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Friday 29 September 2023

NEW RESEARCH: HyperAutomation - Pursuing productivity through accelerated digital transformation

HyperAutomation - pursuing productivity through accelerated digital transformation is the second in a series of reports looking at the UK Software and IT Services (SITS) automation market. Our first report, Data Insights the Future of Robotic Process Automation (RPA), was published in March 2023 and TechSectorViews subscribers can access a copy here.

HyperAutomationThis report defines, segments, and profiles the HyperAutomation market to help readers understand a landscape moving well beyond RPA deployment towards automations that are more strategic and by design. The UK automation scene remains a maturing market that continues to change and develop rapidly, with users, buyers and suppliers of associated solutions all struggling to surface maximum business value among the confusion and hype.

This report is designed to help end-users and SITS vendors navigate this complexity in several ways: 

  • understand what is meant by HyperAutomation and how best to segment and define an emerging market
  • support end-users looking to adopt and scale automation effectively
  • help vendors compete via modernising or differentiating their offering
  • understand the size of the opportunity and challenges posed by HyperAutomation
  • help identify capability gaps by showcasing what is required and map out the current ecosystem
  • profile the vendor landscape and showcase which firms operate where
  • illustrate the key considerations and challenges in scaling HyperAutomation. 

If you are a subscriber to TechSectorViews, download the HyperAutomation - pursuing productivity through accelerated digital transformation report today. If you don’t have a subscription and would like to gain access the report and our other research and services, please contact Deb Seth.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick at 14:52

Tags: automation   newresearch   hyperautomation  

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Friday 29 September 2023

Manchester Met selects Deloitte for Oracle implementation

DeloitteManchester Metropolitan University has selected Deloitte (the biggest of the consultants in TMV’s UK SITS Supplier Rankings 2023) to implement its Oracle-based finance, procurement, HR and payroll Implementation services.


The contract is worth £7.9m over three years and comes 13 months after the university announced details of the Oracle relationship (a £5.8m five-year deal, running to July 2027), itself the result of a tender to overhaul its finance and HR systems which closed in 2020.

The project is clearly a long-term engagement, designed to move key systems to the cloud, which the university is taking its time to plan and evaluate properly. And, given the recent, highly publicised experiences of Birmingham City Council (and its attempts to effect its own digital transformation of finance systems)… who can blame them for taking a little time in order to ensure they get it right?

Posted by: Craig Wentworth at 10:14

Tags: contract   hr   migration  

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Friday 29 September 2023

IBM releases ‘Granite’ Generative AI models

IBMIBM has announced the general availability of the first generative AI models in its watsonx 'Granite' series. Like many organisations, IBM is releasing its own flavour of generative AI, as it seeks to capitalise on high market demand amidst an increasingly complex landscape of hundreds of different LLM and AI model providers.

The Granite models can be used for a host of different use cases, for example; searching enterprise knowledge bases to generate tailored responses to customer inquiries; use summarisation to condense long-form content - like contracts or call transcripts, and deploy insight extraction and classification to determine factors like customer sentiment. IBM says the models have been trained on business-relevant datasets from five domains – internet, academic, code, legal and finance – and have been curated for business use.

IBM’s approach to AI development is guided it says by core principles grounded in commitments to trust and transparency. IBM will indemnify clients against third party IP claims against IBM-developed foundation models and does not require its customers to indemnify IBM for a customer’s use of IBM developed models.

As I mentioned in my post about Amazon and Anthropic the other day (See here), Cloud providers (and service integrators) are largely taking the approach of providing customers with access to a broad selection of foundation models from multiple suppliers, which customers can then customise and fine tune. Despite the release of Granite, IBM is no different here, and whilst I am sure it will push customers towards its Granite models for appropriate use cases, it also offers access to third-party models like Meta's Llama 2-chat and models from the Hugging Face community through a foundation model library in

Posted by: Simon Baxter at 09:45

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Friday 29 September 2023

CMA clears UnitedHealth’s £1.2bn acquisition of EMIS

EMIS Group logoThe Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has cleared UnitedHealth’s £1.2bn purchase of EMIS Group plc, concluding that the transaction does not raise competition concerns. The announcement was expected after the CMA provisionally cleared the deal last month (see EMIS delivers positive H1 ahead of CMA decision).

