Luis Arnal, managing director of INSITUM, speak to LBB’s Addison Capper about the Latin American design firm’s recent acquisition by Accenture Interactive and match-up with Fjord
The month of August saw Accenture Interactive further stamp its global footprint with the acquisition on INSITUM, a 15-year-old Latin American service design and strategic research firm focused on innovation through a human-centred approach.
According to a press release from Accenture, "the acquisition will strengthen Accenture Interactive’s position as a leading Experience Agency in the region by expanding the world-class services of its design and innovation unit, Fjord, in Latin America and beyond."
Accenture Interactive sees the combination of Fjord and INSITUM as the perfect recipe to expand its presence in Latin America, a market that’s rapidly growing at the moment outside of the traditionally strong hubs of Brazil and Argentina. It’ll lead to obvious growth in Mexico, where INSITUM is headquartered, and give Fjord a footprint in Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Chile and Argentina, while strengthening its existing operations in Brazil. Executives at Fjord and INSITUM see both entities sharing similar cultures, competencies and methodologies as they have both helped shape the design field over the past 15 years.
“Fjord bring world class capabilities around market insights and research, design (product, service, experience design) and organisational innovation that complements our capabilities and allows us to offer more integrated services to clients worldwide,” INSITUM’s managing director Luis Arnal tells LBB’s Addison Capper. “Organisations have realised that in order to grow and compete, they must design solutions that are relevant to these markets, and INSITUM has the expertise, capabilities, team and reputation to do just this. Latin America is a region that is being transformed, and Accenture is committed to growing and expanding the range of solutions we offer in these markets.”
In the eyes of Luis, competition, growth and reforms across the Latin American region have led to it becoming one of the most dynamic regions in the world - all characteristics that play into the hands of Accenture. “These conditions create an ideal backdrop for companies to reconsider their partners for strategic innovation, to invest in doing things differently, to adopt new, more effective practices, and to seek relevance,” says Luis. “All this opens up a space for disruptive players who can not only conceive ideas but realise their ideas and tie them back to business results. Historically, design and innovation firms have excelled at the strategy and ideation but not at realisation and bottom-line results. With access to Accenture’s deep technology skills and strategic consulting chops, we can bring innovation to life in powerful, scalable and measurable way.”
Accenture is also making waves in the creative space globally, on top of shifts like this in the innovation and design space. Notable acquisitions have been Droga5 in the US and UK, The Monkeys in Australia and Rothco in Ireland. It’s also been making similar moves in Latin America, acquiring Brazilian digital agency AD.Dialeto in 2015 and content marketing agency New Content in 2018 (also from Brazil). “When combined, the range of digital and marketing services we can now offer expands beyond what each of them could do on its own,” believes Luis. “For example, with the incorporation of INSITUM, we can help a client starting with the insight discovery (e.g. understand an untapped customer segment), then craft the product strategy; design a new product concept; produce the solution; envision the best way to take it to market and even create the marketing that ensures the solution will be relevant.”
Speaking to Latin America more generally, one mistake that outside businesses often make in the region is exactly that - looking at it too broadly as one region. Apart from largely sharing the same language, much of the similarities of each of the countries that make up that part of the world stop there. Each one, from a cultural and business standpoint, are markedly diverse. But one thing that made INSITUM so appealing to Accenture was its geographical footprint in the region - Luis believes that there is no other private company like INSITUM with such experience and so many offices in Latin America focused on creativity and innovation. “Incorporating this expertise in our portfolio not only means we add new capabilities, but this means we now have local insights related to both large organisations as well as the consumer market that we intend to capitalise with additional Accenture Interactive offerings.” He adds: “This is not only relevant to local clients but also to global clients in need for more impactful and growth-oriented activities in the region.”
Luis also sees the potential for talent migration across the Accenture network, both into and out of Latin America. “INSITUM has developed extraordinary capabilities in the insights and research areas that we intend to export to other markets,” he says. “One way of doing this is by encouraging talent exchange with other Accenture Interactive studios around the world.”
He also notes the opportunity for global talent that is keen to explore professional development in a new region or, potentially, go back to their country of origin after a period of origin. “Latin Americans are quite fond of moving back after successful gigs overseas!” he jokes.
He sees all markets across the region filled with opportunities, talent and challenges that excite him. When pressed on the political issues in Brazil, he speaks of a dynamism in the industry and need to adapt when change takes place - a case in point for any business market around the world.
Given INSITUM’s headquarters location, he is perhaps a little biased, but Mexico is one country that Luis finds particularly interesting due to its clients’ openness to innovate. “Companies are tired of traditional consulting firms and traditional agencies and in desperate need of new, relevant and more effective partners that combine technology, creativity, design and communications.
“The solutions that brought us here are not enough to ensure success and relevance in the future. We have to be constantly reinventing.”