Digital specialist Duval Union Consulting enters Dutch consultancy market

25 January 2018 7 min. read

Duval Union Consulting, a Belgian consultancy firm specialised in digital transformation, has entered the Dutch consultancy market. The opening of the newest office in Amsterdam follows shortly after the Ghent-headquartered firm entered the Middle East market.

Founded in 2009 by Belgians Jo Caudron and Dado Van Peteghem, Duval Union Consulting is today a consulting firm with a team of around 20 consultants. The firm’s consultants all specialise in some aspect of digital transformation – "we help companies to be ‘future-proof’ in the digital world,” said co-founder Caudron.

Duval Union Consulting's clientele includes major Belgian companies such as Belfius and Febelfin (financial services), Renault and Volvo (automotive), de Persgroep and Sanoma (media), and Spa and Douwe Egberts (beverages). “With our approach we help customers from all industries: from manufacturers to service providers, from B2C to B2B and both profit and public sector organisations, including non-profits,” explained Caudron.

The firm’s success, for a large part, builds on a proprietary approach to digital transformation that is currently being used by more than a hundred companies worldwide. In 2013, Caudron and Van Peteghem launched the first edition of their book 'Digital Transformation – Prepare your organization for the future' and, following a large uptake among managers, the publication is sold in over 55 countries today. The thought leadership has turned Caudron and Van Peteghem into well-known speakers and consultants in every corner of the world, and formed the basis for Duval Union Consulting’s engagement on international projects in countries such as Denmark (Danfoss), France (Orange and Thalys), Sweden ( Volvo) and Dubai (Chalhoub Group). 

Duval Union Consulting launches office in the Netherlands

For the aforementioned client, a luxury retailer in the Middle East, Duval Union Consulting was called in to support with the design of a digital strategy. The client, the Chalhoub brothers, who are among the most influential professionals in the retail sector in the region, spotted the two Belgians when they read their book. Nearly one year down the line, the consultants have delivered the strategy to the satisfaction of the brothers – after which they decided to expand their collaboration into a new joint venture. Duval Union Consulting Middle East was born, and, since the beginning of this year, the Belgian consultancy firm has a base in Dubai, which serves the entire MENA region, from Lebanon and Egypt to the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

“As a result of our successful consultancy work, our team has grown to a team of more than 20 consultants. And are we now active (far) beyond Belgium’s border,” Caudron reflected on the past eight years. With such a trajectory, the firm, which acquired Belgian consultant DearMedia in 2015, follows in the footsteps of a number other fellow Belgian consultancies that have internationalised, including Capco (operations in 19 countries) and project management specialist Projective (offices in Belgium, the Netherlands, France, the UK and Germany). 

New office in Amsterdam

The new office in Amsterdam is Duval Union’s third office globally. The Netherlands has been high on the firm’s wish list, admitted Caudron, highlighting that, similar as to in Belgium, organisations in the country are struggling with issues surrounding digital transformation. "'What is going on in the digital landscape?', 'What developments are coming at us?' and, 'How should we organise our strategy and organisation?' are the three strategic questions we hear most often,” said Caudron. 

That clients are struggling with digitisation is  a well-known fact. In the slipstream of the rapid rise of technology, organisations of all sizes are facing a range of new challenges, from the Internet of Things and the cloud to robotics and cyber security. Digital disruption is another dominant theme in boardrooms, mainly because of the unprecedented opportunities – and thus risks – that can arise from digital competition. Consultants operate at the forefront of the landscape, and as a result the market for digital transformation has boomed to $23 billion last year, rising from a small ‘growth jewel’ to a segment that accounts for a staggering 20% of the global industry today, just a few years on. 

“In the current context of exponentially increasing digitisation, companies and organisations need to respond actively, and often they lack the right strategic insights and the organisational structure to navigate in the right direction,” explained Caudron.

Jo Caudron - Dado Van Peteghem and Jeroen de Groot - duval union consulting

To lead the new office, Duval Union Consulting has brought the Dutchman Jeroen de Groot on board. De Groot has been active in the world of business transformations for 25 years, in the process building a reputation as an expert in the field. This was one of the decisive factors in tapping De Groot to lead the new venture. “We have known Jeroen for several years. He has published a lot and been recognised by analysts for his expertise and contribution,” said Caudron. Van Peteghem added, “With Jeroen we have a pragmatist on board who, with the right amount of creativity, can help organisations make the step towards a digital future, including the translation to organisational requirements and execution.”

Similar to its home base in Belgium, Duval Union Consulting Netherlands will focus on both strategy and executions. Yet, what sets the firm apart is an innovative approach, said De Groot. “We want to help Dutch companies with a pragmatic approach to digital business strategy.” The firm in this respect works differently to the traditional top-tier of consultancy firms that are often called in, such as McKinsey, Deloitte or Accenture. “We distinguish ourselves through a rigorous and at the same time very practical approach to actually help organisations advance their digital maturity. Our track record of over 100 projects shows that the approach works – we are a no-nonsense club highly specialised in digitisation.” 

When asked about the ambitions in the Netherlands, De Groot said that the company first wants to successfully nestle its brand between the top players in the digital consulting landscape. “We want to become a major force in the sector.” The Dutch market is, however, not entirely new for Duval Union: from its base in Ghent the consultancy has already worked for Dutch clients, including financial services provider Argenta and coffee producer Douwe Egberts. “My ambition is to help as many organisations in the Netherlands as possible, both profit and non-profit, in designing the right journey towards their (disruptive) future.”

Earlier this month, another international brand also entered the Dutch consultancy space. QVARTZ, a Danish-origin strategy consultancy, set foot in the country through a joint venture with local player Boer & Croon.