Posted by: Dale Peters at 09:08

Tags: funding   startup   marketplace   healthcare   wellbeing   healthtech  

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Tuesday 23 April 2024

Revenue and losses increase at Alphawave Semi

alphawaveLondon-listed, Canadian infrastructure connectivity specialist, Alphawave IP Group PLC (trading as Alphawave Semi) saw revenue for FY 2023 significantly increase year-on-year to $322m (FY 2022 $185m), in part down to the previous year’s acquisitions of US chip makers, OpenFive (for $210m) and Banis Labs (for $240m). However, the Group moved into loss making territory with operating losses of -$19.4m, down from an operating profit of $37.6m for FY22, reflecting a decrease in gross margin and higher operating expenses. Operating margin in 2023 was -6%, also significantly below FY 2022’s 20%.

Founded in 2017, Alphawave moved its head office to Cambridge (UK) in 2021. The group has enjoyed strong growth off the back of the significant global demand for critical data infrastructure, fuelled by technologies such as AI and automation. Alphawave originally chose to list in London due to what is perceives as the excellent technology ecosystem that exists here (see: Alphawave IP opts for London listing). Indeed, Alphawave Semi recently joined Arm Total Design, an ecosystem to make specialised solutions based on Arm Neoverse Compute Subsystems (CSS) widely available across the infrastructure.

In May 2023, Alphawave was forced to temporarily suspend its shares on the LSE because its auditors (KPMG) needed additional time to sign-off the group’s accounts. The delay was caused by the challenge of properly auditing the significantly enlarged organisation following Alphawave’s recent acquisitions. Shares in the Group continue to trade some -70% down on their 2021 peak and have shifted little in the last twelve months.

Looking forward, the company expects modest revenue growth in FY 2024 revenue to between $345m to $365m with adjusted EBITDA of approximately $70m (or approx 20% of revenue). The company is de-prioritising growth in China, which will reduce materially as a proportion of revenue. The revenue profile in 2024 will be back end loaded with H124 below H123, which saw a significant contribution from the legacy OpenFive backlog.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick at 09:05

Tags: results   semiconductor   chip  

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Tuesday 23 April 2024

BT appoints McKinsey's Meakin to the Board

BTAccording to a report in the Financial Times (FT), BT Group’s new CEO, Allison Kirkby, has installed Tom Meakin, a Senior Partner at McKinsey to the board. Meakin, who is the consulting firm’s co-leader of global Consumer Technology and Media, has reportedly taken on the role of Interim Chief Strategy and Change Officer. The move is on a temporary basis until the telecoms giant finds a suitable permanent candidate for the role.

Kirkby was chosen to replace BT’s outgoing CEO Philip Jansen in July 2023, having been a Non-Executive Director since 2019. A leaked memo reveals Kirkby’s vision that a new Strategy and Change unit will help to “define the next phase” of BT’s ongoing transformation. It appears that the Strategy and Change unit will replace BT’s Corporate Strategy and Development, and Group Transformation and Assurance teams.

As Kirkby looks to make her mark and drive further change, the latest move does have some echoes of the past. BT previously had Mike Sherman, in post as Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer, prior to his departure in 2021. Sherman's team ultimately became part of what is now BT’s Digital unit, led by Chief Digital and Innovation Officer, Harmeen Mehta. The Digital unit is currently responsible for digital innovation, operational transformation, IT, and data and product strategy.

Posted by: Jon C Davies at 08:38

Tags: telecoms  

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Monday 22 April 2024

Made Tech wins big with long-term client, DHLUC

Made Tech logo In February, as part of its H124 results announcement – for the six months to end November (see Made Tech: Signs of growing pains? | TechMarketView) - Made Tech said that 90% of its FY25 revenues were already covered by contracted backlog and the renewal of ongoing projects. Another contract award, revealed today, has further underpinned the company’s revenue expectations for the next financial year.

The provider of digital, data, and technology services to the UK public sector has won a new contract worth up to £19.5m with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (DHLUC). The contract will run for two years with an option to extend for a further year.

Under the arrangement, Made Tech will work with the department to design and develop new digital tools and services. The first of the services to be delivered is expected to be the Private Rented Property Portal, a national private rented sector database.

Back in 2002, in our Market Readiness Index (MRI) report (see TechMarketView Market Readiness Index 2022 | TechMarketView), we highlighted that Made Tech’s “impressive revenue growth is largely attributable to a ‘land and expand’ strategy with existing clients, who have turned repeatedly to Made Tech for additional projects. This indicates a high level of client satisfaction to date.” The DHLUC win further supports this view. Having first worked with the DHLC in 2019 with a £0.8m contract to deliver the Energy Performance Buildings Register, Made Tech has steadily expanded its footprint with the department, growing the size of its engagements along the way. In total it has undertaken 35 digital projects.

