Generated by AI, curated by people Humans have always selected the different blends of ingredients and casks to create near-infinite flavour combinations.
Currently, the distillery’s machine learning models, powered by Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform and Azure cognitive services, are fed with Mackmyra’s existing recipes (including those for award-winning blends), sales data, and customer preferences. With this dataset the AI can generate more than 70 million recipes that it predicts will be popular, and of the highest quality based on what kind of cask types there are in the warehouse.
This is not only faster than a person carrying out the process manually, but thanks to the algorithm’s ability to sift through and calculate a vast amount of data, new and innovative combinations that would otherwise never have been considered, can be found. It’s important to stress, however, that this AI solution is not designed to replace a Master Blender.
Beyond the glass Mackmyra’s AI-generated whisky will be available from Autumn 2019. According to the distillery, this is the first time that a complex consumer product recipe has been created with machine learning – but whisky is just the beginning.
“We are showing the way forward, and these new AI solutions can be used to generate products that retain the spirit, look and feel of the brands behind them, while at the same time being new and unique”, continues Kartela.
A future where the power and speed of AI is paired with the ingenuity and expertise of a person to break new boundaries? We’ll certainly drink to that.
ServiceNow has invested significantly in its channel resources as it seeks to become a $10 billion company.
At the ServiceNow Knowledge 19 user conference, held this week in Las Vegas, the service management software vendor introduced a new partner ecosystem framework and raft of programs and tools. The updates aim to build on existing ServiceNow partner resources, guided by a vision of making channel sales a powerful growth engine for the company.
“John Donahoe, our CEO, has stated that we are on a journey to $10 billion. Currently, we are just over $3 [billion]. And … to grow at that pace and scale, it is going to require a strong and vibrant global partner ecosystem community,” said David Parsons, senior vice president of global alliances and channel ecosystem at ServiceNow.
Parson said the updated ServiceNow partner ecosystem framework organizes channel firms into five segments — Global Elite, Elite, Premier, Specialist and Registered — based on their expertise and capabilities. The adoption of a segmented framework replaces the conventional metallic tiers of Gold, Silver and Bronze previously used by the vendor, he noted.
“We [retired] the metal designations of Gold, Silver and Bronze. Partners felt that … [those tiers] were more related to a transaction model … versus partners who were driving digital transformation with clients through services as they implemented our technology,” he said.
The new Premier partner category is for companies focusing on less than five ServiceNow products in more than one geographic region, while the Elite category is for those that specialize in five or more products and operate in multiple geographies, the vendor said.
Global Elite partners, meanwhile, meet Elite partner requirements, plus have a deep level of industry domain expertise; digital transformation-related skills such as business process reengineering and organizational change management; and global scale, according to ServiceNow. Additionally, the vendor said Global Elite partners must pledge to grow their ServiceNow practices to $1 billion within a three- to five-year period.
The partner ecosystem also encompasses a Specialist designation for firms specializing in one or more ServiceNow products, as well as a Registered designation for new partners.
Additional channel updates revealed at ServiceNow Knowledge 19 included the following:
A new business development team to support ServiceNow’s leading global and regional service providers.
A program to support partners in the U.S. federal space. The program will expand to include state, local and education markets, as well European and Asian public sector markets, ServiceNow said.
A revamped deal registration system, slated to launch July 1.
A Global Partner Concierge Service Center.
RPA platform vendor Kryon launches partner effort
Kryon Systems, a robotic process automation (RPA) vendor based in New York, has launched a channel initiative targeting ISVs, consultants and other types of partners.
The company has worked with partners in the past but decided to create a formalized program to make it easier to form relationships with companies that refer or deploy the Kryon RPA platform, noted Richard French, chief revenue officer at Kryon. In addition, the program formalizes the capabilities — such as certification programs — the company offers partners that need help getting up to speed on Kryon RPA, he added.
“We believe it is important to have a good partner program to influence the market,” French said. “With the new partner organization, we can put a more concerted effort into our individual partners and work with them … to make them successful.
