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Superstar Software Company Orion Wins Commendation

July 30, 2001


Auckland software development company Orion Systems has won a Trade New Zealand Export Commendation for its strong foreign exchange growth and success in developing world-leading technology for the access and management of medical and health information.

Since the company was founded by Managing Director Ian McCrae in 1994, Orion has enjoyed compound growth approaching 50% per annum. Orion develops and markets software applications that enable medium to large hospitals to exchange information across computer networks and is able to incorporate a wide variety of host environments.

Marketing Director Jonathan Gunson says price and superior technology are Orion’s main competitive advantages.

“In technology terms Orion software is world leading. It is the fastest on the market with our messaging technologies now processing over 3,000,000 messages per hour. It is highly versatile, will work on most platforms and languages, and is very easy to use. Many of the products are now so user-friendly that we release them as shrink-wrap versions, which can be downloaded via the internet.

“Our hospital web portal systems have the richest functionality and we even have giant USA corporations attempting to copy them. Our price competitiveness is achieved through the low New Zealand dollar and lower resource costs than our international competitors.”

Orion’s flagship products include Symphonia™ and Concerto™. Concerto™ is a Medical Applications Portal (MAP) that uses web technology to seamlessly integrate multiple medical systems and provides a single patient view across all. It also enables clinical staff in a hospital to log-on through a single point of entry, as opposed to having to log on and off to each different database. This “visual integration” means old isolated systems are given a new lease of life.

Symphonia™ is the leading messaging toolkit brand in the USA. It is designed for application developers to connect virtually any platform or format and helps reduce the cost and time required to build message interfaces with easy “drag and drop” tools.

“Symphonia’s mapping tools are the holy grail of developers because, amazingly, they will map virtually any format to any other format, on the fly, eg will translate XML to the health standard HL7. This means that any system can talk to any other system no matter what format, even securely across the internet,” says Mr Gunson.

He says Orion is winning business against “formidable” international competition. In the USA, for example, McKesson HBOC, the world’s largest health software vendor, has standardised on Symphonia™ to meet its integration needs. Success such as this has given Orion the confidence to compete at an international level.

Orion uses the internet extensively to market and sell its products and services.

“Potential clients can download our software and trial it for a period. We also regularly deliver targeted email to our customer database announcing new product releases and features, with high response levels. We use our online and print media contacts to publicise our latest developments. That drives target traffic to our sites and ultimately stimulates sales. Our sites averages many thousand qualified hits per month.”

Mr Gunson says Orion has been extremely successful domestically, but because of the limited size of the New Zealand market, exports are a vital part of the company’s growth strategy. Export markets include the Americas, Australia, Europe and Asia. About 70% of international sales are to the USA, the market that has lead the way in developing computer-based healthcare services.

While distance from key markets is a challenge for Orion it can also be an advantage, says Mr Gunson, as support work can sometimes be carried out through the Northern Hemisphere night, ready for clients when they arrive at work the next day.

Trade New Zealand Account Manager Jacinta Clark says Orion is now recognised as a leading developer of health communications software in the health industry in New Zealand and globally. She also commended the company for its innovative use of the internet to stimulate interest in its products and to allow potential clients to trial its software.

"Trade New Zealand recognises the importance of the internet as a business tool and through a major e-business project is working to help other exporters develop similar winning online strategies."

With the success of its software, the company is growing rapidly. From five staff at its inception, it now employs 80 with plans to grow that number further. Mr Gunson says the company recruits and nurtures exceptional local talent and has a proactive graduate recruitment policy.

Orion’s future plans include expansion into new markets with existing products. To support its growth plans Orion has opened an office in the UK, with plans for Australia Asia and the USA. Despite extensive interest from offshore venture capitalists, Mr Gunson says the company plans to remain a 100% New Zealand owned company.

(Trade New Zealand Chief Executive Fran Wilde will present Orion Systems’ Export Commendation on Monday 30 July 2001.)
Released by Tracey Palmer, Trade New Zealand Communications, ph: 09 915 4223
Jonathan Gunson, Orion Systems, ph: 09 357 6323,
Jacinta Clark, Trade New Zealand, ph: 09 366 4768

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