Author: Nick Farrell

Infosys denies stake sale

whole-foods-steakOutsourcing outfit Infosys has reacted angrily to reports that its co-founders of Infosys are exploring a sale of their entire 12.75 per cent stake in the company.
Reports first popped up in India where it was widely reported as being the “end of an era”.

The move is said to have been triggered by N R Narayana Murthy and Nandan Nilekani’s unhappiness over the manner in which the company has been run since their exit three years ago.

Instead of a war of attrition with the company’s board and management, the promoters appear to have veered around to the view that it might be better to make a complete break from the company they founded in 1981 and took public in 1993.

However, Infosys insists that the story is pants. This speculation has already been categorically denied by by Murthy and Nilekani.

“The company further reiterates that it has no information on any such development. We would like to appeal to the media not to fuel such speculative stories as they are likely to harm the interests of the company and all its stakeholders,” the outfit said.

It might have been motivated by the fact that since the news leaked out, the share price of Infosys has tanked.

Xeretec’s Landscape move creates managed print power

history-of-print-16th-century-printing-companyXeretec’s move to buy Landscape Group has united Xerox and HP managed print services into a single force.

The latest consolidation comes just three months after Apogee snapped up Danwood with the ambition of gaining a strong position in the world of managed print services.

Xeretec is a Xerox specialist which wants to become an MPS powerhouse but it also wants to broaden its customer base beyond Xerox users.

Xeretec chief executive Steve Hawkins said that Xeretec will continue to consolidate and develop its longstanding commitment to the Xerox brand, building on its exceptional track record of success.

“This best-of-breed acquisition plays to the strengths of both respected brands and both resellers, while introducing new complementary HP devices and value-added services like Device as a Service to even more customers,” he said.

Landscape is an HP platinum partner for managed print, has been around for more than two decades.

Landscape’s CEO David Smith  said that becoming part of Xeretec would provide the business with more opportunities,

“It also brings new opportunities for our staff and partners. By combining Landscape’s 20 years plus of dedicated HP expertise, the scale and nationwide reach of Xeretec and HP’s impressive new entrance into the A3 MFP market place, customers now have an obvious route to investigate what a $50BN “new comer” can offer to enhance their IT infrastructure,” he said.

Apple spruces up its channel plans Fruity Cargo cult Apple is sharing plans to spruce up its channel to provide more opportunities for business partners.

Apple’s Worldwide developer conference (WWDC) heard how the vendor was knocking out some virtual and augmented reality and a HomePod speaker plus some updated desktops and the iPad Pro.

While these are a bit of a snooze in the consumer market which Apple is supposed to rule with an iron fist, the introduction of products that would slot into a corporate environment should be welcomed by the channel.

The Pro lines is an area Apple dropped the ball in recently and this is a segment which is the key to staying relevant in the enterprise space and because some communities (tame journalists, graphists, designers, developers …) were key influencers for the broader consumer community.

Apple started to realise last year that it could not buy off these communities by sticking a few coloured lights on the hardware while not improving the chips and other hardware. Until the beginning of the year, Apple’s Pro range was nearly four years out of date, which made it a hard sale for its channel.

Blockchain market set to grow

redstoneblock1The Blockchain market size is expected to grow from $210.2 million in 2016 to $2,312.5 million by 2021, according to new research.

Beancounters at Research and Markets have penned the “Blockchain Market – Global Forecast to 2021” report and this shows that at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 61.5 percent, the market is going to provide lots of new opportunities.

The major growth drivers of the Blockchain market are transparency & immutability, faster transactions, and reduced total cost of ownership, the report said.

The Blockchain market is segmented by provider, application, organization size, industry vertical, and region. The infrastructure and protocols provider segment is expected to dominate the Blockchain market during the forecast period, whereas the application and solution provider is projected to see the highest growth rate due to the increased demand for fast processing applications for payments and transactions.

Payments application holds the largest share of the Blockchain market in 2016. The need for banking and financial transactions has evolved from traditional payments systems to be integrated into new and always connected lifestyle which is fueling the growth of Blockchain-based payment products.

