Author: Nick Farrell

BookingBug looks for channel partners

9426-3094550359Online appointment software outfit BookingBug wants to work more formally with the channel.

The company has worked with a few partners on an ad hoc basis but has decided to set up a more formal structure for resellers.

The increase in customer requests for online appointment systems as part of a digital transformation project is mostly behind the surge of interest in this area of the software market.

BookingBug alliances director Les Baker said the demand for a way to join online and offline customer experience had reached a point where it was time to formalise the programme and open up broader availability.

“It’s becoming normal for banks, governments and retailers to seek out new ways to improve the customer experience, especially online to offline. As channel partners see more demand, they have been approaching us in growing numbers”, he added.

Baker said that more customers realised that they needed to use technology to make sure they could manage the interactions with their most important clients.

He added that it was broadly looking for partners that fell into three segments. It had already signed some in the first category of implementation partners, with Field Dynamics having put the software into many public sector customers.

BookingBug is also courting technology companies, like accounting and CRM players that could integrate the software into their offerings. Finally, there are general resellers that are turning to the vendor when the opportunity arises.

 

DataLase does deal with PARC

xerox-parc-alto-personal-workstation-1973-bwInline digital printer DataLase has signed a strategic partnership with PARC.

The companies will work together to develop photonic printing solutions based on the DataLase award-winning laser-reactive colour-change pigment technologies. A celebratory ceremony took place at PARC last week.

The deal will accelerate the development of new laser-based hardware solutions that are optimised for use with DataLase colour-change pigment technology to digitally print variable data on a variety of products and packaging.

DataLase, a SATO company, will collaborate with PARC to advance its inkless multi-colour Infinity technology platform and has signed a lease agreement to establish a pioneering development office and innovation suite to operate from inside the PARC facility in Silicon Valley, California.

Andy Wragg, CEO at DataLase, said: “Working at PARC will give DataLase and our parent company, SATO, access to cutting-edge technology facilities to develop new and unique photonic printing solutions, based on our latest colour change pigment technologies. We will also have access to other pioneering and innovative companies and technological advances that will extend our capability to deliver unique solutions that connect brand owners with consumers around the world.”

PARC provides breakthrough capabilities that very few organisations can deliver, he reckons. Working with strategic partners to help develop innovative solutions, PARC helps take the risk out of deploying technologies and strategies that could revolutionise entire industries.

The new multi-colour Infinity platform will revolutionise the way that brand owners can connect with consumers through products and packaging. Digital printing of variable data and the personalisation of products is a rapidly growing trend as consumers demand special relevance from brand-driven marketing campaigns. Integrating printing at the point in the supply chain where it creates the most value for the brand is a key challenge faced by the industry, but inkless solutions based on database technology can meet these increasing demands. Applications for the variable printing of text, graphics, and barcodes on labels, flexible film, and folding cartons can all benefit from this unique solution.

PARC Printing Innovation Portfolio Manager Antonio Williams said that its open innovation business model worked well with DataLase.

“We’re excited to have their team here at PARC collaborating with our researchers to develop the inkless multi-colour photonic print technology. DataLase is bringing a unique solution to market, and we are looking forward to working together.”

Kaseya scores Irish government investment

irelandThe Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) is to invest £17 million in Kaseya so that the IT management vendor to create 130 jobs in Ireland.

The new jobs will be added to Kaseya’s existing Dublin-based operations, which employs approximately 30 people.

Kaseya is planning to launch a collaboration programme with third-level universities and institutes of technology in Ireland.

Kaseya has been collecting a lot of investment. Lately, the outfit which is majority owned by global software investment fund Insight Venture Partners wants to raise more than €38 million to finance its latest glorious five-year plan.

Fergal McAleavey, head of private equity at ISIF. “It will bring high-quality software jobs and further cement Ireland as the destination of choice for global software companies seeking an EU presence.

“We are confident that Kaseya will deliver a strong commercial return on our investment to complement our economic impact objectives. This transaction further strengthens our excellent relationship with Insight, one of the world’s biggest software investors”, added McAleavey.

