Asia needs design-led thinking: Accenture company Fjord

Ida Jensen

Campaign Asia-Pacific: Hong Kong – Fjord, an Accenture Digital company, is launching its regional office in Hong Kong at a time when both companies say they see client demand growing for design-led innovation. But is short-term-focused Asia really ready?

Accenture acquired the design-thinking form two and a half years ago. Since then Fjord has been integrated into Accenture Interactive’s experience, marketing, content and commerce business.

“The reason for Fjord and Accenture coming together os because design thinking and customer-centricity, for all Accenture clients, is becoming more important and prevalent,” Olof Schybergson, CEO and founder of Fjord told Campaign Asia-Pacific. “Accenture needed a best in-class capability and it would be too slow to grow it internally, so they went out looking for an external acquisition target.

Since joining Accenture, Fjord has grown from 200 people to over 600 people and from nine studio locations to 17. “We already work with the majority of Accenture’s largest clients – the diamond clients,” said Schybergson.

Bringing Fjord’s design thinking to Asia

According to Schybergson, Asia has been on Fjord’s roadmap for over six years, even prior to the acquisition by Accenture. Inaki Amate, head of Fjord Hong Kong, believes that the time to launch in the region is now ripe.

“Locally there’s an interest in how design can transform business,” said Amate. “Most clients have heard about it, but here in Hong Kong there isn’t anyone to show them what it means for their business.”

Amate, who has opened Fjord offices globally, including Spain and Turkey, observes that many local companies in China are “wondering what else they can do to catch up with innovative companies in the east of China.”

At the same time many Chinese brands want to go global. “They know how the local market works in China but still struggle to understand why they’re not successful in a market like Brazil,” said Amate.

Considering the size of the economy of the Greater China region, Schybergson highlighted that the number of local Chinese brands that have become successful globally is relatively low. “But that will change in the next 10 years, and we want to be a part of that,” said Schybergson.

When it comes to the paradigm of “design thinking” however, Asia presents certain challenges. Amate said clients in Asia want to see “immediate results and tangible outcomes” but the early phases of the “design thinking” don’t necessarily provide for that.

“For one, Chinese culture tends to be impatient and very pragmatic,” said Amate. “the fact that you need to spend time understanding the customer, create prototypes and do trials that you will later tear down is something we need to educate the market on.”

“The key will be to show that design thinking drastically increase the chance of success compared with when you just go to market or create a new product without using design thinking,” Amate added.

To the point, Schybergson commented that there are two parallel tracks in design practice: “design thinking and design doing” and that the latter will be emphasised in the Asia market.

Watch: Campaign Asia-Pacific headed over to Accenture’s Hong Kong office and asked Olof Schybergson about the greatest myths and misconceptions regarding design thinking:

Read the full article on Campaign Asia-Pacific

Ida Jensen

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