The Shift of Bringing Design Skills In-house

Big companies buying design firms

In the past few years we have seen a shift on how big companies like IBM, Capital One, and GE incorporate design to the way their companies work. These companies are “entering a new phase of maturity in which they must adapt to the conditions created by rapid technological innovation and post-industrial economy” (Rousseau, 1).

Nowadays it is believed that software and design are key elements of a company’s growth and success and for this reason it is that big companies like the ones mentioned before have started to buy design firms like Ideo, Adaptive Path and Doblin to work exclusively for them.

Many people might wonder why it is necessary for these companies to buy design firms; well, the answer to this question is given to us in the article called The Case for Design Consulting by John Rousseau. In this article Rousseau mentions that “keeping design inside is a means of control and efficiency, allowing brands to build strong internal cultures and deliver coherent external experiences” (Rousseau, 2).

The decision of buying a design firm for these companies might seem risky at first, but keep in mind what Kon Kolko says in the article Design Thinking Comes of Age. In this article he mentions that “every established company that intends to globalize its business must invent processes that can adjust to different cultural contexts” (Kolko, 6). And that is exactly what these companies are doing, they are making the creative process between strategists and designers easier; While the “strategy informs where the company is going; design informs how it gets there. Design makes strategy real” (Lockwood).

By having in-house designers, companies have now gained more control over the efficiency of the design process, and as mentioned before they have made the process easier since their designers have a better understanding of the industry they are working with, and they are also aware of the needs and challenges that the company might be facing.

Without a doubt companies have taken a step in the right direction by buying design firms and it is a decision that will help them stay successful since “design is empathetic, it implicitly drives a more thoughtful, human approach to business” (Kolko, 8) and by being more empathetic they will be able to connect better with their clients.

In conclusion “good design has become core to good business” (Lockwood) and as a result many companies around the world have made the decision to have in-house designers to increase the productivity and effectivity of the creative decisions.

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