Whether it’s within a primary, secondary or further education establishment, technology plays a crucial role in supporting all areas of the curriculum. This is set to rise as the trends of BYOD (bring your own device) and ‘paper free’ environments in today’s schools, colleges and universities become more prevalent.
Picture a school in which teachers, senior leadership teams and even learners are using mobile devices such as tablets and laptops on a daily basis. This is in fact the reality for many schools at present – but if not, is certain to be in the very near future.
The sudden rise in people logging on to the wireless network with multiple devices will start to – if it hasn’t already – have ramifications across the IT network resulting in a ‘knock-on effect’ across the school. In simple terms, as there are more devices and more users, there will be more voice, data and video traffic across the network.
This can cause congestion, which manifests itself as performance bottlenecks, such as downtime in class due to log in problems. In turn, as more data is consumed and produced, data storage and backup demands increase so to avoid the looming threat posed by the loss of confidential data. Then as the IT highways lanes get busier, most importantly, more monitoring may be needed to ensure only authorised access is granted, rogue users or risks are blocked swiftly and efficiently and the risks of security data breaches are mitigated.
With such a complex and changing landscape, many schools are looking for a partner who can help them navigate through the challenges. As a result, this sector provides a very real opportunity for the channel – specifically when it comes to advising on whether the current IT infrastructure is equipped to handle the increased traffic, bandwidth and data in order to avoid knock on problems.
Achieving a reliable, simple and affordable IT network infrastructure in today’s tough times is an issue for many education professionals coping with uncertain budgets. In order to harness the opportunity, channel partners must, first and foremost, help schools to ask the right questions when scoping out their IT requirements.
Schools will need support and guidance in identifying whether their network can take the wireless and BYOD demands placed upon them. Chances are they may need to expand their existing network to cater for this – and if this is the case, they will look to an expert who can help them work through the components of their IT infrastructure one step at a time to ensure all of their needs are met.
Equipping children with the ability to use technology proficiently is important for their development. However, schools, colleges and universities must be careful not to ignore or underestimate the wider implications of introducing BYOD and ‘paper free’ environments. Once an idealistic vision but now a present day reality, preparatory measures must be taken. Rushing into implementation without considering the impact on wider network infrastructure, productivity and cost can be a mistake.
To have the best possible chance of delivering a successful solution, schools must do their homework and consider thoroughly the best route to adoption for their learning environment. Fortunately this is easily achieved – but only with the right support. There is a clear, revenue-generating opportunity here for the channel to provide a value-add service. These establishments aren’t just looking for a quick fix; they want a reliable, trouble-free and long-term solution to meet their needs now and in the future.
For the channel to be in the best position to help these schools, partners should demand training from the vendor to truly understand the school’s needs and solutions available to solve their challenges. They should also lean on vendors to provide support which allows them to identify wider opportunities, enabling them to build long term relationships with customers and secure additional revenue streams – this could include the likes of a ‘site survey’, where the vendor’s engineers review the school’s environment to assess exactly what type of equipment they would benefit from.
Another piece of the puzzle is ongoing support – partners will only get repeat business if the service and support they offer is of the highest standard. Here, partners should look to a vendor that offers lifetime, 24/7 support.
Our dependency and expectation on wireless connectivity is becoming ever greater – whether we are consumers, employees – even teachers and students. Schools must recognise this and understand that a seamless, high performing wireless network is within the reach of all. And the channel must not fail to recognise the huge opportunity this provides.
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