If 2007 to 2009 was "The Great Recession," then the following years have been "The Great Uncertainty" as the economy has grown in fits and starts. Throw in a few seismic changes reshaping the IT industry, such as cloud computing and mobility, and it adds up to what have been some of the most challenging years to manage, let alone grow, a solution provider business. And yet some solution providers have managed to grow quite well in these turbulent times.
Between 2010 and 2012, the average growth rate among CRN's Fast Growth 150 was 91 percent. But the growth rate for the Fast Growth 150 has slowed: The 91 percent two-year growth rate recorded by the 2013 Fast Growth is down markedly from the two-year average growth rates recorded on the Fast Growth 2012 (171.6 percent) and 2011 (187.0 percent) lists.
The solution providers on this year's Fast Growth list have just short of $24 billion in combined annual revenue, up from $21.1 billion last year, $10.4 billion in 2011 and $5.3 billion in 2010. Their growth rates ranged from 32.7 percent at Unified Concepts (No. 150) to a whopping 672.2 percent at Cloud Sherpas (No. 1).
[Related: Fast Growth 2013: The Top 25]
Cloud Sherpas is leading the pack of next-generation solution providers who are helping their customers move into cloud computing. "Adoption is high and it's all driven by real business processes," Cloud Sherpas CEO David Northington said. The company is seeing high demand for its services, including integrating on-premise IT with cloud applications from Google and Salesforce.com, and even replacing legacy IT with cloud systems.
While some of Cloud Sherpas' growth has come from its acquisitions of 11 small companies, since its founding in 2007, most of its growth has been organic. Northington said that means it's critical to have the right business processes in place for talent recruitment, lead generation and other key operations.
In a sign of the diversity of the Fast Growth list, 58 percent (87) of the 2013 companies are new to the list. The average solution provider on the list had sales of $159.7 million in 2012, up from $140.7 million in 2011 and $98.4 million in 2010. Nineteen percent are in the smallest revenue bracket ($1 million to $5 million), 5 percent in the largest bracket (more than $500 million) and the rest fairly evenly distributed in between.
For the Fast Growth 2013, the most popular vendor partners are Microsoft (77 percent), Cisco (76 percent) and Dell (74 percent). And 93 percent of Fast Growth solution providers offer data center solutions, cloud computing and managed services.
The Fast Growth 2013 list in its entirety is available exclusively on the CRN Tech News App starting on September 23.