Some weeks ago, we had the privilege of sitting down with Online Partner Sweden’s Fredrik Linnander to talk about his journey into business and how the role of the IT professional has transformed over recent years. In this week’s blog, we pick up where we left off with Fredrik, discussing some of the benefits of Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) Education, its popularity in Sweden and the spirit of collaboration in the Google ecosystem.
In the last segment of our interview with Fredrik, we got some really interesting insights into Fredrik’s career and how his life in business started off. During this interview, we touched on the fact that Sweden is leading the way in supporting the digital native with the right infrastructure, and whilst only some schools have fully embraced digital education, growing tech trends are leading us all towards that point.
Being divided into 21 regions and 290 municipalities, Sweden follows a tendering process which is radically different to its European neighbours. “In Sweden, they follow a group process,” he explains, using devices and software as examples of a particular group. Rather than pitch these products directly to schools and school staff, the companies would instead pitch to an ICT leader with an educational focus. Over recent years, such leaders have placed a strong focus on GDPR. However, in many cases these leaders will be tasked with finding solutions to fit business needs.
A Unique Swedish Marketplace
Whilst this tendering approach would seem unusual in the Irish market, Fredrik highlights that it does have some advantages – many of which are down to having an informed ICT professional in a decision-making position. “In many cases these individuals are super administrators of the Google Workspace Education domain. They also have Google and Facebook groups they interact with, amongst other things. They will be present at trade shows, and we can interact with them.”
Fredrik himself has experience networking with such leaders, himself introducing Chromebooks to Sweden in 2012, with Sweden now the second-largest market for the product after the United States with over 300,000 units purchased every year. “The eventual goal,” he adds, “is for every student to own one”. This objective will soon be realised with the country’s continued investment in digital tools and tech infrastructure.
To those familiar with tendering processes in European countries like the UK & Ireland, the Swedish approach may appear unusual. However, Fredrik explains the tendering process by highlighting the significant differences in needs and requirements between businesses and that of a school or place of education. “Companies operate under different business models, they each have their own specific needs and requirements” he explains, highlighting that the business model of a school, however, is to help students learn.
The Swedish approach has led Fredrik towards developing his own software applications in a number of cases in the education space. For example, Online Partner Sweden’s flagship application, ChromEx, allows digital assessments to be carried out in schools. He remembers an approach from a customer based in Gothenburg who raised concerns that other solutions on the market were too expensive, required too much administration and created too much tension. The customer approached Fredrik around providing an alternative, giving his company a prime opportunity to take ownership over its own software solution whilst retaining a key customer.
Branching Out the Business
ChromEx allows a lock-down of laptop, PC or iPad into exam mode. Logging in requires minimum administration efforts, with users logging in using their Google accounts. “We also use Google Groups and Google Cloud for administration – it only takes 20 minutes to set up an exam”, explains the Online Partner Sweden CEO. The company quickly recognised the value of their application, with strong successes with their first customer. “We are using the design language that Google users for their applications. Our goal is for the end user to fluently move from classroom drive into our applications,” he adds.
On that topic of business goals, Fredrik remembers one of the best compliments or reviews that his application has had. “We had a guy say to us – hey, did you guys know that Google has an exam mode? That’s when we knew we got it right, and that’s one of the best comments we’ve had about our product so far,” he laughs. The application now translates into eight different languages, allowing users to upload resources in a range of formats, including images, PDFs and videos (we get a quick walkthrough of its interface in the video above – check it out).
Building on the success of ChromEx, Fredrik has started looking towards developing software solutions with fellow Google Partners. Before sharing more on this, Fredrik first highlights what brought him onto that trajectory. He explains that a passage of Swedish law required that all schools and places of education must have an examination application as a mandatory requirement. “We want them [Google Partners] to sell our solutions, and they want us to help them,” he explains, highlighting that in such circumstances, it pays to know about the choices out there.
Fredrik met with C-Learnings Ian Nairn and others about selling eachothers services. Conversation after conversation led to the group pooling their resources, pulling together a pan-European umbrella for the joint endeavour: Delling Cloud. Taking such an approach has allowed the group to offer their services and solutions to a huge market of business and organisations, regardless of their size or geographical location. Fintan highlights that such collaborative spirit has formed a backbone of the Google Partner community.
How has that spirit of collaboration flourished so well in the Google Partner community? Whilst we suggest that this may be down to the sheer size of the ecosystem, the Irish market is certainly in its stages of growth. However, with continued adoption of Google tools across Europe, we expect that maturity to arrive sooner rather than later…
More About Damson Cloud
Fintan and the Damson team send a huge thank-you to Fredrik Linnander for taking time out to share his experiences with us. Followers of Damson Cloud can access the full interview via the Damson Cloud blog, alongside interviews with industry-leading experts from Happeo, Cobry, C-Learning, Huddly and more.
As a longstanding member of the Google Cloud Partner program, Damson Cloud specialise in bringing people and ideas together through new ways of working. We champion change management and digital transformation using some of the internet’s most trusted solutions, including Google Workspace, Happeo and Jamboard. To find out more about our services, check out our library of tutorial videos or our blog.