US government approval to drive NI firm’s growth

28 Feb 2007

A Belfast enterprise software company that has rolled out software for the White House and the Pentagon has become the world’s first non-US company to be selected for the US Federal Government’s SmartBUY programme, paving the way for millions of dollars in new revenue.

Meridio, which was formed in 2001, competes in the market for enterprise document and records management (eDRM) against companies like IBM, Oracle, CA, EMC and Stellent. The Belfast company is a firm ally of Microsoft, achieving global ISV status and even has a development centre in Redmond.

The company employs 160 people, mostly in Belfast, and grew revenues by 70pc in 2006 to reach US$30m.

The company’s CEO Brian Baird told that the SmartBUY programme is an important achievement for the company as it enabled US Federal agencies to cost effectively purchase software products.

The only other technology companies that have achieved this recognition include Oracle, Novell, EDS, Manugistics and Symantec.

Baird said that the deal will open up vital revenue streams for Meridio and said that the company already has a strong base in the US with headquarters in Boston and powerful customers such as the Joint Command at the Pentagon and the White House.

He explained that winning such notable deals was made possible by strong e-government wins in the UK. The company hit pay dirt in recent years when it secured a lucrative eDRM contract for over 350,000 seats at the UK Department of Defence. “This was the biggest eDRM system ever to be sold in the world,” said Baird.

Other notable customers of the company include Lloyds’ Cheltenham and Gloucester General Insurance divisions, the Conoco-Philips oil and gas giant in the US, Accenture, Pacific Life and Azon Insurance.

Meridio’s chief financial officer Jeff Wylie told that so far up to US$20m has been invested in Meridio by investors Polaris, ACT Venture Capital, Invest NI and QUBIS.

Baird explained that he expects the company to reach profitability in 2007. “We want the company to grow profitably and we are all the pieces in place to generate profit this year.”

He said that most of this growth will come from the company’s focus on the US, which will grow from generating 20pc of revenues last year to over 60pc in the years ahead.

Explaining the importance of the SmartBUY accreditation, Baird said: “US organisations tend to buy only from US companies.”

On the company’s alliance with Microsoft, Baird added: “Most people familiar with Microsoft’s infrastructure business would know Meridio quite well. There are a lot of cases where we are seen as part of the infrastructure stack implemented by Microsoft.”

One of the key drivers for US market growth for eDRM would be an expected latent demand for these products by US federal departments keen to boost document recovery and the recovery of unstructured data. “We are capable of giving these organisations the possibility of doing this without killing their IT budgets.”

He added that Meridio is focusing its future on sustainable growth by trying out new revenue models. “The business we are in is very licence oriented. Some 70pc of revenues would be through licences, 15pc through support and 15pc through services. Our bigger competitors, typically, would generate 40pc of revenues through licenses.”

By John Kennedy