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Business Model Innovation and Digital Servitization in UK Manufacturing Small and Medium Sized Enterprises

This project explores the application of digital servitization business models in the context of UK Manufacturing Small to Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs), by empirically depicting its antecedents and firm-level implications. Following the completion of a large empirical study, the key contextual and organisational factors that determine successful implementation of business models have been identified. The study’s key findings suggest that SMEs can achieve high performance through adoption of digital servitization business models, depending on how well each model aligns with the organisation’s context and design.  

To assist the UK Manufacturing community, in addition to the main report, the project’s deliverables are accessible to stakeholders through its dedicated microsite, SME toolkit, video training manual and practitioner webinar.

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Project MicroSite 

The microsite provides SMEs with a valuable resource that practitioners can engage with, to better understand digital servitization and its corresponding business models. Developed in an illustrative manner, the microsite provides a visual overview of the study’s data and key findings and constitutes the project’s primary means of impact on business practice. 

SME Toolkit 

A key project output, the self-assessment toolkit aspires to assist SME principal decision-makers in diagnosing the contextual and organisational conditions of their business and determine the suitability of digital servitization business models. Toolkit users are invited to complete an anonymised questionnaire and in turn, they receive a recommendation of which business model might represent the best match to their current conditions. 

Video Training Manual 

The video training manual represents a step-by-step guide to the toolkit and provides users with the key terms of interest and the process of answering the toolkit questions.  

Online Webinar 

As a primary dissemination activity, the project’s first ex-post webinar has been delivered in early August 2023 to raise awareness about the project, communicate the study’s findings and promote the publication of the main report and its accompanying intellectual outputs. 

Report Resources

Insights from history: a systematic review of historical industrial transitions – report

The transition to sustainability coincides with an industrial digitalization. While this latest industrial revolution creates new challenges, it also revives historical ones encountered in previous transitions. Through two parallel systematic reviews, challenges are identified for the current digitalization transition and historical transitions: mechanization, electrification and computerization.

The aim of this research is to identify lessons from history that may help overcome the challenges of industrial digitalization. The paper provides illustrative examples of social factors that are either internal to a technology adopting organization or external, related to wider societal change. These factors suggest actionable insights that may support the adoption of Industrial Digital Technologies.

This research was conducted by Dr. Ahmad Beltagui, Dr. Brian Sudlow of Aston University Dr. Miying Yang and Glen Jonata.of Cranfield University, and Qinglan Liu of Exeter University.

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Report Resources

Digital investment for manufacturers: a literature review of challenges and good practices – report

Although the importance of digitalisation as a critical source of innovation and competitiveness among manufacturers is widely accepted, manufacturers struggle to make the necessary investments to capture these opportunities. To support manufacturers with their digitalisation journey, it is critical to develop a detailed understanding of the digital investment challenges manufacturers are facing and how they can be overcome.

This report provides the findings of a systematic review of the academic and grey literature carried out to establish the state of the art on what is known on the diverse organisational, technical and process challenges manufacturers are facing with their investment into digitalisation and the good practices that are available to address them. It also evaluates the current theoretical contributions and gaps in the existing literature to develop a research agenda to help researchers target and accelerate their future investigations on the digitalisation of the manufacturing industry.

This research was conducted by Dr Andreas Schroeder, Dr Yang Zhao and Dr Daniel Andrews of Aston University.

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