UK good and battling zombies

i-walked-with-a-zombie-from-left-everettThe UK is rather good at dealing with zombie firms, according to a recent report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

For those who came in late, zombie companies are defined as struggling companies aged over 10 years which cannot cover debt interest payments with their profits for three straight years. They redirect investment away from innovative rivals, push up wages, and undermine productivity, according to the report, which added that an economy’s insolvency framework is a key factor in reducing zombie numbers and investment.

According to the report, which was flagged up by UK insolvency trade body R3, the share of zombies as a percentage of the wider business population in eight OECD countries (Belgium, Finland, France, Italy, Korea, Spain, Sweden and the UK) rose from about three to about five percent between 2003 and 2013.

The UK’s insolvency and restructuring framework is more effective than those in all other OECD members at preventing a build-up of zombie companies, the report found.

The UK “personal costs associated with entrepreneurial failure and barriers to restructuring are low, while there is also a number of provisions to aid prevention and streamlining”, notes the report.

R3 deputy vice-president Duncan Swift said: “Zombie companies are a big part of the productivity puzzle plaguing Western economies, so it’s encouraging the UK’s insolvency and restructuring framework is recognised as the best positioned to tackle problems caused by these unproductive companies.

“The insolvency and restructuring framework is a fundamental pillar of any economy. It makes sure resources – whether investment, people, or ideas – are being used productively and aren’t stuck in stagnating companies. The profession’s work keeps an economy competitive, helps new businesses thrive, and helps older companies adapt.”

Canalys thinks that things are getting very indirect

directListening to Canalys CEO Steve Brazier bang on in Venice you can’t help but think that the direct model is going to die a death.

Talking to the annual conference over cheese on a stick and drinkies Brazier said that channel partners are doing well and the European economy is looking better that it has done for the last ten years.

He said that there were more opportunities for the channel now than there have ever been.

This year, over the first half, distributors grew 4 to 5 percent and channel partners improved by seven percent on average.

Brazier, at the Channels Forum event, spoke of the way vertical markets, from retail, transport, health and public sector, were all “embracing” digital technology and using the channel to roll out those services.

The move towards edge computing is also driving a lot of growth and Brazier expected a growth in ‘micro clouds’ as resellers provided services closer to user data and applications.

There was also a mention of security, with that segment enjoying the strongest growth as a result of the increasing threats and factors like GDPR driving spending across Europe.

However the wholesale move towards becoming a predominately software and services business is probably going to be as grim as the life expectancy of a wedding guest in the Game of Thrones.

“This has been the year where the vendors have been preaching digital transformation to you. They are not only trying to talk to you about selling more stuff, they are trying to battle for your thought leadership in where you will take your thoughts forwards,” Brazier said.

“I’m sure you have been told you need to change the way you engage with customers and invest more in digital marketing and retrain your sales force,” he added.

Brazier warned that listening to the vendors, which had their own agendas, could undermine the future strategy.

“Should a partner that’s reselling infrastructure, PCs and software should they change? Probably yes,” he said.

Canalys is predicting that hardware will still contribute over 50 percent of revenues for 90 percent of partners in 2020.

“Whoever told you selling hardware was dead is completely wrong. The PC is suddenly the most profitable part of your business again”, said Brazier.

Knowcross gets HostPMS

ghjug5k4pobbkfuojffkHospitality operations industry software outfit Knowcross has announced  its integration with HostPMS, a property management software (PMS) provider. It’s nothing to do with hot cross buns.

The partnership will mean that there will be a seamless integration between the Knowcross platform and HostPMS.

Nikhil Nath, Founder and CEO of Knowcross, said that Knowcross increases  staff productivity and therefore profitability. By integrating with a “leading system” such as HostPMS will only help the outfit offer its solutions to many more customers.

This integration allows for a seamless flow of guest information from the HostPMS system to Knowcross applications. The processed information is then used by hotel staff to improve their guest service and hence achieve higher standards of guest satisfaction.

Pierre Santos, CEO Host Hotel Systems said he was looking forward to having partners that aim to improve hoteliers’ life .

