A framework for analyzing integrated solutions
Paper in proceedings, 2015
Manufactures can gain competitive advantage by addressing the customers’ needs and provide a combination of services and products (Wise & Baumgartner, 1999). When services and products are integrated into a seamless offer addressing customers’ requirements by focusing on solutions rather than products, this could be referred to as an integrated solution (Lightfoot, Baines, & Smart, 2013; Shepherd & Ahmed, 2000; Wise & Baumgartner, 1999), a form of business model to move downstream in the value chain (Wise & Baumgartner, 1999). The integrated solution is hence a tailored offering creating a desired outcome for the customer by looking beyond a product base in a manufacturing company and addressing the customers’ overall needs and problems (Baines, Lightfoot, Benedettini, & Kay, 2009; Davies, 2004). In present literature, there exists various definitions of the integrated solution concept (see for example Wise and Baumgartner (1999) and Miller, Hope, Eisenstat, Foote, and Galbraith (2002)) and it can be argued that the definitions used are quite vague regarding for example the value for the customer (Brax & Jonsson, 2009). When studying companies providing integrated solutions in practice, the complexity increases even further as there seems to be a lack of consensus of how to use the concept. In addition, the provision of integrated solutions do not look the same for customer goods companies and business-to-business industries (Davies, 2003). However, how those various integrated solutions differ towards another are still not very well researched. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to develop a framework for classification of different integrated solutions.
In order to fulfill the purpose of this paper a multiple case study has been done. The concept of integrated solutions is a phenomena hard to separate from the context, hence a case study approach is beneficial (Yin, 2014). A multiple case study with semi-structured interviews also enables deep insight as well as giving the opportunity for comparison between cases (Bryman & Bell, 2011; Yin, 2014). Three different companies participated in the study, being in various industries, which had various closeness to end customer and focus differently on various solution components. In total fifteen recorded interviews were done in the case companies.
In these three case companies two dimensions were identified as distinguishers for a classification connected to the integrated solutions concept; namely degree of integration and customer adaption. This paper contributes with a framework for classification of different integrated solutions, built on two dimensions; the degree of customer adaption and degree of integration between products and services. In Figure 1 this framework with examples of integrated solutions from the case companies is presented. This calls for future research focusing the impact various positions in the framework have on the development of integrated solutions.