Author: Nick Farrell

Dell warns about an absence of intelligence

Michael DellOutfits which do not use artificial intelligence or machine learning to help make their business decisions will be in danger of “doing it wrong”.

Plugging Dell EMC’s Ready bundles, Dell warned that businesses need to be using the capabilities and output from AI, or risk making mistakes.

“In the not too distant future, if you are making decisions in your organisation without machine learning, you are probably doing it wrong”, he said.

Dell EMC is launching “Dell EMC Ready”, which bundles together networking, server and storage solutions that are optimised for AI and machine learning-based applications.

The bundles are optimised to allow applications in areas including fraud detection, image processing and financial investment analysis.

Dell EMC is working on the basis that while a number of organisations globally are deploying AI solutions, very few have the infrastructure to effectively manage the systems and the data they churn out.

The Dell EMC Ready range will be available from the vendor directly, and through channel partners, in the first half of 2018.

 

Qualcomm insists on more cash from Broadcom

the-highwaymanQualcomm is insisting on an extra $10 a share from chipmaker giant Broadcom, before it even looks at the takeover bid.

Qualcomm rejected Broadcom’s $70 a share offer as grossly underestimating the company value, however the mega-merger will go ahead, if Broadcom coughs up more cash.  Word on the street is that if Broadcom offered $80 then Qualcomm might take it more seriously.

Daniel O’Keefe, a fund manager of the $3.1 billion Artisan Global Value Fund, which owns Qualcomm stock, told Bloomberg: “We would be very interested in evaluating an offer that begins with an 8. The board should urge Broadcom to come back with a higher bid.”

Broadcom’s offer came with valuation of $70 per share for Qualcomm. That’s down from its five year high of $81.6 in mid-2014.

However, in more recent years Qualcomm has gone through some turbulence, which has decreased the value of its shares to below $70.

Looming large over the firm is an ongoing legal battle with Apple and regulatory actions around the world, threatening its licensing business, which accounted for $5.1 billion of Qualcomm’s pre-tax profits in its fiscal 2017.

Acquisitions help Claranet’s bottom line

clarinet3Managed services outfit Claranet had a good year thanks to the acquisitions it made just before its financial year ended in June.

The firm has reported a 40 percent increase in revenue – £216.5 million up from £152.5 million from the previous year.

UK acquisitions included application management player Ardenta and security firm Sec-1. There were deals struck in France, Portugal and the Netherlands to bolster the Group operations.

Charles Nasser, founder and CEO of Claranet, said that its growth now gave it the chance to provide more scale and capabilities “that are increasingly relevant to our customers’ journey, allowing us to develop ever stronger relationships. As we continue to expand our portfolio of services, we are also attracting larger customers with a broader range of services.

“This strategy has enabled us to make significant inroads with upcoming technologies and related services in the areas of Public Cloud, DevOps, Security and Big data.”

Nasser also indicated that there would not be a change to its strategy of using acquisition as a means of expanding the business.

“The steps we have taken to grow the business provide the ideal platform from which we can consolidate our position in the market and pursue further growth as the IT services industry continues to evolve and consolidate”, he said.

Claranet CFO Nigel Fairhurst said: “The investments we’ve made over the past few years in our staff, technical expertise and partnerships mean that we’re now capable of competing with some of the biggest players in the industry, and we fully expect to maintain this momentum into the next financial year.”

TheCloud changes its name to Atmoso

grandpa_simpson_yelling_at_cloudFareham-based hosted services outfit TheCloud has chosen to change its name to Atmoso.

The outfit claims the move coincides with a widening of its portfolio and a change of culture.

The firm started in 2010 offering cloud products, including online backup and recovery, hosted desktops and virtual servers. This year it became interested in telephony and PCI-DSS compliance.

Managing director Daniel Crespi said the company felt that its portfolio was branching out in new directions – the voice and contact centre suite, the PCI compliance piece- that what we had was no longer just a ‘cloud’, but more of a connected ‘atmosphere’.  “From that idea of an atmosphere came the new name – Atmoso.”

The change in culture is not just confined to the internal operations of Atmoso but Crespi said would also extend to the way it worked with resellers. The Atmoso name applies to the ‘atmosphere’ that connects the company and its partners, he said.

The firm is planning to establish its cloud products as brands in their own right and is developing a voice suite that once ready will appeal to SMEs and contact centre customers. The firm is also planning some activity on the PCI compliance front.

