Box 2-7

Service Science, Management, and Engineering

The world economy is experiencing the largest labor force migration in history. Driven by an environment that includes global communications, business growth, and technology innovation, services now account for more than 50 percent of the labor force in Brazil, Russia, Japan, and Germany, as well as 75 percent of the labor force in the United States and the United Kingdom.

This unparalleled segment growth is changing the way companies organize themselves, creating a ripple effect in industries and universities that are closely tied to these organizations. For instance, historically, most scientific research has been geared to supporting and assisting manufacturing, which was once a dominant force in the world economy. Now that economies are shifting, industrial and academic research facilities need to apply more scientific rigor to the practices of services, such as finding better ways to use mathematical optimization to increase productivity and efficiency on demand.

This shift to focusing on services has created a skills gap, especially in the area of high-value services, which requires people who are knowledgeable about business and information technology as well as the human factors that go into a successful services operation. Many leading universities have begun exploring and investing in this area, working in tandem with thought leaders in the business world.

In May 2004, this group suggested that an entirely new academic discipline may be called for—first roughly described as “services science” at a summit held at IBM. Subsequent meetings have caused the discipline to evolve into the more appropriate service science, management, and engineering (SSME) title now used.

Service design, development, marketing, and delivery all require methodologies and techniques to make service businesses more efficient and scalable. Both depth and breadth are needed in technology, business, and organizational studies, even at the undergraduate level. SSME hopes to provide that depth and breadth by bringing together ongoing work in computer science, operations research, industrial engineering, business strategy, management sciences, social and cognitive sciences, and legal sciences to develop the skills required in a services-led economy.

The goal of the SSME discipline is to make productivity, quality, sustainability, and learning and innovation rates more predictable across the service sector.


SOURCE: Adapted from “Service Science, Management and Engineering,” IBM Incorporated http://www.research.ibm.com/ssme/ and http://www-304.ibm.com/jct09002c/university/scholars/skills/ssme/index.html (accessed October 20, 2007).

programs, programs in this field emphasize the education of “T-shaped” employees who have depth in science and also breadth in terms of business and customer skills. (See Box 2-7.)

  • The U.S. Department of Defense has documented its need to hire an increasing number of science- and technology-savvy U.S. citizens with



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