Research Papers

Abstract

Smart service systems are like a tiger – they are difficult to tame. This is largely rooted in their complexity, which results from the involvement of multiple actors and the interaction of multiple disciplines. Smart service systems engineering requires the development of value propositions that integrate both smart products and smart services based on data analytics, cloud computing, and digital platforms. Therefore, a large variety of tasks must be performed to successfully engineer such systems. While academia has proposed different methods, techniques, and tools (means) to support these tasks, it remains unclear how smart service systems are engineered in practice and for what outcome (ends) the means are used for. This paper aims to address this shortcoming by conducting 14 in-depth interviews with experts who were involved in smart service systems engineering projects. Our qualitative data analysis resulted in an extensive set of means, ends and challenges that we were able to structure along the design dimensions value, process, and resource, as well as the overarching dimension of project management. Based on the interview data, we discussed the suitability of existing means, and approached the question whether it is necessary to leverage the adoption of existing methods in practice or rather to develop new, more practically useful methods instead. With this study, we contribute to academia by advancing our understanding of the suitability of methods for smart service systems engineering and call for creating and promoting toolboxes of easy-to-use and flexible means. Our insights are also helpful for practitioners to better assess challenges and ends for their smart service innovation initiatives.

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