a journal of a researcher

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Service Science in ACM Comms

The July issue of ACM Communications has a series of articles about service science. For computer science people, “service” is associated with Web Services (WS) and Service-Oriented Architectures (SOA). However, the driven force of WS and SOA come from the remarkable growth of the service sector.

Service, service-based economy

Service is a kind of economic activity. Service is different than agriculture and manufacturing. A definition of service cited by [1] is from Ted Hill:

“A service is a change in the condition of a person, or a good belonging to some economic entity, brought about the result of the activity of some other economic entity, with the approval of the first person or economic entity.”

[2] states that total services include market services, public administration, health, education and other community, social and personal services. Market services include wholesale and retail trade; hotels and restaurants; transport and communications; financial intermediation; and real restate, rentals and business services (the renting of machinery and equipment, computer and related activities, R+D). Now services count nearly 80% of economic activity in US [1], and 50% for OECD countries [2]

Service research in business pointed the how the mind-set is shifted from manufacturing to service [3]:

Standardization -> customization
Transactions -> relationships
Focus on goods -> focus on service
Cost reduction through manufacturing efficiency -> revenue expension through service
Mass marketing -> marketing to individual customers
Limited ability to communicate store and process information -> improved ability to communicate store and process information

Service science has become an academic discipline (?)

Not all intellectual inquiries end up as academic departments. [1] argues that when computer science became to be taught in 1940s, it is not the academic schools, but IBM which made it happen. It is Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM who was a trustee of the Columbia University, who funded the Watson Scientific Computing Lab on the Columbia campus in 1945 where the first class on computer science was taught in 1946.

Now IBM is foresting research on service computing. Will it lead to the formal establishment of service science? There are service related programs in business schools[5]. Though people can’t predict if a department of service science will be generated, at least people know this is going to be a multidisciplinary field across business, operations research, economics, organization theory, as well as computer science. The academic research in Service from business discipline is about customer relation management, marketing and human resources. The academic research from computer science is to enable automatic communication, intelligent service, and connections between services.

[1] H. Chrsbrough and J. Spohere, A Research Manufesto for Service Science.
[2] J. Sheehan, “Understanding Service Sector Innovation”.
[3] R. Rust and C. Miu, “What Academic Research Tells Us about Service”.
[4] A. Smith, K. Verma and K. Gomadam, “Semantics to Energize the Full Services Spectrum”.
[5] M. Bitner and S. Brown, “The Evolution and Discovery of Services Science in Business Schools”