A number of resellers tell me they are aggressively targeting the education sector to fill the void left by stuttering corporate investment.
With the rise of big-spending initiatives such as Building Schools for the Future (BSF) and plans to equip every UK school pupil with home internet access, it is easy to see why this vertical would top anyone’s hit list.
Okay, the yawning sales cycles and low margins inherent in the sector have put some off in the past. But with corporate accounts putting large spending decisions on hold, resellers will ignore school, college and university opportunities at their peril. The government has committed to spending £2.2bn a year on BSF alone about 15 per cent of which is IT related.
Sensing the change in mindset, vendors have been quick to throw in an extra sweetener for partners chasing education deals. Networking manufacturer ZyXEL is the latest to offer discounts for resellers winning victories in the sector; 3Com did the same just a few months back.
Indeed, the networking sector is shaping up to be a key battleground because so many universities are in dire need of a network refresh. Juniper is in the process of signing its first big UK switching deal with Exeter University, adding yet more spice to the contest.
And there’s the rub. With increased competition in the sector will inevitably come margin erosion. That is why it is important to act fast and re-adjust before it gets too crowded. The boss of one of the UK’s largest integrators recently told me he feared any big competitor not already working in the public sector would be there, or there abouts, by the end of the year.
Like anything in business, the golden rule is to get there first and ensure your offering is unique enough to stand out.
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