Integrating services, the Universe and everything, part 4

by Tiina Valjakka and Katri Valkokari

This is the last post on the SHINE project since we had the closing seminar last week (picture below). In the seminar, Juhani Vanhala of Empower closed his inspiring presentation with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “There is no limit to what can be accomplished if it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.” The quote aptly condenses one challenge of the networked value creation, where the attention is easily centred around benefit sharing even way before there is anything to share.

Value creation through the development of a customer’s competence

One means of redirecting the attention is to focus on customers. Customers – both direct and those of your customers – and end customers, constitute a vital part of the network. The development of the customer’s skills and competencies is value creation that benefits the entire network in the long term, and forms an excellent foundation for co-operation.

Like the wise men have said, value can only be proposed. Ultimately, each customer defines the value they experience, and participates in the value creation with their own resources and processes. The success of other actors depends on the customer’s ability to utilise the network for reaching its own business objectives. This is how the development of customer’s competences creates value for the entire network.

In a value network, customers also integrate products, services and knowledge. And for this reason, the tasks of an integrator can also be viewed from the customer’s perspective: based on their competences and knowledge they decide which tasks to take care of by themselves and which to leave for other integrators to work on. Customer selection is as important as the selection of the other network partners.

In the SHINE project we collected a set of network development tools for different service integrators in a workbook (only in Finnish).

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Yli aitojen! 22.10.2014 Espoossa

Yli Aitojen! Iltapäiväseminaari palveluista, verkostoista ja kansainvälistymisestä

Palveluliiketoiminnan edelläkävijät pistävät pakettiin Tekesin Serve -ohjelman viimeisiä tutkimusprojekteja. Nyt on vuorossa SHINE- ja SerFinChi -projektien päätösseminaari. Molempien projektien ytimessä on suomalaisten business-to-business -yritysten uudistuminen ja asiakkaalle arvoa tuottavien palveluiden ja ratkaisujen kehittäminen ja toimittaminen verkostoissa.

Tervetuloa mukaan keskustelemaan!

Aika ja paikka: Keskiviikko 22.10.2014 klo 13-16, Digitalo (Tekniikantie 3, Espoo)

Ohjelma ja >Ilmoittautumislinkki<

13:00 Seminaarin avaus, Marja Toivonen, tutkimusprofessori, VTT
13:10 Internationalisation of SME´s in KIBS-sector to China, Sen Bao, tutkija, VTT
13:40 Pk-yrityksen matka kansainvälisille markkinoille, Tomi Luostarinen, Stereoscape
14:10 Kahvitauko
14:30  Palveluintegraattoriksiko?, Juhani Vanhala, Business Line Director, Centralized & Professional Services,  Empower Oy
15:00 Työkaluja yritysverkoston ohjaamiseen, Katri Valkokari, johtava tutkija, VTT 
15:15 Uutta arvoa asiakaskokemuksella, Minna Suutari, Fiiliksestä fyrkkaa ohjelmapäällikkö, Tekes
15:45 Loppukeskustelu

 

SerFinChi – Branding of Finnish Service Concepts in China and Far East -projektissa tutkittiin suomalaisten brändien palvelukonsepteja Kaukoidässä ja palveluliiketoiminnassa menestymistä kansainvälisessä kilpailussa.  Kohteena oli erityisesti Kiinan markkinoiden erityispiirteet ja  verkostoitumismallien löytäminen uuteen ja innovatiiviseen liiketoimintaan (kestävään kehitykseen, ympäristöystävällisiin kaupunkeihin ja 3D-filmiteknologiaan). Projektin yrityskumppaneina olivat KIBSit, jotka osoittavat että pienetkin yritykset voivat olla arvokkaita verkoston kutojia.

SHINE – Service Network Integrator – projektissa keskityttiin yrityksen palveluintegraattorin rooliin verkoston ohjaamisessa. Integraattori tuottaa arvoa asiakkaalle yhdistämällä osaamisia, koordinoimalla verkostoa ja vastaamalla asiakassuuntaan useamman toimittajan rakentamasta kokonaisuudesta.  Projektissa tutkittiin erilaisia yhteistyömalleja arvonluonnissa asiakkaalle, ja miten eri rooleja vaihdellen, koko verkoston osaamista hyödyntäen ja liiketoimintamalleja yhteen sovittaen ratkaisuja kehitetään ja toimitetaan erilaisissa verkostoissa.

Integrating services, the universe and everything, part 3

By: Tiina Valjakka and Katri Valkokari

No matter how excellently a network works, it will lose its competitive edge if it lacks the ability to renewal. The central question from the perspective of an integrator is how to utilise the innovation potential of the entire network?

A network can renew itself both by identifying new potential partners and utilising the existing resources in a new way. Switching roles from the integrator to the integrated is one way of renewing a network (see previous post). Networks are alive and their borders are not static, and typically the actors belong to several networks. For this reason, the integrator should find a balance between integrating the operations of the current service network and the freedom of the network actors, in order to maintain the attractiveness of the network.

Knowing the network and attracting the best partners

“The key to success is that you really know the customers and your network. It’s a demanding task but only that way you are able to develop the business”  – Mervi Heino, Managing director, Arpré Oy

Companies develop and grow through the right partners, and therefore the criteria for partnership and the means of attracting the best partners in your network are crucial.  The attractiveness of a network can be enhanced by, e.g., having ready customer contacts; a well-defined operating model; and the opportunity to develop and boost the business operations of each network actor as a part of the larger whole. The network capability of an integrator also includes facilitating the internal interaction between the different levels and actors within the network, and enabling the development of its network partners. Knowing the network helps in identifying new business opportunities. Efforts can be made to better utilise network’s innovation potential: Analysing the network as well as the network relationships supports the development of new ideas and creates new opportunities for interaction.

 

Integrating services, the universe and everything, part 2

All social and economic actors are resource integrators [1]. 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 [2]. 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)

 

References:

[1] 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.

[2] 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.