By Chris McNamara, Editor of Smart Industry
Consider the business model as a service, where a product or function is provided to a customer on a subscription basis, rather than the end user owning and maintaining the tools or technology like a caveman.
While the modern version of this approach is growing in popularity by the day (we’ll get to that in a minute), we’ve been doing it as a service for centuries. Think of the dairy as a service with the cows we (luckily) don’t need to own/house/clean/feed/herd and the milkmen who deliver the bottles to the door. Some of my neighbors, even in this 5G world we live in, still get their dairy delivered to their doorstep, which I find both charming and disgusting.
Our homes have plumbing as a service, tapping into sewage systems we’d rather not maintain, and electricity as a service that powers our home offices, in which some of us work remotely. for as- service companies.
This approach is rooted in the life of the modern citizen. We don’t own cars, but rely on Uber for transportation as a service to take us to the gym, which offers exercise as a service on treadmills or Peloton bikes (motivation as a service) so we can maintain cardiovascular health, which is monitored as a service via our smartwatch, to avoid electronic visits with a doctor (healthcare-as-a-service) and to postpone our ultimate funeral service.
Like many trends in our consumer culture, this one is showing signs of losing control. In early November, the US Department of Justice arrested 21 members of an alleged criminal network that made millions from the theft of catalytic converters. The organization offered subscriptions to their shockingly professional-looking DGAuto.app – theft as a service – which facilitates crime and even offered tiered membership levels. The app’s Palladium plan (just $36 per month!) allowed subscribers to receive price assessments for photo-stolen catalytic converters…all without leaving the underside of the victim’s vehicle.
Your neighborhood car thief isn’t the only one adopting this business model. Ransomware-as-a-service is ideal for the globe-trotting cybercriminal who wants to explore the exciting world of commercial exploitation but lacks the technical know-how to get started.
These types of attacks are real. They cripple industrial organizations and can endanger communities if they are targeted, for example, at public services or infrastructure. Manufacturers combat these threats with security as a service, i.e. outsourcing cybersecurity to experts. This reflects the broader adoption of this business model in the industrial realm, where service as a service is digitally rooted, relies on automation and aims to drive operational efficiency.
Among the most common for manufacturers are robots as a service, especially because robots are expensive and difficult to program and maintain. As such, the as-a-service model is appealing in that it places the responsibility for programming and maintenance on the service provider… the bot provider. The provider takes care of the robot; the customer reaps the robotic rewards. Win win.
The advantages of the as-a-service approach are numerous. Consider the software-as-a-service model, where applications are hosted in the cloud and do not require users to purchase hardware, but rather access tools from anywhere on the connected devices they carry in their pocket or purse. Examples include Adobe Creative Cloud, which was used to build this magazine, or the customer relationship management software used to ensure this copy was delivered to your address. If you are reading this online, this digital issue is brought to you by our web hosting provider as a service.
Forecasters predict that we will reach the state of XaaS, or anything as a service, in which not much is actually owned, damn almost everything in our personal and professional life is accessible through the cloud, and if you let drop your phone a pit, you’re basically unable to function until you get a new device to contact your service provider as a service.