I am reading up on Services Sciences, Management and Engineering (SSME), an emerging discipline – a term coined by IBM. The discipline promotes research and education in the field of Services Management and educates the workforce about how people and technology coming together can add value to society.
I have worked for an IT Services company for a couple of years and I am currently running a business unit at a start-up which deals in HR Services for corporate clients. As I see it, the following things that I have learnt about management of services:
- The deliverable is always intangible.
- Because the deliverable is intangible, it is difficult to price it.
- Pricing largely depends on ‘perceived value’ – Something I read in a book my boss gave me – Selling the Invisible – by …
- There are essentially 2 parameters to define quality in a service-based transaction: 1. Adhering to timelines; and 2. The extra value added to the deliverable.
So, What is a Service?
I would like to share 3 definitions of a service – which are posted on Wikipedia’s SSME Page:
- “Services are economic activities offered by one party to another, most commonly employing time-based performances to bring about desired results in recipients themselves or in objects or other assets for which purchasers have responsibility. In exchange for their money, time, and effort, service customers expect to obtain value from access to goods, labor, professional skills, facilities, networks, and systems; but they do not normally take ownership of any of the physical elements involved.” —- LOVELOCK & WIRTZ, “Services Marketing: People, Technology, Strategy,” 6/e; (Upper Saddle River NJ: Prentice Hall 2007).
- “A service is a time-perishable, intangible experience performed for a customer acting in the role of a co-producer.” — FITZSIMMONS & FITZSIMMONS “Service management.” (New York, NY: McGraw-Hill 2003).
- “Service [is] the application of specialized competences (knowledge and skills), through deeds, processes, and performances for the benefit of another entity or the entity itself.“ — LUSCH & VARGO, “The Service-Dominant Logic of Marketing.” (Armonk, NY: ME Sharpe. 2006).
Apart from IBM’s Research and Academic initiatives in this area, I was happy to know that they have collaborated with SPJIMR (SP Jain Institute of Management & Research, Mumbai) to establish a Centre for Services Management & Engineering (CSME).
Here is a list of some other institutes in India which offer courses in SSME (SSME.in).