Industry 4.0 technologies and the servitization strategy: a good match?

  • Guido Bortoluzzi
  • Maria Chiarvesio
  • Rubina Romanello
  • Raffaella Tabacco
  • Valerio Veglio
Keywords: Industry 4.0; digital technologies; servitization; performance; B2B; SME.


Purpose of the paper: The paper aims at investigating whether a relationship exists between the servitization strategy and the adoption of Industry 4.0 (I4.0) technologies in small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) operating in a B2B context.

Methodology: Case study method based on in-depth interviews with the entrepreneurs and managers of 7 SMEs operating in the mechanical sector in Italy

Findings: The article provides some preliminary evidence on the interplay between some I4.0 technologies (Internet of Things, cloud computing, simulation, big data and analytics) and the servitization strategies of B2B SMEs, and highlights its performance implications. The authors propose three research propositions to be tested in future studies.

Research limits: Although the goal of the research is exploratory, it is worth mentioning that it considers a small sample of B2B SMEs operating in the metals and machinery sector. Future studies could investigate these relationships among larger samples of cross-sectional companies.

Practical implications: This work identifies a selection of technologies belonging to I4.0, that could be compatible with one another and functional to the implementation of a servitization strategy of SMEs.

Originality of the paper: This work contributes to servitization literature by investigating the role of I4.0 technologies. Also, it contributes to management literature by offering initial empirical evidence of Italian manufacturing SMEs that have adopted I4.0 technologies.


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