Author: Nick Farrell

Losing local bank branches hurts retailers

More than 24 percent of shop owners who have closed their business in the past five years say losing a local bank branch was a key factor.

A new study from The Nottingham Building Society found that out of those retailers who say they are affected by closures of banks estimate their annual revenue fell by an average of 20 percent.

The Nottingham’s research shows that 36 percent of people would visit their town or village less if their local branch closed and 40 percent would make three or more fewer visits a month.

Gary Womersley, head of Branch Network for The Nottingham Building Society said that financial institutions play a major role in local high streets drawing customers to shops and boosting sales and business.

“This is particularly true in market towns, where much of our focus is placed. Sadly, there are now as many as 1,500 towns in the UK that used to have branches but no longer do. In as many as eight towns, The Nottingham has a branch where there is no presence of the big four banking institutions”, he said.

Steve Castle joins Nuggets

banner_220x220Steve Castle has joined the blockchain payments and identity brand Nuggets as a non-Executive Director.

Castle has already been supporting Nuggets as a strategic adviser for over a year, and was an early investor.

Alastair Johnson, Founder and CEO of Nuggets, said: “It’s a great pleasure to welcome Steve as a Non-Executive Director. His strategic advice has been invaluable to us for some time now, and we’re looking forward to drawing on even more of his 35 years’ experience in financial services.”

Castle’s most recent high-profile role was as a key part of the ‘Senior Management Walk-In’ team briefed with turning around Liverpool Victoria General Insurance Group in 2006.

As Group Finance Director, he was instrumental in transforming the business into the LV= brand as it is today. By 2012, the business had been grown five-fold to become the third-largest motor insurer in the UK. The (previously loss making) company was also delivering annual profits of over £100m and had the highest customer satisfaction levels in the industry.

Before LV=, Castle held senior Group Board positions in the RBS Insurance, Direct Line and Churchill. He was previously a director at AIG, ACE & CIGNA.

Of his new role, Steve Castle said: “Having seen how rapidly Nuggets has developed in markets around the world over recent months, I’m delighted to be joining the team as Non-Executive Director.

“Nuggets offers a unique solution for making simple e-commerce payments and other transactions without having to share personal data. I’m convinced it’s a product that will transform e-commerce as we know it.”

This latest announcement follows the recent appointment of  former Managing Director of Visa, Kevin Jenkins, to establish Nuggets in Europe and lead on business development.

At the end of June, Nuggets also announced a partnership with QFPay, the Chinese payment provider used by Asian commerce giants Alipay and WeChat. QFPay has managed more than 500 million mobile payment transactions to date. Now, Asian merchants using QFPay can also benefit from Nuggets’ unique payments and identity features.

Silver Peak announces new authorised deployment partner programme

banner_220x220Broadband and hybrid WAN solutions provider, Silver Peak, has announced a new Authorised Deployment Partner (ADP) programme, which is supposed to train, certify and authorise services partners to unify and manage all facets of the design, deployment and management of its Silver Peak Unity EdgeConnect SD-WAN solution.

The programme has already attracted  Cavell Group, FireOwls Corporation, Geode Networks, Traversa Solutions and Velociti.

Kristian Thyregod, vice president for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region at Silver Peak said: “Silver Peak is providing partners with an unprecedented opportunity to add additional high-margin services to their portfolio, while helping enterprise customers to confidently deploy the Silver Peak EdgeConnect SD-WAN solution.

“As a company deeply committed to the channel, our new ADP programme will dramatically reduce channel complexity and provide enterprise customers with options when implementing and deploying an SD-WAN solution that align to their unique business and cloud requirements. We are delighted to have already welcomed a number of valued partners to our ADP programme.”


Exclusive attaches Elastifile

Value-added outfit Exclusive has added Elastifile as the latest addition to its global BigTec cloud portfolio.

Elastifile is known for its enterprise, cloud file storage solutions which enable cloud workflows with minimal deployment and management issues.