Channel happy with the budget

nintchdbpict0003399380517His government might be staggering like a Glaswegian who was turned into a zombie on his way home after a seven day bender, but Philip Hammond’s  budget will be broadly welcomed by the Channel.

This is mostly because of the Chancellor’s decision to plough more cash into AI, broadband and 5G and increasing the numbers of computer science teachers.

For those who came in late, Hammond announced he is investing £500 million directly into tech for AI, 5G and full-fibre broadband and is backing it up with more investment into training a further 8,000 computer science teachers.

In his speech, the Chancellor said a tech business was founded in the country every hour, and its ambition was for that to become every half hour.

“So today we invest over £500m in a range of initiatives from Artificial Intelligence, to 5G and full fibre broadband”, said Hammond.

He added that it was also committed to improving the education system, “Computer science is also at the heart of this revolution”.

“So we’ll ensure that every secondary school pupil can study computing, by tripling the number of trained computer science teachers to 12,000″, he said.

KPMG UK, tech sector head Tudor Aw said that commitments to emerging technology such as 5G, AI and data science are to be applauded.

“It is important that core technology businesses are not forgotten in the chase for the next shiny toy. The UK has strengths in ‘old-school’ tech sub-sectors such as software, IT services and semiconductor technology”, he said.

Insight UK IT applications director said that AI was becoming fundamental to an organisations’ business strategy – particularly when it comes to managing changing customer expectations.

Datalogic acquires 20 percent of Research for Innovation

Barracuda-1Automatic data capture and process automation outfit Datalogic, has bought 20 percent of RFID company Research for Innovation (R4i).

R4i specialises in the development of software algorithms that optimise the performance of systems based on RFID technology, particularly in the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) band, which enables one or more objects, whether static or in motion, to be identified, transmitting a univocal identifier to the receiver.

Datalogic claims to be the first company in the global market to have brought automatic data identification to the retail, logistics and industrial spheres. It supplies barcode reading systems, image recognition systems and other technologies that identify objects, including RFID technology, for 45 years.

RFID  and UHF technology is becoming an integral and fundamental part of IOT.  It enables objects that are not intrinsically related and do not have batteries to be visible and locatable.

Datalogic CEO Valentina Volta said: “By acquiring this stake, Datalogic confirms that innovation is the key to its growth and that it intends to maintain its leadership in traditional barcode reading and image recognition technologies and complementary object identification technologies.

“ Following the agreement with R4i, Datalogic is now able to extend the development of solutions to RFID technology, improving its competitive position and increasing its presence in the four major markets.”

She said that RFID technology will make object identification increasingly automatic, univocal and incremental. It represents great opportunities for the growth of our business.

R4i CEO Pietro Carolla said: “The entrance of Datalogic, a world benchmark in the field of identification, R4i will can develop innovative solutions based on the requirements of Datalogic’s international customers operating in the retail, manufacturing, transport & logistics and healthcare spheres”.

Two banned directors back on the job

External-SignTwo banned directors have returned to security reseller Quadsys after their bans expired.

Paul Streeter and Paul Cox hacked a rival’s email account last year, and a judge handed them a suspended jail sentence and banning them from being company directors for a year.

Streeter and Cox resigned as directors of Quadsys last year but were reappointed as of 15 November this year.

Fellow director Alistair Barnard, who received the same sanctions as Streeter and Cox, resigned and is no longer a person of significant control in the company.

The trio and with two other Quadsys employees were found guilty of “obtaining unauthorised access to computer materials with intent to commit an offence” last year, after accessing an email account of rival ITB.

The reseller hired an ex-ITB technician, who arrived at Quadsys with the email passwords, allowing them to view quotes and poach customers.

Some vendors ended their relationship with Quadsys including Sophos, McAfee and Barracuda when the outfit was found out.

UK businesses will splash out on AI

robby the robotA new study by beancounters at Deloitte predicts that 85 percent of UK businesses will have invested in artificial intelligence (AI) by 2020.

Deloitte researched over 51 UK companies and found that over half of respondents plan to invest over £10 million in AI over the next three years – with 30 percent saying they will have spent £10 million by the end of the year.

Deloitte UK digital transformation leader Paul Thompson said: “AI will have a profound impact on the future of work.

“Our view is that human and machine intelligence complement each other, and that AI should not simply be seen as a substitute. Humans working with AI will achieve better outcomes than AI alone, and UK businesses need to get this particular balance right.”

