The importance of industry expertise should not be overlooked when selecting a technology partner. Technology itself is standards-based, but the familiarity with HOW technology is used in a specific industry will accelerate your productivity gains with it. A professional landscaping group will have your yard looking great in one season. You and a lawnmower will keep the grass cut, but not without a lot more effort and weeds! It is all about the time and effort you want to spend "figuring it out" versus paying for the industry expertise to move forward quickly.
Platform and workflow expertise
The same software platforms are common across specific industries. Many groups think they are "unique" in their technology setup, but the reality is within a given industry it's pretty standard. Professional contractors all have some type of job estimating and tracking software. Healthcare clinics all have some type of scheduling and EHR software.
Where the experience comes in is HOW that technology is managed and supported for your end-users. Experience with industry-specific software translates into faster upgrades, less downtime, and less end-user frustration. The economies of scale quickly come into play, once your technology partner has "figured out", the best way to manage the software platforms common in your industry.
Specific knowledge of the workflows is also critical when providing technical support to our Clients. If we don't understand the importance of the scheduling application in our urgent care clinics there is an added layer of unnecessary stress and frustration with the end-users. Familiarity with the industry-specific workflows translates into a better support experience for end-users and faster resolution times for issues.
Lack of industry expertise limits technology strategy
Technology strategy should be based on a fundamental understanding of the workflows it should support. If your technology partner has no idea what that means for your business, it is harder for them to add value to your technology planning process. The basic technology bases will be covered, but the next level of efficiency and productivity gains from technology will not happen as quickly.
This results in a "flavor of the month" approach to software platforms, typically after the Client returns from an industry conference and has been sold on the latest and greatest platform that will solve all their needs. The technology provider dutifully works with the vendor to get it up and running. Six months later end-users are frustrated, implementation is behind, and it is time to go to the next "flavor"!
The gains from working with an industry-specific technology partner are well worth it. "Figuring it out" either with an internal IT team or non-specialized provider will lead to reduced ROI for your technology spend, and lower end-user productivity.