Neil Edion and Andreas Harting Deloitte Digital is driving global connectivity, with the common good as their aim.




When it comes to the crunch, creativity in business life does not always carry positive connotations. Take creative accounting, for example, which may even result in a jail sentence. But there are different – radically different – ways of being creative. Deloitte’s digital arm views creativity as a tool, and design as a medium that builds connections and releases energy. “When I joined the company over nine years ago, creative minds and designers were always regarded as ‘the crazies’,” recalls Andreas Harting, Deloitte Digital partner and Managing Director, in explanation of how management consulting has changed since those times. Teams are now mixed and diverse, and groups are ideally made up of different, but complementary skills and characters. Including design, of course.” From user experience to product design, every step engages people as a team, collaborating to develop solutions.” Solutions for what? “We start by building value-adding solutions for our clients’ clients, services, and whole platforms with ecosystems,” explains Harting. Those platforms include education and training that can be democratized by the use of digital methods, such as immersive history teaching or language learning with same-age peers in other countries.


More synergy than ever before

Deloitte Digital believes that inclusive access to the services of official authorities and offices is vital. The company created an information portal for the German state of North Rhine Westphalia with low-threshold access for people that need support in dealing with applications, certificates and forms. User experience designers started by interviewing potential platform users and identifying their needs. This information served as the starting-point for creating an inclusive, accessible digital platform in German and other languages.


How can we and our products contribute towards a better future for people and the planet?


For Deloitte, the venture of bringing together numbers and images, two disciplines that could hardly be more disparate, has clearly paid off. The interface between material world, the world of ideas and the digital world is where business, technology and people meet. And suddenly things that usually jar with each other come together: the world of besuited consultants blends with the sneakers-and-sweatshirts world of the creatives. As Harting recalls, “We brought in teams and developed themes slowly and gradually, aiming for cultural assimilation.” This collaborative culture is also valued by Neil Edion, Senior Manager & Market Offering Lead/Customer Experience & Applied Design. Both sides experience the mutual benefits when classic consulting services, in-depth familiarity with the industry and creativity work together to produce the best result for their clients.

So what’s it all for?

Growth is naturally at the heart. Deloitte is growing by leaps and bounds. From sales of around 32 billion euros nine years ago, the accounting and consulting giant recently reported around 65 billion euros in sales generated by over 400,000 employees worldwide. “But we also notch up many thousands of pro bono hours in social services around the world and are always on the lookout for ways to give back to society,” points out Harting. And Neil Edion adds, “What’s given it the right twist is that we constantly seek ways of making things more sustainable or redesigning them.” For clients, that may mean building transparency into supply chains. “But at the same time, we need to set up circular business models and boost efficiency.” Harting pauses for a moment. “I’m in two minds about this. Virtual operations are efficient, but consume incredible amounts of computing power that will increase exponentially. On the face of it, that rise in resource consumption has little to do with sustainability. So we need to keep asking ourselves: does this really benefit people?” Edion believes there are opportunities here. “Digital transformation has no beginning or end; it involves a new ability to continuously innovate. We need to constantly adapt and adjust things to make life more sustainable again.” Deloitte’s digital unit has a clear-cut mission: “To fulfill people’s basic needs in the context of work, in interaction with brands, services and products.” But instead of asking how the world can become more digital, the teams are asking, “How can we use digital tools and digital topics to make the world better for the people living in it?” The goal is to create something natural and self-evident, not to celebrate technology as an end in itself.


Change is unequal

Change is everywhere. But few people welcome it with open arms. A fact that Deloitte Digital is well aware of: “If we do our job well, we help our clients to overcome this obstacle, develop the will to change and cope with the pain of change.” Transparency is helpful, as is the ability to make complex things easy to understand – because complexity is not going to go away. In a word: design. Deloitte Germany now employs 12,500 people from 104 countries. Almost 30 of them make up the customer experience team. A pretty diverse bunch, with one idea that binds them: the desire to “discover the world anew and to help shape it. This means no two days are alike for us,” says Neil Edion, whose team is engaged in constantly building bridges between technology, creativity and business strategy.




The mcbw’s annual motto – “How to co-create with nature” – is a perfect fit for him. “The idea of sustainability falls rather short for me,” quips Edion, “because nature is everything around us. And to be honest, I think that’s also our business mindset. We look at what helps people and the world we live in. Ideally, that’s complementary, not contrary.” The big topics of education, participation and equality of opportunity are therefore all killers, no fillers. “Those are the projects that make our employees really happy,” says Harting. “They’re hotly sought after; absolutely everyone wants to do them.” The goal is to develop holistic solutions. “Our aim is to bring together business, nature and people. Of course we consume resources. But we aim to carry on, together with nature, to give something back. Nature gets something from us, and we get something from nature.”