Who is a System Integrator
A system integrator is a professional who specializes in integrating different systems to create a unique and functional solution that meets the customer’s needs. The role of the system integrator is to facilitate communication between various systems, technologies, software, and hardware that would otherwise not be compatible or communicative.
For example, a system integrator can create a computer network that connects various devices (computers, printers, scanners, cameras, etc.) using standard or customized protocols. Alternatively, they can design and install an industrial automation system that monitors and controls the manufacturing processes of a factory using components such as sensors, actuators, PLCs, SCADA, etc.
What Does a System Integrator Do
The activities of a system integrator can vary depending on the type of project and industry. Some common phases can be identified, including:
- Analysis of customer requirements: The system integrator must understand the client’s objectives, requirements, and expectations to propose the most suitable solution for their needs.
- Solution design: The system integrator must design the integrated solution, selecting the most appropriate components and defining technical and functional specifications.
- Implementation of the solution: The system integrator must install and configure the solution’s components following safety and quality standards. In this phase, the system integrator must also test the solution’s functionality and address any issues or anomalies.
- Support and maintenance: The system integrator must provide the necessary support to the client for using the integrated solution, both during the startup phase and afterwards. Additionally, they must perform preventive and corrective maintenance to ensure the solution’s efficiency and reliability over time.
Skills of a System Integrator
Integrated system specialists possess a range of technical and cross-disciplinary skills. Some key skills of a system integrator include:
- Computer knowledge: a system integrator must understand major operating systems, programming languages, communication protocols, application software, and emerging technologies relevant to the IT sector.
- Electronics knowledge: A system integrator must understand key electronic components, their functions, characteristics, and connections. Moreover, they should be able to use measurement and control tools to verify the operation of electronic circuits.
- Mechanical knowledge: a system integrator must understand major mechanical components, their functions, characteristics, and assembly. They should also be proficient in using assembly and maintenance tools to install and repair mechanical devices.
- Industrial automation knowledge: A system integrator must understand major industrial automation systems, such as PLCs, SCADA, MES, robots, sensors, actuators, etc. Additionally, they should be able to design and program control and supervision logics for production processes.
Advantages of an Integrated System
An integrated system offers several advantages, including:
- Streamlining procedures and business activities, avoiding duplications, overlaps, and conflicts among various systems.
- Optimizing enterprise performance and quality by providing an overview and global control of processes.
- Innovating business models and processes through the flexibility and scalability of integrated solutions.
- Improving services through effective communication between different systems.
- Saving time and resources by simplifying relationships among different levels of the organizational structure and creating a unified document and data management system.
- Coordinating and managing different functions of a home automation system intelligently.
When to Rely on a System Integrator
Relying on a system integrator can be beneficial when you want to:
- Make the most of existing technological investments, avoiding waste and incompatibility.
- Explore new business models and innovate processes through the flexibility and scalability of integrated solutions.
- Enhance customer service and online presence through effective communication between different systems.
- Receive consultation and support from qualified experts capable of designing, implementing, and managing integrated solutions.
When Not to Rely on a System Integrator
In general, it may not be advisable to rely on a system integrator when:
- You already have a simple, homogeneous, and functional IT infrastructure that does not require significant modifications or integrations.
- You have a clear and precise vision of your needs and objectives, and you have qualified and updated personnel capable of independently managing integration projects.
- You have a limited budget or prefer not to invest in integrated solutions, opting to maintain separate and independent systems.
- You do not need to innovate or customize your solutions and are content with using standardized and compatible products.
Types of System Integrators
System integrators operate in various specializations based on the specific needs and technologies of the sectors they focus on.
- Information Technology (IT): integration of computer systems, networks, servers, software, and related services to meet IT needs, including IT infrastructure management and cybersecurity.
- Networks and Communications: design and integration of network infrastructures, structured cabling, network devices, routers, switches, firewalls, and other devices to ensure efficient connectivity and communications.
- Cybersecurity: Provision of advanced security solutions to protect networks, data, applications, and systems against cyber threats, hacking, and unauthorized access.
- Audio-Visual (AV) Systems: design and integration of audio, video, projection, videowall, teleconferencing, and control solutions for audio and video management in commercial and residential environments.
- Industrial Automation and Controls: integration of systems for industrial process automation, including programmable controls, sensors, actuators, and software to improve the efficiency and reliability of industrial operations.
- Building Automation Systems: integration of systems for centralized building control, including energy management systems, building automation, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), and security.
- Smart Home Systems: creation of integrated solutions for smart homes, including devices and systems for controlling lighting, temperature, security, energy, and entertainment within the home.
- Education Sector Systems: integration of educational technologies, digital classrooms, platforms, and online learning systems to support traditional and distance education.
- Entertainment and Event Sector Systems: Integration of audiovisual technologies and lighting solutions for events, concerts, conferences, exhibitions, and other events.
Each specialization requires specific knowledge and skills, and system integrators in these areas focus on projects and solutions that meet the unique needs of their respective sectors.
In conclusion, system integrators are professionals specialized in integrating complex technological systems. They play a crucial role in ensuring that systems function efficiently and reliably. Their skills and responsibilities primarily revolve around technology and automation.
Technology is constantly evolving, and a good system integrator can help you keep up with the times.