Improving service innovation through big data analytics : a case study of an international air freight forwarder

  • Cindy Wu

    Student thesis: Professional Doctorate


    Big data is reshaping the business world and disrupting the way contemporary organizations make their strategic business decisions. Organizations, including air freight forwarders (AFFs), are finding ways to extract the values of big data analytics (BDA) to improve their service provisions. Driving service innovation enables organizations to gain an advantage over their competitors and BDA is expected to have a substantial impact on improving service innovation, if properly implemented. Air freight forwarding industry is traditional and less innovation savvy, and the significance of service innovation is slow to be appreciated. Limited empirical research has been undertaken to focus on the exploration of BDA adoption to improve service innovation at the corporate level in the air freight forwarding industry.
    Based on a constructionist epistemological paradigm and an interpretive theoretical perspective, this qualitative and exploratory case study was conducted in a leading global air freight forwarder in the logistics industry. The purpose of the study was to identify the current situation and the influencing factors for BDA adoption in an air freight forwarding organization, and further to investigate how BDA can be utilized to its maximum potential in enhancing service innovation. Primary data was collected through semi-structured in-depth interviews and secondary data was collected from organizational documents. A content analysis method was employed for comprehensive analysis of the collected data. The findings suggest that in its current state, BDA application in the case organization is still in its infancy stage as a result of various factors identified through the Technology-Organization-Environment (TOE) framework as hindering BDA adoption. A set of recommendations is proposed on improving service innovation through embedding BDA applications in the business areas of air freight business from internal and external perspectives.
    Air freight forwarding industry remains traditional and less innovative. Service innovation in this industry is underway leaving huge rooms for improvement. A list of influencing factors were identified under the TOE framework that affect the adoption of the BDA in the case organization. This case study has explored the interrelationship between service innovation and BDA adoption, which was, for the first time, applied in an international air freight forwarder. It is a pioneer endeavor to unpack the status and to inform management thinking and action towards service innovation through BDA in the industry, enriching and advancing the extant scholarly work in these areas. In doing so, the study also brings innovative technology like BDA closer to a less-innovative traditional industry like the air freight forwarding industry to arouse attention and to trigger further debates.
    Date of Award2023
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorRichard Hu (Supervisor) & Jennifer M.I. Loh (Supervisor)

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