NSF Virtual Forum: Platform Technologies and Smart Service Systems

In preparation for this event – NSF Virtual Forum

 Platform Technologies and Smart Service Systems

Here is my presentation:

Here are some short answers to questions:

The role of technology in service systems

1. What are the essential research elements to make possible the integration of platform technologies into service systems?

Platform technologies are owned by providers, who have to negotiate rights and responsibilities with customers, as value propositions.

Service systems are dynamic configurations of resources (people, technology, organizations, information) connected by value propositions.

Customers will not adopt platforms where the  value propositions are not viewed as win-win.

So an essential research element is around understanding the relationships between, platform technologies, smart service systems, and value propositions.

Some call the value propositions ‘business model design.”

What is different about the design of service systems and service design?

Service design has a heavy emphasis on customer experience, and is often done by the service provider.

Design of service systems is a bigger design space, and includes modeling competitors, governing authorities (regulations), etc.

How can the deployment of smart systems be accelerated?

Perhaps the wrong question.  Think of service systems as evolving over time – getting smarter (e.g., better information for all stakeholders to make better win-win decisions, co-elevate capabilities, trust parties more, improve faster, be sustainable, be resilient, etc.).   So the real question is service system innovation mechanisms, both to make existing service systems smarter and create new types of service systems as well.   One way to accelerate would be to have a good historical analysis done – for this we need a Linneaus and Darwin of service system taxonomy and evolution, respectively.   Modularity of service systems is one item that will jump out as a way to accelerate innovation of technology platforms – think of a car as a technology platform and all the innovation of each module – engine, seats, windows, doors, seat belts, driver interfaces to information systems, etc.

2. Can you share your experience regarding the use of smart technology in service system settings?

Yes, all IBM’s Smarter Planet examples.  My favorite is the Smarter Cities Intelligent Operations Center (SC IOC) in Rio.  My second favorite is Watson in Healthcare.

3. What qualifies as a “smart”service system?  Can you provide examples?  Good starter question for Jim.

Yes, as above SC IOC is a platform technology and each city that has it can be an example of a Smart Service System (over 2500 worldwide inlcluding Rio)

How many hospitals have a Watson advisor (technology platform), only a small number.  Each hospital is an example of a Smart Service System, if they use Watson or other technology platforms to improve measures.

The measures of smartness include productivity, quality, compliance, innovativeness, sustainability, resilience, and much more.

In general, smart service systems are instrumented, interconnected, and intelligent.  Instrumented means sensors, sensors everywhere – more of the information (real-time and historical, as well as monte carlo predictive runs) that stakeholders, providers, customers, governing authorities, etc. – need to make better win-win (value co-creation, capability co-elevating) decisions is available.  Interconnected means people have easy access to information about a particular service system, as well as others that interact with it via value propositions, perhaps displayed on their smartphones.   Intelligent means recommendations systems that work to provide stakeholders useful choices – for example, Watson-style recommendation systems, or Amazon-style recommendation systems.

The technology platform is a shared part of many smart service systems – service systems made smarter by access to the technology platform of some provider.

Service systems are dynamic configurations of resources (technology, people, organizations, information) connected internally and externally by value propositions.

Because of the diversity of resources that make up service system, service science, which is the study of service systems and value co-creation processes, requires multiple disciplines working together (engineering, social sciences, management, economics and law, etc.).

About academe-industrial partnerships:

4. What are the ingredients, in your experience,that are essential for a successful partnership with industry and academia?

Industry-academia partnerships in my experience, work best when there is a clear focus on real-world challenges, real-world tools, real-world data, and real-world mentorships – where students work in teams (ideally multidisciplinary) to apply what they have learned in their courses to real-world challenges.

These experiences can help the faculty and students who have entrepreneurial inclinations do university-based startups.

These experiences can help the industry mentors identify top students for internship and employment opportunities.


Do you think that these would be any different in partnerships for service system innovation?

The focus on real-world challenges, tools, data, mentorships should work great for service system innovations.

The main thing is to make sure the team of students is multi-disciplinary, and the real-world challenge can be managed in a meaningful way with the time and course content constraints of faculty.


5. How do you go about finding the right academic and industrial partners?  How could NSF facilitate this?

IBM has relationships with 5000 universities around the world, 1/3 in the US.  We have many programs to engage on multiple topics.

I think NSF does a great job with the award programs, and experimenting with LinkedIn Groups, Virtual Summits, etc.   Challenges like mini-X-prizes are also an important area to explore, especially if done with Reginal Economic Development groups around the US.


About human innovation capacity:

6. What are your insights regarding human innovation capacity in these type of partnerships?

Human innovation capacity at universities can be estimated by looking at the startups generated by the university (one method of estimation).   Technology platforms for smarter service systems are aligned quite well with the startups coming out of universities these days.  To grow rapidly startups often create or align with existing technology platforms to accelerate scaling up globally, and maximize customers, etc.

The NAE list of engineering grand challenges are also well aligned with real-world challenges.  http://www.engineeringchallenges.org

How can the experience of students be enhanced?

The student experience should include: growing their personal brand, on-line professional persona, and membership in professional associations (they may change universities, change jobs, but advancing in professional associations last a life-time).  The professional association also builds their global network of professional contacts.

The industry mentor also becomes part of the students professional network.

The outcome of mentorships should also be posted publically to social media platforms, and build the students online portfolio.


About Service Science:

7.  What is the potential role of service science researchers in service system  innovation?  In this solicitation?

At SJSU (Prof. Lou Freund, service system engineering) and VaTech (Prof. Ralph Badinelli, business and IT service system operations) already have industry projects for their students to analyze service systems.  Other service science researchers in academic are doing the same.  With a focus on industry mentorships related to technology platforms and smart service systems, service science researchers and faculty teaching about service systems should be able to work closely together.   Service science researchers in industry can help guide as well, especially with real-world challenges about the win-win-win benefits of university-startup, large-industry-integrators, and customers for platform technologies for smart service systems.


Previously, I posted these answers to these other questions:

I have also made these posts about the NSF efforts:

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