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Exploring digital servitization trajectories within product–service–software space

Juliana Hsuan (Department of Operations Management, Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark)
Marin Jovanovic (Department of Operations Management, Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark)
Diego Honorato Clemente (Department of Production Engineering, Polytechnic School of the University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 16 March 2021

Issue publication date: 13 August 2021




This study shows various pathways manufacturers can take when embarking on digital servitization (DS) journeys. It builds on the DS and modularity literature to map the strategic trajectories of product–service–software (PSSw) configurations.


The study is exploratory and based on the inductive theory building method. The empirical data were gathered through a workshop with focus groups of 15 servitization manufacturers (with 22 respondents), an on-site workshop (in-depth case study), semi-structured interviews, observations and document study of archival data.


The DS trajectories are idiosyncratic and dependent on design architectures of PSSw modules, balancing choices between standardization and innovation. The adoption of software systems depends on the maturity of the industry-specific digital ecosystem. Decomposition and integration of PSSw modules facilitate DS transition through business model modularity. Seven testable propositions are presented.

Research limitations/implications

With the small sample size from different industries and one in-depth case study, generalizing the findings was not possible.

Practical implications

The mapping exercise is powerful when top management from different functional departments can participate together to share their expertise and achieve consensus. It logs the “states” that the manufacturer undergoes over time.


The Digital Servitization Cube serves as a conceptual framework for manufacturers to systematically map and categorize their current and future PSSw strategies. It bridges the cross-disciplinary theoretical discussion in DS.



This research is supported by The Danish Industry Foundation, Project “Servitize.DK”, Denmark, the National Council of Technological and Scientific Development (CNPq) and the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES), Brazil.


Hsuan, J., Jovanovic, M. and Clemente, D.H. (2021), "Exploring digital servitization trajectories within product–service–software space", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 41 No. 5, pp. 598-621.



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