Why BCG grabbed S C to design for Asia

The local firm, which has doubled each year since its conception, will spearhead BCG's ambitious plans to make Sydney a regional design hub.

Not many businesses can confidently tell you they don’t see much competition out there, and that’s probably why Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has picked up Sydney design firm S&C.

“There is nobody in this region (who) has done the sort of work we have been doing, in terms of designing new products and services, in terms of innovation in the regional as well as national level,” said S&C’s founder and CEO, Michael Priddis. “I don’t actually see any direct competitors.”

The company, just bought by BCG for an undisclosed figure, will be the founding team of BCG Digital Ventures Asia, a launch pad for the global consulting group to expand its new digital innovation business to the Asia-Pacific region.

The Surry Hills-based S&C focuses on product and service design with a human-centred approach, counting Mi9, Atlassian, Macquarie Bank, Bayer Healthcare and Telstra as its major clients. It has helped AMP to define and deliver its digital strategy, as well as launching a new mobile business for ALDI supermarket.

“One of our explicit objectives is to work with our client partners to say, ‘here is an opportunity to create a market, or significantly disrupt an existing market or an existing business,’” said Mr Priddis, who owned the company jointly with another CEO, Hanno Blankenstein, before the acquisition.

With just over 20 staff, S&C delivered $3.61 million of revenue in the 2012-13 financial year, according to the BRW Fast List 2013, which ranked S&C as the 19th fastest growing business in Australia. The company, founded in 2008, has achieved a compound annual growth rate of 89 per cent over the past three years and has doubled in size every single year.

BCG Digital Ventures, meanwhile, has been one of the fastest-growing areas within the group, providing digital production, development, commercialisation and investing since its start this January. Headquartered in California, BCG Digital has operations in Berlin, Boston, London, Seattle, San Francisco and now Sydney.

BCG aims to turn Sydney into an innovation centre for Asia to match Silicon Valley in the US. The company sees opportunities in the region, particularly in markets like China, which already has four in the world’s top 20 listed internet companies, including Tencent and Baidu.

“We have of course a lot of client demand in the region that has been waiting for this kind of capability, because everybody is feeling the pressure from digital pure players like Google, like Amazon,” said Tom von Oertzen, a senior partner and director in BCG. Oertzen also noted those traditionally emerging markets, like China and India, were actually very advanced in applying digital platforms.

S&C has already worked with media group Condé Nast in China, transforming Vogue China and GQ China from print to fully integrated media platforms. After the acquisition, BCG Digital will also be looking to do some acquisitions or partnerships in the region.

“If all we do in the next 12 months is double, we will significantly miss our grow objectives,” said Mr Priddis.

(Reporting by maggie.lu@businessspectator.com.au)

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