Providing a full range of services to clients seeking complete digital solutions has in recent years seen professional services firms enter the digital design space. To meet client demands, PwC now has more than 3,000 professionals in the space, and will be launching two ‘Experience Centres’ later this year to provide a sandbox arena in which it will prototype its latest digital offerings.
Designing internal as well as external apps, portals and mobile solutions to engage staff and customers has become an important tool for a wide range of businesses. Everything from postal services to police forces are seeking for functional digital solutions. The design of digital interfaces that provide process and aesthetic design benefits for employers and employees has consequently become a fiercely competitive field.
One new area of competition stems from PwC that last year rolled out its own digital services line, employing creative directors, strategists, designers and engineers. Providing marketing and design services has become a trend in the industry. As it stands, the firm has digital design teams in 31 countries, serving more than 200 clients globally – with 80% of those clients also using the firm’s consulting line. Following the rise of digital demand – the second fastest growing segment in the US consulting market – the firm has in recent years been bolstering its digital offering through acquisitions, picking up Ant’s Eye View, Intunity and Optimal Experience. So far, the new line generates $750 million in revenues, which is projected to increase between 40% and 50% this year.
The Experience Centre
To add to the competition further, PwC will, later this year, launch what it calls an ‘Experience Centre’ outside Miami and another one in California. The new centres provide a location in which the firm’s digital creatives can come together in a ‘sandbox’ space in which prototype digital products and services for clients are developed. “It’s a lot of creative designers, industrial designers, experience designers that really complement what we had in PwC consulting more broadly,” says Tom Puthiyamadam, Principal for PwC Advisory and Digital Services Lead. “We are combining the MFA, the MBA and the engineer to work together to solve problems.”
The centres further provide an interface for clients to engage with the firm’s wider professional service offerings, thereby giving them access to a wider variety of possibilities than offered by a pure marketing or digital design firm. “It’s a very easy sell to say, not only are we going to give you access to great design talent but you’re also going to have all these other tools at your disposal to deploy as a designer,” explains Eric Boisvert, Group Creative Director at PwC. Puthiyamadam adds: “Our ability to take that great new idea and drive a business transformation behind it by using the breadth of PwC -- that’s when we get into true innovation. We’re very much rooted in that.”
PwC is also planning to expand its offering through a further four ‘sandboxes’ in Europe, the Middle East and China.
PwC is not the only professional services firm to expand into digital design in recent years, IBM in 2014 indicated it would invest more than $100 million to build up its marketing consulting business, while Accenture has invested $200 million for digital design offerings, including the acquisition of Fjord in 2013 and Chaotic Moon earlier this year. Deloitte Digital has done well, earning $1.5 billion in revenue last year, while KPMG recent acquired digital design capabilities through Cynergy Systems.