“Knowcross is one of them, with our HostPMS and Knowcross solutions, hoteliers will have their life simplified and now hotels can focus on improving their service and performance”, he said.

The Knowcross-HostPMS interface enables Knowcross applications and HostPMS to be fully synchronized allowing for room updates from KNOW Housekeeping to reflect directly in the HostPMS. This also helps reduce minibar losses as the hotel staff can post minibar consumption directly from the Knowcross App to the guest folio in HostPMS.

Channel consolidation causes headaches for resellers

Woodridge, IL, USA --- Great White Shark Opening Mouth --- Image by © Denis Scott/Corbis

Woodridge, IL, USA — Great White Shark Opening Mouth — Image by © Denis Scott/Corbis

Channel consolidation has stepped up and leading resellers are worried about pricing and procurement costs.

The latest CONTEXT ChannelWatch Survey, which profiles the views, activities and intentions of 7,500 global resellers, revealed that over 30 major distributor M&A deals have taken place in Western Europe in the past 18 months.

Across 20 EMEA countries there was a three percent year-on-year reduction of active resellers in the 90 day period in March to May 2017, according to CONTEXT’s Reseller Count Metrics tracking.

The report warns that if this carries on the reseller landscape will soon be unrecognisable.

The average number of distributors which resellers are buying from has also dropped from the five to 10 range in the last report period to just two to three this year, partly driven by the rise in purchases from retailers, according to CONTEXT.

Many more distributors have ceased trading altogether across the globe, while those that survive are being forced to move away from box-shifting towards holistic strategies focused on services and solutions.

Where margins used to reach double figures, half a percentage point now matters and this increases the importance of controlling costs, having well-oiled logistics, and looking for new, higher-margin opportunities, the report claims.

CONTEXT global managing director Adam Simon said that most consolidation has occurred in the long tail of smaller players and those in consumer channels, but larger resellers and retailers are merging too.

“This activity can also be viewed in the context of increasing reseller churn, especially associated with transitioning business models linked to cloud adoption.

“The main concerns of resellers are focused around rising pricing and procurement costs, which many believe will be the natural outcome of a consolidating market”, Simon added.

Redcentric gets new CEO

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAlZAAAAJDcxNTljYjRmLTE0N2EtNDhiMi04YWMwLTBlMTY0MTE4NDk3OQTroubled reseller Redcentric has hired a troubleshooter to help pull its nadgers out of the fire.

Chris Jagusz has been appointed chief executive of Redcentric and given the task of turning around the reseller’s fortunes.

For those who came in late, in 2016, the discovery of “misstated accounting balances” in Redcentric’s balance sheet prompted the firm to begin a forensic review and spanked the firm’s bottom line.

Jagusz, who has senior experience at Azzurri Communications, SSE Telecoms, Daisy and BT going back to 1988, will look to get the firm back to its previous industry form.

The job is a bit of a poisoned chalice. Redcentric’s will have to return to profit while minimising any reputational damage from ongoing Financial Conduct Authority and Financial Reporting Council investigations.

Chris Cole, Redcentric’s chairman, said: “We are delighted to be able to announce the appointment of Chris as chief executive. He has an outstanding record of accomplishment in telecoms and as a business leader.  The board is confident he is the right person to take Redcentric forward.”

Redcentric also stated that its performance for the six months to 30 September has been “in line with management expectations”. It said substantial progress has been made with reducing the net debt position to £33.3million, which is ahead of management’s expectations. This due to “strong operating cashflows reflecting improved trade debtor collections and working capital management.”


Online retailers embrace AI

mad-scientistMany online retailers plan to embrace AI to enhance customer experience according to a new report published by SLI Systems.

The report said that many have concrete AI plans for the next 12 months, even if  VR/AR, Voice-Activated Apps and Virtual Buying Assistants remain elusive.

In its third quarterly 2017 E-commerce Performance Indicators and Confidence Report, which reflects survey findings from hundreds of mid-size retailers worldwide, SLI Systems found UK-based respondents lead the pack when it comes to plans for Technology Implementation, Artificial Intelligence use and 2017 Holiday revenue forecasts.