Fred Voccola, CEO of Kaseya, said the firm was delighted to continue to grow its Irish presence and to team up with ISIF as an investment partner.

“Ireland is a great place to continue to develop our industry-leading software solutions. Our contribution to Ireland’s vibrant, dynamic software sector will help to bolster the country’s growing reputation as an IT leader while creating significant additional value for our investors”, he added.

NetApp fears no cloud providers

lightning-cloudNetApp’s EMEA boss Alexander Wallner has told the assorted throngs at the NetApp’s annual EMEA Insight conference in Berlin that the storage vendor does not see cloud providers as an immediate threat.

Wallner said that adapting to the cloud has enabled the Sunnyvale-based company to build “more flexibility and elasticity” into its architecture.

“From my perspective, we’re the only former storage, now data management, provider that decided very early on to lean into the cloud. We never saw the cloud as a threat. We don’t perceive [cloud providers] as our enemy, either. Instead, we understood early on that it is beneficial to our customers that we interact with them on the cloud and support them.”

NetApp and Microsoft have announced that NetApp’s enterprise network file system (NFS) is to be available in Azure as a service.

Wallner added that while interest in the cloud “is everywhere”, most customers are clueless as to what they should be spending their cash on. As a result, it is crucial for vendors such as NetApp to keep customer options open when it comes to cloud.

“Most of our customers do not have an idea of how their cloud strategy will evolve over the next three years. Most of them don’t know what their applications will look like three years from now. It is key for customers to decide on a data management plan that is open, which will enable them to develop in whichever direction they need to. Our task as an infrastructure provider is to provide an open architecture”,  he said.

Wallner said that hybrid clouds were not something mentioned in polite conversation anymore. It was better to talk about multi-cloud environments because hybrid cloud gives the impression that customers have to choose from only one cloud provider.

“The reality is that there is nothing that customers fear more than having a vendor lock them into the cloud.”

He added that NetApp had a fair bit to do to sort itself out in a very uncertain market.

“When you looked at the data market five years ago, life was pretty easy for us. We had a good architecture on storage systems. Now, the transformation we’ve been through in the last five years has seen the picture change completely.”

Computacenter had a good year

whirlwind-computerIt is starting to look that if you had money in Computacenter, you would be laughing all the way to the bank this year as there are good signs that the company is going to do better than anyone expected.

The outfit has put out a few hints over the last few weeks and the third quarter numbers were pretty good – there was also some spare cash to set up shop in Dublin to serve the Irish market. Third quarter numbers showed that there had been revenue growth of eight percent in the UK business as customers started to spend. While the figures showed the UK was still growing slightly slower than the group’s international units, but third-quarter sales of £335 million, up from £310 million a year ago, improved its year-to-date position to grow six percent.

This is in sharp contrast to last year which was rather unpleasant for the channel player.

The latest note from Computacenter has arrived the form of a trading update which says:

“Following a strong start to the fourth quarter and the visibility of a growing pipeline for the rest of 2017, Computacenter’s Board believes that the Group’s trading result for the 2017 financial year will now be comfortably more than its previous expectations,” the firm stated in a trading update.”

Shareholders should be happy that they will see a  one-off return in Q4 of £100 million. The full-year results are due out towards the end of January, where the firm will provide more details.

Qualcomm spurns Broadcom takeover

rejection-2Mobile chipmaker Qualcomm rejected rival Broadcom $103-billion takeover bid, claiming that the offer undervalued the company and would face regulatory hurdles.

Broadcom said it would seek to engage with Qualcomm’s board and management, adding that it had received positive feedback from key customers and stockholders.

“We continue to believe our proposal represents the most attractive, value-enhancing alternative available to Qualcomm stockholders and we are encouraged by their reaction”,  the company said.

Broadcom made an unsolicited bid to buy Qualcomm in an effort to become the dominant supplier of chips used in the 1.5 billion or so smartphones expected to be sold around the world this year.

Analysts said Broadcom can now raise its bid, go for a proxy fight or launch a hostile exchange offer.

If Broadcom makes a hostile bid, Qualcomm’s governance rules would allow the rival to submit its own slate for the entire 11-member board by the December 8 nomination deadline.

