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Cambridge Service Alliance

At the forefront of service transformation in the digital era
Thinking ahead – providing bespoke solutions to future challenges

The Cambridge Service Alliance (CSA) Community of Interest (CoI) inaugural programme of Open Innovation Workshops is designed to enable CSA industrial partners to explore potential solutions to future challenges arising from service transformation in the digital era. Industry partners benefit from working closely and dynamically with University of Cambridge researchers and other CSA-selected industry partners to explore emerging digital technologies and examine their potential for providing seamless solutions to real industry challenges and deliver value to business.

This is the first time the CSA has run the new-format workshops that bring greater value and benefits to participating industry partners who are able to respond with immediate feedback in a co-creative environment. This year’s CoI Workshops are exploring (i) the potential of using real-time data and artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to increase the quality of service experience perceived by the customer and (ii) the use of blockchain to automate changes in the demand and supply chain between the customer and the manufacturer.

 “How do we explore, design, prototype and test the digital technologies that bring value to our business? How do we identify the real industry drivers and challenges that need to be addressed? We do this together as a Community of Interest in an Open Innovation Workshop setting.

“The focus for our CoI Workshops this year is to help our industry partners build the required digital demonstrators that enables new business models and platforms to support efficient operations, increased revenue and enhanced customer experience,” said Dr Mohamed Zaki, Deputy Director of the Cambridge Service Alliance.

CSA invites a selected number of industry partners to attend a series of three one-day meetings, held at the Institute for Manufacturing at the University of Cambridge, to combine non-competitive focus on specific industry scenarios being explored for the benefit of one partner. Collaborators are non-competing companies who have been selected by CSA to learn from each other’s experience and accelerate potential benefits for all stakeholders. The first meeting in the first series of Open Innovation Workshops was held in May, the second will take place in July and the final meeting is scheduled for November.

The workshops are designed to support industry partners to develop a bespoke framework to optimise digital service transformation to include:

  • prototyping the required proof of concepts to best serve digital service transformation
  • developing a new business model based on emerging digital technologies
  • optimising the customer experience to be seamless

The Open Innovation Workshops are dynamic and partners can reflect on their own business models to identify where the company wants to make improvements and the specific barriers it needs to overcome. In the first meeting lead researchers report on best practice in the digital technology of interest to the partners. The industry partners explain what the current practice of its organisation is, map the process and consider exactly what they would like to change and/or improve for the future. 

This ‘wish list’ is used by the lead researcher to inform and shape the design of a bespoke digital technology/tool prototype. There is ample opportunity to reflect on and think around particular drivers and concerns. The workshop format provides a rigorous and productive space to explore ideas in depth and detail to leverage valuable information for all industry partner participants.

In the second meeting the lead researcher will present the initial developed prototype project to the industry partners who will have the opportunity to interrogate the prototype in a chosen scenario when all industry partner participants can comment and shape further developments. Following the second meeting the lead researcher will take the prototype to the participating industry partner to run the newly-developed prototype in parallel with the company’s current business model such that operations are not disrupted and the performance of the prototype can be assessed and compared to the current practice. 

A final meeting is held at which point the lead researcher will feed back results and make recommendations regarding potential adoption of the new prototype and provide insight on the benefits and gains. Taking a research-led, collaborative and open approach brings rigour and dynamic co-creation to real industry challenges. 

“The feedback from our industry partners who participated in our first Open Innovation Workshop has been extremely positive and all participants acknowledged the value of the sessions,” said Dr Zaki. “We have designed the CoI workshops to offer our partners the benefit of our research presented as a ‘window to the future’. The format of the Open Innovation Workshops enables partners to experience the digital technologies with us.”


Cambridge Service Alliance

Welcome to the Cambridge Service Alliance…

  • A unique global alliance between the University of Cambridge and some of the world’s leading businesses.

  • Help organisations to address the challenges they will face in the next three to five years, through rigorous research, practical tools, insights and education programmes.

  • Learn how other innovative organisations are developing new services through our events

  • Since its inception in 2010 industrial partners have included BAE Systems, Caterpillar, GEA, IBM, Pearson, Zoetis, CEMEX, HCLTech and Bouygues

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