Usage - The Holy Grail of Digital Services: An Exploration of Factors influencing B2B Customers’ Usage of Digital Services
Abstract: Many product-based companies have identified digital services as a promising way to differentiate themselves and to stimulate future growth. However, as digital services frequently induce a business model change to a pay-per-use or subscription model, companies see themselves increasingly challenged as their revenues are progressively dependent on customers’ actual usage. This is in contrast to the past product-centered logic with one-time payments regardless of customers’ subsequent usage. Hence, it becomes increasingly important for providers of digital services to build an understanding of the concept of usage.Therefore, the purpose of this thesis is to enhance this understanding by exploring possible factors that influence business-to-business customers’ usage of digital services. Based on a single case study of a global software provider and three of its business customers, this study draws on semi-structured interviews with respondents from both the provider and customer side. The findings identify a model with a network perspective on factors that influence business customers’ usage of digital services. Moreover, the study reveals that many provider-related factors hint that in usage-based digital services, the role of the provider needs to shift to be more customer-centric. Furthermore, it was found that it is not possible to consider each factor in isolation as there is a strong interdependence between factors within as well as across the provider, the customer and their relationship. Ultimately, the findings reveal that the type of digital services appears to have a significant impact on the factors that influence their usage. These findings add to prior research by providing a deeper insight into the concept of digital service usage in a business-to-business context. For managers at digital service providers, these findings might prove useful to understand how their organization needs to be aligned to enable customer usage. Similarly, based on the premise that value for a customer is only created when a digital service is used, this study might also be of assistance for customers’ managers by enhancing the understanding of necessary internal preconditions for their usage.
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