Services can be delivered by Technology, People and both

Attending a recent Xerox PARC talk on Open Services Innovation, I realized that people talk about services today with implied context.  Sort of a industry and market context for the meaning of the word service.  That means Wireless people offer services, Hospitals offers Services, Software-as-service (Saas) vendors offers services, everyone does.   Overall, the potential set of meanings for the word Services is expanding, much the same way our meaning of Media is expanding.

Henry Chesbrough, of UC Berkeley’s Haas School of business, did a great job of discussing the potential of innovating services and including new partnership models and new twists on the business models.

When use of a term (word) begins, it has historical context, assumptions and meaning that are a function of the environment and culture. These meanings carry historical baggage, but do evolve slowly over time.  Newer meanings make discussions more difficult when we enter an era of rapid technology change and innovation.   This has implications for branding, strategy, marketing communication and publishing and speaking.   Marketers sometimes  to latch on to words and their connotations that may have positive trends or media exposure; whether they add clarity or increase confusion.

The problem lies in the difference in context between speakers (media sources) and audiences (media recipients or targets) both in the same room, and over time, when reading publications.   Sometimes publications cross “implied service context” boundaries.  Imagine a panel discussion of industry speakers from USPS, FedEx, United Healthcare, Apple, RIM, IBM, Amazon Web Services speaking to an audience of 1000+ people, using the word services — and you catch my drift.

With all that in mind, I created this framework, which allows people to focus in a quadrant that is specific to a certain company, industry, problem or opportunity in question.  Its merely a frame of reference. Service is such an “open aspect” these days, it really deserves a form of anchoring, and thats what I hope this diagram achieves.

The growing importance of cloud computing and application platforms is creating the new need for specificity in using the term service.  There was a time before the advent of manufacturing that everything in the economy was a service. In the distant future, that may be true again.  Note the framework suggests an easy shorthand, Service TP (technology for people, like CRM product offerings through  Service PP (Law firms and IBM global services), Service PT (people doing data entry into software systems, and getting paid for it), Service TT (Like APIs that provide RSS and XML data to outside applications, like   So Which Service Type are you providing?

Click the Image below to Enlarge it.

People and Technology provide different types of services
frame of reference for services including people and technology