Products And – Or Services – Defining "Service-Oriented" Products and the Related Role of Technology

The economy can be analyzed using both market-driven and production-driven approaches to industry classification. The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) uses a market-driven approach; the older Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) uses a production-driven approach.

Under a market-driven approach, the economy comprises goods-producing and service-providing industries. Goods-producing industries include: natural resources and mining, construction, and manufacturing; service-providing industries include: wholesale and retail trade, transportation (and warehousing), utilities, information, financial activities, professional and business services, education and health services, leisure and hospitality, and public administration.

Under a production-driven approach, the economy comprises product-driven and service-driven industries. Product-driven industries comprise enterprises that manage inventories available for sale as primary activities (regardless of whether they transform them or not). Under this approach, the retail, wholesale, and food service industries are product-driven. (The kitchens of food service providers are equivalent to factories.) Product-driven enterprises may have extensive cost accounting and operations practices for inventory management.

Industry classifications can be applied to an enterprise as a whole (the primary industry), and to the establishments within it, which may be in differing secondary industries. Establishments are facilities that include plants (factories and warehouses) and branches (retail and wholesale outlets).

For example, the hospitality industry is service-driven; under the production-driven approach, the bar and restaurant establishments within a hotel are product-driven. The entertainment industry is service-driven; under the production-driven approach, the retail and bar establishments within a theater are product-driven. The health care industry is service-driven; under the production-driven approach, the retail pharmacy establishment within a hospital is product-driven. Under the market-driven approach, all of these establishments are service-providing.

For example, a manufacturing enterprise is goods-producing under a market-driven approach, and product-driven under a production-driven approach. If it also operates a retail delivery system, the stores are service-providers under a market-driven approach, and are product-driven under a production-driven approach. If all sales revenue is sourced from its own products, the enterprise is in two primary industries. However, if forced to decide, its selection should be based upon core competencies – activities that it performs well. The enterprise can be divided into two separate business units: manufacturing and merchandising. The merchandising unit is an internal customer of the manufacturing unit. However, depending on strategy and policy, the manufacturing unit could sell products to wholesalers and other retailers, and the merchandising unit could buy products from other manufacturers and wholesalers. Under a market-driven approach, the manufacturing unit is goods-producing and the merchandising unit is service-providing, whereas under the production-driven approach, the merchandising unit is product-driven.

The make-up of the economy changes overtime as newer industries emerge and grow and older industries mature and decline. For example, the manufacturing industry is shifting from vertically integrated to strategically outsourced. Strategic outsourcers may manufacture specialized components and assemble finished products. However, by outsourcing the manufacturing of utility components to specialty scale manufacturers, strategic outsourcers can lower their production costs.

Biotechnology and nanotechnology are emerging industries. The information industries are growing as technology becomes more ubiquitous, and as knowledge is packaged in digital products. Knowledge is information that has been learned and retained. In the future, knowledge will be retained extensively in electronic form.

Products and services…

The term “product” is associated with something that is tangible – the resulting inventory from agricultural, mining and drilling, construction, and manufacturing activities. Outputs are either end-products, or components that are assembled into end-products in downstream processes within the enterprise or in its customers.

The term “service” is associated with something that is intangible – capabilities either delivered at the point or time of sale, or shortly thereafter, or as a supporting service. Supporting services can be purchased at the time of sale for downstream use, or later, and consist of such items as warranties beyond those bundled with the product, preventive maintenance, and routine cleaning and repairs.

Functions and features of products are easier to discern than those of services, which are event or activity driven, and may occur in the future.

The term “time of sale” means when a contractual or non-contractual agreement between a buyer and a seller is made, and does not necessarily mean when revenue is recognized and earned. Revenue is recognized and earned according to the accounting principles that fit the service offering, which may be over a period of time.

A commodity is a product or service that is indistinguishable and interchangeable with another of the same type because there is little to no value added. Many commodities are natural, such as produce, minerals, oil, and gas. Services can be commoditized too. The distinguishing factors of a commodity provider include convenience, quality of service, and price.

