Welcome to a new series of interviews from the experts. Today's entry is about Service Science Management and Engineering, and Dianne Fodell, from the IBM Innovation and University Relations team answers questions on the discipline.
What is SSME and why is it such a big focus in IBM?SSME stands for Service, Science, Engineering and Management. It is an initiative started by IBM in 2003 to help universities update curricula in order to teach in a context around services and to help make their students more multi-disciplinary; equipped with a combination of skills that span business, technology and culture. The majority of the world's businesses are "services" businesses versus product, manufacturing, or agriculture. Yet many universities are still teaching in a context around products and manufacturing, using product case studies, supply chains, and examples. "Services" are different than "products." Where Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing provide great methodologies for product-based businesses, service-based businesses require different and new methodologies so that services businesses can become more profitable and sustainable. Most services have a face-to-face component, cannot be inventoried; they are consumed when they are delivered. We need scientific approaches to manage work, labor, and customer experience. We need methodologies for developing and delivering high-quality services. We need universities to participate in the research needed to design, develop and test these approaches and methodologies. IBM's services businesses comprise IT Services and Business Consulting Services. Professionals in these jobs are required to understand 1) technology, 2) business and industries, and 3) people and culture. Yet these subjects are usually taught in three different colleges within a university. The good news is that many universities around the world are implementing new programs to address SSME.
What kind of job opportunities exist for people with an SSME focus during their education?
Since the majority of the world's businesses are services businesses, graduates who have an understanding of SSME will probably be better prepared to enter the work force and to help their employers be more successful. Even most product businesses have a services component.
How can students get SSME experience/exposure if their school does not offer courses focused on it?
There are many books and articles recently written about Service Science. Lists and links can be found at IBM's website at www.ibm.com/university/ssme. Once you are at the site, select the "Learn" and "Teach" tabs for links to a rich set of resources for students and faculty. We have case studies, lectures, links to articles and a list of text books and other books written about SSME.
What are some examples of Services businesses that require Service Science?
I think all services-based businesses can benefit from some level of service science. Services, such as those provided by IBM, deal with very complex service systems such as healthcare, education, transportation systems, energy systems, financial systems, government, and more. A great place to learn more about various complex service systems is IBM's Smarter Planet resources at www.ibm.com/smarterplanet. Click on any of the ICONs that represent the various service systems - food, water, energy, transportation, health, and you will be directed to information, which contains case studies, visions of the future and ideas for making these systems more intelligent through instrumentation, data analytics, and optimization. Working with these complex societal systems can give more meaning to SSME and help students understand better the need for more, new scientific approaches and methodologies for making services businesses more efficient and successful.
What advice would you give a student just starting in the job search?
I would suggest that students familiarize themselves with SSME through courses or through reading. I would suggest they list their Service Science exposure or experience on their resume and be ready to talk to potential employers about SSME, especially those employers that don't know about it already. Service Science is new, so many employers will not know to put it on their job descriptions. But when applying for jobs, look for the services component of the jobs and present yourself as having studied or as knowledgeable in Service Science.