Horizontal CRM solutions — as mature as they are (and they have been around for 20+ years) — don't always do a good job at supporting industry-specific business processes. Consider these examples: CRM users in manufacturing need capabilities to track projects, schedules, time sheets, labor efficiencies, and equipment inventory in addition to core CRM attributes.

Alternatively, a real estate professional would like to use CRM to track not only client contact information but also additional data elements such as properties, lease/sales comps, and stacking plans, which illustrate how healthy a property is in terms of tenants and leases.

So, over the years, CRM vendors have built vertical market software applications from the ground up for specific industries.

Historic, heavyweight on-premises applications — like Oracle Siebel, with 21 built-on industry verticals — are giving way to newer, more agile software-as-a-service vertical offerings that offer scripted best practices. And other vendors have taken a different tactic and developed lighter-weight systems of engagement to consolidate and visualize data from disparate systems to drive better decision-making. This leaves a CRM buyer with three options to choose from:


CRM Type




Horizontal CRM

Offers broad CRM capabilities across all industries


- Natively supports capabilities required for a particular vertical (ex policy automation, channel management)

- Can be customized  and integrated with other applications to meet exact business requirements and drive adoption

- Customizations can be costly and difficult to manage over time

- User experience is hampered by superfluous features

Lightweight vertical CRM

Includes UI templates, common process flows that do not script the end-to-end process, data model extensions, and UI labels

- Offers core common standardized, industry-specific process flows.

- Shields clients from technical obsolescence with solutions built on top of a well supported CRM platforms like Oracle, Salesforce, and or Microsoft.

- Vertical solutions may not be robust enough for an industry

- Demands further technology management investment for customization to exact business requirements

Deeply vertical CRM

Provides end-to-end scripted industry processes

- Support for industry processes drive higher adoption rates

- Includes compliance to industry standards and regulations

- Fully scripted processes can be “over-verticalized” with little ability to customize to business requirements

- Vendors often lack large market – and revenue – to support the level of continuous innovation  compared to horizontal CRM vendors

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