Product-driven enterprises also offer delivery and supporting services. Delivery services include arranging for transportation, dealer preparation, training, and gift wrapping. Supporting services include cleaning, repairs, and maintenance. To remain competitive over time, enterprises have to add services with their product offerings that exceed customer expectations. However, if customers require such services, then they must become part of the basic offerings. For example, bathroom facilities and color TV are included in modern hotel rooms, even though the primary purpose is providing a place to sleep.

Although services are intangible, their effects are not. Transportation services move people, cleaning services remove dirt and stains, and repair services restore items to working order. Services require facilities, equipment, and supplies that are bundled in. When products are bundled in, the enterprise pays sales or use tax, if applicable; when products are sold with services, the customer usually pays sales or use tax, if applicable.

Service-driven enterprises can produce tangible deliverables. For example, dry cleaners produce clean and pressed clothes; professional service firms, such as architects, accountants, attorneys, and consultants produce reports; and engineers produce design drawings that can be transformed into facilities, equipment, or other tangible products.

The recording and movie industries employ technologies that can capture sound and pictures. Starting in laboratories, these industries transform science into art. Hence, live entertainment performances (services) can be transformed into recorded products. As a consequence, an event or activity can be reproduced, duplicated, distributed, and repeated to the public-at-large indefinitely. Digital products are impacting traditional manufacturing, distribution, and consumer buying behaviors, and placing intermediaries at risk.

Process control and information technologies have enabled seamless integration between designers and manufacturers. The “design-to-construction” process becomes ubiquitous as computer-aided design and manufacturing technologies (CAD/CAM) enable a designer in one location to transmit specifications to manufacturers in others. The designs are virtual, and result in instructions that control manufacturing equipment in both local and remote locations. As a consequence, manufacturing can be outsourced strategically to any manufacturer that can accept electronic designs anywhere at any time. Because the process is seamless, the precision is higher.

As more enterprises adopt the design-to-construction model, dramatic changes will occur in the structure of industries. For example, in the publishing industry, books can be printed on demand from electronic files upon receipt of orders placed over the internet, eliminating the need for physical inventory available for sale at printers, publishers, and bookstores. The electronic files represent a virtual finished goods inventory from which physical products can be made when necessary. As a consequence, inventory carrying costs are lower.

Both product-driven and service-driven industries render service from centers that receive inbound and place outbound service and telemarketing calls. Call center activities can be outsourced in a similar fashion to manufacturing.

The notion of strategic outsourcing can be applied to almost every function in an enterprise provided intellectual property is protected. However, although management consultants may be used in the development of strategy, the ultimate responsibility for planning, deployment, execution, and performance remains in-house with the governance function.

Products and/or services…

The term “products and/or services” describes collectively all types of products and services.

Service-driven industries are evolving into providers of both “product-oriented” and “service-oriented” services. In order to differentiate product-oriented services from the delivery and supporting services, the term “service-oriented” products provides more clarity. Service-oriented products must be definable, duplicable, and repeatable. They are intangible outputs of processes that are represented by tangible items, packaged in a definable form. Technology plays a major role in the delivery through hardware, software, and both voice and data telecommunications. “Hard” products are tangible and “soft” products are intangible.

For example, traditional land phone line services were offerings with few differentiating features, primarily in the style of equipment. As the telephone system migrated from electro-mechanical to electronic, the offerings were transformed into service-oriented products with features such as call forwarding, caller identification, call waiting, and voice mail. Cell phone offerings are service-oriented products with more extensive functions and features than land lines. Cell phone service-oriented products have cameras built-in, and have delivery and supporting services bundled in such as account information, internet access, and application software for calculators, calendars, contact information, notes, games, music, pictures and movies. Cell phone and computer technologies are converging.

In the financial and business and professional services industries, service-oriented products are packaged with such items as accounts, agreements, brochures, contracts, databases, documents, equipment, facilities, policies, procedures, and statements.

