This information comes through a PR contact I’ve known and respected a long time. It just came, so I’m still thinking about its implications. Unfortunately, the press release was filled with nice-sounding, but inherently meaningless, buzz words. But it was short and worth parsing through. Apex Manufacturing Solutions, a systems integrator that calls itself “an end-to-end provider of manufacturing control and automation solutions,” is expanding its offerings. Previously not unlike many if not most systems integrators, it focused on the products of one major supplier. Now it will work with the products from Invensys Wonderware, Rockwell Automation, Siemens Energy & Automation (actually now called Siemens Industry Inc.), GE Intelligent Platforms, Schneider Electric, and more.
The “end-to-end” part is because Apex is not just an MES or automation specialist, but it offers manufacturing execution solutions (MES); factory automation services; continuous improvement consulting and implementation; support and maintenance services; manufacturing IT infrastructure systems; and project management.
What’s intriguing to me is whether this is a signal of the need for diviersifying for integrator company growth. Is the market for implementing just one supplier’s products too limiting for building a larger company? This may be a trend worth watching. Does this give an integrator entre into additional accounts, or will this spur additional competition among suppliers?
Most systems integrators are willing to take on a variety of hardware and software products, regardless of their vendor of choice. As you indicated, failing to do so could limit their long term growth potential at a certain size.
What’s more interesting is your question about the trend to diversify into these other services. It’s common for integrators to dabble with other disciplines in projects – but will they truly embrace the skillsets as part of their core competencies? I think over time, yes. Their customers certainly have a lot to gain with such changes.