Digitisation has transformed our daily lives and business activities in all sectors, and continues to do so. Consumer behaviour is changing and the consumer base is fragmenting. For the industrial sector, the industrial Internet and Big Data are providing new opportunities for the development of services and maintenance. In retail, multichannel ordering and other services are proliferating, while more channels and opportunities become available in marketing and the effective use of customer data becomes a key activity. Information-based management is becoming the norm and IT service purchases are transforming.
Although digitisation is nothing new, it is gathering speed and continuously throwing up surprises. This is a change which we at Digia find exciting and inspiring, because it offers us new opportunities.
Together with our customers, we at Digia are at the forefront of digitisation. Our software and services already play a major role in our society. We understand our customers' business challenges, and help them to navigate the maze of digitisation both at home and abroad. Together, we are one step ahead.
It takes a lot to stay ahead of the game: speed, agility and courage. Digia's personnel have the motivation and ability to take our business to the next level. We aim to be the preferred partner for our customers. Our customer promise is the compass we use to steer towards this goal: ability with passion, working together with our customers and partners. The solutions and services we deliver work as agreed.
From the perspective of the national economy, 2014 was challenging. The general economic outlook and consumer purchasing power weakened in Finland and across the European Union. The crisis in Ukraine and the escalation of the situation in Russia affected business conditions for companies operating in Russia and made the global economic business environment even more uncertain.
Although Digia too was affected by these factors, our business remains on solid ground. Net sales were slightly lower than a year earlier, but profitability showed favourable development.
We simplified our offering in the Domestic business. The Utilizing Information services area showed very positive development during the review period, and demand for ERP systems was healthy. Demand was particularly good for Digia's own software products and financial sector services in Finland.
In the Qt business, we took steps to refocus our operations. We established a subsidiary – The Qt Company – to promote the growth and development of the Qt business. We strongly believe that Qt will be a competitive software development environment for all leading operating systems in all target markets. The Qt user ecosystem is seeing powerful growth, and feedback from users has been extremely positive. On the other hand, investments in future growth are placing a temporary strain on our business cost structure and profitability.
We have now made our strategic choices. Accordingly, in 2015 we will focus on profitability improvement and business growth in our selected main areas in Finland and, in the case of Qt technology, worldwide.
In the Qt business, the operational focus is on sales development and creating better growth opportunities. In addition to making growth investments, we will pay attention to profitability improvement. In Finland, we will continue our efforts to build deeper customer understanding, while improving our sales and offering. We will strive to produce more competitive solutions and services that enhance our customers' business.
Digia's overall objective is to attain better profitability while achieving organic growth which is at least in line with general market trends. We will actively explore opportunities to make carefully selected business acquisitions that support the company strategy.
I would like to thank our customers and shareholders for their continued trust in Digia. I would also like to thank our personnel for their excellent performance in our rapidly changing business environment.