Mongolia a happy hunting ground

Mongolia is not a high-profile market for New Zealand software companies, but it's the current focal point of local developer Tranzsoft.

Mongolia is not a high-profile market for New Zealand software companies, but it's the current focal point of local developer Tranzsoft.

Tranzsoft has done a deal with Ivanhoe Group to provide its I2MS document management software. Ivanhoe, a mining conglomerate with headquarters in Canada and offices in Australia, Southeast Asia and Africa, liked the product enough that earlier this month Tranzsoft and Ivanhoe Networks agreed to form a joint venture to market the technology. Ivanhoe Networks, based in Singapore, will offer the software in an ASP model to customers in Southeast Asia.

It's a mutually beneficial relationship, says Rod Hall, Tranzsoft's general manager. "They put the money in, we put in the technology."

Hall says Tranzsoft and Ivanhoe are finalising details of the deal, but Ivanhoe hopes the joint venture will attract $US5 million a year in revenue. "They're pretty bullish about the whole thing and the opportunities," Hall says, although he's more conservative in his forecasts. "I think that's two years away yet."

The I2MS software was developed in-house by Tranzsoft, using technology developed for the Pacific Health Exchange. The proprietary engine stores documents for an organisation, and can distribute and convert between "the majority of known formats", Hall says. Documents are searchable and can be saved with metadata and rules.

The I2MS pilot kicked off on a single server in Perth. Once the project was green-lighted, Tranzsoft developed a second version with the feature additions requested by Ivanhoe. Version two is earmarketed for initial deployment in Perth and Ivanhoe's site in Mongolia.

"Mongolia was next because they wanted more control over data, being such a remote site," Hall says. "Mongolia might seem strange, but [Ivanhoe] does a huge amount of mining in Mongolia."

Early next year the project will grow to include Johannesburg, Beijing, and Ivanhoe's other sites. Sometime around the middle of the year, a "big iron" support server will be installed in Singapore. "We'll have the big box running in Singapore and each of the sites will still run a box," Hall says.

Future plans include adding data warehousing and data mining tools to I2MS, updating the engine to handle a wider range of information, "from drilling logs to drawing management", Hall says.

I2MS is deployed on Linux, with an extension for Windows XP. A Java version is being considered, but Hall says Linux is still the company's platform of choice and has developed credibility in recent years. "I think that's still everyone's preference."

Hall suggests the joint venture model is ideal for small local companies which wish to tap into offshore markets. Tranzsoft, based on Auckland’s North Share, has seven staff. "We're not prepared to go offshore unless there are strategic partnerships," he says, noting that some New Zealand companies have foundered in the process. "We're not prepared to burn hundreds of thousands of dollars over the US markets."

Meantime, Tranzsoft is preparing other implementations of the software used by the Pacific Health Exchange, aiming initially at the financial services and insurance markets. Hall says the software's strength is that it treats all suppliers and purchasers equally. "We're saying, let the trading relationships be delivered by the market, not the marketplace."

Pacific Health Exchange is using the software to enable hospitals and suppliers to deal with each other electronically.

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