Delivering bold thinking, actionable insights and optimal impact in a year turned upside down
7 Dec 2020
Reflections on 2020 from BAO Systems’ CEO
If you had asked me a year ago if I thought that I would be writing to you from Zion National Park in Utah, I would have laughed. However, these days, ‘home office’ and ‘laptop’ have taken on whole new meanings. I am currently on a road trip with my family, exploring the United States of America while balancing my son’s remote school and my own work schedule. Our transport and lodging is not a gleaming new RV, but rather an orange van and a 54 year old vintage camper. After 10 weeks on the road, socially distancing, enjoying the outdoors, and working from some spectacular settings, I can say it has been intensely rewarding and challenging simultaneously.
Sitting on a lawn chair with my computer propped on my knees, staring out across a mountain lake or at the expansive horizon, I find myself reflecting upon the past year and the unexpected journey it’s been. In January 2020, I was making resolutions, looking forward to the year ahead, and feeling inspired with new ideas and goals. Yet, while our global landscape looks quite different than it did 12 months ago, 2020 has been a remarkable year for BAO Systems.
Aligning our look and feel with our products and services
When BAO Systems was founded, we focused on DHIS2 hosting services and quickly grew to become leaders in end-to-end DHIS2 implementation. Over the years, our intimate relationship with our partners, who include global executives, NGO management, policy makers, government representatives and digital health technologists, has helped us to identify and develop new products and services that meet their evolving and diverse needs. This year, we unveiled our refreshed brand and website, which better reflect how we have matured into a company that empowers decision makers to improve lives through sustainable technology.
Managing data from start to finish and driving impact
BAO Systems acquired Dharma Platform, a robust data collection tool, in February. By making continuous data collection actionable and accessible to all team members anytime, anywhere in the world, with little training, Dharma Platform provides a solution for Impact-FirstTM organizations to streamline tools, offering quick deployment of cross-sectional, longitudinal, and case management data collection all within the same platform. The DHIS2 Connector feature enables organizations and governments alike to better manage their data from the point of delivery to reporting and data visualization in DHIS2. This addition reinforces our ability to meet the end-to-end data needs of our partners.
Integrating data sets, improving analytics, and generating insights
The growing demand for data and our increasing value in the use of a more holistic approach to data analysis have tested the limits of many existing information systems. Countries, organizations, and programs want simple solutions for integrating disparate data sets to gain a comprehensive understanding of cause, effect, and improvements in health and development outcomes.
These are some of the considerations that led us to conceptualize the BAO Analytics Platform, enabling our partners to easily combine their many disparate sources of data into a single warehouse where they are available for advanced analytics, machine learning, and powerful visualizations. In November, we were honored to be selected as one of three recipients of the COVIDaction Data Analysis and Use Challenge award. Our Public Dataset Library will now be freely available, enabling our partners to mash their own programmatic data together with data from WHO, the UN, and others.
Building community innovation to improve impact
Travel restrictions and physical distancing gave us the opportunity to unite even more DHIS2 enthusiasts than in previous years. Holding the DHIS2 Symposium virtually in September meant that we could connect with even more members of the DHIS2 community, with 266 participants and 69 speakers. We had a lot of fun prepping for the Symposium and learning how to convert an in-person event to an online format. In times like these, it is especially important that we find new ways to meaningfully connect with each other.
Sharing knowledge and expertise
Our original plan had been to deliver an in-person DHIS2 training in the days just prior to the DHIS2 Symposium in March. While we made the decision to postpone the Symposium, we quickly changed the format of our training. Staying on schedule, we offered “DHIS2 – The Game”, two days of DHIS2 aggregate configuration and data analytics using gamification, and found that virtual training worked! In July, we met learners online for an in-depth look at DHIS2 Aggregate Configuration and in keeping with tradition, our expert facilitators delivered DHIS2 Event & Tracker Analytics training during the virtual DHIS2 Symposium. This particular training was so popular that we repeated it one month later.
In total, we virtually trained 138 DHIS2 community members this past year. Adapting to the new normal of 2020, we found a way to use our plethora of expertise to train others and further build the DHIS2 community.
Learning from others
I continue to find inspiration in the creativity, innovation, dedication, and hard work of my BAO Systems colleagues, who are located around the world. This year brought both challenges and accomplishments for individuals, teams, and projects. I am also constantly learning from innovative organizations who believe in the mission of empowering decision makers to improve lives through sustainable technology. I always welcome opportunities to build long-term partnerships. If you wish to explore this together, I am only an email away.
I am reminded about what Steve Jobs said over 15 years ago. “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” This year has solidified for me how my decisions today impact tomorrow. With each decision I make together with my BAO colleagues and our partners, I will ensure our focus remains in line with BAO Systems’ vision of a world in which the transformative power of data is fully harnessed to enable thriving societies everywhere.
Chief Executive Officer