Digital service innovation challenges faced during servitization: a multi-level perspective

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Digital Service innovation (DSI) plays a fundamental role in the successful transition from product manufacturer or traditional service provider to a provider of digitally-enabled service solutions. Multiple impediments make managing this transformation using digital technologies difficult for firms, their customers, and wider ecosystems. Extant knowledge of these digital technology impediments requires synthesising and mapping.

We conduct a systematic literature review (SLR). DSI tools and terminology are synthesised via thematic analysis. Subsequently, Impediments to DSI for servitization (covering barriers, challenges, and tensions) faced by actors across three key innovation phases: strategic planning, design planning, and implementation, and four interaction levels (Micro, Meso, Macro-environment,
Macro-ecosystem) are mapped via template analysis.

Six impediment categories (external environmental factors, internal firm factors, capabilities, business models and processes, value creation, and interaction) encompassing 28 unique impediment types to DSI during servitization are identified. We develop a framework enabling impediment comparison across innovation phases and ecosystem/network interaction levels, revealing that the majority of barriers can be framed as ‘challenges’. This is an authors’ accepted version of the paper. If citing please cite the original paper: Burton, J., Story, V.M., Zolkiewski, J., and Nazifa, N. (2023), “Digital service innovation challenges faced during servitization: a multi-level perspective” Journal of Service Management, Volume (ahead-of-print) No (ahead-of-print).

Whist literature is emerging relating to digital servitization, there is a lack of research on the role DSI plays in facilitating digital servitization and no comprehensive study of DSI impediments. Additionally, consensus around the cross-disciplinary terminologies used is lacking. We offer the first structured attempt to map the domain, summarizing the terms, identifying and clarifying
impediment categories, and providing recommendations for researchers and managers in tackling the latter.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Service Management
Publication statusPublished - 18 Oct 2023


  • Digital
  • service innovation
  • digitalization
  • SLR
  • ecosystems
  • interactions
  • impediments
  • challenges
  • tensions


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