Ecosystems: Systems integrators should transform to solutions providers

As I reflect on my current trip to India, I can't but help feel the deja vu of the Silicon Valley during the late 90's. Streams of business people come in and out of the lobby with ideas, deals, and lots of excitement. I'm typing away from the Hotel Leela in Bangalore where I just met with a client in the system integrator space. Like others, she also commented on the tremendous growth in just the past year. Among the construction cranes, cows in the street, motorized rickshaws, and the hustle and bustle of a country on the move, I have firmly experienced an outsider's perspective on India's growth.

With each trip, I notice new architectures and campuses being built or expanded for each of the SI's. India's info tech economy continues to grow and their system integrators now play a significant role in the global professional services business. As they continue to make progress and gain multi-billion in revenues, they remain on an aggressive move towards the next step in the value chain.

With that perspective in mind, opportunities exist for these highly skilled system integrators to make the transition from system integrator to solution provider. More importantly, those system integrators who have the development capabilties and understanding of various middleware platforms such as BEA WebLogic/AquaLogic, IBM WebSphere, Microsoft.Net, Oracle Fusion Middleware, and SAP NetWeaver have an opportunity to change the software environment in their next transformation. Just like Electronic Arts who builds software on Sony's Playstation, Microsoft's X-box, and Nintendo's Game Cube, imagine a world where an Infosys, Wipro, Satyam, Cognizant, and HCL deliver their own Chinese HR talent acquisition solutions or eastern european process manufacturing solution on top of NetWeaver, Fusion, WebSphere, VS.NEt, or WebLogic.

Delivering last mile solutions regardless of middleware platform potentially transforms system integrators who are channels for the big vendors like SAP and Oracle into solutions providers who view SAP and Oracle as a strategic supplier. But to get there, these SI's will require internal transformation in their capabilities. Customers must view these firms as trusted advisors across the enterprise.

However, skills shortages still abound in advanced capabilities such as change management, master data management, business process reengineering, and overall IT strategy. But with some retooling, expect the most nimble and adaptive of these system integrators to make the transformation. Clients desperately seek resources to deliver process innovation while optimizing commoditized processes via BPO. The key success factor will be the capability to deliver modular last mile solutions by industry and geographies on top of agnostic middleware platforms or SaaS deployment options.

Once that transformation has been attained, IBM and Accenture will nervously have to look in their rear view mirrors as the competition charges forward. But for now, their positions remain safe.

(The personal contents in this blog do not reflect the opinions, ideas, thoughts, points of view, and any other potential attribution of my current, past, or future employers.)
Copyrighted 2007 by R Wang. All rights reserved

Previous PostSaaS: SaaS takes off in Japan
Next PostEvent Report: Lawson CUE