However, 26 percent see their fulfilment Costs Per Order increasing this quarter compared to the same quarter in 2016, potentially hindering profits.

Worldwide, 54 percent of e-commerce professionals reported their company uses or plans to add AI in the future, with the largest group (20 percent) expecting to add AI within 12 months.

Among regions, e-commerce merchants in the UK report the most aggressive plans for implementing AI with 33 percent expecting to use AI within the next year, compared to the 17 percent in the U.S. and 15 percent in Australia and New Zealand .

In addition, 14 percent of UK retailers are already using AI in some fashion, making AI a reality for nearly half of UK retailers within a year.

More than 84 percent of UK retailers expect Site Conversion to increase in Q3, compared to Q3 2016.

More than 86 percent of UK-based respondents expect an increase in Mobile / Tablet Transactions in Q3 2017, compared to the global average of 71 percent.

More than 22 percent of UK-based respondents view Personalisation as their number one Q3 priority, with Replatforming a distant second (12 percent). In comparison, retailers in the US and AU-NZ regions rank Replatforming as their top initiative for the quarter.

67 percent of UK merchants surveyed plan to purchase or implement new technologies in Q3 compared to 48 percent in Q2 – a near twenty-point increase.

Dell EMC will be 60 percent indirect channel

michael-dell-2After making a name for itself with his direct channel, Michael Dell is going to be flogging more than 60 percent of its overall revenues through the channel in a few years

Dell EMC chief commercial officer Marius Haas told a keynote Q&A session at EMEA Canalys Channel Forum that Dell’s indirect business will become its main source of revenue in the next few years.

Michael Dell has previously said that the firm’s channel business was worth $35 billion, but Haas said that leading up to 2020, indirect sales are expected to exceed 60 percent of the firm’s overall revenues.

“When we first looked at the numbers, we said roughly in the $35bn range… we don’t have a target to say ‘this route to market is this percentage of our business or our goal. I think we will be close to 55 to 60 percent of our revenue flowing through [the channel].”

Haas conceded that faults in Dell’s deal registration process have caused some frustration among partners.

Dell had 160,000 deals registered last quarter around the globe and not all of them went flawlessly, so there are a couple of areas where its partners indicated that it needs to improve, he said.

Global ERP market set for boom

funny-cat-running-21-desktop-wallpaper-352x260Beancounters at Allied Market Research are predicting that it will be a boom time for the global ERP software market.

It has just released a study which shows the ERP market will reach at $41.69 billion by 2020 registering a CAGR of 7.2 percent.

The market owes it massive spurt in revenue to sectors such as healthcare, manufacturing services, BFSI, aerospace and defence, and telecom. The report gives a comprehensive analysis key market segments, top winning segments, lucrative investment pockets.

The medical centre and healthcare spend massive sums of money on critical medicines and machines to ensure a patient gets the best care. To track their supply chain management of thousands of medicines can be a nightmare. Many hospitals are still stuck on to outdated methods.

One of the outfits hoping to make a bob or two is Oracle which is building a new system to track supply chain management that will let  customers create an “intelligent customer-centric approach”, whatever that marketing doo doo means.

Oracle brought about new cloud applications such as Oracle Supply Chain Management (SCM) Cloud, Oracle Customer Care Experience Cloud (CX) Suite, Oracle Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Cloud, And Oracle Human Capital Management(HCM) Cloud. The SCM cloud offers end-to-end visibility, insights, operation planning, demand management, supply planning and collaboration, and a host of other services that are comprehensive yet upgraded to hasten complex processes.

Retail and manufacturing sectors also need to look at resolving complex manually-daunting processes. Retail and manufacturers deal with bulk orders daily, sometimes individually or in collaboration.

Microsoft will shun the Surface

78e36c498415cefec2abe253e3990285Canalys CEO Steve Brazier is predicting that Microsoft will drop its Surface business by the end of 2019.

Talking to the assembled throngs at the EMEA Canalys Channels Forum event in Venice, Brazier said Vole is undergoing a “capital expenditure challenge” under CEO Satya Nadella and the Surface project will pay the price.