So far only 22 percent of organisations said they had not yet invested any money in AI, with just one third expecting to spend more than £1 million this year.

Deloitte said these figures are an indication that organisations are testing AI rather than skippin straight to large deployments.

More than 77 percent of leaders expect AI to disrupt their industries, but only eight percent expect AI to replace human activity in their businesses.

Whitman starts cleaning out her desk

Meg WhitmanHPE’s Whitman announced she is quitting as the CEO and claims that her channel track record was a critical aspect of her six year reign.

On 1 February 2018, Whitman will be replaced by the current president Antonio Neri, who joined HP in 1995 as a customer service engineer in the EMEA call centre.

Shareholders were not happy – HPE’s shares were down by nearly eight percent in after-hours trading, despite Q4 results topping expectations.

Whitman was appointed as HP CEO in September 2011 following the departure of much-maligned predecessor Leo Apotheker and quickly implemented a five-year turnaround.

She hived off the printer and PC arm of HP in 2015, and put in motion the most significant corporate divorce in history.

HPE’s headcount is now standing at less than 50,000, compared with nearly 350,000 when she joined.

In the UK she was known for dropping in on top HP resellers, including Softcat and CDW in the UK for tea and biscuits and talk up HP and HPE’s channel-friendly credentials at its partner summits.

According to HPE’s statement today, the vendor improved customer and partner satisfaction under her leadership, as well as rebuilding its balance sheet, strengthening operations and reigniting innovation.

HPE has delivered a shareholder return of 89 percent – three times that of the S&P 500 – HPE pointed out.

“I’m incredibly proud of all we’ve accomplished since I joined HP in 2011”, Whitman said.

“Today, Hewlett Packard moves forward as four industry-leading companies that are each well positioned to win in their respective markets. Now is the right time for Antonio and a new generation of leaders to take the reins of HPE. I have tremendous confidence that they will continue to build a great company that will thrive well into the future.”

HPE’s Q4 revenue rose five percent year on year to $7.8 billion, the company also announced.

Whitman will remain on the HPE board of directors.

 

 

Techdata increases Azure training

schoolDistributor Tech Data is leaning on Microsoft partners to get up to speed on the Azure platform.

It has put 50 resellers through its Azure Velocity Partner Acceleration Programme in the last year and has plans to put the same number through the scheme in the next six months.

The programme enables a reseller to aim for silver competency with the Azure cloud platform and improve their chances of growing their hosted revenues.

The distributor is highlighting the levels of support that are on offer to those that use the training and tools with the investment per partner reaching £20,000.

Microsoft said that Azure remains a huge focus and it wants more partners selling the platform and associated hosted services.

Tech Data is at the gold level for the Microsoft Cloud Solution Partner (CSP) and in a position to provide this level of training and support.

The outfit has put more than 70 individuals from around 50 resellers through a five-day Azure technical training course and saw their revenues with Azure and with CSP grow significantly over the past six months.

 

IoT projects need to return money fast

fings-ain-t-wot-they-used-t-be-all-star-studio-cast-recordingSuppliers of IoT gear are warning that projects have to deliver cash savings to clients fast.

Customers deploying Internet of Things (IoT) projects neither have the time or the budget to be experimental and are looking to the industry to help deliver results quickly.

While many in the IoT channel are expecting a busy year next year, there are signs that customers might not have much patience when it comes to planning returns.

IoT customers in vertical markets do not have much cash to fund the development and roll out of technology. They need returns fast.

Lantronix senior director EMEA sales Alex Hollingsworth said that suppliers must reduce time to revenue and time to market and has launched its software platform, Mach10 to help those OEMs developing IoT solutions.

Customers are calling for suppliers to create a business case and the Lantronix platform should help OEMs generate the value to show users.

The IoT market is developing specialised resellers as companies realise that they can’t do it all themselves. As a result, they are finding that they need to partner.

Toshiba says it is not getting out of the PC business

toshiba-logoCash-strapped Toshiba has denied rumours that it is planning to flog off its PC business to Asus.

The rumours seemed to fly after it became clear that Tosh was not going to be able to raise enough cash from the sale of its lucrative memory chip business in time to ward off the threat of a delisting.

Toshiba needed to find $9 billion after its Westinghouse US nuclear division turned sour.

Asus was named as well as Lenovo as potential buyers for the Tosh PC business.

