IT company acquires design firm


Members of Open Systems Technologies’ app development team work at the firm's Grand Rapids office. Photo via

A local IT company has extended its capabilities by acquiring a human-centered design consulting firm.

Grand Rapids-based Open Systems Technologies, or OST, announced today its acquisition of Visualhero Design in Grand Rapids, a long-time partner of OST.

The acquisition gives OST “new methods of problem solving and expands its solutions, from research through production.”

“The changing global business climate is challenging traditional business models,” said Meredith Bronk, president and CEO, OST. “As a technology advisor, we are constantly evaluating our capabilities to ensure that we can help our clients stay ahead of the curve.”

Visualhero founder Andy Van Solkema, who will assume the role of chief designer at OST, said he was confident in the acquisition’s benefits to OST customers.

“OST is built on similar employee-centered values, and we share a common understanding about the future opportunities of design, business and technology,” Van Solkema said.

Thinking design

Human-centered design, also called design thinking, is a method of creating technology, product, service and strategy solutions with a focus on the needs of the human element, according to OST. It is a mindset of putting the end user at the center of the solution, using insights gained through observation and immersion.

In information technology, OST said human-centered design is most often connected in strategy and user experience, with a focus on insights for ideas and prototyping. Human-centered design then “evolves to creating team alignment and telling the story.”

Bronk said the acquisition allows OST to become more capable of reaching the needs of technology-enabled businesses and fully realize the company’s “design-to-data center” vision, creating value for its clients. She added that the shifting industry of technology solutions, where more business leaders are demanding IT leverage technology to create value externally, requires IT firms to adapt to it.

“We must help our customers think differently and respond to the needs of marketing, product development, customer service and other business segments with agility and creativity,” Bronk said. “We believe that this acquisition will allow OST to stay ahead of where the market is heading.”


OST, founded in 1997, is an award-winning IT consulting company.

It also maintains offices in Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis and London.

OST says it’s a $160-million company and has grown revenue at a compounded annual rate of 30 percent since 2003.

OST offers various technical services: design, custom software development, data analytics, managed services, security and business advisory services.

The company has an emphasis on several industries: health care, manufacturing, retail, insurance and finance.


Visualhero Design, founded in 2005, offers a complete spectrum of design services, from strategy to user experience.

With 12 employees, Visualhero has done work for Apple, Nest, Amazon Web Services and other large and small clients.

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