It has been going on for decades, and it is likely to continue; companies and integrators need to adapt as end users turn to their internal engineering departments. To meet the challenges of an increasingly competitive marketplace, many manufacturers (end users) must focus on their core competencies. System integration is not a core competency for most end users and many are outsourcing it. In fact, the trend of outsourcing system integration has been going on for decades, and it is likely to continue.
This takes place at a time when technology has gained a much more prominent and visible role for the success of the overall manufacturer. While Industry 4.0/Internet of Things (IoT)/Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)/digital transformation goes beyond technology, technology remains a key foundational element and true enabler.
Most end users’ projects have seen their solution scope expanded, going beyond the integration of traditional systems and reaching into functions that may have been too hard or expensive to integrate in the past. In addition to an expanded solution scope, system integration faces the challenge associated with brownfield installations with a patchwork of legacy systems.
System integration as a core competency
It’s no surprise system integration is the core business of system integrators. Therefore, system integrators (SIs) often offer their clients several advantages. SIs provide:
Ability to identify and mitigate risks.
Continuous investment for technical competence of its resources. This includes the need to stay current on industry standards (e.g., safety, environmental and so on). This is not a small challenge because of the high speed of technological development and the scarcity of competent resources.
Experience development through ongoing exposure to a wide range of projects across various verticals. This is not easy for end users with only in-house resources to obtain as their “playground” is limited to what is currently in their own plants.
Experience to advise and guide end users in the complex digital transformation environment to become strategic partners in decision making.
Flexibility to staff projects, following real project demand cycles.
Methodological approach to system integration including project definition, project execution and change-order management and documentation.