Hardware to Software: Changing focus to change perceptions

Any progressive and successful company is built upon the strength, drive and character of its staff – without the individuals to build the bridges of success in your business, you simply will not have a business. At Academia, we pride ourselves on offering internal career progression, with our new Academia Careers team focusing on offering the best opportunities to internal staff first.

One such career change sees our very own David Grant take on a new challenge in the company that will see a major focus on software. Brad Chuck met up with David to discuss his new challenge and what the future in Education means to him.

Brad: Hi David, good to see you in high spirits – looking forward to the festive season?

David: Yes Brad!  Euro Disney beckons!

B: Ha-ha, in that case let’s be quick and get you on your way – so David, who are you and what do you do at Academia?

D: David Grant, and I will be the Software Portfolio Manager by the time this magazine goes to print…

B: The Software manager?

D: Having spent 9 years in managing customers and sales teams I am now in a new role focussed on developing and growing our software portfolio, to not only increase our market share in software sales but by introducing new technologies and related services to our key customers

B: What will this change mean to your customers?

D: This will allow me to manage and communicate a far wider portfolio of applications covering desktop and infrastructure based tools, with improved pre and after sales support.  I will be working with existing and new vendors to ensure we are at the forefront of identifying and positioning new software technologies and services into the educational sector.

B: Sounds like a big job ahead – Educating customers is key I see – but why is this role so important to Academia?

D: Academia was founded as a software reseller, and retain strong expertise, accreditations and framework coverage over a wide range of applications.  However it’s fair to say we are too commonly known for hardware through our strong presence and share of Apple and HP products and services into the educational sector.

B: What will this role allow you to do in Academia?

D: Grow our software portfolio whilst complementing our hardware and services offerings.  I will leverage our technical team and infrastructure to deliver more applications as a hosted and managed service, delivering cost savings and efficiency to our customer’s whist allowing them to improve the end user experience.

B: Software licensing is big news in Business – how is this relevant to the Education Market?

D: Software is applicable to all business, but education have a far larger number of applications than most as they cater for a wide range of subjects and courses resulting in a huge range of desktop applications.  In many cases theses will be industry standard applications, however as the number of software manufacturers grow and the market becomes more competitive it’s essential for educational customers to retain strong relationships and partnerships with resellers and IT suppliers as well as other stakeholders.

B: I see, so what will this provide to Education customers?

D: This will provide exposure to new technologies, alternative solutions and generally a better insight into what we hear from our partners and what we see working with our customers.  This will enable educational establishment to remain competitive and proactively identify better ways of working.

B: GDPR – it’s everywhere right now and with the deadline looming people are starting to concern themselves with how will affect them.  Should the Education market be prepared?

D: Education is not excluded from the changes to GDPR, and very much at the risk of a hefty fine for non-compliance.  Whilst the majority of organisations have already reviewed processes and taken applicable action there certainly is a concerning number of organisations which have not.  There is an unfounded expectation that examples will be made, but it’s unlikely to be an educational customer.

B: So the Education sector is should rest easy?

D: No, this is the completely wrong stance to take, as irrespective of the potential fines the changes have clear benefits to end user data and will force organisations to better manage the growing number of user data-this is something that is only likely to continue to grow even after leaving the EU.

B: What does 2018 hold for Software Licencing?

D: The over complex world of software licensing will continue some trends we have seen in recent years such as a move toward more subscription an annualised licensing models along with a growth in cloud and hosted applications.  I think these are positive changes and whilst some can be deemed negative (particularly annual licensing models), it does allow organisations to manage budgets on an operational basis, and not have to find large pots of money for necessary upgrades and new licenses.  It also removes a reliance on internal infrastructure to host applications which allows IT to focus on other priorities.

B: Biggest changes in your opinion?

D: The bigger changes will be migrations toward more user based licensing models to cater for flexible working environments, as this can require a change in application delivery and management-which of course we can assist with.

B: In my experience, IT professionals never want to be told what to do – they need to self-learn – what, if any, advice can you give to an IT manager?

D: Don’t stop learning! One of the exciting things in my role is that the educational sector and IT are constantly changing, turn your back for 1 minute and all of sudden license models, legislations, end user demand, and technologies have changed.  Speak to stakeholders including peers and resellers to learn from their plans, actions, successes and mistakes

B: 2018 will be your 10th year working in Education – why is the sector so important to you?

D: It seems almost impossible to answer this without some type if cliché response so let’s get it out of the way-“developing the future of the country”.  However this is the reality, and in an ever changing world its essential that the UK retain and grow a positive reputation for being leaders in education and are able to attract the best people to continue this.  Having worked with the sector for years you do find you become emotionally involved and really start to understand the challenges our educational establishment’s face, which will often include some type of technology challenge.

B: and from a personal experience?

D: Being a parent to young twins also adds a new dimension, as you approach scenarios from a completely different perspective as you try to ensure they can access the best education and you I do find myself scrutinising the education system.

B: Outside of work, I assume you are still a fan of the Gunners?

D: My first word was Arsenal, and probably still my dad’s proudest moment. So a big gunner and football fan in general

B: Let’s finish on my favourite question, Fish and Chips or Curry and Rice?

D: Can I have curried fish with rice and chips? It almost feels like I’m being unfaithful saying curry and rice as I am a big fan of both!

 

David is the Software Licencing Manager at Academia and can be contacted on 01992 703 900 or David.Grant@academia.co.uk to discuss how his solution process can benefit your Education establishment



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