The Kryon Partner Program is structured in four tiers: Gold, Silver, Bronze and Referral. The program matches benefits to partners’ annual sales and certification requirements. Benefits include sales and training development courses, discounts, deal registration, sales and marketing support, access to Kryon Academy and to a partner portal. French said the Kryon Partner Program encompasses not only large partners, but companies of all sizes, including small regional resellers.
Kryon has hired Jim O’Gara to manage the company’s partnering efforts as vice president of global channels. O’Gara’s background includes sales, business development and strategic alliance roles at Apple, HP, Informix, AltaVista, Ivanti and SugarCRM.
In another move, Kryon has released version 19.1 of its process discovery tool, which debuted in 2018.
Process discovery tools are designed to help organizations identify and prioritize the best process candidates for automation. Kryon Process Discovery, part of the Kryon RPA platform, uses AI and machine learning techniques to figure out a work group’s processes and variants, which are activities that follow a different path than the standard processes. The latest release of Kryon’s process discovery tool includes an optimized algorithm that French said makes it easier to find processes. The new tool also includes improvements to the UI and recommendation engine, he noted.
French said Kryon is in early-stage discussions with a couple of consulting companies interested in working with the process discovery offering. The consultants believe the tool could boost their margins on RPA projects, he added.
Trace3 grows revenue on acquisitions, services
Acquisitions, hot markets such as security, and managed services buoyed Trace3 Inc. in 2018, resulting in record revenue production of $1.2 billion.
Trace3 last year purchased Data Strategy, based in Miami, and Optio Data, based in Grand Rapids, Mich. Now, the Irvine, Calif., company’s task is to bring its West Coast offerings back east. Tyler Beecher, CEO at Trace3, pointed to the company’s cloud, security and AI practices as service lines that could find a home in its geographic expansion.
In addition, Trace3’s data center architecture and engineering core business could also find new markets. “What we are seeing is a very strong demand in the Midwest for that,” Beecher said.
Conversely, Trace3 will migrate the acquired companies’ offerings in a westerly direction. Those include a collaboration practice, a mobility practice and a midmarket customer orientation. Trace3 focuses primarily on enterprise clients.
“We are taking our large enterprise play toward the east and bringing their midmarket [offerings] toward the west,” Beecher said.
The acquired companies also contribute inventory and integration facilities for staging IT gear, he added.
Beecher also pointed to the growing role of security services at Trace3. Three years ago, security contributed around 10% of the company’s revenue — without having a formal security practice. The company launched such a practice to focus its efforts, a move that pushed security to more than 25% of Trace3’s revenue in 2018.
Managed services, particularly around cloud platforms, is another expanding area. “Our managed services have continued to grow while products have remained flat,” Beecher noted. “The business is trending that way.”
Microsoft has expanded its IP Co-sell Program, launched two years ago with an Azure focus, to include Microsoft 365, Microsoft Dynamics and Microsoft Power Platform. In addition, Microsoft, as of July 1, 2019, will open its worldwide reseller channel to ISVs that have published offers in AppSource or Azure Marketplace. The co-sell initiative helped drive $5 billion in partner revenue in 2018, according to Microsoft.
VMware said a new purchase agreement now lets customers buy VMware Cloud on AWS directly through AWS APN Partners in the Solution Provider Program, as well as via AWS. A number of managed service providers (MSPs) have built services around VMware Cloud on AWS.
MSP software vendor Kaseya bolstered its security offerings with the acquisition of ID Agent, a threat intelligence and identity monitoring vendor. ID Agent’s portfolio features Dark Web ID, a dark web monitoring tool, and BullPhish ID, a phishing simulator and security awareness training product. ID Agent will operate as an independent business unit from its headquarters in Bowie, Md., Kaseya said.
Also in the MSP software space, SolarWinds launched an endpoint detection and response offering. The new security tool was developed in partnership with endpoint protection vendor SentinelOne, SolarWinds said.
DMI, a mobility services provider based in Bethesda, Md., has acquired Pragiti, a SAP Silver-level partner and digital commerce specialist. Pragiti implements SAP Commerce Cloud, a focus that builds upon DMI’s presence in the Oracle, Salesforce and Adobe Magento environments, according to DMI.
