The Internet of Things (IoT) is an opportunity-rich landscape — with no concrete set of directions to get there. As organizations struggle to cross the chasm to digital transformation, the evolving role of system integrators may be the missing link to fill the gap.
Connected devices are expected to surpass 30 billion in 2020 and soar to 80 billion by 2025, according to IDG’s “2018 State of Digital Business Transformation” report. Intelligent “things” are proliferating every industry, from manufacturing to healthcare and even to the scale of smart cities.
But connecting all of those sensors and applications takes strategic orchestration and know-how — which is why many organizations are now looking for external help.
On average, one-third (38%) of organizations anticipate their IT transformation will be handled by a third-party vendor or consultant, according to “IT in Transition: How IT Leaders Are Faring,” a report on an Insight-commissioned IDG survey.
The report also revealed that organizations planning an IT transformation have stalled due to project scope being too large or not knowing where to start.
Developing an IoT network — whether in a single warehouse or to the scale of a smart city — can be a goliath of an undertaking. “IoT or die” has been the catchphrase haunting companies for the past few years, but in pursuit of transformation, many organizations are facing common barriers:
The 2018 Insight Intelligent Technology Index found companies are dedicating the largest portion of their budgets — 43% on average — toward technology maintenance alone. This leaves little budget for investing in modern technology or talent.
When a company does decide to adopt modern technology, the focus is often on procurement: getting the best deal on technology purchases — driving companies to procure from multiple vendors. The resulting ad hoc collection of solutions, combined with legacy technology, can lead to a compatability nightmare for IT teams.
In IDG’s “2018 State of Digital Business Transformation” report, 36% of organizations point to lack of skills or appropriate talent as their primary barrier to achieving digital initiatives. Finding experienced professionals who have the deep technical knowledge to integrate various applications and systems is a growing challenge.
Traditionally, connectivity and integration issues could be solved by a systems integrator — an individual or company that unites disparate or subsystems to function together as a whole, or a system of systems. An individual systems integrator has predominantly been local with a small number experienced enough to work nationally and an even smaller number with global capabilities.
However, the growing scale and complexity of emerging tech now calls for even greater expertise.
Enter: the super solution integrator — a single team with expertise across all aspects of modern IT solutions to architect, manage and execute initiatives from end-to-end. A super solution integrator can transform a disjointed collection of software and hardware into a cohesive orchestrated IT architecture — clearing the way for a greater Return On Investment (ROI) and meaningful organizational change.
Due to the rapid rate at which technology is available and the rate at which innovation is occurring, the market is demanding more of this hybrid service provider and adviser role to walk a project from ideation to execution.
Even more sought after is a systems integrator with global capabilities, as digital transformation initiatives scale across countries and continents.
According to ABI Research, IoT system integration and consulting revenues reached $17 billion in 2017 and are projected to grow past $35.7 billion by 2022 — demonstrating the increasing awareness among organizations around the value of system integration assistance to help them overcome their IoT challenges.
“Only a handful of companies are large enough to appropriately staff the large architecture that’s required to support modern business — and it’s going to get worse,” says Jeff Shumway , chief information officer at Insight.
“Because of the speed of new technologies, processes and services available — tied to the expectations that companies are going to turn around and make these things available to teammates — there’s a gap. That’s where a super solution integrator comes into play,” he adds.
A super solution integrator has deep understanding of your industry and can be the conduit between your needs — both hardware and software — and the best IoT solution to help solve your technology challenges. Through rich experience, a super solution integrator can anticipate and mitigate common integration, communication and coordination challenges.
A super solution integrator provides four key business advantages:
The last advantage might not seem like much, but a lack of brand loyalty shouldn’t be overlooked.
“Hardware and software providers have a cult following,” Shumway explains. “Most internal techs tend to line up behind a specific hardware or software provider. A true super solution integrator will be vendor- or technology-agnostic — they’ll focus on what the client actually needs.”
Additionally, super solution integrators inherently use a methodology for continuous improvement as part of the job — so the integrations and solution architectures they work on are continually becoming more effective.
Engaging with a super solution integrator isn’t limited to the enterprise world. Arguably, small to medium businesses can experience the greatest ROI from contracting with a super solution integrator rather than hiring full-time (and expensive) employees.
“Unless you’re a large organization, you won’t need those skills more than two to three months at a time. You’ll build the architectures and strategies, and then you’re done for a few years,” Shumway says.
“Mid or small, you’re better off with a super solution integrator because they’ll have experience with many companies. They’ll have ‘been there, done that’ through a multitude of circumstances and industries.”
Here are five questions to help you evaluate your need for a super solution integrator: