European Electronique wants schools to think long-term about technology
With over 30 years in the business and a team of 170 experts, European Electronique is a leading player in the UK education market. At this year’s Bett Show, the company is focusing on its Freedom Cloud and Infrastructure Solutions, Professional Services and the latest Classroom Solutions. This provides schools with everything they need to improve teaching and learning and to streamline financial and operational efficiency.
European Electronique works across multiple sectors as an IT solutions integrator, but under-18 education has always been a core part of the business. “We’re multi-vendor and vendor agnostic,” says Steve Hawkins, Sales Manager for Under 18 Education, “but we have a number of key partners, with HP being our biggest. We are a technical, delivery-based company with over 100 of our staff aimed at service delivery, whether that’s implementation, training or project management.”
For Hawkins, the company has two major strengths. First, it can handle all of a school’s IT needs internally, from design and feasibility research through to implementation, managed services and ongoing support. Second, the whole approach gives schools real flexibility. “We’re not driven by what vendors want us to do, or what people think is possible, or what is the norm,” says Hawkins. “We speak to our customers, find out what problems or challenges they’re facing, and help them overcome them. At the end of the day, it may sound simple, but deep understanding is what we’re good at.’”
European Electronique aims to help schools adopt a long-term, strategic approach to technology, working with them to define requirements and objectives and then building solutions tailored for that school. “It’s about joined-up thinking,” Hawkins explains. “It’s not about today’s special offer, but about providing a complete end-to-end solution. There’s nothing worse than selling the latest fad kit to a school, where no-one really knows how to use it. It won’t be properly integrated and will end up in a cupboard. It’s about providing the right service and the wraparound to give an end-to-end solution that extends to delivering the outcomes that were decided on together, right at the beginning.” The company also understands that, while schools may be following the same curriculum and have broadly similar aims, each has unique needs. European Electronique’s solutions put these front and centre.
The end-to-end approach
At this year’s Bett Show, European Electronique will be showcasing products and services in three key areas – Infrastructure, Professional Services and Classroom Solutions. The first covers everything from network infrastructure to mobility and cloud-based services, with an emphasis on the company’s unique Freedom Cloud. This is a complete hosted infrastructure delivered as a managed service, giving schools the opportunity to pass over all the management of storage, data and connectivity to European Electronique. That in turn leaves them free to focus on the apps and services that can really make an impact on teaching and learning. Freedom also brings other cloud ecosystems under the one umbrella, so that schools can take what they want from G Suite for Education or Microsoft Office 365 for Education within one environment and one interface.
To make this even easier, Freedom incorporates a front-end, Freedom Access, which brings everything together in one school-specific web portal with single sign-on. Cloud-based services are not the only thing to benefit. “We’ve seen real use cases in education, where implementing single sign-on desktop allows schools to take advantage of products and services they’re already subscribing to but aren’t actually using,” says Hawkins. “We’ve had great feedback from schools who have had a VLE for three or four years, but it’s only after implementing single sign-on that teachers and students are starting to use it.” Bringing apps and services into the platform, it seems, can help bring projects that have lost their impetus back online. What’s more, embracing Freedom enables schools to make their IT services more accessible wherever and whenever their students want to learn. “It really is allowing learning beyond the school gates,” Hawkins adds.
With the latest HP laptops, tablets and all-in-ones on the stand, including the innovative HP Sprout, European Electronique is hoping to showcase the full range of devices available for classroom use. The company won’t just be talking about the devices, but about how mobile technology can have a real impact. “The biggest challenge in education is how to implement mobile technology, how to use it, and how to form the shift in teaching and learning so that people can take full advantage of it.”
Helping schools streamline
One thing Hawkins expects to see at this year’s Bett is less of a push on specific technologies and future trends, and more of a focus on cost-effective technology with demonstrable impact. “One of the biggest issues is always budget,” he says, “even more so over the past couple of years with budget cuts. There’s always a want and a need to streamline and reduce cost, and that’s behind a lot of what we’re doing on the infrastructure side.” Meanwhile, European Electronique sees a lot of previous years’ hype about connected classrooms becoming a reality, simply because all the back-end, cloud-based services are now so accessible and easy to use. Where the company can help is in bringing the technologies together. “It’s all about integrating these services with proper training,” Hawkins notes, explaining that it helps that “a lot of teachers are now effectively digital natives. They’ve grown up with this technology, they use it and they expect it to work in a school environment – and the same definitely goes for the kids.”
For European Electronique, Bett is a great opportunity to talk to teachers, ICT managers and senior leaders, but also a great way to take stock of where the technology is and where it’s going. “With it being the biggest educational technology event in the world, it gives us the chance to be in the same place at the same time as all the biggest movers and shakers in the technology world,” says Hawkins. Yet it’s also about finding time to talk to schools. “We want to start conversations about using what’s available, streamlining and building a sustainable infrastructure,” says Hawkins. “It may sound a bit dull, but when it comes down to it, it really makes sense!”
Images: European Electronique