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Getting Vertical

Jul 07, 20033 mins
Enterprise Applications

So how about that RFID? Gotta love CPOE, right? Whaddya say about ETL? Just when you think you’ve got a handle on the latest network terms, along comes a new batch to send your brain whirling.

But don’t feel too bad. The terms behind the acronyms above (radio frequency identification, computerized physician order entry and extraction, transfer and load) are more likely to be familiar to network IT executives in specific vertical markets than to network professionals in general. RFID is a huge trend in retail and manufacturing. With the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act somewhat under control, CPOE is a new focus for healthcare. And ETL is big for banks.

Our special “Getting Vertical” section in this issue  zeroes in on six markets – healthcare, education, retail, banking, manufacturing and state government – and highlights the hottest issues. While we examine many industry-specific technology advances in these stories, one thing that comes across is that plenty of challenges cut across industries.

Take security, for instance.

Our piece on the education market, “Security Lessons,” explores the complex network issues schools face today. On one hand, they want to provide open access to information – the lifeblood of any school. On the other, they don’t want to become easy marks for network intruders.

Security is foremost on the minds of network professionals at financial firms, too. “We have to apply patches nearly every day,” the IT manager for one credit union tells us, referring to his network security battles.

Wireless is another topic that cropped up again and again. Healthcare officials, like those quoted in our story “Take two tablet PCs and call me in the morning,” are salivating over the potential benefits for doctors and patients, but also have concerns about security and workflow. Wireless also is finding a home on factory floors, where wires really can get in the way (see “Shop talk,” page 36).

Another common topic is doing more with less. That’s the focus of our story on state government, where innovative projects are moving ahead despite shrinking budgets (“Shoestring networks,” page 43). Money issues also are a big factor in how fast retailers go forward with RFID (“Playing tag,” page 41).

No single vertical market segment accounts for more than 12% of Network World’s readership (government/military represents the biggest chunk, followed by manufacturing). So we do tend to write most of our stories with a more general audience in mind. But enjoy these more focused pieces. After all, where else are you going to learn the difference between EMR and ePC?