UnitedHealth Group logoThe multinational healthcare and insurance giant, which is headquartered in Minnetonka, Minnesota, revealed it had reached agreement on the terms and conditions of a recommended all cash offer to acquire EMIS in June 2022 (see UnitedHealth to acquire EMIS). In the UK, UnitedHealth operates through its Optum Health Solutions subsidiary, which provides population health management (PHM), medicines optimisation (MO) and employee assistant programme (EAP) services. In 2022, Optum’s UK derived turnover was c.£14m—this compares to EMIS, which achieved revenue of £175m in its last financial year.

The CMA started the investigation as it believed the deal could substantially lessen competition in the PHM and MO software markets. The deal was referred for a Phase 2 investigation in March 2023, which focused on whether the merged organisation could use EMIS’s strong market position in primary care to harm the competitiveness of rivals. The CMA has now concluded that this is unlikely as the NHS could use its oversight role to prevent the business from pursuing this strategy in PHM and there would be little incentive to engage in partial foreclosure in the supply of MO software.

Kirstin Baker, chair of the independent inquiry group carrying out the investigation, highlighted that the NHS is increasingly reliant on digital technology and data analytics, and it is important that the NHS “continues to have access to the options and innovations that new and developing technology can bring”. She concluded that, “we are satisfied that this deal will not reduce competition or mean that the NHS and its patients lose out”.

The acquisition remains subject to certain other conditions, but the current timetable states that cancellation of admission to trading of EMIS Shares on AIM will take place by the end of October.

With consolidated revenues of $324bn in 2022, UnitedHealth has the resources to help strengthen synergies between Optum and EMIS, accelerate development of integrated and intelligent data-led solutions, and extend its position in UK healthcare.

Posted by: Dale Peters at 09:41

Tags: nhs   acquisition   software   health   healthcare   healthtech   CMA  

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Friday 29 September 2023

Defra announces £12.5m for sustainable farming projects

DefraDefra has announced £12.5m in funding for 19 innovation projects designed to “boost productivity, food security and sustainable farming practices”, including: developing a system to accurately predict and enhance quality of strawberry yields (whilst reducing waste); digitally mapping and monitor vineyards using drones, robots and IoT sensors; and improving the accuracy, reliability and safe navigation of farmyard and field-based robotic vehicles.

The projects have been funded through the Farming Futures: Automation and Robotics competition (which ran from January through March this year) as part of the Defra’s £270m Farming Innovation Programme, delivered by Innovate UK. The programme has been running since 2021, as part of Defra’s Future Farming and Countryside Programme, and this latest award represents its 17th round of competitions – which, to date, have encompassed ideation, feasibility, product development, and longer-term initiatives.

Their announcement has been timed to coincide with the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit in London, and provides news of pro-sustainable practice activity in a week that also saw the introduction of the Government’s Biodiversity Net Gain legislation delayed to 2024 from its original timetable of November this year (and following last week’s push back of a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by five years).

TechMarketView’s inaugural Sustainability Technology Activity Index report ranked Agriculture & food amongst the Top 3 for most active use case areas, illustrating the importance of advances in AgriTech in contributing to the adoption of environmentally sustainable practices (see more on TMV's Sustainability research here).

To really make a long-term impact in sustainable farming, the Farming Innovation Programme will need to synthesise the learning from each stage and area of work, build on the individual partnerships established to deliver specific outcomes, work to ensure that potential benefits are transferrable and can be more widely realised across different contexts, and inform policy so as to encourage change (where it’s needed).

Innovation projects make good headlines in and of themselves, and such R&D is welcome… but coordinated follow-up is also required to ensure that potential long-term, wide-ranging opportunities (for the UK’s farming industry, food supply chain, and sustainability ambitions) are not missed.

Posted by: Craig Wentworth at 09:24

Tags: robotics   drones   farming   agritech  

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Friday 29 September 2023

Apron raises $15m to speed up invoice processing

apronInvoice processing is one of the most popular use cases for automation with large numbers of players offering solutions. Apron, is a London-based ‘Fintech’ that has raised $15m in Series A funding to help small businesses speed up invoice processing. Funding was led by Index Ventures, with participation from Bessemer Venture Partners and Visionaries Club. Jan Hammer, an Index partner has joined the Apron board. We also covered their seed funding round back in June (Payments startup Apron raises $5.5m).

