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Thoughts from our CEO, Justin Hamilton, on transformation in New Zealand organisations today

01st October 2019

Author Justin Hamilton

I was asked recently by a client how a successful New Zealand business would be thinking about serving their clients over the next five years. I think it’s a great question and we had a good discussion. Following that conversation, I’ve put these thoughts to paper as the CEO of Davanti, along with my reflections on the role that Davanti, or any professional services firm, has to play in helping to build that successful journey with these market leaders.

Two questions successful leaders, boards and executives need to focus on

There is a common theme we hear from our customers, succinctly expressed in two questions:

  • How do I engage with my customers across all channels in a way that meets their expectations? And:
  • How can we learn to move at speed to be an organisation that can evolve, adapt and be easy to do business with?

Organisations recognise that their customers’ expectations have changed beyond recognition, largely at the hands of the Amazons and TradeMes of the world. They expect Amazon-like interactions across every touchpoint in their dealings with organisations.

This presents a real challenge for New Zealand organisations – and there’s no “quick fix”. It’s about more than just having a great website or the ability to interact with the customer online. It’s about truly understanding your customer and simplifying your business to be easy to deal with. That goes to the heart of the way organisations are architected, and often it requires a cultural change.

Organisations are realising that this isn’t a one-off project or transformation; it’s a journey of continuous enhancement. The leading organisations are establishing an ongoing commitment to refining and extending the way they interact with their customers across all channels, particularly digitally.

Three success factors in New Zealand’s most customer-centric organisations

We’re seeing leading organisations focusing on three things to address this customer-first challenge:

  1. They are building buy-in and alignment across their leadership. Not just at the executive layer but also ensuring they have the support of the Board, creating a simple, clear vision that everyone buys in to.
  2. They are seeking to learn about what is possible. They understand what they don’t know and are looking to learn from other industries and markets what leading practice looks like. They are seeking to understand the new technology paradigm.
  3. They focus on delivering value early. Transformation requires the building of trust, and in our experience, when trust is built within an organisation, velocity increases as a result. This is trust by the whole team that things will deliver, that investment will produce a return and that the organisation can learn and adapt as it goes.

Organisations today have determined they can’t go it alone. They’re discovering that they simply can’t move fast enough; there is too much to do. So they are looking for partners.

They understand that this isn’t just a technology problem; they need a partner that can understand their customers, that can help them to simplify their business, challenge the status quo and help them bring things to life through technology. They are looking for partners that can guide them in a connected way across the whole transformation, operate at speed and bring a track record of delivering.

Change is constant. We need to stay ahead to help our customers stay ahead.

Davanti has had to evolve, and continue to evolve, to remain relevant in helping our customers get closer to their customers.

We are a team of people who are natural born problem solvers that like helping organisations to solve difficult problems. That’s what gets us excited and that will never change. A professional services firm is just a collection of its people and success always comes down to the way that these people work together to help their clients.

We started out as a consulting business and we’ll always be a consulting business at heart. And that’s what sets us apart in the way that we implement technology: we tie everything we do back to business strategy. We want to understand the objective the customer is trying to achieve, not just to build them a piece of software.

What’s changed over time is that the skillsets that we’ve held within the business continue to diversify, and we’re seeing the needs of our customers constantly change. As technology has spanned more business functions, customer channels have proliferated and the importance of data has increased, our customers have demanded that we pull all of those capabilities together, because they are important components of what makes up the outcome and the objective they are trying to achieve.

Davanti has the ability to “look in” and “look out” of an organisation systematically through the lenses of Customer, Business and Technology. We have grown this ability in our team locally and this sets us apart from our competitors.

Our business will continue to change in order to stay relevant to what our customers need, and focused on how we best deliver those solutions in a pragmatic and efficient way to keep delivering value for money.

We like having fun. We’re here to enjoy what we do. That will never change. We get a great sense of pride and enjoyment from helping our customers succeed, seeing them change and bring to life the ideas that we’ve worked with them on.

Team brainstorm with whiteboard

For me, I think the most exciting thing that Isobar brings to Davanti is the ability to strengthen our creative and marketing-related services, which really brings balance to the breadth of capability that we’ve got in the market.

The second thing is the global leadership and innovation in that space that Isobar brings. Isobar talks about digital transformation powered by creativity. It’s really exciting for us to be able to take this international knowledge, research, innovation and these global case studies and bring this learning to New Zealand organisations.

Our view is that all professional services companies are going through change. We’re at the precipice between an old-fashioned way of thinking and working and a new way of thinking and working, and, in becoming part of Isobar, we have absolute confidence that we’re part of – and front and centre amongst – future thinking.

We’ve always considered ourselves pioneers in the things that we do and the way we work with our customers, and Isobar gives us some of the global credentials and investment, effectively, to make sure that we stay in that spot, maintaining the pioneering spirit that is Davanti’s legacy, and helping New Zealand organisations to embrace change for the good of their customers, which has always been, and continues to be, our purpose in life.

What does this mean for me, personally?

For me, best of all, it means I must keep developing and adapting to be the best partner for our clients and leader of Davanti.

I love helping customers design and implement change. I’m still engaged with lots of our customers and the day-to-day conversations we have with them. I enjoy helping our customers in a way that is pragmatic and specific about the outcomes they need to achieve, because I think lots of consulting isn’t pragmatic or specific. We consult in a way that works for organisations in New Zealand. We don’t give generic solutions and we don’t blindly follow a global methodology. We focus on what actually works in this market, for this organisation, for a particular size of company. And we’re always asking: How do we help you get value for money? I still get a kick out of that.

I am also very proud of our role in helping our people grow their careers. It is fantastic to be part of such a talented team. It gives me a great sense of satisfaction to see their skills evolve while they’re here, to observe them learning from each other, and being able to pass on some of the things that I’ve learned over the years. We aren’t all career consultants; we understand lots of our staff will return to industry or other ventures. But we endeavour to make their time at Davanti rewarding and arm them with new skills and experiences that they can carry with them for the rest of their professional careers. At heart though, our people are successful at Davanti because they care about how successful our clients are. 

It’s a simple statement, but we want to help our clients to be closer to their customers.

Justin Hamilton





Justin Hamilton is Davanti’s Chief Executive Officer and one of Davanti’s founding Directors. He thrives on complex problems and is focused on getting the right results for customers in a pragmatic, right-sized way. When he’s not busy problem solving, you’ll most likely find him on the water.