I'm at the Megabuyte 50 Showcase today learning from the best performing TMT businesses in the UK.
Five strong sector themes are emerging from the discussions:
1. The UK tech sector is flourishing with companies monitored generating 11% organic revenue growth on average.
2. From a global perspective, the UK is a good value region to allocate global investment funds due to macroeconomic factors.
3. UK investors are increasingly willing to adopt the Silicon Valley mindset in terms of applying revenue multiples more so than profit / cash flow metrics.
4. “% of recurring revenue” has become as important a valuation metric as either EBITDA or revenue growth.
5. Within the TMT space, software companies are valued much more highly than other sub-sectors.
A number of high profile speakers are sharing their perspectives on a range of hot trends. Some of my key takeaways include:
Lawrence Jones MBE, CEO of UK Fast, highlighted that British hosting providers are not afraid of competing with US giants Amazon and Azure, and are finding it straightforward to compete based on customer service.
Oliver Tucker, CEO of Wireless Logic, flagged up the rapidly evolving (albeit over-hyped) Internet of Things ecosystem growing at 15-20% per annum, predicting that we will each have 15+ connected devices per person in a few years' time, while also recognising the critical importance of the ongoing challenge of broadening the suite of M2M connectivity services offered.
Stuart Dorman, Chief Innovation Officer of Sabio, highlighted the criticality of data analytics to customer-centricity. His customer engagement analytics team focuses on leveraging vast data assets and helping customers capitalise on associated opportunities. Customer experience is increasingly the number one KPI in UK boardrooms and all UK companies should be aware of digital transformation as a route to heighten customer experience. He also eloquently highlighted the potential for robotics and AI in the contact centre environment, as long as the customer experience is maintained by adequate robotic/human collaboration. Rapid current development of machine learning and speech recognition technology is enabling this right now.
Brian Meredith, Founder/MD of IBM Gold partner Blue Chip Customer Engineering, focused on the critical importance of recurring revenue and customer service in the IT support and maintenance space as a solid bedrock for offering new cloud hosting and managed services to satisfy customer needs, while Douglas Greenwell, Strategy Director, highlighted the often-overlooked NPD undertaken on IBM platforms and the importance of software-defined storage to optimise and tailor solutions to customers.
Phil Brown, Chairman & CEO of Causeway Technologies, articulated how changing a software business’s revenue model, accessing the debt markets and focusing on existing domain expertise in the construction sector can position a business perfectly to capitalise on its future growth potential.
Julian Stone, Founder CEO of Pythagoras Communications, brought a fresh perspective on the benefits of technology for public sector organisations in using process automation to drive huge efficiencies and cost savings, whilst enhancing the service provision to the public. From assessment/analysis of existing processes to an implemented automated software platform delivering ROI takes around 12 weeks, staggeringly fast relative to the pace of adoption a few years ago.
Terry Walby, CEO of Thoughtonomy, introduced an ambitious mission statement around enhancing efficiency of the human resource in all office-based workforces globally! For certain work types, robotic process automation will replace unproductive human workforces. It was proposed that this could be achieved through application of Thoughtonomy’s virtual workforce software platform, which embraces robotics and artificial intelligence technology. With customers in 27 countries and revenue growth of 300% per annum, Thoughtonomy is certainly having an impact.
These key UK tech innovators are reinforcing the UK’s reputation for being at the forefront of technology, and driving changes in the way we live and work.