Sage Group has appointed an artificial intelligence expert to its board after reporting an increase in half-yearly results.

In a statement to the London Stock Exchange, the North East software giant said Eggplant CEO Dr John Bates will join on 31st May 2019 as a non-executive director.

Dr Bates is a visionary technologist who co-founded Apama, now part of Software AG, and served as CTO and present of the streaming analytics business. He has also served as executive vice president of corporate strategy and CTO at NASDAQ-listed Progress Software.

As CEO at Plat.One, acquired by SAP in 2016, he drove the commercial development of platforms to support Internet of Things applications.

Eggplant specialises in AI-powered software test automation.

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"I am delighted that John is joining the Sage Board,” said Sage chairman Sir Donald Brydon. “He has deep experience in the field of technology innovation, including the use of AI and machine learning functionality to improve the customer experience.

“He will be able to bring this perspective to the board as Sage continues on its journey in becoming a great, innovative SaaS company."

Sage reported £941 million organic total revenues for the six months ended 31st March 2019, up 6.2 per cent on the corresponding period 12 months earlier.

Recurring revenue grew 10.2 per cent to £779m, driven largely by 12 per cent growth in North America and 14 per cent in Northern Europe, while organic operating profit was at £218m, up 0.8 per cent.

CEO Steve Hare said: "We are encouraged by the strong start to FY19. Sage's vision is to become a great SaaS company and by focusing on customers, colleagues and innovation we are starting to see evidence of successful strategic execution.

“This is reflected in the strong performance in high quality recurring revenue, underpinned by subscription in the first half of the year. We will continue to focus on driving high-quality recurring and subscription revenue in the second half of the year."

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