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Monday 11 March 2024 15:33

From 7 to 9 December 2023, the School of Management welcomed 70 researchers from all over the world for an intense dialogue on the impact of the digital transformation on the service economy, society and individuals. The meeting celebrated the 33rd RESER (European Association for REsearch on SERvices) international conference, traditionally held annually in cities such as Helsinki in 2014, Madrid in 2020 and Paris in 2022. This time, the town of Sierre and the Swiss Digital Center were chosen as the backdrop for this major event revolving around the topic of: “Digital Transformation and the Service Economy: Exploring the Societal Impact”. The call for papers launched by the School of Management institutes attracted 64 submissions of research papers addressing this key issue.


European collaborations for deeper research into the digitalisation of services

The School of Management is becoming a dynamic player at the heart of a European association dedicated to research into services. This partnership is opening doors for promising collaborations and the creation of partnerships for research projects on an European scale.

The service sector in Switzerland is flourishing, generating almost two thirds of the GDP. As such, understanding the impact of the digitalisation of services on society is becoming crucial for ensuring a harmonious evolution. Analysing and exploring how this transition towards digitalisation can best be orchestrated is becoming an unavoidable challenge.

The conference offered researchers from all around the globe a unique opportunity to network and discuss their work. In addition, the participants were full of praise for the exceptional organisation and wide range of discussions at the event. Yianni Doumenis, Professor at the University of West London (UWL), said: “The richness of the conference wasn't just in its theme but in the diverse discussions and the highly engaged audience that fueled our collective pursuit of knowledge.”

Outstanding and inspiring contributions from leading researchers 

The three-day conference was a veritable celebration of knowledge and innovation punctuated by forward-looking presentations. Highlights included that given by Yves Pigneur, a leading figure in global entrepreneurship. Professor Emeritus at the University of Lausanne (Unil) and co-creator of the famous “Business Model Canvas”, his visual tools have become practically indispensable for millions of entrepreneurs and innovators the world over. With a captivating eloquence, he shared his vision in a presentation titled “Inventing, Shifting and Managing Business Models with a Purpose”. In his talk, he underlined the growing importance of business models with real purpose, offering practical exercises for their development, notably employing the Business Model Canvas. A video of his presentation is available to view free of charge here:

The programme also featured a presentation given by UAS professor Henning Müller, who is in charge of the eHealth unit at the Institute of Informatics at the School of Management in Sierre. Prof. Müller kicked off the three-day conference by sharing his research into the key topic of “Machine learning on medical data and why interdisciplinarity is so important”.

Leïla Kebir, Associate Professor in tourism and territorial economy at the University of Lausanne, gave an innovative presentation on “Providing services through commons and commoning: what implications for territorial development”. This exploration of the commons as a means of providing services opened up some fascinating perspectives.

Similarly, Lars Fugslang, Professor in the Department of Social Sciences and Business at Roskilde University (RUC) in Denmark, captivated the audience with his presentation titled “Valuing co-creation of innovative service solutions in tourism”, which offered an in-depth analysis of the value of co-creation in the tourism sector.

Through these interesting presentations, the expertise and vision of these leading researchers enriched our understanding of the current challenges and opportunities in this services sector.

Sierre: a key point of interest on the global academic and economic map  

By hosting this internationally renowned conference, Sierre has proven its ability to organise major events and affirmed its position on the global academic and economic map.

“Hosting this event has reaffirmed the HES-SO Valais-Wallis’ position, via the institutes of the School of Management, as a leader in applied research and development in the field of digital transformation and services,” explained Dominique Fumeaux, Director of the School of Management.

Located at the crossroads of current and future issues, this conference proved to be far more than a simple gathering of academics: It was the main stage for a dynamic international discussion shaping our understanding of the impact and the challenges of the digitalisation of services in our society.