The rise of service industry and the need of T-shaped professionals in the 21st century

We are living in a service-driven world. Services are central to economic activity, infrastructure services such as transportation and communications are essential for any society. The service sector represent 80% of the GDP of the United States and the 70.5% of the European Union. In South America, the service sector represent 54.7% of the GDP of Argentina, 54% of Brazilian GDP and the 44.7% of the Chilean GDP (GDPs are from January 2008).

Fig.1.Shows the GDP participation in the Services, Industrial and Agriculture sectors.

Since the service sector is growing fast around the world, great percentage of new jobs are comes from services. These jobs, are no only from restaurant and call centers, many require a good level of education. A great piece if the growth in services comes from the industrial services. Some of the fastest growth is in knowledge-based industries like professional and business services, education and heath care.

In fact, manufacturing firms are shifting from just bundling supplementary services to their products, to offer stand-alone services. IBM, previously know as manufacture of computers and business machines transformed itself into a service and consulting firm thanks to the purchase of Price Waterhouse Coopers consulting arm in 2002 and the selling of their PC division to Lenovo in 2004. By 2007, it’s Global Services division represented the 55.3% of the group revenues (more tha 54 billon dollars).

IBM’s successful transformation into a professional service firm came from it’s emphasis in service innovation. “This shift to focusing on services has created a skills gap, especially in the area of high value services, which requires people who are knowledgeable about business and information technology, as well as the human factors that go into a successful services operation. Many leading universities have begun exploring and investing in this area, working in tandem with thought leaders in the business world. In May 2004, this group suggested that an entirely new academic discipline may be called for – first roughly described as Services Science at a summit held at IBM” (IBM Research).

“Services science would merge technology with an understanding of business processes and organization, a combination of recognizing a company’s pain points and the tools that can be applied to correct them. To thrive in this environment, an IT-services expert will need to understand how that capability can be delivered in an efficient and profitable way, how the services should be designed, and how to measure their effectiveness”.”This new academic discipline would bring together ongoing work in the more established fields of computer science, operations research, industrial engineering, management sciences, and social and legal sciences, in order to develop the skills required in a services-led economy”(Businessweek).

When professionals are so specialized (I-shape), a change in technology or market conditions devalues their knowledge. In the other hand, T-shape people are professionals who are both deep and broad and who can learn and adapt rapidly to change. T-shape people are adaptive innovators who will drive the technological innovation –the transformation of knowledge into products, processes, and services– that is key to competitiveness, long-term productivity growth, and the generation of wealth in our global, knowledge-based economy of the 21st century.

Fig.2. T-Shaped Professionals are capable to apply their functional skills across situations .

T-shaped professionals are “deep problem solvers in their home discipline but also capable of interacting with and understanding specialists from a wide range of disciplines and functional areas”(fM and IBM).

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