The significance of services as business and human activities has increased dramatically throughout the world in the last three decades.
Becoming a more and more competitive and efficient service provider while still being able to provide unique value opportunities for customers requires new knowledge and ideas.
Part of this knowledge is created and utilized in daily activities in every service organization, but not all of it, and therefore an emerging phenomenon in the service context is information awareness. Terms like big data and Internet of things are not only modern buzz-words but they are also describing urgent requirements for a new type of competences and solutions. When the amount of information increases and the systems processing information become more efficient and intelligent, it is the human understanding and objectives that may get separated from the automated processes and technological innovations.
Core driver for this dissertation
This is an important challenge and the core driver for this dissertation: What kind of information is created, possessed and utilized in the service context, and even more importantly, what information exists but is
not acknowledged or used?
In this dissertation the focus is on the relationship between service design and service operations. Reframing this relationship refers to viewing the service system from the architectural perspective. The selected perspective allows analysing the relationship between design activities and operational activities as an information system while maintaining the tight connection to existing service research contributions and approaches. This type of an innovative approach is supported by research methodology that relies on design science theory. The methodological process supports the construction of a new design artifact based on existing theoretical knowledge, creation of new innovations and testing the design artifact components in real service contexts. The relationship between design and operations is analysed in the health care and social care service systems.
The existing contributions in service research tend to abstract services and service systems as value creation, working or interactive systems. This dissertation adds an important information processing system perspective to the research. The main contribution focuses on the following argument: Only part of the service information system is automated and computerized, whereas a significant part of information processing is embedded in human activities, communication and ad-hoc reactions. The
results indicate that the relationship between service design and service operations is more complex and dynamic than the existing scientific and managerial models tend to view it. Both activities create, utilize, mix and share information, making service information management a necessary but relatively unknown managerial task.
On the architectural level, service system -specific elements seem to disappear, but access to more general information elements and processes can be found. While this dissertation focuses on conceptual-level design artifact construction, the results provide also very practical implications for service providers. Personal, visual and hidden activities of service, and more importantly all changes that take place in any service system have also an information dimension. Making this information dimension visual and prioritizing the processed information based on service dimensions is likely to provide new opportunities to increase activities and provide a new type of service potential for customers.
This study provided a design artifact aiming at improving service
management by linking design and designing to operations and service realization through information. Offering a new solution or service should raise the relevant questions: why should there be a link, and if there is a link, what does it mean? These are the questions that were formatted in this study into the main research question and three sub-questions. The main research question was:
What kind of service artifacts and information content can be utilized in transforming the static linkage between service design and service operations into a more dynamic relationship? The underlying
assumption was based on Simon’s (2001) argument of artifacts where he proposes that artifacts are used in the interface of inner and outer worlds. The microenvironment of service artifacts was entered through the information perspective, which focused the study on the content of the artifacts and how they could be utilized more efficiently.