Ho noted that special deals can sometimes be worked out with manufacturers by mentioning that the gear is for a school contract.
She’s also a big believer in trying to convince schools to consider lesser-known but often better-priced brands when all other things are equal – which, she implied, is more often than sometimes realised.
In the education market as in others one important way into potential buyers’ hearts and wallets is solution selling. Education customers don’t want to have to deal with too many different companies, so it’s critical so build a one-stop shop – at least in the customers’ eyes, Ho said.
If partners can develop that trust with customers – even if that means recommending one vendor partner over another for that customer’s specific purpose – they have a much higher probability of return custom.
“So, sometimes you make a loss,” Ho said. “It’s about long-term thinking.”
HP PSG commercial product marketing manager, Rob Kingston, said it plans to win a share of the likely increase in education opportunities with the help of channel partners. More partners could be signed up to do consulting work, long-term onsite support and integration services. “We can’t possibly deal with each school individually,” he said.
Management of school IT solutions represents the best opportunities for the channel, he suggested, as educational institutions increasingly embrace the 21st century. “There’s probably a mix between infrastructure and client device [opportunities] such as UMPCs,” Kingston said.
HP’s education attack also includes partnerships with other relevant vendors including VMware and Citrix as, increasingly, hot corporate solutions such as virtualisation are going back to school. HP itself, on top of the usual partner support, makes videos for TeacherTube – a YouTube clone for the education sector – that talk up technology and what it can do.
HP StorageWorks product marketing manager, Mark Nielsen, goes over the growing potential in deploying and managing storage solutions for educational institutions. All this digitising makes for a lot of data that needs to be safely and securely archived, backed up and stored. “We’re seeing 30-40 per cent growth year-on-year in storage capacity [in education],” Nielsen said.
HP gear went into Central Queensland University, which has 24,000 students of which about half study online – meaning more storage infrastructure is required. HP SAN and Modular Storage Arrays (MSAs) are gradually replacing old Direct Attached Storage, giving benefits in networking and efficient information retrieval, Nielsen said.