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Ray Fleming's take on what's interesting in Education IT in Australia

  • Education

    The Education Sessions at Australia Partner Conference - Part Eight

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    This is part eight of a series, covering the Education sessions at the Microsoft Australia Partner Conference.
    Start at part one (The Microsoft Australia Education Team) here...

    How Microsoft Academic licensing helps Microsoft partners

    How Microsoft Academic licensing helps you sell

    One of the questions that new partners often ask is “How does your licensing work in education?”. When they sell software solutions to education customers, they often rely on (or include) some Microsoft software components. For example, if a partner is selling a business intelligence solution for education that uses the capability of Windows SQL Server 2008, they will need to work out whether an education customer already has the server licence, or needs to buy a new one.

    So to help, during our Australia Partner Conference session, we gave a quick overview of how education customers in Australia license their software - and which software. It’s general guidance only, rather than specific for an individual customer - so treat it as an introduction!

    What Microsoft licensing is common for public education institutions?

    For public schools, TAFEs and state-funded universities in Australia, it is common for most customers to have a subscription agreement for their Microsoft software. Normally this is negotiated at state or national level (to get the best pricing) and covers all of the organisations below the main body. The common licensing agreements are:

    • Public Schools: Normally covered by a School Agreement or an Enrolment for Education Solutions (EES) agreement, that covers all of their computers.
    • TAFEs: Are normally covered on the same basis as schools
    • Universities: They’ll normally have an individual agreement, called a Campus Agreement or an Enrolment for Education Solutions (EES) agreement, that covers all of their computers.

    With these agreements, it normally means that the customers has licences for the Microsoft Education Desktop - which includes the latest Enterprise versions of Windows, Office and one of two Client Access Licences (CAL) suites:

    • Microsoft Core CAL - The Core CAL pack includes Windows Server Standard CAL, Exchange Server Standard CAL, SharePoint Server Standard CAL, Lync Standard CAL, Forefront EndPoint Protection Suite CAL and System Center Configuration Manager CAL.
    • Microsoft Enterprise CAL - Includes all Core CAL Suite components plus Active Directory Rights Management Services CAL, Exchange Server Enterprise CAL, SharePoint Server Enterprise CAL, Lync Enterprise CAL, System Center Client Management Suite CAL, and Forefront Unified Access Gateway CAL

    In addition, most customers also license their servers through their annual subscription agreement, using an option called ‘Enrollment for Application Platform’ (or EAP). This gives them server licensing for the products they choose.

    Which means that…

    So all of this means that you can assume your customer has licences for Windows 7, Office 2010 and also access to SharePoint, SQL server and Lync for IM and collaboration etc. And if they use the EAP option, they’ll also have the licences they need for Windows/SQL servers - although you will still need to check they have the right version licensed (for example, if they are using their SQL Server for Business Intelligence they will need the Enterprise version of the licence - see my overview about other reasons you need SQL Enterprise versions).

    What Microsoft licensing is common for private schools?

    For private schools in Australia, it’s also common for schools to have a subscription agreement:

    • Many Catholic schools will switch this year into a new national Enrolment for Education Solutions (EES) framework agreement. It simplifies licensing for the schools, because all they have to do is count their FTE staff, and they are then licensed for all of the computers they own (except for those that are given to a single student under a 1:1 scheme, which are licensed separately). And being a subscription, they always have the licences to the latest versions. There are still some buying their software under a Select licence, but this will reduce over time as they realise the immediate and long-term cost advantages of the EES scheme.
    • Independent schools may be on any kind of licence agreement - Select, Open, School Agreement and EES. Often it may be because they’ve not heard about how EES works, so it will be worth discussing it with them (as they would be likely to save money by using it).

    Which means that…

    Where a customer has an EES or School Agreement, you’ll find the customer will be licensed for the Microsoft Education Desktop - which includes Windows 7 Enterprise, Office 2010 Professional Plus, and one of two Client Access Licence (CAL) suites (see above). 

    If the customer buys their software through a Select or Open agreement, then they are less likely to have the licences for the latest versions across their whole school, and you’ll need to check more closely what they already have.

    How does this help partners?

