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Don’t compete, collaborate

Jan 16, 2018
Ray DaSilva from IAM’s Mobility Exchange explains IAMX, a universal directory for the mobility industry.

The International Association of Movers (IAM) has partnered with Mobility Exchange to create IAMX, the universal service provider directory for the moving, relocation and mobility services industries. Any organisation, even an industry association, seeks to guard its competitive advantage and its unique capabilities to serve its members. In allowing non-IAM member companies to be listed in its directory, IAM has decided to recognise and favour cooperation and collaborative leverage.  

Collaboration is not a new concept in our industry. Just look at the very long list of industry associations at state, regional, national and international levels. We even have some associations of industry associations. Why? Because we recognise the advantages of collaborating to create shared resources and services which benefit the respective association members.  Ongoing discussions between industry associations are a hopeful sign.  Unfortunately, these discussions, at some point, reach a common roadblock which stops progress in its tracks: competitive advantage. 

This concern is a very human and understandable reaction.  ‘If I share this resource, my competitor will also have this advantage.  Do I risk losing my customer?’  When that question rears its ugly head, the bright vision of possibilities turns dark and the discussions stop.  I understand this guarded hesitation but at the same time believe that there is a strong case for reconsidering the potential benefits of collaboration. 

The case for an urgent reassessment of collaboration between associations relates to our current business environment: 

  • Relentless hyper competitiveness – Do it better and do it for less or get out of the way. 

  • Ever accelerating pace of change – Longing for the past and appreciating a personal, handcrafted service will always have its place but for most of us we are competing with ‘Do it better, do it for less and do it now.’ 

  • Survival goes to the fittest – The days of comfortable margins may be over.  We slice to the bone and we take some margin points back by continuously improving our quality and efficiency. 

  • The market is not expanding dynamically.  Moving, relocation and mobility services are mature or maturing industries undergoing transformation.  Success belongs to those that can innovate, reinvent and diversify based on current trends.  There are opportunities. 

I suggest we must focus our attentions with laser-like precision on the areas that will positively differentiate our product or service.  We must look for ways to collaborate with our colleagues, through our associations and even with our competitors on non-core, common industry resources that will allow us to become more efficient, improve quality and maintain our focus on our true differentiations.  Nothing new here either, we just need to understand and accelerate the pace to keep up. 

IAMX is an effort to create the universal directory of service providers for the moving, relocation and mobility services industries.  Most associations have an online directory but the IAM has taken a bold step in allowing non-IAM member companies to also be listed.  The directory is also collecting and curating directory content for industry partners like furniture repair, appraisers, restoration specialists, and a host of companies that specialise in destination services related to relocation.    

IAMX is a directory for professionals that engage in the moving, relocation and mobility services industries.  It is not a consumer-oriented site.  It features powerful geo-location search facilities as well as comprehensive filtering capabilities.  If you want to find a service provider in Beijing, China that has ISO 14000 certification, English speaking staff and offers an Area Orientation service – you can filter your search right down to the exact service providers that match.  It collects all this information in one place.   

How can you trust the information that service providers list in a directory?  IAMX relies on publicly available information (company websites, association directory listings, etc.) but it also has a voluntary Validation Program.  Companies that wish to upload scanned documentation to validate their years in service, membership, compliance and quality certification qualifications can do so.  This documentation is reviewed, expiration dates are recorded and each approved qualification is marked with a current green tick mark.  If the qualification expires, it changes colour.   

IAMX Validation does not purport to be a quality certification.  It is a very simple system which just seeks to validate certain qualification claims made by service providers.  But sometimes the simplest solutions are the most elegant.     

Where does the collaboration come in?  Each company that uses an automated operational system and each association that publishes a directory uses a database of partners.  The purpose of the database information is to identify partners: company name, address, contact details, staff details, and so on. If someone changes their phone number, for example, associations could collaborate to sharing this information as a common resource?  What collaborative tools could we build together to enhance efficiency on top of this infrastructure? 

Here’s the good news.  The discussions have already started and there is great enthusiasm for the concept.  There are many bright visions of the possibilities if we collaborate.  As we know from experience, the dark clouds of competitive advantage will soon emerge.  It will take leadership and determination for the industry to join this collaborative effort that the IAM has started to favour the benefits of collaboration over the fear of taking the risk of losing competitive advantage.   

I am very hopeful. 

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