Capgemini merges design agencies to create 700-strong player

10 January 2019 5 min. read

Capgemini Invent has merged its Backelite subsidiary – a digital design agency – into Idean, creating a design agency with over 700 professionals in 22 cities globally. “This move further cements Idean’s role as Capgemini Invent’s strategic design arm and makes Idean globally more relevant on the design scene,” said Risto Lähdesmäki, CEO of Idean. 

Idean became part of Capgemini in February 2017, in a move that saw around 160 digital strategists, experience designers and front-end developers join the French consultancy and technology giant. “We formed Idean to help organisations identify new strategic opportunities and create digital design experiences that are based on a deep understanding of their users,” reflected Lähdesmäki, who founded Idean in Finland in 1999.

After unveiling the deal, he said that he believed the firm was “very fortunate to join Capgemini”, elaborating; “We have an exciting opportunity to broaden our reach and accelerate our strategy, by deepening the strategic dialogue with our clients, by bringing design thinking to new clients, and by continuing to design and deliver end to end amazing and differentiated digital experiences.” 

Building on Capgemini’s fundament, Lähdesmäki in the past two years managed to lead Idean to tremendous growth across its main studios in the US (Austin, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco) and Europe (Helsinki and Berlin). Now, with the addition of Backelite’s 250 professionals in France, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Singapore and China, the design agency boasts a headcount of around 700 professionals, while the integration of Backelite’s eleven studios across Europe and Asia-Pacific takes Idean’s number of hubs to over 20. “We have a footprint in North America, Asia and Europe – we’re a powerhouse in the US, France, Scandinavia and the UK.”

Capgemini merges design agencies to create 700-strong player

Design: a $40 billion industry

The move comes at a time when demand for design is booming globally. Global spending on design services hit $40.7 billion last year, with the market for offerings such as product design, model design, user interface and interaction design forecast to grow at a CAGR of 6.4% between 2017 and 2023. The industry is benefitting from growing awareness that spending on design underpins business objectives – according to one estimate, design-driven firms enjoy above-average increases in revenues and shareholder value.

The growing design market recently prompted the globe’s largest strategy consultancy, McKinsey & Company, to make a bold foray into the industry, launching McKinsey Design, while it is attracting the interest of both the large consulting firms as well as players with a technology heritage. On top of organic focus, M&A in the space is growing – PA Consulting Group for instance in 2018 acquired US-based Essential Design, while in Australia Wipro's Designit bolted-on local player Syfte. Meanwhile, all of the Big Four firms are bolstering their digital arms with design skills. Traditional players in the landscape include IDEO, Designworks, RKS, Designaffairs and GK Design Group.

Idean itself focuses primarily on three services: digital strategy, digital user experience (UX) and customer experience (CX). The firm helps its client envision strategic opportunities, design and build digital experiences, and change cultures by developing competencies in new ways of working and design thinking. Among its roster of clients are major corporations such as LG, Rabobank, Cisco, SNCF, Air France/KLM, Mercedes-Benz, Crédit Agricole, ING, Indigo, Sony, Volkswagen, Airbus, Ericsson, IBM and Intel.

Asked about his expectations for 2019, Lähdesmäki remarked, “This is an exciting milestone for Idean to start 2019. I couldn’t be more pleased to welcome our new colleagues and I’m excited to see us serve clients globally with a wide array of strategic and experience design and development services.”

Idean is part of Capgemini Invent, which formed in September last year after the company merged its consultancy (Capgemini Consulting), digital (LiquidHub, Fahrenheit 212) and creative units (Idean, Adaptive Lab and Backelite).