    With many Microsoft customers in the commercial market, our partners will have to get involved in a deep discussion about the licences needed for a particular business solution to be implemented. But the situation tends to be much easier in education. Subscription customers are automatically licensed through their subscription for the latest version of key software, and many will have licensing for servers already sorted. As a partner, it means your discussion can focus on your own software and services, rather than their Microsoft licences. And where they do need additional licences, they will often procure those separately through their existing Microsoft Academic licensing agreement.

    You can find out more about our licensing for schools, TAFEs and universities on the Australian Microsoft Education website

    Learn MorePart Nine - Key successes of the last year, and next year

  • Education

    Alan’s Paperless School project

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    Icons_light_blueAlan Richards, the Information Systems Manager at West Hatch High School near London, has been running a ‘Paperless School’ project for the last 18 months. He’s been using the school’s SharePoint in order to reduce the amount of paper being used in the school or being sent home to parents. I wrote about his project last October (see ‘Schools spend more money on printer paper than on ICT’) and the initial results - cutting out 10,000 sheets of paper from their academic review process.

    Alan ran a webinar in the UK, where he talked about the project and gave a live demonstration of what they were doing now - with SharePoint and InfoPath - to reduce the amount of internal paperwork (as well as improving the communication process within the school). For example, by moving the Absence Request form online they’ve streamlined the process, made it easier for staff and administrators, and reduced the potential for lost forms to cause chaos.

    The recording of the webinar is now available on YouTube (or below):

    If you’ve got a truck arriving at school every month with your new supply of paper, then it’s worth investing half an hour watching Alan’s webinar recording, and then downloading the slides from Alan’s Edutech Now blog.

  • Education

    The Consumerisation of IT, and education - presentation slides

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    Icons_light_blueI’ve been speaking at some events run by Acer and Fujitsu recently, and had the opportunity to look at the issues surrounding the consumerisation of IT - and what it means for schools when you’ve got a broad range of devices arriving on your campus - and they may not all be owned and managed by your IT team. Although the event was focused on schools, in reality this is impacting every sector of education today.

    Although I haven’t got a recording of the session, you can download the slides here, which will hopefully be useful to people that were there, as well as some of those who weren’t (although, without the words, some slides will make absolutely no sense!)

    What I’ll do going forward is let you know which events I’ll be speaking at, and give you details of how you can register if applicable. And if it’s local to you, it would also be a great opportunity to catch up before or after for a coffee and a chat!


        Learn MoreDownload the 'Consumerisation of IT - and it's impact on Education' slides

      • Education

        Are education leaders more optimistic about online education than the public?

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        Pew Social and Demographic Trends

        The Pew Research Centre are a respected American organisation that shares research on issues, attitudes and trends shaping modern life. Although they tend to be US-centric, much of their research is unique and provides a helpful indicator to issues elsewhere in the world. (I like their description of themselves as a “fact tank” as opposed to the normal politicised “think tanks”)

        They have just published their report ‘The Digital Revolution and Higher Education’, which contains some great insights highlighted by some great questions. The report is based on a large USA sample of over 2,000 members of the general public, and 1,000 college and university presidents. So although we can’t assume the data stands true for Australia, it’s still though provoking.

        Is online learning as effective as classroom teaching?

        According to the report, the majority of college/university presidents think online learning has the same value as classroom learning. But the majority of the ‘public’ disagreed.

          • 51% of presidents agreed that online courses offer an equal educational value compared with courses taken in the classroom.
          • 29% of the public agreed.

        Although it’s 5 out of 10, versus 3 out of 10, there’s still a perception gap between people running the education system, and people using it. One in four graduates have taken a course online.

        Interesting to note that of the public who’d done an online course, 6 out of 10 who’d experienced it thought it wasn’t as effective as classroom teaching

        Half of college/university presidents believe that in 10 years’ time, most of their students will take classes online (up from 15% today), and 62% expect half of all textbooks to go digital in the same decade.

        What types of colleges and universities offer online courses?

