CIOL has of late been doing interviews with the CEO’s of Indian e-Learning companies. The Learned Man! has taken some important questions (from an industry context) from the first couple of these interviews (Brainvisa & Hurix Systems) and juxtaposed the responses of the CEO’s to make it easier for the reader to have a combined perspective.
Q: How big is the E – learning market and what is the share of the Indian players?
Supam Maheshwari (Brainvisa): Globally the E – learning market is about 30 billion dollar, out of which India has a meager share of 150 million dollar.
Subrat Mohantry (Hurix): I can give a wide range; according to my guesstimate it could be anywhere between $200 million to a couple of billions annually, depending on how you define the market.
Q: What are your views on Brand India in the e-learning domain?
Supam Maheshwari (Brainvisa): There is no big difference. The Indian companies are as competitive, creative, innovative and focused as their foreign counterparts. Right now India is shining and would continue to shine, as more and more work would flow in. Now it's a compulsion for the foreign players to come shake hand with us due our competitive and skilled workforce.
Subrat Mohantry (Hurix): Times have changed drastically, when I started off selling the e-learning concept abroad in 1996-97, the companies were a bit vary of our capabilities and unsure about outsourcing their work. The global success of Indian IT services has changed all that, clients across the globe associate positive things with India. We in the e-learning industry have also proven our worth in the international market, and now 'India' tag can be quite favorable during a sales pitch.
Q: What are the compelling reasons for clients to outsource their work to India?
Supam Maheshwari (Brainvisa): In e –learning it is crucial to understand the culture and language of the target group for better designing of the course. Also it is very hard to find dedicated workforce in this field other than India. Though come eastern European countries are picking up the trade techniques but still India remains a strong contender.
Subrat Mohantry (Hurix): There are a couple of factors that can be termed as compelling, namely: quality, cost benefits, etc. Companies also look at India for project development, when a great deal of work needs to be accomplished in a short time frame. Finally, the expertise, India has a proven track record in the e-learning industry and has many highly qualified developers working in this space.
Q: What are the emerging trends in the e-learning space?
Supam Maheshwari (Brainvisa): Well, flash exhibits and facilitates to built a more focused solutions. Thus it remains the most favored with 95% of the market using it.
Subrat Mohantry (Hurix): Macromedia Flash is the platform of choice for the industry due to its rich user experience. Flash Lite for mobiles is going to open new vistas for learning. Some of the technology that is going to play an important role in the future is multi-role synchronous learning, like gaming or multiplayer interactive simulations. And the next frontier is obviously mobile handheld devices.
Q: What needs to be to promote e-learning in India?
Supam Maheshwari (Brainvisa): It will take its own time in India. Budget needs to be allocated with increased bandwidth to facilitate faster connectivity. Everybody concerned needs to give it a serious thought.
Subrat Mohantry (Hurix): The industry currently lacks visibility, not too much is talked about this market. It is due to the fact that there are not many publicly listed companies or a corporate figurehead, who goes about talking for and about the industry and becomes the spokesperson for the industry. As most of the clients are based overseas and lot of companies spend their advertising money in the foreign market and not in domestic market. Previously getting business was a challenge; now getting the right people is a challenge. I am pushing for an industry forum, a place where members can share concerns and learning. The e-learning companies could have a forum under the NASSCOM (National Association of Software & Service Companies) umbrella.
Q: What are your views on opportunities in domestic market?
Supam Maheshwari (Brainvisa): There is potential but no one is bothered to use it. Someone needs to budget and plan it. There is no governmental initiative in this regard. The basic infrastructure for e- learning is lacking. In Singapore e – learning programme is used to train taxi drivers.
Subrat Mohanty (Hurix): It is a mind-boggling proposition. I get goose bumps when I think what technology can achieve in the Indian market, and it will happen in the years to come. The traditional learning method is not an option, as we do not have that kind of infrastructure, e-learning will democraticize education in India. Millions of people in India who have the right base are waiting for the enabling layer to make them efficient, and that can happen through technology based learning alone. We are in talk with different parties. Personally, I feel India requires someone to own this vision and drive it.