In recent years, a transformative shift known as servitization has been reshaping the landscape of the manufacturing industry, and it has now become one of the main trends of attention for the year 2024. This paradigm shift represents a departure from the traditional model, focused on merely producing goods, towards a more service-oriented approach. Servitization involves integrating services into the core business model, thus providing manufacturers with a unique way to differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive market.

Servitization is the process through which manufacturers transition from selling products to delivering comprehensive and integrated solutions, which include not only the physical product, but also a range of associated services. This strategic evolution is driven by the recognition that customers increasingly value outcomes and experiences over mere ownership of products. By providing a bundle of services alongside their products, manufacturers can better meet customer needs and foster long-term relationships.

Manufacturers are undergoing a deep transformation as they embrace servitization. The shift is evident across various sectors, from automotive to consumer goods, as companies recognize the need to adapt to changing customer preferences. Instead of focusing solely on the manufacturing of products, companies are investing in building ongoing relationships with customers by offering services such as maintenance, training, and performance monitoring. 

For manufacturers, the move towards servitization represents a strategic pivot that goes beyond selling products, to creating enduring customer relationships. This shift requires a reevaluation of business models, internal processes, and a cultural change within organizations. Manufacturers are now becoming solution providers, aiming to fulfill the evolving needs of their customers throughout the entire product lifecycle. As solution providers they foster stronger customer relationships by providing ongoing support and value, leading to increased loyalty.

Customers, on the other hand, benefit from this transformation through enhanced value propositions. Instead of a one-time transaction, they gain access to a range of services that optimize the performance, longevity, and efficiency of the products they purchase. This shift aligns with the trend of customers preferring access to outcomes rather than owning assets outright.

From the market point of view, a significant benefit of servitization is the competitive differentiation that can be achieved. Servitization allows manufacturers to differentiate themselves in a crowded market by offering a unique blend of products and services. 

Another advantage is identified in the predictable revenue streams; manufacturers can move from a transactional model to a subscription-based or pay-per-use model, creating more predictable and recurring revenue streams. Moreover, by being even more engaged throughout the product lifecycle, manufacturers gain valuable insights into customer behavior, enabling them to tailor services and products more effectively, fostering improved customer insights. 

Furthermore, servitization can be an enabler of sustainable and circular practices. It encourages a focus on product longevity, repairability, and sustainability, aligning with the growing demand for eco-friendly and socially responsible practices.

Servitization is critical for the manufacturing industry’s future success because it aligns with the changing expectations of modern consumers. In an era where customer experience and outcomes matter more than ever, manufacturers must evolve to remain competitive. This shift not only ensures the survival of traditional manufacturing firms, but also positions them as leaders in an era where service excellence is paramount.

At Politecnico di Milano the Manufacturing Group of the School of Management aims to transfer its scientific knowledge to industrial companies, with services that favor the business’ evolution through the servitization model. In this field two new services have been developed in recent months: DREAMY4service, assessment aimed at identifying servitization opportunities and Switch2service, to design the new business model.

Servitization is more than a trend; it is a strategic imperative for manufacturers looking to thrive in the evolving business landscape. By embracing this transformation, companies can build stronger, more resilient relationships with their customers, create new revenue streams, and stay ahead of the competition. As the manufacturing sector continues to evolve, servitization stands out as a powerful strategy that goes beyond producing goods, emphasizing the delivery of holistic solutions and superior customer experiences.

Authors: Claudia Aurisano, Anna De Carolis