In the leisure and hospitality industries, service-oriented products such as flights, hotel rooms, car rentals, and limousine services are packaged with facilities, equipment, and supplies. The types of facilities and equipment define specific offerings. For example, an Airbus A380 renders a different experience from a Douglas DC3 even though the principal service is the same: providing air transportation. A hotel room with a view of the ocean renders a different experience from one with no windows at all, even though the principal service is the same: providing accommodation. The quality of the accoutrements such as blankets, pillows, towels, newspapers, cable TV, internet access, and fruit baskets can affect the overall experience. A Cadillac renders a different experience from a Chevrolet, even through the principal service is the same: providing a rental car to drive, or a limousine.

Travel-related service-providers bundle air, hotel, car rental, and limousine services into packages to make the buying decisions easier for consumers. Event planners bundle travel-related services with conference and convention services for enterprises.

Consumables, durables, and facilities…

Manufactured products consist consumables and durables.

Consumables are products change or wear out as they are used and comprise food, clothing, personal care, health care, household supply, and office supply items. Media such as books, records, audio and video CDs, and DVDs are classed as consumables – the intellectual property is worth far more than the media.

Durables are long lasting equipment items such as appliances, furniture, and vehicles.

Digital products may involve no media if they delivered electronically other than the server of the publisher and the electronic device of the user.

Facilities are the outputs of construction activities and are made of durable materials.

Contractual or non-contractual products and/or services…

Agreements are contractual or non-contractual based depending upon the type of offering, and the nature of the relationship between buyers and sellers.

Consumable products can be sold with the right to return for exchange or refund within a certain period of time. Durable products can be sold with agreements that define warranties and maintenance.

Service-oriented products and services can be sold with agreements that specify exactly what is to be delivered and when, with procedures for reporting problems or complaints.

In negotiations, discussions should embrace the specific functions and features of hard and soft products, and the delivery and supporting services. Experienced negotiators pay attention to both the tangibles and intangibles because the total cost of ownership comprises both.

Digital-construction and digital-manufacturing…

As technology continues to develop, service-oriented products will become more common because it makes intangible items definable. New knowledge-based industries will emerge.

The reproduction of software on physical media is classified as goods-producing, and all other development and publishing activities are classified as service-providing under NAICS. However, software and other digital products are durable because they can last indefinitely, even if they have to be transferred among storage media. Software products are developed by service-providers such as business and professional services firms, publishers, and “in-house” developers. Nevertheless, software development activities require the project management disciplines of goods-producing industries, such as construction and manufacturing, to be successful.

The “digital-construction” and “digital-manufacturing” industries are evolving: digital construction delivers software; digital manufacturing delivers soft service-oriented, information, and knowledge-based products. However, through CAD/CAM processes, software delivers hard products too. In the future, almost all hard and soft products will result from digital-construction and digital-manufacturing processes.

Defining product and/or services is an enterpriship (entrepreneurship, leadership, and management) competency.

Which Costa Rican Car Company Is Best?

Renting a Car in Costa Rica? Which company should you choose?

There are so many rent-a-car companies to choose from in Costa Rica – from the large international firms to the smaller national agencies. Reviews on the internet invariably either damn or sing the praises of each company to the extent of being almost useless. So how do you choose the best place to hire a car for your trip?

Many tourists that rent vehicles in Costa Rica complain that they have been ripped off when they realize the extra cost of insurance they are obliged to pay or that they have been charged a dollar rate that reflected the currency rate and not the quoted rate. Understanding the insurance laws and charges that bind the Costa Rican car rental companies may help you to ask the right questions when you are reserving your vehicle and avoid a nasty shock upon arrival. If a company is not upfront about its additional costs; you may wish to consider whether it is a company that you choose to take your business to.

I have worked within the tourism industry in Costa Rica for the last six years and have lived here since 2000. I am familiar with the feelings that many visitors to the country experience when dealing with rent-a-car companies. These can range from delight to discomfort to outright fury; sometimes due to the inefficiency, or even dishonesty of the rental agency, but also due to the renter’s lack of understanding of the legally binding restrictions within which Costa Rican car rental firms must work. I hope that while this article won’t guarantee you trouble-free vehicle rental; it might make you a more knowledgeable customer.

