Smart Manufacturing & Services

Focus Group
Growing product commoditization, more complex customer needs and the search for growth areas drive manufacturing companies to extend their product oriented business models with value adding services. During the last 15 years we have gathered extensive knowledge in managing industrial services within the manufacturing context from development of service strategies to optimization of service networks. Until today there is a broad consensus that services are mainly a cost-driver or at most a support for the real business, the hardware products. However, services have become an issue of high importance for strategic differentiation. Services are a major driver for turnover. Since digitalization has become more and more relevant for service offerings of manufacturing companies, we are currently focusing our research especially on smart services which are based on data from the installed base. Service Excellence is a key factor for the company's overall success.
We are always interested to take on current challenges in the service business. If you as a practitioner are facing challenges in your service business, feel free to contact us.

XaaS Benchmarking: Everything as a service?

In the last decade, software companies have blazed a new trail for “as-a-Service” offerings. Selling software as perpetual license has faded out of fashion. Instead, companies such as Adobe or Amazon are providing Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). Success proves them right, as these vendors enjoy higher customer retention and recurring revenue. Conversely, customers benefit from the continuous deployment of new functions.
But what about manufacturing companies? Especially in Business-to-Business, margins on product sales have become razor-thin. Thanks to recent advancements in digital technology and data analytics, a new breed of services has appeared. However, manufacturers face difficulties in monetizing these new data-based, smart services. One major reason is that customers often underestimate the value of these smart services, such that customers’ willingness to pay is low.
Our new benchmarking Everything-as-a-Service? Learning from Software and Manufacturing Companies” explores this topic systematically. The benchmarking’s objective is to identify “Successful Practice” companies that have successfully introduced XaaS offerings and managed the organizational transformation.

Focus Group - Managing Service Innovation Processes

Smart Services have become a key success factor for manufacturing companies. However, companies often struggle to develop smart services successfully. A major reason for that is the low standardization of the development processes of smart services. Our latest benchmarking study "Transformation of the Service Organization" points out that more than half of all participating manufacturing companies do not apply formalized processes to develop smart services. To address this issue, we offer manufacturing companies the possibility to participate in our focus group.


Please click here for further information and registration.


Complexity Management

Today a major challenge for manufacturing companies embraces the growing complexity which often leads to higher costs and lower performance results of a company. The increasing number of product variants requires additional processes which have to be managed by the companies. Complexity has an impact on different departments of a company along the value-chain which, for instance, results in reduced performance in economies of scale in the supply chain, in higher lead times and inventory levels in manufacturing. It has different facets which have to be taken into consideration in the decision-making of companies. On the one hand the offerings of variety increases costs, on the other hand it can also provide product differentiation in the market, thus leading to higher market share and sales volume. Companies are faced with the challenge to find the optimal point between costs for complexity and the number of variants they offer. To ensure future company competitiveness, manufacturing companies need to set and implement new methods and adapt their structures of development and manufacturing to get the control over complexity and to meet the changing requirements of the economic surroundings under cost optimal conditions.


Complexity management related challenges of manufacturing companies:
• Control over complexity to reduce costs and to increase efficiency as well as to get a systematic utilization of competitive advantages
• To transform the increasing heterogeneous customer requirements (high external complexity) in a lean internal product and process structure (internal complexity)
• Sustainable complexity-aware design of products and processes


Altogether, we develop solutions together with companies in individual research projects as well as in state funded projects to meet the specific requirements of the companies as well as to ensure the applicability in the manufacturing industry. We hereby apply a mix of research strategies and instruments, such as case study research, survey research, and action research.


Please contact us for further details.

Smart Service Readiness Check

One-day workshop

Our smart service readiness check gives you the possibility to identify your company's current development status regarding smart services. By participating in our benchmarking study "Success in the Future of Smart Services" you will be able to compare your smart service business to successful practice companies. On the basis of deep insights from the successful practice companies the study enabels you to leverage the hidden potential of your service business. Furthermore, we will jointly establish development potential in the field of Smart Services within your company.


Benchmarking facts

  • 147 participants
  • 11 countries
  • Cross-industry
  • SME and multinational corporations
  • 42% of companies actively offering smart service have been in this business for more than five years



Phase 1: Participation in quantitative cross-industry benchmarking survey
Within first phase your company will fill in our smart service benchmarking survey. An individual report based on our analysis and assessment of your survey answers will be provided to you after this phase. The report is also the basis for the one-day workshop. After this phase you are able to compare your bussiness to successful practice companies.


Phase 2: Development potential workshop
In order to identify your company’s development potential in this field we will conduct a one-day workshop. Moreover, we will draw a roadmap with suggestions specified for your company.



Please contact us for further details.

Smart Service Business Development

One-week workshop

In order to leverage potentials of current megatrends, the business models accompanying the technological side of smart services have to be systematically developed and custom-tailored to specific company needs. An adequate methodology that enables successful commercialization of smart services has been developed by ITEM-HSG. During a one-week workshop we are going to assess your current business model for smart services. In close collaboration with you we develop a new concept and integration roadmap. What are the internal and external factors of business development? Which available models suit your service business? We will help you to analyze your business model as well as to develop and integrate a sustainable new business model!

Our approach is based on extensive research experience in the field of industrial services. It enables you to successfully transform your business model and to enable commercialization of smart services.



  • Analysis of external and internal environment of your company
  • Idea generation and –selection of business model patterns
  • Deduce tailored recommendation for the development of the Smart Service business



The duration of the workshop is set to five business days.



Phase 1: Smart service readiness check (prior to workshop)

The first phase comprises a smart service readiness check that has to be conducted prior to the workshop. Within this readiness check your company will fill in our smart service benchmarking survey. An individual report based on our analysis and assessment of your survey answers will be provided to you after this phase. The report is also the basis for the one-week workshop. After this phase you are able to compare your bussiness to successful practice companies.


Phase 2: Analysis (day 1 & 2)
During the first two days of the one-week workshop an anaylsis of the internal and external environment of your compnay will be conducted. Internally, your current business model for your service business will be analyzed. Externally, a stakeholder analysis and PESTLE (Political, economical, social, technological, legal and environmental factors) analysis will provide an overview on the enviroment of your company's service business. The analysis phase allows to gaining extensive insights concerning the company itself and the company’s environment. Considering these insights, the objective of the analysis is to identify different impact factors and interdependencies between the business model and the environment.


Phase 3: Conception (day 3)
The conception phase aims at generating new ideas for business models for remote services and to select them in the context of the underlying circumstances. In the phase of idea generation various creativity methods and idea finding techniques are applied. To structure and to classify the created ideas, they are first clustered and afterwards selected for further elaboration.


Phase 4: Integration (day 4 & 5)
As part of the integration phase a rough elaboration of the preselected business models will be conducted. Furthermore, tailored recommendations and implications for your smart service business will be deduced.



Please contact us for further details.


Daniel Wörner
Research Associate & PhD Candidate
Potthoff_Bild - Kopie
Jean Paul Potthoff
Research Associate & PhD Candidate
Moritz Häussler
Research Associate & PhD Candidate
Ronja Trappmann
Research Associate & PhD Candidate

Get in touch

You have to fill this out.
You have to fill this out.
You have to fill this out.
You have to fill this out.
You have to fill this out.
You have to fill this out.
You have to fill this out.
You have to fill this out.