The digital identity market is expected to grow at the highest rate as the Blockchain would make digital identities more secure and efficient, resulting in seamless sign-ons and will reduce identity frauds.

The Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance (BFSI) sector is expected to dominate the market with the largest market share during the forecast period, whereas the media and entertainment vertical is expected to grow at the highest CAGR during the forecast period due to the increasing adoption of Blockchain across smart contracts, document management, and digital identities in the media industry.
SMEs and large enterprises are rapidly deploying the Blockchain solutions. The demand for Blockchain solutions is increasing due to the cost-effective and time-efficient features; its growth is specifically high in SMEs, where low cost solutions are needed, the report said.


Heidelberg has new cunning plan

cunning-planPrint outfit Heidelberger Druckmaschinen, better known as Heidelberg has been talking about its coming print sector plans.

The company’s Management Board is presenting ‘Heidelberg goes digital!’ – a package of measures for the years ahead with a strategic focus on technology leadership, digital transformation and lots of other buzzwords.

To be fair the company has been doing well with a successful turnaround with a return to sustained profitability, Heidelberg now says it wants continuous growth – but then again who doesn’t?

Group sales of around €3 billion are being targeted with a large number of specific measures in the period to 2022. The company has set its sights on a further significant improvement in profitability, with EBITDA of €250 to 300 million and a net profit after taxes of over €100 million.

Sales in financial year 2016/17 were just over €2.5 billion, EBITDA at €179 million and the net result after taxes at €36 million.

Company’s CEO Rainer Hundsdörfer said that during the next five years, Heidelberg will once again become a leading light in the sector, enjoying strong growth and profits.

“We’ve defined the relevant success factors and have already introduced initial measures. This marks the start of a new era of growth for Heidelberg,” he said.

The glorious five-year plan involves playing a pioneering role in digitization (Simply Smart/Smart Print Shop) with its Push to Stop concept and also in industrial digital printing for the packaging market with the Labelfire and Primefire product lines. The company thinks it can double the market share in digital printing from the current level of less than five percent to as high as ten percent and generate additional sales potential amounting to around €200 million in the period to 2022.

Money is to be made in digital transformation, including the digitisation and integration of the previously separate areas of equipment, software, services, and consumables with straightforward, transparent pricing of all offerings for customers.

“The entire work process at the customer’s print shop will be addressed from a single source using a single e-commerce sales platform. This will reduce complexity and costs for customers while also boosting their productivity,” Hundsdörfer said.

The aim here for Heidelberg over the next five years is to increase the company’s market share for consumables from the current level of five percent to just under 10 percent while also leveraging additional sales potential of €250 million.

Part of this strategy is the takeover of Fujifilm’s coatings and pressroom chemicals business in the EMEA region, which represents a sales volume of some €25 million. It will take effect as of July 1, 2017.

Heidelberg is using this takeover to expand in the attractive growth segment for consumables. The transaction is another step in pursuing the company’s growth strategy of developing a fully comprehensive cross-sector portfolio that is geared toward specific customer requirements and also further strengthens Heidelberg’s market position for coatings and pressroom chemicals.

Fujitsu and Lenovo close to PC deal

Bear+handshake+in+the+rain+bear+handshake+in+the+rain_32a091_4226811Fujitsu and Lenovo are working behind the scenes for a tie-in in the PC market.

In October Fujitsu revealed it was in discussion with Lenovo over “various possibilities” for its PC business, declaring that many “strategic cooperation” options were being explored.

Now Fujitsu president Tatsuya Tanaka has confirmed at a press conference that talks are in an “advanced stage”.

However, he did not say when he expected something tangible to be announced.

All he said were the pair were creating synergies, which is not the sort of thing you want your rivals or your wives to see.

He expected all this synergy making to be “wrapped” soon which will be no doubt a great relief.

Fujitsu separated its PC business earlier last year, spinning it out into Fujitsu Client Computing.

Lenovo wants to take on HP for top spot in the PC market, all the while shipment volumes have been shrinking.

Huawei recently announced its entrance to the market, looking to replicate the success it has seen in the tablet market where its shipment figures have continued to grow.