The automation of invoice processing is a crowded space with Apron targeting a niche of small and medium sized businesses and their accountants. Apron’s platform promises to “sort, pay and reconcile invoices in seconds” able to sync with accounting software and pay multiple suppliers at the same time covering 150+ countries and 30+ currencies. 

Funding should support product development with a new Apron Hub offering already launched – targeting larger practices and with Apron Snap (coming early 2024) allowing accountants to capture and categorise invoices from clients and feed it into their bookkeeping software.

Apron is a small team targeting a very large and established market for business process automation. The good news is its targeting the bit of the market (SMEs) where adoption is lower, and firms need more help – the pricing plan looks sensible and links into Xero and quickbooks accounting apps should help. However, invoices and F&A more generally is one of the most mature automation segments and a tough nut to crack for start-ups early in their journey.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick at 08:55

Tags: funding   F&A  

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Thursday 28 September 2023

Accenture downbeat on outlook

LogoThe deceleration in growth that Accenture experienced as it’s FY23 unfolded looks set to continue for the foreseeable future. Revenue for the final quarter of the recently completed fiscal, the three ended 31st August, was up 4% yoy at constant currency to $16bn. The comparative metrics in the first, second and third quarters were 15%, 9% and 5% respectively. Q4 bookings were down 10% yoy and the top line in Q124 is now expected be in the range of $15.85bn to $16.45bn, or -2% to +2% yoy in local currency.

Accenture’s sales improved by 8% yoy to $64.1bn for the full financial year, although operating margin for the period was down 150 bps against FY22 to 13.7%. This measure was up a little yoy to 15.4%, however, once the restructuring costs related to streamlining initiatives announced in March (see here) are excluded.

The continued weakening in demand for the firm’s consulting services, which account for more than half of global turnover, pulled down the overall FY23 performance. Sales of these offerings experienced a 2% yoy decline in the final quarter limiting their full year growth to just 3%. Managed services revenues, conversely, remained buoyant rising by 14% yoy to $30.5bn. From a regional perspective, market conditions proved toughest for Accenture in North America last year. Top line growth in this geography was limited to just 4% yoy, while company sales in Europe were up by 11% to $21.3bn.

Looking ahead to FY24 as a whole, Accenture anticipates that revenue growth at constant currency will be in the range of 2% to 5% in local currency and adjusted operating will improve by 10 to 30 bps to between 15.5% to 15.7%. It is unlikely that this firm will be the only IT and business services heavyweight to take a more conservative view of its prospects for the months ahead.

Posted by: Duncan Aitchison at 18:07

Tags: results   systemsintegration   IT+services  

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Thursday 28 September 2023

*UKHotViewsExtra* Arvato CRM Solutions – Differentiated growth through digital orchestration

arvatoBerkshire-headquartered Arvato CRM Solutions remains one of the most important players in the UK Business Process Services (BPS) and Customer Experience (CX) sectors – as evidenced by our most recent BPS Operations rankings (see here). It's also a business that we have not covered in detail for some time that has been going through a significant amount of change, with some key additions recently made to the management team (see Arvato strengthens its top team). As such, I took the opportunity to travel down to Arvato CRM Solutions’ new and extremely impressive headquarters in Datchet to meet James Towner (pitcured below), their Chief Growth Officer, Stephen Miller, the firm’s IT & Innovation Director, and Mike Stewart, the Intelligent Automation Practice Lead, to James Townerunderstand more about the business, its propositions and how its gearing up for the future.

Arvato CRM Solutions

First off, a bit of background on Arvato and its group of companies. Arvato CRM Solutions is part of a much larger Arvato Group, which includes a Supply Chain Management (SCM) business, a Financial Services arm (including debt management) and an IT solutions company, Systems. These businesses operate as separate entities within the Group structure. The Arvato Group is itself part of German Multinational Bertelsmann Global Media & Services business that includes mega brands such as RTLPenguin Random House and the music publisher BMG. Bertelsmann is a conglomerate with annual revenues of c.€18.7bn, an operating EBITDA of c.€3.2bn with some 145,000 employees spread across 50 different countries.

Arvato CRM Solutions is also what remains of a much larger ‘pan-European’ Arvato customer service business that (outside of the UK) was initially merged with Moroccan-headquartered Saham Group back in 2018, to create Majorel, which then IPO’d some three years later.  

