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Mobile applications are fast becoming significant business tools for enterprises, both internally and externally.
The Nordic region is no exception. According to a study by Gartner Finland, Finnish organisations are increasingly seeing mobile as very important to their business.
But despite this, only 40% of companies have developed internal mobile applications, 25% have deployed apps for consumers or business customers and 40% have yet to do any mobile app projects whatsoever.
Toni Nygrén, principal research analyst at Gartner Finland, said the situation is similar in other Nordic countries, with Sweden and Finland most advanced and Norway and Denmark following slightly behind.
When compared globally, Nygrén added, the Nordics are ahead in enterprise mobile development, but major advances still need to be made.
“Lots of things are currently happening and [enterprise mobile apps] will take a big leap when companies move from cost-driven [mobile] thinking to a business focus. This can already be seen in how mobile strategies have changed in the past year, but it will probably take 18 months for them to [be ready for the business],” said Nygrén.
On a global scale, Gartner forecast that by the end of 2017 demand for mobile app development services will grow five times faster than an internal IT organisation’s capacity to deliver them. Nordic startups have been quick to jump on this opportunity.
App development tools lighten the workload
The trend is not lost on the Nordic region’s vibrant startup community. The traditional way to meet mobility demands has been to use external app developers, but new products have started to ease the developer workload.
“Although enterprises want to go to mobile, the challenge has been how to prioritise resources to achieve this,” said Marko Lehtimäki, CEO and founder of Helsinki-based startup Appgyver. “If you think about a typical large organisation, their IT departments are often too busy to solve the enterprise mobility problems of different lines of business and teams.”
Nordic startups take on the enterprise mobile app market
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Appgyver released its first app development tools for web developers in 2013. The company is now tapping into the growing enterprise market with Composer 2, a drag-and-drop tool published in November 2015. It integrates with a variety of data sources and business databases, and can be used to build and deploy data-oriented HTML5 apps.
Appgyver claims to be the first entirely code-free visual mobile enterprise application platform (Meap). It particularly targets business professionals who want to build internal lines of business applications – such as expense reporting, mini-enterprise resource planning or workflow management – without any coding experience.
Other Nordic startups have also done their market research. Swedish company AppSpotr has a code-free approach too, but for less data-heavy needs. Its visual app-building tools are particularly targeted at small businesses in non-programming industries and are free to use. There are premium features that are paid for, if required.
Another Swede, Evothings, launched last year with an open source development suite specifically for mobile internet of things (IoT) apps. Instead of targeting non-developers, the startup wants to offer developers with basic web skills a fast way to build and deploy hybrid HTML5 and native apps for connected devices.
According to Evothings, the major difference in building IoT apps is the technologies they need to support, including Bluetooth Low Energy, iBeacons, Eddystones and their different hardware implementations.
While these companies are targeting global businesses, there remains plenty to do in their home markets as well. Appgyver’s Lehtimäki said the enterprise mobile app market is growing so fast, both in the Nordics and the US, that there’s not enough supply to meet demand.