The chaos in service and service innovation
What is a service? Just about a decade ago the answer seemed to be very simple: everything that does not belong to manufacturing. Moreover, someone could even add that it is non-productive, peripheral activity that plays supportive, auxiliary role.
Nowadays this point of view is rather antiquated. The understanding of service has broadened, revealing new aspects and nuances of the notion of service, such as organizing a solution to a problem, creating changes and interacting with customers. Service-dominant logic goes even further, stating that everything in this world is a service – doing for someone’s benefit what somebody or something is good at.
This extended and enriched understanding, on the one hand, has brought a bulk of research with useful and interesting results. On the other hand, it seems that we use the term “service” for too many things, which often have a little connection. The situation with the definition of service innovation is not clearer: this term is used for a new service, for the process of development of a new service, for the improvement in existing service, etc. In many cases the main distinction between invention and innovation – commercialization and carrying into practice – is omitted. Service innovation basically becomes any change in anything related to service/services.
Doing a literature review, I have started to wonder: maybe, the time for clarification has come? After all, it may turn out that the divergence in opinions rests upon the many-sidedness of the phenomena of service and service innovation, so thorough and, what is more important, clear classification might be useful for putting in order this diversity. Using biological vocabulary, service and service innovation might belong to higher taxonomic ranks than it is usually considered.