Enterprises acquiring UX design agencies



Isn’t this becoming a little too common these days? Would like to know views of the community here. The recent awareness about design and user experience is behind enterprises investing more in design, right from hiring UX designers to building a new design division. Many members from the design community have joined the venture capital firms as design partners. To give you more insights on what I am talking about, here a blog from a friend on the topic, Why Enterprises Are Dying to Acquire UX Design Agencies?

Enterprises can pump in real money in UX agencies, but what about creative freedom?


can u explain the aim of this question?
Are u looking for an opinion about how UX designers (at least the ones part of this community) apply creative flows in resolving their task?
What is your idea of creativity?


@dopamino my question was a bit different…

I was talking about the difference between enterprise and agency culture. There’s always a very little scope of applying creativity in products as features and interface elements are pre-decided and designers have been only required to complete the task. Creativity (opportunity to innovate) is being curtailed a bit when it comes to accommodating features and maintaining compatibility. While in agencies, there’s a lot of freedom of presenting your opinions and making tweaks that bring out the innovation. I have always felt that creativity gets lost in between management culture and approval process in large enterprises.

It’s my experience, but other designers may have different opinions, just wanted to know what others feel as many design agencies are getting acquired by enterprises these days. For example, adaptive path acquisition by Capital One bank and there are more if I remember in the last few years like Fjord by Accenture and ‘n’ number of acquisitions by Deloitte.


That would be bad management then, because these corporations pay big money for that creativity. They don’t want cattle that follows the corporate way of doing things, they want creative thinkers and disruptors to change the corporate way of working. It’s a matter of keeping up. I consider it a good thing that corporations are desperate to acquire agencies, and most importantly, the creative assets of these agencies. It means they see the value of design and creativity to an organisation. Yes, it happens that creativity is still being smothered by the corporate culture, but that’s just due to bad management.

On the other hand, it’s also good for the agencies, as they gain access to much more high-profile clientele. To give you an example, an agency I worked for got acquired by a tech giant quite recently. The agency’s owners felt this was needed, because they lost pitches to other agencies who had already been acquired. it’s not that these other agencies were better at what they did, but they could offer the full package, whereas the agency I worked for could only deliver on the creative work. Clients like to have a one-stop-shop, so it’s all about competitive advantage, both for agencies and enterprises.

Interesting topic though, love to hear some thoughts from others as well!


What you describe, according to my experience with corporate design, is the result of the poor level of creativity in applying design concepts and design methodologies.
Applying the product design process principles for shipping products require a lot of creativity. As a designer (UX, UI, IxD etc), you should be able to involve and to engage no-designers people, and this is a great exercise in terms of creativity.
Just think how to present your design solution to the head of product or even worst to the board members. Very often these are no-designer people with no-design culture with solid design opinions and, last but not least, questionable taste.
You need a lot of creativity to present your ideas/concept/deliverables in a sexy and a straightforward way.

From the other hand, I do believe, that involving creative agencies during the design process is always a good idea. Very often the design team is overbooked with the product roadmap and cannot be focused on important topics like UI collection (icon-sets, colour palettes and image repository) and/or new interaction design patterns.

Regarding the acquisition of web agencies by corporations, I believe that for some managers this can be a shortcut to inject design people into the product development process. It can be a good choice (from the budget POV), especially if the agency has a background about projects and products.