At a Glance
Tuition assistance for further education
Not much camaraderie between different groups internally
"Great expertise; great team player"
"Mainly a resource supplier"
About CIBER, Inc.
Pure as the driven snow
When any firm styles itself a "pure play," you automatically know two things about it: first, that it's publicly traded, and second, that it has one core competency that, ideally, it does very well. In Colorado-based CIBER's case, both of those things are true, it's listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and excels internationally at system integration consulting, which it supports with outsourcing capabilities, not to mention 92 offices around the world. All of that has led to the firm working with some of the biggest names in the fields of communications, finance, health care, higher education, manufacturing, service/retail and technology, while it also has deep expertise in government projects at the state and federal level.
CIBER boasts a client retention rate in the 90 percent range, a fact that seems all the more impressive when the list boasts the likes of AT&T, American Express, Alcoa, Boeing, McDonalds, the World Bank, and every branch of the U.S. armed forces. For all of those organizations, CIBER's role is effectively the same: It designs, builds, integrates and supports applications that are critical to the business of each.
Putting the IT in Detroit
CIBER owes its origins to the federally-ordered breakup of IBM in the 1970s, a ruling that forced Big Blue to divide its hardware, software and consulting divisions into separate businesses, effectively paving the way for a more level playing field for competitors. Bobby Stevenson, a local database programmer in Detroit, spotted an opportunity to serve the information system servicing needs of the local auto industry, and struck out on his own, determined at the same time to create a company that treated employees better than his previous firm.
Accordingly, in 1974, Consultants in Business Engineering Research (CIBER) was born, servicing companies of the stature of Ford and General Motors from the get go. With a base like that, success followed fairly quickly, and the company went public in 1994. Since then, the company hasn't really stopped growing; it experienced a remarkable run of revenue growth every quarter from its IPO until the fall of 2008. That run that even continued through the dot-com bust and following recession, and only came to an end when third-quarter earnings for the year came in some $20 million short of the previous quarter, evidence, perhaps, that serves more as an indictment of the severity of the problems in the wider economy than any loss of competitive edge at CIBER.
Fractions of the whole
Business at CIBER appears to involve completing a succession of small contracts across a wide array of industries. While the firm broke the $1 billion revenue barrier for the first time in fiscal 2007, the following year proved that no contract is too small for the company to consider. Indeed, one of the bigger deals the firm announced in September 2008 was a $19 million contract to provide SAP support for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. The only new job in 2008 with a higher contract value than the turnpike deal was announced in March 2008, the first year option of a potential four-and-a-half-year, $25 million contract with the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. The job it’s a partnership affair, too: CIBER is working with Anadarko Industries, a Native-American, tribal-owned firm to provide business support services for the AFOSR.
Such contracts may not set too many pulses racing among those accustomed to the world of nine- and 10-figure engagements, but CIBER operates very profitably in the space where larger rivals may not deign to tread. And that strategy is paying off, too; in September 2008, Brown-Wilson Group's The Black Book of Outsourcing ranked CIBER No.1 and No.6 in the world, respectively, for mid-tier and Tier 1 infrastructure outsourcing. And, while the firm expressed a degree of disappointment over its year-end 2008 results, revenue came in at a lower-than-anticipated $1.19 billion, with net income staying flat at approximately $30 million, it would (shockingly) appear that the economy was the biggest culprit. "The continuing decay in global economic conditions contributed to a couple of client bankruptcies, one to liquidation, and curtailments at others," said a company statement, while the firm also pointed to currency fluctuations as a reason that it failed to meet its targets.
One positive note for the firm coming out of 2008 was that it had managed to pay down around $40 million in debt over the year, a process it intends to continue throughout 2009. To that end, in February 2009, CIBER launched a $25 million share offering to generate fresh capital that would be used to pay some of its debts. While recognizing that the current economic climate perhaps isn't ideal for launching any kind of share issue, the firm insisted that the move was "the least difficult" of two options it faced for repaying part of a revolving credit facility due in late 2009. Quite what the more difficult option was, however, the firm failed to clarify.
The firm has built something of a reputation over the years in the field of education, all the way from kindergarten through college. That's not to say that CIBER employees are finding second careers moonlighting in classrooms around the country (although some are: see below). The firm just happens to specialize in the sort of services and solutions that the education community tends to find useful. One such example is the recent work the firm did with the University of Wisconsin to develop a best-of-breed approach to enterprise resource planning that has since given the UW System exactly the data it required to move forward.
In January 2008, meanwhile, the company was selected for a two-year, $5.4 million project to oversee the implementation of a new ERP system in the Lee County School District in Florida, work that will replace a legacy computer system that is 30 years old. CIBER's role is to provide program and project management, training, technical consulting and quality assurance.
In addition to overhauling systems for providers of education, the company isn't afraid to step into the classroom to dole out a little education of its own. In July 2008, the firm announced that its federal government solutions division would be partnering with Carnegie Mellon University's Software Engineering Institute Partner Network to provide training services. Under the terms of the partnership, qualified CIBER employees will teach a three-day course entitled "Introduction to CMMI," while the company will also gain support of its training capabilities.
Picking up partners
Like many of its peers, CIBER is fond of partnership arrangements, and not just with Carnegie Mellon. The Partners page on the firm's website boasts more than 30 alliances, including the likes of Adobe, Cisco, EMC, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP. In March 2008, the firm strengthened its ties with another of the names on the list, Lawson Software. While CIBER already offered customer support for Lawson's strategic implementation and technology solutions, the two expanded into a new field with Lawson adding CIBER's managed services to its "total care" offering.
Evidence of another far-reaching relationship, albeit of a different kind, was offered in February 2008, when the firm unveiled the latest development in its 20-year association with the Centers for Disease Control. That month, CIBER revealed that it had designed, built and implemented a solution for the CDC to be able to alert public health officials and departments of disease outbreaks, bioterrorism events and other issues concerning public health. Nothing says "responsibility" quite like being given the keys to the early-warning system for an entire nation's health.
In September 2008, CIBER signed a letter of intent to acquire Indian outsourcer Iteamic, a 200-employee shop that specializes in application development of offshore companies. The deal, which closed in January 2009, was carried out despite a difficult economic climate, and fleshes out CIBER's Indian operations considerably, a longtime goal of the firm. Prior to the deal, CIBER had three locations in India, in Bangalore, Chennai and Koramangala.
In late January 2009, meanwhile, the firm announced an expansion closer to home, snapping up Canon Technology Solutions for an undisclosed fee. A subsidiary of Canon U.S.A., the unit is a direct consulting concern, and will be added to CIBER's IT outsourcing unit.
6363 South Fiddler's Green Circle
Greenwood Village, CO 80111
Phone: (303) 220-0100
Employer Type: Public
Stock Symbol: CBR
Stock Exchange: NYSE
CEO: David C. Peterschmidt
2010 Employees (All Locations): 8,000
Greenwood Village, CO