Friday, July 19, 2013

Applane bets big on education sector

The penetration of technology in educational institutions has brought a lucrative business opportunity for companies providing education-related solutions. Amidst the rising demand, such companies are witnessing a profitable growth. Applane, a Gurgaon-based company is providing software and enterprise resource planning (ERP) to educational institutions. ERP is management software. Under this system, the educational institute integrates applications to manage the work. This cloud-based software integrates all facets of an operation, including examination and evaluation, online assignments, attendance, report card, timetable, fee design, student transportation etc.

"The era of technology has ushered in a revolution in educational institutions in the country, should the demand of ERP spike in schools and colleges," said Shobhit Elhance, vice-president of Applane. It provides cloud-based integrated software suite for managing all organizational functions. He also said that the demand for technologies pertaining to school-management systems has increased in tier II and III cities which are yearning for world-class products. The effective use of the technology is helping in control the decline in attendance rate of students as well as minimising other issues related to education delivery, student management and human resources.

Demand brings business
Till recently, the education domain as a business had largely been ignored by most companies. This technology transformation is a very recent phenomenon. Different parts of the country also show a keen interest in acquiring such solutions in educational institutes.

"It is only in the last decade, thanks to the Millennium Goals and funds infused by World Bank and various government schemes for education, that there is a spur of companies trying to map the educational requirements. They are also rushing in to provide required agnostic solutions," said Elhance.

There are around 110 educational institutions in Gurgaon, comprising of around 74 schools, 19 engineering and architect colleges, 1 medical college and 16 management schools. "We, alone, offer the ERP service to around 10 institutions in Gurgaon. Besides, many institutions have subscribed to different technology-related solutions of other companies as well," said Elhance.

He added that since the education technology and content is still in a nascent stage, there will be substantial growth opportunities in future. The growth of these companies can be pegged at around 20 per cent in the next few years.

Business model
Most of the ventures which work in this field work on pay as you go (PAYG) model. The pricing also varies with the customization based on the number of modules an educational institution has subscribed to.

"We charge on a per student per month basis. For instance, if a school or college has subscribed for the complete ERP, the price charged will be Rs. 20 per student per month," said Elhance. He, however, added that if the institute decides to customize the service and opts for only few, there is surely a decline in the price charged.

Bumpy rides
The sustenance of any company within education domain shall be determined by their offering of a proven solution, their capacity to innovate, provide value based services and organic growth.

Elhance said that many software providers in education sector, are struggling with the confusing requirements of the users, resulting in customization losses and non-billable hours that eat into profits, closure of divisions and collapse of companies.

Solutions and education
This company believes that the technology-related solutions will bring revolution in education system. These systems will help the education sector in different ways. It will help bring process efficiencies and improvement in quality of service delivered; it will also release time for staff in educational institutions to do other productive work.

It will work to bring improvement in learner engagement and outcomes. With the use of effective technology, educational institutions can become 'net knowledge creators' rather than just knowledge disseminators. "We offer 99 percent uptime guarantee for this cloud-based software," claims Elhance. He believes that the introduction of technologies in the educational systems will also enhance functional literacy, prevent dropouts and improve education system.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), July 19, 2013

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