Martin Bichler, Group Vendor Manager at BigTec said: “Cloud infrastructure transformation is, alongside cybersecurity, perhaps the greatest commercial opportunity for channel partners to lead customers toward a positive digital future, which is why Elastifile’s innovation aligns so well with our global BigTec vision. The global enterprise IT shift to ‘everything-as-a-service’ is accelerating the obsolescence of traditional data infrastructure, so end customers want their transition to new technology to be frictionless with clear ROI. Elastifile fits into our broad set of compelling BigTec solution offerings around enterprise hybrid cloud that are addressing significant demand across the channel ecosystem.”

The global distribution contract “significantly” extends the market reach of Elastifile and follows the vendor’s initial BigTec EMEA agreement struck last year.

Bamiyan Gobets, VP International Sales at Elastifile said: ” We feel we have found the ideal partner to support our channel growth objectives with service providers and VARs worldwide. The BigTec brand, backed by Exclusive’s global market reach and unparalleled specialist cloud competency, adds significant value and gives us a great market advantage.”

This means that there is an opportunity for Elastifile resellers wherever customers want to cloud-burst peak demand, migrate workloads, or create true hybrid workflows that span architectures – be it supporting containers, VMs, on-premises infrastructure, or public cloud.”




Channel building relationships with non-IT departments

banner_220x220A report from CompTIA found that the channel is finding success when working more closely with individual teams in organisations rather than sticking to the IT department as their key entry point.

Apparently tech businesses can help companies expand their engagement with customers when they approach and build relationships with non-IT executives because it’s helping them find innovative ways to build profitability.

Working directly with accounting, HR, marketing, and operations departments means the channel can identify the company’s true needs and understand the business better rather than using a single communication point in the IT department.

CompTIA  said that the cloud was providing more opportunities for the channel, enabling some managed service providers to transform into independent software vendors with innovations of their own to share with customers. This is boosting profitability as they adapt to changing market conditions.

Customer spending is increasing too, as customers realise that immediate ROI isn’t necessarily a priority anymore. Businesses are happy to invest if their tech solutions will offer longer-term benefits, rather than immediate financial returns, the report said.

CompTIA warned that there is currently a rush to introduce new products and services to market which means that some solutions haven’t been thoroughly tested and the quality is suffering.

The range of solutions available is causing confusion for vendors too, with mixed go-to-market strategies that don’t have a clear line to sale. This is also impacting the channel as margins vary so much, it’s unclear which products should be a priority.


Computacenter scores record revenues

banner_220x220Computacenter has reported a record revenue of £2 billion with its UK sales rocket 29.5 percent.

For the six months ending 30 June 2018 the channel giant saw overall revenue rise 18.1 percent year on year, while adjusted profit before tax increased 24.3 percent to £52.1 million.

Computacenter said that its UK revenue growth was bolstered by two “very large margin-dilutive” contracts, valued at £34.1 million and £36.7 million, which brought margins down by 80 basis points.

Mike Norris, CEO at Computacenter, said: “While the second half of the year is a more difficult comparison to the first half, due to the outstanding performance in H2 2017, 2018 is proving to be a year of significant progress particularly for our technology sourcing business.

“The buoyant market conditions are being driven by a number of factors specifically, but not limited to, the need to increase network capacity, the constant need for enhanced cybersecurity, workplace upgrades and a move to the cloud. While it is impossible to predict how long these buoyant market conditions will continue, most of these drivers have significant momentum.

“As always, Computacenter will continue to focus on the long term, investing in our business, innovating our offerings and enhancing our customer service.”

Computacenter saw around three quarters of its revenue come from what it refers to as technology sourcing (previous called ‘supply chain’) in H1, while the remaining quarter came from services.

In the UK, revenue rose to £858.1 million driven by product sales, but services declined 4.5 percent to £225.1 million, which Computacenter attributed to two “challenging projects” requiring additional resources.

