Service science, management and engineering

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Service science, management, and engineering (SSME) is a term introduced by IBM to describe an interdisciplinary approach to the study and innovation of service systems. More precisely, SSME has been defined as the application of science, management, and engineering disciplines to tasks that one organization beneficially performs for and with another. Today, SSME is a call for academia, industry, and governments to focus on becoming more systematic about innovation in the service sector, which is the largest sector of the economy in most industrialized nations, and is fast becoming the largest sector in developing nations as well. SSME is also a proposed academic discipline and research area that would complement – rather than replace – the many disciplines that contribute to knowledge about service.[1] The interdisciplinary nature of the field calls for a curriculum and competencies to advance the development and contribution of the field of SSME.[2]

Service systems[edit]

"Service system" is a term that frequently appears in the service management, service operations, services marketing, service design, and service engineering literatures.

Service involves both a provider and a client working together to create value. A doctor interviews a patient, conducts some tests, and prescribes some medicine – the patient answers the questions, cooperates with the tests, and ingests the medicine faithfully. Perhaps technologies and other people are involved in the tests or in the assignment and filling of prescriptions. Together, doctor, patient, others, and technologies co-create value – in this case, patient health. These relationships and dependencies can be viewed as a system of interacting parts. In many cases, a service system is a complex kind of system – a system in which the parts interact with each other in a non-linear manner. As such, a service system is not only the sum of its parts; complex interactions between the different parts create a system which behaves in a difficult-to-predict set of patterns. In many cases, a main source of complexity in a service system is its people: the client, the provider, or other organizations.

Service systems are designed and constructed, are often very large, and, as complex systems, they have emergent properties. This makes them an engineering kind of system (in MIT's terms).[3] [4] For instance, large-scale service systems include major metropolitan hospitals, highway or high-rise construction projects, and large IT outsourcing operations in which one company takes over the daily operations of IT infrastructure for another. In all these cases, systems are designed and constructed to provide and sustain service, yet because of their complexity and size, operations do not always go as planned or expected, and not all interactions or results can be anticipated or accurately predicted.

As the world becomes more complex and uncertain socially and economically, a computational thinking approach has been proposed to model the dynamics and adaptiveness of a service system, aimed at fully leveraging today's ubiquitous digitized information, computing capability and computational power so that the service system can be studied qualitatively and quantitatively. [5]

Service Science[edit]

SSME is often referred to as service science for short.[6] The flagship journal Service Science is published by the professional association INFORMS. The journal publishes innovative and original papers on all topics related to service, including work that crosses traditional disciplinary boundaries. It is the primary forum for presenting new theories and new empirical results in the emerging, interdisciplinary science of service, incorporating research, education, and practice, documenting empirical, modeling, and theoretical studies of service and service systems. INFORMS has an annual international conference on Service Science. You can find it from INFORMS Meetings & Conferences page.

Service Science is an interdisciplinary field that provides a foundation for service engineering and service management. [7] With the foundation of systems theory, operations research, management science, marketing science, advanced computing and communication technology, network theory, social computing, and analytics, Service Science can be rigorously developed, involving descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive research of a service spanning its lifecycle (i.e., market analysis, design, engineering, delivery, and sustaining) in an integral and quantitative manner. Service is people-centric, societal, cultural, and bilateral. The type and nature of a service dictates how service should be designed and delivered, which accordingly determine how a series of service encounters should occur throughout its lifecycle. The type, order, frequency, timing, time, efficiency, and effectiveness of the series of service encounters throughout the service lifecycle determine the quality of services perceived by customers who purchase and consume the services.


