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IBM sets a new course to jumpstart innovation and management in services

IBM Haifa Labs News Center

November 24, 2005

Haifa, Israel, - As the fall semester gets underway in Israel, two IBM researchers are giving students the benefit of their winning business strategies through practical tips on how to better manage innovation and services. Dr. Iris Ginzburg and Dr. Yossi Lichtenstein of the IBM Haifa Research Lab have stepped back into academia with a new course called Services Management and Innovation. The course is being taught at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya as part of The Zell Entrepreneurship Program and is scheduled for next semester at Tel-Aviv University's Leon Recanati Graduate School of Business Administration.

Services constitute about three quarters of the GDP of western economies and account for the vast majority of newly created jobs. Many different types of businesses are services, including financial services, communication, tourism, distribution, IT integration and development, and outsourcing of organizational processes and complete business components.

Services have become vital for the world of technology-based companies who now need to offer their customers "total, on-demand" solutions to compete with low-cost product commoditizers. With the rise of standards and the ubiquity of the Internet making it easier and less costly to conduct transactions within enterprises as well as among ecosystems, technology can enable new types of intra- and inter-company services.

Very little is known about the systematic management of innovation in services, in spite of their size, growth and actual innovation. "Clearly, services are a major determinant of competitiveness, but innovation in services is what will drive the next generation’s management of technology," notes Ginzburg. "The service management currently being studied in academia doesn’t address the element of innovation. We’re still asking ourselves what is it, and how do we get service innovation?" Ginzburg, herself a graduate of the MIT Sloan School of Business, has been involved in the arena of innovation for many years. Aside from teaching Technology Innovation at the Tel Aviv University, her experience in the business world includes her own telecom startup, work in the financial industry, and her current position as leader of the Innovation Management services being offered by IBM to customers around the world.

IBM is proactively working with universities to co-develop a Services Science curriculum, much like the work it did with Columbia in the 1950s to help establish Computer Science as a formal discipline. The new services world necessitates that we study new strategies, new competencies, new tools, and new processes. In short, we need information on new ways to bring about and support innovation. The course on Services Management and Innovation is the first ever being taught as part of this new discipline, referred to by IBM as Services Science and Management Engineering (SSME).

As an IT leader, IBM is well positioned to look ahead and see what factors today will affect the future of the IT transformation. "IBM’s successful business model is worth careful study by all businesses who are working on producing innovative products," explains Lichtenstein. "This new drive for innovation in services will impact many aspects of future businesses, including how companies are managed, how new services are introduced, how technology gets out to the marketplace, and, inevitably, how engineers as well as business graduates are educated."

Both Ginzburg and Lichtenstein are players in IBM’s strategy for technology innovation and on demand services. Their combined efforts have built a framework that brings innovation consulting services to major international IBM clients in the areas of electronics, financial services, telcom, and transportation. As dedicated business strategists, they see very high value in bringing their practical ideas to an academic environment where people can learn from their experience and use it to become more successful in the future.

"IBM already created a new discipline when it introduced Computer Science back in the late 40s" note Lichtenstein. "This course offering combines IBM’s keen sense of what tomorrow’s customers will need, together with the know-how of Israel’s most prestigious business schools." Ginzburg and Lichtenstein see the course participants as tomorrow’s leaders. These are the people who will determine the shape of the marketplace that will merge IT and business in a services-dominated world.

Israel, with its outstanding number of startups, incubation centers, and technological innovations, is an ideal place to lay this groundwork. Courses such as this one will not only teach the necessary skills to those already working in services, it will help people understand their clients’ needs and how they can better help clients achieve their goals.


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