Executives fear skills shortage

skills-shortage-delays-building-25-11-2002A survey of tech executives has found that a third of them are worried about finding enough tech staff in the coming year.

The CompTIA survey found that a third think 2018 will be moderately more challenging than 2017 when it comes to recruiting new technology workers. Another 43 percent of executives say that  2018 will probably be just as bad as last year.

Graham Hunter, CompTIA’s vice president for skills certification in Europe and the Middle East, said that employer demand for tech talent was routinely outstripping supply and the year ahead will force more organisations to rethink their approaches to recruiting, training and talent management.

Tech firms face much competition for tech talent from other industries, and there is strong demand for tech workers is present among employers in manufacturing; professional, scientific and technical pursuits; human health and social work; and finance and insurance.

Postings for core IT jobs across the UK surpassed 290,000 in Q4 2017, accounting for 13 percent of all jobs posted – 2.3 million during the last three months of 2017. It also represented a 14 percent increase in core IT jobs postings from Q4 2016 to Q4 2017.

Amy Carrado, senior director, research and market intelligence, CompTIA said that for the full year in 2017 more than 1.3 million job postings for core IT positions were placed by UK employers, a six percent increase from the prior year. The number of IT workers in the UK also increased last year, “to an estimated 1.23 million”.

The top locations for IT jobs, based on the number of workers in 2017, include London, Berkshire, Hampshire, Surrey, and Manchester.

Lloyds refuses to pull back on digital plans

20111108Exterior10Despite announcing waves of IT job cuts, Lloyds is refusing to pull back on its digitisation plans.

Lloyds recently announced that it was planning to cut 250 IT jobs, but it has also assigned £3 billion to a digital transformation plan to “drive additional operational efficiencies”.

It said that it would spend the money on improving its technology infrastructure and services over the next three years to become a “digitised, simple, low-risk, customer-focused, UK financial services provider” by implementing new digital technologies.

The plans include the “simplification and progressive modernisation” of its data and IT infrastructure.

António Horta-Osório, group chief executive at Lloyds, said the investment would ready the firm for success in the digital age.

“Over the last six years the group has made huge progress and has built many strong capabilities including the largest and top-rated digital bank in the UK”, he said.

“As we enter the next phase of our journey, our team is determined to improve the business further, enhance customer experience and deliver superior shareholder returns.

“The external environment is evolving rapidly, and I am confident that this exciting and ambitious plan, with the significant additional investment, will mean we remain at the forefront of UK financial services and continue to deliver our mission of helping Britain prosper.”

Vickerage becomes a Maverick

CaptureScanSource Imago’s president James Vickerage has left the distributor to join Maverick

The move can be seen in a Linkedin shuffle where Vickerage updated his Linkedin profile with the new role yesterday. Previous managing director of Tech Data Maverick, Tony Scully has meanwhile had his LinkedIn profile set to “looking for new opportunities in IT distribution” since December 2017.

ScanSource has announced that Paul Constantine will become president of ScanSource’s international business. He joined the firm in 1999 and most recently served as co-president of its worldwide barcode, networking and security business.

“James Vickerage is no longer with the company. We are grateful for his leadership and service to the company as we successfully integrated Imago into the ScanSource business. Paul Constantine has been named President of international business at ScanSource. In this role, Paul leads the company’s international growth initiatives”, the company said.

It looks like the ScanSource Imago branch will not have a dedicated European executive, and will instead be managed at a group level.

Vickerage became president of ScanSource Communications in October 2016 and oversaw the integration of UK-based AV distributor Imago, acquired by ScanSource in 2014.

Huawei cleans up as tablet market falls

cheap-tabletsHuawei was the only vendor to see growth in its tablet business in Q4 last year, according to beancounters at IDC

Western European tablet shipments declined 13.1 year on year, and only ten million tablet units were shipped in Q4 2017, with Apple, Samsung, Amazon and Lenovo all suffering.

Apple remained the market leader, with a share of 24.1 percent but was down one percent on the same period in 2016.

Third-placed Amazon saw the most significant decline at 19.2 percent. However, Huawei, while having a market share of only 5.6 percent, saw its tablet business grow 27.7 percent.

IDC senior research analyst Daniel Goncalves said: “Profitability is increasingly becoming the focus among the most important tablet manufacturers.

“The performance of Apple and Samsung, the two main players in the western European market, together representing over 40 percent of all tablet shipments, reflects the increasing concern for value over volume. Both posted double-digit growth in revenue YoY, despite the single-digit declines YoY in units.”

