A service network is a collection of pooled resources brought together by individuals and companies to achieve a common goal and expand their reach. One example of a service network might be a website that compiles academic journals from the same field. This allows scholars to access all the journals that might interest them in one location, rather than forcing them to chase down different journal websites to keep up with the latest developments in their area of study. This service network would combine the resources of numerous journal publishers and editors.
This term usually refers to service networks on the Internet. A website set up on a service network model can act as a portal page for users so they do not need to seek services in multiple locations. Companies that participate in the network can access more customers and may achieve greater customer satisfaction rates, as consumers often want to be able to access basic information and meet their needs in one place.
The members of service network all contribute funds to support the infrastructure of the site and may also provide personnel who offer customer service, maintain the site, and develop new features and services. Service networks can cover topics like professional development, entertainment, and bill payment. A bank, for example, might work with utilities to set up a service network allowing customers to pay their utility bills at a single website. Their bank information will remain secure, and they can schedule payments, keep track of bills, and perform other tasks all in one place.
In addition to being open to members of the public, a service network can also be private in nature. Companies may set up networks when they prepare to collaborate on projects. All of the project members will have access to the information they need, while the companies can keep proprietary information secure on their own internal networks. This facilitates information exchange and cooperation while protecting the financial interests of the companies involved.
Service networks can require substantial resources. They may house a lot of data and often require encryption capability to protect passwords and confidential information. They can contribute savings to individual members, who can use these savings to finance their part of the service network. Once the site is up and running, the level of maintenance necessary depends on the services it provides and the level of control individual users may have over content.