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Last edited 02 Feb 2023
A service provider in the general sense is a vendor who supplies services, rather than actual products. In recent years, the term has been applied largely to companies in the fields of communications and technology, such as Internet service providers (ISPs), however, with the rise of servitisation, almost anything can now be supplied as a service.
The distinction between services and products can be quite blurred: there are few pure services and few pure products. Tradiationally, service providers typically provide activities which are of an intangible nature (such as consulting, legal and processing) and which are supplied as a direct consequence of a contract that exists between the service provider and the customer.
Such companies usually provide their services to customers on a subscription basis – say 12-, 18- or 24-month contracts. Mobile-phone companies may also be included in this category but in addition to providing the service of access to a mobile phone network, they generally also supply products – mobile phones.
Other types of service provider include:
- Providers of building maintenance contracts
- Data storage
- Security solutions providers
- Storage providers
- Cleaning services
- Gardening services
- Pest control
Recently, there has been an increase in the provision of products as a 'service' such as 'software as a service', as well as cars, computers, lighting and so on. Buildings and infrastructure can also be provided as a service, as in the case of the Private Finance Initiative.
NB RICS property measurement, 2nd edition, published by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in January 2018, defines a Service Provider as: ‘Any entity providing real estate advice to a User or Third Party including, but not limited to, Valuers, surveyors, facility managers, property managers, asset managers, agents and brokers, Space Measurement Professionals, cost consultants, interior designers and architects.’
ICMS: Global Consistency in Presenting Construction Life Cycle Costs and Carbon Emissions, 3rd edition, November 2021, published by the ICMS (International Cost Management Standard) Coalition, defines a service provider as: ‘Any organisation or individual providing advice or a service to a Client at any point in a Project’s life including, but not limited to, project managers, architects, engineers, technical architects or engineers, surveyors, cost management and environmental professionals, constructors, facilities managers, planners, valuers, property managers, asset managers, agents and brokers.’
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