Made Tech’s growth slowed in its H124. Its Sales Bookings were also down. Wins like this will be very welcome. Maintaining strong relationships with existing clients like DUHLC – and mining those relationships - will be crucial as the company continues to invest for its next phase of growth.

Posted by: Georgina O'Toole at 09:52

Tags: contract   digital   central+government   frameworks   public sector   contract award  

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Monday 22 April 2024

Carpetright HQ hit by cyber attack

logoIt was reported on Friday that retail flooring chain Carpetright was hit with a cyber-attack last week that saw hundreds of customer orders disrupted.

Hackers targeted the company HQ in Purfleet, Essex, sending malware to gain unauthorised access. Carpetright's network was taken offline due to the cyber-attack but management insist that the virus was isolated before any data was swiped. Staff and hundreds of customers were affected by the malicious virus with employees reportedly unable access their payroll information, whilst customers couldn't get through to helplines or fulfil some orders. The company said it was not aware of any customer or colleague data being impacted by the incident and are testing and resetting systems, with investigations ongoing. At this stage it is not clear who was responsible for the breach.

The attack is the latest in a number of UK cyber incidents made public over the past few months. At the end of March, NHS Dumfries and Galloway issued a statement that it had been the target of a focused and ongoing cyber-attack, with the INC Ransom extortion gang threatening to publish three terabytes of stolen data – See NHS Scotland receives ransom demand to prevent data leak. Earlier in March, clothing and footwear retailer Vans warned of fraud and identity risks following a breach in December where threat actors accessed personal data on 35 million customers - See Vans warns of fraud and identity risk following data breach -  and Leicester City Council saw IT systems and a number of its critical service phone lines go down following a "cyber incident" - See Leicester City Council hit by cyber attack.

Posted by: Simon Baxter at 09:18

Tags: cybersecurity  

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Monday 22 April 2024

NCSC awards PDNS contract to Cloudflare and Accenture

NCSClogoFollowing a competitive tender process, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has announced a change of partnership in the delivery of its Protective Domain Name System (PDNS) service.

A three-year contract has been awarded to Cloudflare Inc, the connectivity cloud company will implement the NCSC’s PDNS service from September 2024 in collaboration with services provider Accenture. PDNS was created by the NCSC and previously implemented by Nominet.

NCSC’s PDNS service – one of its widely deployed Active Cyber Defence capabilities (ACD) – was launched in 2017 to hamper the use of Domain Name System (DNS) for malware distribution and operation within UK public services. Over the past seven years PDNS has resolved over 2.5 trillion DNS queries and prevented access to 1.5m malicious domains. Today it protects over 1,400 UK organisations in central government, local government, healthcare, emergency services and beyond, preventing average annual losses of at least £59m according to the NCSC.

Richard HorneIn other related news, Richard Horne has been appointed as the new CEO of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). He is scheduled to take up the role in the autumn, taking over from Lindy Cameron, who has become the UK’s high commissioner to India. Horne will also become a board member of national intelligence and security organisation GCHQ.

Horne will join NCSC from PwC UK, where he currently chairs the cyber security practice. He has also been managing director of cyber security for Barclays, during which he was seconded to the Cabinet Office to help shape the Government’s first Cyber Security Strategy. He has also served on a number of advisory boards for academic institutions and cyber security start-ups.

Posted by: Simon Baxter at 09:04

Tags: cybersecurity  

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Monday 22 April 2024

Infosys acquires Engineering R&D specialist

LogoInfosys has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase German-based Engineering R&D services specialist, in-tech GmbH. The all cashLogo €450m acquisition aims to boost the offshore major’s capabilities in the automotive sector. 

Founded in 2002, in-tech today employs some 2200 personnel and generates annual revenue of over €100m. The company develops solutions for the automotive, eMobility, transport systems and smart industry sectors. The firm’s clients include Audi, BMW, Ford and Rolls-Royce. Headquartered just outside Munich and with a further twelve offices across Germany, in-tech has expanded internationally and now has operations in Austria, China, the Czech Republic, Spain, Romania, India and Warwick in the UK. The latter reported an average headcount of 14 staff in 2022.

The manufacturing sector has been proving a comparatively happy hunting ground for Infosys in recent times. The company’s second fastest growing industry vertical in FY24 (see here), sales to clients in this segment increased by c.9% yoy to around $2.6bn. The in-tech purchase should help further strengthen Infosys’s position in automotive arena.

