Cloud migration means sunny days for Pythian as firm's big-ticket customer count grows

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Last spring, Pythian CEO Keith Angell predicted the Ottawa-based big-data analytics and cloud services provider was poised for a “great year ahead” after making a major acquisition aimed at bolstering its offerings for enterprise customers.

Just over 12 months later, Angell has been proven a master prognosticator indeed.

Pythian recently announced its SAP line of business tripled its revenues in 2021 compared with the previous year – a surge fuelled in large part by its deal to acquire Chicago-based ManageServe last April. 

ManageServe specializes in working with customers who use software from suppliers such as SAP to manage various aspects of their business, from finance and HR to distribution and supply chains.

With more and more companies moving “complex, mission-critical systems” to cloud-based platforms run by the likes of Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, demand for secure data-transfer and cloud management experts such as ManageServe is skyrocketing, and Pythian felt having the U.S. firm’s expertise in its repertoire would give it a leg up over the competition.

So far, the move appears to be paying off in spades. 

Headcount rises to 450

The Ottawa firm’s revenues grew 20 per cent overall in 2021 compared with the previous year, and the company’s headcount rose from 400 to about 450 as it added 100 new logos to its client roster. 

But it’s the headway Pythian is making with its largest customers that really brings a smile to Angell’s face.

More than half of Pythian’s revenues in 2021 were generated from companies with at least a billion dollars in annual sales. The biggest names were also Pythian’s biggest gainers last year – its 100 largest customers saw their share of the firm’s revenues grow by 30 per cent.

“We’ve really moved up-market,” Angell, who joined Pythian as CEO in mid-2020 after a 30-year career that included two stints at IBM, said in a recent interview. “Large enterprises have massive problems (managing) data.”

"We’ve really moved up-market. Large enterprises have massive problems (managing) data."

Forging closer ties with SAP has helped Pythian – which has served well-known clients such as Toyota, Fox Sports and online retailer Rakuten since it launched 25 years ago – boost its market cachet.

SAP is the world’s dominant enterprise software maker with a market share of more than 20 per cent, and more than a third of Pythian’s biggest customers use the German firm’s products to manage their businesses. 

Buying ManageServe was designed to give Pythian additional expertise in running systems managed by SAP at a time when tech giants such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft and IBM are also looking to build closer partnerships with the software leader.

“These systems cannot be down,” said Angell, noting some of the world’s biggest companies use SAP’s platform to manage supply chains, distribution networks and other critical aspects of their operations.

While cloud data management services now account for half of Pythian’s revenues, the firm is also making a big push to help customers mine deeper insights into what all that information really means. 

Analytics expertise

Last month, Pythian announced it was bringing data analytics guru Joey Jablonski, whose resume includes senior executive posts at Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Sun Microsystems, on board as vice-president of analytics.

Angell said Jablonski’s experience will be a major asset for Pythian as it works with customers to devise strategies for getting the most of their “data estates” while ensuring all that information is secure and complies with the myriad of regulations that govern it.

“We’re really in a great space, and we have really strong leadership,” he said.

Meanwhile, Angell said he’ll continue to keep a close eye on other potential M&A targets that could add to Pythian’s ever-widening sphere of expertise.

“I’m constantly looking,” he said. “I would hope to be able to execute another (acquisition) this year.”