Slate tablets were branded the primary cause for the shipments drop by IDC, with this market segment falling 15.4 percent. Premium detachable devices saw shipments increase 8.5 percent.

Vectra plans European expansion

indexSecurity firm Vectra has got its paws on millions in funding to fuel some international expansion

The firm uses AI to get ahead of security threats, has opened a research and development centre in Ireland and is planning to increase the channel numbers in the UK.

The firm has gained $36 million in series D funding, led by Atlantic Bridge along with a few others, including the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund.

The R&D centre in Ireland gives the firm a foothold in the EU and should generate up to 100 jobs over the next five years.

Hitesh Sheth, president and CEO of Vectra, said that it had already established some channel and customer relationships in the UK, but this funding would give it the chance to do more. He added that the company had a significant European footprint, but the funding would drive company growth internationally.

He added that the firm had taken the decision to be indirect since the beginning and wanted to add more resellers.

One of the issues that its software has been able to identify is a growing number of PCs that are being used for Bitcoin mining which can make PCs insecure.


Turbonomic strikes co-sell deal with Microsoft

two-clouds-1385018843_27_contentfullwidthHybrid cloud automation outfit Turbonomic has announced that it has earned Co-Sell Ready status through the Microsoft One Commercial Partner Programme.

Turbonomic’s Co-Sell Ready status from Microsoft will assist the outfit as it supports punters as they accelerate their Microsoft Azure migration and, once in the cloud, optimise the whole lot. Turbonomic will collaborate with Microsoft field sales teams on targeted customer opportunities and related account planning activities.

Turbonomic enables SMART (self-managing and real-time) workloads while maintaining compliance policies across public and private clouds.

The Microsoft Azure Co-Sell Ready program, initiated in 2016, provides comprehensive sales and marketing support for select partners, like Turbonomic. The program aligns Microsoft’s large, global salesforce with partners like Turbonomic to help Azure partners drive new business. To be eligible, companies must submit customer references that demonstrate successful projects, meet a performance commitment, and pass technology and sales assessments.

Jennifer Heard, Senior Vice President, Cloud Partnerships at Turbonomic said: “Microsoft Azure is a trusted partner in the enterprise, and we are thrilled to align Turbonomic’s go-to-market with Microsoft through our new Co-Sell Ready status. Turbonomic is helping organisations achieve their IT transformation goals by safely accelerating and optimising their Azure public cloud migration and ongoing investment.”

Cheryl Miller, Vole’s General Manager, Worldwide One Commercial Partner Go-to-Market said, “Microsoft’s sales and marketing investment in the Co-Sell Ready program demonstrates our commitment to supporting partners’ go-to-market efforts and success, like Turbonomic. We are happy to welcome Turbonomic as one of our new ISV partners, and for the company to leverage Microsoft programs and tools to help our joint customers accelerate their migration to, and optimise their deployment of, Microsoft Azure.”

French Sopra Steria unhappy with its UK figures

poodle_sadFrench firm Sopra Steria’s is not that happy with its UK arm which has posted a year-on-year decline in revenues and profits.

The IT services outfit should have been happy, as the rest of its books were positive. Revenues for the year reached €3.85 billion – a 2.8 percent year-on-year increase  – while operating profits grew by nine per cent to €261.7 million representing 6.8 percent of total sales, up from 6.4 percent in 2016.

The firm’s domestic French sales grew by 4.5 per cent to €1.6 billion, while profits grew by eight per cent to €111.2 million. Its “other European” entities – which encompasses the Nordics, Switzerland, Germany, Benelux and Italy – enjoyed a 12 percent increase in sales to €827.6 million, with each country achieving at least 10 percent growth.

However in the UK revenues fell by 13.6 percent year on year to €801.7 million, while operating profit plummeted by 38 percent to €36.9 million.

Sopra Steria claims that its joint venture with the UK Cabinet Office – a contract drawn up in 2013 worth €1 billion over ten years – is going through a “transition phase” which is expected to continue into the first six months of 2018.

The IT services firm claims that longer decision-making cycles and a “wait-and-see attitude” from UK customers during the second half of last year affected UK sales.

Sopra Steria launched a plan last year to turn around its UK performance which will see the firm expand its private sector customer base and invest in its consulting business and sales team.

The firm plans to implement a cost-cutting programme to shave around €20 million from 2018 UK outgoings.


Exertis signs deal with CAT

indexB2B distributor Exertis has inked an agreement with Bullitt for the CAT phones range of rugged smart and mobile phones.

