Tuesday, 31 July 2018

MIS MARKET MOVES: the majority of switchers are now in MATs!

It's under a month since my last MIS market update, but I've managed to get my hands on the latest market data (from the 2018 summer census return) AND I have the comparable dataset from last year, so I've decided to publish an updated year-on-year analysis of market moves.

After a few fun hours interrogating the data I reckon there are a few noteworthy insights - and you can play around with the stats for yourself using the Tableau Story below. As always, my thoughts are below the dataviz, so scroll down if you just want to know the headlines.

So, here's my take:
  1. The majority of switching schools are in MATs. 53% of switching schools were in MATs, whereas 38% of schools in the dataset are in MATs. Both figures are notably high and deserve scrutiny. With the former, it's clear that if you want to grow your market share, you need a MAT offer - even those MIS who are picking up standalone schools have a strong MAT presence too. In the case of the latter, with fully 38% of all schools reporting a census return being part of MATs, Trusts now represent over a third of the English MIS market. This is a big deal - anecdotally my experience is that people still think of MATs as more like a quarter of the market, or even less.   
  2. Six vendors grew their market share. Once again the biggest winner is Scholarpack, who picked up 344 schools, making them the fastest grower in absolute terms for over two years now, and the clear third placed vendor overall (after SIMS and RM Integris) with over 1,000 schools. The next three largest climbers will all be pleased with progress: Pupil Asset netted 131; Arbor gained 102; and Bromcom added 67. RM will also presumably be happy to add 32, given they start with a solid 10% market share (keeping them as the clear second placed vendor after SIMS). And SchoolPod also added another 28, taking them over the psychologically important 100 school mark. 
  3. 796 schools switched MIS in the past 12 months. That's close to the all-time high we saw in September 2017, when 860 schools switched. MIS investors, founders and senior leaders I speak to are bullish that the number is continuing to rise. So a 1,000+ switching dataset in autumn 2018 is a real possibliity.
  4. Regional strongholds are emerging for certain vendors. The map views on the above viz (tabs 5 and 6 on the Tableau Story) show that Pupil Asset is dominant in Norfolk, and growing nicely in a corridor stretching from there down to Cornwall. Arbor appear to have some promising concentrations in London, the North West and the South West. RM's three particularly strong clusters are the South & South East (from Oxfordshire to Southend), the East & North East (Peterborough to Doncaster) and the North West (Halesowen to Bradford). Bromcom have impressive take-up in London (anchored by MATs including Harris Federation and Ark Schools). And while Scholarpack have slightly broader coverage, the North West (Lancashire and Cumbria), the East (Nottingham and Lincolnshire), the West and West Midlands (Birmingham to Herefordshire), and London. On the other hand, iSAMS and Schoolpod have no significant discernible clusters.
  5. There's a new vendor in town! A warm welcome to Faronics Wise, who added their first English state school. This Canadian company claims 30,000 unique customers in 150+ countries, so it will be fascinating to track their investment in this new market for them.

A final note: as mentioned previously, in my day job I run Assembly, a schools data platform that has relationships with most of the companies mentioned above. For that reason, I stick to data-driven observations in these posts to help people interpret the data, and I don't personally express MIS preferences or offer recommendations.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

MIS MARKET MOVES: mini-mid-year update, Spring 2018

Each year I publish a blog with the latest figures on the English state school MIS market. The most exciting dataset comes out in December / January, based on the October census, and includes all the summer switchers (which tends to be the busiest time).

However, there are data releases during the year, and while they reveal less, they're usually worth a quick look.

And that is indeed the case with the January 2018 census figures, which I've just got hold of. Unsurprisingly, there isn't a great deal of movement (not many schools choose to move MIS over Christmas), but there are useful nuggets of information that can be gleaned from the data nonetheless.

But first, here's the table of the latest data, alongside the October 2017 numbers for reference:

SupplierOct-17Jan-18Change% market share
RM Integris2,1962,195-110%
Advanced Learning459443-162%
Grand Total21,98121,9810100%

To summarise:
  • Scholarpack, Pupil Asset, Bromcom and Arbor all keep growing, continuing impressive trends we've seen consistently now for five years. 
  • SIMS and Advanced Learning continue to see falls, though with SIMS, it should be remembered that when you start with an 80% market share, a 56 school net decrease is equivalent to a 0.3% drop, so is hardly reason for panic.
  • RM and Schoolpod held steady, though RM's pre-existing 10% market share and firmly embedded status as the second largest vendor in the UK will make them the happier of the two with this state of affairs.
  • iSAMS isn't yet showing much traction with English state schools, though it should be noted that their business is much more focused on the independent sector, which this dataset does not cover.