However it would be easier to talk Qualcomm’s board and agree on a higher price.

But price is not the only issue. Any deal would face scrutiny from the antitrust regulators as the combined company would own the high-end WiFi business globally, analysts said.

Regulators are already scrutinizing Qualcomm’s $38-billion acquisition of automotive chipmaker NXP Semiconductors NV.

Broadcom has indicated it is willing to buy Qualcomm irrespective of whether it closes the NXP deal.

 

Softcat gets a new CEO

cat-at-laptop-275Softcat has appointed Graeme Watt to join the Board as Chief Executive after 1 April 2018.

IT infrastructure products and services outfit said that Watt has more than 25 years of experience in the IT distribution industry and is currently Senior Vice President EMEA, Advanced and Specialist Solutions, Tech Data Corporation (“Tech Data”), a position he has held since March 2017.

He was promoted to that role when Avnet’s Technology Solutions business was acquired by Tech Data in early 2017. Prior to that, he was President for Avnet Technology Solutions, EMEA for almost seven years and a member of Avnet’s Global Executive Committee.

Watt previously spent six years at Bell Micro (as President of Global Distribution) and his earlier career included roles at Tech Data (President EMEA) and Computer 2000 (Managing Director UK & Ireland). Graeme Watt is also a qualified accountant (ICAEW).

As previously announced, and effective from the date of Graeme joining Softcat, Martin Hellawell (currently Chief Executive of the Company) will become Non-Executive Chairman and Brian Wallace (currently Non-Executive Chairman) will retire from the Board.

The Board’s decision to appoint Watt follows an extensive search process led by Brian Wallace and Lee Ginsberg (Senior Independent Director) with the assistance of global search firm, Odgers Berndtson.

Brian Wallace, Chairman of Softcat plc, said: “Our extensive search generated an impressive field of candidates and Watt stood out for his extensive knowledge of the sector and the reseller channel as well as his strong leadership skills and delivery of growth in very sizeable business units at Avnet and Tech Data. Equally importantly, he understood and was excited by the dynamic, enthusiastic, people-oriented culture at Softcat and its importance to our Company’s future success. In Graeme, we believe we have found someone who can nurture the best of what we do today with the experience and dynamism to scale and grow the business yet further.”

Watt said: “Softcat is a significant customer of Tech Data and I have therefore seen at close quarters its remarkable growth based on a great team providing outstanding service to a rapidly growing customer base. I look forward to introducing myself to the business, getting to know its people and operations even better and working with everyone to ensure the continued success of Softcat.”

Cloudy UKFast has a stake in Reconfigure start-up

56f884651f7b35416b9b4ca955d350b3--pom-pom-mobile-cloud-mobileCloud firm UKFast is taking a stake in a start-up which accelerates the processing abilities of servers.

Reconfigure.io is based in Manchester, with a 13-strong global team, including developers in the US. The move makes UKFast the largest single investor in Reconfigure.io’s current funding round.

UKFast CEO Lawrence Jones said that it was an exciting investment for UKFast and for the future of the internet.

“There are only so many times you can launch a new chip with increased processing power or add more cores. Reconfigure.io is unlocking the technology that supports growth in virtual reality, big data and machine learning. There is an incredible future ahead for these guys.”

UKFast is committed to speeding up the internet and Reconfigure.io is facilitating the technology to make that happen.

“We’ll be looking to use it in our products as we look to integrate greater use of AI and machine learning. Reconfigure.io is set to make a huge difference to a lot of businesses”, he said.

Field-programmable gate arrays can perform several tasks at the same time, providing speed enhancements over the same code running on traditional CPUs. Reconfigure.io lets users programme FPGAs with Go – a simpler programming language than more complex code.

Common applications for FPGAs include AI and machine learning, cloud monitoring, data analytics and the Internet of Things.

Reconfigure.io CEO Rob Taylor said that he is looking forward to building a working partnership and creating the next generation of computing infrastructure.

“We aim to bring on investors who add value to our business and having this relationship with UKFast opens many major doors”, Taylor said.

