Background Information

Background Information: Challenges of the SSME Agenda

A number of grand challenges have been identified for the SSME agenda. For example, the NESSI (Networked European Software and Services Initiative) Working Group states that the SSME challenge is “to establish attainable expectations that services systems will function according to their specifications, at predicted costs, throughout their intended lifetimes [16].” Associated with this challenge are the technical difficulties in developing services systems, due to their scale, integration, environment, communication problems. Other challenges include the semantic representation of people, technologies and organizations, as well as their capabilities, goals, rights and values, and the integration of information and knowledge from different artefacts and organizations [16].

This network, however, recognizes complexity as the ultimate challenge of the SSME agenda based on the following facts:

  • Many of today’s services require the cooperation of people, business and technologies in many different disciplines. Delivering and innovating services will involve understanding people’s behaviour, the way they conduct businesses and the role of technologies in businesses.
  • Services have become increasingly complex and dynamic owing to the cross-industry, cross-market, and cross-country business activities and collaborations.
  • The Internet and IT technology have made it possible for companies to work together intensively and in new ways, to form complex supply chains and service networks. Technologies have become a crucial part of services and service innovation. It can be argued that technologies are the defining characteristic of modern services and the challenge of SSME is the complexity of designing and innovating services around technologies.

To address the above challenge, the objectives of SSMEnetUK are to facilitate the collaboration of research and education in service design and service innovation within and beyond EPSRC support. The founding members’ expertise can be mapped onto this scope as follows.

1) Service Design. The purpose of designing services is to identify their structure and components so that they can be changed, managed and controlled [36][37]. Yet, service design is a challenge because today’s services interact and integrate with other systems, including people, products, businesses, economics, social systems, political systems, and IT systems. Service design is therefore a highly complex activity. The proposed network will build on the strength and expertise of its founding members to identify the need for design methodologies, techniques and architectures for services. In particular, Bennett and Gold [2][3][9] are interested in service-oriented architecture whereas Zhao and Sampiao [7][25][26][27] are looking into using the web service technology to support e-services; Hollins [10] is concerned with design standards and regulations, while Macaulay and Zhao [36][37] advocate the pattern approach to business design. Van Moorsel is currently working on self-managing computing systems and services [32][33][34] so that services can be more efficiently and effectively operated, and better utilized by people and businesses. These efforts will be combined to address the service design challenge within the proposed network.

2) Service Innovation. Service innovation has become one of the success criteria in the modern economy [1][4][18]. Since services depend critically on people working together and with technology to provide value for others, new skills are required for integrating business, people and technology. Skill innovation will therefore go hand in hand with service innovation. Two founding members of this proposal, Miles and Jones [20][12][13][14][15]are experts in service innovation and skills. They stress the diversity of service activities and of related innovation processes, and have been characterizing different types of knowledge base and network organization. Fowler [31] is interested in Human Interaction with Services while Sako [23] takes a social science perspective on services.

The investigators of this proposal, Macaulay and Zhao, will be responsible for the facilitation of discussion and understanding, and cross-fertilisation of ideas; and will lead on the production of reports resulting from network activities.