Insurance needs, additional costs in rental and surcharges are considered in more detail below:

Insurance:

Basic insurance is mandatory. Costa Rican law is very clear on this and your rental car company cannot allow you to leave with their car without having agreed to pay it. Expect to pay somewhere between $9 and $20 per day on top of your car rental rate. An honest, car rental agency will make this very clear in their pricing. If it is not clear whether the insurance is included in the rental cost; ask for clarification and be aware of other potentially unstated costs.

Check whether your insurance policy covers you to drive in Costa Rica. Some policies include Collision Damage Waivers and will cover Central America. If you are covered, bring proof (in writing) for your vehicle rental company. If not, consider whether you would be safer to pay the extra cost of this additional coverage. This part is not mandatory.

Zero liability is offered by rent-a-car companies. You may wish to consider whether you would feel more at ease knowing that you would not be liable for any costs should something occur while you are renting their vehicle. You are not obliged to buy this supplemental insurance.

Additional Fees:

Many car rental companies will charge additional fees for a child/baby seat, an additional driver, luggage racks or cooler. You can expect to pay up to $8 daily for each of these extras. Although by shopping around, you can find companies that will offer some or all for a lower price, or even free.

With Costa Rican roads being notoriously poorly signposted and the whole country operating on an address system based on landmarks rather than road names or numbers, a GPS is essential for many car renters. You will usually pay between $8 and $15 a day for this service. It is fairly common practice to allow renters to use one of their cell phones for the duration, but if you wish to use it for your own calls; you’ll obviously be charged.

Surcharges:

Some rental car companies incorporate taxes and additional fees into their rental cost; others don’t. Make sure you know what you will be charged for on top of your rental fee. Airport fees can be charged at 13% of your rental cost which is a sizable fee to pay in addition to an agreed rental charge. You may also be charged a license plate charge, environmental fee and/or any other charge that the rental car company has to meet (or pocket).

Prices for the rental will be given in US dollars, but as the local currency is colones, you should understand that exchange rates change daily and what you are charged on your credit card on the day of payment may vary slightly from what you were quoted.

Criteria for Rating Car Rental Companies:

For this article, three (3) main points were considered for each company:

1) Value: Is the rental rate competitive?

2) Efficiency: How fast do they respond to the needs of the client?

3) Transparency: How clear is the information provided by the company?

You may have your own criteria, but based on complaints from previous customers on community websites like Trip Advisor, Lonely Planet, etc., the requirements of those clients seemed mainly based around these three basic areas.

The companies surveyed below are a mix of local and international firms. Each company was researched based on a week’s rental of a Daihutsu Bego with mandatory insurance.

Dollar Rent-A-Car:

Value

- $300+ USD.

- Extras are at average prices.

Efficiency

- They have 3 offices nationwide.

- Email inquiry returned within 24 hours.

Transparency

- The prices for rental vehicles are displayed on site but a side box contains a ‘Daily RA’ with dollar amount. This is the mandatory insurance.

- Reservation price is listed as ‘Base rate’ and doesn’t include insurance.

- Dollar has received mixed reviews in sites such as Trip Advisor.

- A toll-free number is available.

Vamos Rent-A-Car:

Value

- $300+ USD.

- Only GPS and cell phone use are charged. All other extras such as child seats are free.

Efficiency

- They have 3 offices nationwide.

- Email inquiry returned within an hour.

Transparency

- The website clearly states prices and insurance.

- Toll-free number and live chat are provided.

Wild Rider:

Value

- $300+ USD.

- Additional driver is free.

Efficiency

- Email inquiry returned within 2 hours.

Transparency

- Prices are displayed very clearly onsite and include insurance.

- The company has almost 100% positive reviews, but with a fleet of only 30 vehicles and one central office; it may be difficult to help clients who are in difficulty outside the capital.

- They cannot provide a vehicle for the Liberia airport, just San Jose.

Budget:

Value

- $400+ USD.

- Extra charges for baby seat, additional driver etc.