Visier, a people analytics and planning company based in Vancouver, B.C., unveiled a formal partner network geared to global and regional HR consultants. Global strategic partners include Mercer, Aon, Accenture and Tata Consultancy Services. Regional strategic partners include Anchor HR, PA Consulting Group, People Analytics Success, Reframe.Work Inc., Workforce Insight, Workforce Transformation and 3n Strategy.
RelationEdge, a Rackspace company and Salesforce Platinum Consulting Partner, has expanded into the Australia and New Zealand region.
D&H Distributing, a distributor based in Harrisburg, Pa., has inked a pact with Axcient in the business availability and cloud migration space. D&H will offer Axcient’s business availability offerings to MSPs and solutions providers targeting SMBs.
Under a new agreement, IBM will resell data storage vendor Panzura’s Freedom Cloud NAS software with IBM storage products.
Mission, a managed services and consulting company based in Los Angeles, said it has passed its annual AWS MSP Partner audit.
Unified Office Inc., an MSP in the business communication market, said it has received a second patent for its Highest Quality Routing Protocol transmission network. The protocol routes voice calls over VoIP networks.
Carousel Industries, a communications technology integrator in Exeter, R.I., appointed Stephen Drew as vice president of contact center solutions. He reports to Carousel CTO Jason Viera.
Market Share is a news roundup published every Friday.
Built by myself around a year ago. My goal when building this was to have top-notch gaming performance with the best possible thermals and acoustics in a compact chassis. The case is one of the smallest Micro ATX chassis’ on the market. The custom loop keeps everything cool and quiet. This PC has never been overclocked, there was simply never a need to. This PC can handle any game you throw at it while remaining cool and quiet.
The specs are: InWin 301 Case Intel Core i7 4790k MSI Nvidia Gefore GTX 1080 OC 960GB Kingston SSD 650W Corsair Power Supply MSI Z97M-G43 Motherboard Thermaltake CPU Block Alphacool GPU Block Custom painted in white 2x 240mm radiators DDC Pump with an actual glass reservoir Countless fittings Aigo RGB remote controlled fans NZXT Grip+ v2 fan controller(the fans can be controlled via Windows software and are preset for optimal noise/performance) Genuine Windows 10 Home installed
This item is collection only due to the liquid cooling, however if you’re an experienced PC builder/modder i might agree to ship this drained for you to fill.
If you have any questions at all please get in touch.
This sale is for the PC ONLY! No accessories are included.
Price and currency: 1000 Delivery: Goods must be exchanged in person Payment method: BT or cash Location: Warrington Advertised elsewhere?: Advertised elsewhere Prefer goods collected?: I prefer the goods to be collected
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DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.
For the past nine years, Microsoft has brought together people from different parts of the company at the Ability Summit. This year’s gathering is taking place May 29 to 30 at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Wash.
The summit, designed to empower all people – including the more than one billion people with disabilities–has been a place for accessibility innovation. In 2015 it helped give way to the Xbox Adaptive Controller.
Artificial intelligence is bringing descriptive detail to people in the form of an app, Microsoft’s Seeing AI.
Seeing AI is designed for people who are blind or with low vision. It augments the world around the user with audio descriptions. And it reads short bursts of text and scans product barcodes. Documents can be photographed and their content readback. Seeing AI alsoscans and reads handwritten notes
MicrosoftSoundscape goes beyond immediate proximity to build a 3–D sound map of the user’s world.
It uses data andsound to add layers of information and context. In short, it helps users feel more comfortable when making their way around. Landmarks, road intersections and the places regularly visited can all be allocated a sound beacon so they can be clearly detected upon approach.
Soundscape’s synthesized binaural audio adds realism to directions, taking the map on a user’s phone and, effectively, creating an audio version.
Translation and captioning
Douglas Adams’s“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy“ described the“Babel Fish.”These clever creatures, once inserted into someone’s ear,would translate any language.
Being able to participate in multilingual conversations is no longer the preserve of fiction.
Microsoft Translator acts as a real-time translation hub sitting between people speaking different languages and translating onthefly. It can do this when multiple languages are being spoken at the same time.It can also be set English to English and provide real-time captioning for people who are deaf or hard–of–hearing.
