By Sean Lane | CrossChx CEO

Existing industries are in need of constant transformation. Transformation can take many forms. It can be new business models, new technology, or new markets for example.

Regardless of what the transformation looks like, I think we can all agree it’s part of the quasi-hegemonic cycle of big industry titans. Some titans can adapt and stay on top, some are too mired in groupthink and status quo and get toppled by tenacious underdogs. I have a strategy I love to use for industry transformation (in full disclosure the jury is still out on whether or not I’m right).

Some would call it disruption. I don’t like to label what startups like mine are doing as disruption. I think the status quo is disruptive.

Innovative transformation brings the world closer to order, farther away from disruption, closer to homeostasis. The old way of doing things is often disruptive. I digress…

I call my strategy for industry transformation the “Level Up Strategy.” The first thing to do in the level up strategy is to define what products or services are out there that for which the industry pays has traditionally paid a premium. Now, using your magical Nerf gun of innovation and audacity, shoot those products and services and magically transform them into table stakes. That is, look at some products and services that should be democratized across the industry, make them 10 times better, and then make them free. Reserve the premium on doing things much better and by leveling up the value chain. Oftentimes the transformation of a product into table stakes makes the product now part of an infrastructure from which to build new products, new value, and even new markets.

For example, in healthcare, there really hasn’t been a universal solution for patient identity management. The products that do exist are built to exchange a service for money on a customer to customer basis.

At CrossChx we decided to build a massively better, massively ubiquitous identity management system for healthcare, and we decided to make it free.

We did this to immediately make the old, one-off solutions have to compete with free. We wanted to drop the bottom out of the price expectations for good identity management. We think charging for identity management is too easy. If getting identity right across the industry is as valuable as we say it is, we should be able to harvest the value from the effects of getting it right- not by just getting it right and curing the symptom. We wanted to democratize the identity layer of healthcare, proliferate it across the industry, and ultimately turn identity into a piece of universal infrastructure. By making identity a free piece of infrastructure, we’ve moved the focus on value up a level to products that can take advantage of that infrastructure to make health care better in new exciting ways. The process of creating one unique ID for every patient and homogenizing data will allow us to enable the development of a new layer of sophisticated applications that improve the efficiency and quality of care delivery.

So if you’re looking to transform an industry, find something that should be part of the infrastructure, make it better, make it free and ubiquitous, and then build your value on top of that infrastructure. I think the most valuable and biggest impact companies do it this way.