For the longest time, Global system Integrators (GSIs) have reigned supreme in the sphere of IT integration. However, in recent years, more companies are gravitating towards Small System Integrators that have made a niche for themselves in the field. What caused this shift? Have the tides turned for good in favour of Small System Integrators (SIs) or does the future hold a different story? Let’s take a look at why organisations choose Small System Integrators in detail and uncover different perspectives.
What is a traditional Global System Integrator (GSI) company? Pros and cons of a partnership with them
Global System Integrators (GSIs) are well-established organisations that assist other organisations in implementing integration projects of varying complexities. They are often known for their timely delivery of reliable solutions that work for all sorts of business challenges. GSIs are usually large companies that have proven expertise in tackling challenges such as cloud migration, data quality across disparate enterprise applications or systems, and business process automation. Their ability to tap into their rich resource bank and produce state-of-the-art digital transformation solutions has cemented their influence across diverse industries.
Advantages of Global System Integrator (GSI) companies
GSIs display proficiency in key areas where integration service providers are expected to yield results in. Three of the advantages of GSI companies are
- Global Availability: as implied by their name, GSIs have a global presence that allows them to provide solutions multinationally. Geographical location does not hinder the quality of their integration strategies.
- Extensive Resources: Global System Integrators (GSIs) can rely on a host of resources—monetary, technical, skill-based, and anything in between. This allows them to take risks without worrying too much about the consequences, ultimately leading to the expansion of their influence.
- Network of partners and reach: due to their strong reputation and visibility across multiple industries, GSIs are able to partner with other prolific organisations in the market. The knowledge transfer that results from this partnership can help GSIs synthesise a standardised methodology for most integration scenarios. Furthermore, they can also team up with best-of-breed technology providers and vendors to produce robust solutions for most use cases and industries.
Disadvantages of Global System Integrator (GSI) companies
However, despite the advantages that arise due to GSIs’ recognisable global footprint, they may not be the go-to solution for every integration project. Here are three areas that GSIs are not well-suited to tackle and have disadvantages compared to Small System Integrators
- Lack of specialised solutions: while GSIs are great at constructing best-practice solutions that act as a general rubric for a good number of integration scenarios, they are not particularly good at delivering tailor-made solutions. Global System Integrators (GSIs) are often ill-equipped to handle projects that need that additional level of flexibility and customisation.
- Challenges related to quality and over-engineering: while having access to extensive resources is usually a welcome advantage, this results in GSIs biting off more than they can chew at times. Especially during large-scale integrations, they may lose their ability to maintain quality control across all facets of the project despite having standard quality assurance practices in place. Moreover, due to the exhaustive list of capabilities that GSIs offer, they run the risk of complicating solutions by over-engineering them, leading to increased costs and utilised time.
- Lack of long-term customer relationships: since GSIs operate at a massive scale, they may not be able to interact with projects at an intimate level. While GSIs are good at keeping tabs on their resource consumption and project cycles, they may not directly communicate with customers at every step of the journey. In this case, Global System Integrators (GSIs) may miss out on developing the kind of trust that’s essential for long-lasting client associations.
Factors that contribute to why organisations choose Small System Integrators (SIs)
On the surface, GSIs may seem to have an unfair advantage over Small System Integrators. Firstly, Small System Integrators seem to have limited resources—particularly in contrast to the finances of a GSI. Secondly, many Small System Integrators do not have the global reach of GSIs. Thus, larger clients may seek the support of GSIs well before they even consider small integrators.
Despite these minor constraints, the last decade has witnessed a noticeable preference for Small SIs. This could be attributed to the following reasons:
Small businesses are known to build trust with their client base over time. This ensures that customer relationships grow well into the future. They have the ability to take a closer look at the pain points of individual clients and address them immediately but also as a part of a long-term integration and business strategy. GSIs do not usually give each client the detailed attention that Small System Integrators are able to provide.
Unlike GSIs, small integrators are able to keep overhead costs in check. This is related to their limited resources; while GSIs may over-allocate in some cases, Small SIs can create a targeted group of experts and technologies depending on the project’s scale. This could be a huge factor in why organisations choose Small System Integrators.