Gaming gets serious
The global gaming market isa multibillion–dollar industry. To help make gaming more accessible, Microsoft introduced the Xbox Adaptive Controller, a product of the company’s Hackathon in 2015.This controller has large, programmable buttons and can be connected to a range of external devices. The combination of large and customizable switches, buttons, mounts and joysticks empower all gamers.
Code you can hold in your hands
Microsoft Code Jumper is the physical manifestation of a programming language that’s helping children who are blind or with low vision learnto code. Code Jumper is made of a series of programmable, tactile plastic switches, or pods. Each pod is an instruction, and can be joined together to create a line of code.
It means all children studying coding as part of their school curriculum can benefit. Childrencan learn about sequence, iteration, selectionand variables. And they learn how to solve a problem by thinking algorithmically — breaking a process down into its constituent parts and looking for different routes to the best solution.
If your small or medium-sized business is shopping for laptops that provide security, reliability and support services, check out Lenovo’s new ultra-slim ThinkBook S series.
Available in 13- and 14-inch models, the Lenovo ThinkBook 13s and 14s run on Windows 10 and come with built-in security features such as single-step authentication and power-on with the touch fingerprint reader, discrete TPM 2.0 to enable Windows 10 security features and user data encryption and a ThinkShutter camera cover for privacy control.
Find out more on the Microsoft 365 Blog and at Lenovo.
System administrators must continuously learn new technical skills as organizations move to the cloud. Surviving the transition is one thing, but thriving requires admins to adapt their career development plans.
Some system administrator skills, such as using PowerShell, remain essential in every administrator’s tool belt. Even with mastery over the staples, admins would have to fight to stay current in the fast-paced IT industry. Microsoft and other vendors keep admins on their toes with developments in the cloud, including Microsoft Teams or Azure services. Microsoft evenredesigned the Azure certification pathto reflect the changing job roles.
Steve Goodman, a principal tech strategist at Content and Code, based in London, helps customers migrate to the cloud and understand how to use Office 365. He spoke with us to discuss system administrator skills necessary for the cloud, how to stay relevant as technology changes and ways to avoid burnout.
Where do most organizations run workloads? Would you recommend different system administrator skills for different data center deployments, such as hybrid?
Steve Goodman: The end position for most organizations is some form of hybrid environment, whether that’s Office 365 or more traditional workloads moving partly to Azure. People who run service for their local Active Directory — for at least the foreseeable future, apart from the smallest organizations — are likely to carry on with on-premises Windows Servers running local Active Directory. That will be synchronized to Office 365, Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) and other services up in the cloud. Most IT professionals also need to know Azure Active Directory.
A lot of the traditional technologies that were on premises, such as VPN connectivity and multifactor authentication solutions, are moving to Office 365 or the EMS enterprise mobility and security components. People still need that legacy infrastructure knowledge and experience, because they still have to support it. They also need these new skills where they know deeply about one particular technology, like Azure Active Directory Premium or multifactor authentication, and a good high-level understanding across the broad Microsoft 365 suite.
What are the must-have system administrator skills now, and will these change from year to year?
Goodman: The must-have skill still goes back to identity. Intune and Windows Autopilot appear to be the two biggest growth areas. Almost every customer that we’re working with [at Content and Code] is looking to manage PCs and mobile devices using Intune and Windows Autopilot. PowerShell also remains vital, and it translates completely from the on-premises world into the cloud.
They need to contribute and learn skills in Microsoft 365, Office 365, mobile device management and end-user computing — the whole Windows device management story in Microsoft 365. We’re seeing constant demand for Microsoft Teams as the gateway to using Office 365.
Teams has so many changes because it consumes so many different services. It’s a constant journey. Teams is almost one of those technologies where it requires more than one person to understand all of it within an organization. Some people might become more focused on the high-level architecture, like Exchange administrators focusing on Teams or mobile device admins focusing on EMS and Intune products and Active Directory.
We’re seeing a shift in learning those skills that come as part of the Microsoft 365 suite, and it complements their existing skills and builds upon their existing knowledge. What we see with a lot of the customers at Content and Code is they are changing the operating model for their IT services from one that is more reactive and based around long planning for change to one where they can begin consuming new services as they come along.
