The universe of services has always been to expanding creating in constellations we commonly refer to as the service sectors of the economy, fueled by changes in the ways of society, government, law and technology. In the past few years though the expansion has felt like an explosion, with all kinds of new services, creating an unprecedented set of new challenges and opportunities, for service providers and for customers. So much so we often hear about how soon economies will consist entirely of services, and that “products” are merely platforms for services. Well, first of all, services are a type of product, as this book will argue, and manufactured goods will continue to grow as a form of producing, packaging, and delivering value. Therefore, one of the first reasons this book exists is to bring an entirely new level of clarity in seeing what services are and what they can be, for more fruitful explorations.

We’re driven by what’s new in our sights. What new challenges and opportunities do we see? What do we know that we didn’t know before? What can we now explain? A new type of medical imaging thrills physicians only when it helps them see further and sooner into the health of their patients, and show them something they couldn’t otherwise see, leading to breakthrough in providing care. That is why this book introduces the thing theory of services with the essay The Social Life of Useful and Valuable Things, through which we see services are not only social arrangements between things, but themselves are ephemeral things. With New Eyes, New Perspectives we are introduced to the 16x frame, a new way of framing the design concept of a service, that generates news layers of insight useful in developing breakthrough solutions in the form of services. Breakthrough solutions are meant to eliminate false choices and compromises, like the ones basic economy fares, some legacy airlines are introducing to compete with low-fare carriers, force upon passengers, who must now choose between enjoying lower fares and a comfortable travelling experience. Why can’t they have both?

The answer to that question is another reason this book exists. The challenges airlines, hospitals, police departments and other kinds of service providers face however are systemic, structural and non-trivial. A new way of seeing requires a new way of thinking. Therefore, this book introduces the thing-centered theory of services that helps the sensing and sense-making of a more expansive universe of services, than is possible through a purely anthropomorphic or human-centered framework. A thing-centered view does not create conflict with the idea of humanizing design and putting people first. In fact, it makes things easier. Why?

Health and wellbeing are derived from intangible assets such as identity, privacy, authority, relationships, social capital, goodwill, trust, rights, and privileges. Insurance policies and security blankets provide peace of mind. Indeed, people, with their knowledge, skills, and experiences are not only considered as valuable assets, but compensated for their most ephemeral asset, which is their time on Earth

As manufacturing companies explore markets for services, they’re merely going from producing tangible, physical products to producing intangible ones in the form of outcomes and experiences. Their knowledge and experience in product design, product engineering, and production engineering, is then to be applied to the analogue form of services.

Some enterprises have always been in the services business, and some others such as government always will be. For them, it’s not just about the exploration of what else to do, but also about doing far more for far less. Everything we’re doing now can be done better, sooner or later, one way or the other. Challenges are fun because of the opportunity within.

Services not only help people get the most out of what they own, by enhancing the value of those assets, but also give them the option of not owning them at all. The principle of enjoying more while owning less is driving the sharing economy, from which emerges the idea of driving people around in self-driving cars. Who would have thought taxi companies would be at the forefront of technological progress?

Posted by:Majid Iqbal

TL;DR I bring clarity to the concept of a service.