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未来咨询公司的新样板

Reena Jana 2011年12月28日

PSFK最初只是一个记录每日设计和创新的个人博客,现在该公司的7人团队对很多大品牌来说已经至关重要,其中甚至包括苹果、宝马、可口可乐、强生以及耐克。

皮尔斯•福克斯

    那是曼哈顿一个寒冷却晴朗的冬日,阳光倾泻进PSFK位于邦德街的办公室,屋里的装饰很少,带着工业建筑设计的味道。走出电梯,就直接来到该公司开放式的办公区,地上铺的是抛过光的硬木地板,几个二、三十岁的年轻人并肩坐在长条桌旁,他们衣着随意,手指不停地在笔记本电脑上敲击。这里很容易被误解为一家设计学校的自修室或是一家斯巴达式的科技创业公司。事实并非如此,驻扎在这里的PSFK很可能成为新一代咨询公司的代表。该公司是更年轻、更敏捷,是21世纪版的麦肯锡(Mckinsey),它向苹果(Apple)、强生(Johnson & Johnson)等世界顶级企业提供趋势观察以及商业战略等服务。

    皮尔斯•福克斯是PSFK的创始人兼总裁。他留着胡子,穿着牛仔裤,格子衬衫的下摆没有扎进裤腰里。他坐在一间玻璃隔出来的会议室里,坐在桌子对面的是该公司的首席运营官海德耶•普希娅和商务主管杰夫•韦纳。普希娅是位举止优雅的沃顿商学院(Wharton)毕业生,她的黑发向后梳起,戴着耳环,身穿一套高雅的灰色职业套裙;而韦纳的头发修剪得整齐利落,穿着一身整洁的商务休闲服。这三位公司领导者正一边喝着咖啡一边讨论年终业务。他们面带微笑,彼此习惯于接着对方的话茬讲话。

    虽然PSFK只有七名全职员工,而且成立还不到十年,但它的客户名单跟历史悠久的咨询公司比较起来也不遑多让,其中包括可口可乐(Coca-Cola)、塔吉特百货(Target)、宝马(BMW)、耐克(Nike)、微软(Microsoft)、宝洁(Proceter Gamble)以及英特尔(Intel)等等,不一而足。自2005年以来,一些领军企业就开始聘请PSFK来为其提供客户调查、围绕特定技术或创新专题制定建议(比如零售商该如何在店内采用智能手机和平板电脑,或者消费者怎样利用移动应用这些新办法对自身健康状况进行追踪)之类的咨询服务。

    PSFK到底有什么与众不同的地方?“(他们)比一般的趋势观察者更加好奇,”克里斯•莱利评价道。他是总部位于俄勒冈州波特兰的营销传播咨询公司莱利工作室(Studio Riley)的创始人,曾经是威登肯尼迪广告公司(Wieden + Kennedy)战略规划部门的负责人,还曾在苹果的图形设计及营销传播团队担任战略规划总监的职务。他说:“皮尔斯拥有谦逊的洞察力,他清楚世界上有许多持不同观点的人,通过跟他们打交道,皮尔斯能够厘清我们正在经历的种种纷繁复杂。”莱利曾在过去聘请PSFK分析人们如何在现实生活中适应在线体验。“PSFK能够引发你自己去思考,而不是提供什么‘人们并不会真正关心的十件事’这类东西。”

    PSFK最初只是福克斯的个人网站。它成立于2004年,其时正是博客开始迅速发展的时期。福克斯当时是一位年轻的英国广告公司经理,由于女友帕希娅工作上的原因,他跟随女友(现在两人已经结婚)从伦敦搬到了纽约。福克斯没有签证,没办法找到工作,因此他就骑着一辆自行车在纽约转悠,同时捕捉下自己认为有趣的照片和新闻,然后发布在博客上。

    “我来这里的时候,正赶上个人出版时代的开始,那时候科技网站Engadget和尼克•丹顿个人网站这类博客才刚刚起步,”福克斯用一种柔和而精致的英国口音说道。“我尝试记录下变化和进步的轨迹,每天写作3-4小时,希望能够激励人们改善自己的生活。我的朋友们也希望参与进来,其中就包括西蒙•金,他驻扎在伦敦,代表着PSFK中的SK。”他们一班人在全球各地工作、学习和游历,目睹了社会公益、设计、电子游戏、零售和科技等领域的创新趋势,于是,福克斯也将他们对此产生的看法发布到了网站上。

    It's a chilly but bright winter day in Manhattan, and sunlight streams into the sparsely decorated, industrial-chic offices of PSFK on Bond Street. The elevator opens directly onto the polished, hardwood floor of the company's open workspace, where a number of casually-dressed twenty- and thirty-somethings sit side by side at long tables, typing away on laptops. This could easily be mistaken for a design school study hall or a spartan technology start up. Instead, it is home of what could be the next generation of consulting firm. PSFK is a younger, nimbler, 21st-century re-boot of the McKinseys of the world,offering trend insight and business strategies to top corporations from Apple to Johnson & Johnson.

    Piers Fawkes, PSFK's bearded founder and president, sits in a glass walled conference room wearing an untucked plaid shirt and jeans. Across the table is the company's COO, Hedyeh Parsia, an elegant Wharton alumna with upswept black hair, hoop earrings, and a tastefully cool gray top and skirt, and Jeff Weiner, PSFK's commercial director, who sports neatly cropped hair and crisp business-casual clothes. The trio who head the company are wrapping up end-of-year business over coffee. Laughing and smiling, they have the habit of finishing each other's sentences.

    Although it only has seven full-time employees and has been around less than a decade, PSFK has a client list to rival even the most established corporate consultancies: Coca-Cola (KO), Target (TGT), BMW, Nike (NKE), Microsoft (MSFT), Procter & Gamble (PG) and Intel (INTC), to name a few. Since 2005, leading companies have been hiring PSFK to provide custom research and recommendations around specific technology and innovation topics, such as retailers' in-store use of smart phones and tablets, or new ways that consumers are tracking their health via apps for their mobile devices.

    What makes PSFK so different? "[They] are more curious than your standard trend watchers," observes Chris Riley, founder of Portland, Oregon-based marketing communications consultancy Studio Riley, a former head of strategic planning at ad agency Wieden + Kennedy, and a former strategic planning director in Apple's (AAPL) graphic design and marketing communication group. "Piers has the insight of humility, the awareness that there are many people with different views on the world and by engaging with them he can draw out the complexity of what we are living through," Riley continues. In the past, he has hired PSFK to analyze how people relate to their online experiences in the context of their offline lives. "PSFK stimulates your thinking rather than offering [the] 'top ten things you don't really care about.'"

    Founded in 2004, when blogging was just beginning to explode, PSFK started out as the personal web site of Fawkes, then a young British advertising executive who had followed his girlfriend -- Parsia, to whom he's now married -- from London to New York, where she moved because of a job. He didn't have a visa and couldn't get a job of his own, so Fawkes passed the time riding a bike around the city, snapping digital photos and posting tidbits of what he thought was interesting online.

    "I arrived when the self-publishing era started, when blogs like Engadget, and Nick Denton's sites, were all starting," Fawkes says in a soft and refined English accent. "I was trying to post signs of change and progress, writing three to four hours a day, hoping to inspire people to make their lives better. My friends asked to post, too, including my friend Simon King, the S.K. in PSFK, who wrote from London." Fawkes published their insights on innovations in the social-good, design, video game, retail and technology fields that they witnessed as they lived and worked and traveled around the world for work and fun.

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