HV PremiumTechMarketView clients, including subscribers to UKHotViews Premium can read the extended article here Arvato CRM Solutions – Differentiated growth through digital orchestration If you do not currently have access to UKHotViewsExtra but would like learn more, please contact Deb Seth for more information.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick at 14:18

Tags: bpo   bps   CX   CXM  

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Thursday 28 September 2023

Profitability the focus for Crossword Cybersecurity

Crossword CybersecurityUK based SME Crossword Cybersecurity has reported revenue of £1.9m for the 6 months ended 30 June 2023, an increase of 27% yoy, though down from the highs of 68% growth we saw in 2022 – See here.

Crossword's business model is centred around specialist cyber security products and services with distinct USPs and a growing consulting division. The business has continued to find strong revenue growth in H1 despite current market conditions, with no slow-down in cyber security spend amongst core regulated and critical national infrastructure clients. Profitability remains a challenge however with a loss before tax of £2.5m in H1.

In June 2023, the business was awarded a contract with a FTSE 250 engineering company to provide forward looking Dark Web Threat Intelligence services, delivered via Crossword's Trillion platform and supported by human expertise.

The company is focused on a path to profitability, aiming to achieve EBITDA and cash breakeven on a monthly basis during the second half of 2024. In H1 2023, overall gross margin increased to 20% compared to 16% in H1 2022. Further product development also remains an area of investment, with the development of Rizikon modules for use in its Supply Chain Cyber practice during H1, driven by client demand and the substantial increase in supply chain cyber threat levels.

For 2024, the company is projecting revenue growth rate to be circa 30%, with total revenue of £8m. One area of opportunity highlighted by CEO Tom Ilube CBE, is that surrounding AI and LLMs (Large Language Models), where he highlighted the challenges organisations will face keeping track of and evaluating the many applications that are emerging.

Posted by: Simon Baxter at 10:04

Tags: cybersecurity  

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Thursday 28 September 2023

New Meta AI and ChatGPT gains Internet access

MetaThe AI announcement train just keeps on rolling, with every tech company setting out its stall. The latest is Meta, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg announcing a number of new AI products for consumers as well as new AR/VR hardware.

The standout is the new Meta AI assistant, available on WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram, and coming soon to its Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses and the Quest 3 VR headset. Meta AI is powered by a custom model that leverages technology from the company’s ‘Llama 2’ large language model (LLM). In text-based chats, Meta AI will have access to real-time information through its search partnership with Bing and offers a tool for image generation.

Along with Meta AI, the company has released 28 AI chatbots, imitating a host of characters from golf coaches, triathlete trainers, to detective partners, all voiced by a range of celebrities. Other announcements include; AI studio, a platform that supports the creation of AI's, and which is to be made available for people outside of Meta, and AI generated ‘stickers’.

In other news, OpenAI has announced that ChatGPT users will now be able to browse the internet, expanding the data the chatbot can access beyond its earlier September 2021 cutoff. The new browsing feature will allow websites to control how ChatGPT can interact with them. Earlier this week the company also announced it is releasing an update that will enable the chatbot to have voice conversations with users and interact using images.

We are quickly become overloaded with AI chatbots, tools and quite a few gimmicks. Underneath all the noise however there is significant value to be found in generative AI across a number of different use cases. Stay tuned to our coverage of AI across UKHotViews and our subscriber research as we unpick the most relevant opportunities and market developments.

If you are not currently a subscriber and want to learn more about leveraging TechMarketView research to inform your business decisions then please get in touch with Deb Seth.

Posted by: Simon Baxter at 09:57

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Thursday 28 September 2023

UK Space Agency: £65m funding for innovation

UK Space Agency logoThe UK Space Agency has announced £65m of funding for “ground-breaking innovations that could boost UK leadership in space technologies and applications”. It is related to the National Space Innovation Programme (NSIP), which was initially piloted in 2020, and has so far provided UK organisations with over £25m in funding. Its aim is to support high-risk, high-reward projects designed by British organisations with the potential to accelerate the development of new space technologies, satellite applications and services.

