Since the late 1980s, technology vendors have looked to services as logical adjacent business lines that will boost revenue and profits. Technical expertise, business experience, escalation processes and access to supply chains are the most common contributors to fee and contract income.

Automation and offshoring were two significant waves that created some disruption to services business models. Intelligence through software made remote management possible, slashing costs as staff moved from customer sites back to support centres. At the same time the availability of qualified, low cost resources saw development work move around the world. Services providers had to adapt to compete effectively; unsurprisingly, there were casualties.

The next wave of change is already here. Social platforms are creating the equivalent of an open source services environment, connecting users and experts without any intermediary escalation process. It is early days, but the indications are promising for enterprise users. We expect a rise in self-service options, with the potential decimation of services margins for vendors. Our first study looks at maintenance, and how offerings have gradually included online knowledge forums for users to share experiences. To participate in this study, contact Puni.

Image credit: Shake by taxcut

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