SSME articles have appeared in the leading journals of major professional associations. For instance, see IEEE Computer Steps Toward a Science of Service Systems and the special issue of Communications of the ACM focused entirely on service science. For a framework for service ontology evaluation see.[8]

SSME degree programs and research centers have been created at universities globally. For instance, UC Berkeley created an SSME program. And North Carolina State University created an MBA track for service and a computer engineering degree for services as well. In both cases, the schools recognize the interdisciplinary character of the field and incorporate content from a variety of disciplines. Other schools with interdisciplinary interests in SSME include Copenhagen Business School,Carnegie Mellon University, University of Maryland, Arizona State University, Northern Illinois University, UC Santa Cruz, San Jose State University, Utah State University, RPI, University of Manchester, Helsinki University of Technology (now as Aalto University), The University of Sydney, Rey Juan Carlos University in Spain, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, National University of Singapore, Singapore Management University, Masaryk University, University of Milano Bicocca, an MBA in Services Sciences, Management And Engineering at Lusofona University – Information Systems School (Portugal), Design And Engineering Services at Senac University Center (Brasil), Geneva University and an MBA at Institute of Service Science National Tsing Hua University.

SSME arose in part as a response to the growth of service revenue in information technology companies, and the need to become more scientific in innovation creation processes for service offerings. In 2003, IBM began working with universities to fund research and establish education programs that combined engineering, management, and systems sciences methods to improve service systems - establishing Service Science, Management, and Engineering to highlight the interdisciplinary nature of the effort. HP has created the Centre for Systems and Services Sciences for the same reason. Cisco, HP, and IBM formed a professional association called "the International Society of Service Innovation Professionals" to promote SSME skills development and sharing of innovation practices. The NESSI (Networked European Software and Services Initiative) group in the European Union has established a Services Sciences Working Group.

There is a long history of academic and industrial interest in the service sector – starting with Adam Smith and continuing right up to the present day. Yet most such interest in service has focused narrowly on marketing or management or economics. With the rise of technology-enabled services, many traditionally manufacturing-based companies have begun to see more and more revenue generated by service operations. So in industry, there was a growing recognition that service innovation is now as important – if not more important than – technology innovation. Yet, service innovation is generally unknown (save for a few economists studying the relationship between investment and innovation in service industries; e.g., GADREY & GALLOUJ). The key to service science is interdisciplinarity, focusing not merely on one aspect of service but rather on service as a system of interacting parts that include people, technology, and business. As such, service science draws on ideas from a number of existing disciplines – including computer science, cognitive science, economics, organizational behavior, human resources management, marketing, operations research, and others – and aims to integrate them into a coherent whole. Definitions of 'service science' can be misleading. An analogy can be made with Computer Science. The success of CS is not in the definition of a basic science (as in physics or chemistry for example) but more in its ability to bring together diverse disciplines, such as mathematics, electronics and psychology to solve problems that require they all be there and talk a language that demonstrates common purpose. Services Science may be the same thing – just bigger – as an interdisciplinary umbrella that enables economists, social scientists, mathematicians, computer scientists and legislators (to name a small subset of the necessary disciplines) to cooperate in order to achieve a larger goal – analysis, construction, management and evolution of the most complex systems we have ever attempted to construct.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ IfM and IBM (2007) "Succeeding Through Service Innovation: A service perspective for education, research, business and government.", "Cambridge Service Science, Management and Engineering Symposium"
  2. ^ Choudaha, Rahul (2008) "Competency-based curriculum for a master's program in Service Science, Management and Engineering (SSME)", "Doctoral dissertation, University of Denver"
  3. ^ "MIT-NSF Workshop on Smarter Service Systems".
  4. ^ "The Continuing Evolution of Service Science".
  5. ^ Qiu, R. (2009) "Computational Thinking of Service Systems: Dynamics and Adaptiveness Modeling" "INFORMS Service Science Vol 1., No 1."
  6. ^ Spohrer, J., Kwan SK. (2009) "Service Science, Management, Engineering, and Design (SSMED): An Emerging Discipline - Outline & References", International Journal of Information Systems in the Service Sector, Vol. 1, No. 3.
  7. ^ Qiu, R. (2014) "Service Science: The Foundations of Service Engineering and Management", "John Wiley & Sons"
  8. ^ Deb, B. (2012). "Towards a Framework for Service Ontology Evaluation". International Journal of Computer Applications. 48 (5): 12–15. Bibcode:2012IJCA...48e..12D. doi:10.5120/7343-9986.

Further reading[edit]