 

Arrow targets a third 2017 acquisition

Archer-Shooting-a-Goose-Arrow--59097Arrow Business Communications has made its third purchase of 2017 and written a cheque for Scottish Avaya and Gamma partner Siebert Telecom.

Arrow has been “spend, spend, spending” on acquisitions since Growth Capital Partners took a 50 percent stake in the firm in 2016, giving Arrow shedloads of dosh to buy stuff.

The VAR acquired energy broker Pulse Business Energy and Mitel partner Workspace.

Arrow CEO Chris Russell said: “We are delighted with the addition of Siebert to the Arrow Group which builds on the acquisition of Orca Telecom three years ago.

“Adding Siebert’s 16 staff to the Arrow Scotland team will expand our local customer support and fits with Arrow’s ‘buy, build and stay local’ strategy.

“Our third acquisition of 2017 adds further geographic and product portfolio diversity to Arrow and completes the achievement of our key objectives for the year. I have no doubt Arrow Scotland will continue to grow and thrive in the years to come.”

The addition of Siebert to Arrow’s Scottish arm takes the combined business to 850 customers, with a team of over 20 staff.

Datatec has miserable start to the year

Screen-shot-2012-03-09-at-11.45.41-AMIT group Datatec has reported “disappointing” figures for the first half of its fiscal 2018.

For the six months ending 31 August, Datatec saw revenue drop 1.6 percent to £2.28 billion.

This includes contributions from its Americas distribution arm, which it sold to Synnex on 1 September; and its Dutch Logicalis SMC arm, which it sold to DXC Technology in October.  So despite all these, sales revenues still dropped.

Continuing operations – which houses the APAC and EMEA Westcon businesses, and Logicalis – saw revenue drop seven percent to $1.84 billion.

Datatec CEO Jens Montanana said: “Although the first-half headline results were disappointing, we have generated exceptional value through the successful sale of our Westcon Americas business and recently the smaller disposal of the non-core Logicalis SMC business.

“The outlook for Logicalis, which contributed most of our profits, is increasingly positive, with some important developments set to support an overall improvement in H2. We are hurrying to create the appropriate structure in Westcon International to support the direction of the business.”

Following the sale of the American business, Logicalis contributes over four times the revenue of the remaining Westcon business.

Datatec said it would continue “streamlining” the Westcon business to improve its financial performance.

 

CBI calls for more technology

bankers-2The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has called for companies to splash out on technology to close the productivity gap between the UK and neighbouring countries.

In a move which can be quoted by sales teams, the CBI said that there were significant reasons for companies to adopt a more technological framework and called on the government to help out.

In a new report, with the slightly surreal title “From Ostrich to Magpie”  the business group is urging the government to make funds available for small businesses to invest in technologies such as cloud, mobile technology, e-purchasing and cybersecurity.

The report said that the UK’s productivity lags almost a decade behind that of Denmark in some areas, and is behind France and Germany.

Encouraging more businesses to behave like ‘magpies’ – by picking the best tried-and-tested technologies on the market – rather than ‘ostriches’, would help reduce inequality between UK firms’ productivity and add over £100bn to the UK economy, the report argues.

CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn said the diffusion of technology had been a “serial blind spot” for the government in its efforts to boost productivity.

“At a time when the public purse is tight, encouraging new technology uptake is one of the most effective routes to raising productivity”,  she said.

“With the government committed to creating a Shared Prosperity Fund using funds previously allocated to EU membership, there are few better priorities than this for where to invest it.”

 

Whishworks grows into a new office

www.windsor.gov.ukSuccess in the MuleSoft integration and Big Data space, as well as an ever-expanding client roster, has seen Whishworks splash out on new offices under the shadow of Windsor Castle.

The outfit has been growing like topsy over the past few years. To support this growth, the company announced today it has moved to new Windsor premises.

Located on the first floor of the Vista building on 2 William Street, the new Whishworks office environment has an open floor-plan with “hot desking” areas and social hubs where staff can work in a more informal setting.

The big idea is that its teams benefit from social, collaborative gains, alongside “quiet” spaces for more focused work tasks.

