Ontologies for Service Systems and Service Innovations

We need better Ontologies for Service Systems and Service Innovations


Many colleagues send me nice progress on Ontologies for Service Systems and Service Innovations.

Recently,  I was asked the following questions:

1. What is an example of a technology platform that can be used to help identify service system innovations?

For example, Kaggle.com (http://www.kaggle.com) provides a platform for “data science as a sport” — companies provide data, objectives, and awards, diverse research teams provide brains and algorithms, and Kaggle provides a technology-platform for parties to interact and co-create value.  The number of technology platforms for student and researcher competitions on open data sets is increasing – and I have blogged about this trend, see the list when you scroll down on this blog post: http://service-science.info/archives/2177

2. What will discoveries related to service system innovations look like?

As technological capabilities advance, there will be many discoveries related to the “scale effects” in service system innovations.  Economies of scale and learning curves are well-known for industrial age economic systems, and yet surprisingly unexplored for the area of service system innovations in the digital age.  In fact, for a particular technology level, different scales may be optimal – think of the new business models associated with putting solar panels on homes, versus solar panels for a street, community, district, city, state, or nation.

3. What is the fuel for service system innovations for local governments?

For example, datacatalogs.org (http://www.datacatalogs.org) provides a platform for “curating open data sets” – many cities provide data, and this becomes the basis of regional competitions to use that data to improve quality of life and invent new service system innovations.

4. What is servitization?

Most people try to build big walls between service system innovations, and manufacturing or agriculture innovations.   These walls do not work well – because of “servitization.”

In the digital age, new technology platforms allow new business models for sharing information, work, risk, etc.

For example, if you can put enough sensors in a jet engine, if might make sense to lease the jet engine to airlines, rather than sell the engines – this is what Rolls Royce did with “power by the hour” offering to their customers (see http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=1665)

For example, if an auto manufacturing company decides to outsource their auto design staff into a new business (perhaps a technology platform for auto-design is the catalyst for that high skill group of people to use the tool and platform to design for many manufacturing firms).  This people when they move into the new design firm, can be the same people, doing the same work, but now they count as part of the knowledge-intensive service economy, instead of manufacturing sector.   John Zysman at Berkeley calls this up-stream and down-stream service decomposition, and is part of servitization process.

For example, if a farm shifts to a “pick your own” model – then customers become co-creators of value.

For example, if a furniture company decides to ship “self-assembly kits” – then the customer become co-creators of value (see IKEA).

New technology platforms in the digital age open up a host of new service system innovation possibilities.  This is called servitization of manufacturing and agriculture.

The interesting point is that technological platforms provide new opportunities for sharing information, risk, work, etc. – and this can create new value co-creation opportunities between provider, customer, and partners.

5. How will service system innovations change the systems in which we work, learn, and play?

Service system innovations benefit from new technology platforms that can allow a re-invention of the systems in which we live, work, and play.  The range of systems spans all industry sectors – flow sectors (transporation, water-waste utilities, manufacturing-agriculture, energy-electricity, information-communications), human development sectors (buildings, retail-hospitality, finance, health, education), governance sectors (government).   Platforms make it easier to share information, risk, work, etc. and this allows new value co-creation models to emerge.   New discoveries may include scale laws and learning curve laws for technology platform enabled service system innovations.

For example, as service providers work to improve their employee productivity (think travel agents in a travel franchise using computer tools) these tools get more and more powerful and easier and easier to use, so eventually they can be used by customers – and so a self-service model emerges, and the service provider can open up their employee productivity tools as a customer self-service platform.  This model occurs over and over across all industries, including manufacturing and agriculture, and is even happening in healthcare. Think 3D printers – perhaps Apple iPrint someday, and even places like WholeFoods are helping customers “grow their own” and doing experiments in urban agriculture:

` See http://www.fastcoexist.com/1681738/this-super-local-brooklyn-whole-foods-will-have-a-20000-square-foot-rooftop-greenhouse

So yes, this is very exciting, as technology platforms open up all kinds of service system innovation opportunities for businesses small and large to work with academics and local governments on new models – rethinking and reinventing the systems in which we live, work, and play.

Here is a short video that show circular-economy and re-invention of manufacturing-as-a-local-recycling-service…. a new business model, where people lease things, instead of buying and owning them – makes recycling easier for the service provider….

Re-thinking Progress: Circular Economy


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