IT services: Materiel. Part 1. Introduction and Basics

  • Tutorial
There are no such things as service industries. There are only industries where service components are larger or smaller than service components in other industries. All provide services.
Theodore Levitt ( Harvard Business Review, September 1972 ).


Hello everyone,

I once shared with marketing my intentions about transferring knowledge about the whole range of topics related to services to my colleagues. As a result, the topic “About how the service is built” appeared in the survey to the article “ IT outsourcing: what is it and what does it eat with?” ". Frankly, the wording of the topic does not quite correctly reflect my plans. Therefore, I will adjust your expectations.

I planned to talk not only about the construction of the service and not at all in the first place. The fact is that if you can’t imagine very well that there is a service, how to manage it and that the service actually gives the consumer , then it’s too early to start building it. Would you like to buy a car made by someone who has never driven a car?

I started for some reason by adjusting expectations. Managing expectations is a key factor in the success of a service, whether you manage it or build it. And since expectations are built and adjusted in the process of communication, a common terminology is a useful tool that greatly simplifies life.

And with the terminology in IT, we have a lot of confusion. In the first articles I will analyze some of its cases, so that you can clearly understand:
  • what exactly do you discuss when you discuss a service;
  • what exactly do you manage when you manage the service;
  • and what you build when you build a service.

In a series of articles I’ll talk about what types of services you can find in the IT field, how they differ, and what to expect from them, and what not. I will give examples of categories of services so that you can compare them with great understanding.

In the articles I will give exercises with questions on fixing the material. If the topic is interesting to you, and you want to practice it, then you can answer the exercises in the comments. I am ready to actively comment on your answers and answer your questions for at least a month after the publication of the article.

The basics

Starting, of course, is the basics. In particular, it is very important to understand the distinctive features of a service - those important characteristics that distinguish it from a product, for example. In fact, the definition of a service can be stated in terms of the following 5 key distinguishing features.

1. Intangibility

Services are intangible and intangible: they cannot be touched, hand-picked, seen, sniffed or tasted. Thus, there is neither the possibility nor the need to transport, store and stock them. At the same time, the service can be (re) sold or owned, but it cannot be transferred from the service provider to its consumer. The service delivery process is introduced into the work of the service provider. The latter must produce and perform this service for each individual consumer request.

2. Nonconservation

Services do not have or have almost no tangible components and, as a result, cannot be saved for future use. Services are provided and consumed at the same time.
Services are not stored in two ways:
  • Resources, processes and systems related to the service arise for its provision in a certain period of time. If the designated or planned consumer of the service has not requested and has not consumed the service during this period, the service cannot be rendered to him. From the point of view of the service provider, this situation is a missed commercial opportunity, as he cannot request a fee for the provision of the service. Although there is a theoretical opportunity to allocate resources, processes and systems for another consumer who will request a service in this period of time.
    For instance:
    • the hairdresser will start serving another visitor if the recorded one did not appear by the appointed time;
    • an empty seat on a flight in an airplane after takeoff will never be used and paid.
  • After the service has been fully provided to the requesting consumer, this particular service irreversibly disappears, as it was consumed by him.
    For instance:
    • the passenger was delivered to the destination and cannot be delivered there again at the same time.

3. Inseparability

The service provider is necessary to provide the service, as it must timely produce and execute the service for the consumer who requested it. In many cases, the provision of the service is automatic, but the provider must allocate resources and systems in advance and actively support the appropriate willingness and ability to provide the service. At the same time, the consumer of the service is inseparable from the process of its provision, because he is involved in it from the moment of request until the consumption of the benefits received.
For instance:
  • the consumer of the service must sit in a chair in a hairdressing salon or in an airplane chair, and, accordingly, a hairdresser or a pilot must be in the same room or plane in order for the service to take place.

4. Variability of quality (variability)

Each service is unique. It is formed, executed and consumed once and can never be exactly reproduced, because the point in time, place, circumstance, conditions, configurations and assigned resources will be different at the next provision, even if the same consumer requests the same service. Many services are considered heterogeneous or heterogeneous and usually change for each consumer of the service or even for each new situation.
For instance:
  • the taxi service that takes the consumer from home to the opera house is different from the taxi service that takes the same consumer from the theater home — a different point in time, a different direction, possibly a different route, probably a different driver and car.

5. Involvement (complicity)

One of the most important distinguishing features of services is the participation of the customer in the process of providing services. The customer has the opportunity to receive services, modified in accordance with his special requirements.

Taken together, these distinguishing features of services make it quite non-trivial, for example, such things as the evaluation and comparison of services before they are received, as well as the mass provision of services.
If your knowledge of English allows, then I recommend that you read the entire article about the service on Wikipedia in English and deal with the approach there to the specification of the service .

I also want to add here that it is necessary to separate the concepts of “ customer ” and “ consumer ”. Customer- This is the one who decides on the choice of provider and pays for the service.
A consumer (or User) is someone who uses it to solve their problems or to satisfy their desires or needs.
For instance:
  • when you buy an attraction ticket for your child, you are the “Customer”, and your child is the “Consumer” or the User of the attraction service. And for the success of the service it is necessary to work with the expectations of both.

Exercise A1

  1. Which of the distinguishing features of a service makes the service subject area the most difficult?
  2. Which of the distinguishing features of the service makes it most attractive to the customer?
  3. Which of the distinguishing features of a service makes it most attractive to the consumer?
  4. Which of the hallmarks of the service is the most worrisome to the service provider?
  5. Do your services have “Service delivering readiness times” and “Service consumer support times” (see service specification )?
  6. Try to draw a picture explaining to the client what your service consists of.


  1. The article contains a translation of the " Characteristics " section of the article " Service (economics) " of the English part of Wikipedia.
  2. ITIL v2011. Service Strategy. Section

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license .

Also popular now: