When reading the literature on service innovation, the field is at the dawn of its third wave. For some decades, service innovation has had a great deal of efforts, following an ‘assimilation approach’, helping manufacturers gain ground, extending their businesses by adding or creating new services. However, designed in accordance with product development methodologies and principles, the full potential of the user and typical service characteristics remained under-addressed.
The second – a ‘demarcation approach’ – offered a clear break with the past, advocating a service (-dominant) logic with unique characteristics for services, design tools and a customer-centric definition for the field. But a half-hearted integration of both remains and leads us to the current situation in which there is an unintended dichotomy between product and service.
Therefore, a third wave is now beginning to emerge: the ‘synthesis approach’, integrating product and service, and designing them as a combined value carrier into a system. There is no longer a need for entirely new tools, but rather adapted tools that support the valuable inclusion of product and service, and transition into product-service systems (PSS). Because of its integral nature, PSS design and strategic rollout requires a structured process with a broader, systemic scope in mind.