CEO's review 2017: Demand for digital solutions is increasing strongly
The year 2017 was one of the best in Empower’s history with regard to performance. We built the foundation for sustainable growth and invested strongly in the development of digital solutions. The Group’s turnover increased by 0.9 % to EUR 245.3 million. The demand for Empower’s services is supported by the megatrends, such as digitalisation, new technologies and the increase in terminal devices using mobile data, population growth, urbanisation and climate change. The demand for our services was high across all business areas, and our order book strengthened significantly, reaching an all-time high level. Our EBITDA amounted to EUR 16.4 million, decreasing slightly year-on-year, mainly due to non-recurring items.
The demand for digital solutions has increased worldwide in recent years. The demand for Empower’s digital products and solutions was strong in 2017, specifically in our energy segment and industrial products. The solutions we develop support our customers’ success in business, as we utilise our long-term expertise in the production of services in product development. This way, we have succeeded in creating solutions that meet the customer needs and can be used without long adjustment and iteration times. We increased our R&D investments in digital solutions. In 2017, our investments amounted to EUR 7.8 million, accounting for 3.2 % of the Group companies’ turnover.
At Empower, success is achieved together
Our well-being and satisfied employees are at the core of our profitable business. In 2017, we took part in the Annual Review of Lost Labour survey, ranking among the best businesses in our sector. We focused on working capacity management and preventive activities in 2017, which provided us with significant savings. As the demand for our services is increasing, we also need new Empower employees to join us, and we were busy recruiting them in all of our business areas in 2017. New opportunities provided by digitalisation also result in the need for new kinds of expertise, so we provide our employees with an opportunity to grow and develop their expertise with us.
We boldly experiment and actively seek solutions to make our own processes more efficient. In addition to digital solutions offered to our customers, we also invested strongly in digitalising our own processes during the year. This has increased the transparency of our projects towards our customers and enhanced efficiency and service quality. We regularly measure customer satisfaction with a feedback survey. Its improved results indicate that we have succeeded in providing customer experiences exceeding expectations even more frequently.
We keep the wheels of the smart society turning 24/7
The market share of our Power business grew in all countries. Our customers’ prior experience of good cooperation opened up the door to the Swedish wind farm market for us. We acted successfully as one of the main contractors in a wind farm with 41 wind turbines being built in Northern Sweden and secured new renewable energy projects in Sweden. We also launched a significant main grid reform project covering all the Baltic countries as the main contractor, allowing the Baltic countries to separate from the Russian grid and connecting them to the Continental Europe grid.
The focus of our Connectivity business was shifted to the Finnish market. Empower is the largest service provider in Finland in its industry, and our position strengthened further when we signed significant new multi-year contracts during the fall. Our fully digitalised delivery process solidified quality leadership, which could also be seen as improved profitability in the line of business in question. We actively seek new solutions to our customers’ challenges and piloted the microtrenching method, less known in Finland, with our customer Telia with good success in the Open Fiber project. The construction of open fiber grew strongly also otherwise, and we believe that the growth will continue in the next few years as well.
The year was strong on the whole in the Smart Industry business. Digital platforms for the industry yielded good results. Our digital EmSafe, EmSight and EmSight Lite IoT solutions based on positioning and analytics have met a good reception and facilitated business intelligence for our customers. The product families will be expanded in the future with solutions for resource management and development of productivity, for example. Regional services managed to grow their business, thanks to improved demand. The solid expertise in nuclear power plant projects, maintenance and services boosted the growth in business.
Energy Intelligence business strengthened its position as the market leader in Finland. The development of the Enerim platform proceeded at a quick rate, making several new modules available to our customers. The system now covers all of the basic processes of the energy market, produced automatically. Empower’s market share continued to grow strongly with the acquisition of numerous new customers in customer information system deliveries to energy companies, and thanks to high-quality service, our customer loyalty remained at a very high level.
Empower has a genuinely preventative safety culture
In addition to financial performance and customer satisfaction, we also succeeded in improving work safety. Our accident frequency rate for 2017 was record-breaking low, and we made almost 6,500 HSE observations. Our work safety culture developed very well in 2017, especially in terms of reducing LTAs, and we will invest strongly to continue on the same path. In 2018, we will develop our HSEQ work further by building a uniform HSEQ vision, longterm development path and operating model for Empower Group.
Towards sustainable growth as a trailblazer
I would like to extend my gratitude to our customers for the successful cooperation and our employees and partners for their positive and dedicated attitude in providing the best customer experience. We have good preconditions for continuing on the path of profitable growth in 2018. In accordance with our strategy, we want to be among the trailblazers in promoting digitalisation and offering the best customer experience, for which Empower is renowned. The year 2017 was full of successful events – let’s make 2018 even greater together!
CEO, Empower Group