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Everybody wants and app - but what for?

Everybody wants and app - but what for?

| Text: Gunhild Wallin, Photo: Anette Andersson

“Mobile telephone apps mean new ways of working as we’ll be able to access systems from anywhere and companies will start using mobiles more and more as a tool,” says Elin Lundström, managing director at app developer and IT company Decuria in Stockholm.

MedUniverse is a website where 2,800 doctors can exchange experiences and knowledge in a closed network. And now they can do so on their smartphones too, by using an app. Medipal is another job-related app, which allows doctors and patients to communicate. Doctors can for instance quickly find out how the patient is feeling. Apps have also been developed for shops which use mobiles to scan products. Smartphones are becoming working tools. 

Stockholm-based app developer Decuria is behind all the examples above. They’ve noticed a growing interest among companies to develop their own apps, but only accept commissions after carefully considering whether the app brings added value and supports the company’s function. 

“Companies or organisations might come to us and say ‘we want an app’, but we investigate what their needs really are. Do they need an app, or do they need something else? We don’t want to trick someone into buying something they don’t need just because it appears to be cool and modern,” says Elin Lundström, managing director at Decuria.

The biologist who became an IT consultant

It’s a Friday afternoon in May, the day summer finally arrives in Stockholm. Decuria’s office in Stockholm’s Old Town is calm - at least for now. Soon the consultants will come back from meeting their customers to sum up before the weekend starts. 

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During our interview we can also hear some fervent knocking from the room next door. Two of the partners are assembling a football table and soon the first game seems to get started judging from the joyous or disappointed shouts coming through the door. Decuria was founded in 2001 with the aim of being a dream company, and part of that involves having fun together. 

Elin Lundström, who’s just been named inspiration of the month by the magazine Naturvetaren [the Natural Scientist] is in fact a biologist, but when she was about to graduate in biology she realised her career choices were limited. She was not tempted by a narrow career path as a researcher. Since she had always had an interest in computers, she chose to also study computer science towards the end of the 1990s and entered the labour market at the top of the IT boom. She got a job immediately with a small, cosy consultancy company with 13 employees. Two years later the company was bought and merged and suddenly there were 2,000 employees. That did not suit Elin Lundström and some of her colleagues. 

“I wanted to get away from the big organisation where you are nothing but a small cog in the big machine. I missed the little company and wanted to start one where you can have fun at work, have influence over your commissions and over how the company is run,” she says.

The vision of a dream workplace

The three founders shared one vision. They wanted to create a company where everyone was an owner and would be running it. All new consultants get the chance to become owners and all are expected to contribute ideas and provide input. From the start they decided to work with clients who had an ethical profile or who demonstrated corporate social responsibility (CSR), but they did not have time on their side. The IT trade went through some tough years, and CSR was not yet a major consideration for many. 

But the main aim was, and remains, not to take on just any commission at any price. The company did survive the harder years and has now grown to employ ten people. Just under a year ago they celebrated the company’s 10th birthday by taking a long educational trip. They go on a conference trip once a year, this year to a castle in the Rhone valley. Every other week they have a breakfast meeting where one of the participants give a lecture. Every six weeks there’s a theme meeting to look at future strategies and corporate development, and after that everyone goes out on the town together. Everyone keeps up to date with their own area of expertise through various forums, chats, publications and more.

More mature customers

Elin Lundström works as a requirement analyst. This means she ‘translates’ the company’s needs for technology which can be used to develop IT systems. She does this by using workshops and brainstorming in different group settings. 

“You have to look at the client’s business and needs to understand which technology a company or organisation needs,” she says. 

But how do the clients explain what they need in a trade which is changing and developing so fast?

“When they cannot explain your needs we try to identify which results they want to achieve through their business on a general level, and then our interactive designer can show drafts of how the technological systems might look like. We want to understand what the business already has and then use technology to make it work more efficiently. Apps can be used as a way to access the company’s IT system through a mobile,” says Elin Lundström.

IT clients have become more mature, yet there are still many companies which are stuck with old technological solutions. But it is becoming more and more common to use so-called cloud services, where you can access all kinds of data online from wherever you are, and even companies or organisations which used to be stuck with old technology are moving towards cloud based solutions. The way in which technological solutions are made have become more flexible too - they’re now called agile. It means there is close cooperation between the client or the commissioner, which makes it easy to allow the client to change things as they go along.

A second family

In addition to requirement analysts the company employs project leaders, programmers and interaction designers. They recently hired a part-time recruitment consultant. There is fierce competition for staff, especially system developers, and getting the right people can be a challenge.

“The challenge is to get them to come to us, but if we succeed and they come for a chat it usually works out,” says Elin Lindström.

So what can they tempt future staff with? They offer fun at work, good perks and each employee gets a development plan. They also consider the work/life balance and nobody is expected to work 80 hours a week. Everyone also take part in the development of the company and has different areas of responsibility - for instance environment, health, web development and their own client’s IT development. 

“We want to be a dream workplace, and to be that also for the new arrivals is what drives me. We are a bit like a second family,” says Elin Lundström.

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Elin Nordström and senior project leader Tobias Karlsson at the newly acquired football table


Decuria is an IT company based in Stockholm. It was founded in 2001 and today it employs ten people. One of Decuria’s roles is to help businesses and organisations develop mobile telephone apps. This means a company’s system becomes more accessible for employees, who can find new ways of working using their mobiles. 

The name Decuria is Latin and means a group of ten.

Read more: (in Swedish)



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