Recently I came across this report on Forrester exploring the pros and cons for horizontal vs. vertical cloud solutions for different business areas. It’s worth a read if you haven’t done so, but naturally any time I come across one of these, I want to put it into the service context.

Of course, service is not a specific vertical, is it? It’s a loosely-connected cluster of verticals, focused on very different outcomes, very different types of service, and very different workflow structures. For that exact reason it is important to give some thought to, if not specifically how a solution is built with your industry in mind, how it conforms to the unique structure of your industry.

There are some obvious benefits to this approach, so let’s look into a few of them.

Speaks Your Jargon

This might seem reasonably simple, but in an industry that is rife with specific terminology, context, and nomenclature, an out-of-the-box solution may lack the necessary nuance to even catalog everything that needs to be cataloged.

Every industry has its jargon—with sometimes conflicting meanings, so ensuring that your solution properly understands the complexity of meter readings for utilities versus those for telecommunications without ten thousand customizations can be, in one hand, a way to ensure things are simply working properly. On the other, getting that right early offers a catalyst for growth of additional solutions, which can take advantage of standardized output that’s already internalized the necessary nuances of a specific industry.

Workflow Friendly

A pure service provider invariably differs dramatically from a manufacturer. Sure, bolt-on modules for sustainability and reverse logistics can square the circle, but only when they are overlaid into a sequence that actually understands the unique flow of service appointments specific to an industry.

A constant refrain of mine is that software is useless if your technicians aren’t willing to push the buttons to get it to actually work. By choosing software that actually understands your workflows, you are that much more likely to build software that meets the needs, expectations, and rhythms of your technicians.

Regulation-Ready

Finally—and this is a point that certainly plays within the context of workflows—is the necessity of implicit regulatory understanding. Within medical devices, for example, you need to be able to respect HIPAA within the context of your given workflows. This can’t be an add-on or a late-addition, this needs to be in the product from the jump. These regulatory requirements can be part of configurations, changed for regions, and sit along other requirements, such as SLA of course.

With all of these benefits to exploring a verticalized cloud, are there any drawbacks? Yes, absolutely—verticalization can limit your exposure and understanding of broader service trends. Further, niche companies often lack the breadth and depth of capabilities of their more generalized counterparts. For these reasons, many firms instead look to larger companies who have expressed deep domain expertise. There’s of course a natural trade off when one works with a jack of all trades, but that balance might end up being the key to service success.

Tom Paquin
Author

Contributor, Future of Field Service