PwC has acquired IXDS, a 50-strong German product design agency and innovation consultancy. The move in Europe’s largest economy mirrors the firm’s global push to beef up its digital innovation, experience consulting and service design portfolio.
The deal will according to Ulrich Störk, the chief executive officer of PwC in Germany, significantly deepen the firm’s domestic offering in the innovation and design space, one of the fastest growing segments of Germany’s €34 billion consulting industry.
At a time of disruptive change, which is fuelling competition from a range of predictable but also unforeseen angles, and shifting consumer habits, companies are more than ever in need of differentiating their products and services. A user-driven product design combined with a customer experience edge is regarded as the silver bullet to cater to these changing needs, and as a result demand for such services is on a high.
Founded in 2006, the crew of engineers, designers and consultants at IXDS team up to design, prototype and activate innovative products and services. Capitalising on demand from companies such as BMW, Bosch, Deutsche Telekom, E.ON and Volkswagen, as well as startups such as Aupeo and CardioSecur, the 14-year-old company has grown into a 50-strong team operating from offices in Berlin and Munich.
Alongside a standalone proposition, the expertise housed within IXDS will be valuable to many of PwC’s other offerings, said Störk. “It allows us to improve our own services and tailor them even more precisely to changing market requirements,” hes stated, pointing to how prototyping can help solve some of society’s most pressing challenges including smart living, connected mobility and healthcare.
The joining of forces sees IXDS continue as a practice within PwC, and IXDS becoming the lead of PwC’s so-called ‘Experience Center’ in Eastern Germany. PwC already has two of such centers in Frankfurt and Düsseldorf, which collaborate closely with the over 30 Experience Centers within PwC’s global footprint.
IXDS: our next chapter
Meanwhile, for IXDS, the joining of forces with the global accounting and consulting giant offers a host of benefits, including scale, a massive client network to tap into and the financial muscle to accelerate investments in offerings. As Nancy Birkhölzer, managing partner of IXDS, put it, “With PwC's deep industry and technology expertise, we can take our experience consulting to the next level.”
“We will be able to contribute to solving even larger and more relevant challenges and together deliver the most relevant impact for our customers.”
Olaf Acker, a leader at PwC in Germany, added, “Both teams are already working on innovative projects at the interface between business, experience and technology – and bring different perspectives with them. The combined strengths of both teams will mean that we can offer our customers even better solutions even faster.”
PwC Germany houses almost 12,000 employees generating revenues of more than €2 billion across audit, accounting, tax, legal, management consulting and financial advisory services.
According to a report by analyst firm Forrester, PwC is one of Europe’s leading digital experience agencies. A buy-and-build strategy has been instrumental to the firm’s growth in the segment, having previously purchased the likes of design agency Pond and the Norwegian arm of Livework. Outside of Europe, among others BGT (US) and Fluid (Hong Kong) were absorbed into its network.