Ever since the pandemic interrupted classroom schedules and instruction, the education vertical has investigated options to see how it can use both EdTech solutions and in-person methods to enhance learning.
Many schools, universities, and other educational institutions are looking for expertise to help them make the best decisions, get the most value from their tech investments, and keep data secure.
Felicia King vCISO, Security Architect at QPC Security, shares her insights into the top opportunities for managed services providers and value-added resellers and trends and EdTech to watch this year.
Where do you think the greatest demand for EdTech solutions will be?
King: Sadly, I do not expect to see investment in baseline security solutions for schools, but that is where the investment needs to be. Schools have a lot of challenges due to their funding structure, which can be heavily dependent on grants for improvements. They also tend to function on a lowest cost bidder system, which leads to disconnected systems. Due to grant funding, there are challenges with items which are annual subscriptions because grant monies cannot be used for those items typically.
Schools are very deficient in the areas of cybersecurity awareness, password managers, and appropriate levels of cyber hygiene. Most schools use Google Workspace, but how many of them have any backups or security solution implemented for Google Workspace? How many schools have verified that 100% of their user onboarding and offboarding is secure and effective? How many have ensured that all users have MFA enforcement on all systems?
I expect to see demand continuing in the areas where schools are able to get grant funding such as surveillance equipment, school lockdown solutions, disaster response readiness, and overall physical security solutions.
Where do you think schools and institutions will be spending their IT budgets?
King: Schools will be spending their budgets primarily on payroll. Due to their decision-making practices and how they are funded, schools have more ability to get staff than to outsource to solution providers. Other budget allocations typically go to hardware refreshes and the subscriptions for existing SaaS platforms like school management, collaboration, phone system, and library systems.
Most schools are not doing a good job of cybersecurity, and their SaaS platform investment is primarily driven by the perceived needs of instructional service delivery. While priority should be given to instructional services, student and staff experiences are dependent on solid, secure, well-maintained infrastructure, yet that is rarely found in schools. Schools have historically had persistent underinvestment in personnel or service providers to properly maintain the infrastructure that all instructional service delivery is dependent upon.
What do you see as growing tech trends in education?
King: Extremely large school districts may have access to a State-wide CISO. All schools need the operational maturity and information security risk management benefits of having access to a qualified CISO. As more schools are held accountable to regulatory compliance or their cyber insurance compliance requirements increase, they will find that they have significant gaps that their existing IT support staff are unable to fulfill effectively.
I regularly find that schools rely too heavily on a single IT person when they should be taking a team approach. Look for an increasing number of teams comprised of internal IT and an external vCISO who can provide escalation support, strategic vision, cyber compliance, and a second opinion on the state of the school’s systems to executive management.
Editor’s note: Do you have the expertise to provide those in-demand services and the EdTech solutions schools need? Consider those opportunities as you plan and execute your strategy this year.
About The ASCII Group, Inc.
The ASCII Group is the premier community of North American MSPs, VARs and solution providers. The group has over 1,300 members throughout the U.S. and Canada, and membership encompasses everyone from credentialed MSPs serving the SMB community to multi-location solution providers with a national reach. Founded in 1984, ASCII provides services to members, including leveraged purchasing programs, education and training, marketing assistance, extensive peer interaction and more. In addition, ASCII works with a vibrant ecosystem of major technology vendors that complement the ASCII community and support the mission of helping MSPs and VARs grow their businesses. For more information, please visit www.ascii.com.