Former British spook says that no-one really gets security

3-RimingtonFormer MI5 director general Dame Stella Rimington, said that Britain’s security services are struggling to keep up with the ever-changing world of communications and cyber espionage.

Speaking at the 2017 InfoSecurity event in London, Rimington reflected on experiences from her time at MI5 tackling the likes of the IRA, declaring the current challenges facing the security services more difficult as a result of technology advances.

The government has been highly critical of large tech communication firms building end-to-end encryption into their products, a security feature which Remington singled out as making it harder for security services to obtain intelligence.

“The interception of communications and providing our [security] services with the legal base they need to continue to intercept communications as they change rapidly – and [as] encryption increases and increases – is one of the issues which is facing our current intelligent services, government ministers and those that give power to our intelligence services,” she said.

In the wake of the recent terrorist attacks, tech companies are worried that the government will force them to limit the amount of encryption tech firms employed on their products.

Rimington said: “I think we’re facing a very difficult world. We’re facing a world of cyber espionage which nobody really knows effectively how to deal with [and] we’re facing a world of very, very complex communications which make it very difficult for our intelligence services to keep pace. We’re facing hideous ideologies with a determination now merely just to kill people.”

US Synnex forces its way into European channel

european-commissionCalifornia-based Synnex has elbowed its way into the European channel with a deal for Westcon-Comstor.

Under the deal, Synnex is taking a 10 percent stake in Westcon’s international operations only, at least initially. Synnex has reserved the right to double its stake in Westcon International to 20 percent.

It also has first refusal on making an offer to acquire it in its entirety should Datatec ever look to sell the remainder of the business.

Synnex is writing a cheque for $30 million for its 10 percent stake in the international business. This is peanuts compared to the $800 million it is paying to buy Westcon’s much smaller North and Latin American arm outright.

What it all means is that Synnex has its feet under the table for any deal involving the EMEA and APAC business in the future.

In its fiscal 2016, Synnex hit revenues of $14.06 billion, with $12.49 billion of that coming from distribution activities, and $1.59 billion coming from its BPO business. The Westcon deal will bring in another $2 billion of revenues.

Synnex is better known as Microsoft distributors in the States, and the move could herald a real threat to Ingram and Tech Data.

Car market about to be transformed, says Frost & Sullivan

funny-elephant-push-on-the-car-pictureE-mobility, autonomous vehicle technology, and other digitisation advancements are creating new and exciting opportunities in the automotive industry, according to the beancounters at Frost & Sullivan.

In a report with the catchy title 2017 Global Automotive Industry Outlook, Frost & Sullivan claimed that by the end of 2017, global light vehicle sales are expected to cross 93 million units.

Slight growth in North America and significant growth in Eastern European markets like Russia and Ukraine will offset the slowdown in the China and Japan markets.

Big data and digitisation will increase revenue and customer penetration while marketplaces and tyre eRetailers will challenge original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and traditional retailers.

Increasing competition will also step up investment from volume OEMs in mobility services to move towards a car-as-a-service model.

Frost & Sullivan Mobility Industry Principal Shwetha Surender said that digitisation will underpin automotive industry strategies, with OEMs establishing digital divisions and investing in developing Internet of Things (IoT) platforms that support connective living “solutions”.

“The growing digital ecosystem between automotive OEMs, software integrators, telecoms, and other companies will also bring new areas of competition, with revenue expected to grow to $1.3 trillion in 2030 from electrification, smart mobility, connected cars, and autonomous vehicle development, among others.”

