Monday, 16 February 2009

Service Innovation Part 4: KEBS

After "clusters" and the "frontstage" today I want to introduce you to one my favourite new terms: KEBS. Those familiar with the Services Innovation literature might suspect a typo since KIBS is a well-known acronym in those circles.

KIBS stands for Knowledge-Intensive Business Services, i.e., Services that require highly-educated people: architects, consultants, laywers, medical doctors, etc. Some of these expertises work in solo groups. Architects for example can do their "thing" from relative isolation, but the medics are surrounded daily by scores of people in more or less supportive roles: cleaning, nursing, labo-testing, catering, etc.

That kind of work is what I call KEBS: Knowledge Extensive Business Services. And KEBS are LARGE - no even HUGE - in economic terms. Back-of-the-envelope calculations easily show that besides the 20% in Manufacturing and Agriculture, less than 10% of the economy is KIBS. For example, have a look at these numbers from the Dutch Bureau of statistics:

Probably illegible (and in Dutch), but on the left are the largest services sectors of the Dutch economy in 2000: wholesale, healthcare, construction, trade, banking, legal services, employment agencies and post/telecommunication are the only sectors that score more than 2% of the BBP (Bruto Internal Product).

It might be a somewhat naïve view, but of these 8 sectors only healthcare, banking and legal have substantial KIBS activities, but even there large chunks can easily be described as KEBS: nursing in healthcare, administrative processes in banks and dossier management in Legal are clear KEBS examples, just like cleaning, facility management and mail processing in all three. Overal my estimate is that KEBS represents over 90% of the 80% that we call the services economy, that is >70% of our economy!

This silent majority is the main target for service innovation in my view. How to facilitate nurses to a an even better job? How to bring about more cooperations between healthcare and wellfare silo's to improve the service to citizens? And lets not forget the governments too! How to improve the functioning of all those public bodies? These are the real Services Innovation/SSME topics that need to be adressed in the forthcoming years. And solutions need to be implemented in those overwhelmingly large KEBS based activity systems.
So that is my next favourite acronym, KIBS-SI-KEBS-S:
Knowledge Intensive Business Services for Services Innovation in Knowledge Extensive Business Services Systems
Wow, what a bullshit-bingo term! But for the moment I don't have better one. Suggestions?

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