System Integrator Giants of 2013
Challenges and opportunities
In an open-ended response, by far the challenges most often cited by the survey’s respondents focused on finding, training, and compensating the skilled labor they need. Last year’s top issue, the economy, came in a distant second for 2013. This result seems to reflect the overall optimism about the economy in general and the automation industry in particular as reported by the CSIA in its own recent survey. (See “System integrators worldwide expect revenue growth in 2013.”)
Business seems to be so good that business-growth issues barely registered in respondents’ comments this year. Perhaps the 2013 SI Giants already have their hands full, but there’s a hidden danger in complacency. In response to a separate survey question, the SI Giants estimated their business percentage from existing clients, which showed that a whopping 86% of all respondents rely on existing clients for at least half of their revenue, and 12% rely on existing clients almost exclusively.
Repeat business is desirable, but what happens when projects run out? Presumably, there must come a time when even the most loyal client finds that everything that can be automated has been. But only three of the 2013 SI Giants cited “finding new customers” as a current challenge. Apparently, the rest of the SI Giants plan to cross that bridge when they come to it. Another challenge was geographical expansion. One SI Giant expressed interest in offering more services in more places, compared to 21 in 2012. It could be argued that trying to cover additional territory without opening new offices could be futile since clients would rather hire an integrator that can be on site within a matter of hours rather than days. (See the Areas Served charts online extra.)
After two years worth of data collection from the System Integrator Giants, it remains apparent that system integrators continue to be a key component in the ever-evolving industrial manufacturing landscape.
- Vance VanDoren, PhD, PE, edits the Control Engineering Automation Integrator Guide. Patrick Lynch, project manager, provided data collection/analysis. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, Control Engineering, mhoske(at)cfemedia.com and Amanda McLeman, project manager.
More information gathered from this year's SI Giants on the next page, with survey link.