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.
Now for some thoughts about the distinction between the user and the buyer….
3. User vs Buyer
One of the mistakes I have seen in early stage Ed Tech businesses is not having a clear understanding of the distinction between the purchaser of services and the user.
In education, in particular, the spectrum of users ranges from kindergarten to adult learning. The age range therefore could be 3 to 93? The expectations from, enthusiasms of and engagements with education, up and down this spectrum are vast. As beneficiaries, whether willingly or not, the different groups will benefit from different tangible and intangible outcomes.
Unfortunately, the assumption is made that the source of funding has the same benefits agenda as the end user. The identification of the ‘needs gap’ has to be driven by what the funding source deems relevant, not unfortunately, the ultimate beneficiary.
Of course there is an inherent expectation that both of these would be aligned. One of the few sectors where this is as close to aligned as one would hope is vocational education. It’s where the learner is keen to pick up skills and the buyer, (could be the employer or learner themselves) is a direct beneficiary, either as a more ‘marketable’ employee or having a better-trained workforce.
When the state is involved in the vocational space one needs to tread carefully. The state funding of employability skills points to jobs being created and to unemployment falling. The political ramification’s and the outcome metrics are not for discussion here but the ability to drive (to use a US phrase) gainful employment is a positive outcome for all concerned. There is strong alignment when the the buyers becomes a very tangible winner.
In my next post I delve into the expansive nature of the sector.
Picture by Franck Blais via Flickr