Over the last few weeks I have been sharing my thoughts on the key differentiators in this sector and the spectrum of opportunities that the Ed Tech sector brings compared to other sectors in the context of really understanding the value creation dynamics. All these views, be they good, bad, boring or controversial are of course, my personal thoughts.
In my previous posts I talked about
And now lets consider the dynamics at play in different markets…
6. Key Global Markets
Let me just pick on a few personal perceptions about the key dynamics currently at play in some of the most dynamic Ed Tech markets.
In the UK, in the primary and secondary space, an ever-increasing number of Ed Tech businesses are chasing an ever-reducing budget. The cost of winning business both in terms of cash and time, as one has to go from school to school, can be quite debilitating. Others, claiming academy groups are just waiting for their solution, need to join a long queue of hopefuls. Admittedly, a number of international players looking to make the most of the UK brand feel this is a worthwhile strategy. But with a certain well known provider taking over 80% of the market share in some of the key categories, the fear of moving platforms acts as a strong disincentive. I have always been curious as to how this ‘barrier’ drives any innovation.
The story in the vocational sector in the UK however, couldn’t be more different. The acceptance that skills development is key to corporate and economic well being has driven remarkable opportunities in delivery and infrastructure with UK brands commanding global prominence. The recent apprenticeship push will bolster this opportunity further.
In the US market the school districts are being equally challenging in providing access to the schools. The online market place remains vibrant and in some respects a vital component of future opportunities. One wonders however, who will call out that the emperor has no clothes in instances where the amount of monies raised seems to have blinded the market as to whether the business propositions actually hold good. Lets wait and see. It goes without saying however that although the US may in the long run not be the largest single market for Ed Tech products (India and China may pip it at that), it is however, the one that currently has the vision, the economy and the spending behaviours to warrant significant adoption.
The other large digital market is Australia. There the dispersed nature of the learners, schools and employers bodes well for technology that seeks to virtualize the classroom or engages the learner.
In the Indian schools sector, geography plays a significant part. The north is the realm of large private school networks with relatively more wealth and demand. The business drivers make up a key part of the decision making process. The fees are increasing and opportunities to pass on more costs to parents are the default rather than the exception. This skews some of the opportunities for true innovation given the nascent nature of the market. In the south the focus on pedagogy and student welfare is admirable and tends to be the driver. The north have the purse, the south the heart. In term of vocational and skills learning, the need is universal. The recent changes at NSDC (National Skills and Development Corporation) have done nothing to reduce the appetite to drive anything that can support the skills agenda. Ignore some of the rhetoric and you see passion.
China presents particular challenges and risks if you are a young Ed Tech business. International publishers have long since found this a lucrative market, particularly in the languages arena. These remain a strong area of support. Remotely hosted solution will have to negotiate with the Great Chinese Firewall but good solutions are presented with a large and growing market for non-Chinese products and services.
In my next piece I will talk about where to raise funds, a subject dear to a lot of our hearts…
Picture by Mike Mertz via Flickr