pmaglio2007CIS faculty member Paul Maglio is Principal Investigator on a recently awarded NSF grant to organize a “Workshop to Develop a Research Agenda for Service Innovation”. Specifically, the California Center for Service Science at the University of California, led by Professor Maglio at UC Merced, will partner with Dr. Stephen Kwan of San Jose State University and Dr. Jim Spohrer of IBM to co-organize the meeting, which will be held at the Keck Center of the National Academies in Washington DC in April, 2014.

The workshop will bring together thought leaders from a variety of disciplines to outline an agenda for scientific and engineering research in service innovation. Solving service problems has enormous practical consequences for the economy and society because (a) more than 80% of jobs in the US are in the service sector, with most Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) graduates working in service; (b) many complex service problems resist traditional optimization solutions; and (c) private investment in service research is low because of low margins in non-technology-intensive service businesses, and the US lags in public investment behind countries such as Japan, China, Finland, and Germany.

“If successful, this workshop will develop a roadmap for future service research and education for NSF and industry partners”


A slide from a recent presentation by Prof. Maglio (based on data and other materials provided by IBM)

Simply put, the search for service innovation requires new theories and new methods to address problems unique to services, and what little students are being taught about the service sector has not kept up with the rapid growth of STEM jobs in service or with modern entrepreneurial opportunities. Effective understanding of complex services and innovation in services requires a new approach that combines multiple methods, for example, drawing from industrial engineering and operations research, social and behavioral sciences, information systems, and computer science and computational modeling.

From the official NSF abstract:

“If successful, this workshop will develop a roadmap for future service research and education for NSF and industry partners by (a) laying out the societal context for service research, (b) identifying technology needs and knowledge gaps for service innovation, and (c) developing basic science and engineering questions to be addressed to satisfy the needs and fill the gaps. Anticipated outcomes also include new collaborations and increased capacity in the research community for advancing interdisciplinary studies of service. In addition, some focus on education in service from science, technology, engineering, and math fields are expected to result in plans for cross-disciplinary, cross-institution programs.”

Prof. Maglio is also Editor-in-Chief of a major journal for the field, Service Science.

You can learn more about the new California Center for Service Science at their website, which includes details on the workshop here.

For the grant’s details and the full official NSF abstract, click here.