With the rapid proliferation of smart devices and increased broadband access, enterprises have accelerated their adoption of mobility solutions. During 2015, the enterprise segment made significant investments in cloud technologies, big data analytics and virtualisation, with the aim of increasing customer engagement, tapping emerging opportunities and enhancing productivity. However, the lack of a robust support infrastructure in terms of network bandwidth remains a key challenge for enterprises in the information and communication technology (ICT) space. Select enterprise customers comment on the key technology trends in the enterprise space during 2015 and the mobility applications adopted by them, the challenges associated with the introduction of new applications, and the technology roadmap for 2016…
What is the current level of adoption of mobility solutions by Indian enterprises? What are the key challenges faced by them in adopting new technologies?
Parents are important stakeholders in the market that we serve, and they have to be convinced that computers, mobiles and tablets are not just a means of entertainment, but also powerful new mediums for education. Parental concerns regarding online education impact the acceptance of this medium. Inadequate availability of internet connectivity is also a key challenge. To overcome this, we have introduced SD cards that contain offline content. This also saves internet costs for students since viewing an online lecture often entails huge data consumption.
How have telecom operators performed with regard to addressing the needs of enterprise customers? What are your expectations from service providers?
Telecom operators have not been able to provide robust internet connectivity. To overcome this, we have engaged with multiple operators in order to switch to other broadband networks in case a particular network is unavailable or has poor network strength. Moreover, there are issues related to last mile connectivity. We have been unable to give a pan-Indian contract for the provision of broadband services to a single operator and some of our centres are still dependent on local internet service providers.
What were some of the technology-related initiatives that your company adopted during the past year? What new initiatives are you planning to take in the near future?
Last year, we rolled out some key technology initiatives, both enterprise centric and consumer centric.
- Enterprise initiatives: In order to facilitate consumer interaction, we have moved some of our enterprise software, such as customer relationship management and lead management, onto the cloud platform. We have also introduced new versions of the various technology-related solutions that we adopted in the past. Multiprotocol label switching is another technology that we have implemented in order to integrate our different centres.
Moreover, we have implemented an enterprise resource planning software (Oracle’s PeopleSoft Student Campus) and have become the first in our industry to do so in India. PeopleSoft is being used for providing classroom schedules and timetable management, access to marks statements and other exam-related notifications. We have provided online access to most of our services, including fee payment.
- Consumer initiatives: In 2015, we further strengthened our e-learning platform, Aakash iTutor. Through this, students are able to access complete digital courses (video lectures, e-books and assessments) from their homes and learn at their own pace. Internet access is not essential for this and it can be availed of through SD cards inserted in a tablet. Last year, we upgraded the software so that it could be used on a laptop/desktop as well with SD cards. It is also available as a mobile application to enable learning on the go.
We have recently launched a live online tutoring programme, Aakash Live, through which students can attend live online lectures delivered by our faculty at the head office. This enables students to avail of the best instructor-led coaching from the comfort of their homes. Earlier, this kind of solution did not take off in India because of the unavailability of the internet and requisite hardware with students. But now, with improved internet penetration and increased availability of smartphones and tablets, the programme is expected to gain traction among students. Aakash Live also works at a low bandwidth of 100 kbps, which makes it a viable option even in remote corners of the country.
Apart from the above e-learning initiatives, we are planning to leverage technology in our traditional classroom programmes. We are setting up digital boards on which teachers can play videos or show rich graphical illustrations, which will take in-class learning to the next level. Lectures can also be recorded and made available to students, enabling them to revisit a class any time later.
Which technologies are likely to gain traction among enterprises in 2016?
In the education space, digital education, particularly the use of mobiles and tablets for e-learning, is likely to gain traction in the near future.