The money will provide support to the UK Space Sector as it invests to research and develop “novel and valuable commercial innovations”. The first tranche of funding will be £34m, with further calls in 2024 and 2025, and projects running until March 2027. According to the Size & Health of the UK Space Industry, published by the UK Space Agency, almost £800m a year is spent on R&D in the UK space sector, making it one of the most research-intensive areas of the UK economy.

According to the release, NSIP funding will be split between major projects and kick starter funding. NSIP Kick Starter will provide targeted support for early-stage and disruptive innovation.

The Spacetech sector is interesting, as suppliers range from those that sit outside our traditional ‘software and IT services’ research area, for example, Cardiff-based Space Forge, which received Kick Starter funding for the development of retractable solar panels to provide reusable satellites with a company and affordable energy solution, to those that sit firmly within our SITS space and leverage satellite technology and space data to develop solutions tackling challenges like combating climate change.  

Within our Top 20 of UK Public Sector SITS providers (see Public Sector Software and IT Services Suppliers, Trends and Forecasts 2023-26 | TechMarketView), there are two companies that stand out as having a strong Space sector positioning. One is BAE Systems; within its DI business, Space Systems (Low Earth Orbit capability and data services) is one of the keys strategic focus areas and it is investing in its Azalea™ multi-sensor, Low Earth Orbit satellite cluster, “delivering high-quality information and intelligence in real time from space to military customers”. The other is CGI; we understand that ‘Space’ was the fastest growing area of the UK’s Space, Defence & Intelligence (SDI) business unit last financial year. CGI was recently revealed as one of Astroscale UK’s partners (alongside Astroscale Japan and Orbit Fab) when it was awarded a Phase 1 UK Space Agency International Bilateral Fund grant aimed at fostering strong relations between the UK and Japan. Meanwhile, it is becoming an increasingly competitive space as others also seek to position to take advantage of investment. Sopra Steria, for example, acquired CS Group earlier this year, helping it forge expertise in space related systems and applications.

Posted by: Georgina O'Toole at 09:56

Tags: funding   space   iot   data   satellite  

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Thursday 28 September 2023

Concentrix closes Webhelp deal

ConcentrixEarlier this week, US-headquartered customer services giant Concentrix signed the deal to buy French-headquartered rival Webhelp, in an acquisition first announced back in March (see Concentrix agrees to buy Webhelp for $4.8bn). The combined business is likely in due to course to get a new name and identity and is expected to have c.$9.8bn in revenue for FY 2023 on a pro forma basis. The new combined operation is to be led by current Concentrix CEO Chris Caldwell.

Concentrix has had a busy couple of years since it spun-off from previous owner, US IT distribution giant Synnex in December 2021 (see Concentrix completes spin-off from Synnex), making acquisitions and growing revenue double-digit (see here). However, the customer services market has become increasingly commoditised alongside the requirements to digitise delivery and offer genuine global scale. Webhelp will add over 25 new countries to Concentrix and the combined company will now have a footprint across more than 70 countries.

WebhelpWebhelp specialises in sales, marketing and payment services across Europe, Latin America, and Africa, and will bring about 1,000 new clients to Concentrix. It last changed hands in 2019 (see here) for €2.4bn. The company has significant operations in the UK market (as does Concentrix) with clients including the likes of Dixons Carphone, the Post Office, The Very Group and Yodel.

Concentrix also published its Q3 results yesterday which saw the Group grow revenue YoY 3.4% to $1,632.8m with adjusted EBITDA up 4.2% to $269.3m, giving it a decent corresponding margin of 16.5%, compared with $258.4m and 16.4%, in the prior year third quarter.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick at 09:39

Tags: acquisition   contact+centre   CXM  

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Thursday 28 September 2023

Microlise continues to progress

MicroliseInterim results out this morning from Microlise, the AIM-listed Nottingham-headquartered transport management software provider, show the Group continuing to progress with revenue for the first six months of 2023 increasing 10.5% to £33.9m. Adjusted EBITDA also increased by 4% to £4.5m as the Group remains on track to achieve expectations for the FY.

Sales wise Microlise added more than 250 new customers during the period including Leeds-headquartered LF&E Refrigerated Transport, and Northern Ireland-based McCulla, both signing six-year contracts (typical contracts are for five years). Customer churn remains very low (just 0.5%) with multi-year renewals signed with the likes of Tesco, Bidfood and Pall-ex.

