Intelligent Decisions hits the big time

In the past year, the Chantilly, Va.based systems integrator Intelligent Decisions Inc. has passed $100 million in annual revenue, established its professional services as a standalone business unit and was mentioned in the latest Tom Clancy novel.

In the past year, the Chantilly, Va.-based systems integrator IntelligentDecisions Inc. has passed $100 million in annual revenue, established itsprofessional services as a stand-alone business unit and was mentioned inthe latest Tom Clancy novel.

The recognition in Clancy's Rainbow Six might seem the least significantof the three milestones to a casual observer. But when Harry Martin, presidentand chief executive officer of Intelligent Decisions, spotted it after pickingup the novel at an airport bookstore, he was excited.

Clancy, known for his thorough research, must have obtained documentspertaining to Intelligent Decisions' contracts through the Freedom of InformationAct, Martin speculated.

It also was gratifying that Clancy referred to Martin's company as "oneof the usual" contractors for supplying technology for a National SecurityAgency project, Martin said. Well aware that money could hardly buy betteradvertising, Martin made sure copies of the book were sent to his customerswith the mention highlighted.But it seems federal information technology buyers already have noticedIntelligent Decisions, which is expecting to nearly double its revenue toabout $225 million this year. About 75 percent of that business is withfederal clients.

Martin said that growth spurt resulted from reseller agreements withthe three major suppliers of hardware to federal agencies: Dell ComputerCorp., Compaq Computer Corp. and Gateway Inc. Customers are able to buyall the hardware pieces they need from laptops to servers, "giving an agencyone place to make an enterprisewide purchase," he said.

In addition to the General Services Administration schedule sales, IntelligentDecisions is on the Army's Portable-3 contract and the National Institutesof Health's Electronic Computer Store II contract. Martin also credits his company's solid track record and willingness togo the extra mile as having raised the company to the higher level. "Thething that's propelled us is we've performed," Martin said. "We simply didthe day-to-day grind."

The company also manufactures its own "white box" desktop model at itsChantilly ISO 9000-certified facility and teams with Daewoo and other discountPC makers to produce custom hardware on a large scale.

Intelligent Decisions, which is privately held, is officially an 8(a)company, but Martin said it will deriveonly about 3 percent of its revenue this year from 8(a) contracts. The companywill carry its 8(a) status through 2002, but Martin said capturing thattype of business has never been a focus.This month, Intelligent Decisions scored two of its biggest contracts ofthe year, and Martin said negotiations were ongoing on others that willclose by the end of the fiscal year. On Sept. 13, the company announcedmultiple awards totaling about $10 million with the Defense Finance andAccounting Service. One week later, it sealed an $18.7 million deal to providelaptops and desktops to the Agriculture Department under three contracts.

The two-year blanket purchase agreement with DFAS calls for IntelligentDecisions to provide hardware, software and IT services, including an initialorder for 8,500 Daewoo/Intelligent Decisions brand PCs.The USDA contracts call for Intelligent Decisions to provide 8,500 systemsto the USDA's field service center under the department's Common ComputingEnvironment initiative to upgrade older computers and replace existing systemsthat are not Year 2000-compliant.

Though the two awards are largely for hardware, Martin said most ofIntelligent Decisions' work includes a service component. The company hasmet the needs of very demanding customers, including one that required aninstallation at 2 a.m. in an ice storm. Meeting those tough requirementsprompted the decision to establish a separate professional services practice,name Joe Ciano as vice president to head the division and add the serviceofferings toits GSA schedule.So far this year, the services business has accounted for $11.5 millionin revenue, Martin said.

Despite the growth and notice from the likes of a nationally known novelist,Martin said he cannot sit back and enjoy it because it is easy to be "booted"out of the government marketplace. And once a company breaks the $100 millionmark, it becomes a threat to the bigger companies in the market.

"I'm like Andy Grove," Martin said, referring to the Intel Corp. chairman."I'm paranoid all the time."

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