At Publicis Sapient we have been helping businesses to become digitally enabled for almost thirty years. While primarily a technology company, we’ve also believed profoundly in the power of human creativity since our inception in the 90s when we merged with Studio Archetype — founded by Apple creative legend Clement Mok. So our culture of at-scale engineering intertwined with human artistry is deeply embedded in our company’s DNA. And we’ve been lucky to bring our uniquely blended technology and creative strengths to accelerate the digital business transformation goals as the consultancy and implementation partner of choice for some of the largest “established” companies in the world.

Adapted from an illustration by Susan Kare originally created as bitmapped graphics for the 1984 Macintosh.

On Start-ups And End-ups

What’s the definition of an “established” company? It’s a business that succeeded at starting-up and making it to becoming a breakeven business. And it continued to grow and become more reputable over a time period often over a few decades. It made the journey from beginning as a start-up to becoming an “end-up.”

Every company’s journey begins as a start-up, and it hopes to one day end up successful. But being called an “end-up” can sound a bit soul crushing to a company that has stood the test of time, especially when you compare the two against each other as in the now classic post “Start-Ups versus End-Ups” from 2013:

Want to be something
Culture is forming
Have little
Have little to lose
Try something for the first time
Do what needs to get done
Flat structure with empowerment
May come and go
Already are something
Culture has formed
Have lots
Have lots to lose
Tried everything and know what works
Clear roles and responsibilities
Hierarchical structure with rules
Stand the test of time

Start-up versus End-Ups / Created in 2013 by John Maeda with Becky Bermont

Let’s Hear It For The Grown-up Companies

Don’t forget that for all the bravado of the hoodie-wearing start-up crowd, the majority of them wouldn’t hesitate to be acquired by an end-up. It’s easy to forget that an end-up is a company that has earned its reputation for being a reliable source of value. It’s all easy to dismiss a company that’s as old as a mom or dad when you’re a teenager. But it’s helpful to remind ourselves that being a “grown-up” company is not a bad thing at all. After all, who wants to go back to when they were teenagers any ways!

But grown-up companies today are having a hard time adapting to the impact of the cloud, drones, AI/ML, blockchain, and a variety of tech buzzwords that have entered the vernacular of business from the Silicon Valley world. Standing up a platform play like Airbnb, or creating a data science capability like Netflix, or building a new payments technology like Facebook all can sound exciting to a grown-up company. Yet there’s the often crushing needs of the daily business activities that got their organization established in the first place. How can grown-up businesses compete in the NOW, and work like start-up businesses in the NEXT, at the same time?

The Experience Is The Brand

When there’s many choices available for how to get something done with technology and it all costs roughly the same, how the technology works and makes you feel becomes just as important as what it actually does. Over the past decade, we’ve seen how mobile devices have raised the bar for what we all expect from what an interaction with “I.T.” needs to feel like. We’re no longer satisfied typing in a cryptic sequence of keys or clicking through a maze of confusing buttons because we’ve come to expect all technologies to feel fluid like when we use Google or Instagram. Whenever a technology becomes commoditized, the quality of design becomes the key differentiating factor.

The field of design has been disrupted by the onslaught of new information technologies with the arrival of “computational” design. Computational design is primarily concerned with digitalization’s impact on the creative process all the way through delivery of customer-facing outcomes. Expertise in computational design is what has enabled the unusual success of companies like Apple, Alibaba, Airbnb, and Amazon to create individualized experiences for millions of users that are reliable, impactful, and desirable in ways that are never static. They’re always dynamic. How? They leverage the power of computation.

Computation and LEAD-ing Experiences

What’s computation? The best way to get the gist of computation is to watch the short BBC interview of David Bowie in 1999 where he explains how the Internet is essentially an “alien lifeform” — which can seem outlandish, but it’s completely appropriate. Computation is the invisible universe that we access through our computing devices where machines never get tired, they can span all of infinity while zeroing in on infinitesimally tiny details, and their ability to behave like living beings by having absorbed many of our idiosyncracies is only improving. Technology companies are fluent in their ability to “speak machine” and that skill enables them to tap into a certain kind of power that delivers outsize advantages with greater computational fluency.

Right now at Publicis Sapient we’re reigniting our passion for combining technology with experience that’s grounded in our expertise in computation and our love of creativity. We’ve developed an unusually powerful method for reliably creating outcomes-based computational experiences for our clients called “LEAD” — which stands for Light, Ethical, Accessible, Dataful. We like to refer to LEAD as “outcomes-based” in contrast to the tendency for digital experiences to be “outputs-based” because just making something cool doesn’t do anything for your business’ bottom line. From 2020 we’re rolling out LEAD across a variety of industry areas that include Financial Services, Energy, Transportation and Mobility, Retail, Telecommunications and Media, Consumer Products, Government Services, Technology, and Education.

Want to learn more about LEAD for computational experiences? No problem. Just visit to learn more.