Service businesses now make up about 70% of the aggregate production and employment in the OECD nations, yet true innovation is rare in the service sector. Many companies incrementally improve their offerings, but few succeed in creating service innovations that launch new markets or reshape existing ones.
The premise of this article is that by thinking about a service in terms of its core benefits and the separability of its use from its production, managers can more easily see how to outinnovate their competitors. Before they can do so, though, they must understand the different types of market-creating service innovations as well as the factors that enable them.
The authors introduce and describe a two-by-two matrix whose taxonomy helps managers think strategically about service innovations that can create new markets. The dimensions of the matrix refer to the type of benefit offered and the degree of service separability. The article references best-practices examples including Enterprise Rent-A-Car, FedEx, eBay, Starbucks, Cirque du Soleil, Google, Southwest Airlines, Walgreens, Netflix and Barnes & Noble to illuminate each of the four cells of the matrix and explain the value to managers of understanding the dynamics of the cell that is most applicable to their service innovation efforts.