Exploring Service Innovation and the Servitization of the Manufacturing Firm

Tim Baines, Professor, Aston Business School, Burmingham, UK
Tim Baines, Professor, Aston Business School, Burmingham, UK

By Tim Baines, Professor, Aston Business School; Director, Aston Centre for Servitization Research and Practice; and, guest editor of RTM special issue on Service Innovation

Manufacturing and service industries are often seen as largely independent. Whether in national economies, business classifications, education, training, or employment, they tend to be thought of as separate. Indeed, the growing role of services in developed economies has been the topic of much discussion over the past decade or so. Yet manufacturers can offer services; in fact, they can, and increasingly do, base entire competitive strategies on service innovation—finding ways to rethink their offerings and replace one-time product sales with ongoing, value-creating relationships. This is the process of servitization; icons in this mode are companies such as Rolls-Royce Aerospace, with its Power-by-the-Hour model; Xerox, with its document management solutions; and Alstom, with its Train-Life services.

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Which Box Are You In?

By Jim Euchner, Editor-in-Chief, RTM

Constraints are funny things. They can box you in, or they can inspire you.

A Shakespearean sonnet is constrained by the dimensions of its form: 14 lines, iambic pentameter, clear rhyme scheme, closing couplet. Yet it has consistently led to beautiful poetry. Has the form contributed to the beauty, or would it have emerged just as beautifully from blank verse?

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Shaping Innovation Success

By Jim Euchner, Editor-in-Chief, Research-Technology Management

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”
Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”
Ken Olson, president, chairman, and founder of DEC

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Innovation Culture and Open Space Meetings

By Jim Euchner, VP of Global Innovation at Goodyear and Editor-in-Chief of Research-Technology Management (RTM)

Everyone files out of the meeting room. The senior R&D leadership team has just reviewed the plan for the coming year, the budget to support it, and the results of the employee engagement survey. A few questions, invariably respectful, follow the prepared presentations. As the staff leaves, there are scattered quiet discussions about the survey, which reinforced everyone’s sense that employees are strongly engaged with their work, but which also surfaced an inexplicable (to the leadership) lack of trust for the leaders.

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User Innovation

By Jim Euchner, RTM Editor-in-Chief

When I was a graduate student, I had a compelling need for sleep. My thesis involved many experiments in sequence, each of which required me to spend about 20 hours doing the analytical chemistry to generate results. My sleep was suffering. To reduce the time needed to complete the experiments, I decided to automate the process. That proved harder than I thought. It required innovation, not just implementation. The automated gas sampling system I developed to meet my own needs went on to be used by future graduate students and was eventually commercialized by an analytical equipment company. And I got my sleep.

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