The Limits of Verticalization | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Many service providers are busy organizing along vertical industries and going to market with vertical solutions. As the services industry matures, it’s very clear that customers want to do business with companies that understand their industry. However, many providers find that verticalization doesn’t give them the growth acceleration they anticipated. So there are limits to this strategy; just knowing about a customer’s industry is not enough. What’s missing?

Customers want providers to know more about their industry but also to know more about their business and how they operate. Providers that succeed in putting these two aspects together enjoy faster growth.

Cognizant is an example of how to be effective in this strategy. They have organized by industry and built industry expertise, but they also invest a great deal in understanding their clients and leaving the teams or key players in place for clients (particularly the in-country teams).

Customers express a lot of frustration to us. They don’t like providers’ churn. They have to train new people every six months, and the churn is debilitating. They want providers whose people get to know them, build relationships with them and understand who they are and how they work. Those kinds of relationships allow both parties to cut through the noise and get things done.

Despite what the customers are looking for, we see many providers responding in one dimension — the industry knowledge.

My advice to providers: don’t overlook how important relationships are. It doesn’t matter how clever you are or how much vertical knowledge you have. The relationship activates the opportunity.


Photo credit: Curtis Perry

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