The CAT brand provides tough equipment often deployed in harsh environments, and these features are equally applicable to their mobile devices.

Rik Hubbard, Exertis mobile commercial and services director, said:  “By their very nature, certain vertical markets such as the military, blue light services, manufacturing and construction require more durability and reliability for their mobile devices. Phones, with their smaller form factor, are more suitable for some workers operating in hazardous areas. The CAT brand is strongly associated with resilience and robustness and these devices offer a great solution at affordable prices for our resellers that sell into industrial and public-sector markets.”

Exertis will be supplying the Cat S31, Cat S41, Cat S30 and Cat S60 smartphones and the Cat B25 and Cat B30 mobile phones.

Ross Jeffries, Sales Director at Bullitt Group, global mobile device licensee for Caterpillar, said: “Exertis has been educating resellers in the opportunities in the rugged market which continues to grow. Their pedigree in providing mobile solutions in the B2B sector make them an ideal choice to distribute our range of devices and broaden our breadth of customers. We look forward to working together and meeting with customers at their Plug in to Exertis event in April.”

Daisy Group sale rumours stepped up

DaisyThe dark satanic rumour mill has manufactured a hell on earth yarn that Daisy Group could put itself up for sale as soon as March

A Sunday Times article in February claimed the comms giant was considering returning to the stock exchange, and Sky News said in October that the firm was making plans for a £1.5 billion sale.

Now a Financial Times article has claimed that Daisy appointed UBS and Oakley Advisory late last year to lead the sale.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Daisy CEO Neil Muller refused to say anything about the rumours, but said that Daisy has plans to as much as double the size of the business over the next five years.

Daisy Group was taken private for £494 million in January 2015 and has gone on to acquire Damovo, Calyx, Phoenix IT and Alternative Networks.

The deal saw founder Matthew Riley and a group of investors take control of the business.

In the latest Top VARs Daisy was ranked as the third largest channel firm in the UK, with revenue of £700 million.

Tech Data loans more to SMBs

1200px-Tech_data_hq_061006Tech Data is trebling the credit it gives SMB resellers to £1 million to boost growth for smaller partners.

Its Credit Elevator scheme offers resellers an initial credit line of £5,000, which will be increased automatically if the partner uses 75 percent of the credit in a month, and pays the loan on 30-day terms.

Tech Data credit services director Nick Tiltman said SMB sales growth was growing and by extending the upper limit on the Credit Elevator his outfit was making it easier for resellers to develop.

It means that the securing higher and higher levels of credit will not be a problem as new opportunities emerge they can take advantage, knowing that we will support them.  This move will remove barriers for customers who want to expand.



Microsoft helps cloudy upstarts

56f884651f7b35416b9b4ca955d350b3--pom-pom-mobile-cloud-mobileSoftware king of the world Microsoft has launched a new programme to help UK startups grow.

Vole is spending  $500 million to support Microsoft for Startups globally, with part of that money being used to help early stage firms in this country.

Microsoft UK scheme helps with sales, access to new community spaces, Office 365 and Dynamics 365  and includes development tools, technical support and a share of $120,000 in free Azure credits.

Writing in the company blog, Volish corporate vice-president of Growth and Ecosystems Charlotte Yarkoni said that she was jolly excited to announce Microsoft for Startups which will deliver access to technology, go-to-market and community benefits that helps startups grow their customer and revenue base.

“We are committing $500 million over the next two years to offer joint sales engagements with startups, along with access to our technology, and new community spaces that promote collaboration across local and global ecosystems. Startups are an indisputable innovation engine, and Microsoft is partnering with founders and investors to help propel their growth.”

Microsoft’s global network of 40,000 sales representatives and hundreds of thousands of partners will also help startups in the programme.

Their goal is to “drive adoption of Microsoft cloud solutions into companies of all sizes and industries worldwide. The programme provides dedicated resources to prepare startup marketing and sales teams to effectively sell their cloud solutions to enterprise organisations in partnership with Microsoft’s global sales organisation and partner ecosystem”,  she said,

Nuvias picks up work from Cisco’s Broadsoft takeover

Cisco Kid EMEA distributor Nuvias is to provide Cisco’s Unified Communications (UC) portfolio, and its newly opened SIP endpoints, to the UK channel.

As a UK distributor for BroadSoft, before its acquisition by Cisco earlier this week, Nuvias wants to support new and existing BroadSoft and Cisco resellers, as Cisco looks to integrate BroadSoft technology into its cloud-based unified communications solutions.

