11th International Conference on Business Servitization (ICBS 2024)
7-8 November 2024, Lisbon, Portugal

Focal theme: Unlocking Unique and Intelligent Digital Solutions: The Pivotal Role of Frontier Technologies (Blockchain and AI) in Servitization

Hosted by: Nova SBE - Lisbon, Portugal

The convergence of technologies like the Internet of Things, big data, and cloud computing allows remote connectivity to physical assets, giving rise to what is now known as digital services. Digital services refer to the integration of digital elements and technologies into business structures, processes, and models, leading to the transformation of traditional pure product or pure service models. This shift enables companies to offer bundled digital solutions that combine products, services, and software-hardware systems, unlocking higher value-generation potential. 

These digital solutions leverage technological building blocks to enhance product operation, provide real-time access to data, and continuously reconfigure service design for an improved user experience. In essence, there is a digital service component that is a source of digital innovation, capable of dynamic revamping based on consumer patterns. This evolution is crucial for aligning business models with evolving customer needs.

Despite the growing importance of digital services for the competitiveness of servitized manufacturers and productized service firms, there are threads and challenges, such as user exclusiveness, data security, and data analysis automatization. We argue that there is a need to explicitly study the role of frontier technologies such as blockchain and the artificial intelligence to overcome these boundaries for the growth of such digital solutions. 

Blockchain is a decentralized and secure distributed ledger technology that records transactions across a network of computers. It enhances digital solutions by providing transparency, traceability, and security throughout the supply chain. Each transaction or data entry is stored in a block, linked to the previous one, forming an immutable chain. This ensures trust and accountability, reducing the risk of fraud and errors. Also, different designs of blockchain, or in general distributed ledger technologies, enable new possibilities for organizations to share a ledger in a decentralized and distributed manner and in near-real time obtain critical information for their operations. In manufacturing, blockchain can streamline processes such as supply chain management, production tracking, and quality control opening new ways to safely communicate critical information across the supply chain. Smart contracts, which are self-executing agreements with coded terms, enable automated and transparent interactions between parties, consistency in the execution, and efficiency gains. Another noteworthy characteristic of (programmable) blockchains is to facilitate the creation of unique tokens opening the possibility for exclusive digital services and representation of real-world assets in a digital realm. This is evident in the rise of NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens), which enabled the creation of digital collectibles, but also the rise or organizations that tokenized natural resources, real estates, and other physical objects. One intriguing question is how tokenization offers new ways to servitize physical objects, and contribute both to profit and social welfare. Another interesting question is how the unique tokens enhance manufacturers' capacity to incorporate exclusive digital services into their portfolios.

Artificial Intelligence (AI), either in the context of generative AI (e.g., ChatGPT, Llama, SORA, Gemini, Mistral, MidJourney, Falcon, etc.), or in the context of Narrow AI, which refers to solving specific problems with the application of machine learning algorithms, empowers systems to learn and make predictions or decisions without explicit programming. In manufacturing, artificial intelligence can significantly enhance digital services by analyzing vast amounts of data, identifying patterns, enhance communication, and making real-time decisions. It enables predictive maintenance, optimizing equipment performance, reduction of downtime, quality control, but also new ways to engage in problem solving, innovation, and interactions with customers.  A combination of frontier technologies, including advanced robotics, artificial intelligence, and sensors, create new opportunities for manufacturers and other organizations to rethink their business models and operations from the scratch. 

Overall, artificial intelligence plays a crucial role in transforming manufacturing processes by leveraging data to improve decision-making, operational efficiency, and the overall effectiveness of digital services. However, more research is needed to explore how artificial intelligence enables an improved and even completely new servitization strategy.

This year's edition of the International Conference on Business Servitization (ICBS) aims to debate and shape such critical questions for the future development of the field. Accordingly, the focus of this year is set at the intersection of two increasingly essential topics for servitization that have not yet been sufficiently linked in academia: digital services and frontier technologies with the focus on artificial intelligence and blockchain.

