For ASR, the future is a matter of trust

ASR Analytics specializes in data modeling and decision support services, and boasts an impressive list of clients after just five years in business

With barely more than $2 million in 2008 revenue, ASR Analytics LLC is the smallest company on the 2009 Fast 50 list. But its compound annual growth rate of 109.1 percent puts the Potomac, Md., company in the upper half of the list.

Ranked No. 22, ASR is just five years old but already boasts a client list that includes the Defense Department, Internal Revenue Service and NASA.

The company provides data modeling and decision support services.

ASR got its start in 2004 when its three founders — Peter Arena, Michael Stavrianos and Stephen Rhody – formed the company and lent their initials to its name. The three had worked together when they were at various consulting firms, including IBM Corp., PricewaterhouseCoopers and PwC Consulting.

“We saw there was an opportunity for the integration of enterprise data and predictive analytics,” Arena said. “That was a niche we didn’t think very many organizations were capitalizing on.”

Their goal is to help agencies and other organizations use the vast amounts of information and data they collect to make better decisions, Arena said.

The company quickly won its first client, DOD’s Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU). Its task was to correlate the military medical school’s recruiting efforts with the long-term success of its graduates.

ASR conducted a survey of the school’s graduates and military doctors who had attended other medical schools to identify differences between the groups. The company then integrated the survey data with the school’s administrative records so school leaders could make better decisions about recruiting, Arena said.

“The data can build predictive models on what are the key drivers for success for USU graduates,” he added.

The company’s work with the school continues today.

Arena said there is growing demand for the type of analytic services that ASR provides because so many government agencies are flooded with data and face growing demands to understand the outcomes of their programs.

“There is certainly an inundation of data,” he said. “What we find with most of our clients is a need to be a more efficient, leaner organization and to make better decisions based on data, not off of hunches.”

With agencies being pushed to be more accountable and transparent, the need for analytics is even greater. “Everyone is talking about it now,” he said.

Its strategy of focusing on the tax, health care and higher education markets has helped ASR thrive during the economic downturn. “Typically, [those sectors] don’t get hit as hard in the ups and downs of the economy,” Arena said.

Another key factor has been ASR’s partner and teaming strategy.

“We have established great relationships with several larger firms, and we provide services to them that are typically extraordinarily high value,” Arena said. “We try to fill a niche for folks that they are probably not going to carry on the bench.”

For example, the company has teamed with IBM in a mentor/protégé program at the Treasury Department.

How it builds trust with its partners and clients is also crucial to ASR’s success, Arena said.

“When they really need help, like in times like now, when budgets are tight, they are going to turn to people they trust,” he said. “That is the kind of reputation we are trying to build.”

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