Our challenge was to create a competence centre within the new London headquarters of EY where employees, clients and partners of the multinational consulting firm could think outside of the box, work collaboratively and come up with new, innovative solutions to complex business problems. It would be a space to showcase the company’s digital and business capabilities, as well as create prototypes, simulate scenarios for clients and provide internal training. The project was part of EY’s rethinking of its facilities, in line with its Vision 2020.
Our solution was threefold: we designed user experiences and methodologies, created a new environment in the physical space and integrated state-of-the-art digital tools. The result is a capability centre, known as the Wavespace Experience Centre, where cutting-edge, collaborative technology is brought together with methodologies for accelerated decision-making. The ultimate goal is to reach EY’s objective to “build a better working world.” Studio Banana worked closely with EY, its stakeholders and the business intelligence firm Ludic Group to codesign the environment.
Bringing a Big Four firm into its next phase
EY, one of the Big Four consulting firms, marked a turning point in 2013 when it unveiled its Vision 2020, a bold strategy to become a more user-centric, lean and agile organisation. The plan lays out the company’s purpose, ambition and strategy for the years ahead. To make this outward change possible, the firm needed to go through an internal transformation, and create a more collaborative and innovative work culture.
EY used the relocation of its London headquarters to a new building in Canary Wharf as an opportunity to create a facility designed around the way people work. The Wavespace Experience Centre is the capstone: a place where EY stakeholders collaborate to come up with innovative solutions through the exploration of new ideas and their agile and efficient development.
Co-design process offers insights into the business
Given that the centre is intended for use by a diverse set of stakeholders including employees, potential clients, existing clients and partners, one of the first steps in this project was to hold interviews and workshops to determine their needs. Being able to tap into their business knowledge, insights and experience through codesign workshops was an important success factor, allowing us to develop a precise understanding of how the space would be used.
A unique environment that serves diverse needs
The Experience Centre is used by a variety of stakeholders, and therefore serves several different purposes. It is primarily intended for:
1.- Showcasing EY’s innovative digital capabilities
2.- Enabling collaborative work across EY centres around the world on real-time business simulations, business modelling, risk mapping and data mining
3.- Internal training to develop a new, lean, agile and collaborative work culture in line with the Vision 2020
Ideation & Design
Putting the space at the service of users
The next step in confronting the challenge of knowledge management was to prototype different user experiences. We imagined different scenarios, and the best methods and tools to promote collaboration and innovative problem solving. As a wide range of workshops and events would be held in the space, we came up with an array of different use case scenarios. We then created an environment that would enable the support of those experiences, ensuring that all stages of the project would be at the service of the end user.
Spatial design with a strategic concept
The concept of an Experience Centre was developed as a space for discovery and collaboration. It is intended to make those who enter the environment feel differently, and therefore think differently. By provoking this change in mindset, the aim is to break down mental and emotional barriers and allow for exploration and teamwork.
To achieve this goal, we imagined the space as a planned sequence of experiences. The flow of those experiences would take place by entering into the following mental stages:
- Awakening curiosity
- Generating a feeling of comfort and empowerment to take risks
- Promoting learning and collaborative idea generation
- Prototyping and simulation
- Making complex decisions as a collective
Digital tools that modernise proven methodologies
EY was looking to implement technology that would foster collaboration—not only within the space itself, but also globally. As part of our exploration into digital tools, we brought stakeholders from EY on a trip to discover the most advanced multimedia technologies in different locations around the world.
Through this learning process, we created a digital architecture; interfaces that reproduce traditional analog methods; and a palette of digital tools that allow users to visualise and analyse data, gather insights, prototype ideas and efficiently collaborate from different parts of the world. These tools bring richness and agility to collaborative work on big data management, risk assessment, business modelling and simulations.
Awakening curiosity through an immersive experience
In order to instill a change of mindset in the user, the centre is accessed through two immersive tunnels. The materials, lighting and a modern-day cabinet of curiosity trigger a think-out-of-the-box attitude. The main open area in the centre acts as a learning theatre, a highly flexible and modular environment that can be reconfigured through the integration of smart partitions, mobile elements and an invisible technological layer.
Connectivity that fosters teamwork
Forming a fundamental aspect of the Experience Centre are the six mobile interactive docks that enable analogue and digital co-creation. With the appearance of standing open books, they are designed for more intimate breakout groups to gather around them and work together collaboratively.
The integration of remote connectivity features allows for collaboration from anywhere in the world. Using gesture recognition, participants in workshops can intuitively and wirelessly transmit information from the docks and from individual handheld devices to the large panoramic screen. The multimedia possibilities are also maximised with elements such as webcams, speakers and 4K video reproducers.
This technology fosters a seamless, collaborative decision-making process, and allows small groups to brainstorm, crowdsource ideas and share their findings with a larger audience.
A technologically resilient environment
Because the docks and other technological elements in the space are totally modular and mobile, they offer a high degree of flexibility. Unlike spaces with fixed installations, the Wavespace Experience Centre employs technology that is easily updatable, upgradable and replaceable, keeping it at the forefront of innovation.
Results that demonstrate the success of the project
Today, the Wavespace Experience Centre at EY is a high-value-added, state-of-the-art and bespoke space. Since its inception, it has been the place where EY converts leads into clients and generates new business opportunities. The return on investment for the centre is highly positive, and EY reports that its conversion rate on potential business has increased as a result.
There is also an extremely high demand for the space within the organisation. The internal waiting list for booking the centre is a clear testament to its success.