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August - 2012 - issue > Cover Story
Optimal-Solutions-Positioned-for-Growth
Christo Jacob
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Despite economic turbulence and tightening client budgets, Optimal Solutions became the largest exclusively SAP consulting firm in North America, a position established over the company’s 17-year focus providing SAP solutions and services to corporations and government organizations of all sizes.

Gurvendra Suri, founder and CEO of Optimal Solutions, is pleased with Optimal’s strong growth, but he believes Optimal is just now hitting its stride and that his company will grow an additional fourfold over the next 3–5 years.

A Heritage of SAP Success

CEO Gurvendra Suri, or simply ‘Suri’ as he prefers to be called, founded Optimal in 1995 at a time when large-scale SAP systems were in full swing among companies with expansive global operations.

Suri saw first-hand companies taking high-risk gambles with hugely expensive and complex SAP systems, and he knew there was a genuine need for consultants with the experience and know-how to bring these projects to fruition. He carefully assembled a team of SAP experts with a deep understanding of enterprise technology architecture and global business process design, and Optimal Solutions Integration, Inc. (“Optimal”) was born.

In a short period of time, Optimal earned a reputation as a consulting firm that knew SAP cold, that was not afraid of complexity, that could tackle global enterprise architecture issues, mitigate risks and make expensive SAP investments pay off.

Under Suri’s steady leadership for the past 17 years, Optimal has enjoyed remarkable, year-over-year revenue growth, sustaining this growth even during the 2000-2003 tech sector meltdown and the 2008-2009 global recession. Since an investment from Tailwind Capital in 2008, Optimal’s SAP consulting business has grown by an average of 40 percent annually, and Optimal has tripled its global workforce to approximately 900.

Optimal has worked on over 600 SAP implementations since the firm’s inception 17 years ago, and Optimal worked with more than 200 SAP customers in 2011 alone.

The primary drivers for Optimal’s success? Suri’s business savvy, devotion to client value, and Optimal’s sustained investment in people, processes, tools, and prebuilt assets that mitigate risk, lower costs and speed up SAP implementations -- the very same assets that will propel Optimal’s success as the company enters its next growth phase.


Optimal Fast Facts

Founded: 1995
Focus: SAP solutions and services
Founder & CEO: Gurvendra Suri
Headquarters: Irving, Texas
Locations: Washington, DC; Austin, TX; Munich, Germany; Toronto, Canada; Sydney, Australia; Bangalore, India; Mumbai, India.
Investors: Privately held with funding from Tailwind Capital Partners
Clients: Texas Instruments, Pepsi, Nokia, DuPont, IDT, Sony, Motorola, Caterpillar, Bell Helicopter, BP Amoco, The Washington Post, NASA, US Department of Defense, Turner Construction, Exxon Mobil, , Nortel, Philips, Raytheon, AstraZeneca, and many more


Investing for growth

As market leader in enterprise application software, SAP serves a base of more than 190,000 customers globally. In 2011, SAP earned more than $17 billion in revenue, marking the company’s best year ever. With its success, SAP continues to drive a $30B+ services market that is growing at least 10 percent per year, according to industry analysts.

Today, Optimal’s global workforce provides SAP consulting services to leading government agencies and corporate organizations throughout North America and the Asia/Pacific region from offices in Irving, Texas; Austin, Texas; Washington, DC; Munich, Germany; Sydney, Australia; Toronto, Canada; Bangalore, India and Mumbai, India.

Optimal’s client roster reads like a “Who’s Who” of Fortune 500, including well-known global brands such as DuPont, Texas Instruments, Halliburton, Pepsi, Exxon Mobil and Sony, among many others.

Optimal’s work in the public sector is equally impressive. The firm has worked with the U.S. Department of Defense, NASA and the U.S. Army, among many other large government organizations.

However, most industry experts agree that today’s SAP services market is no longer one of massive, global core ERP implementations. Rather, it is fast becoming a market of smaller, high-value-add engagements that typically involve analytics, line-of-business/industry applications, and rapidly emerging solution areas such as in-memory computing, mobility and cloud-based application delivery.

As a nimble, mid-sized organization with a deep talent pool, proven offshore capabilities and solid financial backing, Suri believes Optimal can build capabilities more quickly and price more competitively than similarly sized companies or larger consulting firms, whose high overhead often prices them out of today’s more focused engagements.

“Optimal has a keen understanding of SAP buyers’ needs and a proven ability to quickly translate these needs into products and services that help SAP customers today,” says Suri. “For starters, Optimal has developed and markets more SAP-certified solutions than any SAP service provider in North America.”