The software provider has had to navigate some pretty tricky market conditions over the last few years with component and vehicle shortages impacting roll outs (see Microlise navigates supply chain difficulties). The business was listed on AIM back in 2021 (Microlise heads for AIM in £150m IPO) principally to provide firepower for acquisitions as it looks to increase the value and margin of its ‘platform’. This saw Microlise make its first post IPO acquisition earlier this year as it added Vita Software for just over £2m. Vita has added a range of products to the portfolio, including resource and transport costing, subcontractor management and invoicing solutions which should all provide upsell and cross-sell opportunities. We expect acquisitions will continue to be a feature over the next year or so as the business looks to improve the mix of margins within its product portfolio.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick at 09:32

Tags: results   transport   software  

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Thursday 28 September 2023

A mixed start to FY23 for itim

LogoRetail SaaS platform provider itim Group plc has seen a pick-up in demand during the first half of 2023. Turnover for the six months ended 30th June increased by 9% yoy to £7.4m. The pace of top line growth during H1 was more than double that achieved by the AIM listed business during FY22, albeit less than half that delivered in the same period during the prior year. Annual recurring revenue was up 5% yoy in H1 to £13.2m but flat against FY22.

Investment in R&D and personnel by itim took a toll on both the bottom line and its cash position in the first six months of the year. Adjusted EBITDA for the period fell to a loss of £0.2m (H122: +£0.3m). Cash balances totalled £2.7m at the period end down from £5.3m and the start of 2023.

itim was established in 1993 as a consultancy focused on helping retailers’ effect operational improvement. Through a combination of organic growth and acquisitions of small, legacy retail software systems and applications itim now offers an integrated end to end Omni-channel platform. In an effort to reinvigorate profitability, H123 saw the SaaS provider relaunch its consulting business as a complement to its technology offering. The company believes that reducing investment in product and driving service sales will improve both margins and cash generation, although it is expected that these moves will impact the rate of subscription revenue growth.

Market conditions in the store-based retail sector remain challenging. itim has plenty of heavy lifting ahead of it if it is to restore the near 60% fall in its share price over the past twelve months.

Posted by: Duncan Aitchison at 08:57

Tags: results   saas   retail  

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Thursday 28 September 2023

TCS Pace Port accelerates innovation

TCSEarlier this week, I spent some time with the TCS UK and European leadership teams at their ‘Pace Port’ co-innovation centre in Amsterdam, looking at how the IT Services provider is accelerating innovation with its clients. TCS has been busy rolling out Pace Ports in a host of global cities over the last few years (Amsterdam opened back in 2019), with a major London-based facility officially expected to open its doors later this year. 

Pace Ports are a significant component of how TCS is looking to help clients accelerate their innovation, as the SITS provider continues to migrate its own operating model from principally being a skills-based outsourcing supplier, towards a solutions-based outcome focused partner.

TCS’s co-creation work is designed to bring together quickly (the ‘Pace’ bit!) its capabilities around cloud and emerging tech, sustainability (a key theme that now flows through most activity), digital platforms and innovation, all to address real life client problems and challenges in a collaborative and creative environment. The physical centre (the Pace Port itself) is just one component of the TCS co-creation offer, which also includes TCS Pace Sprints to help accelerate business outcomes, 20+ innovation toolkits (e.g., research, design, development, remote collaboration etc…) and platforms and ecosystem (including multi cloud, TCS’s own platforms, partner solutions, emerging tech etc…). This is all then added to the physical co-creation workshops (agile workshops, innovation showcases, pop-up media labs etc…) to help clients and indeed prospective client innovate quickly.

Pace Ports and the accelerating innovation play is also a building block of how TCS is looking to move itself up the food chain, away from a focus purely on technological innovation towards the aspiration of operating and business model transformation, that engages with a wider range of C-level stakeholders, and ultimately moves TCS’s influence beyond the CTO/CIO.

In many ways the most impressive part was the showcasing of a range of “intelligent futures” - ways in which TCS is helping industry clients, in this case government, train operators, retailers and banks – understand what the future of their respective sectors might look like, with technology-led approaches to new operating models and ways of working. The potential here for cross-industry collaboration, whilst still aspirational, was also obvious among TCS’s diverse client base.

