Whether it’s a coffee shop, dentist or law firm, business services are a huge part of our everyday lives. And yet, they often go unnoticed and underappreciated.
Businesses that provide business-to-business (B2B) service offer a wide range of offerings, from advice and insight to outsourced management of business operations. These include accounting services, information technology services, marketing services and more. Companies may also hire a consulting firm to help them develop a business strategy or make other important decisions.
The business services industry is defined by four distinct characteristics: inseparability, inconsistency, and inventory. Unlike tangible goods, business services cannot be separated into components and stored for future consumption. They must be produced and consumed at the same time and are highly influenced by the customer’s expectations and demands. This means that the quality of a service is difficult to compare across providers.
As the demand for business-related services increases, the market is becoming more competitive and service-oriented businesses must differentiate themselves. They must understand their customers’ needs, create a value proposition that provides an edge over their competitors and deliver on that promise. This can be a challenge, especially during tough economic times when consumers cut back on business services and focus more on the products they need to survive. In addition, the proliferation of Web services has allowed business-related processes to be expressed as orchestrations and made available for reuse by other applications. This has created a landscape of “process” services that are loosely coupled, autonomous and highly adaptive.