Service businesses are different than product businesses. You can't force one type to behave like the other. Everyone knows that. Except, in one very important respect, everyone is wrong. Both product and service businesses need to take a product approach to data, and a service approach to data management.
The product approach to data is another way of saying standards. By using data standards, you productize your data. You define pieces of data in terms of their features and values. And you don't craft information objects from scratch. The philosophy is all about reproduction and manipulation of known quantities. The classic service businesses have data “products” like customers, contracts, and charges.
The service approach to data management complements the usage of standards. Data serves the purposes of people, so while data must be standardized, its usability always requires the continued support of real life human beings. The aim of automation is not to remove people from the information path, but to keep shifting their location to more profitable segments of the path. Once you have data standards in place, you have a strong foundation for achieving greater business value from your information.