He claimed that growth opportunities in the global automotive market will include mergers and acquisitions, especially in the startup space, to accelerate introduction of new technologies in to the market

He predicted that OEM business models will be introduced to fresh revenue streams such as mobility and fintech

• Partnerships between automotive companies to bring about much needed synergies that accelerate development and reduce costs

• Growth of shared mobility options to tackle urban congestion and environmental pollution; the future may see OEMs partnering with cities on transportation solutions

• Strong advances in autonomous, electric and connected cars in North America, especially the USA

• Recovering sales in Russia, Ukraine, Spain and Poland

• Focus on China’s aftermarket as new car profit margins reduce in the mature market

• Developments in voice recognition; focus areas include voice biometrics, real-time translation, artificial intelligence-enabled virtual assistants, deep speech and vision analytics

• Health, wellness, and well-being (HWW) platforms that integrate consumer health devices with the vehicle

The used car market is exected to be 2.5 times the size of the new car market in North America and 2.7 times the size in Europe by 2022.
Booming vehicle sales in all ASEAN countries with demand for crossovers and entry-level vehicles.

“As digitalisation increases in the industry, data security is vital,” notes Surender. “Companies will have to ensure strict compliance and fortified measures to prevent hacking. Cybersecurity adds to the overall security of the car, improves the brand image of an OEM, and allows more innovation, especially on the vehicle automation side.”

Wireless patent monitoring systems outfit heads to Europe

Medieval-Doctors-Dissection-of-a-CadaverOxford-based wireless patent monitoring systems outfit has set up shop in the Brandenburg-Berlin Cluster.

Isansys Lifecare has established Isansys Lifecare Europe which will offer Isansys’ real-time and predictive patient data solutions to the German-speaking healthcare markets, now preparing for digital reform.

The aim of the facility is to help reshape the future of healthcare across Europe for patients and healthcare professionals.

Keith Errey, CEO of Isansys, said: “We started our global commercial rollout programme with the establishment of Isansys (India) in Bangalore and have delivered PSE systems to Norway, Denmark, Singapore, and the US. We are looking forward to Isansys Europe providing a model for the continued successful roll-out of our services globally.”

Isansys has created the Patient Status Engine (PSE), an automated, wireless, remote patient monitoring platform.

Using smart wearable sensors to collect and analyse vital signs, healthcare professionals can, for the first time, access real-time, continuous and predictive data in hospital, at home, or in a community setting. They can then use this information to act more quickly on critical patient data. This approach improves patient outcomes, reduces costs, shortens hospital stays and facilitates proactive care.

The PSE frees the patient from the tyranny of cables and wires, removes the need for paper charts and manages observations based on clinical need. This new generation technology helps reduce time spent on routine tasks and frees up nursing time to care. Patient deterioration is detected earlier and escalated to the relevant doctor or specialist team, ensuring faster treatment which can save lives.

HPE can do nine new things

HPE-office-logoHewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has told its partners that it can now provide nine new services.

Speaking to the assorted throngs during Discover 2017 in Las Vegas, HPE said that the programme’s new additions centre on hybrid IT, data and analytics and HPE’s intelligent edge offerings.

New competencies joining the group established in September include cloud automation, software-defined infrastructure, high-performance computing and edge and mobile networking.

HPE chief channel office Denzil Samuels said: “We are going to work on our partner programme to align compensation benefits to the partners that are delivering critical business outcomes for our customers.

“This approach we’re taking is going to recognise partners who are building capabilities and practices in solution areas that are rapidly growing and critical to our joint customers’ needs and future success. We call these capabilities competencies, and our overall partner compensation will now take those investments into account.”

HPE’s Partner Ready programme has been spruced up with services for the data and analytics infrastructure, object storage, business continuity and data protection, workplace experience and Industrial Internet of Things.

The exec noted that since launching competencies for its Partner Ready partner programme in September, HPE has seen progress from “50 or so” partners. Samuels added that HPE will provide incentives to help accelerate adoption.

HPE added a Silver datacentre specialisation to cut partner training time from nine days to five days and drives sales across HPE’s product portfolio, namely Arista, SimpliVity and Nimble Storage.

He also announced the HPE Partner Ready Digital Marketing Programme, which includes channel marketing content, campaigns, education, tools and other resources.

Voice assistant robot sales take off

robby the robotSales of voice assistant robots have taken off and made up nearly half of all service robot sales worldwide last year.

Beancounters at TrendForce said that sales of Amazon’s Echo speaker alone hit 5.2 million units in 2016.

TrendForce also predicted that advances in AI will soon mean that such technology can respond to users’ emotions, habits and expectations.

