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Servitization: Shift, Transform, Growth

Last Monday and Tuesday, we hosted our 5th Spring #Servitization Conference in Manchester. We had around 40 presentations by scholars from Japan, France, Germany, The Netherlands, United States, Finland, Italy and UK., and 5 Keynotes from leading scholars and companies that are transforming their business through servitization, including Siemens, Ishida, Savortex. Here, I’ll give you just a brief summary of some of our talks.

Our first keynote was Prof. Rogelio Oliva from Mays Business School, Texas A&M University. His presentation focused on “why we are still stuck in developing a relevant theory on servitization?” It was a great presentation, in which he demonstrated that we are duplicating the research in this field every 4 years, but still haven’t managed to help organisations to fully understand what servitization is. He discussed that we are so slow in theory building in this space, because: we have lost scientific ethos, we are not well trained to use different methodologies, and the challenge is multi-facet (e.g. organisational, strategic, cultural, political, etc.). He suggested five key ways to move forward:

  1. Leverage previous work; don’t use empirical data just once!

  2. Borrow, copy and steal; get help from other research decline!

  3. Take previous work seriously; try to test previous propositions!

  4. Leverage the phenomena; understand that servitization is a change!

  5. Focus on being relevant; in research questions, hypothesis, and implications!

Syed Ahmed; Co-founder and MD of SAVORTEX

Among other great Keynotes wasSyed Ahmed, the Co-founder and MD of SAVORTEX Ltd, a dynamic technology company that has pioneered the worlds first intelligent and economical hand drying products. The company, which designs and manufactures innovative hand dryer founded in 2006, and currently serves some of the world’s leading brands that value sustainability, such as British Airways, Marriott Hotels, Everything Everywhere, the Royal Bank of Scotland, and many more.

He demonstrated how moving towards servitization and advanced services has enabled a one-time very small start-up to a large innovative company that competes with well-established multinational companies such as Dyson. He’s managed to discover new revenue streams with products that create value not only for Savortex, but also their customers. With the help of data transmitted through their products, they have managed to manufacture the world’s most energy saving hand dryer that helps their customers save tens of thousands of pounds.

What was also very interesting about this year’s conference, was the fact that most of the papers were focusing on the “transformation challenges” of servitization. Not only from technological or business model perspectives, but also from organisational and more soft issues influencing the change.

All in all, as my colleague Ellie Musson prepared a summary of all the presentations, the servitization community has to accept:

  • That a dominant paradigm has largely emerged to define servitization.

  • Transformation and coherence are the grand challenges.

  • Replicate studies to test models and propositions more scientifically (e.g. quantitative analysis and without confirmation bias).

  • Value and tolerate involvement of colleagues from a wider range of disciplines.

  • Action research, roll up your sleeves and get involved.. but with care!

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