Page 2: Understanding the needs of the market
It is, of course, impossible to satisfy all customers’ needs with a uniform product or service. Within the total educational market-place, therefore, RM divides its market into three distinct segments - primary schools, secondary schools and further and higher education.
Primary schools have highly specialised educational needs and requirements. For several years teachers have been under increased pressure to ensure that pupils receive their curriculum entitlement of ICT. Recent proposals for the National Grid for Learning set out increased demands for primary schools, with the Government vision that:
- every school should have access to modern computers
- every school should be connected to the Internet
- excellent software should be available for pupils and teachers alike
- ICT will have an impact on standards (particularly of literacy and numeracy)
- every teacher should feel confident and competent to use ICT in their teaching
- the annual level of school spend on ICT is expected to increase substantially.
The relationship between RM and its primary school customers is interdependent. Research and other activities, such as seminars and partnership days, training, support and consultancy services, help to inform RM and teachers of how educational ICT needs and requirements can be best met. Following this research, RM recognised that, on its own, an industry standard piece of technology such as a PC would not provide the right sort of learning environment for either teachers or pupils.
Further market analysis of the educational requirements of the primary sector identified a number of special characteristics. For example, most primary schools have:
- limited technical knowledge about ICT products
- no internal support mechanism for ICT products
- very little free time to make complex decisions about the purchase of ICT products
- a limited understanding of where ICT can fit into the learning process
- completely different uses to most ICT purchasers because computers and software are used by young children.
Other features of primary schools, underlined by the research, were that different schools and teachers were using completely different approaches to achieve their ICT development plans and that many teachers believed their particular school had little money for ICT. The challenge for RM, therefore, was to develop products which were appropriate for the primary sector, by working closely with customers and providing solutions to their needs and requirements.
Building the supplier/customer relationship
Organisations need to balance their own objectives against the needs of their customers. RM’s objective is to achieve the number one position, in terms of market share, in all of its strategic markets. In order to do this, RM needed to develop a partnership with teachers and education experts, listen to their views and provide reliable, educationally-focused products. The starting point was to identify the expectations of the primary sector, i.e. find out:
- what customers wanted
- where their priorities lay
- how RM could provide the best solution to their requirements.