Pace Ports are a key component of TCS’s innovation strategy and whilst this is clearly much more than just a physical space, it does help captivate and engage an audience in bringing a range of concepts to ‘life’. The roll out will see a UK-based innovation ecosystem established with TCS labs (e.g., its manufacturing Lab in Leamington spa) combined with TCS client labs (co-innovation labs with Pheonix and Boots), University collaborations, all headed up by a new landmark London-based Pace Port scheduled to open soon. Its impressive stuff and a real signal for where the business is heading.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick at 08:20

Tags: innovation   IT+services  

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Wednesday 27 September 2023

Are Generative AI valuations getting out of hand?

OpenAIAccording to media reports, OpenAI is in discussions to possibly sell shares in a move that would boost the company’s valuation from $29bn to somewhere between $80-90bn. Employees would be allowed to sell their existing shares rather than the company issuing new ones.

Open AI has already raised over $11bn in funding (according to CrunchBase) with the majority of that coming from Microsoft who has invested over $10bn. VC firms including Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, Thrive and K2 Global also invested just over $300m at a valuation of $27-29bn back in April. The business is apparently on track to generate revenue of around $1bn over the next 12 months, having previously projected $200m in revenue for this year. Even if it does hit its target $1bn, such a high valuation represents quite a multiple.

Investment is flowing into Generative AI at a rapid pace, with Amazon investing $4bn yesterday in Anthropic (at an unknown valuation) – See Amazon to invest up to $4bn in Anthropic. We also saw Data and AI platform Databricks raise another $500m, valuing it at $43bn in September – See Databricks raises another $500m. A number of companies have also announced substantial investments as they seek to capitalise on the AI opportunity, including Accenture ($3bn), EY ($1.4bn) and Wipro ($1bn). Nvidia stock is also up over 180% YTD, driven by its critical role in providing the infrastructure powering the Gen AI boom, and now valued at over $1trn, a price to sales multiple of over 30, and in stark contract to many tech stocks who are still well below the highs we saw in 2021.

Clearly AI is going to be transformative to all organisations, but how quickly can the opportunity be realised and are valuations getting somewhat out of hand? The technology that underpins these AI models is rapidly improving but implementing Generative AI is rarely transformative on its own, rather a combination of digital initiatives utilsing data, analytics, automation and changes to the customer experience are all required to drive higher productivity and position companies for growth.

Posted by: Simon Baxter at 09:44

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Wednesday 27 September 2023

Fujitsu launches new tech to protect conversational AI

fujFujitsu has been working with Ben Gurion University as part of an initiative to embed its own researchers into tech incubators at universities around the world to conduct joint projects.

Yesterday, we heard of one such project between Fujitsu and the Israeli Uni, which has led to the joint launch of two new AI trust technologies. The purpose of the tech is to improve the reliability of the responses from conversational AI models. More specifically, this includes a technique to detect “hallucinations” – a phenomenon whereby generative AI creates incorrect or unrelated outputs.

Professor Yuval Elovici of Ben Gurion University said that “hallucination detection technology …. is pivotal for establishing trustworthy conversational AI systems”. These new technologies will be provided through Fujitsu’s AI Platform, codenamed “Fujitsu Kozuchi”. The platform includes a wide range of AI and ML tech.

Partnering with academia and driving forward leading edge tech has always been a strength for Fujitsu. However, the speed with which this gets into the hands of customers will be crucial. With so much focus/investment in AI across the entire supplier community, there is no shortage of high quality competition.

Separately, and rather interestingly, Fujitsu has said it will be moving out of its Tokyo headquarters. The move will see Corporate and tech dev functions move from Shiodome City Center offices (close to central Tokyo) to be integrated into its Kawasaki Plant. The move is in part prompted by the need to support more flexible working styles (staff will not have to commute to the Kawasaki office) and reflects the actions of other Tokyo-based firms.

Posted by: Kate Hanaghan at 09:30

Tags: AI   ecosystem   ArtificalIntelligence   academia  

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Wednesday 27 September 2023

Feed the Index! – Tell us about your sustainability technology activities

Sustainability Technology Activity Index TechMarketView’s inaugural Sustainability Technology Activity Index report is out now – analysing how emerging and enabling technologies are being used across a variety of environmental sustainability use case areas.

