The business services industry is a large and growing sector of the economy. It includes all activities that benefit businesses but don’t involve supplying physical products, such as advertising, consulting, transportation, warehousing and waste handling. Nearly all companies in operation require some level of business services. The industry encompasses a broad range of industries, and jobs are available across the spectrum from professional and technical services to administrative support services.
The lion’s share of the industry’s employment is in the field of information technology (IT). This sector employs approximately 1.7 million people. Other major subsectors in the industry include telecommunications, human resources and management, and a range of other support functions. The industry is highly competitive and labor-intensive, but salaries are generally above the national average.
While the business services industry has substantial potential, there are challenges that it must overcome in order to realize this potential. For one thing, many of the services are delivered by labor-intensive businesses with low productivity and high employee turnover. In addition, the industry is subject to legal barriers and other restrictions that limit its global competitiveness.
To be successful, business service businesses must understand how to distinguish themselves from competitors and offer differentiated value that customers can easily identify and appreciate. The key to achieving this is a fundamental shift in thinking and perspective. Business services managers must move away from thinking about product design and instead focus on designing service systems that meet customer needs.
In the case of IT, this translates into designing a system that makes it easy for employees to access and use the tools they need in order to do their work. It also means designing a customer experience that emphasizes efficiency, convenience and friendly interaction. In other words, the system must “just work”.
For other business services, it translates into designing systems that reduce costs and improve quality. It also means leveraging new technologies to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of these services. This may mean introducing software that automates some of the tasks, or it could mean partnering with an outside firm to manage an important aspect of a company’s operations.
For example, a company may decide to hire a construction crew rather than using its own employees to renovate or expand their workplace. This is because the outside firm can do the job more quickly, safely and cost effectively than the company can with its own staff.