Partners can do everything themselves or, like Victoria-based Computelec, team up to get the scope and scale that’s needed. Today it has a team of 85 staff, some of whom come from the education sector themselves originally.
National sales and marketing manager, Darren Elsby, pointed out that while additional education funding will help make more sales and move the sector ahead technologically, it’s less of a Digital Education Revolution than a natural evolution.
“We, for example, started doing notebook programs back in 1990, one laptop per pupil deployments,” he said. “But what’s happening is a transformation of the performance of IT in schools. This has impact on school curricula and so on.”
Security needs are important but not really that different from those of a business, according to Elsby.
Over the last three years, this has meant a lot more hardware that supports collaboration and rich media has proven appealing to schools.
“In the last three years, almost 100 per cent of our fleet has been tablet PCs,” he said.
That’s the greatest need in schools – technology that ties back into the curriculum taught to students. “You can put as many boxes in as you like, but how they’re used is clearly a whole different ball game,” Elsby said. “Our focus is that tech is a battery charger, a catalyst for teachers.”
It all must be done, furthermore, alongside professional development programs, adequate education of teachers and other staff as well as technical pre- and post-sales support. The main earner for Computelec is services, unsurprisingly, in these times of minuscule hardware margins.
And all that can be best done by channel partners on the ground to ensure that schools get the support they need in a timely manner, Elsby said.
Public sector business director at integrator, SMS Management & Technology, Paul Cooper, has been focused on contracts with departments of education across Australia. For SMS, education is an embryonic target, sealed at press-time by the aforementioned Google hosted services deal alongside Telstra with NSW’s Department of Education and Training (DET).
“It’s not the usual gmail; it’s a closed user group,” Cooper said. “And you don’t get all the ads.”