Efficiency

- The company has 9 offices nationwide.

Transparency

- No prices displayed with vehicles information.

- Budget has received mixed reviews.

- Surprisingly for a large company, it provides no live chat or toll-free number for clients in the USA.

Service Car Rental:

Value

- $400+ USD including mandatory insurance and taxes.

- Extras such as additional driver and child seat are charged, but at cheaper rates than most companies.

Efficiency

- The company has 5 offices nationwide.

- Email inquiry returned within an hour.

Transparency

- Their rates are clearly shown on site.

- Service has received mainly positive reviews.

National Car Rental:

Value

- $400+ USD.

- Extras are priced a little above average.

Efficiency

- They have 23 office locations, although some are Alamo.

Transparency

- Price estimates online do not include insurance or additional charges; however, they are displayed in the full quotation.

- They have received mixed reviews.

- Both live chat and a toll-free number are provided.

Economy Rent-A-Car:

Value

- $200+ USD, but it seems possible to reserve a vehicle without inclusion of any insurance.

- Extras are average in price.

Efficiency

- They have 12 offices nationwide.

- Email inquiry returned within an hour, but email inquiring about insurance was not returned.

Transparency

- Website does not make mandatory insurance clear.

- Economy has numerous negative reviews.

- Both live chat and toll-free number are provided.

Hertz Costa Rica:

Value

- $400+ USD, but actual rental price is not made clear.

- Extras are pricey.

Efficiency

- 6 offices nationwide.

- No contact email.

- Telephone numbers are available for different offices around the country.

Transparency

- Very confusing quotation system. Two rates are offered for a vehicle and chosen dates. The cheaper option does not include mandatory insurance and it is in very small print under the final quotation price. The more expensive option includes non-mandatory insurance along with mandatory.

- Mixed reviews.

- Both live chat and toll-free number are provided.

Adobe Rent-A-Car:

Value

- $400+ USD.

- Extras are at low prices.

Efficiency

- The company has 9 offices nationwide.

Transparency

- Online estimate includes insurance.

- Adobe has received mixed reviews.

- A toll-free number is provided.

Tricolor Car Rental:

Value

- $300+ USD.

- No charge for pick-up or airport fees.

- Extras aren’t listed or provided in quotation email, although cell phone price is given.

Efficiency

- 3 offices nationwide.

- Email returned within 2 hours.

Transparency

- Website is not very user friendly.

- Reviews are mixed.

- Toll-free number is provided.

Finalizing the Three Criteria:

Economy, at first, appear to be the cheapest company to rent from, but unfortunately this is due to their failure to declare all costs incurred by the renter, rather than a genuine, good deal. For real value, Dollar, Vamos, Wild Rider and Tricolor come out on top for competitive pricing for the basic rental fee, plus mandatory insurance. Vamos is noticed for being the only firm that does not charge for extras such as a child seat or surcharges. Adobe and Service have low cost extras, whereas Hertz has the most expensive rates for extras. Wild Rider does not charge for an additional driver.

Only Economy failed to respond to email inquiry. All other companies responded quickly and with clear answers to inquiries. Wild Rider, as the smallest firm, cannot offer nationwide service, but reviews suggest that they have met customer needs to date. All other companies can offer services from offices in locations outside of the capital city — increasing their ability to serve clients effectively.

Adobe, Wild Rider, Vamos and Service have websites that clearly show rental prices and insurance. Economy and Hertz somehow seems to be deliberately misleading on their websites. The other companies’ websites provide the required information – even if it can take some time in hunting it down.

Conclusion:

This brief survey would suggest that Vamos, Service, Tricolor and Wild Rider would be the best companies to begin your rental research, whereas Economy would be best to avoid.

Now you know as much as I do! The information here is supposed to be your starting point and not the end point. Hopefully, you will know the right questions to ask when you’re looking for a rental vehicle to ensure that your dream vacation begins smoothly without any nasty shocks, like hefty extra charges when you land. Enjoy the drive!

