Managerial Challenges in the Development of Integrated Solutions

University dissertation from Chalmers University of Technology

Abstract: The purpose of this thesis is to investigate managerial challenges related to the development of integrated solutions. This purpose is in line with a trend towards moving into solution provision in manufacturing, and the complexity that arises in the development of so called integrated solutions compared to the development of physical products. Integrated solutions can be described as products and services integrated to create a value surplus associated to the customer’s operations. That is, when services are not simply added to the product and can be treated separately, but rather are provided as an integrated solution to a customer problem to facilitate or optimise their operations. While challenges related to servitization have been identified, companies are struggling with the development of integrated solutions. Those integrated solutions put new demands on the development organisation and raise several challenges, which have to be managed. This thesis are concerned with these. The thesis addresses two research questions. The first research question is ‘How can integrated solutions be described?’ which relates to what needs to be developed. The second research question refers to the implications for the product development organisation and is formulated as ‘What are the implications for the product development organisation when a manufacturing company moves into provision of integrated solutions?’

Three studies were conducted, based mainly on data collected via interviews with managers working on the development of integrated solutions. The first study investigated effects on the product development of a manufacturer moving into provision of integrated solutions. The second study investigated how various dimensions can be used to describe different integrated solutions. The third study explored how platform thinking applies to the development of integrated solutions.

The thesis concludes that there are managerial challenges involved in the development of integrated solutions related to the co-existence in the same company of different integrated solutions. There are challenges also associated to integration in the development of integrated solutions, and the need to balance customisation and standardisation. In addition, manufacturers are required to utilize and care for their product and technology knowledge, which add to the complexity of the development.