Five Ways to Determine If Your Integrator Is Just a Supplier

December 8, 2022

The massive shift in LEO technology has created a disruptive moment for the maritime industry, making it critical to distinguish between the roles of a technology integrator and a supplier to achieve the desired experience for guests and crew. Knowing who you can trust for a long-term technology commitment is of paramount importance.

Those roles—a trusted business partner vs a vendor—are rather like the differences between raw ingredients in a supermarket and their transformation into a delicious, gourmet meal prepared by a skilled chef, an analogy used by Erik Carlsen, Anuvu SVP of Maritime, Energy and Government, to illustrate how the chef becomes the guide for a culinary journey.

“Not everything is a Michelin-starred meal but not everything is supposed to be,” Erik said. “And a good integrator is going to understand that. A good integrator is going to be able to take those ingredients … and they’re going to be able to create a meal or an outcome, an experience, that is going to be tailored to your guests, your tastes, and your audience.”

For the remote-connectivity industry, the era of a single satellite solution supplemented by line-of-sight or cellular technologies has ended. Maritime connectivity must now consider solutions from multiple orbits—including low-earth orbit (LEO) constellations—new providers like SpaceX, and numerous ways to come to market. This has created new complexities for maritime operators.

“The critical paradox that we have to acknowledge and need to accept is basically this: As technology gets more and more integral into how we run our lives—it’s better, faster, cheaper—it also becomes more and more complicated, and we become more and more dependent upon it,” Erik says. “So much of what we do and so much of how we operate in the market is trying to understand not what the technology is but how people are using it.”

Erik recently shared Anuvu’s thoughts about how integrators and suppliers differ, and how to detect the differences for your maritime technology needs. Here are five key guideposts to consider when assessing an integrator:

  1. Geographic Alignment
    Suppliers often concentrate their work in specific regions, often with limited hours. A successful integrator operates globally, with network operations, staff and services that are available locally, in the field wherever a customer requires. Moreover, the integrator should listen and learn a partner’s business culture, how the organization functions, and how it expects to be served. “Do you actually understand how we roll and operate?” Erik said.
  2. Experience
    An expert integrator will understand your unique outcomes and how each player in your industry, such as offshore energy or cruise, addresses the market. Experience isn’t just about understanding the technology outcomes of a particular client but also an integrator’s ability to work with different industry players, all with their own unique strategies. Suppliers typically use rate cards to determine a solution for clients whereas an integrator won’t have them in the organization, preferring to tailor a successful outcome for each client. “Integrators don’t have cookie-cutter solutions,” Erik said. 
  3. Transparency and Best Practices
    A good integrator should be listening for your strategy so that they can then showcase what they are going to do, all with complete transparency. “There should be no secrets, nothing kept behind the curtain,” Erik said. “Because an integrator, unlike a supplier, is part of your team. And to have someone who has something hiding behind the curtain, that’s not a true team player.”
  4. Tools
    Evaluate the resources your prospective partner brings to a project. A partner with specially designed tools is “a game changer” for how the organizations will work together, Erik says. Another aspect to consider: What is the integrator or supplier’s partner and resource network like? Do they have an extensive portfolio of business partners and services?
  5. Partnership
    Integrators enter a “shared-risk endeavor” with the client at the start of a relationship and don’t disappear when a project is installed. They offer products, tools and recommendations “but we are going to stay here and make sure it works,” afterward, Erik said. “A good guide on your journey is going to pick up a bag and walk alongside with you as opposed to just pointing you up the mountain.”

For more information on how Anuvu can be a full-service integrator for your connectivity needs, please contact innovation@anuvu.com.