“To be a successful, partners must master the Google for Education value proposition for the three audiences,” Yeo added. “Google provides dedicated partner enablement to ensure our partners are set up for success.
“Chromebooks are secure devices which are well positioned to support online assessments, alongside switch to testing mode to secure hardware and disable features such as internet browsing, screenshot functions, and USB ports. Teachers should spend less time monitoring students and more time helping them.”
In the context of the customer, the notion of value varies. But one over-arching concept remains for the channel, in a world in which business outcomes takes centre stage.
“For Microsoft, the channel is the critical enabler of customer value, our customers are also our partner’s customers,” said Steven Miller, director of education, Microsoft. “What we know businesses are looking for, which is technology that can help provide a competitive edge and unlock value.”
To achieve this, Miller said the channel must adapt and build on their own unique IP, spanning solution and service offerings.
“That way, partners are delivering relevant technologies that deliver outcomes for their customers,” he explained. “That is customer value and in a competitive marketplace, ensures the channel continues to thrive.”
Operating is an ecosystem spanning thousands of providers in Australia - incorporating all aspects of the supply chain - Datacom is a partner delivering on the promise of value, through a shift away from traditional technology processes.
“It’s about the intangibles,” added Peter Stein, general manager of software and cloud alliances Australia at Datacom. “Customer value is about more than margin and volume across the resale.
“We’re looking at ways of adding value to a customer’s business into the future, which they in turn use to create a better experience for their customers.”
Today, Stein said customers expect the creation of solutions that work for “first and foremost” for the business, and because of this, refuse to be “shoehorned” into a single vendor, one-size-fits-all, boxed solution.
“We work closely with all our partners to ensure we can provide those multi-faceted solutions with them,” Stein added.
Furthermore, the emergence and acceptance of cloud continues to disrupt legacy technology, placing a requirement on consultants and experts to be “flexible, reliable and quick to market”.
“For Microsoft, continually striving to provide our partners with platforms that can help them thrive and build great customer relationships is essential,” added Miller, when referencing how the vendor’s approach to partnering has changed.
“In so many ways, the core skills of listening and understanding what your customer is seeking to do in their business, plus extending that out with knowledge of their competitors really gives you the opportunity to work at a far deeper level.
“Augmenting that with your own IP, something that makes you unique will set you apart and help you really deliver for every customer.”
Delving deeper, and specific to the education sector, Melbourne-based Edunet is using the concept of value to differentiate in a highly competitive market, recognising the need to look beyond the device to deliver end-user outcomes.
“Value is what sets us apart from retail,” Edunet managing director, Matthew Gordon, added. “PCs are a commodity item meaning our value-add must be a differentiator in the marketplace.
“It’s a simple recipe, trustworthy advice pre-purchase plus a solid warranty and service program to support the device post-purchase. Putting a robust enterprise-class machine in a student’s hands and being able to offer white-glove services such as imaging and also repackaging items to save on waste are also key elements.”
Traditionally, Gordon said PCs have been ordered in quantity, before the market shifted towards both bring and choose-your-own-device, resulting in purchase orders changing from a single order to hundreds, with conversations becoming more frequent, this time with individual families and students.
“We’ve adapted to make sure our value offering suits both schools and families as these two demographics can often have different views of value,” he added.
“Customers today are talking about security. We’re at the coalface of connecting students to the online world through technology.”
Despite the majority of schools having the appropriate measures in place, Gordon said a focus on protection remains, especially when then machine is used outside of the core network.
“Traditionally questions such as ‘how can we protect the device while being used in the home?’ have been met with answers such as ‘ensure it’s used in a public area’,” Gordon explained. “Families are now asking for more and parents are looking to lead the conversation in the home around cyber security.
“It’s our job to stay ahead of emerging technologies and apply them to examples such as this.”
For Microsoft partners, technology is being leveraged across the board to unlock new levels of value for the customer.
“The ability for partners to develop on the Microsoft platform and deploy repeatable IP to multiple customers, provides an enhanced level of flexibility,” added Jesse Cardy, enterprise channel manager of education, Microsoft.
“A good example in education is the ability for a device partner to build, sell and deploy a digital assistant, hosted in Microsoft Azure, leveraging repeatable IP and facilitated by CSP licensing with great ease - improving the end user experience as a result.”
As explained by Cardy, the vendor’s One Commercial Partner (OCP) organisation is underpinning the creation of new value to partners, which is transferred onward through to customers.
“This helps better align the right partner, with the right customer, offering the right solution / or service at the right time,” he added. “For a higher education customer, this could mean a shift toward digital assistants – to improve the customers’ customer experience e.g. the student.
“In the K-12 segment of the education industry there is a sustained focus on how partners can help to enable 21st century skills development. Regardless of the nuances of each sector the opportunity to be part of a customer’s digital transformation is there.”
As Microsoft - and an expanding army of partners - combine forces to reinvent the classroom, key vendor alliances are also forming, chiefly through HP in Australia.
“The HP and Microsoft relationship really shines at it brightest in the education segment,” added Katrina Yon, commercial sales program manager of channel, HP. “From the foundations of ensuring we are building the right machines for schools, in collaboration to how we then deliver them to market through our channel partners.
“This also includes our continued success and support of education programs such as HP Education Excellence Program and Microsoft Shape the Future.
“Over the last few years, we have shared a laser focus on our corporate and social responsibility to offer thought leadership in to schools and the education channel.”