Why Buy From A Systems Integrator?

Max Pritchard

In this blog I look at the additional value that can be gained by buying from a systems integrator (SI), as opposed to the manufacturer of a device, a piece of software or platform. I will answer the question:

Why would I want to buy from a systems integrator?

1. The right size supplier for the right size customer

Big vendors/suppliers often ignore smaller organisations, leaving them bereft of support, flexibility and attention. On the other hand, small vendors represent a double-edged sword for organisations – easy to pressure, but also lacking in resources, and perhaps less resilient to changes. You can pick a systems integrator that is just right for your size organisation and still be able to use your preferred vendors’ products.

2. With a systems integrator, you can shrink your supplier interface

The network and security markets are particularly fragmented, leaving organisations needing to manage dozens of supplier relationships. Finding a systems integrator with a coherent, but broad, capability and list of existing supply relationships can reduce the cost of on-boarding, managing, and leaving vendors.

3. Systems integrators offer a more independent view of products and service suitability

Vendor sales teams are, understandably, trained on their own product strengths. A systems integrator will be less invested in a specific product, particularly if they offer alternatives, instead being able to recommend a best fit based on actual customer experiences. Systems integrators hold vendors to account when a product or service does not fit a customer requirement.

4. Systems integrators evaluate and vet suppliers so you don’t have to

Good systems integrators perform due diligence on vendors – interested in the same things that end users look for; good support, excellent commercials, clarity, capability, innovation and value proposition. Systems integrators have experience of many engagements with many customers, and can evaluate based on long-term evidence.

5. A big picture approach reveals different ways to solve business problems

Vendors often excel in one or two tools and try and frame an organisation’s problem in such a way that their product is the only solution. However, there are often cheaper ways of tackling a business issue that a systems integrator will be able to offer because they have access to a broader array of vendors, each offering a different set of tools and approaches. Some vendors only sell via the channel so products will not be available directly.

6. The amount of sway you have over a supplier is based on how much you spend

Systems integrators sell more vendor products than all but the biggest single end user purchases and therefore have more sway over the supplier. If you buy more than one product or service from a systems integrator, you will have more influence over that systems integrator than you would buying from separate vendors when it comes to negotiation, support, and resolving problems.

7. Vendors may avoid complex technical faults because you can’t prove it’s their problem

Vendors can be slow to resolve complex technical faults in systems because they don’t have diagnostic triage processes and struggle to establish the root of the fault. Systems integrators can have greater visibility and responsibility for broad parts of a network or system, and can offer more mature diagnostic capabilities.

8. Systems integrators simplify on-boarding, contract and data protection issue management

You can pick a systems integrator that meets your requirements for contractual jurisdiction and support for data protection processes. If a systems integrator offers more flexible contracts, and better defined data controller-data processor flows, then you may not need to jump through as many hoops to satisfy your internal business requirements.

9. Vendor focus can change after order

After a vendor has sold their product to a company, their focus changes to defending their place in your network. A systems integrator is more likely to be able to offer a partnership where changes to your business are an opportunity for them, rather than a threat, and so you can enjoy longer term interest and engagement.

10. Systems integrators offer a consistent support process even if technology providers change

Some companies rely on tender processes to manage change of supplier at the end of contracts, but tender processes can be prone to errors, stifle conversation and seldom lead to good value outcomes. They are biased towards larger companies and involve large-scale procedural change to move supplier, which can limit an end user’s access to better value products and services. Working through a systems integrator can provide an end user with access to multiple vendor products at different price/value points and enable you to change provider without impacting sales and support processes.

11. Systems integrators have better local knowledge and support

Some of the best technology vendors are not familiar with, or easily available in, the UK. Systems integrators like activereach scout the international technology scene for new products and services that offer innovation, or capability, above and beyond what’s available at home.

12. Systems integrators can offer better value

With a systems integrator, you can negotiate multi-product discounts, even with products from different vendors.

Many vendors only operate through the channel, or offer higher RRP directly, so system integrators offer access to products or prices you could not get any other way.

13. Direct support from a vendor is not necessarily faster

Systems integrators often have more sway with vendors and some systems integrator support processes bypass vendor frontline support. Systems integrator fault diagnostics can expedite fault resolution with vendors. Systems integrator support teams often have experience with customers who have seen the same problems, and therefore can provide immediate solutions, particularly where the fault is complex and based on interoperability issues. Working with a systems integrator does not necessarily preclude having direct access to vendor engineering teams, but you can gain additional assurance.