The firm had previously warned that services would be hit by the conclusion of a large contract, but said that it has managed to retain a “large element” of this customer’s IT operations. Nonetheless, it branded its services performance as “disappointing”.

Margins on the product side of the business were brought down by 80 basis points as a result of the two large contracts.

In Germany Computacenter’s revenue rose 11.4 per cent to €984.1 million (£886.69 million ), driven by growth in both its product and services divisions.

The technology sourcing arm saw sales jump 13.6 per cent to €679.5 million while services grew 6.8 per cent to €304.6 million .

Overall, adjusted operating profit grew 53.1 per cent to €36.6m in Germany.

Computacenter however warned that a lack of available talent in Germany is a “growth inhibitor”, adding that some of its German operations could be run from outside the country in the future.

Earlier this year Computacenter opened up a services centre in Poland to support its German business.

Sales in France meanwhile were down 1.2 per cent to €262.2 million, but Computacenter stressed that this was down to a particularly strong H1 last year. It added that the first half of this year matched its H1 from 2016.

Adjusted operating profit in France grew by 41.2 per cent to €2.4 million.

UK Councils running unsupported software

Nearly half of UK councils are running unsupported server software.

Information obtained by Comparex through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request found that 46 percent of councils are running  Windows Server 2000, Windows Server 2003 or Microsoft SQL Server.  These are not supported by Microsoft and are so primitive they think that digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

Chris Bartlett, public sector director at Comparex, said: “By continuing to run out-of-date server software, many councils are exposing themselves to a host of security and compliance risks. The FOI data suggests that matters are slowly improving, as separate FOI requests to London Borough Councils back in 2016 showed that 70 percent were running unsupported server software. However, with GDPR now in effect, councils need to be even more cognisant of vulnerabilities – especially considering the volume of citizen data they hold. With that in mind, it is important that risks are managed, and councils establish an upgrade strategy.”

Comparex found that 94 percent of councils were running Windows Server 2008, which is out of mainstream support but still in extended support. The same percentage of councils are running Windows SQL Server 2008, which has the same support durations.

The FOI information found that just 13 percent and nine percent of council are paying for extended support of Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 respectively. Comparex said this means these councils are no longer receiving security updates.


Security is going to get pricey warns Gartner

IT security spending is about to cost a quarter more thanks to the low supply of highly skilled talent, and regulatory changes.

Beancounters at Gartner said that security spend is set to rise 12 percent from $101.54 billion to $114.15 billion this year. But it will be part of a general increase in security costs which will eventually hit $124.12 billion

Siddharth Deshpande, research director at Gartner said: “Security managers aspire to help their organisations use their technology platforms to become more competitive and contribute to the growth of the company. Persistent skills shortages and regulatory changes like the GDPR in Europe are driving continued growth in the security services market.”

He said the segment that will rake in the biggest bucks is security services, which are expected to account for ten per cent of IT security expenditure.

Gartner added that highly publicised data breaches, have reinforced the need to view protecting sensitive data and IT systems as a vital business investment.

Deshpande  said security and risk management has to be a critical part of any digital business initiative. Identity and Access Management, Identity Governance and Administration, and Data Loss Prevention will all be impacted by the large rise in demand.  The second and third biggest security segment earners are expected to be infrastructure protection and network protection systems.

Chambers joins Rubrik

banner_220x220Former Cisco supreme dalek John Chambers has joined vendor Rubrik as an advisor and investor.

Chambers was Cisco’s CEO for more than 20 years. Chambers has also invested an undisclosed amount in the privately held Rubrik.

On his appointment, Chambers said: “The shift to cloud has been one of the most disruptive market transitions of the digital age, impacting the entire technology industry. In just four years, Rubrik has gone from a start-up to an industry leader in helping enterprises tackle the challenges of managing and using their data in the cloud era. When I talk to Rubrik CEO Bipul Sinha about his vision for growing and scaling Rubrik, I have no doubt that the company is on its way to becoming a multibillion dollar business.”

Rubrik has also appointed former VMware VP Avon Puri as its chief information officer.

Rubrik CEO Sinha said: “John’s ability to identify market transitions and capitalise on them to maximum effect has made him a go-to advisor for world leaders. Today, the cloud is transforming every industry, helping businesses to run faster, smarter and more efficiently. Rubrik expands this opportunity by enabling enterprises to liberate their data from legacy infrastructure and fully realise cloud agility and economics. We are thrilled to add John and Avon to our team as we continue to aggressively scale our business globally.”

ScanSource buys Canpango

ScanSource has acquired the London-based CRM outfit Canpango.

Canpango is a Salesforce partner and the move increase’s Scansource’s foot firmly on the throat of the CRM market.

Mike Baur, CEO, ScanSource, said: “As our partners continue to move upmarket into larger, more complex UCaaS and CCaaS opportunities, the requirements for CRM are increasing. The team at Canpango brings extensive experience around these technologies, as well as the professional services needed to make these solutions successful. We continually look for new markets for our partners to delve into and are excited about the opportunities this acquisition brings. We welcome the Canpango team to the ScanSource family.”

Matt Lautz, co-founder and CEO of Canpango, will lead the business as ScanSource’s CRM and business process consulting practice.

“The CRM conversation provides a natural entrance point for partners to extend their current offerings beyond UCaaS and CCaaS to include CRM, marketing automation, business consulting services and more”, said Lautz.



Silver Peak jacks up SD-WAN support

Silver Peak has increased its SD-WAN partner support with a new programme to foster greater knowledge about its tech.

Dubbed the Authorised Deployment Partner (ADP) programme it will train, certify and authorise a group of service partners to manage all of the aspects of the firms Unity EdgeConnect SD-WAN offering.

Geode Networks is one of those which is part of the UK channel and Andy de Clerck, director at Geode Networks said: “Silver Peak fully recognises that SD-WAN is a rapidly growing industry, and having their endorsement behind our SD-WAN consultancy, design, deployment and lifecycle management services enables our customers to deploy Silver Peak confidently, quickly and easily. Our partnership with Silver Peak gives our customers the reassurance and power to build a better SD-WAN”.

Kristian Thyregod, vice president for the EMEA region at Silver Peak said the outfit was providing partners with an unprecedented opportunity to add additional high-margin services to their portfolio, while helping enterprise customers to “confidently’ deploy the Silver Peak EdgeConnect SD-WAN solution.

“As a company deeply committed to the channel, our new ADP programme will dramatically reduce channel complexity and provide enterprise customers with options when implementing and deploying an SD-WAN solution that align to their unique business and cloud requirements. We are delighted to have already welcomed a number of valued partners to our ADP programme”, he added.

Slack raises shedloads of cash

Slack has raised $427 million in Series H funding and is now valued at $7.1 billion.

The latest cash comes from Dragoneer Investment Group and General Atlantic, and is in addition to the $841 million the company has raised since its launch in 2013.

The workplace communications app currently claims to have eight million daily active users across 500,000 organisations, as well as three million paid users.

Slack has been under attack over the last couple of years, with Microsoft and Facebook both launching competing products.

In a blog posted on its website, Slack said: “We pursued this additional investment to give us even more resources and flexibility to better serve our customers, evolve our business, and take advantage of the massive opportunity in front of us.”

The US-based company is becoming increasingly global, with more than half of its users now coming from outside of the US.

Italy is Slack’s fastest growing market outside of America, while Japan has recently surpassed the UK as the firm’s second largest market, based on the number of daily active users.


Consumers shop online less when it is sunny

Consumers are less likely to shop online if the weather is good, according to Ulrich Thonemann, Director of the University of Cologne’s Executive School.

Thonemann, with Sebastien Steinker and Kai Hoberg from Kühne Logistics University, worked with a Europe’s largest fashion retailer, Zalando, to analyse how weather affects online demand over a period of two and a half years.

