In 2013 the focus of Nortal will stay on the current geographical markets, building on the existing customer and competence foundation. In addition to the current vertical focus areas of telecom, e-government, public finance management, manufacturing & logistics, energy & resources and e-health. Nortal will continue to strengthen and invest in financial services industry competence and customer base.
With recent big customer wins in the area of taxation, e-government and financial services, the customer pipeline and project backlog is strong. Nortal technological value proposition to customers remains substantial and relevant – during 2012 and 2013 internal R&D spending has more than doubled with the focus on technology re-usability, e-service channel convergence and business service framework development. Nortal is a preferred employer in its markets and will continue to build a healthy and challenging working environment based on its core values of passion, team-spirit, results and innovation.
Despite the temporary profitability hiccup in 2012, Nortal business outlook for 2013-2015 remains strong. The customer portfolio is well balanced in terms of industries and geographies, ensuring stability and growth even in a flat economy.
The report surveyed 28 000 Internet users across 32 countries. The report pointed out that, although online service users in the EU were generally more satisfied with online banking and online shopping than with online public services, the Estonian government portal eesti.ee sets an example by offering the country’s residents access via a secure online environment to more than one hundred online services and information sources.
Neelie Kroes, European Commission vice-president, said these were promising trends for e-government in Europe, but “when users are more satisfied with online banking than online public services, it shows that public administration must do better at designing e-government services around users’ needs. And we have to do more to make e-government work across borders.”
In the eGovernment Benchmark report, it was also noted that Estonia serves as a good example of how decentralisation yields positive results in the digital realm. Instead of a single all-encompassing centralised system, Estonia decided to develop an open system linking many different decentralised services and databases. Through the years, the flexibility of the system has permitted new components to be added to the digital society as the need has arisen. This ability to expand freely is precisely the reason why we can speak of Estonia as one of Europe’s success stories in the last decade, and why the government has made significant progress in this area in spite of the relatively limited ICT budget.
Source: European Commission
According to Prime Investment Baltic IT sector grew by 11% during 2012. Nortal increased its IT services revenue growth by 18% (39.5m EUR) and the total revenue growth by 21% (41.9m EUR) compared to the financial year of 2011. Also, Nortal’s export value (25.8m EUR) grew by 34% during 2012.
Baltic ICT market news is a semi-annual review of recent corporate developments in the sector of information technology, telecommunications and Internet access in the Baltic States. The report highlights important corporate and M&A events of the Baltic ICT market and provides proprietary ratings of the leading Baltic IT service companies. The ranking has been compiled since 2002.
Prime Investment is one of the leading investment banking companies in the region, focusing on M&A, buyouts, fund raising, corporate restructuring and strategic advisory.
Baltic ICT Market news - Spring 2013 report: http://www.primeinvestment.lt/index.php/publikacijos/publications/baltic_ict_market_news_spring_2013...
English translation of the press release is available here: http://vero.fi/en-US/Tax_Administration/News/FastNortal_Group_to_supply_new_taxation_%2827221%29
According to the report, Estonia is in first place ahead of Denmark in the e-health solution implementation category, with Sweden in 3rd, Finland in 4th and Great Britain in 5th. Estonia’s strong position is based on good infrastructure and the digital processing of health data. This category assessed not only the infrastructure and the digital exchange of medical data, but also ICT solutions, security, and privacy.
The study includes data on the availability and adoption of e-health, with an assessment of the accessibility and penetration of ICT functionality in European hospitals. The study results show that Estonia is in first place in Europe for accessibility and usage of e-health services. The top four in this category also included Finland, Sweden and Denmark. The category assessment involved the comparison of four e-health functions in a hospital: data entry by the hospitals and data viewing in the health infosystem; existence of the necessary clinical decision support; digital information exchange between hospitals; and telemedicine.
“E-health development in Estonia was certainly helped by the good cooperation with healthcare service providers and doctors”, explained Raul Mill, Member of the Board of the Estonian e-Health Foundation when commenting on Estonia’s leading position in the cross-European study.
Mill added that one future direction for Estonia would be a focus on increasing the interaction of systems, which would allow for an expanded data exchange between treatment facilities compared to today. “Another important direction is the need to improve the systems’ usability, in order to speed up data lookup and increase its usage.”
The study project “Benchmarking ICTs in health systems” was initiated by the OECD in 2010, with the goal of improving the quality and availability of international data on healthcare IT services and their usage.