        77% of college/university presidents reported that their institution offered online courses. There’s some interesting self-selection in here too. Nearly 90% of public institutions offer online courses, whilst it’s only 60% for private ones. And the more selective the institution is in their student intake, the less they are likely to offer online courses (51% for the most selective, versus 86% for the least selective)

        Students want more ‘blended learning’

        One small critique of the Pew Research is that it promoted the idea that there are only two options - online or classroom - for learning. Whereas I think that blended learning is likely to lead the way going forward. You may recall research from earlier this year that 8 out of 10 students wanted to see more blended learning in the future.

        My reaction to the report is that there’s some interesting points raised that highlight a gap between what institutions want, and what their customers want. As we move into a more consumer- and market-led higher education marketplace, it’s going to create some tension whilst the two move together! Australia may be in a different place to the US, so we may have more time to be prepared for it.

        Learn MoreRead 'The Digital Revolution and Higher Education' from the Pew Research Centre

      • Education

        This week’s webcasts - 5-9 September 2011

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        Webinar iconThis year we’re offering a series of live webinars, led by a Microsoft subject matter expert, on a range of Microsoft products and education services. There’s the Microsoft Mondays, which are webinars for university/TAFE lecturers, Tech Tuesdays for school IT managers, and a range of other technical webinars which are not specifically designed to focus on education (attendees will be from a wide range of industries) but are ideal for an opportunity to spend some time looking deeply into a particular leading-edge Microsoft technology.

        Each week I’ll highlight the webcasts coming up soon, and provide a more detailed overview, and give a list of future sessions that you can book into your diary. All of the timings for the webcasts are AEST (Australia East Coast time).
        See ** below for more details on how the webcasts work

        This week’s webcasts

        Microsoft Monday - How to Collaborate in the Cloud

        Using a range of innovative technologies, Lawrence Crumpton will walk through collaborating on shared documents in the cloud via Live@edu.
        For: University and TAFE lecturers and support staff

        Monday 5th September 2-3PM AEST - Register here

        Tech Tuesday - Microsoft Partner story - Desire2Learn

        Desire2Learn are providers of an advanced Learning Management System, used in schools and universities around the world.
        For: School IT teams and eLearning leaders

        Tuesday 6th September 11AM AEST - Register here

        Microsoft Exchange Online: Unified Messaging in Microsoft Office 365

        Exchange Online Unified Messaging (UM) is available in Office 365. This session explains the UM service architecture, what’s needed to connect to UM from customer premises, and compare the features of the Enterprise and Online versions of UM. Administration and operation of UM in Office 365 are demonstrated.
        For: IT teams from customers and partners (this session is for all customers, including education customers)

        Tuesday 6th September 2-4PM - Find out more, and register

        Inside Windows Azure, the Cloud Operating System

        Join the Session, for an under-the-hood tour of the internals of Microsoft’s new cloud OS. Topics include datacentre architecture, cloud OS architecture, and what goes on behind the scenes when you deploy a service, a machine fails or comes online and a role fails.
        For: IT Teams and developers from education customers and partners (this session is for all customers, including education customers)

        Wednesday 7th September 2-4PM - Find out more, and register


        Future webcasts

        Date
        Title
        Register Here

        20 September

        Microsoft SQL Server Code-Named "Denali" AlwaysOn Series, Part 2: Building a Mission-Critical High Availability Solution Using AlwaysOn

        Find out more, and register

        20 September

        Microsoft Lync 2010: In the Cloud

        Find out more, and register

        23 September

        Understanding How Microsoft Virtualization Compares to VMware

        Find out more, and register

        27 September

        Microsoft Visual Studio Tips and Tricks

        Find out more, and register

        27 September

        Ten Must-Have Tools for Windows Azure

        Find out more, and register

        30 September

        Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2012: Deployment and Infrastructure Technical Overview

        Find out more, and register

        4 October

        Microsoft Lync 2010: Setup, Deployment, Upgrade and Coexistence Scenarios

        Find out more, and register

        14 October

        Virtualization: State of the Union

        Find out more, and register

        18 October

        What's New in Manageability for Microsoft SQL Server Code-Named "Denali"

        Find out more, and register

        18 October

        Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft Office 365: How to Set Up a Hybrid Deployment

        Find out more, and register

        21 October

        Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2012: Overview

        Find out more, and register

        25 October

        An IT Pro View of Windows Azure

        Find out more, and register

        28 October

        What Are the Bridges between Private and Public Cloud?

        Find out more, and register

        1 November

        Microsoft Office 365: Deployment Overview

        Find out more, and register

        8 November

        Upgrading to Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 and SQL Server Code-Named "Denali": A Comprehensive Look

        Find out more, and register

        11 November

        Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012: What’s in It, and How It Enables the Building of Private Clouds and Federation to the Public Cloud

        Find out more, and register

        15 November

        Taking Office to the Cloud: Integrating Microsoft Office 2010 and Windows Azure

        Find out more, and register

        22 November

        Managing Windows Azure Applications

        Find out more, and register

        22 November

        Integrating Microsoft SharePoint 2010 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

        Find out more, and register

        25 November

        Integrating the Microsoft System Center Stack for Process Compliance and Automation

        Find out more, and register

        29 November

        What’s New in Microsoft SQL Server Code-Named “Denali” for SQL Server Integration Services

        Find out more, and register

        6 December

        Microsoft Lync 2010: Audio, Video and Web Conferencing Architecture and Experience

        Find out more, and register

        ** By running them as webcasts, our aim is to allow you to get the latest news, without travel costs, or event fees. And with all of the advantages of being able to watch an online webcast whilst also being able to do other things if necessary.

        All of the free webcasts are one or  two hour sessions, and combine technical presentations and live demonstrations. The level of the content is suitable for IT teams in schools, TAFEs and universities, as well as for pre-sales consultants and technical consultants working within Microsoft’s education partners. There are some which are much more specifically tailored for developers, and I’ll highlight those.

        You’ll need to register in advance, and you’ll then receive a Calendar note as well as info on how to join the Live Meeting online. All of the timings given are for Australia East Coast time.

      • Education

        The Education Sessions at Australia Partner Conference - Part Seven

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        This is part seven of a series, covering the Education sessions at the Microsoft Australia Partner Conference.
        Start at part one (The Microsoft Australia Education Team) here
        So far, we’ve looked at an overview of the Australian education market. And although this is part seven, we’re only about 15 minutes into the sessions. But the whole point of sitting down to write these summaries was to provide more depth to the sessions, for both attendees and those of you that didn’t make it to the conference.

        Clayton Carnes, Principal of Hermit Park State School in Townsville

        Hermit Park State School signAs luck would have it, we were running an event for innovative teachers just down the road from the Australia Partner Conference, so we were able to invite one of the Principals - Clayton Carnes from Townsville - to come along and share some of his thoughts on life from a school leadership perspective. We explicitly asked him to give our partners advice about dealing with schools, and Clayton dealt with that in his usual inspirational and humorous way.

        Clayton started by talking about the context for the learners in his school - who are starting in a primary school today and will be entering the workforce in 2023. He talked about the skills they will need for that workplace, and how the education they are receiving today needs to prepare them for that. And he also talked about the many roles that a school, and a school Principal, play in the local community (outside of the big cities, schools can often be the biggest employer in town).

        In terms of procurement, Clayton talked about the factors that influence their decision making, including the various local framework schemes for suppliers - are you an approved GITC supplier, do you appear on the Queensland Education Preferred Supplier list (EDPSA)?

        Then he gave a cracking list - a self-described list of 10 Claytonisms, giving practical advice on things to know when dealing with education customers up and down the country. It was a mixture of advice and humour, but there’s an underlying value in the list:

        1. Approach schools in Terms 2 and 3
          They’re so busy getting everything started in Term 1, and then Term 4 is all about the Christmas production and preparation. So the middle of the year is the right time to be talking to schools

            • Beware of the implementation dip
              Any change management manual will tell you that all change will have a period where things seemed worse than before. So make sure that you, and the users, are ready for it, know that it’s going to happen, and know that it’s not going to last. This isn’t ICT specific, but a great piece of advice for any change management project.
              For a deeper understanding of this, watch Michael Fullan talking about Motion Leadership

                • Results require long-term investment
                  The full results of a project are only likely to be returned when there’s a sustained investment in time, resources and professional development. (I think that could also be applied to a relationship between a supplier and a customer too)

                    • Identify your principal patriarch
                      You’ve probably read more than one book, or attended a course, which has focused on the politics of customer relationships. Clayton’s point was that even in a small school, there’s relationships that you need to understand, and know who the real sponsor for projects will be.

                        • Always dress one level above your client
                          I’ve observed that education is more formally dressed than most other industries, and Clayton’s point was that you never damage yourself by being dressed one level better than the people you’re meeting. But don’t be completely overdressed or underdressed (if you’re the only person in the room wearing shorts, that’s bad!)
                          My old rules of thumb from England appears to work in the winter here:
                          1. University faculty/IT: Shirt, no tie
                          2. University leaders: Suit & tie
                          3. School IT teams, event out of school: Shirt, no tie
                          4. School IT teams, in school: Shirt & Tie
                          5. School leaders: Suit & tie

                            • Professional development must be linked to real life
                              Clayton’s advice was that all training should be scenario based, rather than theoretical. Want to train teachers on using SharePoint - then show them how they’ll really use it with a scenario like sharing documents with a student, or group editing. Clayton included a quote from Richard Elmore: “The success of any professional development is inversely proportional to the square of its distance from the classroom”

                                • Develop a living resume
                                  Basically, know your story, and know it succinctly. If you only have 30 seconds to talk when you meet your next school principal, what is it you say? What is it your company does? How do you help your education customer succeed?

                                    • Establish a clear educational reason
                                      Yep, if you’re selling to education, then it’s all about education. And education is all about teaching and learning. So how does what you do help teaching and learning?
                                      Clayton’s slides included a table he’d shared with others before- how the Microsoft software they were using matched up to the educational goals of the school

                                        • Don’t forget the power of coffee in a relationship
                                          There was a time when taking a couple of coffee mugs to a school visit would get you remembered. These days things have changed. Clayton’s advice was to get to know the coffee tastes of the person you’re meeting, and arrive at the meeting with their favourite skinny-cappucino-mocha-soy-caramel. (I reckon that it will make the next appointment much easier to book too!)

                                            • “How will I remember you?”
                                              Clayton said that he meets around 600 people a day. 600. So how would he remember you from a meeting? What value are you going to give him back that he can use? Quite a daunting prospect - you’ve got to stick out from 600 others, so that what you say is acted on!

                                                You can download a copy of Clayton’s slides here

                                                Learn MorePart Eight - How Microsoft Academic licensing helps you sell

                                              • Education

                                                Microsoft Mondays for lecturers - Spring 2011

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                                                MicrosoftMondays

                                                We started with Tech Tuesdays (for school IT managers), and then Webinar Wednesdays arrived (for developers and technical partners). Now I have pleasure in bringing you Microsoft Mondays for universities.

                                                As you can see our creativity lacks no barriers, although we’ve haven’t yet found a suitable rhyming name for Friday events Smile

                                                Microsoft Mondays are webinars that are designed to help university and TAFE lecturers to get more out of the IT systems that they have available. What we’ve seen is that it is relatively easy to deploy technology, but can be very difficult to support the change management that goes with it - specifically helping colleagues to understand what they can now do. So we’re here to help with Microsoft Mondays. As the team put it:

                                                 

                                                Would you like to learn how to engage your students more effectively?
                                                Or deliver captivating presentations to improve the learning outcomes of your students?
                                                Become a hero at your University by discovering productivity 'best practices' being used by the most innovative lecturers in Australia.

                                                 

                                                The webinars are on Mondays 2-3PM AEST

                                                Microsoft Monday - 5th September

                                                How to Collaborate in the Cloud
                                                Using a range of innovative technologies, Lawrence Crumpton will walk through collaborating on shared documents in the cloud via Live@edu.
                                                Monday 5 Sep 2-3PM AEST

                                                 

                                                Learn MoreLearn more and register for Microsoft Mondays - No further Microsoft Mondays currently scheduled, so no link :(

                                              • Education

                                                nsquared - putting all your technology together for one purpose

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                                                I’m meeting up with the nsquared people again on Monday, to take a look at some of their education applications. They’re an innovative software developer in Sydney who I first met in London when they were doing clever things with the Microsoft Surface. Now they have moved deeper into creating immersive experiences for users, across PC, Surface, phone and projection screens using Kinect.

                                                When I saw their latest video of a concept for architects, it fired off the usual thoughts about might be possible if this was applied to learning scenarios. It is an amazing concept, and rightly has been receiving a good deal of interest this week.

                                                They also offer a range of education applications, which are designed for touch interfaces on the Microsoft Surface or Windows slates, and take advantage of the fact that learners use them in completely different ways to normal laptops.

                                                Learn MoreLearn more about the nsquared educational applications

                                              • Education

                                                The Education Sessions at Australia Partner Conference - Part Six

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                                                This is part six of a series, covering the Education sessions at the Microsoft Australia Partner Conference.

                                                Start at part one (The Microsoft Australia Education Team) here

                                                Common objections you’ll meet with education ICT decision makers

                                                There’s a common fallacy that CIO’s and their teams in education don’t have much money. I’ve come across it many times myself - for example, talking with a big ICT company a couple of weeks ago about why they didn’t bring an innovative customer management solution to the education market, they told me ‘…but education customers don’t have much money’. The reality is that education is one of the biggest spenders on ICT in the country. But they have high expectations for the ICT investments that they make - and do drive a hard bargain.

                                                So, if you’re sitting in a discussion with an education ICT decision maker, what might you hear - and what could your customer really mean?

                                                “I don’t have any money”

                                                imageYes, you will hear it from your customers. Regularly. And your customers will hear it up the chain from their managers too. It’s not a hopeless cause though. It’s often time to review whether what your discussing is actually hitting the strategic goals of the institution. And whether there is funding devoted to that strategic initiative that could be invested more wisely in your project. (I’ve already written about how to understand your customers’ strategic plans here).
                                                One real-life example from last year was a supplier who offered a power management utility to run on a universities computers. They had worked with the IT Team to quantify exactly how much money could be saved, and the university had even gone as far as piloting it in a whole building. It proved that the product paid for itself with reduced electricity costs within seven days (yes, no typo - 7). But the IT Team didn’t have the money to buy the product, and the electricity budget they were cutting belonged to somebody else. In this case, the IT Team had to convince the other budget holder to contribute to the cost of implementation. The challenge for the supplier was two-fold - it involved identifying who held the budget that would be used to implement the project - and it took over six months to get going (whilst six months worth of electricity was going down the drain!)

                                                “I have to cut my ICT budget”

                                                imageYou are likely to hear more of that in the future than you have in the past from some customers (eg See this story in the Australian this week), and it’s definitely the case that budgets are getting tighter for many customers, as the marketplace changes (eg from 2012, the result of the Bradley Review will see some universities shrinking, whilst others grow).
                                                So what have we seen so far?

                                                • The future of very big $100M+ IT projects in education is looking bleaker, as a more nimble project mindset appears in the state education departments.
                                                • Procurement cycles get longer, as projects shift shape mid-procurement
                                                • Increasing demand for projects which use Operating Expenditure (OPEX) rather than Capital (CAPEX).

                                                Especially where budgets are tighter, there are still good discussions to have. My three recommendations are:

                                                1. Make sure that you focus on the value of your solution - what is it going to deliver in education benefit terms. Even if (especially if!) the IT team aren’t interested in that angle. Because a little further down the procurement somebody from outside of IT is going to ask the question about why the investment is being made. If the IT team don’t have the answers to hand, that risks the whole project closing.
                                                2. Most of Microsoft’s education customers in Australia have a broad subscription agreement that gives them access to a massive range of our software. Helping them to deploy some of that is a key opportunity for you and them - they get more value from their licensing, and you will often be able to find projects which reduce the cost of running their institution. (eg Windows 7 reduces PC power usage by $70+ a year - a Windows 7 deployment project will likely have an ROI of a few months)
                                                3. Talk to customers about whether they could save money from switching some of their ICT to a equivalent but lower cost Microsoft product. Obvious choices would be using Windows Server’s Hyper-V virtualisation instead of paying for VMWare licences, or switching a database from Oracle to Windows SQL Server. And there are plenty of other options - switching from a third-party anti-virus to use ForeFront; using the MSDNAA/Dreamspark programme for developer tools are just two.

                                                “That isn’t the way we do it”

                                                imageEvery week I talk with a partner who’s created a new way of handling an old business process. Online testing instead of paper-based. SMS communication to parents instead of phone calls. Phone apps for university students to access the latest faculty information. Running a service in the Cloud instead of putting a server in the datacentre.
                                                Often, the challenge they’ll have heard many times from their customers is “that isn’t the way we do it”, and that then slows down the whole conversation. The reality is that some of the new ways of doing things create a massive challenge for the CIO and their teams. A new system can challenge the role of their team (and even threaten their jobs) and it can also be perceived to challenge the authority of the team (if they currently have responsibility to run servers, and decide what can and can’t happen on it, imagine the threat of moving to Cloud systems, where they may perceive that this role is removed). Or they could feel that they are being pushed into areas where they aren’t the business owner, and may not have much influence or knowledge.

                                                So how do you deal with this? Well, my best advice is to be armed with excellent case studies. Know which customers have already done what you’re proposing. Of course, the closer the customer reference matches to the person you’re in front of, the better. But a university hearing that another public sector body has done something similar will still be reassured. Even if you don’t have your own case study example (hey, we all have to start with our ‘first’ customer), then build up examples from other sources. If you’re just about to propose to a university in Australia that it does the first Australian implementation of a technology, then can you demonstrate that it’s been used successfully somewhere else in the world? (This is where the Education case studies database on Microsoft.com can come in incredibly useful - this link shows you the last 90 days of worldwide education case studies)

                                                “I’m the Decision Maker”

                                                imageNot an objection, so much as something to look out for. You’ll definitely hear this - and sometimes it’s true. But the reality of decision making in educational ICT is that it can be a confusing, and lengthy process - and gets longer and more confusing the bigger the investment. There are many decisions, on straight ICT infrastructure, that an ICT manager will make independently. But where you’re providing a business solution, rather than just a straight IT product, you’ll find the decision making unit will expand, and start to involve the administration or teaching leadership staff.
                                                If the procurement is going to have to go to tender (because of the size of it), then it’s the procurement process that’s actually going to be the decision maker. So you’ll need to be really clear on how the various bids are scored. (The Northern Territories Government are a model of openness about this - if you look at one of their tenders, you’ll see that they provide the scoring framework with tender documents, so that you know in advance what is important to them.)

                                                And decision making is also changing today - see Part Five “The Decision Making Unit for Australian Education ICT”. Whereas a lot of ICT decision making has rested with the CIO and their team, there are increasing examples where the decision is led by somebody within another area - especially as the shift to Cloud services has enabled them to buy a business service to deliver an outcome, rather than having to buy and implement an ICT system.

                                                Learn MorePart Seven - The view from within a school - what the Principal thinks [to come Monday 5th]

                                              • Education

                                                The Education Sessions at Australia Partner Conference - Part Five

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                                                This is part five of a series, covering the Education sessions at the Microsoft Australia Partner Conference.
                                                Start at part one (The Microsoft Australia Education Team) here

                                                The Decision Making Unit for Australian Education ICT

                                                The Education Decision Making Unit in Australian EducationAlthough there are over 8,500 education institutions in Australia, like many sectors, there is a hierarchy of decision making, including for ICT procurement.

                                                This is easiest to see when you consider ICT within each of the states, where there’s a CIO who will make critical decisions on behalf of all of the public schools within their state. Although it’s not as clear cut as a single decision maker (if it was, could you imagine how much sales and marketing effort would be focused on the inbox of just one person!) there is a clear focus for decision making at the centre of the organisation, rather than at the individual schools (think: more like Woolworths than 6,000+ individual corner shops).

                                                Here’s a summary of the decision making units for each of the education segments in Australia (the wordy-version of the slide above!):

                                                Public Schools - very centralised ICT decision making

                                                The strategic ICT budget for the 6,752 public schools sits with the CIO for the state - they receive the budgets for ongoing ICT maintenance, as well as the strategic projects, and are then responsible for delivering a programme that meets the needs of all of their schools. Given the scale of some of the states - for example New South Wales - you’ve therefore got a CIO with one of the largest IT budgets anywhere in the country, not just in education. Schools may get some say in how they implement the programmes - for example, they may get a choice about which laptop they choose for the DER programme, but it’s always from a framework of suppliers selected through central procurement.

                                                Schools can also buy their own ICT resources out of their own funds, but it’s limited funding, so tends to be for curriculum resources used by specific teachers or subjects. And the money for this comes from an overall school’s budget - the Principal will be deciding between spending on books, classroom resources, small maintenance projects - and ICT. Unlike central ICT projects, there isn’t a ring-fenced budget.

                                                The general trend is towards devolving more control to schools - so expect more decision making to be devolved to schools over time, starting with less strategic projects. If you want to know what that might end up looking like, I can explain over a coffee how the system worked in the UK, where every school principal had their own budget, and no central procurement of ICT - leading to around 30,000 buying points for school ICT!

                                                Public Sector TAFEs - ICT decision making balanced between independence and centralisation

                                                Ultimately, the 60 TAFEs are part of the same public sector organisation as the schools - however, they are much larger, with more funding coming from external revenue streams. So they will often implement their own strategic ICT projects as well as benefiting from central projects run out of the Education Department’s IT branch. Often these are around business priorities where it’s easier to see how it will deliver an independent business outcome for the TAFE - things like student recruitment, employer engagement and grants management. So selling a corporate student management system for all TAFEs would be done at central IT, but a solution to help a TAFE to manage their marketing and student recruitment activities could well be bought by individual TAFEs.

                                                Across there different states, there is also quite a wide variation in the amount of local autonomy TAFEs have - something you’ll want to check when working nationally.

                                                Higher Education - local ICT decision making, national references

                                                The 42 universities are their own decision making body for ICT procurement - each CIO in each university is the key decision maker, and they set both the ICT strategy, as well as control the implementation projects. Of course, it doesn’t all come down to one person - there are 1,600 people working in IT teams across Australian universities - but ultimately the strategic decision making sits within the individual universities. However, like many businesses, there are a range of other decision makers, and budget holders, who are critical to ICT procurement. For example, if your proposing to simplify the budgeting process for universities, then the key decision maker is likely to be in the Finance team, with IT being a supporter of the project. Or if you want to talk about a system for student recruitment, then it’s the marketing team who’ll be the primary driver. The benefit of this is that funding for projects can come from outside of the IT budget. For example, if you’ve got a way to recruit students more effectively, then you can expect that the marketing manager will be interested in how much it will save them - leading to a true Return On Investment discussion and decision making criteria.

                                                The other thing to remember with universities is that they have a close network between them - the CIOs all talk to each other and make recommendations of what works for them. So if you deliver a great solution to somebody who’s a good networker, then you can expect word to get around. That rule also applies if you deliver a bad solution!

                                                Catholic Schools - increasingly devolved ICT decision making

                                                As we move on to the 1,700+ Catholic schools, decision making gets a little diffuse again. The Catholic schools are grouped into Diocese units of varying sizes - eg Brisbane Catholic Education has 134 schools, whereas there are 56 schools in the Diocese of Maitland and Newcastle - and in each of these organisations you’ll find a CIO and their ICT team. Like the IT departments in each of the states, they’ll be making strategic investments in ICT systems, which the schools will then adopt. But there is considerable flexibility that allows most of the individual schools to do their own thing, although they will often be attracted to the central deal that’s been negotiated by the Diocese. (For some ICT procurement, there are also some national peak bodies, which negotiate national agreements on commodity purchases, like internet connectivity). Oh, and some of the Catholic schools aren't part of a Diocese grouping - so they act as completely independent schools.

                                                If you’re an ICT partner supplying Catholic schools, it may mean that you’re going through the procurement loop for the Diocese, and then having to go around each of the individual schools to convince them. But at least you’ll have the endorsement of their Diocese.

                                                Private Schools - more than a thousand decision makers

                                                So lastly, the 1,100 private schools in Australia. The message here is that they all act as individual schools - each making their own buying decisions, and developing their own strategies. Just like universities, you’ll be talking with the head of marketing about student recruitment systems and processes, and the head of operations for finance, and the head of IT about their infrastructure and learning systems. And just like higher education, they do watch what others are doing - so if you’ve got a good customer, you can expect them to tell others about what you’ve done for them - and people to listen.

                                                Learn MorePart Six - What education customers say, and what they mean

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