Page 1: Introduction
In recent years, rapid advances in technology have led to the growing importance of information and communications technologies (ICT). Information and communications technologies have provided the means for people and organisations to develop better ways of communicating with each other and working more efficiently. The sectors of the economy which have used ICT extensively have grown more rapidly than others. However, it should also be noted that these sectors have had higher skill requirements for individuals, i.e. employees must be able to understand and work with ICT at a very high level.
The economic impact of technology and the speed of technological change have posed many new challenges for the Government and its policies towards education. In its White Paper, ‘Excellence in Schools’, the Government pledged that ICT would play a pivotal role in education at all levels. The Government’s priority and commitment to ICT has been reflected through a drive to build a National Grid for Learning (NGfL). This aims to help schools link together, share resources and generate an educational cohesion, helping all schools to improve the opportunities they provide for young people to experience and use new technologies as part of their learning.
Providing the opportunity for learning with information and communications technologies is not something which either teachers or schools can develop on their own. Software and hardware need to be developed by suppliers who understand educational requirements and can meet the specialist needs of young people across many different areas of the curriculum. One organisation which has worked closely with teachers, schools and Government to deliver ICT is RM plc.
This case study focuses on relationship marketing, i.e. when an organisation works closely with its customers to develop products and services which serve their specific needs. It examines how RM, as the leading supplier of IT software, services and systems to UK educational establishments, has developed hardware, software, training and support for primary schools by working in partnership with education.
RM has had more than twenty years’ experience in the educational IT market. The company developed its first micro-computer, the RML 380Z, in 1977. Supplying these systems to pioneering local authorities signalled the beginning of a partnership of supplying and developing products designed to meet the changing needs of the curriculum.
During the 1980s, the educational market moved towards the industry standard PC platform. RM changed accordingly, developing industry standard products customised for the rigours of classroom use. Today, working in partnership with education, RM has been involved in many pilot and experimental programmes, such as the introduction and evaluation of integrated learning systems. RM has also worked with leading partners, such as Microsoft® and Intel®, to ensure that it is bringing leading-edge, enhanced world standard products to education.