General Electric to spin off digital business

GE Digital will become a standalone industrial Internet of things company.

Paul Booth.
Paul Booth.

Another two acquisitions by Accenture, and GE Digital business announcements were the highlights of the international ICT market last week.

At home, concern regarding Ayo's financials was the main story.

Key local news

* Satisfactory interim numbers from Jasco, with revenue up 3.8% and back in the black.
* A positive trading update from Altron.
* A negative trading update from EOH.
* Carousell, an online marketplace, has raised around $56 million from Naspers through its classifieds arm, OLX Group. As part of the deal, the Singapore firm will acquire the Philippines operations of OLX.
* FutureLearn and IT School Innovation, which both fall within the PSG Group, have merged in order to maximise opportunities in the education space.
* The JSE is investigating various financial aspects regarding Ayo Technology Solutions.
* Visa, together with Foundation Capital, has led a $170 million Series C funding in African-based financial app, Branch.
* A withdrawn JSE cautionary by Huge Group.

Key African news

* Google has opened an AI centre in Accra, Ghana and appointed Moustapha Cisse to head up the operation.
* Tanzanian authorities have released five Vodacom employees, including the MD, after the operator paid a $2.3 million settlement.

Key international news

* Accenture acquired Cirruseo, a leading pure-play Google Cloud services provider in France, as well as Spanish brand communications agency Shackleton.
* Amazon bought Canvas Technology, a robotics start-up that has built autonomous carts that can move goods around warehouses.
* Baring Private Equity (Asia) has agreed to buy out the founder promoters of IT services firm NIIT Technologies.
* Corsica Technologies purchased EDTS and EDTS Cyber, widely recognised among the top MSPs and MSSPs (managed security service providers) in the US.
* Exabytes Capital Group, a Malaysian Web hosting and cloud service provider, acquired Indonesia-based Master Web Network, including its fully-owned subsidiaries, PT Cyberdata Technology and PT Registrasi Nama Domain.
* Maxon, developer of professional 3D modelling, animation and rendering solutions, bought Redshift Rendering Technologies, developer of the Redshift rendering engine.
* Netcore Solutions, a marketing technology company, purchased artificial intelligence chatbot start-up Quinto.ai.
* Nuspire, a managed security services provider, acquired GBprotect as well as that company's Security Operations Centre, in order to expand its compliance and consulting abilities.
* Qorvo, a leading provider of innovative RF solutions that connect the world, bought Active-Semi International, a private fabless supplier of programmable analogue power solutions.
* Tiny, a Canadian technology holding company, purchased a majority stake in Pixel Union, a leading partner in the Shopify ecosystem.

Google has opened an AI centre in Accra, Ghana.

* Ninestar, previously known as Apex Technologies, made a 10% investment in Lenovo's printer business unit.
* Tech Mahindra made an 18.1% investment in both Infotek Software and Systems and Vitaran Electronics.
* Telenor made a EUR1.5 billion (54%) investment in Finnish telecoms firm DNA.
* General Electric will spin off its GE Digital business into a standalone industrial Internet of things company, ending months of speculation about the division's fate. GE has also reached an agreement to sell a majority stake of ServiceMax, its field service management software that was part of GE Digital, to private equity firm Silver Lake, a move that will allow the new company to focus on industrial IOT.
* GE has also sold most of its stake in Pivotal Software, reducing its stake from 20.8% to 7%.
* A Chinese-Taiwanese group will take control of Apple supplier Japan Display after pumping in funds as part of a $2.1 billion bailout plan for the troubled display panel maker.
* Very good year-end numbers from GlobalWafers.
* Good quarterly numbers from Largan Precision and TCS.
* Satisfactory quarterly results from Infosys.
* Mixed quarterly figures from Software AG, with revenue up but net income down; and from Shaw Communications (but back in the black), with revenue down but net income up.
* Quarterly losses from SeaChange International.
* A full-year loss from BSNL (India), Corero Network Security, Deepmatter Group and IQGeo Group.
* The appointments of Murray Rode as vice-chairman of Tibco Software (was CEO); Ke Ruiwen as chairman of China Telecom Group; and Dan Streetman as CEO of Tibco Software.
* An IPO filing on the NYSE from Uber.
* An excellent IPO on the NYSE by Jumia Technologies, an e-commerce company whose mission is to improve the quality of everyday life in Africa by leveraging technology to deliver innovative, convenient and affordable online services to consumers.
* An excellent IPO on the NYSE by PagerDuty, a company that harnesses digital signals from virtually any software-enabled system or device, and combines it with human responses.
* A very good IPO on the NYSE by Tufin Software Technologies, a company that helps transform enterprises' security operations by helping them visualise, define and enforce a unified security policy across complex, heterogeneous IT and cloud environments.

Research results and predictions

EMEA/Africa:
* Fixed broadband subscriptions in Sub-Saharan Africa are estimated to be 6.6 million and expected to grow up to threefold by 2023, according to Ovum.

Worldwide:
* Worldwide shipments of devices, PCs, tablets and mobile phones are on pace to reach 2.21 billion units in 2019, exhibiting flat growth year-over-year, according to Gartner.
* Worldwide semiconductor revenue totalled $474.6 billion in 2018, a 12.5% increase from 2017, according to Gartner. 2018 growth was weaker than the previous year due to memory growth slowing to 24.9% versus 2017 growth of 61.8%.
* Worldwide PC shipments totalled 58.5 million units in 1Q19, a 4.6% decline from the first quarter of 2018, according to Gartner.
* The global market for gaming desktops, notebooks and monitors is expected to grow 8.2% year-over-year in 2019 to 42.1 million devices shipped, according to IDC. Increased consumer interest, the rising popularity of competitive esports, and new hardware from GPU vendors will help drive growth throughout the forecast period. By the end of 2023, the market is expected to balloon to 61.1 million units, with a five-year CAGR of 9.8%.
* The worldwide market for traditional PCs, inclusive of desktops, notebooks and workstations, declined 3% year-over-year in 1Q19, according to IDC. Global shipments were above expectations, reaching 58.5 million during the quarter.
* Worldwide sales of semiconductor manufacturing equipment surged 14% from $56.62 billion in 2017 to an all-time high of $64.5 billion in 2018, according to SEMI.

Stock market changes

* JSE All share index: Up 1.1%
* FTSE100: Down 0.1%
* DAX: Down 0.1%
* NYSE (Dow): Down 0.1%
* S&P 500: Up 0.5%
* Nasdaq: Up 0.6%
* Nikkei225: Up 0.3%
* Hang Seng: Down 0.1%
* Shanghai: Down 1.8%

Look out for

International:
* A consortium, including investment firms Digital Colony Partners, EQT and Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners buying communications infrastructure provider Zayo Group Holdings.

South Africa:
* Further developments regarding Ayo Technology Solutions.

Final word

Hardware comes in many forms in the Internet of things, whether it's the underlying processors that power the devices, the sensors that collect information from the physical world, or the edge computers that collect and analyse the data. IDC forecasts the spending on hardware, modules and sensors will reach $450 billion in 2019.

IDC has recently published its '15 companies with the coolest IOT hardware solutions'. They are:

* Arm, a UK-based company that is substantially expanding its IOT capabilities
* Bosch, a German company that offers a range of hardware and software for IOT
* Cambium Networks, which provides the cnReach line of narrowband radios for industrial IOT deployments
* Cisco Systems
* Dell Technologies
* Eaton, a provider of power management technologies
* HPE
* Intel
* Lenovo
* National Instruments, which makes modular hardware and software for industrial IOT deployments
* Particle, which provides an IOT hardware, software and connectivity platform that makes it easier for developers to design and manage IOT products
* Qualcomm
* Rigado, which provides the Cascade Edge-as-a-Service that combines its IOT gateway with a managed solution for secure edge computing, a range of connectivity options and the ability to run applications in containers for a monthly subscription fee
* Roambee, which makes sensors and beacons for asset tracking and fleet monitoring as part of its end-to-end visibility solution
* Samsara, a sensor data platform provider

As next weekend is Easter, my next column will appear on 29 April and will fully cover the intervening two weeks.

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