Vertical Industry Communication Trends and Best Practices

The only purpose of enterprise communications technologies is to support the organization's mission, customers, partners, people, and processes. It's that simple. All communication technology investments, deployments, and operations should be evaluated in that light.

 

This principle has been the basis for our UniComm Consulting work since 2006, as co-founders of BCStrategies (nee UCStrategies), and as contributors to VoiceCon, Enterprise Connect, Business Communications Review (BCR), and No Jitter.

At BCStrategies we defined UC and now BC (business communications) as "communications integrated to optimize business processes." In 2007, we shared our methodology in the article, "Top UC Applications Are Now Apparent."

The enterprise communications industry has come a long way since then, but the principles are still the same: The applications for communications technologies can be found and can be justified by examining an enterprise's value chain. Then, select the communications technologies that will support at least the basics of each element of the value chain and, preferably, allow breakthrough improvements in one or more elements of the value chain.

Our consulting experience over the past decade has proven this approach and has yielded important new insights. One set of insights has produced a granular taxonomy of nine "Usage Profiles." You can read about usage profiles in this No Jitter post and can see a detailed description of each of the Usage Profiles by scrolling down on this page.

Yet, as usual, one size doesn't fit all. The mission, customers, and value chain vary by the vertical market in which an enterprise operates. Therefore, the types of communication required by an enterprise's employees will vary significantly in each vertical industry segment. Here are two examples:

  • The core functions of a health care delivery organization will be in clinical and inpatient settings, tightly integrated to the electronic medical record (EMR)
  • The core functions of a wholesale distributor will be in the sales and logistics functions, performed mostly by mobile field personnel for sales, delivery, and service, and tightly integrated to the customer relationship management (CRM) system and the enterprise resource planning (ERP) or similar product, logistics, and billing systems

Clearly, the communications functions will be distinct in these two vertical industries.

There is a sticky point in all of this. Communication technology vendors prefer the one-size-fits-all approach that is customized by their system integration (SI) partners, so that the vendor can keep its product as simple and economical as possible. In some cases, such as Sharpie Markers, this works well. But enterprise communications usually requires much more industry-specific differentiation, at least for the software that presents the user experience (UX) and integrates to the other systems in each element of the value chain, as suggested in the two examples above.

Enterprise communications managers, infrastructure managers, application managers, IT architects, and CIOs don't have the same concerns. Principally, they're concerned with best practices in their own industry groups. Who's making breakthroughs? And, even more urgently today, who's producing disruptions? It's easy to notice that the disruptions are usually focused on just one element of the enterprise value chain. For example, Salesforce.com got started by optimizing things for a sales manager and her team, but look where it is today.

So, here we go with a series of articles for the balance of this year. Every three weeks we'll add another article in this series on "Vertical Industry Communication Trends and Best Practices." Beyond today with this introductory post, we'll l follow this schedule:

Date Topic
Aug. 14 Foundational communications across verticals
Sept. 11 Manufacturing
Oct. 2 Financial and insurance services
Oct. 23 Higher education
Nov. 13 In-patient health care
Dec. 11 State and local government

    If the feedback is positive, we can continue this into 2019. There are many other substantial vertical markets (you can check this out in the Bureau of Labor Statistics charts).

    If you have questions about your own industry, please send them to me at [email protected]. If possible, please send them at least a week before the publication date above, and include the words "Vertical Communications" in the subject line.

    If you're a vendor with some specific cases or services for one of these industries, you can send your inputs as well, as described above. Please, use real, actual specific vertical market cases, preferably backed up by vertical market staff and products or services -- no "fake" verticals!

    I'm looking forward to this series and hope you are, too. Please be in touch with your questions or inputs.

    BCStrategiesis an industry resource for enterprises, vendors, system integrators, and anyone interested in the growing business communications arena. A supplier of objective information on business communications, BCStrategies is supported by an alliance of leading communication industry advisors, analysts, and consultants who have worked in the various segments of the dynamic business communicationsmarket.