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ICT as a catalyst for service business orientation

: Kowalkowski, Christian; Kindström, Daniel; Gebauer, Heiko


The journal of business & industrial marketing 28 (2013), No.6, pp.506-513
ISSN: 0885-8624
ISSN: 2052-1189
Journal Article
Fraunhofer MOEZ ( IMW) ()
Industrial Service; information technology; communication technology; management strategy; service business orientation; service orientation; differentiation; servitization

– Information and communication technology (ICT) is a key enabler for new product‐ and process‐oriented services. The purpose of this paper is to investigate how ICT can enable service differentiation and, in doing so, act as a catalyst for a service business orientation.
– The paper is based on a qualitative, multi‐case research design with eight multinational goods manufacturers.
– The paper identifies two distinct types of service‐oriented differentiation: services in support of the product (SSP) and services in support of the client's actions (SSC). The study finds that SSC have the largest positive impact on firms' service business orientation.
Research limitations/implications
– Western firms in a limited sample of industries are studied. Furthermore, the service business orientation construct does not include any measurements of service profitability or impact on overall competitive advantage.
Practical implications
– To various extents, successful firms are likely to pursue both SSP and SSC differentiation traits through ICT. The two options are interdependent and the framework presented helps managers to understand both key specificities and their interrelatedness.
– The study contributes to theory on service strategies by specifically focusing on the enabling role of ICT for new services and its effects on each of the three dimensions of the service business orientation construct.