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The US and UK Show Key Differences in the EdTech Management Platforms & Tools Space

This week, Futuresource’s education technology team published its latest report on the adoption of mobile PC’s in K-12 schools globally.

One of the key takeaways is the storming success Google is having with its Chromebook platform in the US market. A 58% market share in 2016 is no mean feat when competing with Microsoft and Apple, but look beyond the US and the market picture is markedly different. While Chrome is starting to gain traction in some territories, Microsoft retains the international advantage.

It’s not just the operating system space where educational technology adoption between countries is markedly different. In an upcoming report, Futuresource explores the landscape for K-12 administrative and instructional management software in both the US & the UK. The two countries share a common language, a similar curriculum and a recent penchant for political upset, but illustrate substantial contrast in the adoption of education technology.

Different structures for school management and procurement are a notable factor here. In the US, public schools are grouped into districts. There are over 13,000 districts but the largest 250 account for roughly 40% of students; creating enticing opportunities for suppliers looking to scale adoption and significant price competition for big volume deals. In the UK, purchasing of technologies is predominantly done on a school-by-school basis, creating a stronger reliance on channel partners and larger direct sales forces. This is starting to change with schools converting to academies (Schools directly funded by the Department for Education with greater operational freedom than convention local authority schools) and grouping together into Multi Academy Trusts (MAT’s) which operate in a similar fashion to US districts.

The US’s district system has created demand for product categories like data analytics platforms to interpret and forecast district wide performance and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions to help manage large workforces. These types of tools have a much lower rate of penetration in UK schools but are growing in relevance, as the number and scale of MAT’s increases.

Consolidated purchasing has also supported the rapid adoption of student devices in US schools with student penetration reaching over 45% in 2016. This growth is creating significant markets for device management and web filtering tools, allowing administrators and teachers to control and restrict the digital adventures of inquisitive students. In the UK, device penetration hit a road block shortly after passing the 15% mark, with budgetary pressures amongst other factors inhibiting growth.

Even in mature product segments, market dynamics vary. Both the US and UK show a strong reliance on Student Information Systems (SIS’s) (as most mature markets do). SIS’s are the heart of a school’s data collection system, capturing information on key indicators like student attendance, behaviour and learning outcomes. These systems integrate into a range of other platforms supporting functions like school communications, finance and cafeteria management as well as learning management and content solutions. In the UK, there is one dominant provider, Capita, the companies SIMS products service roughly 22,000 schools.

In the US, the market is considerably more fragmented. There are over 120 providers in the market, with each state dictating its own data collection and reporting requirements. In the last decade, the UK market has seen the entrance of a number of new SIS competitors, typically offering an affordable cloud-based solution and seeking to take share from Capita. In the US, the market is now heading in the other direction; consolidation through acquisition is the order of the day with market leader PowerSchool buying up a number of competitors in the last 18 months.

Evolving market characteristics such as these are important to note for everybody selling technology to schools. As EdTech adoption scales, the ecosystem is becoming increasingly intertwined and the functionality of product segments is overlapping. Standards for integration and interoperability are creating user-friendly environments and driving both partnerships and acquisitions on the supply side. Understanding the broader ecosystem, both at home and abroad is key for vendors looking to expand local presence and enter international markets.

About the author

Ben Davis

About Us

Here at Futuresource Consulting we deliver specialist research and consulting services, providing market forecasts and intelligence reports. Since the 1980s we have supported a range of industry sectors, which has grown to include: CE, Broadcast, Entertainment Content, EdTech and many more.