The addition of Cisco reinforces Nuvias’ UC Practice, which offers end-to-end solutions, products and services. The UC Practice is based on the former SIPHON Networks, the award-winning UC solutions and technology enabler for the channel, which was acquired by Nuvias in 2016.

Steve Harris, EVP Unified Communications at Nuvias, said: “The agreement with Cisco, combined with Cisco’s acquisition of BroadSoft and our growing best-of-breed UC portfolio, puts us in a unique position to add further value to existing partners and work with new resellers to deliver integrated, end-to-end cloud-based solutions. BroadSoft has worked very successfully with SIPHON Networks in the UK for eight years, and the combination of experience and technical support skills built up over this time is unmatched in the channel.”

SHI cleans up in the UK

3436142cf514e59f3acf71e47579299aUS reseller SHI International has reported a 12 percent annual spike in revenues, and the UK was its star.

SHI’s revenue in 2017 topped $8.5 billion making it a record year for the firm. While its corporate and SMB division witnessed 21 percent year on year revenue growth, it was the UK which drove its international business with 28 percent growth.

SHI had 10 per cent year on year growth for its commercial and strategic enterprise division, while its public sector unit grew five percent.

CEO Thai Lee said that for the last 18 months, SHI made significant investments in onboarding additional resources and expertise in support of public and hybrid cloud solutions featuring technologies such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud.

“Through intense in-house training and aggressive talent acquisition, we’ve become a holistic resource for customers, capable of supporting both the technology and the business aspects needed to enable and support advanced IT solutions,” said Lee.

Microsoft remained SHI’s top partner in 2017, growing 15 percent over 2016, while Amazon Web Services was the fastest growing top-tier partner for the second year in a row, with a 62 percent leap in the past year.

Cisco saw the second-fastest growth of its top vendors, with revenue 33 percent higher than in 2016. Dell, HP Inc., VMware, Lenovo, Adobe, Apple, HP Enterprise, and Symantec rounded out the list of SHI’s top 11 partners.

Synaxon adds two new channel bods

Synaxon UK has added two new members to beef up its channel team.

Luke Steel is the new Vendor Channel manager, while Chris Yule assumes the post of internal sales executive having made the switch from VIP Computers. Steel has more than  two decades worth of experience with him, 17 years of which he spent at Entatech. During his time with Entatech, Steel was responsible for networking, comms and surveillance business and was as leader of the Corporate Team.

Luke Steel said: “I’ve now been in the industry for 20 years and I’ve met some great characters along the way. I pride myself on delivering great service and helping customers to achieve new business goals. I now have the chance to do that at a much more personal level – with resellers, distributors and vendors – by joining the Synaxon UK team.”

Yule has been sales account manager at VIP and already established himself in the Channel.

“After gaining initial experience by completing an apprenticeship at VIP, I knew a career in sales was for me as I loved interacting with customers. I have been studying for my sales qualifications, and I’m looking forward to working for Synaxon UK and adding to my skills within an established business,” he said.

UK Channel director, Mike Barron, said he was looking forward to having  the new additions on board. “We’re delighted to have added these two experienced and talented individuals to our growing team. It’s great news for members and partners as it means we can give them even more support and assistance in achieving their goals.”

Stirling wants to to be a technology hub

Barnton-Street-Stirling-Scotland-Postcard-c1940Stirling Council has given the nod for a £25 million tech fund to turn the city into the UK’s next tech hub.

Working with ESM Investments the new fund is designed to attract tech companies to the Scottish “gateway to the Highlands”. Investors will attend a launch event next week at the city’s new Codebase facility. The long term aim is to make Stirling a region that can rival Edinburgh and Glasgow.

A recent survey of 69 cities across the UK named Stirling as the best city in Scotland to start a new business, we are not sure who or what they asked as it was not a name which immediately popped into our minds.

Stewart Carruth, the council’s chief executive, believes the initiative will be a key to growing the city. He said: “We believe the fund will help businesses, both in Stirling and outside of the region, to realise their ambitions for growth. It will provide encouragement to local scale-up companies to continue growing their businesses, thereby creating sustainable employment. It will also enable entrepreneurs outside of the area to consider Stirlingshire as a location to establish or scale-up their businesses to the next level, thereby creating new inward investment. It builds on the foundations of the City Region Deal and is a catalyst in terms of retaining and attracting talent to Stirling.

He added: “Stirling has great potential. We have a strong pipeline of talent – digital employees of the future – through well-established collaboration between industry, Stirling Council and our partners. My vision is for us to become an economic and cultural powerhouse that can compete globally”.