They need to be more proactive about the new services that might be launched and changes to the services. They have to rapidly learn about the new technologies and decide how best to implement them for the organization. Then, they need to go through a cycle of getting that deep knowledge if they’ve chosen to push ahead with rolling it out.
What advice would you give to administrators about their career paths? How has that changed from even a couple of years ago?
Goodman: You might say in five years’ time, I want to be a Skype for Business administrator and to be managing enterprise voice for a large organization. Today, you couldn’t make that sort of plan for your career, because you’ll need to be learning about the technology continuously. The technology that you’ll be rolling in at five years’ time can be vastly different from how it is today.
Steve GoodmanPrincipal tech strategist at Content and Code
Our podcast with Will Rowe made a good point that it’s more about focusing on what you want out of your career and what makes you happy. That might not be the technology that you’re using today. It might be the things that you’re doing as part of a role. It might be designing rollout plans and rolling out new versions of software, or it might be managing maintaining the suite that you’ve got. You have to aim for the role you want, rather than focusing on a particular technology.
[IT] engaging with the [business side] is critical. Traditionally, a decade or more ago, the productivity side of the suite had a lot less business engagement. IT would build out these products, phone systems, email systems and file systems, and they would effectively throw them over the fence. We see a lot more engagement with the business where IT works to understand what the user base wants to achieve, the pain points users have and how the solutions will solve actual business problems.
That has two effects. One, it means that we’ll be able to deliver a productivity suite that is actually making the business more productive. It also means that we’re listening to users or actually understanding the things that they’re using the systems for.
Instead of the users finding other tools that they need, seeing no value in IT and causing potential security breaches, we’ve engaged with the business and spent time understanding their pain, solving the problem for them and providing them a decent set of tools that will help them achieve what they need. IT becomes a valuable part of the business again.
What can admins do to handle the demand for more skills and not get burnout?
Goodman: Get a high-level understanding of the wider suite that you’re working with and then, for the time being, focus on particular areas where you’re going to be able to provide value. That might be focusing on Teams or Microsoft cloud app security, rather than trying to understand the entire suite. You can’t know everything. Accepting that and focusing on the areas that you can provide value is going to be very helpful. You’re not trying to concern yourself with all of Office 365, all of Azure, all of the time.
Learn about things incrementally. Don’t expect to learn the entire products in one go. Learn about the areas that are going to be most important and use the resources that are available. For example, if we look at Teams where it’s got lots of different technologies in it, then you might want to focus on the voice aspects of it. Those are smaller areas of a large product that are easier to bite off and understand bit by bit.
The summer of 2009 was a nightmare for my family. Our 3-month-old son Sergio was ill, and doctors could not diagnose his condition. Our family went on a long journey to find an answer. Two years after his symptoms began, in 2011, we learned that he had Dravet Syndrome.
Neurologists were working to find a diagnosis and Sergio was being treated while they searched. At nine months of age, he was given a drug that was contraindicated for what ultimately was his condition. Soon after receiving it, he started to have dozens of seizures per day. We stop counting the seizures, and wondered why, in the age of computers, neurologists don’t use computers and data to improve the diagnosis process.
This event changed my life. I founded the Dravet Syndrome Foundation in Spain in 2011 after learning of Sergio’s condition, and later, Foundation 29. I spent seven years trying to find a cure. Unfortunately, finding a cure for a rare disease is very challenging. Instead, using resources available to me as a Microsoft employee, and with foundation volunteers, created a diagnostic program for children with Dravet Syndrome, called Dx29. To date, it has provided diagnoses for more than 700 patients worldwide. It is now available for clinicians to use free of charge.
The Long Wait for a Rare Disease Diagnosis
Patients live an average of 4.8 years for a rare disease diagnosis. In the meantime, they contend with the risk of medical errors and severe side effects. Patients visit an average of 7.3 specialists, with 40% of patients reporting that a delayed diagnosis had a significant or very marked impact on their condition. It is estimated that 6-8% of the world is affected by a rare disease, meaning that improvements in diagnosis procedures could impact 460-620 million people.
