Inside the systems integrators

Systems integrators play a major role in aiding end user organisations to successfully deploy projects and get the most value from their technology investment.

Tags: Emitac Enterprise Solutions ( Business MachinesSystems integratorVisionaire Technology Group Inc ( AG (
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Inside the systems integrators
By  Mark Sutton Published  May 29, 2013

“There is little exposure to real implementation of projects in the region. For example the cloud — not just the concept of cloud, but the specific technical execution of cloud provisioning automation, cloud management automation, cloud service catalogue definition – is an area where its very difficult to find the right people,” he said.

As partners of IT vendors, most systems integrators pursue certification programmes with their vendors. These programmes help to prove the systems integrator’s capabilities in certain technical areas, but that is not to say that systems integrators want to be seen as too closely aligned with the vendor, or that certification should indicate they are just a supplier of specific brands or vendors — far from it. The ideal positioning for most systems integrators is to be seen as the customer’s trusted advisor, with a vendor-agnostic, best-of-breed approach.

“There is a lot of pushing of solutions by the principal vendors; sometimes it is challenge for help AG because we see ourselves as a value-added solution provider,” said Solling. “We want to talk about the problems of the customer before we start talking about products. It can be quite difficult to take that step back when the customer already has in mind that if they buy this specific product from this specific vendor that they will fix all their problems.”

Aseem Gupta, executive chairman & chief visionary, Visionaire, said that his company has always aimed for a best-of-breed approach, and to avoid being pressured by vendor partners: “We are always multi-vendor, best of breed, and we have to go through this struggle with every project that we do where the manufacturing vendor will try to push us into having to buy their technology, and we resist that totally. We have only one customer — the customer is the end user client.”

While it can be hard to stick to a best-of-breed approach, the customer enjoys the benefits of not being locked into one vendor, and a best-practice approach improves overall standards. Reyadh Ayesh, managing director & CEO Smartworld, said that his has taken a best-of-breed approach to break two monopolies with a major airport customer. Previous suppliers had not even suggested alternatives, but the customer appreciated Smartworld’s focus on their business objectives over any particular brand.

Ayesh also said that systems integrators find that they are increasingly required to pick up the support function for vendors to a greater degree: “One of the major challenges is the high cost of international support services. What we are faced with is this commitment from the vendor is shrinking, whereas the customers want it to be extended. We try to overcome this challenge by buying as much commitment as we can from the manufacturer, and we keep ourselves equipped with local resources who are knowledgeable of the product, and we make sure that we keep spares, for the whole period that we commit to the customer.”

At the heart of the business for most systems integrators, is the relationship that they can develop with their customers. Generally they see a strong level of technical awareness among customers about solutions, but this does not always come with the right openness with the SI.

“Customers, to a high degree, know what they want,” said Saheli. “They understand their objectives. The challenge here is they are still shying away from sharing these objectives with their systems integrators. They still prefer to share this with consultants.

“I think they still believe that it is better to have different people in the supply chain, assuming different roles. Someone helps me to understand my requirement and articulate it, and I bring in another body to implement on those.”

The systems integrators argue that the closer the alignment between them and the customer, the better the relationship and the chances of a successful project. Issues such as vague or inaccurate scope of work documents, lack of focus on business objectives, selection of unsuitable or over-specified equipment can all be mitigated through better communication.

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