No bigger stage: Have to get it right in New York City
Opening the New York City Experience Center (EC) long after the first one in Hallandale, Fla., launched allowed PwC to learn lessons about design, operations, talent and culture that will help ensure the high-profile NYC location excels in every way that PwC measures the success of these centers. According to PwC’s Seb Wocial, a design architect and member of The Difference team at the NYC EC, every design element of the new center built on ideas hatched and tested in its ECs, of which TBR has visited five others: Hallandale, Fla.; Frankfurt, Germany; Shanghai, Tokyo, and Toronto. Having seen the advantages of a stand-alone center in Miami and the challenges inherent with keeping the EC colocated with other PwC offices (such as in Frankfurt, Germany), TBR expected a more limited change to the physical space and was surprised by the PwC professionals’ intense attention to small details (such as where a carpet ends and hard flooring begins) and how enamored they appeared to be with their space. TBR has long maintained that digital transformation and coinnovation centers must be more than funky chairs and cool spaces, but very few of TBR’s visits to consultancies’ centers have included as much discussion of the purposeful architectural choices. One additional note: TBR has met with leaders and professionals working at the ECs and competitors’ similar centers and has seen the infectious enthusiasm they have for the environment and the work, which came through again clearly during this NYC visit. Finding the right people, like Wocial, a three-year veteran of PwC with a background in process optimization, and placing them in the collaborative and creative environments, accelerates change within the larger organization and continues to attract the best talent.
Operations now, internal change later
Two elements of the new EC came as no surprise to TBR: an early preponderance of financial services clients and a steady stream of in-house sessions, designed to bring more of the BXT approach to NYC-based PwC professionals. While the more mature ECs have diversified their client bases (at least by industry), serving a heavy dose of financial services clients without explicitly making the NYC EC a banking hub echoes PwC’s approach overall. Other consultancies and IT services vendors have designated their innovation and digital transformation centers as single-industry-focused, a decision typically reflecting the vendor’s culture with respect to organization and industry alignment. The second element, internal sessions to promote BXT (Business, eXperience, Technology) and explain the EC’s capabilities, carries forward PwC’s best practices from established ECs and reflects a common thread through these kinds of centers: facilitating internal change in addition to serving clients. In TBR’s view, PwC’s ECs, like Accenture’s acquisition of Fjord, created a substantial ripple effect through the firm, changing culture and allowing long-tenured professionals opportunities to see what the firm could become. At every digital transformation center TBR has visited, this internal change has been discussed, but with varying degrees of commitment, with the most dominant variable the vendor’s expectations around return on investment (and corresponding metrics around number of client engagements — internal change gets shunted if the number of client engagements per month is the priority). Catalyzing internal change, of course, does not mean neglecting clients but does include careful selection of which clients use the centers and preparation prior to on-site engagements.
TBR had the opportunity to take an informal tour of PwC’s latest Experience Center (EC), hearing directly from one of the professionals running day-to-day client engagements about what makes the center work. The tour included discussions around operations, talent, and culture and what will be next for PwC, BXT and the ECs.