It’s a big step for us, but we’ve decided after 14 years to take Foolproof into a larger technology services business. Joining Zensar will allow us to make faster progress on some of the things we set out to do as a company.
You can read the formal release here (Foolproof acquired by Zensar Technologies [PDF]) but I wanted to share more of our thinking with our clients, staff (past and present) and the design community who have supported us to this point in our story.
We founded Foolproof in 2002 because we saw a huge blind-spot in digital design. Very few brands had a systematic approach to gathering customer insight and acting effectively on it in the design of digital products and services. That meant that neither brand nor customer was getting the most value out of digital experiences – and we figured there was a business to be built helping to change that.
Strangely, it was the global financial crisis which pushed experience design into the spotlight. In the aftermath of economic melt-down more companies re-evaluated their relationship with digital and became interested in a more rigorous approach to design. Clients started to invest in their own teams and commit more management attention to the quality of the digital customer experience.
A few years later, design and digital customer experience are hot-button issues for senior executives at most major companies. Better design and better user experience are seen as crucial sources of competitive advantage.
This has been good for us: we’ve grown in size, capability and reputation. We’re very proud of the work we’ve done and the client relationships we’ve built so far.
But suddenly we had company. The growing importance of digital design got onto the radar of the world’s very biggest management consultancies, agency networks and IT giants. Many have entered the design services business with aggressive investment, acquiring specialist agencies and hiring in talent.
Despite the huge growth in our market it is a uniquely tough time to be an independent agency. Now that the global consulting giants see interest in design at the C-suite they fight very hard to keep outfits like us out of the conversation.
All of which has given us a sense of hitting our heads on a glass ceiling for a couple of years. We want to get on with international expansion, invest in new services and capabilities, explore the new frontiers of digital design (like the merging of digital and physical customer experience), but we don’t have all the resources, experience or capabilities to do this on our own.
So, we started to think about throwing our hat in with another, larger company.
So why Zensar?
First of all we liked Sandeep. He joined Zensar as CEO at the start of the year. Hearing how he saw his marketplace and what he wanted Zensar to achieve made an immediate impression on us. (We were having a lot of meetings with prospective suitors, some of them were frankly depressing.)
As we got to meet more Zensar people, and as we saw how we could be an important part of what they are trying to do, we liked the idea more and more. We could also see how their skills and capabilities would allow us to offer more to our clients, and new challenges for our team. We also started to understand how the capabilities, people and philosophy of Foolproof could help Zensar grow their influence and value within their own client base.
We’re looking forward to working with our new colleagues at Zensar and proud to be joining the group at an exciting time. Wish us luck in the next stage of our story. And if you are one of the hundreds of clients, staff, friends or family who have helped us get this far, thank you.