Introducing Australian development strategies

Australian Development Strategies (ADS) was founded by John Black, the former Senator for Queensland, who has pioneered the demographic profiling of Australian political and economic groups since 1975. ADS has been working with schools for the past 13 years to provide them with a profile of their catchment area. This insight helps schools with fee pricing and affordability, enrolment demand, where to target their marketing, bus transportation planning and business risk assessment. ADS markets its demographic profile insights for schools through its Education Geographics (EGS) brand.

Adapting to changes in the educational market

The global financial crisis had a profound impact on the non-government education sector in Australia. This once secure, growing market has become:

More price sensitive, thanks to a decline in real incomes since the end of the mining boom
Less secure due to decreasing job security caused by relentless computerization of blue-collar and middle white-collar jobs
Less well defined because of a blurring of traditional lines between government, Catholic and independent sectors for many parents
To adapt to these changing market conditions, ADS faced a number of challenges:

  • Its product offered huge value to schools, but was delivered as a series of large printed reports and maps which dated quickly, unless replaced with regular printed updates. ADS needed to make it much easier for schools to access and act on the data
  • Despite increasing demand for their product, ADS was limited to supporting a maximum of 20 clients as it was taking up to four weeks to prepare, process and deliver information to each school. They needed a way to speed up report production so they could grow their business
John Black Using DecisionPoint we have achieved tremendous productivity gains. It used to take us a minimum of two weeks to prepare, process and deliver our old-style reports to each school. Contrast that with today, where between February and June 2017, we completed 63 of these dashboards using DecisionPoint!”

Making the switch to modern, interactive dashboards

In 2015, ADS started looking for a better, more modern way to create and deliver their information to schools. After reviewing the market, ADS selected DecisionPoint because it ticked all of their boxes. It was straight forward to use and did not require specialist skills, it integrated with mapping components, and from reading peer reviews, ADS was impressed by DecisionPoint’s reputation for providing first class customer support.. During the early stages of their project, ADS worked closely with DecisionPoint’s product specialists who helped them get up to speed quickly. ADS’ dashboard has come a long way since the early development versions. ADS was selfsufficient within a short period and has been able to create interactive dashboards for its client schools with ease. The team at ADS are now on the fourth iteration of their dashboard, which they’ve developed in a series of short phases over a 12 month period.

John Black One of our team is a DecisionPoint expert and uses the application to create a dashboard for each school. Their expertise is now being transferred to other team members to increase our capacity and enable us to take on further clients.”

Increasing productivity and a growing client base

Using DecisionPoint ADS has achieved its objectives. It has been able to improve the value of the demographic analysis it provides to each school. The online, interactive DecisionPoint dashboards reach and engage far more end users in each school than the old reporting system. DecisionPoint™ has had a big impact on the ADS’ productivity. The team are able to create new dashboards in a fraction of the time that it used to take them. As a result, they are already able to service a much larger client base.

John Black Our objective was to grow our client base and DecisionPoint™ has given us the operational capacity to take on more clients than we could handle with our old reporting process. The look and feel of the dashboard – that user interface – is also central to increasing client numbers, because these days people expect their dashboards to look and feel great!”

Specific improvements include:

  • Improved definition about the affordability of the current level of school fees
  • Clearer understanding of the labor force as a lead indicator for potential changes in student enrolments
  • A comprehensive social media profile that allows effective target marketing – right down to the SA1 level (the smallest unit of Census data in Australia).
  • A summary “Report Card” that concisely informs the School Board members about what is happening within their organization and how their performance compares to their peers
  • Improved analysis of the defined school catchment in the context of the limits and opportunities that the catchment has (viz-a-viz the stereotypical school family) for continuing enrolment demand.

Planning for a bright future

ADS isn’t intending to rest on its laurels. Over the next 12 months, it expects to reach a 100-school client base, covering around 25 percent of current Australian independent school enrolments. At this point, ADS plans to recruit additional team members to further enrich its educational dashboards in a continued drive to deliver more value to its clients. ADS is also expanding by applying its demographics expertise to other markets.

John Black We’re drawing on what we’ve learned about links between the new labor market and its impact on discretionary education spending by middle class families to produce new dashboards for monitoring the impact of digital disruption on the labor market. We’re also planning to produce similar dashboards for potential clients in the local health sector using a Health Geographics brand name. And in between these new product developments, I’m staying sane by writing about politics and fly fishing!”
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