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Service-Oriented. The Provider World.

The shift in thinking from delivering products as target systems to providing services for the production of other target systems turned out to be very productive and is now called service orientation in modern language. Service providers are increasingly referred to as "providers," (Internet providers as an example, "internet service providers" derive from here, "providers of internet access service").

For example, a traditional product - pig iron ingots, "gray cast iron"

If we consider service orientation, then the service will be the "delivery of pig iron," greatly expanding the opportunities for a company, transforming from a "supplier" to a "service" or "provider of access to pig iron"; the pig iron itself as a product remains the same - but the conditions of its delivery can change significantly. Delivery right on time, through the company's warehouse or directly to the smelting point, maintaining a minimum stock throughout the year or simply delivering a large batch, credit opportunities upon delivery, supply from third-party companies, and so on.

Services (as well as the corresponding functions: services are provided from a system to a supra system, functions, on the other hand, are received from the system by the supra system) are usually easily recognizable in language - these are verbal nouns in which the verb (action) is hidden, but nevertheless the language maintains usage about them, as for a thing. If the action/process is "to teach," then the service will be "teaching." If the action/process is "to deliver," then the service will be "delivery." In English, services are usually expressed by verbs in their -ing form.

Service orientation wonderfully expands possible markets: there are not so many different types/kinds/categories/classes of actions in the world, just a few thousand (and that is why there are only a few thousand verbs in languages), but there are millions and millions of different types of things - because of which there are millions of nouns. Thinking about services is economical: the same increasingly universal services work with millions and millions of different goods. These services correspond to a variety of functions in various supra systems.

The shift from "things" to "behavior," changes, dynamics turns out to be very productive, which is why service orientation rapidly displaces product orientation. The Windows 10 operating system is now viewed by Microsoft not so much as a product (a target system that is transferred to the client) but as a service for its maintenance (the target system belongs to the client, but Microsoft changes versions, adding features - improving the target system with its external behavior). Microsoft changed from a software provider to a provider of software services. The transition to Windows 11 essentially meant just a marketing event, a change of name, because nothing fundamentally new was introduced: Windows 11 is simply another version of the same Microsoft service.

A modern store now provides not a product but a service for selling the product. Programs do not need to be delivered to the client; the client needs to be provided with a service (external behavior) of this program - the program itself can remain in the company's data center that develops it. This is how SaaS systems - software-as-a-service, software providers become service providers. It is important to understand that the target system for the service provider is the client's, the service changes something in the client's system. For example, the service may change the description of the client's target system, reflecting this in the documentation. The service may change the content of its database with a description of the client's target system - and then this description can be used for physical changes in the realization of the target system, and the whole endeavor involving the service provider may be for this specific physical change. All such chains of changes related to service providers/servicers/servers that extend to the physical world must be tracked and carefully thought out.

If you have been tasked with "creating a service," you may make a major mistake: considering that the service-providing system is the target system. No, the target system is the system that we are changing with the service, and the service in this case is the behavior of the creating provider system, it is "our system" (and you also are the creating system for our system, and you also need to create yourself as the producer of work for creating the provider, hence the chain of creation). Later on, you will need to ensure that the service provider/service/server you have created does change the target product/system with the required level of quality, and you also demonstrate sufficient speed and efficiency in creating this provider yourself.

The target system of a hairdresser is a hairstyle, the service is a haircut (when they make the snipping sound with scissors, work is being done, changes are happening in the world), and the hair salon together with the hairdresser is a creating system that performs the lifecycle practices of hairstyling. The hairstyle changes from "non-existent" to "existent," practices such as choosing a style, cutting hair, styling, possibly mixing them with gel and ribbons (if they are included) and this is the hairstyle's lifecycle. The hair salon performs practices of this lifecycle as its work.

A luxurious haircut service (the work of a hair salon with a client's hair, golden scissors in a throne chair under a live orchestra) resulting in a bad hairstyle is not what we need, right? A hairstyle for sports instead of a hairstyle for a date is also not what we need, right? Never forget about the target system and its supra system when dealing with the creating system to obtain the service of creating the target system: it is easy to forget why the creating system/provider exists, why its service exists - and at that moment the target system ceases to be successful, satisfied clients suddenly become dissatisfied, and you lose them. If a manager thinks about an airplane manufacturing plant, the plant can be super-duper advanced, the people super-duper cooperative, the work processes super-duper well-organized, but if the planes being produced do not fly, then the plant producing such planes is not needed (moreover, it is harmful: wasting the investors' money).

If you think about the target system and its external project roles, then think explicitly: document these thoughts and discuss them with the team and these external project roles. Systems thinking will compel you to do this, prevent mistakes, and help overcome the complexity of projects with long chains of creation.

Why are creation chains long? For example, you have been tasked with organizing a hair salon. Here is a long chain of creation:

  • You organize your small team and suppliers into a project that will create the hair salon (and we are not even considering the beginning of the chain: you were "tasked with creating" a hair salon, so you are not even at the beginning of the chain!)
  • The project that creates the hair salon (that you organized)
  • The hair salon created by the project for its creation
  • The hairstyle created by the hair salon during the cutting case/project.

It would be good to have a clear understanding of this chain. Without a clear understanding of who creates what system, who is responsible for what, it is impossible to understand the project, and the risk of failure will be high.