The Index captures data about project milestones and product launches across a wide range of initiatives (spanning ESG reporting, nature monitoring, supply chain innovations, the circular economy, smart buildings, micromobility, energy grids, and carbon removal – to name a few) and includes analysis of which technologies (such as AI, IoT, cloud, blockchain, 5G, etc.) are in play, what suppliers and end user organisations are involved, and where and when activities takes place.

We track where activities (projects, products, initiatives, etc.) which have “changed state” – for example: launched a pilot, added a major partner to a consortium, transitioned from pilot into (more widely-available) production service, scaled-up an existing service and/or added a significant public reference customers, etc. In each case, the occasion connotes some degree of momentum and ramping-up of the activity as it moves closer to mainstream adoption (or widens its existing appeal).

Our research shows Amazon Web Services (AWS) and SAP taking top spots across UK&I and EMEA/Worldwide respectively (in terms of the number of environmental sustainability activities each supplier was involved in) during the Q4 2022 timeframe of this report; but that’s just part of what the data is telling us about trends in the sustainability technology space!

Do you have any activities you think we should know about for future iterations of the Index? You can find more information about our taxonomy of use case types and the technologies we’re monitoring here, which includes a link to a web form where you can provide details on your own activities… we’d love to know more!

You can also download a 'preview' version of the report now: Sustainability Technology Activity Index preview. Please contact Deb Seth for more information, and for details of tailored SME pricing.

Posted by: Craig Wentworth at 09:29

Tags: use cases  

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Wednesday 27 September 2023

NCC continues to progress Next Chapter strategy

NCC GROUPCybersecurity supplier NCC group has experienced a difficult 12 months, with  FY23 revenue flat at constant currency, largely driven by declining global professional services revenue.

As covered back in June – See NCC Group has tough H2, a double digit decline in H2 offset growth in the first half of the year, driven predominantly by reduction in spend by North American technology clients and to a lesser extent by Global Professional Services in the UK. Cybersecurity (Assurance) revenue for FY23 was £271m, up 5% at actual rates, and flat in constant current. Global Professional Services saw a full year decline of -3% (constant currency), whilst Managed services performed well, up 12%. The UK & APAC Cyber Security business grew on a constant currency basis by 3.9%.

The Board expects FY24 to be a period of considerable change for the Group and expect low single digit revenue growth arising from stronger performance in high value Managed Services, including XDR (with global XDR orders up 72% yoy).  This will offset the annualisation of the sales declines in North American and UK Professional Services experienced during H2 FY23. Management said that cost efficiencies across Cyber Security and corporate functions are already being realised, and that Global Professional Services sales orders have stabilised, with no material clients lost.

NCC also continues to progress with its Next Chapter strategy, with its global delivery and operations centre in Manila opening in September. Cost cutting by customers (especially in the US) has driven a need to deliver more cost-effective services, including remote delivery, with management noting that NCC delivery has been too local and rigid in the past. The business is also building out its consulting team and enhancing Managed Services offering as it seeks to create more consultative and collaborative relationships with clients.

Posted by: Simon Baxter at 09:05

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Wednesday 27 September 2023

Renew Risks raises £1.7m for better risk modelling of renewable energy projects

Renew RiskUK-based clean-energy risk analytics startup Renew Risk has raised £1.7m in a seed funding round led by Insurtech Gateway with participation from One Planet Capital, the University of Surrey, and angel investors.

Renew Risk provides risk modelling and analytics on a SaaS platform, tailored to the renewable energy market, that allows (re-)insurers, insurance brokers and offshore wind farm developers to better assess the risk to assets being constructed regions of the world prone to natural disasters, or in other naturally high-risk environments (such as deep-sea cabling to offshore sites).

The company’s aim is to provide data and insight that accelerates transition to renewable energy by helping to build underwriting capacity in the area, thus also reducing barriers to investment.

Our research into environmental sustainability use cases for the Sustainability Technology Activity Index has highlighted how emerging and enabling technologies have an important role to play, not just in directly supporting niche engineering ClimateTech endeavours themselves, but also in facilitating the investment environment they need in order to flourish. Carbon removal platforms (like CUR8 – see CUR8 carbon removal platform gets pre-seed funding) that channel funding to innovative solutions are one such example; InsureTech platforms, like RenewRisk, that make it easier to get renewable energy projects off the ground are another. And both are vital to growth.

Posted by: Craig Wentworth at 09:03

Tags: InsureTech   renewables  

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