Together with Norway's other maritime industries, the offshore oil and gas sector gave an early impetus to domestic ICT initiatives because it was able to pay for technically advanced, cost-saving solutions. This was the springboard the fledgling software industry needed; it has since generated a host of innovative companies that supply integrated and modular software solutions for industries as diverse as construction, hydroelectricity, manufacturing, telecommunications and health care.
By creating applications for logistics, production, sales and marketing, distribution, purchasing, accounting and administration, Norwegian software producers are working hard to make businesses more competitive. Large and small companies alike develop products for a broad customer base in the mainstream market for automated office systems, both at home and abroad. These include online and offline databases and data management systems, customer relationship management (CRM) systems and enterprise resource planning (ERP) packages that streamline personnel and financial processes. Norway's big consulting companies, such as Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, are also active in these areas, tailoring and integrating ICT systems and platforms according to client needs, often as part of turnkey projects that include consultancy and dedicated software development.
The role of the Internet-based application service provider (ASP) is also proving popular in Norway, with more and more businesses seeing the benefits of outsourcing their day-to-day software management to data suppliers such as Telecomputing and Intellinet. Telecomputing was in fact the world's first ASP, providing Windows-based applications delivery and computing services. From three secure data centres, the company now supports customers in more than 200 locations in Scandinavia and the USA. Intellinet, for its part, is also building faith in the ASP market, striking a recent cooperation deal with Compaq to create a world-class web-hosting service. A number of Norwegian ASPs also deliver products and services to niche markets. Netaccount, for example, supplies small and medium-sized businesses and sole traders throughout Europe with a wide range of Internet-based financial and administrative solutions. The company has developed a new GL standard for accounting, and is Europe's first supplier of true Internet accounting software services.
On the multimedia front, a host of Norwegian Internet companies are fast being recognized on the world stage as leaders in their fields, which range from Java games development and wireless technology to web publishing applications and interactive online solutions for telemedicine and the mobile Internet. NetPower, a Microsoft Certified Solutions Provider, is one of Norway's foremost suppliers of Internet e-business solutions, having developed programs such as @PS (Active Procurement System), which is specially designed to handle online procurement processes, and the DocManager CRM solution which can be seamlessly integrated into Microsoft Outlook.