ICBS is a conference traditionally targeted to business professionals, policy makers and researchers. While the focus of this year’s conference will be the Pivotal Role of Frontier Technologies in Servitization, as in previous editions the organizers also endeavour to connect works related to other relevant issues linked with servitization such as: business engineering, strategy, business models, international business, operations management and supply chain management. The conference will engage current research on the field of servitization, which focuses both on theoretical developments and on practical applications of the methods and techniques. The conference aims to provide a platform for researchers and practitioners from both academia as well as industry to meet & share the cutting-edge developments in the field of servitization. 


Special sessions on specific topics are also encouraged. Topics of interest mainly include, but are not limited to:
  • Blockchain and digital services
    • Case studies bringing insight to the research at the intersection between blockchain, servitization and digital services
    • Conceptual or qualitative research showing the role of NFTs in servitization and digital services
    • Connection between data security and enhanced servitization outcomes, especially in relation to blockchain
  • Artificial intelligence and digital services 
    • Investigate AI's role in autonomous service-based solutions and digital service innovation
    • Explore digital servitization for scalable and customized solutions in manufacturing
    • Explore AI's future role in servitization and conduct critical assessments in solution delivery and digital services
    • Machine learning and digital services 
      • Machine learning applications for servitization
      • The use of machine learning techniques for an improved understanding of the functioning of service business models
      • Comparative case studies showing how machine learning is used in different contextual conditions withing servitization
      • Conceptual models differentiationg the role of machine learning and artificial intelligence in servitization and digital services
      • Business engineering 
        • Industry 4.0 - Hybridization of the physical and digital worlds
        • Internet of things, Cloud Computing, and Sensors enabled services
        • Service system and Service network design 
        • Tools and toolkits for engineering servitization processes
        • Smart manufacturing, big data, and machine learning for services development
      • Business models and strategy 
        • Partnerships, strategic alliances, outsourcing, joint-ventures, M&As, and servitization 
        • Advanced business services and collaborative practices in business model innovation 
        • The internationalization of product-service offering 
        • Digital service innovation 
        • Financial, legal, and risk aspects of services
        • Talent management, human resources and recruitment needs
        • Resilience, agility, ambidexterity and other firm capabilities 
      • Supply chain management and marketing 
        • The role of blockchain and machine learning in boosting digital services within logistics and supply chain management
        • Servitization and collaborative supply chain management 
        • Internet of things and linking channels 
        • Product-service innovation processes and organizational performance indicators 
        • Green Supply chain management and product-service innovation
        • Servitization and customer value perception 
        • Servitization role on business ecosystems and networked production systems
      • Territorial Servitization 
        • Economic assessment of the impact of collaborative product-service innovation on firm and territorial competitiveness 
        • What are the antecedents, moderators/mediators, and outcomes of knowledge intensive service-manufacturing collaborations on organizational resilience and performance? 
        • Conceptualization and provision of evidence on collaborative approaches to cluster and industrial district policies formed by multi-sector, including manufacturing and service, firms. 
        • Do KIBS firms offer opportunities for local manufacturing SMEs to outsource service provision? And for multinationals to reshoring their production to the home country? Which is the relevance of geographical distance when it comes to transferring knowledge from service to product firms?

      Meeting venue

      The meeting venue is Nova SBE, Rua da Holanda 1, Carcavelos, Portugal.
      At least one of the authors must register and participate in the meeting once a paper is accepted. For more information concerning the meeting venue and registration details including fees, please visit the website: http://www.servitization.org/

      Important dates

      • Deadline for introducing extended abstracts (max 1000 words): May 31, 2024, June 30, 2024
      • Notification of acceptance: July 22, 2024
      • Date of conference: 7-8 November 2024

        Paper submission guidelines

        Manuscripts must be submitted electronically through the OmniaScience link: http://www.omniascience.com/conferences/
        Extended abstracts MUST adhere to the guidelines outlined in the "Extended Abstract Template" provided via the below link. Extended abstracts can be submitted ONLY in English. All academic presentations MUST be held in English.
        Download Extended abstract template