The purpose of this paper is to address the concepts of innovation in the service sector and innovation in services. When we talk about innovation in the service sector, we are referring to the innovation of products and processes in companies, sectors and service industries, which may imply the development of new or improved services. On the other hand, innovation in services deals specifically with the creation of new services, although in this case organizations that provide services belonging to any of the economic sectors may be involved. Both concepts have different meanings because, first of all, the term “service economy” can refer to the product object of the service or to the industries that specialize in such products and, secondly, that the products subject to services may have been generated by organizations not specialized in this field. Thus, manufacturing companies can provide all kinds of customer service and after sales.
The manufacturing industry and the service economy was the paradigm for the analysis of innovation, so that service companies were considered atypical and scarcely innovative. In cases where there were services based on new technologies -such as telecommunications or even healthcare-, the main source of innovation was considered to come from manufacturing industries, such as electronics or pharmaceuticals. Companies and service organizations were largely passive recipients of such innovations.
As the service sectors make up the bulk of the economy and services represent a growing percentage of all economic activities, it is difficult to offer a succinct analysis of service innovation. The studies examined here highlight the need to analyze those processes and trajectories of innovation that go beyond the traditional derivatives of studies in the automotive, electronic and pharmaceutical sectors. In addition, they indicate that we should prepare to expose multiple structures and strategies, which evolve as the economy relative to services continues to develop.
However, the concentration of activities is already beginning to bear fruit in the analysis and design of service systems, and we could even see that new ideas about service and services would be reflected in new modalities and innovation strategies in the field of services during the next years.