Commissions were based on reputation and history. Today no organisation commissioning a new bridge would rely on either reputation or history (although they play a part) to determine the placement of a contract. Today, engineering assurance, backed up by analytic models and a financial model is essential to the contract.
Bridges are well understood (generally). They rarely fail, they can be costed accurately and their lifetimes predicted. But commissioning a bridge still requires engineering calculations – we do not rely on historical precedent to determine the shape and material selection.
Services are much more difficult. They rely on imprecise specifications; their requirements shift to meet changing needs (social and political); they have to cope with abrupt technology transitions – many of which cannot be easily anticipated; their value is not easily quantified; in their provision they change expectations and demand. But we still treat them as a 3000 year old ‘practice’ – reputation is paramount, guarantees of performance are measured after delivery (once the bridge falls down the architect is hung) and all to often learning why and how a failure occurred (and applying that to the next construction) is either prevented (commercial confidentially is frequently used as an excuse) or is not part of the learning process.
Engineers have learnt how to apply mathematics, materials engineering and process design to the (generally) successful construction of bridges.
Services Science attempts to make the same sense that engineers have made of bridges to the understanding, design and management of services – public and private sector. It consolidates work from areas as diverse as anthropology (an understanding and predictions about the way groups of people interact with and react to changes in organisation, process and technology), engineering (design to meet requirements), economics (what can be afforded and what we wish to encourage) and mathematics (providing analytic frameworks that can be used to place contributions and requirements in context, and predict implications and requirements).
In reality there is no ‘service science’ (in the sense that Physics is a science), rather it is a science in the sense that ‘Computer Science’ exists, an umbrella subject that allows unlikely bedfellows to work to a common goal.
As researchers and practitioners within Hewlett Packard, the founders of concinnitās led the development of service science within the company before leaving to found this service analytics business.
The company still maintains close links with commercial organisations working in this area as well as academic groups across the UK, mainland Europe and North America through research collaborations, standards work, the sponsorship of an annual Services Science prize, and development of University based teaching.