Member of the Board
Estonian e-Health Foundation
The survey found that the respondents, some five thousand in all, assigned high value to the sense of security offered by working in a stable organization, the organization’s good reputation, and the employer’s leadership position in their field. According to Paavo Heil, CEO of CV Keskus, the respondents were most motivated by a worthy salary and good working conditions, the company’s good reputation and trustworthiness, stability and career opportunities, and the fact that employees are treated as human beings.
Priit Alamäe, Nortal’s Chairman of the Board, said that he is very happy and proud that the Estonian people continue to value Nortal that highly as an employer. “In our business, the main capital asset is our people, and we work hard to make sure that our brightest minds at Nortal have enough challenges, growth opportunities, a pleasant work environment, and smart colleagues from whom to learn every day. One definite reason for our honorable 9th place position is that Nortal is a stable employer – we have a proven business model, we have a long-term approach to our business, and both our employees and our customers can be certain that we will still be here in five years. The value of working at Nortal is also proven by the fact that the Nortal summer university, founded in 2005, is growing ever more popular – last year 165 young people applied to the summer university, 9 students per every spot,” added Alamäe.
The Top 20 ranking companies were as follows:
1. Eesti Energia AS
2. Skype Technologies OÜ
3. Elion Ettevõtted AS
4. Swedbank AS
5. AS EMT
6. AS Tallink Group
7. AS SEB Bank
8. OÜ Playtech Estonia
9. Nortal AS
10. Kaubamaja AS
11. AS LHV Bank
12. Eesti Pank
13. ABB AS
14. Kalev AS
15. State Forest Management Centre (RMK)
16. Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR)
17. Nordea Bank Finland Plc Estonia branch
18. Microsoft Estonia OÜ
19. Elisa Eesti AS
20. Tallinna lennujaama AS
The survey took place in late February and early March, and gathered approximately 5000 responses from people all around Estonia. 77.3% of respondents were employed, freelancers or business owners, 9.6% were high school and university students, and 13% were unemployed. 68.9% of respondents had higher or vocational education degrees, 26.6% had high school degrees.
As Chairman of the Board of software company Nortal AS, Priit Alamäe says that surviving in difficult conditions takes a proven business model, a long-term approach to your business, and your client’s confidence that you will still be around in three or five years. It’s not difficult to get wet in the rain – the true art is finding water in a desert.
“Considering what is happening in the Nordic economies, and Estonia’s fairly heavy dependence on neighboring markets in both exports and financial services, Estonia’s so-called economic celebration is somewhat counter-intuitive,” Alamäe commented on last year’s GDP growth.
Estonia’s gross domestic product (GDP) for the year 2012 grew by 6.6% year-on-year in current prices (3.2% accounting for inflation) and reached a record 17 billion euros.
According to Alamäe, Finland has been in a slump for over a year, and only negative news has been coming out of Sweden recently. “If you want to be positive, you could say that thanks to Estonia’s competitiveness, their own requirements and the need to cut costs, the Nordics have started to bring more investment and manufacturing here, and this is a stable trend that will help us get through difficult times. If you want to be negative, you could recall that the 2008 crisis also reached Estonia with a delay of around half a year,” said Alamäe.
He added that Estonia’s economy is certainly a lot stronger today than it was in 2008. The structure of the economy has changed and is significantly more resilient. “There is more export and less bubble. Even if a negative scenario happens and Estonia has setbacks next year, these will certainly not be as painful as the ones in 2008 and 2009. Forecasting is a thankless task, so you have to set up your strategy so that you can respond as quickly and painlessly as possible to both positive and negative developments,” he remarked.
Alamäe added that every day brings new evidence that investment has dried up in the Nordics, and all spending has to pass through a very tough gauntlet. “Nortal is fortunate to be in the kind of business where our products and services create a clear economic value for the customers, both in good times and in bad. We have always taken a very long-term approach to building our business, and our risks are distributed both geographically and in terms of sectors,” he explained.
“Nortal has prepared for 2013 and 2014 so that in the event of a negative economic outlook, the company will be stable, and in the event of a positive one, we will show decent growth,” said Alamäe.
Estonia’s IT sector has been experiencing yet another boom in recent years, and much like the pre-crisis real estate sector, a number of companies have popped up trying to ride the crest of the wave and make a lot of money quickly, he added. “In difficult conditions, the survivors will be the ones who have a proven business model, can take the long view with their business, and can instill in their clients the confidence that they will still be around in three or five years. It’s not difficult to get wet in the rain – the true art is finding water in a desert.”
Nortal had been selected as one of just 7 companies to represent Estonia at European Business Awards. Companies in the countries battling it out for the awards were issued with invitations to take part in the competition, a questionnaire to complete and a video entry to submit. All case studies were uploaded onto the European Business Awards website and an online public voting mechanism was introduced. Nortal representative will face the jury February 27th.
