Melbourne-based edtech outfit Factor5 has picked up $US250, 000 in cash and a helping hand from cloud computing player ServiceNow, with company founder Brian Clark looking to use his winnings to beef up the core product.
Factor 5, a long-term ServiceNow partner, picked up the gong at the cloud company’s recently concluded Knowledge 18 conference in Orlando, Florida. Mr Clark and his team bested 224 other entries to top the CreatorCon Challenge, a global competition for entrepreneurs to create the most high impact business applications on the ServiceNow platform.
Mr Clark said the win was heartening validation of Factor5’s workflow management software that started life as a bootstrapped start-up in Mr Clark’s kitchen’s table.
The company’s solution is already in place in Australian Universities, including Monash University, and the software’s overall objective is remarkably simple — moulding a fragmented documentation environment into a single “source of truth” for universities.
Mr Clark, who cut his teeth at ANZ Bank before moving to head RMIT university’s IT department, said that his experience in both environments were instrumental in bringing Factor5 to life.
“When I came out of banking and into the education sector I was surprised how much manual processing was done, especially in the admin side of things,” he said.
“RMIT was one of the more progressive institutions in terms of looking at automating processes but there was still a lot of opportunity.”
Mr Clark wanted to put an end to the hegemony of spreadsheets, word documents and disparate databases and saw there was no solution in the market.
“There’s a lot of investment in learning management and on the delivery side of education but there’s just not a lot out there to change the way an administrator runs things.”
Unlike the banking sector, the education sector has until recently had very little incentive to focus on compliance and lift the overall quality of curriculum design. Greater competition and more stringent regulatory oversight are starting to change that dynamic.
Factor5’s CourseLoop product is a cloud-based curriculum life cycle management solution that automates manual processes to reduce the administrative burden and Mr Clark said that the efficiency improvements inevitably translate into better academic outcomes.
“The simpler you make the system for academics to do the right thing in term of curriculum design and management the more time they have for research and development.”
Process management is a lucrative avenue for outfits like Factor5 which leverage the cloud to centralise and automate a plethora of tasks. The idea is that the time saved can be used to create better value, however, IT transformation is inherently a complex task and Mr Clark said that organisations need to look beyond the software.
“Once you start the journey, it’s a lot of work and we tell our clients that they need to think about how the software relates to process and policy,” he said.
Factor5’s next step could be to delve deeper into the student management space and Mr Clark is confident that the CourseLoop software can over time be embedded in to the secondary and vocational education space as well.
He added that the new capital entering the business will be allocated to improve the software.
“We want to get ahead of the product development curve because you cannot rest in this market,” he said.
“We focused our early on making the software ready to solve a very specific problem but we can see there are other opportunities out there so we are designing new products to address those areas.”
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