Skip to main content

Resilience and Sustainability in Smart Service Ecosystems: A Workshop with very relevant outcomes

By Jürg Meierhofer, ZHAW

From October 18 to 20, 2023, we had the opportunity to conduct an exciting workshop on “Resilience and Sustainability in Smart Service Ecosystems” at the Mobiliar Forum in Thun, Switzerland. The workshop was organized by the Databooster program, which supports innovative partnerships and is a hub for data-driven innovation in Switzerland. The workshop brought together three companies from the energy and logistics sectors, as well as researchers and experts from the field of service innovation and digitalization, to discuss how companies can become more resilient and sustainable with their partners and customers through new and existing services.

The workshop was motivated by the high volatility of the business ecosystems in recent years, which was unexpected and caught society and economy unprepared. Both on the human resources side and in the material logistics, there were unforeseen bottlenecks. The market situation was determined by the insufficient availability of resources and not by the demand. As a result, there was a wave of short-term oriented management reactions that were not sustainable in the medium and long term and thus laid the foundation for the next wave of challenges.

Against this background, it became clear that the business ecosystems need to become more resilient, i.e., able to withstand shocks and adapt quickly to dramatically changed situations. Resilience can be achieved by increasing the ability to absorb shocks (e.g., through more redundancy, robustness, or agility) and by developing dynamic capabilities to adjust to changing needs (e.g., through creativity, adaptability, or flexibility).

Smart service systems are closely linked to the ability of dynamic adaptation. By their inherent design of tightly interconnected resources, smart service systems inherently contain the ability to dynamically realign and rewire existing resources to adapt to dynamically changing needs.

The workshop started with a discussion to gain a deeper understanding of resilience and sustainability in smart service systems. Then, the situations of the three participating companies were examined from this perspective in sub-groups and opportunities for new services were identified. Building on this, the moderation very smartly guided the development of common solution approaches that involve all three companies. As a result, joint project ideas are now available, which are to be further elaborated in a follow-up step towards implementation.

The workshop groups had access to various design and prototyping tools and sources provided by the Mobiliar Forum. The groups had to present their results and recommendations repeatedly during the workshop.

The workshop was a great learning experience for all of us as we gained new insights into the topic of resilience and sustainability in smart service systems. We also enjoyed interacting with other participants from different backgrounds and perspectives. It became apparent that such workshops are very valuable for fostering collaboration and innovation among companies, researchers, and experts in Switzerland.

A big thank you goes to Sophie Bürgin for the excellent moderation, to Fabrizio Laneve for providing the beautiful and inspiring Mobiliar Forum infrastructure and to all participating company representatives for their spirited participation and co-creation.