Servitization: a pathway to growth

Posted on 10 Jan 2017 by The Manufacturer

Manufacturers need to grasp the enormous opportunities offered by servitization, but the effort and complexity can be daunting. Professor Tim Baines explains.

I recently spoke at the STLN Servitization conference. The event was a great success with, I’m told, triple the number of previous attendees.

Professor Tim Baines, founder, MSTLN
Tim Baines, professor of Operations Strategy, The Advanced Services Research Group, Aston Business School.

The conference was an exciting opportunity to launch the product of my research team’s work with Columbus Global, experts in digital technologies and ERP (enterprise resource planning) solutions for manufacturing, along with games developer, Eyesparks.

If you were there you may have played ‘Unlock Your Insight’, a gamified questionnaire providing a personalised diagnosis of your company’s competitive strategy and future direction. I was delighted that 20 companies played the game and said it was engaging and useful. If you haven’t played, you can do so at:

Supporting servitization

My passion is helping manufacturers become more successful through services. Some time ago, I realised that the people my research team wants to work with are difficult to identify and reach.

These are the services leaders, or people who have the potential to become services leaders, who can be found in any part of a manufacturing business. Seeking more innovative pathways to reach and engage these people, I’ve been inspired by lean manufacturing, where games are used to explain principles such as the Kanban system.

I’m fortunate to have a research team working on a similar use of games for servitization; an early, low-tech prototype game we created was a form of bingo to allow participants to evaluate their competitive strategies. Columbus Global approached us to collaborate on a technology-enabled version of this game to be delivered for the Servitization conference, which Columbus was supporting.

I was delighted to work with Columbus. We share a focus on understanding the pathways to growth for manufacturers, and supporting the transformational changes needed. In particular, their focus on digital innovation fits well with our research into how the innovative use of IT can promote servitization.

Tough, but worth it

Servitization is a long, complicated process; the organisational transformation needed to deliver advanced services can take a huge amount of effort. The rewards are great, but without digital innovation to explain, analyse, assess, exploit and implement servitization, transformation won’t happen.

To find out more about our research into advanced services, visit our website: or find us on LinkedIn.

If you’re interested in the solutions and services of Columbus, find them at:

In his conference presentation, Stephen Fox, business development manager at Columbus, further demonstrated how digital innovation supports servitization. For example, modern ERP can link to IoT-enabled connected assets, and big data is a key source of analytical insights and machine learning.

Fox presented findings that 90% of manufacturers say IoT-connected assets will drive the future of their innovation. Analysis of the data drawn from these assets is a key enabler of services; it de-risks services commitments by giving visibility to products, how they perform and how the customer uses them. It also enables manufacturers to develop new offerings, helping their customers to grow by optimising processes or transforming how they operate.

Please do try the game; I hope you find it enjoyable and informative.