Selling to Schools: A Case Study
Sensavis, the Swedish 3D content company, is experiencing more success at reaching educational customers with their 3D educational science content, the 3D Classroom, than many other content producers I know. I wanted to discover why, so I spent time interviewing Mattias Boström, a past school principal and currently Director of Product Development for Sensavis, and Fredrik Olofsson, CEO and President of Sensavis, with this goal in mind.
What I discovered was that Sensavis pursues a different strategy than most companies do. And I think that the folds and creases of this strategy can be informative for any industry hoping to penetrate the stubborn education market. Here’s what I learned:
It’s all about the teacher. The centerline strategy of Sensavis appears to be their focus on meeting the needs of teachers, not just supporting the curriculum or providing content directly to students. It’s the teacher that matters to Sensavis. For example, “most companies add a lot of text and voiceover to their products, because they want to appeal directly to the student”, suggests Bostrom, who is also an experienced school principal. Sensavis content “leaves room for the teacher”, he explains.
It starts where the customer is at, not where the technology is at. Most educational customers don’t have the technical wherewithal to broadly implement stereoscopic 3D. As a solution, schools and colleges are urged to invest in the rendered 3D content and make the move to the far superior stereo 3D content when they are ready. (The Sensavis content is provided in both rendered and stereo format, upon purchase.) Rendered 3D can support a variety of classroom formats: flipped, blended, online or face to face settings, without requiring the school to invest in additional hardware. A good example is the Tanglin Trust School in Singapore, which uses both rendered and stereo 3D in the classroom, as needed.
It’s all about rightsizing. Sensavis has enabled their content to run on minimal devices, such as the Microsoft Surface Pro and ordinary teacher computers. I saw their newest simulations running on a Surface Pro, using a minimum i5 processor, 8 gigs ram, while running Microsoft operating system 8 or X with a 64bit installation. Their 3D sims can be run in either rendered 3D, or be connected to a 3D projector/display to run in stereo 3D. Even the rendered 3D is lifelike, full HD, fully interactive content. “We wanted to be able to install our simulations on any teacher’s computer”, explains Boström.
It’s about user-created content. Oloffson explains: “What really attracts schools is the video recording segment of the product, which enables students and teachers to create their own educational videos.” He explains: “Teachers can manipulate any process in the recording. We recognize that teachers don’t generally like to be told what and how to teach. Therefore we have added the capability for teachers to create their own simulations or walkthroughs.”
It’s about pricing. Sensavis’ pricing strategies are also teacher friendly. That makes sense. If teachers can’t afford it on their own, or teachers pass on to leadership that a product is unapproachable, that’s the end of it.
It’s about sharing. In the U.S., teachers are isolated, One of the innovative developments now under design by Sensavis is the creation of a private cloud-based solution that can house teacher- and student-created animations, sharable across schools, districts or states. This approach eliminates the need for each teacher, each school or each district to recreate the wheel with teacher-developed content? Why not store and share the best?