The Vertical Industries
Before we can launch into a discussion of the different vertical industries, we must answer the question, What exactly is a vertical industry? The term vertical is used to define any user community that has a specific and focused set of needs that differ from other “parallel” industries. Horizontal technologies (or industries) are those that span all industries and don’t apply to any particular industry specifically. In the context of our discussion, a vertical industry is a separately identifiable user community that bases its vocabularies on the horizontal technologies represented by XML. Figure 22.1 illustrates
According to research conducted by ZapThink, an XML industry analyst firm, there are over 450 XML vocabularies publicly announced in various registries and reference sources as of October 2001. This number has grown from around 120 in February 2000 and 250 in August 2000. It seems as though the pace of new XML schema development is certainly not slowing. Approximately 70 percent of these vocabularies are vertical industry applications, with the remainder split between horizontal applications and general XML technologies and frameworks.
Of course, the definition of vertical industries and horizontal technologies is a fuzzy art, at best, and many would argue that certain vertical industries are really horizontal indus-tries, and vice versa. In fact, within our discussion of vertical industries, there are really two types of vertical industry markets:
Purely vertical industries, such as electronic components
“Horizontal” verticals, which are industries that in turn span multiple other industries. Good examples of this include shipping, human resources, and in many cases finance.
In addition, the vertical industry groups themselves clump into “birds of a feather” verti-cals that, while serving distinct user communities, share so many features in common that solutions for one user group will usually be applicable to the second user group. For example, the “manufacturing” industry is really a set of very distinct user communities, but solutions for any user group would generally result in applicable solutions for another. In that case, our discussion of the manufacturing vertical will usually be applicable to all birds of that feather.
In our discussions, we will group these two different types of vertical markets together and illustrate how they, in turn, make use of truly horizontal XML technologies.