Business services are activities that benefit companies without supplying physical products. They are not to be confused with tertiary industries, which produce goods for sale or consumption, or primary industries, which extract and produce raw materials. Businesses often outsource duties that require specific expertise rather than hiring full-time employees. For instance, a landscaping company might help a corporate office maintain its outdoor spaces while an IT service firm might provide computer support or network management. Companies use a variety of business services to save time, money and resources, and improve work productivity.
While product-focused companies can survive a flawed offering, successful service businesses must deliver a robust experience to customers. Unlike product designers, who aim to build features that consumers will value, service managers must develop a tool kit for understanding and delivering value.
Whether it’s the customer who dithers at a fast-food counter or an architectural client who fails to explain his vision to the firm, customers can impact operational processes. They can influence how well or poorly a company performs, despite the best intentions of its employees. In difficult economic times, customers typically cut back on services to focus on the goods they need to survive. This trend is accelerated when a consumer decides to do a task himself, such as changing the oil in his car or walking his dog instead of paying for a professional service.
As technology and digitalization change the way we do business, business services are becoming more flexible and available online. This has allowed the sector to grow and become more diversified. However, the industry still faces challenges such as legal barriers to trade and the low average productivity of the sector. The EU’s internal market legislation and policy actions aim to stimulate competitiveness in the business services sector and promote innovation, for example by removing barriers to cross-border trade.
The European Commission has recently outlined its plans to increase competition in the business services sector, which is one of Europe’s most important economic sectors. The plan aims to open up new opportunities in the sector, such as in-sourcing and cross-border trade. Moreover, it will focus on developing digital skills and improving access to financial services, including the financing of innovation and the provision of support to small and medium-sized enterprises. This will increase competitiveness in the business services sector and contribute to a more productive, sustainable, inclusive and innovative economy. These measures will also contribute to a stronger social dimension in the economy, especially for disadvantaged groups. This will be achieved by promoting the participation of women and youth in employment and entrepreneurship, and by facilitating the reintegration into the workforce of people who have left it to care for children or older relatives. The EU will also increase access to digital technologies, especially broadband and mobile phones, in order to improve the productivity of people in rural areas. This will improve the quality of life in these regions and help reduce the digital divide.