During the just concluded high level press conference with Invensys Operations Management's Rashesh Mody and Rob McGreevy and Skelta's Sanjay Shah, McGreevy reminded me that even though I have been saying that it is Invensys' master strategy to become the world's largest system integrator, they expect to go to market through their "existing ecosystem partners" - by which I take him to mean the Wonderware distribution organization, not necessarily the Foxboro one.
Big system integrators have always had smaller, partner integrators. That's what has differentiated ERP integrators from Control System Integrators. IBM, Accenture, Tata, SAP and the other companies with large ERP integration practices use smaller more niched integrators to do the plant level portions of the system, and even some of the entire project, or even the entire project if the project is for a SMB. They act, if you will, like General Contractors, and use Subcontractors for specialized parts of a large project.
What Invensys is doing that is radically different than what its large automation company competitors is doing is adapting the ERP integrator business model (from which nearly all of the IOM management staff emerged, after all) and using its "best of breed" semi-independent ecosystem partners to bring the message that IOM is not Foxboro on a global basis.
The other large automation companies, with the exception of Rockwell, are doing the "we will do everything for you--just pay us and forget it" model. This means that you MAY get very tight integration between the control system on the plant floor and the production control system and the enterprise, but you have to be content with the suite of systems that vendor provides. SOME of these vendors have SOME best in class stuff, but some of them don't.
Invensys' model is very much the system integrator model: open architecture, templates, system and content libraries that anyone can use and contribute to, strong hooks to third party software from Maximo (note the Invensys product Avantis can also be used, but is not exclusive) to SAP. It should be remembered that Wonderware was the first company in automation to build an SAP-approved interface, backalong a few years.
Will Invensys take on big projects as an integrator itself? Of course they will...but they'll also do a whole lot of integration in partnership. Why would they not?
Comparing what they have to offer with what everybody else offers (with Rockwell Automation, as a significant exception) what you see is a company that is WAAAAY stronger than anybody else from the GUI up to the enterprise, where everybody else is very strong from the GUI to the sensor and final control element, but in connection to the enterprise, not so much.
This is a critical differentiator which gives Invensys a real different story to tell.
Can they pull this off? I'd give it a resounding maybe.
And that beats "when are they going to die?" which was the question before Bhattacharya, McGreevy and the Modys took over.