Digital Power leaders on the firm's international growth ambition

07 July 2023 Consultancy.eu 7 min. read
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Having grown into a 140+ strong team in the Netherlands, Digital Power has set its sights on international expansion. We sat down with Amsterdam-based director Erik van der Kooij and London-based leader Ian Gardiner to discuss the firm’s foray into the British and German markets and how it helps the firm build its profile and talent base.

Headquartered in Amsterdam, with further offices in Den Bosch and London, Digital Power is a consulting firm that specialises in data strategy, advanced analytics, technical web analytics, and data engineering services, among others.

The firm’s multidisciplinary team helps its clients from advisory to execution – something which it has already built a thriving reputation for in the Netherlands. But now, the firm’s leaders feel the time is right to push beyond Digital Powers’ domestic ties.

Digital Power’s international growth ambition

“Our focus on internationalisation is not driven by a sense of completion in the Netherlands; instead, it is a strategic move to fuel our continued growth. International expansion is an essential component of our ambition to strengthen our team, enabling us to create even greater impact for our clients and our employees,” kicks off Erik van der Kooij, commercial director at Digital Power.

The decision to embark on this journey was expedited by the pandemic, which served as a pivotal moment for demonstrating the effectiveness of remote work beyond traditional office settings. As a result, Digital Power was able to seize international opportunities that would have been considerably more challenging to pursue in the pre-pandemic era.

On top of that, a cross-border brand can enhance the Digital Power’s prospects on the labour market. “Being an internationally focused organisation, you become much more attractive for talent. It enriches the learning and cultural experience of our staff, and boosts our attractiveness – people are simply more interested in working for an international firm as opposed to a purely Dutch player.”

From the Netherlands to Europe

Working together with the Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend [the Dutch government’s agency for entrepreneurship; which supports fast-growing companies with international growth), Digital Power earmarked the United Kingdom and Germany as its key entry markets.

Fast forward two years, and the firm has expanded international clients and projects across its field of expertise. “Currently around 10% to 15% of our headcount is working for clients in the United Kingdom and Germany,” Van der Kooij says.

One of those is international business manager Ian Gardiner, who joined in 2020 from one of Digital Power’s subsidiaries. Gardiner first crossed paths with Digital Power when a couple of technology-focused projects he had been working for required additional support from the consultancy. He immediately saw the potential for working with the firm.

Erik van der Kooij en Ian Gardiner - Digital Power

“Getting involved through that route showed me that Digital Power itself provided a holistic set of services which interested me,” Gardiner recalls. “Not just the traditional side of consulting, project-based solutions and advisory roles, but also providing individuals as contractors for certain clients and their needs. It’s that broad and unique model of capabilities which attracted me – as every client has a different solution for the problems in front of them.”

“In its work with clients, Digital Power has open, flexible solutions to meet those needs in ways traditional fixed consulting are not readily able to provide.”

Providing examples of work the firm has done so far in the United Kingdom, Gardiner remembers, “One of our first engagements was with TM Forum, an international non-profit for telcos, which has some 800 members.”

The forum had already embarked on a large online transformation, and “had actually worked with a different consultancy,” says Gardiner. “But what they were looking for was not just a team to come in and help with their web-environment data challenges – they wanted the team to supply strategy and bring everything together. With a multidisciplinary team of customer experience, data engineering and web analytics expertise we were able to provide that for them.”

Digital Power initially came on board to supply a proof of concept, and then stayed on board to support the implementation, and the post go-live process of continuous improvement.

Illustrating the other side of the firm’s capabilities, Gardiner points to a ‘pure-play’ technology project with real estate ‘proptech’, McMakler. The Berlin-based client needed a firm to help out augment the data environment it was working with – as it was obscuring the effectiveness of marketing activity.

Career at Digital Power

Gardiner: “This required resolving their data environment data quality challenges and thus enabling attributions to be fully utilised. In addition, we initiated customer-side research and analytics. We provided counsel, supported the technological improvements, and were able to leave them a stable environment as well as the knowledge of how to move forward for themselves.”

Building out the brand

Landing new international clients is easier said than done, though. As noted by Gardiner, sometimes the biggest challenge “is being something people don’t know.”

In the Netherlands, Digital Power has grown into a well-known brand with multiple awards & recognitions under its belt, yet in greenfield markets, the firm still needs to nestle itself among the local players. “The challenge is to get through those opening conversations about who we are and what we are about, before we can prove our worth,” says Van der Kooij.

To that end, he asserts that partnering with clients in one geography has regularly helped with the jump into another.

One of the firm’s largest clients in Germany, for instance, is Vodafone, a global telecom giant with operations in 50+ countries. “Together with Vodafone, we explored how and where we could them with them in other places,” says Van der Kooij. This exploration recently culminated into a successful global partner agreement.

Careers at Digital Power

The same is true for consulting and technology partners. Occasionally, in its home market Digital Power works with other consultancies on shared engagements (including Deloitte). Mirroring this approach, the firm anticipates to land a number of partners for its international proposition.

Looking ahead, Gardiner says that the firm aims to grow its list of international clients to ten by the end of this year. “We already have a great pipeline in terms of revenue, but want to build the volume of clients to grow and further diversify.”

While doing so, Van der Kooij says that Digital Power will keep a close eye on remaining close to its heritage. “This is because we find our cultural values very important. With every new addition to the team, our unique culture changes a little. Key is therefore that we build the team around our DNA, and safeguard that culture together.”

Digital Power’s unique participation model plays a large role in preserving this culture. “We provide high-performing and senior employees the possibility to become co-owners of Digital Power. They are the guardians of our culture and growth ambitions – in the Netherlands and beyond!”