European Business Awards has been issued since 2006 and it has become one of the most prestiguous acknowledgment to the outstanding companies of the European Union.
The nominees were required to be international, medium-sized or rapidly expanding small companies who had outstanding results to show for the previous few years. Their strengths could be a successful growth strategy, strict ethical standards, a major client focus or an innovative approach. The companies had to be at the forefront of the area they operated in, one step ahead of their competitors, and have a desire to stand out as one of the best companies in Europe.
The competition run by the European Business Awards has seen entries from organisations with a combined turnover greater of over €1 trillion Euros across the 28 EU countries plus emerging nations (8.23% of EU GDP including Turkey, Armenia, Georgia and Kazakhstan). Together these businesses employ over 2.7 million people across the continent.
Additional information: http://www.businessawardseurope.com/RDH/2012
Baltic News Service (BNS) talked to Taavi Einaste on the subject of Finnish hospital procurement and published a news piece.
Nortal – the company created in the merger of the Estonian company Webmedia and the Finnish software developer CCC – will decide on its participation in the procurement of a new patient information system for the Hospital District of Helsinki only after the final conditions have been clarified. The estimated cost of the procurement is 350-450 million euros.
"It’s quite likely that if we decide to participate, we will do it together with another company whose skills and experience complement ours," commented Taavi Einaste, Head of the eHealth Business Unit at Nortal, in his interview with BNS.
A decision on participation in the procurement, also known as the Apotti project, is expected from the Hospital District of Helsinki (HUS), the cities of Helsinki, Vantaa, Kerava and Kauniainen, the municipality of Kirkkonummi and KL-Kuntahankinnat Oy, a local government joint procurement company representing municipalities outside HUS. They must all decide on their participation separately. Helsinki’s satellite city Espoo decided last month not to proceed, whereas the Helsinki City Council had already given its approval in December.
Until then, Nortal will continue to provide services for its first Finnish IT client, Labquality, and is in active negotiations with several smaller Finnish hospitals and medical laboratories. Work also continues with contacts in other countries, where Nortal also has operations.
"According to Nortal’s estimation, the architecture of the eHealth information system implemented by the Tartu University Hospital complies well with the needs of major Finnish hospitals,“ says Einaste.
"Over the past couple of years, we have introduced our system to over 50 healthcare and healthcare IT decision makers from Finland, including representatives of the Helsinki University Hospital.”
According to Einaste, Nortal’s IT systems have received an abundance of positive feedback: "Obviously, the Finnish health care system is different from that of Estonia, so a number of adjustments must be made to the software for it to comply with Finnish requirements.”
Einaste adds that it is difficult to predict when exactly the procurement of the new patient information system will take place, as last summer’s predictions of a possible launch date before the end of the year did not materialise.
"Based on the latest Information from Finland, the procurement is likely to be launched before summer but even this estimation may be too optimistic," says Einaste. "The entire procedure – from announcing the procurement to selecting the winning bidder may take at least six to nine months but even longer in case of disagreements. The expected time frame from concluding the contract to the delivery of the information system is three to four years."
"Our decision on whether to participate in the procurement, as well as our chances of being chosen as a winning bidder, largely depend on the procurement conditions. We assume that, at the moment of making a bid or concluding the contract, the software does not have to comply fully with the Finnish requirements.”
Einaste estimates that the bidder may be required to prove its capacity in Finland. “Fortunately, today Nortal is big enough both by general and by Finnish standards, so we should fulfill this requirement.”
He continues: “As for companies in Finland, this project is far too important for them to ignore. It is also large enough to attract the attention of global enterprises that normally do not show much interest in our region. Thus we can expect some tough competition.”
According to Einaste, Nortal’s possible advantage, compared to global enterprises, lies in the depth of its knowledge of how the Finnish market works, and in its ability to estimate the volume of work needed to fulfil Finnish requirements. "At the same time, the companies that have been actively involved in the Finnish health care system are more experienced than us. The successful bidder must provide a modern technological platform complying with all the requirements. We believe that this is where we can beat most of our competitors," he explains.
The procurement for the new patient information system will be carried out as a negotiated procedure. Three to six bids, which comply with the tender requirements, will be selected from those that have submitted applications to participate; the winning bidder will be chosen as a result of negotiations. The current annual expenses of patient information systems for local communes in the Helsinki District amount to approximately 49 million euros. According to the preparatory commission, the estimated procurement expenses for the period of ten years will be 350-450 million euros.