skip to content

Cambridge Service Alliance

At the forefront of service transformation in the digital era

Cambridge Service Alliance AND The Service Reseach Center (CTF) Event - April 2019

We heard from some of the world’s leading B2B (Volvo Trucks and CRH) and B2C firms (IKEA) on how digital disruption is affecting their industries, their business models and how they manage innovation. We also heard from some of the world’s leading researchers from the Universities of Cambridge and Karlstad, sharing their insights into the future of services.

Key insights from the day

  • Services are co-created with partners and customers – and we need to take a systems view to understand them.
  • Digital transformation needs to happen at the sector or ecosystem level and it will need a mobiliser or orchestrator to make it happen.
  • For large B2C firms finding a way to capture, analyse and act on customer feedback is going to be key to achieving competitive advantage.
  • Service transformation is just as important in B2B as it is in B2C and creating the right conditions for innovation is critical.
  • Blockchain will be as transformative as the internet.
  • Getting inside the mind of their customers is essential if retailers are to create better customer experiences.
  • Firms need to look at how their services are delivered across the digital, physical and social spaces if they are to co-create a satisfying customer experience.

The future of customer experience platforms

Dr Mohamed Zaki is Deputy Director of the Cambridge Service Alliance.

His research focuses on developing new machine learning methods to manage and measure customer experience and predict customer loyalty.

Customer experience is where competition between firms will be won or lost, and B2B firms in particular must understand that customers need to be cared for.

Zaki and colleagues have been taking a step back to understand customer experience across three spaces – the digital, the physical and the social – and how they are connected. Until now, researchers have tended to think about these dimensions of the customer experience separately but firms need to consider them holistically if they are to develop the right services for their customers and co-create a consistent and satisfying experience.

An example of this kind of approach would be in a B2B heavy asset context. In today’s world, it is likely that a technician will fix a vehicle on site. This is a highly physical and partially social activity. We are already moving to a world where using sensors and data analytics for predictive maintenance is becoming the norm and this is moving the experience further into the digital space, a process which will be further intensified with the development of digital twins.

Retail been an area of intense innovation in recent years, moving from a highly physical and social model to a highly digital one. But there is an interesting convergence going on here as some conventional bricks-and-mortar retailers are bringing digital channels instore and some online retailers – like Amazon – are opening bricks-and-mortar shops. Whichever route they take, they recognise the need to create a highly personalised, consistent and integrated shopping experience.

Zaki and his colleagues have developed a framework for looking at firms’ levels of maturity in each of the three spaces to help them think about where they are now and where they want to be – and the steps they need to take to get there.


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 CEMEX, GEA, IBM, Pearson, Zoetis, HCLTech, Bouygues UK among others.