It’s hard to believe that this is my fourth annual installment of The State of the SSP and the last year has been jam packed with a lot of continued change and growth within SSP Innovations. I’m sure I won’t hit every exciting detail but definitely wanted to touch on some of the key events that have occurred. I’ll look to cover this all in more detail during our 2nd annual SSP iLLUMINATE conference in May!
Projects and Clients
We had another double-digit growth year in 2017 with revenue growing by approximately 15% over the previous year. This is exciting especially amongst a time in our industry when customers are beginning to pause on any additional ArcMap / geometric network work in favor of beginning to plan for the utility network. This is the primary reason that SSP continued to invest so heavily in the new Esri utility network during the year. This included introducing the first Utility Network Jumpstart offering to the market which was rolled out to four clients including IREA, CoServ, Lincoln Electric, and Sempra. These customers were trained on the beta version of the UN and then provided strategic feedback to Esri and SSP that will shape the way that this new product is implemented across the industry.
We serviced a record-high 57 distinct customers over the course of 2017 (up from the previous record of 41 in 2016) with 18 new customers joining the SSP family for the first time (tying 2016). This shows another year of strong growth amongst our customers as we continue to build our business both outward into new customers as well as deeper within existing customers. Our total lifetime customer count is now at 99 within the utility, telecom, and pipeline industries here in the United States.
2017 had a number of significant growth initiatives for SSP Innovations. Last April, I announced that we had brought on an investment partner in Warren Equity Partners (WEP). The goal of this partnership was to allow SSP to take advantage of the change in the market centered on the Esri utility network and I am proud to say that we’ve had an amazing first year with WEP. The WEP team has been supportive in every way including marketing expansion, budgeting, finance, and executive leadership support. They are truly allowing us to take steps in the market that we were previously unable to accomplish. And that leads to my next few initiatives.
In June 2017, SSP closed it’s first acquisition of an Esri startup partner called Paleon Solutions which added new utility products to SSP’s portfolio in the area of AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure) as well as key leadership to support SSP’s growth goals. Aaron Patterson joined SSP as our new president and Adam Tonkin took over the new role of CTO within our organization. I previously covered both roles and bringing on these new leaders freed me up to focus on the overall market strategy, partnerships, sales, and further mergers & acquisitions. Our existing talented set of directors remains in place and continues to build their respective teams within the company.
In addition to a new president and CTO, we also added several other key positions to the team this year. Brett Maxam joined as our new controller and has been critical in advancing our financial methodology in support of WEP’s oversight, Mehrdod Mohseni joined the team as our new VP of Grid Solutions with a focus on expanding SSP’s offerings into management consulting and technology strategy, and Ian Martin joined the team in July to accelerate our work management business development activities. All of these leadership changes are in support of the growth we continue to see and expect to accelerate in the coming 3+ years.
In July 2017, SSP advanced to become an Esri Platinum Partner within the Esri partner network. This is an elite group of the most aligned and committed Esri partners in the market and further demonstrates SSP’s commitment to expanding Esri GIS technology within electric, gas, water, and pipeline customers. While I don’t think this will mean too much to our existing customers, it may remove a barrier to working with some future customers who are less familiar with our work by showing the commitment we have to Esri and that Esri has to SSP Innovations.
The momentum continued as we worked through our 2nd acquisition over the back half of 2017 and we announced the significant acquisition of Wind Lake Solutions in February 2018. This exciting investment will add new competency to the SSP offerings in the way of data services (both project based and ongoing, outsourced production work) and with Wind Lake’s SPANS pole joint use management product. The deal will also nearly double the size of SSP in staff count and will significantly grow our revenue base via a diverse set of non-overlapping customers. This acquisition will close in a matter of weeks at the end of March 2018.
And we’re not done yet! Expect more exciting news to come throughout 2018 as the SSP team continues to grow as the market leader in Esri utility, telecom, and pipeline GIS!
Our award-winning team continued to receive accolades in the market this year. This was our fourth consecutive year being ranked on the Gator 100 as one of the fastest growing gator owned/led companies in the world. Only 10 companies of the 100 honorees have been on the list for four years straight. This year we ranked 55th on the list with a three-year compound annual growth rate of 42%. That’s an impressive statistic and one that’s increasingly harder to maintain as we get bigger each year.
And just a week ago, SSP was honored to be awarded our third Esri partner award in the past four years. This is a particularly special award for me as it honors our ability to partner with other leading Esri partners to usher new technology into the market. We accepted the award for “Partnering to Lead New Strategies” alongside our strategic partner RAMTeCH for our work together in bringing the Utility Network Advantage Program as an offering to our customers. This program is a consulting engagement that guides utilities through creating a plan for a successful deployment of the utility network including both the technology and the business change aspects of the transition. Very cool to win the partner award for “partnering” around the Esri platform!
A Few Other Notes
And finally, I wanted to mention a few other items of note from the past year. Again, I’m sure I’m missing many, but these were exciting moments for me!
- SSP hosted our first annual user conference titled iLLUMINATE in May 2017. I had originally tasked the team with getting a minimum of 30 folks into the room for the first year, but we ended up with over 100! What a successful event packed full of valuable content, presentations, entertainment, networking, and fun! If you missed the conference, our marketing team did an amazing job with video productions for the full conference. And I’d encourage you to not miss out this year – our theme will allow you to Create, Communicate, and Champion your plan to get to the utility network. We’ve just published the 2018 agenda and there are many new sessions that will provide immediate value to your organization!
- We underwent a strategic initiative to rebrand our entire line of products to better communicate the value drivers to the market while showing how the entire suite of complimentary products can interact together to provide increased ROI. The product line was expanded this year to include new utility network focused products including our industry leading incremental migration tool, SSP Sync and our new lightweight extension to ArcGIS Pro that allows you to harness the power of utility network, SSP Productivity. We’re excited to continue development on both of these products in 2018!
- SSP released a new website in December, 2017. Our old site had served us well and had seen the growth of our utility blog / e-zine titled Energy Advisor swell to over 400 posts. In fact, I just had to compile an SSP reading list on the Esri utility network and found over 30 authoritative posts on our website on the topic, most of which had been posted prior to the product’s official release in January 2018. With all of that content, we needed a facelift and the new site does a much better job of communicating what we offer and who we are in addition to hosting our blog and online tv feed, SSP TV.
- On a personal note, Chris Sanders, Ian Martin, and Dean Perry all welcomed home new babies this year which is always a blessing! (And the rest of the staff all celebrated birthdays!)
2018 has already started off as an exciting year and we expect to see that trend continue. The Esri utility network has (finally) been released and we’re already seeing customers getting engaged. The Esri UPDM and APR (ArcGIS Pipeline Referencing) technology has matured and has been implemented at many transmission gas utilities. And we continue to push forward with new partners for both product alignment and services. I believe we may look back at 2018 for many years to come as the year that the industry began to evolve into the next generation Esri platform. Esri is leading the charge and there are many great partners here to support the movement.
And with that, I will close. Thank you for your continued readership and support over these many exciting years. We don’t take your support, patronage, and friendship lightly. We will never take it for granted. We pledge to continue to bring our small company, big impact approach to every engagement. Here’s to another great year ahead!