Optimal’s 15 industry- and function-specific SAP solutions feature pre-configured templates and built-in best practices that clients use to dramatically accelerate implementation timelines while reducing project risks -- providing a starting point for any SAP implementation and decreasing project timelines and costs by up to 40 percent.

Optimal also has invested heavily in its India-based workforce, facilities and operations, not only to help it be competitive in North America, but also to serve the local region. In addition to supporting Optimal’s offshore/outsourcing engagements and delivering successful and profitable offshore projects, the Optimal India team is tasked with driving Optimal’s growth initiatives in India, a region recently recognized by SAP as one of the company’s fastest growing.

“Our hard-dollar investment in these assets ensures that Optimal stays ahead of the curve when it comes to launching new, innovative, value-based SAP solutions and services,” said Suri.


Optimal Investment Snapshot

• 1.5 percent to 1.7 percent of annual revenue invested toward driving innovation in the firm’s SAP solutions and services offerings.
• Investment in implementation accelerators, solutions architects, sales and pre-sales headcount exceeding $10M over the last 3 years.
• Optimal Labs -- more than 40 distinct SAP instances, multiple configurations of SAP BusinessObjects and Sybase technology, and SAP HANA for devising/testing innovative ideas and demonstrating how SAP technology can benefit customers.
• 15 industry- and function-specific OPTIMIZE SAP Business All-in-One solutions.


The future: In-memory, mobility and cloud-based application delivery

Optimal’s SAP service offerings are among the most extensive in the industry, featuring deep expertise across all SAP Business Suite and SAP Business Objects applications, experience in more than 15 industries, and a real-world understanding of all core business processes.

But this is just the foundation, according to Optimal’s President Sam Sliman, who stresses that Optimal regularly builds and adjusts its offerings to address the issues that are top of mind for SAP customers – issues that today include big data and in-memory computing, mobility and cloud-based application delivery.

“SAP is what we do, period. Unparalleled, hands-on expertise with SAP’s evolving product roadmap is fundamental to our business every waking hour. We are consistently first to market with pre-built assets, implementation accelerators, and cutting-edge offerings for emerging technologies,” says Sliman.

Industry pundits concur that Optimal is on the right track. Ali Zaidi, senior analyst, IT Consulting and Systems Integration Business Strategies at IDC, reports that "with large strategic transformational projects getting fewer and further between, higher growth for SAP implementation services will be coming from implementation of new technologies, namely HANA, mobility, and implementation of vertical- and functional-specific Rapid Deployment Solutions."

SAP has called HANA – its breakthrough in-memory computing platform – the fastest-growing product in its history with sales topping $209 million in 2011. SAP expects HANA sales to at least double in 2012, and Optimal is among the very first SAP partners to announce a comprehensive service offering to help businesses plan for and implement SAP HANA.

“By leveraging breakthrough, in-memory computing technology, SAP HANA makes it possible to transact, move, store, process and analyze extreme data volumes in record speeds while reducing costs,” said Sliman. “Optimal’s OPTIMIZE service offerings for SAP HANA help companies strategically ramp up their capabilities and begin making smarter decisions based on real-time insight and advanced predictive analytics.”

Optimal has seen that the proliferation of smart mobile devices, advances in mobile platforms and applications, and pressure to increase operational efficiency is making mobility a top priority among organizations looking to increase workforce productivity.

True to form, Optimal is an industry leader on the mobility front, providing insight and direction for guiding SAP-customer enterprise mobility initiatives and bringing to market a comprehensive, flexible portfolio of solutions and services that make it easy and affordable for customers to quickly realize the benefits of mobilizing their SAP and SAP BusinessObjects solutions.

Migration to the cloud is not a question of if but a complex riddle comprised of when, what, which order, how much and what flavor. SAP’s commitment to the cloud is reflected in its wide range of cloud-based offerings. For its part, Optimal offers a broad variety of services designed to help customers think through their cloud options and deploy them in the most efficient and flexible manner, including service offerings that tackle all the complexities of hybrid architecture and cover SAP products such as Success Factors and Sales OnDemand.

Optimal also is an SAP-certified provider of application management and hosting services and offers subscription-based licensing for SAP Business All-in-One solutions.

Optimal’s goal, according to Suri, is to be the premier “go-to” SAP consulting firm for companies and public sector organizations in North America. “Optimal will achieve this goal by helping companies design and implement SAP solutions that deliver powerful, measurable results at the lowest possible cost,” says Suri.

