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Cambridge Service Alliance

developing new understanding and approaches to complex service systems

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Research Collaborations

Our industry partners are leading organisations in non-competing sectors who are able to benefit from each other’s experiences as well as from Alliance research. Their involvement is essential to our work, in ensuring its relevance and in helping us turn theory into practical tools and techniques.

Some examples of collaborative work is shown below:

Customer Service at CAT-Finning

Alliance researchers, Dr Florian Urmetzer and Mohamed Zaki and Alliance visitor, Professor Janet McColl-Kennedy, have recently been working with CAT-Finning to study the customer experience. A holistic approach was used, involving the customers’ cognitive, affective, emotional, social and sensory responses to the firm, including all customer touch points. The aim was to undertake a full range of interactions with the firm, viewing the customer experience as a process rather than an outcome. This involved investigating both the customer and employee perspectives. The initial research involved observations at Cannock and Winsford, as well as interviews with twenty employees. The touch points studied included the workshop service, spare parts, scheduling field service visits, field service engineers as well as sales (new and used). In the second phase the two researchers were invited by Finning to join a customer event to interview customers directly. Twenty in-depth customer interviews were conducted, including customers from construction, plant hire, quarry, and landfill. The next steps are to conduct more focused interviews with customers and staff, and to analyse the material gathered. It is envisaged that the study will be replicated within another Cambridge Service Alliance partner.

Research visit to Caterpillar Headquarters in Peoria, Illinois

Tom Bucklar from Technology and Solutions and Craig Olmstead from Global Services hosted a research visit at Caterpillar Headquarters. The Cambridge Service Alliance research team represented by Dr Florian Urmetzer, Dr Stefano Miraglia and Dr. Veronica Martinez explored a diversity of service issues including the customer service experience, the service ecosystems and the shift to services in Caterpillar.

Product safety in a world of services: through-life accountability at BAE Systems

Recent years have seen changes in the way that companies in a number of industries have responded to a changing market environment where the demand for intelligent service contracts and the requirements of corporate social responsibility continue to rise. Central to these changes is a modified approach to the theme of increasing services provision. Reductions in the delivery of new products and the extensions to life of existing products have forced companies to reconsider their existing product portfolios and how they can generate new business from the maintenance, through-life upgrade and support of the products they previously supplied. BAE Systems like others in the defence arena has done this and, in doing so, has considered what changes it has had to make, and continues to make, to the way in which it now looks at and ensures the safety and performance integrity of its products in all aspects of its operations.

A research paper prepared by the Alliance, in collaboration with BAE Systems, draws together the path that BAE Systems has taken (and continues to take) as it moves to delivery of a more service-oriented portfolio of products, and the research that the University of Cambridge has been pursuing to better understand how accountabilities are managed for service through-life. The paper represents initial thoughts and analysis on through-life accountability and recognises the need to pursue further research and analysis before the company has a more fully informed understanding of how it can best use this information to improve its service provision. [full report

An education revolution: how Pearson is changing the way we learn

Big data is underpinning a new way of working, known as ‘competency-based education’, currently being developed in the US education system. A group of universities and colleges is already making huge steps in transforming the way they teach their students. They are using data to personalise the delivery of their courses so that each student progresses at the pace that suits them, whenever and wherever they like. In the old model, thousands of students arrive on campus at the start of the academic year and, regardless of their individual levels of attainment, work their way through their course until the moment of graduation. In the new data-driven model, universities will be able to monitor and measure a student’s performance, see how long it takes them to complete particular assignments and with what degree of success. Their curriculum is then tailored to take account of their preferences, their achievements and any difficulties they may have. For the students, this means a much more flexible way of working which really suits their needs and the opportunity to graduate more quickly. For the institutions, it means delivering better quality education which will result in better student outcomes, and being able to deploy their staff more efficiently and also more in line with teachers’ skills and interests. Both students and teachers will benefit from lower-cost, higher quality education.

Cambridge Service Alliance

Welcome to the Cambridge Service Alliance…

  • a unique global alliance between leading businesses and universities;
  • bringing together the world's leading firms and academics;
  • all of whom are devoted to delivering today the tools, education and insights needed for the complex service solutions of tomorrow.


RSS Feed Latest news

New thinking about the future of services

Apr 14, 2019

New thinking about the future of services - Connecting the digital, physical and social

2018 Robert Johnston Award

Apr 03, 2019

Congratulations to Mohamed Zaki, Professor Janet McColl-Kennedy and co-authors for receiving the 2018 Robert Johnston Award of the Journal of Service Management

Webinar on High-Value Manufacuring (HVM)

Mar 18, 2019

In this webinar, Luisa Huaccho Huatuco presents the Alliance February 2019 paper on High-Value Manufacturing.

February 2019 Paper - High Value Manufacturing (HVM) in the UK: Case studies and focus group insights

Feb 28, 2019

High Value Manufacturing (HVM) in the UK: Case studies and focus group insights by Luisa Huaccho Huatuco, Veronica Martinez-Hernandez, Thomas F. Burgess and Nicky E. Shaw

February 2019 Webinar - Business Ecosystems Mapping

Feb 12, 2019

In this webinar, Florian presents the Alliance January 2019 paper on Business Ecosystems Mapping.

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