This study shows various pathways manufacturers can take when embarking on digital servitization (DS) journeys. It builds on the DS and modularity literature to map the strategic trajectories of product–service–software (PSSw) configurations.
The study is exploratory and based on the inductive theory building method. The empirical data were gathered through a workshop with focus groups of 15 servitization manufacturers (with 22 respondents), an on-site workshop (in-depth case study), semi-structured interviews, observations and document study of archival data.
The DS trajectories are idiosyncratic and dependent on design architectures of PSSw modules, balancing choices between standardization and innovation. The adoption of software systems depends on the maturity of the industry-specific digital ecosystem. Decomposition and integration of PSSw modules facilitate DS transition through business model modularity. Seven testable propositions are presented.
With the small sample size from different industries and one in-depth case study, generalizing the findings was not possible.
The mapping exercise is powerful when top management from different functional departments can participate together to share their expertise and achieve consensus. It logs the “states” that the manufacturer undergoes over time.