Product support and service management tools are critical to ensuring success in the education sector, according to industry representatives.
This was a major finding of the latest Integrating IT & Education forum, which brought channel players face-to-face with independent school principals and IT directors to discuss technology-based educational initiatives.
Managing director of education consultancy, PCA, and former Knox Grammar headmaster, Peter Crawley, said one of the ongoing issues for schools was how to assess whether they were making the correct strategic decisions regarding their commitment to IT spending.
He said schools considered the benefits of IT in terms of four key areas: creation, communication, presentation and research. Resellers should, therefore, look at how best to convey the way in which technology met teaching outcomes, rather than focus on the technology itself.
They should work to determine what a school’s real budget was and deliver a solution that was serviceable and sustainable on a long-term basis, he said.
Forum organiser and education reseller, Channel Connect executive director, Peter Low, said dealers should work with IT directors and principals to achieve goal alignment between strategy and IT.
Low cited the example of one reseller who was successful in selling a personal PDA program into a school only to have it fail.
Teachers had not been involved in its implementation strategy, were unsure of its purpose, and had consequently refused to provide curriculum content for the devices, he said.
“As a reseller you can’t just aim at IT heads,” he said. “The strategy really needs to come down from the top.
“If you just focus on dropping the box and the short-term, you’re not going to get far.”
Resellers also needed to help IT directors develop management tools and structures to maintain consistent service levels amid increased workloads and shrinking budgets, Low said.
As far as product trends in education were concerned, Low noted high demand for notebooks, wireless connectivity and associated areas like security.
Storage was also an emerging area of opportunity for resellers as schools began to include areas like digital content editing in curriculums, according to Low.
SANs were already being installed in some secondary schools, he said.