Brazier said that Nadella was a software and cloud guy who has already allowed Microsoft’s mobile phone business to decline. The Surface’s performance was choppy – it has had good quarters and bad quarters but overall it is not making money.

He thinks it made no sense for Microsoft to be in this business and when the capital expenditure challenge that Satya Nadella has a lot of cost cutting to do, and Surface will be the first target.

Product sales fell for Microsoft in Q2 by 1.5 percent to £9.7 billion while Surface sales dipped two per cent having previously plummeted by 26 percent in the previous quarter.

The general feeling is that Vole is making a lot of money on the cloud and enterprise and on Windows, losing cash on devices and I see no reason why they would want to continue with the Surface.

Brazier also predicted that this quarter will prove the highest growth quarter for the western European tech industry for 10 years.

The CEO forecasted that 50 percent of cloud sales will go through two-tier distribution by the end of 2019 and also claimed that channel partners will grow by five per cent per annum over the next three years. Lastly, hardware sales will account for at least 50 per cent of revenues for at least 90 percent of partners by 2020, according to Brazier.

“Hardware is not dead. Hardware will be half of your revenues through to 2020. Do not listen to your investors telling you to get out of hardware and into services. There is no evidence to support that at all”, he said.

HPE’s Nimble InfoSight predictive analytics nearly baked

Detail-from-Baking-oven-and-kneading-trough.-From-Charles-TIllustrations-of-useful-arts-manufactures-and-trades.-London-Society-for-Promoting-Christian-Knowledge-1858.Hewlett Packard Enterprise President Antonio Neri has told the world+dog that it is ready to ship its Nimble InfoSight predictive analytics offering on its high-end 3Par storage line.

It should be ready for partners within 90 days and give bring the cloud-based predictive analytics platform to 3Par. HPE is hoping that the move, which comes just months after closing the Nimble acquisition will shake up the storage market.

It will be the first time a major storage vendor will be able to predict storage failures and “proactively resolve them” across an end-to-end portfolio that spans the market from small/medium businesses to the enterprise.

InfoSight was the “crown jewels” of HPE’s $1 billion acquisition of Nimble, Neri said. The AI power of the platform provides HPE and its partners with a big competitive advantage against any and all competitors.

He added that it was proof HPE was delivering its strategy to make hybrid IT simple.

“The first thing partners are going to see is a consistent experience across Nimble and 3Par with AI, predictive analytics, and predictive maintenance across the entire storage footprint – all attached to our HPE Pointnext”, Neri said.

Computacenter has a management reshuffle

PokerGameComputacenter has appointed a new UK managing director as the outfit reshuffles its management deck.

Neil Hall, previously director of business enablement and contractual services, has taken on the UK role with Kevin James becoming chief commercial officer.

Andy Stafford has also re-joined Computacenter as chief operating officer. Stafford previously had been the company’s IT director in the late nineties.

Stafford worked at Deloitte and Virgin, before working at Accenture for a decade and then moving to Unisys.

Hall, who takes the UK managing director role, joined Computacenter in 2001 and held a number of roles before becoming group director of business enablement and contractual services in 2015.

James is now chief commercial officer. He  joined Computacenter in 1990 before leaving in 1999 and re-joining in 2005. He took on the UK managing director role in 2015.

Enterprise Software spending on the way up

shut-up-and-take-my-moneyEnterprise software will lead an upturn in IT spending next year, according to bean counters at Gartner Group.

The outfit has added up some numbers and divided them by its shoe size and worked out that  global IT spending will rise as the dollar weakens and total spending will rise by 3.3 per cent this year to $3.5 trillion, before jumping a further 4.3 percent in 2018 to hit $3.7 trillion.

The devices segment will exhibit growth for the first time in two years, with a rise of 5.3 percent in 2017 and five per cent in 2018, Gartner said.

Enterprise software will grow 8.5 this year and 9.4 percent next year.

Total device spending will reach $697 billion in 2018, with enterprise software spending of $387 billion next year.

IT services will grow fast, Gartner predicts, with spending forecast to grow by four percent this year and 5.3 percent in 2018, to reach $980 billion.

