Change Of Face

A Growing Trend

Transmigration is destined to become more familiar to all types of businesses. Thanks to forces such as e-commerce and globalization, boundaries between industries are blurring, value chains are adding and subtracting links, and large numbers of companies are facing pressure to develop new markets to replace dying ones. "It's happening more frequently," says Sheehy, "because competitive environments are forcing it."

But you shouldn't force it. "This isn't about going out to find someplace to transmigrate," Sheehy says. "It's about going to the periphery of your organization to find out where it's already happening."

It's happening again to InfoGlide. In 1999, it became apparent that InfoGlide's technology was ideally suited to analyzing large files of Web-based customer data to identify a firm's best customers and their specific tastes. Suddenly, the door opened to opportunities in customer relationship management and online vertical retailing.

"We're not really in the fraud business," Valentine says. "We're in the business of giving you the most detailed information about your customer. When he changes his name, address and identity numbers in order to avoid you finding him because he's being fraudulent, we can still tell you all about him. And every industry cares about knowing their best, worst and fraudulent customers."

Having gone from law enforcement to insurance to general business markets in just a few years, InfoGlide might be an extreme example of shapeshifting. Nevertheless, the scenario is one that any business could face if its market changes. As Valentine says, "The market is the ultimate wisdom. The market is going to tell you what you have to do."

Next Step

  • Winning the Race for Value: Strategies to Create Competitive Advantage in the Emerging 'Age of Abundance' (Amacom) by Barry Sheehy, Hyler Bracey, Rick Frazier and Adrienne Hickey explains how companies can, among other techniques, transmigrate to meet changing market needs.
  • Shapeshifters by Marlene Piturro, is a September 1999 article in Management Review magazine that examines transmigration from a big-company perspective.

Letting Go

Is your business stretched to capacity? Find out what's not making money-and drop it. Other Content Links

Expanding Your Business

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This article was originally published in the April 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Change Of Face.

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