Benefits of Shopping Malls

The earliest malls were Paris Arcades in the 19th century. They became very popular with shoppers instantly. Since then shopping malls have evolved to suit people’s tastes. Shopping malls are the most preferred shopping areas in our times among shoppers across the globe.

Earlier shops in shopping centres catered to the elite. But it is no longer the case. Now, there are shops in shopping malls which cater to different budgets.

Shoppers prefer shopping centres/malls to stand-alone shops for various reasons:

1. They have their own parking facility.

2. There is a wide variety of products available.

3. There are products from competing producers available under one roof. So, they can compare and make purchases.

4. They have facilities such as restrooms.

5. They have gaming zones.

6. There are food courts with a wide variety of cuisine.

7. There are movie theatres in shopping centres.

All these features making shopping a fun-filled and satisfying experience.

Since shopping centres are the most sought-after shopping destinations, it is beneficial for a businessman to set up a store in a shopping mall. Generally, retail store owners rent shop space in a mall. Renting store space benefits the businessman in many ways.

• Shopping malls are usually located in prime locations which are easily accessible. If a retailer sets up a store in a mall, he can have the shop in a prime location with a minimal investment. On the other hand, if he attempts purchasing a shop in such a location, he may not be able to afford it. A rented property implies low initial investment. This enables the businessman to utilize the saved amount on his business.

• He can attract clients of competitors who have shops in the mall. This enables him to build a clientele easily.

• He does not have to direct his time and efforts towards the maintenance of the shop. This helps him to focus on his business.

• Generally, the charges for utilities are included in the rent. Hence, he does not have to involve himself in these matters.

• Many a time, businessmen set up pop-up stores in shopping centres in order to attract customers for new products. This is a popular location for a pop-up store as it is a high traffic area.

With so many benefits of shopping malls to shoppers as well as businessmen we can conclude that shopping centres will only rise in popularity with time.

Computer and Technology Today

Computer plays an essential role people’s day to day life especially at work place, schools and even in home. Twenty first century has been the age of so many technological advancements aimed for making the lives of people better. Computer helps them become more efficient in their work.

Computer technology in banking:

Technology has made our living easy and comfortable, for instance our banking needs. Previously people need to maintain the important data of their customers manually. But right now, in just one click, they would be able to find all the customers’ data instantly. The customers are able to know about the transactions of their account by logging in to the bank website. Moreover, it is possible to apply for loans through online.

Improvements of computer technology:

Computer technology has improved our life style far better than before. Due to the emergence of internet and technology, the world has shrunk to a global village. Even though the advancement in internet creates new challenges like computer problems and virus threats, the computer technology like antivirus software made easy to overcome these problems.

Computer in food industry:

The automation and computerization in food processing units is facing lots of challenges if they are used nearby water catastrophic effects on any computer system. Most food processing units prefer waterproof computers to protect their computer systems from drenching in the production area.

Computer in medical field:

Hospital is an important organization and computers are used for the management of a hospital. The accounting, payroll and stock system of the hospital have been computerized in recent days. We can maintain the record of different medicines, their distribution and use in different wards etc. using computer. Even the disease can be diagnosed by entering the symptoms of a patient. Moreover, various computerized devices are used in laboratories for different tests of blood etc.

Computer in agriculture:

Nowadays agricultural industry is also making use of the computers. The analysis that was taken some few years before shows that 44% of the farmers in Ohio are using computers for various purposes. In 1991, only 32% of the farmers were making use of it. This shows that there is considerable increase in the farmers who are using computers. As internet becomes the means of communication, most farmers use this technological advancement for transaction processing or for retrieving information. The analysis shows that out of the total farmers who were surveyed, 80% of them are making use of the internet.

Computer in education:

Due to the globalization of education, so many challenges are posed by the new trends. In order to face all these challenges, information technology in the education sector is very important. It is essential that the students become familiar with the concept and use of information technology in order to equip them for future job market. Similarly, the faculty can achieve better quality in teaching methodology. The computer technology has developed in many fields. Its drastic development has created an immense impact in almost all the fields and thus leading to a new era.