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The ICT in Schools Report 2005 Revealed a Major Fault Print
July 2006

The report of survey results on 135 secondary schools published in November 2005 shows that 40% of respondents buy ICT equipment with purchase price as the main criteria, and only 7% buy after considering the total cost of ownership over time (TCO).  Another 31% buy on a perceptive criterion called "reliability" or "quality".  These findings are a real cause for concern and indicate a lack of understanding of the state of ICT equipment development.  People buy on price when the product is a commodity.  Is ICT equipment a commodity? Up to 100 years ago, we had chief water officers and chief electricity officers to take care of the supply of water and electricity when the respective technologies were in the development stage.  The two products have since taken at least 50 years each to become fully established, standardised and unified to become real commodities.  Now we have chief information officers, chief technology officers, IT manages and IS administrators etc.  What do they do if they believe information and technology equipment are commodities?  They are employed to manage information and tools based on their professional knowledge.  They are not employed to buy on price, since anyone can do this.  Purchase price is the single most obvious input into the purchase process.  Is price alone more important than the total cost of ownership?  Obviously not but why?  Purchase price is about 20% of the total cost of ownership.  If price is the most important, then TCO is more than most important and there is not such a state.  Therefore price cannot be the most important.  The media and many suppliers have not helped because they are the people suggesting that price is most important simply because it is the easiest for them to sell on price.  Unfortunately, up to 40% of decision makers in secondary schools have fallen into their trap.  This behaviour must change especially for institutes that are created to educate our next generations.