A systems integrator is an enterprise that implements, coordinates, schedules, tests, maintains, and improves a computing operation. System integration accomplishes this by bringing together subsystems to create an all-encompassing system that allows the various component systems to function in harmony. System integration is particularly useful in the IT field.

In the past, most systems were treated as separate entities. Phone systems were separate from surveillance systems. AV systems were separate from access control. The expansion of the Internet changed this. Most systems are now online so it makes sense to integrate them into one large interconnected system. The system integration market reached in USD 244.9 billion in 2016 and has continued to grow since.

Chicago is one city that has a thriving tech ecosystem. In recent years, Chicago has seen a noticeable increase in system integration. When you decide to work with a systems integrator, you’re entering into a partnership. You want to select a company that you’re confident is the right choice for your business. Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to distinguish between the good systems integrators and the bad ones. This article will explore five things to look for in a Chicago systems integrator.  

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What Does the Company Specialize In?

Some providers specialize in one type of service. Others try to do every service imaginable. Likewise, some providers cater to a specific industry, while others target a wide variety of industries. Usually, you are better off choosing a company that specializes in your niche.

If you’re looking for retail systems integration in Chicago, you don’t want a company that targets retail and twenty other industries. A more generic systems integrator will have less expertise, yet you’ll often end up paying a higher price. You want someone who knows your industry inside and out.

Similarly, you want to have a clear understanding of what services you need. If you need surveillance, keyless entry, IT networking solutions, and security system solutions, for example, you want to find a company that offers all of these services. If you find a company that offers all of these services, plus ten other services you don’t need, you’ll probably end up paying more than you need to. The closer the company fits your service needs, the better.

What Is Their Track Record?

Deciphering the track record of a systems integrator requires a critical eye. Most companies embellish when they talk about their accomplishments. For example, they might boast about the most recognizable companies they worked with. But do they actually give details about the services they performed? Did the company leave a review? Most companies have worked with at least one big name. If they talk in generalities, it’s usually a red flag.

When considering a company’s track record, you want to read not just what the company says about itself, but also what others are saying about them. Also consider things like the number of years they have been in business. A systems integrator that has been in business for a year isn’t going to have the same reputation as a company who has been at it for ten years. Newer companies aren’t necessarily less competent, but they are more of a risk. They have less references and reviews, so you won’t be able to obtain a clear picture of their competency.

In Chicago, many businesses are transitioning security systems into business intelligence solutions. It’s a smart idea to also check the company’s track record when it comes to business intelligence solutions.

What Promises Do They Make? 

The reality is most systems integrators make a lot of promise they can’t keep. Like any other business, their goal is to sell their product/service. What you want to look out for is people who over-promise.

For example, some integrators will claim they’ve worked with Fortune 500 companies but can’t even meet the needs of a medium-sized business. If they make an impressive claim about a past job, follow up on with their references to verify the claim. You want to work with a company that can follow through on their promises. You also want to make sure the integrator understands exactly what your requirements for the system integration are. Sometimes, they’ll make promises they believe they can keep because they misunderstood what your objective was.

What Expertise Do They Offer? 

Perhaps the most important factor you want to look for is expertise. Before you make a final decision, you want to have a clear picture of what the integrator’s skills, knowledge, and techniques look like. Most companies will have a portfolio. Some portfolios will be small or narrow. Some will have extensive portfolio, but the portfolio itself is generic and lacks depth. You want to find a systems integrator that has an expansive portfolio that is detailed and multi-dimensional.

After seeing the portfolio, you should have a clear understanding the company’s expertise and you should know whether that expertise fits your current integration needs. In some cases, you won’t find a company that meets all your service requirements. Instead, you’ll need a company that can source and manage additional services. Looking at their past experience will help you know whether or not a company has the resources to source extra capabilities.

Are They Open to Your Ideas?

System integration will be more effective if it is collaborative. But some integrators don’t have a cooperative mindset. How well do they answer the questions you ask? Do they talk around the question? If you propose an idea or a request, do they push back and try to force their own ideas onto you?

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You want someone that is going to work with you and take you seriously. After all, you’re paying them so that you get the services that you want.

Whether you’re a small business or a giant retailer, and you’re looking for a Chicago systems integrator, Medlin Communications offers retail systems integration that is transparent, customer-focused, and cooperative. With over 30 years of experience, Medlin specializes in access control, network setup, surveillance systems, phone systems, and AV systems. To learn more or to request a service, visit Medlin Communications.