“With technology penetrating in the remotest areas, people understand the need of connectivity. Therefore the acceptance of technology among the citizens is increasing,” says P Krishnakumar, Executive Director & GM, Consumer and Small Business, Dell India. In conversation with Sruti Ghosal
How do you look at the role of technology in the growth of education sector in India?
We should look at it from the perspective of technology, how evolutionary technology is playing a part. We should also look at people who have access to good quality education and people who don’t. The way the education system is spread across the country it enables a child to learn a lot of things on his own. But at the same time it doesn’t enhance the curiosity of the child, it does not enhance the abilities that a child possesses. But today we have the Internet, which allows the child to be curious about exploring the world. A lot of children in Tier-1, Tier-2, Tier-3 cities and becoming aware of what is going on around the globe and are not confined to their cities. They are not restrained by the knowledge that the teachers have. Therefore, from the teaching perspective as well as from the teacher’s side, technology has bridged the gap that was causing a hindrance in access to quality information. The second part is that few people in the Tier-3 and Tier- 4 cities have access to information, but not the right kind of education, which will actually help them achieve their dreams. If we see the penetration in Indian household, its only 7 to 8 percent as compared to the developed countries. Therefore, we as a country are not harnessing the potential of the child. In Dell our vision is to deliver technology that will enable a child to dream and emerge as the future leader. Last year, we launched a programme called Study Buddy through which we have over 300 schools. We invited students from these schools for an interactive session with the computer and thus giving them an opportunity to explore.
Please shed light on Dell Champs 2013 School Programme.
The Dell Champs School Programme was launched recently, where we invited 20 cities, purely Tier-2 and below. Here we are running a city school-level contest, which focuses on students from class V to XII. In this contest, children and parents participate as a team and from each school we pick up two winners. After the contest is over we are carrying out an interactive session where we will be discussing about the usage of Internet and the safety issues. This interactive session is purely from the parental perspective and this also educates them about the pros and cons of Internet usage. After this, we pick up a champion from each city and take up to the national level where the national winner is given a scholarship amount of ` 25,000. The winning school will get a customised computer lab. That is the way we have broadly structured the programme and through this we will be able to help the students to achieve their dreams.
“As we go to the Tier-1 and Tier-2 cities we find that the Internet penetration has reached up to 34 percent and most of the Internet activity is happening through the mobile devices”
Indian education is an $85 billion opportunity for business. How is Dell tapping into this vertical?
Education as a vertical looks into two parts, private education system and government education system. Private education can be further divided into college and school education. Most of the private colleges have already started implementing distance classrooms and have put technology in the forefront. They have implemented projectors and other electronic devices through which they can conduct these virtual classrooms, and Dell which produces projectors, laptops and other devices has played a vital role in making these implementations successful. But in the public sphere we have less participation, as government decision is a time consuming and lengthy process.
How do you customise products as per the requirement of education verticals?
It varies from institution to institution. If an institution has laptop requirements we can give it. There are a lot of institutions that want to set up their own data centres; in that case we have to look at different aspects like connectivity, feasibility etc. Therefore these are large scale projects in which we work with them and therefore we talk to them internally. So we can customise that depending on the requirements of the institutions.
What were the initial hiccups when you approached the institutions?
The institutions themselves wanted technology, but the most important factor is how the students will seize this technology. We have come up with different levels of power which makes it more accessible to the students and gives a better learning experience. Nowadays technology has grasped the entire community and is now approved across the society. So in Dell our motive is to help students explore the world of quality information through technology and not remain stuck with the stereotype and traditional notions of technology.