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Service Systems Research Group

The transdisciplinary research we conduct lies in the understanding and design of complex service systems, which come in many forms (Why Service Systems?). Our work ranges from multi-party outcome-based contracts for Rolls-Royce engines to the Ministry of Defence, complex service and logistics contracts to deliver a bank of flying hours for the Tornado or Typhoon jets, to designing multi-sided platforms and markets like the HAT for personal data, and knowledge-based collaborative networks of hospitals and universities.

Our team of researchers, led by Professor Irene Ng, cover a wide range of specialisms. This includes decision theory, ontology engineering, consumer culture theories, modularity and architectural innovation, information systems, economics, supply chain, monetization of digital services, consumer experience and loyalty. Our research has been funded by the UK government through the Research Councils UK, and we also work closely with industry and the public sector.

What We Do

We aim to advance the knowledge of value-creating service systems to help organisations innovate, compete and make better decisions in the design and management of their value propositions to co-create value. We research into and design service ecosystems, in particular, hybrid socio-cyber-physical service ecosystems (also called smart service systems). These could be markets, markets, smart cities, urban transportation systems or systems relating to Internet-of-Things such as smart homes or communities.

These service systems share many commonalities that also contribute to their complexity. Hence, our research involves four main knowledge bases:

  • Business models (of firms in the system)
  • Behaviours (of people within the system)
  • Economic models (who does what, who gets what in the system)
  • Technology/engineering (whether it’s a product, platform or software)

Together, they are entities within a system that, in one way or another, provide a service i.e. A competency into the system (we subscribe to the Service-Dominant Logic definition of service) so that the system functions viably.

Working on exciting projects and powerful tools, we believe in creating impact through the following ways.

1. Cutting-edge research including the following projects: 

  • DROPS: Funded by the EPSRC, this £1.2m project explores how decentralisation, personal data, and our Internet-connected possessions come together on the Hub of all Things (HAT) platform, with a focus on issues of privacy and trust in children’s e-books.
  • CONTRIVE: This £1.2m EPSRC-funded project investigates whether and how increasing institutional concerns over the risks associated with data access, ownership, privacy and confidentiality are reflected in the perceptions of individual users.
  • ACCEPT: This £1.1m EPSRC-funded project studies how people’s behaviour can lead to cybersecurity risks, and also explores new personalised approaches to encourage more secure human behaviours and their impacts on individuals, organisations and society as a whole.
  • Business Model Innovation Tool: In conjunction with Innovate UK, the Innovation Caucus has developed the Business Model Innovation (BMI) Tool to get companies thinking about their business model and business model innovation.
  • Hub-of-all-Things (HAT): This RCUK-funded project has created the first-ever multi-sided market technology platform for the home, allowing individuals to trade their personal data for personalised products and services in the future.

2. Innovative education; find out more about the Masters (Msc) in Service Management and Design programme.

3. Collaboration with like-minded individuals and organisations in the academic, industrial and public sectors

Recent Publications


WMG supports global virtual hackathon tackling COVID-19 impact

WMG is pleased to be supporting Dataswift’s Hack from Home event, a global virtual hackathon to find technology solutions to fight the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate against its economic and societal impact.

The event organised by HAT-LAB takes place this weekend (4th – 5th April). There are a consortium of partners including WMG, NHSX, Case Western Reserve University’s xLAB, the Cleveland Clinic’s Hwang Lab, University of Surrey, University of Exeter, the Ethical Tech Alliance, Samsung Medical Center, AITRICS, and the Yonsei Severance Medical Center.

This UK-launched initiative joins the global movement of hackathons taking place around the world.

Teams of technologists, creatives, activists and experts will be launching up to 25 new applications over the weekend, as they work to help solve some of the greatest challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The innovative projects will focus on three key themes. 

These are:

● Citizen science - solutions to empower individuals to help healthcare and the government tackle the disease faster

● Community health - technology or applications that help the vulnerable or ensure communities have the resources to make it through the crisis

● Mass coordination - solutions that unlock the power of personal data to help mobilisation and coordination of resources  

Mentoring, resources, and support from experienced technology and product leaders will guide each project as they compete to make the biggest impact on the virus and its effects on society. Viable solutions will be offered funding and professional developer support, and the entrepreneurs leading them will be encouraged to continue development and bring the solutions they have created to market to help communities, patients, and healthcare services.

Professor Irene Ng WMG’s Professor of Marketing and Service Systems and CEO of Dataswift explained: “We’re giving people a chance to respond with action, by working together to improve the lives of everyone affected by COVID-19.”

“Our goal is to band together to help communities, patients, and their families using what we know best - technology. We need to ensure that in these difficult times opportunistic app makers aren’t hoovering up our data, and to avoid a scenario where the world ends up worse than it was before. This collective action will prove that the ethical data economy can trump the surveillance economy.”

Hack from Home is actively looking for participants, mentors, and sponsors. Anyone interested in getting involved is invited to register online or get in touch here.

Professor Ng added: “Let’s roll up our proverbial sleeves with the research, technology, and business communities and demonstrate how much public value we can create when we’re working together.”

Youngjin Yoo, Professor of Design and Innovation at Case Western Reserve University and Faculty Director of xLab has highlighted that: "The fight against the pandemic is not just a medical problem - it is a behavioural, and a social problem. Our economy, our social lives, and our community are all affected by the pandemic. A multi-disciplinary, multi-industry approach to this struggle is required. And the market failure of the ethical use of personal data is one of the challenges.

“The Covid19 pandemic is demonstrating in real time why the society desperately needs a scalable ethical technology infrastructure. This hackathon will bring bright minds together to address this complex and rapidly evolving problem."

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 F3 Tornado jet


Doctors representing health industry 


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