Service System Innovation

Publication Type:

IFIP Paper


Alter, Steven


Information Technology in the Service Economy: Challenges and Possibilities for the 21st Century, p.61 - 80 (2008)



Service innovation has been discussed by many authors, but usually not from a system perspective. Recent literature about service systems and service innovation stresses multi-partner commercial offerings, ecosystems of interacting suppliers and
consumers, globalization, and the changing nature of advanced economies. Interesting as these large-scale topics are, discussions
at that level tend to overlook operational and organizational issues that service innovators must address in order to create
or improve specific, localized systems that deliver services to internal and/or external customers.
This paper builds on three interrelated frameworks that describe fundamental aspects of service systems at the level at which
they are designed, operated, and improved:
The work system framework identifies nine elements that should be included in even a rudimentary understanding of any work
system. (Service systems are work systems.)
The service value chain framework incorporates characteristics often associated with services, such as coproduction by providers
and customers.
The work system life cycle model treats the system’s life cycle as a set of iterations involving planned and unplanned change.
This paper shows how each of those three frameworks provides insights that apply to service innovation across a wide range
of service systems.