Specialised and customised solutions
While GSIs may possess broader industry experience, they may lack a specialist understanding of certain industries. Additionally, they are usually known to follow a rigid framework for how they approach their projects. Due to the restricted pool of projects Small System Integrators might take on, they may become experts in a select few industries. Furthermore, the reason why organisations choose Small System Integrators could be due to their openness to personalise solutions based on customer requirements rather than follow standardisations for all cases. This flexibility makes Small SIs magnificent collaborators, listening intently to changing client needs and adapting accordingly.
Lowered chances of vendor lock-in
GSIs may have a deep understanding of the tools and technologies they’ve partnered with, but may not be proficient in handling other technologies. They may also be bound by stricter vendor contracts when compared to Small System Integrators. The reason why organisations choose Small System Integrators may be due to their vendor-agnostic nature, which results in more innovation and flexibility in how they implement technology solutions.
Agility due to a focused scope
Another factor behind why organisations choose Small System Integrators might have something to do with their small teams. A small team can ease communication especially when working on an area of integration that the SI is already familiar with. This leads to shortened project timelines when compared to GSIs, guaranteeing agile implementation.
The Pros and Cons of working with Big vs Small System Integrators
The following table sums up the differences between working with GSIs and Small System Integrators:
|Small System Integrators (SIs)||Global System Integrators (GSIs)|
|Global Availability||Limited regional presence||Global presence with multinational reach|
|Resources||Limited resources, focused experts||Extensive resources (financial, technical, skill-based)|
|Specialised Solutions||Specialised understanding in select industries, flexibility in customisation||Best-practice solutions but limited customisation|
|Quality and Over-engineering||Agile, focused on specific projects||Risk of over-engineering and potential quality challenges in large-scale projects|
|Customer Relationships||Client-centric, strong customer relationships||Less direct client interaction at an intimate level|
|Cost||Overhead costs in check, targeted resource allocation||Potentially higher costs due to extensive resources|
|Vendor Lock-in||Vendor-agnostic, more innovation and flexibility||Deep understanding of partner technologies, potential vendor lock-in|
|Agility||Agile, focused teams for shorter project timelines||Larger teams, potential longer project timelines|
Future trends of the integration landscape
Looking ahead, the integration landscape may still witness a rise of Small System Integrators. However, we may notice the following changes to the way in which this will take place:
- Instead of GSIs and Small System Integrators being opposing forces, a balanced integration ecosystem may arise, combining the advantages of GSIs and Small System Integrators. Companies may demand a solution that contains both the specialised, tailor-made final touches of Small System Integrators (SIs) and the reliability of GSIs.
- Small SIs already meet the preliminary requirements for innovation due to their knack for flexibility, collaboration, and agility. In the future, an increased prevalence in technologies like AI and low-code development can encourage Small System Integrators to sign up for more pioneering projects.
- Overall, there will be a shift towards future-ready, customer-first strategic initiatives over the straightforward implementation of a technology solution. GSIs, medium-sized, and Small System Integrators must be ready to deliver on this expectation.
Chakray: the best choice for a Small System Integrator
We at Chakray are the clear choice when it comes to Small System Integrators (SIs) due to our focused expertise and client-centric approach to integration. Chakray is a master at providing personalised solutions that address the unique pain points of our clients. We ensure smooth communication and quick decision-making, resulting in streamlined projects that have a clear finish line.
Our customer-first approach has given us the privilege of working with long-term clients that include organisations such as Travis Perkins and Water Plus. With a proven track record for speed, personalisation, and cost-effectiveness, Chakray is an outstanding Small System Integrator that truly cares about each project we initiate.
The primary lesson from studying why organisations choose Small System Integrators is to weigh your options before making transformative business decisions. GSIs are here to stay, but so are small to medium-sized integrators. Make sure to finalise the type of integration project you’re undertaking, your visions for this project, your budget, and your goals for your company at large. With this information, you’ll be able to find your match easily.
Choose an SI that can add value to your business objectives. Are they reducing risks, improving efficiency, and decreasing the costs incurred by your company? Striking up a partnership with a system integrator of this calibre can spell great things for the future of your organisation’s digitalisation journey.
Chakray may be your right choice! As a Small System Integrator, we are here to guide you through the hardest parts of your integration roadmap, including the selection and modification of a technology solution that suits your business requirements. Sounds like what you’re looking for? Don’t hesitate to contact us right away.