Milk as a Service : Exploring the Concepts of Servitization and Digitalization in the Business Model of an Incumbent Manufacturing Firm

University essay from KTH/Skolan för industriell teknik och management (ITM); KTH/Skolan för industriell teknik och management (ITM)

Abstract: Due to digitalization as a technology shift, many incumbent manufacturing firms face challenges to maintain their position on the market. One solution to tackle this technology shift is by servitization, which has shown great opportunities for value creation in various industries. Services are harder to imitate and have therefore potential to create competitive advantage. However, because of the limited number of studies examining the transition from one business model to another in combination with servitization and digitalization, a gap is identified in the literature. Thus, the purpose of this study is to explore how an incumbent manufacturing firm can create and obtain value by implementing servitization and digital services in its current business model. The purpose of this thesis is achieved through a single case study of an incumbent manufacturing firm within the dairy farming industry. The findings suggest that implementing digital services in an incumbent manufacturing firm improves competitive advantage as they increase the barriers of adoption to competitors and third-parties; thus, improve the customer loyalty and the customer lock-in effect. When conceptualising servitization and digitalization, it is important to establish a clear framework for digital services, which should be aligned with the company’s overall strategies and processes. To meet the growing demand for more efficiency and flexibility, it is proposed to lay additional focus on the construction and development of the digital platform. Further, this study investigates how the development of digital services for predictive maintenance affects the business model of an incumbent manufacturing firm. From the conceptual framework developed in this study, it is emphasised that five business model elements are important to focus on in the era of digitalization, namely: value proposition, revenue streams, channels, customer relationships and key partner networks. The findings suggest to use adapting services such as performance-based contracting with a subscription model and add-ons. In addition, co-creation with customers in an early stage of the innovation process is deemed key to develop suitable services, while improving the customer relationship. Moreover, it is important to have in mind that digitalization enhances the transparency of information; thus, it is crucial to develop standardised frameworks to retain a trustworthy customer relationship. Consequently, it is argued as important to update the revenue model for digital services with a cohesive pricing strategy worldwide. Furthermore, this study suggests moving step by step towards direct selling, while remaining a good relationship with the external dealers. Due to the fact that not all customers have the prerequisites for implementing digital services, the degree of digitalization and direct selling must be adapted to the unique situation and service provided. By analysing how servitization as an effect of digitalization affects the business model of an incumbent manufacturing firm, this thesis contributes to extant knowledge within the fields of servitization, digitalization and business models. Furthermore, this thesis contributes to managerial knowledge with an in-depth contextualised knowledge of a possible servitization transition as a business model innovation.

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