All social and economic actors are resource integrators . An adapted quote from Orwell says that all actors are integrators but some actors integrate more than the others. That is the core of our SHINE-Service Network Integrator project. Not the dystopia, but the idea of a service integrator.
Retailing is one example of a service integration function in a value network in which a retailer as a prime integrator is in a strong competitive position . Customer interface gives the integrator the good competitive position in the network, and therefore customer management is a desired role in networks and direct customer contact is considered important.
The utilization of the role of the integrated party
The utilization of the other side of the role, i.e., that of being the party being integrated is also worth consideration, as it offers new possibilities for growth and development and a wider perspective to the network.
I have followed several technology and technical trade companies attempting to become more service- and customer-oriented. Service business is an attractive opportunity for steady growth, regular revenue, since it is seen as less prone to economic fluctuations. As a typical first step, the companies have added maintenance services to their offering and begun to offer them directly to customers. An alternative method would be to seek co-operation with companies that already are servicing the machines or equipment of customer companies. This would also support the objective of many customers, particularly large manufacturing companies, aiming to reduce the number of their partners.
On the global scale, a faster route to new (e.g. maintenance) markets is to seek networking or partnerships with companies from whom customers are already buying solutions and services. The perspective of the integrated party also helps understand and develop the operations as a whole.
“Konecranes MTS is typically the customer’s largest maintenance partner and thus naturally the main contact point. In the global market it is also essential to know how to operate when a customer wants a manager or another company between us.“ (Pekka Kujala, KAM, AGILON at Konecranes)
 Vargo, S. L., & Lusch, R. F. (2008) Service–dominant logic: continuing the evolution. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Vol. 36, No.1, pp. 1–10.
 Lusch, R.F., Vargo, S.L. & O’Brien, M. (2007) Competing through service: Insights from service-dominant logic. Journal of Retailing, Vol. 83, No. 1, pp. 5–18.