And The World’s Most Critical Industry Is …


Fortune’s “Most Admired Companies,” The Travel Channel’s “Top 10 Caribbean Beaches”, TIME’s “100 Most influential People,” The Top Five New Restaurants in Your City. We love lists because of the inherent recommendations many provide, and also because they force us to evaluate our own priorities, preconceptions and preferences.

At Vertiv, our vision is a world where critical technologies always work. So, we wanted to explore the issue of criticality—what it means and what are the factors that influence it. The way we decided to do that was to develop a list of “The World’s Most Critical Industries.”

The challenge, of course, was creating a methodology to rank industries that are all critical in their own way. Here’s how we did it.

First, we assembled a global panel of our own critical infrastructure experts. We wanted to make sure that every area of the world was represented, from Australia to China to Europe to the United States. We also wanted to make sure we represented as broad of a range of industries as possible – from transportation to industrial applications to data centers. And we didn’t want to be evaluating industries our experts didn’t have direct experience with.

With a broad pool of critical infrastructure experts across our global organization, neither proved to be as challenging as we first feared.

Once assembled, this expert panel created a “criticality rubric” by listing the factors that comprise criticality, weighting how important each of those factors are in comparison to one another, and identifying the industries to be evaluated.

The discussions that led to the creation of that rubric were as lively as you’d expect. It was fascinating getting a chance to hear the perspectives and experience of other experts across our organization. We all are so busy on a day-to-day basis working with customers and internal teams to develop and implement technologies that enable critical systems that we rarely get a chance to have the type of broad discussions that led to the creation of the rubric.

Then, it was up to each panelist to score each of the 22 industries we had identified for the various factors that impact the scope and severity of downtime in that industry. This was where the rubber met the road, so to speak. I won’t say it was easy—or even that we were able to completely eliminate all subjectivity from our rankings. But I will say I was impressed with the thoroughness and seriousness with which the team approached this difficult task and, as a group, resisted all urges to tinker with the results to make them meet our own pre-set expectations.

You can judge for yourself how we did in our report “Ranking the World’s Most Critical Industries.” If you’re so inclined, you can also rank your own industry using the same criteria and weighting our panelists did here.

In our ranking, Utilities scored the highest, based primarily on the dependence of so many of the other industries on the list on the electrical grid. If the grid goes down, the potential is enormous.

But, I’ll say after going through the process, the end rankings are almost immaterial. As the final report states, “The fact that one industry may rank slightly higher than another on a list of most critical industries doesn’t mean much if it’s your money or your life at stake.”

The most valuable part of the process for me was taking a step back from my day-to-day responsibilities to think about how every industry is digital. The digital economy surrounds us with a complex interconnected set of dependencies, many of which we are just beginning to understand. In almost every case, downtime in one industry has a ripple effect on other industries. And, to more fully appreciate the steps organizations across those industries take to ensure the worst case scenarios we envisioned through the process rarely, if ever, actually happen.

I hope you’ll take the time to read the report and that it will do the same for you.

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