Oracle and IBM join services consortium

New group aims to promote 'service science'

IBM and Oracle, more often rivals than partners, have joined in helping create an industry consortium that is focused on establishing what it calls “service science”.

The consortium is called the Service Research & Innovation (SRI) Initiative and its members comprise Oracle, IBM and other vendors, along with two services organisations — the Technology Professional Services Association (TPSA) and the Service & Support Professionals Association (SSPA). The initiative was launched last month.

The SRI’s main goal is to increase the amount of money spent on service research and development in the IT industry. Its members also hope that evangelising service science to the corporate world, government and academia will eventually result in the area achieving the same status as computer science.

One of the key issues the SRI Initiative will work on is how to achieve year-over-year improvements in IT services, according to Jim Spohrer, director of service research at IBM’s Almaden Research Centre in San Jose, California.

The technology industry has become very good at improving engineered products like computers on an annual basis, but has yet to determine how to make similar achievements in service, he says.

“We’re looking into how to make service productivity, compliance and innovation more predictable,” he says. The SRI is also keen to discover better ways to scale service businesses.

The founding members of the SRI have formed an advisory board with members including services providers Accenture and CSC, as well as Cisco Systems, EMC, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Xerox. Missing from the list so far are the two other leading services providers, Cap Gemini and EDS.

The board also includes researchers from a variety of academic institutions including Arizona State University, Cranfield School of Management, the University of California, Los Angeles and the Wharton School of Business.

So far, there are 39 programmes under way teaching service science in universities in 22 countries, Spohrer says. The institutions include the University of California, Berkeley, North Carolina State University, Helsinki University of Technology, Beijing University and Tokyo University.

The SRI will be actively soliciting new members at its first symposium, which is due to take place in Santa Clara, California, on May 30.

The group also hopes to work closely with other organisations already focused on the service science field, particularly the Networked European Software and Services Initiative (NESSI), Spohrer says.

“Our goal is to get every industry, university and government to plan more investment research into services,” he says.

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