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At the centre of the educational software universe

27/04/2016 13:48:36 | Gethin Nichols

This is my first blog since I joined WCBS from BT Business in January 2016, and I’m not exactly sure where the 3 months have gone! It started quickly - in my second week I was off to BETT to meet our existing partners, but also to look for inspiration about strategic alliances that could enhance what we’re able to put forward to customers.

As a company, we’re working incredibly hard on the next generation of information management products, but my role is to look at how these integrate with all the other functionality out there in the market. And this is where BETT was quite a shock: there’s so many providers!

And so many brilliant solutions that schools love! As developers, it’s nigh on impossible to replicate and continually develop all this diverse and exciting functionality. But by providing a safe, quick and effective way to integrate, customers retain the freedom to choose whatever mix of solutions they want, but with a robust link to their core school information management. This really is the crux of my role as a proposition manager - to look at the overall solution rather than at individual products.

Good timing….
I’ve joined at a very good time: we’ve just released the first iteration of our new API that is built on OData – which will allow safer, easier, more accurate data flow to third party applications (or even ones that schools develop themselves!). It’s proving to be a great standard on which to develop our integration story, and having been adopted by Microsoft and built into their applications, it’s one that the whole industry will be able to utilise.

It opens up a world of possibilities with a huge number of Third Party applications, and this is great for our customers - allowing them to place their core data at the centre of a universe of educational software of their own making. It also offers us opportunities like business intelligence analytics, and we’ll be able to more closely align with central educational tools like Office365 and Google. We’re implementing changes that are being driven by what customers need, and I’m really happy to be a part of this.

More Solutions, working together
One of the great benefits of all this integration work is that I’m now able to set up a more formalised Partner Programme, providing really deep integration with key partners and expanding the portfolio that we’re able to offer. Through this approach, we’ve recently added Scan2Pass, an e-document storage system which integrates with passFINANCE, and WCBS ePAYSLIPS, which provides ultra-secure and user friendly payslip portals.

We’ve also created an exclusive partnership with ClassLink, a Single sign-on solution for all the apps and files schools use. This is a brilliant way to bring all of those software solutions that I’ve been talking about into one launchpad, but goes much further by extending the usefulness of our solutions around the school. Aimed at pupils as well as staff, it reduces wasted time, promotes more effective use of web tools, and through efficiency starts to have a really positive impact on teaching and learning.

In a nutshell, this sums up what we’re trying to achieve. With Version 5 of 3sysACADEMIC on the horizon, a long term development plan, and an expansion of our integration capability and portfolio in general, the WCBS landscape is changing rapidly. We want it all to work together. As we build on our first release API with additional functionality and incorporate the views that are needed for all these solutions, we’ll have an unbelievably powerful proposition. It’s very exciting!

Getting the roadmap right
I’ve recently been lucky enough to spend as much time as I can with customers and attend user groups - enjoying the often lively debate about exactly who we should be partnering and integrating with. It’s allowed me to start creating a roadmap built around this feedback, but it’s really important that we continue to get everybody’s input, so that ultimately we can get all schools where they want to be. And of course, by utilising the API with Third Parties, we’ll get there even quicker!
It would therefore be great for me to hear what else you’d like to achieve - please get in touch using the form below, or email me at gethin.nichols@wcbs.co.uk I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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Hi Gethin It was great to meet you at Chester. Can you let me know when there will be any costing information available for the API - or is it just there and the cost is carried by the third parties? We use CEM for Midyis, Yellis and Alis testing Show My Homework I will find out from HoDs what apps/spftware they use in class (or would like to use) I know the Maths dept have started using something from Pearson(Edexcel) called "Maths Wizard" or something like that! All the best Fo Edmonds Data System Manager Exams Officer Website Manager Kingsley School

Posted: 30/04/2016

It would be interesting to get some more details about the API's, i.e. what properties and methods will be exposed.

Posted: 07/07/2016
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