The Need for Clinical Data Integration
The conventional diagnosis process is not designed for the complex biology behind rare diseases. It usually starts with a clinical consultation. A physician requests a genomic test, sending along the biological samples and the symptoms (phenotypes) already identified. The sequencing is performed and bioinformaticians (often manually) analyze the large amount of data produced. To carry out this complex analysis, they use the symptoms identified by the physician to guide their search.
The physician’s and bioinformation’s data are not integrated, so these professionals are disconnected. Those conducting the gene filtering have partial phenotypic information but are unable to collect more data because only physicians have full access to patients and their records. The genetic report the physician receives would likely be different if more patient information was available during gene filtering. Clinical decisions made based on the genetic data could be different with more data. How can bioinformaticians check if a given gene variant in the patient is producing a concrete phenotype? How is the patient information put in the hands of bioinformaticians? There is an information gap issue.
Satya Nadella Empowers Employees to Help
At the 2017 Microsoft employee hackathon in Spain, one of my best friends, and Microsoft colleague, Sacha Arozarena, suggested we create a bot to diagnose patients with rare diseases. After just three days of intensive work, our prototype was able to suggest symptoms and navigate the user to a potential diagnosis. It was still a proof of concept, but we won the Spanish hackathon. The most important achievement of this work was the connections the prototype created for us.
That same month, I heard Satya Nadella discuss his son’s medical condition while he presented at Microsoft Ready, so I sent him an email asking for help. He replied within five minutes, connecting me with Microsoft’s Research team. Through this connection, I learned about Microsoft’s efforts in several areas: a new Genomics team, a team working on medical natural language processing, and the company’s investments and efforts towards bringing artificial intelligence to health science.
Using the Cloud and AI to Speed Diagnosis
One year ago, colleagues and I founded Foundation 29, a non-profit organization with the mission to improve the lives of patients with rare diseases through faster, better diagnosis. The foundation is developing solutions to facilitate diagnosis, with the intention of distributing them to every physician in the world. Dx29 is the name of this effort. The goal is to reimagine and democratize diagnosis.
The tool we developed uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to close the information gap. The gene filtering of most routine low-level cases can be automated with AI, allowing bioinformaticians and specialists to focus on the most challenging cases where human intervention is required. Physicians can drive automatic genetic analysis simply by identifying symptoms in the tool. The physician’s role comes back to the center of the process, focusing on the patient and doing symptom identification and differential diagnosis.
Dx29 does not make a diagnosis, but enhances the physicians’ skills. It gives physicians a tool that augments their capabilities by hiding the complexity of genomics and allowing them to focus on clinical diagnosis, something they are already experts on.
The process starts by performing automatic symptom identification and codification from medical records. It then allows physicians to navigate the complexity of gene identification by simply selecting identified symptoms in the tool. In the final step, once enough symptoms have been matched with the genetic information, Dx29 presents a ranked list of potential conditions for the physician to further evaluate and decide how to proceed. The foundation did the first medical tests last December with promising results. Our goal is to make the tool available to the medical community this spring and find a business model to secure the continuity of the project.
Thanks to Microsoft and Global Organizations
Dx29 is possible because of help from Microsoft and its employees. It is impossible to list all Microsoft employees who joined forces to collaborate on this initiative. Foundation 29 and in particular, Dx29 are honored by the privilege of working with Microsoft software engineers, product groups, and consultants. Architects from Microsoft Services, data engineers, data scientists and the legal department provided us with advice on privacy and data protection.
I am proud to work for a company that empowers employees to achieve more. A lack of diagnosis is not only a stressful situation for patients and families, but also for healthcare professionals. Without a diagnosis, an appropriate treatment is not possible. With all the help received so far, Foundation 29 aims to empower physicians with the right tool to provide an accurate diagnosis.
I would like to thank the following organizations for their contributions to the development of the Dx29 tool and its pilot:
Centro de Investigación Biomédica en red de Enfermedades Raras (CIBERER), Madrid, Spain
Hospital La Paz de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
NIMGenetics, Madrid, Spain,
Idibell, Barcelona, Spain
The Global Commission on Rare Diseases
Rare disease patients are exceptions in clinical routines, but they drive the medical community towards precision medicine. Precision medicine should not be limited to exceptional cases, but spread to all patients, improving the standard of care for all.
Time is ticking. I know I won’t be able to find a cure for Sergio and he will have to live with Dravet Syndrome all his life. But having the possibility of creating a tool to speed up and improve diagnosis process for other children is a strong motivation for me, my family and the community around us. Helping others is sometimes the only way to heal your own wounds.
Operational stumbles and reports of a proposed private buyout cost Avaya tens of millions of dollars in the second quarter, company executives said on Thursday. Meanwhile, Avaya has hired an investment bank to explore a sale of the company, among other potential financial maneuvers.
Avaya revenue dipped to $709 million in the fiscal quarter that ended March 31, a 3.9% decrease from the previous reporting period. In February, the company had told investors it would generate between $730 million and $760 million in the quarter.
“This was not the way we wanted to begin the calendar year,” Avaya CEO Jim Chirico told investors on a conference call. “While I’m disappointed in our results last quarter, overall, I remain confident of our path forward.”
Avaya blamed its poor performance partially on a story published by Reuters on March 24 — one week before the quarter’s close — that said a private equity firm had proposed a $5 billion leveraged buyout of the company. The rumors “created uncertainty among our customers and partners,” Chirico said.
April brought more speculation about Avaya going private. Bloombergreported the company was planning an auction after fielding unsolicited offers from potential buyers. Later, TheWall Street Journalsaid longtime rival Mitel was in talks to acquire Avaya — a merger that would unite two of the unified communications market’s largest vendors.
Avaya finally went public with its intentions on Thursday, announcing it had hired JPMorgan Chase to explore “strategic alternatives” to maximize shareholder value. That could include selling the company or less drastic steps, such as a refresh of its investment portfolio.
“The board has not set a timetable for the process, nor has it made any decisions related to strategic alternatives at this time,” Chirico said.
Avaya entered the public stock market in January 2018 after emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company had previously spent almost a dozen years under private ownership after an $8.2 billion buyout by two private equity firms.
Going private would relieve Avaya from the pressure of answering to Wall Street investors every quarter, said Hamed Khorsand, analyst at BWS Financial Inc., based in Woodland Hills, Calif. But the company’s recent earnings shortfalls could hamper its efforts to secure a lucrative deal.
“To me, it makes sense for them to be private,” Khorsand said. “But the problem you’re going to face is, when you’re putting up low revenue numbers and low cash flow numbers, the potential takeout prices become much less.”
Avaya revenue projections downgraded
Jim ChiricoCEO, Avaya
The company downgraded its revenue projections for fiscal 2019 by roughly $50 million to $100 million on Thursday. After initially projecting annual revenue between $3.01 billion and $3.12 billion, Avaya now expects to make only $2.9 billion to $2.95 billion.
In the second quarter, Avaya revenue suffered because the company missed a deadline related to a new partner offering in the contact center market and mismanaged its distribution of desk phones to channel partners in the unified communications market, Chirico said.
Demand for Avaya’s new J Series desk phones was strong, but the company had not provided enough of them to channel partners — rather, it had oversaturated the channel with the older 9600 Series desk phones.
Chirico said that misstep would continue to hamper sales through the third quarter and possibly into the early part of the fourth quarter.
Avaya cloud revenue steady at 11%
Avaya initially projected that cloud revenue would comprise 12% to 14% of overall revenue in fiscal 2019. However, cloud revenue has accounted for roughly 11% of the total for each of the past four quarters. The company said it would no longer make projections about the breakdown of revenue by segment.
Despite adding 60,000 seats in the public cloud, Avaya reported its combined total of public and private cloud UC and contact center seats at roughly 3.7 million — the same as last quarter. Fewer than 300,000 of those seats are public, while 3.4 million are private.
Although Avaya has been dominant in the market for premise-based telephony, the company is now trying to penetrate a cloud market crowded with pure-cloud upstarts, such as RingCentral, 8×8 and Five9, as well as established rivals Microsoft, Cisco and Genesys.
“I think it’s still a company in transition,” said Zeus Kerravala, founder of ZK Research, based in Westminster, Mass. “The private cloud deals that large enterprises want are more complicated and take a lot longer to get deployed.”