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October 25, 2022

Becoming a Master Systems Integrator


Understand the revenue opportunities involved with becoming a master systems integrator that can be relevant and vital to customers

We’ve been talking a lot about becoming a “master systems integrator.” In fact, we featured an entire session about the topic at Pivot to Profit earlier this year.

How do we define what that term means? To us, a master systems integrator is a company that oversees all the technical solutions that fall within CSI Divisions 27 and 28.

So what does that mean? Do AV integrators have to do security? Do security and life safety companies have to do AV? Not at all … but there will likely come a time when building owners or facility managers will have so many systems within their building(s) that they want to work with one company that can take sole responsibility for them all.

Partnerships are forming daily between NSCA members to give end-users what they need. It’s not uncommon to see integrators working together on large projects within their communities. They realize that the school or hospital they’re working for doesn’t really want 10 different companies taking responsibility for the technology within their buildings.

They’re trying to standardize on platforms, operating systems, network configurations, remote access capabilities, workflows, and processes. With many of these solutions operating on the same network, relying on remote data centers and cloud storage, integrating with one another, etc., it just makes sense to have one organization take responsibility for the integrity of the entire technical ecosystem. The concept of the master systems integrator was born out of that need.

Risk vs. Reward
As we know, pushing risk to the other party is a game that integrators get forced to play. Specifications, terms and conditions, waivers of liability, penalties, and liquidated damages are all examples of pushing risk onto someone else. If you assume risk, then you need to be compensated for it.
Likewise, if you share a network with building technologies, you need a way to be able to control risk.

Cybersecurity vulnerabilities are a great example of added exposure where there was once no concern. The last thing you want to do is add risk to your company without being paid to do so. The idea behind the master systems integrator is becoming a technology provider that’s willing to manage connectivity and IP-enabled devices while controlling what goes on the network—and getting paid well to do so.

This concept isn’t for everyone. For those who embrace the idea, it starts with a desire to be a service(s) provider. In the future, it’s unlikely that we’ll see multiple remote managed services providers operating within one client space.

If that system you provide has open architecture and provisions for APIs within it, it’s likely that the client will want it added to their network monitoring platform. It’s a partnering opportunity, a business decision, a risk decision, and a growth opportunity all at the same time.

Chuck Wilson is CEO at NSCA.

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