Solution providers operating in the SMB market shouldn't count themselves out of the running for a large piece of the Common Core market, D&H executives said.
Not all communities are in New York City or Los Angeles, seeking out the largest companies available for supplies, said Peter Donovan, vice president of inside sales at Harrisburg, Penn.-based D&H Distributing. SMB solution providers can and already are taking full advantage of the opportunities before them to supply local districts with supplies, he added.
“It’s going up hundreds of millions (of dollars),” Donovan said of the rising Common Core market. “I think (resellers) viewed K-12 as mostly done on their end, through big national integrators and big national K-12 guys (making deals with districts), but what they found is when they engaged us, and we were able to engage our K-12 reseller network. … They have these strong relationships in these small communities and capitalize on those relationships to get those contracts and those bids.”
D&H Distributing executives sat down with CRN reporters in a roundtable discussion this week to talk about new businesses opportunities and how some companies are already capitalizing on them ahead of its annual New England 2014 Technology Show in Quincy, Mass.
Larry Staub, director of D&H’s education division, said demand from schools looking to revitalize their infrastructure is expected to rise in the coming months and some VARs are already taking advantage.
“It’s such a large opportunity to ignore when you, all of a sudden, are starting to (hear) about 40 million devices needed within the next 18 to 24 months,” he said.
Many school districts in the Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Area are looking to revitalize their infrastructures, which has helped JDL Technologies see a boost in its school sales. Those gains, however, cannot necessarily be directly tied to Common Core, a spokesperson for the company said.
“In the larger districts, (they’re) definitely (upgrading),” said JDL Technologies Marketing Manager Gail Blount. “In the smaller and rural districts, we are seeing some wireless implementation and, of course, wireless connectivity is vital to every school district. As students bring their own devices, and teachers bring their own, you need that wireless connectivity.”
Common Core was developed by the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), a nonprofit group of public school officials and department heads, as a set of basic standards for math, reading and writing skills for students. Common Core wasn't created with specific technology requirements, but includes implementation funding from the federal government.
D&H executives said Chromebooks continue to be the hottest product out there in response to the Common Core push.
Chromebooks accounted for one out of every four mobile devices shipped into U.S. K-12 schools during the fourth quarter 2013, according to market researcher Futuresource Consulting. That compares to all of 2012 when Chromebooks accounted for less than 1 percent of all mobile devices shipped in the education market.
Microsoft's Shape the Future initiative has also been helpful to the D&H business and may show Microsoft product may be catching up to Google because of competitive pricing, according to Staub.
The Shape the Future initiative presents schools with a viable option for staying with Microsoft systems, Staub said. The company is offering those operating systems for $1 each.
“Under Shape the Future, they have discounted hardware … and then if they have a license agreement in place for their staff or office, they can now offer Office 365 to their students for free,” Staub said.
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