This post is about contemporary marketing of ICT into schools set against a history of men selling happily to men but coming up against the challenge of selling ‘boys toys’ to women.
Amazingly, thanks in part to truly massive government subsidies, this was successful but it would not have happened unless Microsoft Office had not become so deeply important to the work-place. To understand why, school procurement psychology needs to be understood.
The teaching paradigm described as ‘child centric’ education became so firmly established during the past three decades that it is hard to imagine a time ‘before’. What this means to the business-person is that the whole-child -nurture model of education wields the trump card when making procurement decisions.
To illustrate, in the late 90’s and early 00’s selling of ICT into schools was so successful partly because it was generously subsidised but partly because it picked up on nurture imperative that was sellable.
Put crudely: ‘I might have no interest in computers or software but little Sarah/Josh will need these skills to get on in life, so we had better get them’. Thus the nurture model kept schools buying computers even though its workforce was becoming increasingly female and probably less inclined to buy computers simply because they themselves wanted them.
In the past, and you will have to trust me on this, computer kit and software entirely on a selfish-procurement model. Sure the kids would benefit, surely that much was self-evident, but the driver really was what I and those like me wanted (often as a result of a starry-eyed trip to BETT), so post-hoc justification ruled the day.
The early selfish-procurement drivers ebbed away with time as schools, I would assert, became predominantly female. But at last this is changing.
To sell into schools in the 21st Century, it follows we must leverage both selfish and nurture driven buying This is actually a better place to be than you think for two reasons which are 1) the child-centric nurture model is very strong and we can add women technology purchasers to the traditional male pattern of procurement. Women buy personal technology today as much as men do and this is leading to a different profile of products listed as desirable.
The original PC revolution, first in business and then in schools, was led by folk bringing their own kit to work. Businesses and schools eventually simply had to acknowledge the trend, abandon the mainframe network and embrace the PC.
As we all know once the PC became the Network it was all over. Any new innovations (Linux, Netbooks) over the past ten years get strangled at birth by the Network. However what we are seeing today again are staff bringing their ‘Slates’ into work and into schools.
All we need to do to restart the buying revolution in schools is to leverage a nurture imperative to support spending on Slates. As you may know I think this is e-textbooks and one -to - one video tutorial.
Surely someone will go for it soon?