Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Australian Education Agents - We’ve got them all

PIER Agency Finder -
In a little over a year, the PIER Agency Finder has grown from being simply an idea, to now containing accurate data on 3291 education agencies in 4587 offices, spread across 115 countries worldwide. We are confident that we now have every education agent representing the Australian market listed in our database, so I thought now would be a good time explain how we have achieved our goal.

Over the past 7 years working at PIER, I have been in charge of the development of 3 separate, unique systems that are accessible by education agents in some form or another. These 3 systems have been developed at different times and for very different reasons, but they all contain core functionality targeted at agents. As these separate systems evolved independently, it became clear to us that the fragmentation of this data was causing an administrative headache, and thus a new suite of products emerged, based around a core, central data repository.

The PIER Agency Finder is the crux of these new products and is where we now store all agency-based data. We store Agency data representing an organisation, and also Office data representing each physical office location. We also store the employees working within each office, all of whom have access to maintain their offices’ subset of data via their own dedicated system, the Counsellor Dashboard.

We have gathered this data via systems like the Education Agent Training Course, the Australian Homestay Network and the newly released ICEF Agent Training Course. We have also dedicated a lot of time and resources to gathering data the old-fashioned way - by manually recording it from public websites, for example. Lastly, we also allow counsellors themselves to add their own office to the list if we don’t already have it.

Now that we have reached our goal of storing every education agent representing Australian providers, we are proud that our hard work has paid off. The PIER Agency Finder is now the most comprehensive public listing of education agents that exists today, and we are dedicated to maintaining the accuracy and currency of all data represented within it.

This system now powers the ACPET Agent Directory, the AIRC Agency Finder and a number of others. It’s also tightly integrated with the ICEF Agent Training Course and the Australian Homestay Network and we are planning on increasing it’s reach within the industry.

I suspect some of you may have got a little lost with the ‘tech-speak’ that is inevitable in a post like this, but hopefully you’re still with me. I will continue to post more tech-oriented articles in the future while Chris’s posts will be more industry-specific.

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