What Is Service Thinking?

Computer science took us to $100 billion. Service Thinking and Smarter Systems will take us to $200 billion.

Dr. James C. Spohrer
IBM Director, University Program Worldwide

The biggest challenge in business today – large, small, or start-up – is this: all products are becoming services, and all services are becoming digital. Since the output of services is an experience, which is subjectively and idiosyncratically evaluated by the customer, businesses find themselves in an era of subjectivity. Since all business history has been defined by objectivity – metrics of performance – businesses are desperately looking for experts in managing in the subjective era. Nobody teaches that, yet it’s a skill set you need.

Service Thinking is a business model that derives from Service Science. It is the systemic application to the enterprise of a seven-point framework to establish the globally integrated service standard, and to identify the pathways to transformational service innovation and absolute competitive advantage.

Service Thinking hinges on two overarching changes in the digital economy: (1) the relationship between provider and customer has changed dramatically and continues to evolve; (2) the design of enterprise operations to serve this new customer relationship is dramatically different from previous business architecture.

The Service Thinking Manifesto

Core Insight

It’s clear to every business that their customer relationships are changing quickly and massively in the digital era. But old strategy tools wedded to established technologies are getting in the way of rapid and intelligent response. Customers become frustrated, and migrate to disruptive offerings. Businesses, abandoned by good customers,face stasis, low employee morale and a dismal future. Fortunately, there is an emerging alternative based on Service Thinking, with the potential to change every aspect of business strategy.

Core Belief

Service thinking, with customer co-creation at its core, opens new paths to accelerated growth through the emergent strategy of individualized service.

Change Impact

Replaces prescriptive strategy tools and a process-based concrete-pouring of enterprise technologies.

Core Offer

New growth via re-thinking the enterprise system of value creation with the 7-point Service Thinking framework

Brand Behavior

Liberating enterprises, management, employees and resources to serve the individualized needs of customers.

Who are our customers and how will we make them feel?

Business leaders, liberatedby the collaborative energyof Service Thinking.


  • Current state assessment/future state potential
  • 7-point Service Thinking framework service as experience
  • Co-creation within service systems
  • Modular business architecture/ componentization
  • Run-transform-innovate
  • Global-mobile-social scalable platforms
  • Multisided metrics


The Service Thinking Framework