IBM announced that it is collaborating with more than 250 universities in 50 countries that are offering courses or degree programs in Service Science, Management and Engineering (SSME). SSME is a new academic discipline designed to produce students with the combined business and technology skills needed to enter today’s workforce ready to contribute immediately to their countries’ economic and innovation agendas.
As the world becomes more instrumented, interconnected, and intelligent, customers are being served through complex systems that require new problem solving and communication skills in the global workforce. SSME educates people about these complex systems and networks that serve customers better, creating what IBM calls a smarter planet — building a smarter healthcare system, smart grids and smarter cities. Beyond teaching technology and businesses courses with factory floor examples, SSME programs focus on many complex service systems, such as healthcare and transportation networks.
Governments from 18 nations, including Germany and Japan, have responded to the call for prioritizing and providing funding for service research and curricula. “Service Science is not just a powerful way to provide better service offerings at less cost, it also provides insights into human behavior that can be used for the greater good of mankind,” said Jim Whelan, program manager, Industrial Development Agency of Ireland.
“IBM has been working with universities and other industry organizations to identify the skills needed in this ever-changing world economy,” said Jai Menon, vice president of technical strategy and university programs, IBM. “We’re finding that a combined education in business, technology, and social sciences is the right education needed for students to have the baseline of skills for innovation. The rapid expansion of SSME has been exciting to see, in emerging markets from Vietnam to India, to established economies like the U.S. and Germany.”
SSME has spread to 250 universities in 50 countries on six continents offering degree programs and specific courses. Some examples include:
* The University of Pavia, Italy, has a Service Engineering Master’s degree, including a course focused on helping the re-engineering of the Italian health system, in order to make it more efficient and more innovative. Students are developing their final thesis and dissertation in cooperation with Maugeri Hospital.
* Vietnam National University has an IT Services Management program.
* University of Bahcesehir in Turkey has a dual SSME Master’s program jointly with Northeastern University in Massachusetts.
* University of Pretoria in South Africa is creating an SSME program.
* Universidad del Salvador in Argentina offers a Master’s degree in Global Services Management.
* Bond University in Queensland, Australia offers a Master’s degree in Service Management.
Many universities in the United States have SSME programs and research centers; some examples include:
* North Carolina State University has an SSME concentration in their MBA and Masters of Engineering programs.
* University of Maryland Smith School of Business has two centers that involve SSME, the Center for Excellence in Service and the Center for Complexity in Business.
* University of Washington has a Global Integrated Systems Engineering program.
* Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey offers a Master of Information Systems degree.
* Missouri State University offers a Bachelor’s degree in IT Service Management
“Service science improves the quality and productivity of at least three quarters of the economy,” said Dr. Cheng Hsu, Professor of Decision Sciences and Engineering Systems and Professor, Information Technology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. “More importantly, service science propels new and sustainable value creation for a digitally connected world, which may provide the next great opportunities for the global economy.”
There also has been an industry-wide call that has ratified the need for Service Science-related skills. Organizations calling for a curricula change include the Service Research and Innovation Initiative (SRII), the Technology Professional Services Association (TPSA), the Service and Support Professionals Association (SSPA), the Association for Services Management International (ASMI), and the Center for Innovation Management Studies.
“Service businesses are the fastest growing part of the global technology industry. Yet most companies struggle to make service investments that lead to strategic outcomes or real innovation,” said J.B. Wood, president and CEO of the TPSA, SSPA, and ASMI. “We understand how to do product research and development but not service research and development. What’s missing is the toolbox for companies to apply classic research techniques and disciplines to this important market. Service science is that toolbox.”
“Xerox, IBM and other SSME partners have realized that to enhance our skills base we need to embrace the emerging field of service science,” said Dr. Santokh Badesha, Xerox Fellow and Manager, Open Innovation, Xerox Innovation Group. “We see great value in the SSME initiative for this reason and have been actively participating to expand its scope. Our Services Innovation @ Xerox initiative needs increased service science skills for the services business. We are trying to help expand SSME partnership within and across our industry and academia which will allow us to effect this change in the fastest possible manner.”
In support of service research, service innovation, and SSME, there are now 27 SSME research innovation centers at universities around the world. These centers offer practical experience and industry participation to interdisciplinary teams of university researchers. IBM also advises on student competitions that improve service systems to create a smarter planet, as well as sponsors award programs for both students and faculty, around SSME.