BAO Systems was founded in 2012. They have staff and consultants in Europe, Africa and Asia, and their headquarters is located in Arlington, Virginia. Their team possesses technical expertise in application development and hosting, as well as being versed in governance and compliance, and data and information security.
BAO Systems strives to establish and develop lasting solutions that benefit and impact the local community. Their primary purpose is enabling health information system technology to improve lives, provide better care, and offer health insights. The managed hosting solutions they provide are mostly based upon Open Source software, such as District Health Information Software 2 (DHIS 2). DHIS 2 was developed by the University of Oslo (www.dhis2.org) and is used in over 40 countries. BAO System’s clients include international agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), country and state/local governments, faith based organizations, and commercial clients.
Steffen Tengesdal is one of 4 from the founding team of BAO Systems. Prior to BAO Systems, Mr. Tengesdal owned and operated a few other companies, some of which have been sold and others that are still running. His background has always been in technology, Mr. Tengesdal started as a developer in the mid 90’s with the rise of Internet, by the late 90’s he wound up at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality as a consultant and has been involved in a fair amount of health related applications since then. The Chamber interviewed Mr. Tengesdal for our March company spotlight, below is our interview.
What is BAO Systems main mission?
“Our main goal is to provide cloud hosted health information systems to organizations that need reliable, scalable, and secure solutions. We mostly focus on the District Health Information Software (DHIS 2), which is an Open Source data collection and reporting platform. It offers data collection via the web, mobile phone, or smart phone. Once the users have entered their data, they can see the data visually in charts or graphs as well as on maps using GIS features. We help our clients leverage this platform and get it set up properly. For example, in many developing countries, it’s difficult to set up servers to host this type of application. It may also be difficult for certain organizations to have the necessary expertise to properly maintain a server and the software on it. In today’s world where hacking is more and more prevalent, data security of patient data is critical. Scalability is also important, as some of our clients do work in over 70 countries. So as they roll out more and more systems in countries, we help make sure they are scaled properly as the number of users increase. This is very important for organizations we work with; it allows them to do proper comparisons between countries, spot trends, and forecast needs as data is collected. Before systems like this, organizations compiled data in spreadsheets or on paper even, which can take a long time to aggregate and analyze the data. In many cases, data collected was never even used in a meaningful way, so we help streamline that as well and operations become smoother.”
What is your and BAO’s involvement with Norway and Scandinavia?
“I was born in Norway and even though I’ve lived in the US most of my life, I am still a citizen of Norway. Also, the second largest owner in the firm is also Norwegian and currently lives in Oslo, and our other two founders are American. The software (DHIS 2) we utilize and deploy for our customers was also developed by the University of Oslo, we have some fairly deep roots with Norway. Our clients are all over the world though, which includes a few in Norway. Our other clients are in Africa, the United States, Southeast Asia, and South America. Currently, we have clients in about 14 countries.”
Why did you join the Chamber?
“I was invited by some friends/colleagues in the Northern Virginia area to attend the annual NACC Dinner Cruise in 2013 that welcomed the new Ambassador from Norway. My colleagues work in the defense sector, but I was impressed by the breadth and depth of the types of companies represented on the cruise. Given that Norwegians own the majority of our company, and I live in the D.C. area, I thought it might be a good way to network.”
What do you hope to gain from your membership with the Chamber?
“There are many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the Washington D.C. area, as well as connections to U.S. based companies that we feel could utilize our services. Likewise, I think there are other groups we could benefit learning more from, which may help to cater some of our services toward other sectors. We’ve seen some expansion into education as one example. We are therefore hoping to get more involved with the Chamber and learn more about other members to see if we can be of service or vice-versa.”
What is your future vision for the company, and how can the Chamber assist the company in their future development?
“Right now our clients are largely international in terms of the end users of the systems we host. Some have headquarters in D.C. or NY, but they don’t use our software domestically in the United States. We hope to find some new markets for our services in the United States where DHIS 2 or perhaps other health or related software would be beneficial domestically here. We also hope to continue to expand our global presence and partner with more organizations that require global data collection and reporting.”
Would you like to highlight how the company doing?
“We are experiencing steady growth since our founding. We received word in January that we’ll be the host for a large number of the PEPFAR (www.pepfar.gov) initiative countries; so as that moves forward, we’ll be in 30+ more countries. We are also starting to do some work with the United Nations Population Fund, I think as we start working with some larger organizations like this, we’ll keep our momentum moving forward.”
The Chamber would like to thank Mr. Tengesdal from BAO Systems for taking time for this interview, letting us know a little bit more about one of our newest members. We look forward to serving BAO Systems as a member and to hear more about their progress in the future!