And Suri is not alone in thinking that a great opportunity exists for the right company with the right qualifications -- namely, Optimal -- to sell SAP solutions and services.

Leading industry analyst firm Gartner, Inc. recently selected Optimal as one of the 20 leading SAP service providers to evaluate in its 2012 “Magic Quadrant for SAP Implementation Service Providers, North America” report. Gartner positioned Optimal in the “challengers” quadrant.


Optimal’s SAP Credentials

• Optimal has achieved premier-level status in the SAP Consulting Partner Program; is a Gold-Level SAP Business All-in-One Partner and a Gold-Level SAP BusinessObjects Partner.
• Optimal is certified by SAP to provide application management and hosting services.
• Optimal is certified by SAP to offer subscription-based licensing for SAP Business All-in-One solutions.
• Optimal is certified in the Run SAP methodology that defines the best practices for operating and managing installations of SAP solutions.
• Optimal is certified by SAP to market and implement the SAP Public Budget Formulation solution for public sector organizations.
• Optimal was named the 2012 SAP Services Partner of the Year for the category of Services Consulting Supplier for North America.
• Optimal was selected by Gartner as one of the 20 leading SAP service providers evaluated in the 2012 “Magic Quadrant for SAP Implementation Service Providers, North America” report.


Seasoned Leadership, Thought Leadership and Customer Value are Keys to Success

Topping the reasons why Optimal has sustained year-over-year growth since the company’s inception, according to Suri, is the firm’s stellar senior management team. “We’re well known for our SAP experience. Our clients rely on this experience. It is why they put faith and trust in Optimal. We know SAP. We get the job done right, on time and on budget,” says Suri.

Experience starts at the top at Optimal. With over 200 years of combined industry experience, Optimal has what Suri believes is the most experienced senior management team of all SAP service providers in North America. “Optimal leaders have been trusted advisors to the CIOs and COOs of some of the largest SAP customers in North America. Ultimately, the success or failure of a business comes down to making the right choices when putting the executive team together,” say Suri.

Another thing that separates Optimal from the competition is the company’s thought leadership. In the deeply complex, highly competitive world of SAP consulting, Optimal reigns supreme in the production and distribution of timely, relevant thought-leadership content. Over the course of the last six years, Optimal has produced a large amount of original content involving SAP and issues pertinent to SAP customers. This body of work is thoroughly researched and extensively distributed throughout the industry. Over 100,000 individuals subscribe to receive this content on a regular basis.

Topping all is Optimal’s dedication to helping its clients succeed. Putting the customer first is more than a cliché at Optimal, it is deeply ingrained in Optimal’s culture, from the C-level to consultants to all Optimal support staff.

“Our job is to provide our clients with the best possible advice on business process design and business transformation strategies, and then to help them get the appropriate architecture in place to operate 24/7 with a sub-second response time across the world,” explains Suri. “We measure our success in terms of our clients’ success. This is the most important benchmark at Optimal.”

As the demand for SAP solutions soars, Optimal appears well prepared and well positioned to achieve its aggressive growth goals.


Optimal SAP Thought Leadership

Optimal Thought Leadership Content Creation By The Numbers:

• > 100,000 current subscribers to Optimal SAP newsletters
• > 500 Optimal SAP thought leadership articles published to date
• > 300 thought leadership Optimal SAP Blog posts to date
• > 15,000 visitors/month to Optimal SAP Blog
• > 8 million Optimal SAP Newsletters successfully received to date

Optimal Distinction

Optimal’s brand recognition and brand value are greatly enhanced by the many business and community service awards Optimal has received:

• Gurvendra Suri named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Winner (2011)
• Optimal named Finalist for the Greater Dallas Business Ethics Award (2011)
• Gurvendra Suri named Tech Titan Community Hero (2010)
• DFW Tech Titan Fast 50 (2000 to 2007)
• Deloitte Texas Technology Fast 50 (2003 to 2007)
• Dallas 100 (2003 to 2011)
• Diversity Business – U.S. Div. 500 (2004 to 2006)
• Diversity Business – TX Div. 100 (2004 to 2007)
• Dallas Morning News, Biggest Minority-Owned
Business in Dallas/Fort Worth (2007 - ranked 20th)
• Gurvendra Suri named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the
Year Finalist (2005 to 2007)
• Gurvendra Suri named Sikh Entrepreneur of the year (2008)
• Dallas Morning News, Biggest Minority-Owned/Woman-Owned Business in DFW – (2007 - ranked 20th)



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