They found that sales were generally lower on days with better weather and that this was particularly pronounced at the weekend.

Ulrich says: “Our research suggests that incorporating weather data – even just a seven-day overview – into online sales forecasts can give companies a competitive edge.”

“Knowing that your consumers are more likely to be shopping online on Tuesday evening, when it is forecast to rain, means targeted marketing strategies and dynamic pricing in line with high demand are more likely to be effective. And for the fast-paced fashion retail industry, accurate sales forecasts are extremely important in helping companies to better align their promotional activities with their inventory positions and actual sales.”

The research also demonstrated that when weather data was used in sales forecasting models, forecasting errors fell by up to 50 percent, saving several hundred thousand euro.

Ulrich says: “High forecasting accuracy is important in e-commerce operations since it enables high responsiveness and short delivery times at lower costs. Some retailers, such as Tesco, have already started to analyse weather in order to improve their operations planning and inventory management. For example, Tesco’s calculation that with every 18-degree Fahrenheit rise in temperature, barbeque sales increase by 300% allows the retailer to be prepared for high demand, informing both marketing and pricing strategy.”

“What is clear is that businesses taking note of their customers’ buying habits often enjoy a competitive advantage – and knowing what their behaviour in different types of weather will be only adds to this understanding.”

Peach buys Taylor Made Computer Solutions

banner_220x220Peach has written a cheque for MSP Taylor Made Computer Solutions (TMCS) although it is keeping a lid on how many zeros were on the cheque.

The deal means Peach can generate revenue of £20 million and boost its headcount to 200.

Ian Brown, who was appointed chairman of Peach in January 2017, said: “The combination of Peach and TMCS marks a transformational step in the evolution of the Peach Group, to fulfil our aspiration of becoming one of the leading IT and communications providers for small and medium-sized enterprises throughout the UK. We expect to continue to develop the business through strong organic growth and make further complementary acquisitions in the future.”

Peach was founded in 2006 and is an IT and telecoms provider. It plans to use TMCS’s IT services, security, backup and disaster recovery solutions to expand its own portfolio.

Darren Scott-Healey, Peach CEO, said: “Both companies are hugely complementary and enhance our ability to provide a one-stop shop solution for IT, telephony and communications services. We look forward to using our combined scale to do even more to help our customers grow, succeed and increase profitability.”

Engine gets Cacy

Engine today announced the appointment of Kasha Cacy as the company’s global chief executive officer.

Effective 4 September, Cacy will oversee Engine’s 17 offices across North America, the UK, Europe and Asia-Pacific, leading the company’s marketing offering, from insights and content to distribution and technology.

Cacy joins Engine from UM, the full-service marketing and media agency network of IPG Mediabrands, where she served as US CEO. She will be based out of Engine’s headquarters in New York, and will report to Engine Executive Chairman Paul Caine.

Caine said: “I’m delighted to welcome Kasha to the Engine family. Her talent, drive and vision will be tremendous assets as we enter an exciting time for the company and our clients. Kasha has deep expertise across media, data, marketing and consulting. She will be key in leading Engine as we build upon our differentiated offering of data, insights, content, distribution and technology, with the goal of helping our brand, publisher and agency partners succeed in driving business growth.”

Cacy said: “I am excited to join Engine because I think it has unlimited opportunity to serve clients’ marketing solutions needs. Individually, each of the practice areas is so impressive. And together, it creates the kind of solutions clients are going to be really excited about. I can’t wait to join the talented leaders and teams around the globe in leading a nimble, open ecosystem that will provide clients with a better way of working and greater value than ever before.”

In her ten years at UM, Cacy was most recently responsible for all US operations, including more than 1,200 people in five offices, while also overseeing US-based clients, including J&J, Chrysler, Coke, Hershey, Sony Pictures, USPS, CVS, and Charles Schwab. Prior to UM, she held positions at McCann Erickson, Ogilvy, Cheil Communications, Wunderman, and Accenture.