Datacentre systems will see a more modest growth, of 1.7 percent this year and 1.8 percent in 2018, to reach $176 billion.

Communications services will only grow by 0.9 percent in 2017 and 2.2 percent next year to reach $2.2 trillion, Gartner thinks.


Innov8 buys Viking Management

Finding-Nemo-Shark-Wallpaper-HDStockport-based reseller Innov8 Technology has written a cheque for  Viking Management Systems in a bid to expand into the North-east.

York-based Viking is a Sage, Microsoft and Sophos partner, will continue to operate under its own name, but its shareholders and executives have retired.

Carl Maher, commercial director at Innov8, said that Viking had an exceptional reputation in the Sage ecosystem and there are many things the two outfits have in common.

“We are delighted to bring Viking into the Innov8 Technology Group and proud to say that both businesses have been operating as normal, delivering the same exceptional level of service to our customers.

“We are excited about the future of Innov8 as we continue plans to expand across the UK.”

Innov8 claims to be one of the top three Sage 200 business partners in the UK.

Paul Barnett, outgoing managing director at Viking, said: “We have always respected Innov8 and believe we share a similar set of values.”


Optoma grows into new HQ

904optoma.1Optoma has opened a new European headquarters in Hemel Hempstead

Attended by the UK’s secretary of state for Work and Pensions David Gauke MP, the Hemel Hempstead HQ was officially opened on September 29.

Optoma EMEA has grown market share and outgrown its Watford premises.  It moved to the new site on September 8 and employs around 140 staff and is looking to recruit more in the coming year.

Now with almost 14 percent market share, Optoma is one of the top three projector brands across the EMEA region. In the last two decades the company has introduced numerous pioneering products, including the DVD all-in-one projector in 2005 (DV10) and a Pico projector, PK101, which won Time Magazine’s product of the year in 2008. Optoma has expanded its business into audio with the acquisition of the acclaimed Californian consumer audio company, NuForce, in 2014.

EMEA managing director Thierry Millet said that the move to the new HQ will allow the company to continue to develop new ‘future-focussed’ products. “We have always prided ourselves on our ability to develop products that are future-focused. For 20 years, we’ve been listening to our customers and creating the solutions they need,  said Millet. “These purpose-built facilities reflect our confidence in the future. With our core values of reliability, innovation and customer focus, we will maintain this momentum to offer even better products and solutions into the next two decades.”


Microsoft needed to search for its soul

dsc_0002Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has written a book about how he had to “rediscover Microsoft’s soul” when he took the top job in 2014.

The book with the racy title Hit Refresh depicts Nadella as an Indian boy rising through the hierarchy at Microsoft to the chief executive spot.

At a launch event in London, Nadella said that he had to re-establish the purpose and goal of the vendor and take it beyond its PC roots.

“When I joined Microsoft in 1992 we used to talk about getting a PC in every home and in every desk as our mission. It was tangible, clear, succinct and in some sense very empowering because it was clear what the company was for and what we were trying to get done.

“Even by the late nineties, at least in the developed world, we had more or less achieved that, and after that it was a bit unclear – what is our purpose?

“So that was what I thought was important to start asking in 2014, it’s quite an existential question, why does Microsoft exist?”

Nadella said that, on this existential journey, he went right back to the first product Microsoft created – interpreters for the Altair 8800 – and formed a culture within the company that would lead to its focus not just being on technology.

“Those are the two things I’ve focused most on”, he said. “The sense of purpose and mission, and the culture. Those are the two bookends.

“Of course you have to get a lot of things in the middle right – your products, your technology, your business strategy… but what is ignored is what are the necessary conditions for you to get those things right? I believe it’s that sense of purpose and culture.”

Apparently Nadella after questing for the soul of Microsoft, vanquishing a few dragons, rescuing a few products from trolls, reshaped the company’s mission statement to focus more on people. It now reads: “At Microsoft, our mission is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more.”

Apparently these sorts of mission statement’s pass for a soul.

Nadella said that, “moving forward”, Microsoft has given itself three pillars with which to achieve this mission – AI, mixed reality and quantum computing.