Administrative Software Tools Are the “New Ed-Tech Battleground,” New Analysis Predicts

Contributing Writer

As the number of mobile devices purchased by school districts continues to rise due to remote and hybrid learning, a new “lucrative opportunity for vendors” has emerged: asset management software. 

That’s one of the conclusions from an analyst note recently released by Futuresource Consulting, a U.K.-based forecasting firm that tracks the K-12 marketplace. 

In the research note, Chris Pennell, principal analyst at Futuresource, describes administrative software tools — products that analyze and track student progress, manage assets or provide support — as the new “ed-tech battleground” during the COVID-19 era, as districts are buying mobile devices and tech platforms in large numbers.  

“As the device and platform supply side continues to innovate, curriculum leaders and IT decision makers are still wrestling with ways to measure impact and ROI. It’s a challenge that is widely accepted and understood,” Pennell writes. 

“Student information systems are being harnessed to manage data assets, analytical tools are tracking student progress and device management software is being implemented to support the increasing number of electronic devices in use in learning spaces.”

There’s no doubt, he added, “that we’re entering a new phase of planned investment, made more challenging due to the number of vendors and multitude of options offered to schools.”

The analyst note is based on a Futuresource study in which curriculum leaders at 401 districts and IT decision-makers at 415 school districts were interviewed over the summer for a sixth and final installment in the firm’s “EdTech Voice” series. 

Asset Management Software Coming ‘To The Fore’ 

Pennell notes that the K-12 sector traditionally is not “considered an asset-intensive sector,” but now software designed for those purposes is “coming to the fore,” driven by the growth of connected devices in district ecosystems. 

Nearly half of districts surveyed by Futuresource — 46 percent — said they are planning to introduce an asset management solution.

“This presents a lucrative opportunity for vendors, although 40 percent of districts reported that classroom device management was the main feature of interest,” Pennell wrote, “suggesting schools are perhaps not making the most of their investment.”

Futuresource’s survey found that student information systems are used in all schools and districts. However, more than half of the districts that responded said they are using multiple SIS solutions. And nearly half of the curriculum leaders said that existing solutions “do not entirely meet their needs,” despite being generally satisfied with their current SIS. 

Pennell wrote that data management and storage are “the biggest challenge” for existing SIS. 

“As removing the need for manual data processing is often a core part of the business case for investing in an SIS,” he wrote, “this finding is a key concern which needs to be investigated by the industry.

As district IT help desks continue adapting to increased workloads due to schools having more connected devices and online platforms than ever before, so too are students and school staff. In particular, students and staff can struggle to remember all the passwords and credentials necessary to access those different tech solutions — and that “is placing even more pressure on IT support teams.” 

“Watch out for a step change,” Pennell writes, “as IT teams begin to implement single sign-on solutions in response to this challenge.”

Follow EdWeek Market Brief on Twitter @EdMarketBrief or connect with us on LinkedIn.

See also: