Dissemination of smart product-service systems in the corporate world
Authors: Christian Schiller, Michaela Friedrich, Simon Buchart
Abstract: In the corporate world, the focus continues to be on technical innovations in particular. However, with the ever more widespread development of data-based and intelligent ("smart") systems, in which products and services are increasingly interlinked, this way of thinking quickly reaches its limits. The focus here is more on customer benefits, which form the basis for future innovations. Accordingly, the importance of integrated development of smart product-service systems (sPSS) is also increasingly coming into focus.To find out the extent to which products and services are already being developed in an integrated manner and what concrete support needs exist with regard to this topic in practice, Fraunhofer IAO conducted a broad survey among German companies. The survey was conducted in the summer of 2021, with 71 companies taking part. In terms of company size, there was a relatively even distribution. 56 percent of the companies surveyed had a workforce of up to 249 employees, while the remaining 44 percent had 250 or more employees. Across all company sizes, 59 percent assigned themselves to the secondary sector and 41 percent to the tertiary sector. Some interesting findings were derived from the survey. It is apparent that the development focus in the companies surveyed is increasingly moving away from product development toward service and system development. Despite this development, many companies still do not have defined development processes for the latter. Thus, there is a considerable need for research and transfer for service and systems research. It should be noted that most companies would rather see a dovetailing of classic product and service development approaches than the introduction of completely new and previously unknown models and processes.Another interesting finding from the survey is that an astonishing number of companies are already addressing the issue of sPSS. 29 percent of the survey participants even already have an sPSS application in use. Only 17 percent state that they have not yet addressed the issue and are not planning to do so in the near future. The remaining 54 percent lie between these two poles in terms of their experience with sPSS. Another striking aspect from the survey is the broad overall need for support that the companies surveyed identify for themselves in the development of sPSS. Of the ten items asked about the need for support, four had an approval rate above 40 percent and seven still above 30 percent. This supports the following hypotheses: on the one hand, that many companies are already dealing with the topic of sPSS. On the other hand, that there has been little concrete experience with the topic in practice. Overall, the survey shows that the topic of smart product service systems is receiving increasing attention in German companies. However, it also shows that there is still little concrete experience and that many companies are currently looking for external knowledge and expertise. The paper will go into more detail on the study results and show if there are differences between the surveyed companies, e.g. depending on company size, sector or previous orientation.
Keywords: smart product-service systems, service engineering, service research, survey
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