Workshop to Develop a Research Agenda for Service Innovation

In the era of smart service systems, technology is critical to real-world value co-creation, making scientific and engineering research in service innovation critical for the future economic progress. The search for service innovation requires new theories and new methods to address problems unique to services. Effective understanding of complex services and innovation in services requires a new approach that combines multiple methods, for example, drawing from industrial engineering and operations research, social and behavioral sciences, information systems, and computer science and computational modeling.

Twenty-five years ago, the National Academies hosted a workshop on technology in services services: Quinn, J.B. Technology in services: Past myths and future challenges. Technology in Services: Policies for Growth, Trade, and Employment. National Academy of Engineering, 1988.

Ten years ago, the National Academies hosted a workshop that considered the impact of service research (among other industries) on business: National Academy of Engineering. The Impact of Academic Research on Industrial Performance. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 2003.

Now, you are invited to take part in a workshop to help define the roadmap for future service research and education for NSF and industry partners by (a) laying out the societal context for service research, (b) identifying technology needs and knowledge gaps for service innovation, and (c) developing basic science, social science, and engineering questions to be addressed to satisfy the needs and fill the gaps.

Participation is by invitation only. If you have any questions, contact Paul Maglio.


In advance of the workshop participants provided a one-page position paper outlining a key research challenge and knowledge gaps to be closed in one of three areas:

  • Science. For example, how can we model complex, nested, and networked service systems? What mathematical and computational techniques are appropriate for understanding systems that combine people and technologies in arrangements that create mutual value? There are many other basic questions.
  • Education. Effective delivery of complex technology-enabled services often require STEM skills combined with business skills and social science skills — sometimes within individuals. What does this means for education?
  • Innovation. Technology is key to creating smart service systems. How do technological innovations relate to service innovations? How do we measure a service system’s capacity for innovation, technological or otherwise?

Position Papers have been posted.

For the workshop, participants are to prepare a single slide and two-minute presentation describing your service research challenge and associated knowledge gaps.

Final Agenda
The workshop will begin with a session in which each participant makes this presentation. This session will be followed by structured and facilitated conversations among participants to form teams, leverage complementary skills and insights, develop substantive and lasting research relationships, and build effective cross-disciplinary research ideas. In particular, teams will be formed from those presenting compatible or consistent research ideas across themes. We will propose teams based on the papers and presentations. The goal of each team will be to develop a preliminary set of scientific research challenges in service innovation and then to identify technology needs. The second day will end with a session in which teams will have fifteen minutes to present their consolidated research agenda items.

Break Out Group Instructions
The objective of each group is to define a roadmap for future service innovation research and education for NSF and industry partners by (a) laying out the societal context for service innovation, (b) identifying technology needs and knowledge gaps for service innovation, and (c) developing basic science, social science, and engineering questions to be addressed to satisfy the needs and fill the gaps.

During the two-day meeting, there will be more than 3 hours dedicated to break out sessions. There will be a brief 5-minute report out by the groups at the end of the first day, and this is meant only to be quick checkpoint to identify commonalities, possible problems, and generate cross-group discussion as well. At the end, each group will make a 15-minute presentation summarizing its discussion and roadmap. The goal is to reach some kind of consensus. Of course, not everyone will agree, and there will not be enough time to consider everything. So it will probably be best to focus on a few needs, gaps, and technologies that seem most important. Final presentations need not be particularly polished, but should aim to make a compelling and clear case.

We are not going to provide much more in the way of process for the breakouts, but it will probably be simplest to select a leader and a scribe or someone to be responsible for actually putting together the presentation (or organize it as a team pitch) at the start.

Previously, we suggested three broad themes – Science, Education, and Innovation – and you can stick to those or develop others, perhaps aligned more directly with the position papers you developed (e.g., focused on specific sectors or industries, such as healthcare):

Workshop Outcomes
We will write a final report after the workshop summarizing the intellectual content of the meeting, and the lessons learned. The report will describe discussions and outcomes of the workshop along three main lines related to service systems research: (a) societal needs and societal contexts, (b) relevant technologies and technology areas, and (c) gaps in knowledge that must be filled to realize and enable effective technologies. The final report will include an appendix compiling all the final project slides, and will be disseminated through email to participants and through the California Center for Service Science website. The final report may provide the basis of a journal paper to be submitted to a quality journal in the service field, such as Service Science or the Journal of Service Research, summarizing key points of the workshop and its results.


Sponsors: National Science Foundation, California Center for Service Science, San Jose State University, IBM, University-Industry Demonstration Partnership, National Academies


Workshop | Final Agenda | Attendee Info | Position Papers | Proposal | Award | News