According to TrendForce, voice-based assistant robots accounted for 47 percent of total service robot sales in 2016, ahead of robot vacuum cleaners on 40 percent; education, entertainment and toy robots on 9.3 percent; and other domestic service robots on 3.1 percent. Professional service robots had a market share of just 0.4 percent last year.

TrendForce’s photonic and innovative technologies research senior manager Harrison Po said that voiced-based robot assistants have been on the market for many years, but sales have not really taken off.

The reason for the boost was the ability to do new functions such as remote operation of connected appliances and internet searches.

“Due to the successes of several assistant robots, many large IT companies and technology startups have decided to enter the market with their own products.”

Amazon is benefiting not only from strong sales of Echo speakers, but also uptake of Alexa by other brands selling similar hardware, including LG and Lenovo, TrendForce said.

“Voice-based assistant robots not only have to continually improve their voice recognition capability, they also have to integrate with more powerful machine-learning technologies,” Po said.

Ingram Micro moving more processes to Bulgaria

bulgaria-Veliko_Tarnovo_Gourko_street_002Ingram Micro is moving more of its operations to its service centre in Sofia.

EMEA executive vice president Mark Snider said that the move was part of its pan-EMEA back office reshuffle.

Snider said that the firm has been streamlining processes in its warehouses and it was now putting more of a focus on speeding up office functions, which will in turn put more demand on its services centre in Sofia, Bulgaria.

The EMEA supremo said that Ingram has hired a “lean” European director and in-country staff responsible for improving office efficiency.

In a lot of distribution you have complex processes coming from vendors and from the customers and we tend to try to fit them as opposed to forcing all of them to fit, he said.

The Sofia centre, which provides back-office functions and standardised support across EMEA, has been increased to more than 1,000 employees.

Headcount in Sofia is likely continue to increase as the firm looks to streamline office functions across its EMEA territories.

Consolidating in-country support functions across Europe has meant Ingram has had to lay off regional staff. In 2014, the firm announced a restructure process which saw its Sofia centre expand at the potential expense of jobs. Snider said that the firm is instead concentrating on ramping up headcount in areas such as cloud and commerce and fulfilment.

The human touch is important for customers

creationWhile mobile and internet technology have helped online sales, Source Marketing Direct believes the human elements of interaction are still vital to the customer buying process.

In a report, Source Marketing Direct thinks that regardless of the channel, today’s customers want value for money, and will only part with their earnings to businesses that are transparent, honest and show they care.

This is the way the firm believes others can create long-lasting relationships with consumers.

Many e-commerce sites remain susceptible to various navigation issues and weak calls to action in the same way an average sales person might fail to capture genuine interest from a potential customer.

Websites need to get better with is their customer service. The firm said that most websites lack the ability to streamline customer service options offering ways to get questions asked and answered quickly.

The outsourced sales and marketing firm said that more online sales are inevitable in future, and believe that this will then place an even greater importance on the lasting impression of a brand’s face-to-face interaction with consumers.

Instead of thinking online or offline, businesses should combine the two to compliment customer pipelines and promote working together, the report said.


Xerox launches more channel friendly products

1913_Victoria_Copying_MachineXerox has launched more products targeted at its channel and SME customer base and is recruiting new partners.

Recently Xerox has been stepping up its channel programmes as a way of reaching SME customers.

In April the firm launched its ConnectKey portfolio, which makes its printing devices smart and connected and gives resellers options to deliver a more personalised experience for users.

The firm has named three new partners: document management outfit Arena Group, managed print and document solutions provider IT Document Solutions and office hardware and systems supplier Viking Office Systems.

Andrew Morrison, managing director, Xerox UK and Ireland, said the latest partners complemented the existing UK network and it would continue to flag up the proposition the firm had to offer the channel.

“We are working hard to help our partners build their businesses through offering customers some of the most innovative solutions on the market – and have significantly expanded the number of product choices and price points we’re offering as a result,” he added.

The vendor has a network of 50 partners in the UK and two months ago also launched its PageConnect Services, which would appeal to those looking to add more options to a managed print service.