System Integrator Giants of 2013
Online extra text, with more tables, charts, and links
- See the 100 SI Giants for 2013
- Take a survey about system integration with this article June 2013.
- See the SI Giants for 2012
- Apply for a no-cost listing in the Control Engineering Automation Integrator Guide as the first step for any automation, controls, instrumentation system integrator to be considered for SI Giants in 2014.
Reader traffic recorded by the Automation Integrator Guide’s online search engine indicates that integrators could find more business by moving into areas that are currently underserved. The “Areas Served” graphic shows that most of the U.S. is already reasonably well covered, though there’s a slight gap in the Pacific region (AK, WA, OR, CA, and HI). Last year, readers made it the second most-popular region behind East North Central (OH, IN, IL, MI, WI) in terms of places where an integrator’s help was needed. But when asked to specify the areas that they serve, the SI Giants ranked the Pacific region just about last by a small margin.
But in Europe (see additional geographic charts at the bottom), there’s a more significant mismatch between where readers would like to have an integrator’s services and where integrators are actually working. More readers have been looking outside of the European Union (Norway, Russia, Turkey, etc.) than inside, but the SI Giants expressed considerably more enthusiasm for serving the European Union (47%) than the rest of Europe (29%).
The SI Giants also reported opportunities of a different sort in the “Mentor and Education” chart online. No doubt motivated by their staffing problems, SI Giants provided their employees with a variety of professional development programs to enhance their careers. Like last year, the most popular were: 1) Paid attendance to conferences/tradeshows (91%),
2) Paid training and testing leading to professional certifications (89%) and 3) Attend webcasts during business hours (86%). The second might explain why SI Giants are so willing to join professional organizations like ISA, NFPA, and PMI (all offer individual certifications in their disciplines). SI Giants were somewhat less interested in simply paying for their engineers to join; only 73% included “Paid membership to societies” among the professional development opportunities offered.
Staffing commentsBiggest concerns for 2013: write-in comments
Attracting and retaining talented programmers and engineers continues to be our top priority. We have experienced phenominal growth in automation systems integration projects and continue to see increasing need for additional staff. With the “automation economy” heating up, we see increasing competition to attract and retain quality employees.
Challenge: Because our goal is to continue to grow this places a stong emphasis on recruiting and retaining our professionals. We seek to realize growth through retention and organic growth.
Our biggest concern for 2013 is the constraint to increase our skilled workforce. There is an extremely high demand for our automation and safety-related engineering services, and the development process to grow people to expert status takes years. There is a continuous deficit in the industry’s workforce that cannot keep up with the continuous demand for the services we provide.
Recruiting talent in this industry is an ongoing challenge for two reasons: 1) Demographic retiring with needed experience. 2) Universities and colleges are not producing engineers/technologist in this field as past demand decreased over last 30 years with manufacturing moving off shore. This has left a deficit as a nation.
Systems integration firms are ramping up very quickly to deal with the impact of low cost natural gas and oil resources (and their derivative products) located in North America. Many companies are vying for the same resources, and cost of those resources is increasing. This results in more proactive hiring practices, which leave companies exposed to an economic upset such as the downturn in 2008. A large market retraction is something that we will be on guard for.
Comments on economy
Another downturn in the economy: The last one had a significant impact on customer spending and our financial condition and caused us to make some tough decisions regarding engineering and administrative staffing.
Our biggest concern is the cyclical nature of our engineering engagements, where we see many companies moving in concert when delaying or accelerating projects, presumably responding to common macro-economic factors. This poses a challenge in resource management and heightens the need for accurate forecasting.
Political climate will hinder our business. We rely on many large companies for our revenue and they are seeing tightening regulation and tax implications for there products.
Comment on client demands for lowest bid
Inconsistent and poor upfront planning by customers with orders based upon price and not value.
SCADA system security and practices are the biggest concern.
See additional tables and charts from the SI Giants 2013 below: