SSDS secures schedule, hires fed sales force

Systems integrator SSDS Inc. has signaled a change in its federal marketing strategy by obtaining its first General Services Administration schedule contract and hiring a federal sales force.

The Englewood, Colo.-based company plans to use the schedule to sell network services, consulting, systems and database designing, security solutions and help-desk services to federal customers, SSDS officials said.

"The GSA schedule makes it easy for the customer to engage us vs. an interagency type of agreement," said Ken Bonner, vice president of federal sales for SSDS. "Probably the principal strength of holding a GSA schedule is the simplicity of doing business with us. It's a very basic calling card...that will give us the ability to reach the balance we are looking for."

Bonner joined the privately held company in February as its first salesman dedicated to the federal market, and the company has since hired another salesman to work the market, said Dan Ferranti, senior vice president of sales and marketing. The 12-year-old company has achieved most of its business thus far without a sales force, he said.

SSDS worked exclusively in the federal marketplace until 1994, when it began increasing its focus on the commercial market. It has nine offices in North America and about 380 employees, but about half of its annual revenue this year has come from government contracts.

Ferranti said potential growth areas within the federal market include opportunities to work on enterprise integration; integration projects associated with asset management; help-desk management; and voice, video and data integration. Records management could generate business, he said.

"We are actively involved with several customers, including customers like the White House, in trying to come up with solutions to address records management issues," Ferranti said.

SSDS holds a long-term contract with the Defense Information Systems Agency and has done work for the Energy Department, the FBI, the Treasury Department and the Transportation Department.

SSDS also is a player in the FBI's Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System project, a $589 million system under development that will make searching for and matching fingerprints of wanted criminals easier and faster. The company also has a contract with the Air Force Base Command involving network infrastructure and information security.

The tendency among federal organizations to purchase a mix of enterprise management products, such as Hewlett-Packard Co.'s OpenView or IBM Corp. Tivoli subsidiary's systems management software, while attempting to install some type of asset management software is one of the challenges Bonner said he hopes to help agencies address. But he said each customer has adopted enterprise management packages to varying degrees. "Customers are looking at all of those enterprise assets and are considering different means by which to integrate them to gain efficiency and identify and control the total cost of ownership," Bonner said.

SSDS groups its offering into a service set called I*Net, which combines infrastructure services and application development with customer service and support— the latter composed of SSDS' help-desk and external service center offerings.

As it forecasts growth in its federal and commercial sales, SSDS is highlighting its comprehensive solution sets and crafting its service offerings around the continuously evolving requirements of its customer base, according to a profile of the company published by Aberdeen Group.

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