However, Toshiba has rebuffed these claims in a statement, saying: “Reports that Toshiba has decided to sell off the business are not grounded in fact, nor is it in discussion with any individual company.”

Toshiba, however, confirmed that a group of hedge funds would be grouping together to acquire $5.4 billion in new Toshiba shares.

The vendor confirmed plans to explore the sale of the Westinghouse division so if anyone wants a second-hand nuclear reactor they should be able to pick up one pretty cheap.

 

Barclays survey warns of IT underinvestment

printingpress2The Barclays Corporate Banking survey shows that there is a reluctance to invest in emerging technologies which is holding manufacturers back from achieving their true potential.

While 43 percent of technologies such as the internet of things, machine learning and big data will boost profits, many manufacturers are still reluctant to invest in smart technology in their factories, despite more than half of them reporting that technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), IoT and big data have improved productivity.

The survey found that this reluctance will cost manufacturers £102 billion a year in lost revenue.

The survey revealed that 35 percent of manufacturers would be more likely to invest if they understood the tangible benefits of smart tech better, with 23 percent not clear what the return on investment would be.

Mike Rigby, head of manufacturing at Barclays, said: “British manufacturing is going through another industrial revolution, but confidence alone does not translate into success and benefit”, he said.

“With sterling currently weaker and a robust appetite from domestic and international markets for British goods, the industry is in a strong position to take advantage of the opportunities that investing in fourth industrial revolution technologies can bring.”

The research found that manufacturers could miss out on £102 billion worth of revenue due to lack of funding and 83 percent of those manufacturers are ‘confident about the UK’s ability to compete in the international marketplace over the next five years’.

According to those surveyed, skills shortage is biggest challenge to digital strategies, while an increase in cyber attacks was a concern raised.

 

Truth uses blockchain to clean up media supply chain

Newspaper Seller, 1939TMG (The Marketing Group) has launched Truth which it claims is the first media agency in the world to utilise blockchain smart contract technology.

Truth will provide 100 per cent transparency in a media industry with TMG says is “murky at best, and fraudulent at worst”.

Truth’s proprietary, media buying and planning platforms will ensure global best practice and complete GDPR compliance.

The outfit will be headed up by Mary Keane-Dawson who joined TMG earlier in 2017, and Adam Hopkinson who joins as COO from 1st December.

It has been launched in response to the erosion of trust between advertisers, media agencies and media owners. The company said the industry is ripe for innovation, where middlemen and the layers involved in media planning and buying can easily strip 80 percent of the value between brands and media owners.

Truth’s use of blockchain technology revolutionises the traditional process, allowing for complete transparency for all involved, the company said.

Truth has commissioned research, alongside London Research, among CMOs and others with budget responsibility for programmatic advertising, which demonstrates demand for a new honest agency model.

Initial findings reveal that 79 percent of those questioned are concerned about the level of transparency in programmatic advertising and over one third rate their trust in their agency as medium or low.

Truth CEO Mary Keane Dawson said: “By bringing blockchain technology into the media world we will build a cleaner media supply chain with 100% transparency. We want to put the client first and believe this is the best way to do that.”

It will launch with offices in London, San Francisco, Singapore and Sydney, providing a global solution for brands that want more transparency and better value.

Cloud Distribution expands into Blackberry security

Samsung Browses BlackberryCloud Distribution has developed its relationship with BlackBerry to take on board the vendor’s latest security products.

The distributor has been flogging BlackBerry Workspaces for three years but will now add the vendor’s Secure platform to the portfolio.

Blackberry is getting out of the mobile hardware business and into software and last month stepped up its cybersecurity services to protect privacy and data assets and also help customers gain GDPR compliance.

Cloud Distribution, sales director Adam Davison said that his outfit was building on its Workspaces relationship with BlackBerry.

He added that it would be using its Altitude Marketing programme to make sure partners were given support around the Secure platform.

“There is a full schedule of joint marketing campaigns and initiatives underway to help partners stimulate interest and accelerate pipeline growth”,  he said.

Richard McLeod, vice president of global enterprise software channels at BlackBerry, said that the expanded relationship was all part of its commitment to the channel and efforts to reach out to more resellers.

“The expanded relationship with Cloud Distribution signifies our continued investment in strategic partnerships with industry leaders, enabling us to enhance our channel partner ecosystem and provide business customers with the best possible experience within their respective market”, he said.

“Cloud Distribution’s security specialists have proven they can address challenges in today’s complex and sophisticated business environments”, he added.