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From System Integrator to Solution Innovator

A New Vision for Platform SIs

Over nearly 20 years in the platform consulting ecosystem, we have experienced many conversations with consulting firms who were excited to work with our platform sales team. System Integrators (“SIs”), as we have always called them, all could boast of an impressive client list, highly qualified delivery teams, and how they were ready to serve customers and our sales team. Few could answer the question of how they were focused on, expert in, and innovating for specific areas. Fewer still had moved beyond merely providing hourly consulting services.

The most valuable SI firms have evolved from System Integrators into Solution Innovators.

These firms have moved beyond providing commodity services and hourly wrench turning, and are investing in creating innovative solutions that target specific micro-verticals. To call these firms “System Integrators” undervalues their expertise, and their ability to develop thoughtful, tested and, yes, well-integrated platform, ISV and consulting solutions.

This series sets forth a new vision for System Integration firms to embrace a path of Solution Innovation and to thoughtfully consider a new level of investment in capturing their repeatable expertise and innovation.

Below are the five key principles of this transformation. Over the coming weeks, we’ll dive deeper into each of these points. This work is hard, but it has many rewards: greater profitability, increased efficiency and employee satisfaction, and more value for customers. It also has challenges: new mental models, the need to use new tools and workflows, building new business models, and going to market in new ways.

We invite you to join us on this conversation as we delve into the intricacies of specialization in micro-verticals, the development of repeatable solutions, and moving beyond billable hours.  

We look forward to the comments and feedback from the many implementation partners that are thinking about or already on this journey. We are here to support, cheer for, and catalyze you!

  1. Harness the Power of Micro-Verticals: From very small firms up to large GSIs, firms should strategically select and specialize in micro-verticals. This clarity of focus requires hard tradeoffs and smart decisions, but will position your SI firm as a high-value, highly differentiated Solution Innovator rather than a commodity-priced Systems Integrator.
  2. The Art of Building Repeatable Solutions: Firms should invest in finding, developing and refining repeatable solutions that evolve with each project, express a point of view, and focus consulting dollars on customers’ most important and unique needs.
  3. Moving Beyond Selling Hours: SI firms should move away from only selling hours towards a business model that incentivizes the development and selling of innovative solutions, helping them capture more value and avoid becoming commoditized.
  4. Build Career Pathways to Expertise: Specialization provides a clear path for staff to build domain expertise and offers opportunities for coaching and feedback. By creating a structured environment for learning and advancement, firms can retain and develop talent more effectively. Depending on the micro-verticals you serve, you may be able to include customers in these learning communities, too!
  5. Tools for Solution Innovators: Having the right tools to make this transition is as critical as knowing how to use them. We will discuss open source and other tools commonly used with the end goal of making it easy for anyone on your team to join in Solution Innovation.

As we continue this series we look forward to hearing from Solution Innovators across the ecosystem who have been on this journey. 

Some things we are curious about:

  • How are you making time for your team to capture innovations? 
  • What is the hardest part of making your innovations repeatable and easy to deploy? Are your biggest challenges technical or business-related?
  • What stories of specialization do you have to share and how has it benefited you?
  • What else do you have to add to this conversation?

The MuseLab Team

Authors David Averill, Jon Stahl, and Jason Lantz are old friends and co-founders of MuseLab which helps ISVs, SIs and enterprise customers build products and solutions, with less effort, lower cost and greater speed. They formed their friendship serving hundreds of ISVs, SIs, and at least one really big enterprise platform company you might have heard of.


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