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Can Ignoring Clients Boost Your Sales?

Can Ignoring Clients Boost Your Sales?
Image credit: Imprivata

Back in 2009, Imprivata was enjoying decent sales of its flagship tech product to banks, financial institutions and healthcare facilities. The Lexington, Mass.-based company's sign-on technology allows professionals to log in and out of multiple-user computer stations with the swipe of a card or fingerprint, without the time-sucking and less-than-secure method of logging in user names and passwords multiple times a day. Sales had increased 8 percent over the previous year, but CEO Omar Hussain thought they could be even better.

The Fix
After surveying the collapsing financial services industry and seeing projections for healthcare's growth, Hussain took a gamble. He turned his attention away from 60 percent of Imprivata's customers to focus on healthcare--a risky move in the midst of a recession. But doing so allowed Imprivata to shift from adapting a technology that attempted to be all things to all industries, to focusing on the specific security, compliance and productivity needs of doctors, nurses and providers--while also playing a role in streamlining the medical-care process.

The Results
Thanks to the push into the healthcare industry, Imprivata saw its healthcare business increase approximately 40 percent in 2012, with sales topping $50 million. The company's single-sign-on technology is now in use in some 1,100 U.S. hospitals, including Kaiser Permanente and Johns Hopkins, as well as in facilities in Europe, the Middle East and Australia.

A Second Opinion
Joseph Walent, lead analyst for the healthcare IT services sector at Technology Business Research in Hampton, N.H., isn't surprised by Imprivata's success. "This is something we're seeing on a larger scale. Companies like SAIC, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin are shifting gears to more aggressively approach the healthcare industry," he says. "This is an industry that is just starting to integrate IT to increase efficiencies, control costs and improve outcomes."

However, Imprivata would do well to keep tabs on its more established competitors, he warns. "They could face incredible competition from these much larger government defense contractors, since healthcare is more immune to spending cuts than new weapons."

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This article was originally published in the June 2013 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: A Narrower Focus.

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