Welcome to 2010: The Decade of Smarter Service Systems!

My new year’s resolution was to start blogging regularly again.  So here goes.

First, thanks to Wendy Murphy of IBM for setting this open forum up for us to exchange information about Service Science.

Second, welcome to the decade of “smarter service systems” or the “decade of smart” for short.   If you want to read more about the decade of smart, here is a URL or two:



A service scientist views our complex world as an ecology of interacting service systems.   For example, cities are systems of systems.   From transportation to healthcare systems, our  quality of life depends on the both quality of service from these systems as well as the quality of jobs in those systems. For example, we are students and teachers, patients and doctors, politicians and citizens, investor and bankers – we are customers and providers of complex, specialized service.

More and more universities around the world are starting  or expanding their service science oriented courses and programs.   These courses are taught in business schools, engineering schools, information schools, humanity and social science schools, but they all share one thing in common: A focus on helping students to better understand our dependence on service, both as customers and providers, as well as the need to invest to innovate and improve service continuously.  Can we make service innovation as scientific and systematic as product innovation and process innovation?

Many existing academic disciplines relate to the thirteen main service systems that we are customers of, directly or indirectly, most every day:

I. Systems that meet routine daily needs

1. Transportation and Supply Chain

2. Water and Waste Recycling

3. Food and Product Manufacturing

4. Energy and Electric Grid

5. Information-Communication-Technologies

II. Systems for people’s life planning

6. Buildings and Construction

7. Financial and Banking

8. Retail &Hospitality, Media & Entertainment

9. Healthcare and Family Life

10. Education and Professional Life

III. Systems for governing

11. City Government
& Security
12. Regional Government
& Development
13. National Government
& Laws/Policies

We know these systems from a customer-perspective, and service science courses help us understand these systems from a provider-perspective and an innovator-perspective as well.  How can quality, productivity, compliance, and sustainable innovation of these systems be better managed, engineered, and designed?

Faculty in existing disciplines from marketing, operations management,  operations research, political science and public policy, strategy, game theory,  computer science, systems engineering, industrial engineering, management of information systems, organization theory, economics and law, incentive engineering, etc. — all teach historical cases, improvement, and/or innovation examples for all of the thirteen types of service systems enumerated above.

Service science graduates of the future must be deep at least one existing discipline and deep in one type of service system.  For example, computer science and health care is an area of high demand.  However, they must also be able to communicate across many disciplines and systems – all from a service provider and service innovator perspective.  These are the T-shaped graduates who can work best on teams.  Because the graduates are strong in an existing discipline, employers will be able to understand the role they can play in existing organizations.   Because they have broad communication skills across many disciplines and systems, a graduate who has the additional service science course or program is able to work well with others as a member of a service system innovation team.

Wendy Murphy has begun the task of gathering from faculty of the service science oriented courses and programs around the world, the common elements that can provide a starting point for defining content standards for service science.    Standards for Service Science Masters programs and undergraduate Service Science courses will evolve over the coming months and years.  Please send us, or post to this website information about your programs and courses – especially highlighting the common elements you think should be core parts of the emerging service science standard.

Finally, as more and more existing disciplines create more and more content related to service system innnovation (e.g., computer science programs adding service computing elements, industrial engineering programs adding healthcare elements, etc.), we are surely entering the age of smarter service systems.   And so a few faculty have rolled up their sleeves, and really taken on the hard problem of creating a new integrated foundation for service science that does justice to all the resource elements of a complex service system (e.g., people, technology, organizations, shared information, and dynamic value propositions that provide the incentive for more and better value cocreation interactions).  Most of the existing disciplines emphasize one resource type over all others, a truly integrated service science provides a balance of all these elements.  This is hard to do.

Again, the integrated service science is very hard to do.   The best approaches I have seen to date, are the researchers working to develop a comprehensive service system modeling and design tool.   A Computer-Aided Design (CAD) tool for service system modeling and design will ultimately be the tool of choice for service scientists, as they work to improve and innovate service systems.

Again Welcome to 2010: The Decade of Smarter Service Systems!


  1. Pingback: Coevolving Innovations | “The Emerging Science of Service Systems”, Organizational Dynamics Lecture Series, University of Pennsylvania, February 15, 2010

  2. Thanks for that! I am currently undertaking my PhD on service science, or service networks, exploring the concept of value (proposition, creation, exchange…), possibly within an educational environment.

    Would you recommend any text to explore the concept of value, what is value, value and virtuality, etc?


    Noel Carroll

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