The vertical…IT solution or buzz word?

What is a vertical? Let’s briefly return to our basics in geometry… According to Wiktionary, a vertical is defined as a straight line along the direction of a plumb line. Obviously, today, this concept may seem pretty far removed, and yet the vertical has never been more present in organizations, especially those operating in unique and complex industries. But why might that be?

An IT solution is referred to as a vertical market solution when it is able to address the specific requirements of a particular industry or field and covers more than 75% of the business processes of the organization, as opposed to a horizontal solution, which aims to support more generic and common processes and functions. For example, regulated orders and professional associations will seek out a system to track not only information pertaining to their members, but also to manage activities related to admission into the profession, committees, events, inspections or the investigation process leading to allegations heard by the Disciplinary Committee.

Organizations with a high level of particularity due to the context of their industry should therefore consider the implementation of an integrated CRM solution designed specifically to address their needs. This will minimize the development required to deploy the solution by deriving benefits from the functionalities and processes already offered by the application. In consideration of the strategic objectives of the organization, a vertical market solution such as this will offer several other advantages, such as:

  1. A faster configuration and implementation,
  2. A wealth of well-established functionalities and processes,
  3. A project team with knowledge of the industry and best-practices,
  4. A higher user adoption rate,
  5. A superior return on investment.

While there are distinct advantages to adopting a vertical market solution, it is still important to avoid the trap of moving too far away from the standard solution (vanilla release) during implementation. Overdevelopment of specific business rules would increase the deviation from the vertical, and away from standard application features and functionalities. It is important to remember that a vertical market solution should cover more than 75% of the business needs of the organization. The remaining 25% will be developed by the project team, not to adjust the solution to the industry, but rather to the particular needs of the organization. Any additional deviation will naturally entail costs and delays that would increase the complexity of the project without necessarily resulting in better user adoption.

As a plumb line directs the geometric vertical, the complexity of your industry will direct your organization. To fully benefit from the implementation of a solution that meets your market vertical, it is important to accurately assess the percentage of coverage it will provide so as to ensure a proper fit for your organization. Also, do not underestimate the skill and industry knowledge of your solution partner because they will be an important asset to the success of your project.


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