A final note: in my day job I run Assembly, a schools data platform that has relationships with most of the companies mentioned above. For that reason, I stick to data-driven observations in these posts to help people interpret the data, and I don't personally express MIS preferences or offer recommendations. 

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

MIS MARKET MOVES 2017: 860 schools switched MIS in the past year!

The English state school Management Information System (MIS) market is a peculiar beast. Nearly all schools buy a MIS, and larger secondaries can pay £10k+ for the pleasure, so there's proper folding money involved. I'd guess the total market is worth comfortably over £100m, and that juicy figure has led 15 companies to offer a product in the space in the past 8 years. And yet, in spite of the healthy competition, until a few years ago the only real takeaways from an analysis of the data were that SIMS remained huge, and schools don't like switching.

In 2012 for example, just 1.4% of schools switched their MIS (300 out of around 21,500 for whom we have data), implying that the average school was on track to stay with the same supplier for around 72 years. And to be honest, the 2011 and 2013 markets weren't much perkier.

But more recently, the market has finally shown signs of life. Over 600 schools have switched MIS in each of the past three years, with the number peaking at 860, or 4% of schools, in 2016/17.  What's more, the competition is now fiercer than ever. Consider this: in 2011, only one company managed to win more than 30 new schools (SIMS, naturally, who gained 262 that year). Even as recently as 2014, only four got over the 30 school threshold. However, in 2017, fully 8 suppliers topped that number.

It's hard to pin down definitively the reasons for the greater activity, but I would hypothesise that the following three trends are driving the increase:

  1. Schools want the cloud. Some 4,000 schools are now using a cloud MIS, up from 3,000 only two years ago. With SIMS now fully on the cloud train, this is set to shoot up in the next couple of years. Mind you, until now a move to the cloud meant a move away from SIMS; so it's hard to know what effect SIMS's cloud conversion will have on switching numbers.
  2. Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) are flexing their purchasing muscle. Increasing numbers of MATs are choosing a single MIS to use across the trust. Others are allowing for differences, but make their schools choose from a framework of preferred suppliers.  
  3. MIS vendors are differentiating themselves more and more. As I wrote in August, Scholarpack focus on primaries only; Arbor have gone big on data analysis, SchoolPod promote their low price, and Bromcom are flaunting their suitability for MATs. 

Anyway, enough waffle; time to show you the data. Repeat visitors to this blog will know the drill by now: below is a Tableau data visualisation showing you some key market stats from the past 8 years. Have a rummage around for yourself to see who's up and who's down. Then skip to the bottom for a bonus observation and a final data source caveat...

Now, to my bonus analysis...

A prominent person in the industry recently challenged me to dive into the data and look at how likely switchers were to stay with their new MIS. I have spent way too many hours down this rabbit hole, but my conclusion is that in general, once schools switch, they stay switched. Of the 338 schools who appear to have switched more than once in the past seven years, I could find only 45 instances of a school returning to their former MIS. And from the remaining 293, 220 were forced to switch at least one of the times (for example when Pearson e1 left the market). Furthermore, I can't see any evidence of a supplier that is more prone than others to winning, and then promptly losing, business.

This should offer encouragement to the challenger brands: school business may be hard won, but once a school has made the move they are unlikely to want to shift again any time soon. In a sense therefore, the MIS market is to edtech what current accounts are to banking.

A final postscript for those geeky enough to read to the end: as Keith Johnson (of Timetabler fame) correctly pointed out in the comments on my last post, the data used for this blog covers only English state schools, which means that MIS which are popular with independent schools (such as iSAMS, SchoolBase and WCBS) are missed out of the analysis. Sadly that's a hard gap to fill since I use FOI-ed public data, and there's no equivalent source for the Indie sector. It's also worth noting that the data excludes Welsh schools (who mostly use SIMS, with a notable minority using Ceredigion Teacher Centre) and Scotland (where more or less all schools use the council-owned SEEMIS).