The Engineering R&D segment continues to attract sporadic interest as a target for acquisitive expansion from the larger IT services supplier community. In 2021, for example, Accenture bought Germany-HQ’d engineering consulting and services firm, umlaut. The prior year saw Capgemini purchase Altran Technologies for €3.6bn (see here). Further mergers in the space should be expected as firms continue to build out their Industry 4.0 propositions.

Posted by: Duncan Aitchison at 09:02

Tags: offshore   acquisition   automotive   R&D   engineering  

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Monday 22 April 2024

Heavy lifting ahead for new Wipro CEO

LogoWipro’s year-long decline continued though the final quarter of FY24. Company revenue for the three months ended 31st March of $2.66bn was down sequentially and yoy by 0.3% and 6.6% respectively at constant currency. The offshore major’s turnover of $10.8bn for the financial year as a whole decreased by 4.4% against the prior fiscal. Wipro’s increased focus on driving efficiency did, however, bear fruit. The FY24 operating margin improved by 40 bps yoy to 16.1%.

Across the company’s regional and industry sector market portfolio, only the Health vertical achieved top line growth in the last financial year. Sales in this segment rose by 8.6% yoy to $1.43bn. Demand from Wipro’s Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI) clients, which account for around a third of the firm’s global turnover, softened significantly. Their combined revenue shrank by c.9% compared to the previous FY.

From a geographic perspective, Wipro Europe experienced the steepest fall in revenue.  Sales in this territory were down 7% yoy in FY24. The company’s Americas businesses, which together generate more than three fifths of firm-wide revenue, proved somewhat more resilient. The drop in turnover across these units was limited to a little over 3% for the period.

The company did report that some green shoots of recovery had started to emerge in the latter part of the last FY. The signs of a return to growth in Consulting, which surfaced in Q3 with Wipro’s Capco unit experiencing a double-digit increase in orders, maintained momentum during the final quarter. The firm’s BFSI sector returned to sequential quarterly revenue growth for the first time in eighteen months in Q424 and there had also been uptick in large deal successes in Europe since the turn of the year.

These more positive indicators were, however, not sufficiently encouraging for the company to see a material reversal of its fortunes on the immediate horizon. Wipro expects that Q125 revenue will be in the range of $2.62bn to $2,67bn. This translates to sequential guidance of -1.5% to +0.5% in constant currency terms.

Speaking on the results call, newly installed CEO, Srini Pallia struct a cautious tone regarding the outlook for Wipro in the coming months. While the company’s priority is to accelerate growth, market conditions remain tough. The task facing the new leader is both challenging and complex. As he somewhat understatedly noted “there’s a considerable amount of work ahead of us”.

Posted by: Duncan Aitchison at 08:53

Tags: results   offshore   IT+services  

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Friday 19 April 2024

AI imagery fires up an emotive week of debate

This week threw up a couple of emotive examples of why humans – for now at least – prefer honest use of AI imagery in the media.

Firstly, much news coverage has been given to The Cass Review, an independent review of gender identity services for children and young people. Amongst the many discussions this prompted in the media was one around some of the people imagery in the report looking AI-generated (e.g., see p233). The Cass Review team used Adobe stock imagery, which it would appear contained both real and AI-generated images (some of which might be considered to be stereotypical). However, several media outlets pointed out that this does not seem to have been made clear in the report. Given the sensitivity of the subject matter – not least the degree to which some of the children the report is centred around will be dealing with complex issues of self-image – one can see why this could be problematic. ai

Secondly, beauty brand, Dove, launched The Code campaign, which takes an incredibly strong stance against the use of AI generated images – specifically for the representation of women in beauty campaigns. The campaign launch video shows the results you get from prompts such as “perfect skin” or “gorgeous woman”. The pictures generated (showing actual results from an AI tool) are stereotypical images of beauty in women (e.g., blond/slim/white/young).

The video then proceeds to show what happens if you add “according to Dove Real Beauty Ad” (the firm’s been running its Real Beauty campaign for 20 years) to the prompt. This throws up an entirely different set of images, including women with disabilities, older women, women from around the world, and women with different skin colour. The brand then makes the pledge to “never use AI to create or distort women’s images”. Dove has worked with AI experts to create its Real Beauty Prompt Playbook to help “set new digital standards of representation”, which contains tips on how to create “real beauty images” and make prompting “more inclusive”.

AI-generated imagery of people raises all sorts of complex issues and discussion points around how we are ALL represented – or under-represented – online. Furthermore, given that so much online content will be generated by AI over a very compressed timeline, the issue will be anything but easy to solve. However we ultimately address these issues, it would seem ‘honesty is the best policy’, at least for now.

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Posted by: Kate Hanaghan at 09:55

Tags: AI   AI_ethics   AI_images  

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