Whishwork co-founder Suman Konkumalla says the company’s staff will benefit from a larger space not only due to the growing business but also because it is important to provide the right physical environment.

“We are constantly striving to exceed the expectations of our clients, and based on what our clients are telling us, we have been able to do just that. But to continue to lead the way in our business in terms of efficiency and innovation, we require a work space that will allow our people to collaborate most effectively.”

The outfit’s key business has been specialised MuleSoft Integration and expanded Big Data offerings. Konkumalla thinks the company will grow even further next year. The new offices have the room to develop and accommodate that growth, he said.

PowerOn’s revenues double

PF-loadsamoney_2177214kMicrosoft Azure partner PowerON’s revenue has doubled thanks to its services business.

The outfit, which is based in York saw year-on-year revenue for the year ending 30 September 2017 jump about 98 percent to £2 million.

The three-year-old company said that the firm’s growth was due to demand for  its IT services, particularly around automation and device management.

The company has a mix of IT and services which it thinks gives it a competitive edge against the competition that take a traditional approach.

These include projects such as Windows 10 upgrades and the operating management. However the company reports genuine industry growth too.

PowerON has offices in York, Chessington and Lincolnshire, is mostly a Microsoft Azure reseller but also develops its own platforms and tools in-house.

It has a consultancy team which focuses on the modernisation of workplaces and device management, and the cloud infrastructure team which specialises in Azure and hybrid IT.

PowerON became an Elite Partner on Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility and Software Programme this year.

The firm is projecting revenue of £3.2 million in its current financial year, £4.4 million in 2019, and £6.2 million in 2020.

 

IT contracts might be restricted to seven years

ukflagPublic sector resellers might be worried that the UK government is considering a plan which would restrict IT contract lengths to seven years.

The idea is being mulled over by the Government Commercial Function (GCF), part of the Civil Service and the Cabinet Office, is a cross-government network that procures, or supports the procurement, of goods and services for the government.

The outfit has produced a report with the racy title, Exiting Major IT Contracts: Guidance for Departments, which has taken aim at the duration of IT contracts.

“In past years many government organisations entered into large outsourcing contracts, which were often single-vendor arrangements lasting five to 10 years”, said the report.

“Independent analysis has highlighted a number of concerns and issues relating to these contracts, noting that they no longer represent value for money and that their structures constrain the relevant organisations from modernising technical environments.”

The report said that current government policy was to move away from large, single-vendor IT outsourcing contracts to multi-vendor, disaggregated environments, combined with in-sourcing where appropriate, and adopting a cloud-first principle.

The report said that the term of any contract for services should be for the shortest appropriate duration, bearing in mind factors such as vendor investment, ability to take advantage of reducing costs of technology, attractiveness to the market, organisational costs and ability to manage frequent change, to enable flexibility on exit and to allow transfer to alternative providers and avoid vendor lock-in.

“For contracts for commodity IT this will be up to two years and between three and seven for service agreements depending on level of supplier investment required, size of contract and market dynamics.”

Samsung down to one UC distributor

samsung-hqSamsung unified communications (UC) is down to one UK distributor now that it has decided not to use Exertis.

Exertis will still be distributing Samsung’s UC equipment until 22 December but after that it looks like Nimans will become the exclusive distributor of Samsung’s UC offering.

It is a slap in the face with a wet fish for Exertis which had been trying to snuggle up closer with Samsung by acquiring Essex-based 60 man mobile phone and tablet refurbishment outfit MTR.

MTR had a tight partnership with Samsung and Exertis hoped the deal would enable the distributor to “deepen its entanglement” with what is one of its key vendors.

It is not clear what Exertis did to miff Samsung, it might have just passed the port the wrong way at dinner. However Nimans was named best partner (UK) in the 2017 Samsung Enterprise Best Partner Awards which culminated in a global conference at the communication giant’s South Korean headquarters.

It might just have been that sole distributorship was an award for good behaviour.

Nimans said that it had a direct working relationship with Samsung in Korea and the awards were a chance to forge closer working relationships.