Education IT buying in the age of austerity

  • Published: 09 August 2019,
  • The Say Team

There are few areas of the UK that have been hit harder by the government’s austerity programme than state education. This has been typified by a recent exclusive from The Guardian which revealed that more than 1,000 schools across England are turning to crowdfunding websites and wish lists to raise money for basic supplies such as pencils and textbooks. Just as essential to education in 2019 is IT equipment, and schools can ill-afford the growing number of cyberattacks targeting them (1,152 intrusions into UK university networks were recorded in 2016-17).

With evidentially tight budgets, it can be incredibly difficult to sell into the education sector. This is one of the reasons that we carried out the research study ‘The State of Trust in Security Companies Barometer’, which revealed the following key takeaways of how security vendors can get ahead in the tough education sector.

  1. Don’t underestimate the impact of social media

Key decision makers in education have a keen eye on social media, and this influences their decision making. When asked which source they would factor into a purchasing decision, 42 percent of education respondents indicated that they would take online community discussions into account, and 36 percent said they would take general social media discussions into account in helping them choose a vendor. Additionally, education respondents were much more likely to factor information from search engines into a decision, with 38 percent indicating that they would do that. This is far above the average of 27 percent, suggesting that security purchasing decisions in education are more likely to be informed by online sources.

  1. National press coverage isn’t king

Whilst the large proportion of security vendors love getting covered in the nationals, this has little impact on educators. In fact, decision makers in education are far less likely than other industries to take coverage of a vendor in national media into account (18 percent). Instead, they are much more likely to take coverage in trade media into account, with 34 percent answering that they would – reinforcing the trend that education buyers trust peer insight.

  1. Cybersecurity a big priority

Above all, education buyers focus on cybersecurity as a factor of trust. This makes a considerable amount of sense, considering that they are responsible for protecting minors from outside threats and explicit content. Most buyers said that it was either top of the list (44 percent) or one of the main priorities they faced (38 percent). This was the largest percentage of any industry and double that of the average of 19 percent.

The education sector is very diverse, encompassing privately-funded public schools and the aforementioned struggling state schools that are increasingly relying on donations. All of these institutions are existing in a difficult economic climate where budgets are being stretched. As a vendor selling into the space, it can prove to be a hard nut to crack. However, by utilising the insight gained by ‘The State of Trust in Security Companies Barometer’, vendors can get ahead of their competition and provide schools with the vital IT technology that they require.

By Louise Stewart-Muir

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