There’s good news and there’s bad news when it comes to selling IT solutions into the K-12 education market, said CompTIA’s Rebecca Rosen during a presentation on opportunities in education IT during the 2016 Trust X Alliance invitational, held earlier this week in Los Angeles.
First the bad news: Channel partners face a lot of red tape when it comes to selling education technology. For starters, purchasing is done on a seasonal basis – in some cases only once per year, which makes the sales cycle very long. Next, approval from school and district administration, and in some cases the state’s board of education, is needed before a school can invest in new technologies. This can extend the purchasing cycle even further.
Now for the good news: According to CompTIA research, both public and private schools anticipate increased technology spending. Furthermore, educators expect technology to become an increasingly important to the education process. Here are a few reasons why:
- Technology lets schools better track and analyze their students’ performance, then compare the data to that of students across other schools and districts.
- School administrators can streamline classroom and school management, track spending and resource allocation, and increase efficiencies.
- Technology can be used to differentiate a school and attract more students and funding.
So, how can channel partners leverage this growing emphasis on technology in the classroom to grow their businesses?
Rosen advises that first of all, channel partners must understand how schools are purchasing technology. Based on recent studies, CompTIA is finding that current usage and future demand for hardware solutions (e.g., desktop and laptop PCs, projectors and AV equipment, tablets, displays and TVs) is on the decline. At the same time, demand is growing for e-learning solutions, including online and cloud-based applications, game-based learning, classroom management software, Chromebooks and mobile applications, adaptive learning and virtual classrooms.
Next, channel partners should be aware that despite growing interest in classroom technology, there are several key obstacles to adoption, even if they are able to successfully break through the bureaucracy and make the sale. These include:
- Technology Training: Teachers and administrators want to embrace new technologies, but often find themselves lost or short on time when it comes to teaching themselves.
- Cloud Adoption Models: Figuring out how to mold this model to suit the needs of the education market, can be challenging for educators.
- Security: School administrators are responsible for protecting highly sensitive information about their students, as well as assuring the integrity of student grades and test scores.
Rosen said that these obstacles can be easily overcome, though, when channel partners train educators on leveraging technology within the classroom setting; teach them how to take advantage of cloud technologies to improve upon and expand the services they are able to deliver to students and parents; and demonstrate that by implementing IT and physical security solutions such as access control and monitoring, they can both protect their students and the school’s reputation.
In closing, Rosen reminded channel partners to be patient and expect difficulties and letdowns when selling education technology solutions. But, by finding ways to differentiate and position themselves as a trusted advisor that understands the unique challenges and opportunities faced by K-12 schools when it comes to implementing technology solutions, they will be able to take advantage of growth opportunities in the market.
The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) is a non-profit trade association serving as the voice of the information technology industry. With approximately 2,000 member companies, 3,000 academic and training partners, 80,000 registered users and more than two million IT certifications issued, CompTIA is dedicated to advancing industry growth through educational programs, market research, networking events, professional certifications and public policy advocacy. To learn more, visit CompTIA online, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.