Need to create an ecosystem for the fledgling industry : LS Venkatesh, General Manager of Edutech India

LS Venkatesh is the General Manager of Edutech India, a leading organisation providing technology enabled knowledge solutions to enhance performance for academic and corporate clients. Venkatesh was instrumental in driving the Middle East Operations of Edutech to a high level of corporate excellence. Some of his other contributions in the Middle East include establishing a consortium of universities in Saudi Arabia to help share resources, creating a “Vertical Practices” group within the organisation to develop domain expertise in various verticals to gain competitive advantage and introducing new digital library solutions and technologies such as RFID to Libraries in the Middle East. In 2005, he moved to Chennai to head the India office of Edutech as the importance of Indian operations to Edutech’s overall strategy assumed significance. Venkatesh shares more about his enterprise e-learning experiences with Digital Learning.

 ? How do you use technology at Edutech to change educational culture?

The demand for education has risen not just because there are more people aspiring for quality education but also because of the need for life-long learning or continuing education, as the rapid skill and knowledge obsolescence in today’s world poses a huge challenge. On the supply side, we have shortage in both quality and quantity of faculty, trainers, physical infrastructure etc. The current state of education infrastructure in India lends itself well to the use of technology and therefore presents a huge opportunity. Keeping this opportunity in mind, Edutech has evolved a modular eEducation framework, by establishing partnerships with the world’s leading technology and content providers and building a team of professionals to help institutions rapidly create the required infrastructure to deliver learning and ensure that the envisaged learning outcomes are met.

 ? We know some of the reasons like high performance and workforce productivity for which the board room is renewing its attention to enterprise learning. How does Edutech contribute to the causes?

World over the trend used to be to cut training budgets first if expenses needed to be reduced as it was seen as “non-productive”. Progressive companies are realising that it is a serious mistake to cut down on training. Companies today are investing significantly in evolving competence frameworks to support organisational performance. In medium to large companies, technology can play a great role in identifying and recording skill-gaps and facilitating training programmes to bridge the gaps within defined timeframes so that there is tangible improvement in people’s performance.

Edutech’s Learning Solutions and Performance Management Solutions will help customers achieve just that.

 ? What is the enterprise learning solution approach that builds corporate competencies and goals? What kind of innovations is Edutech providing to enhance education and different learning communities’ access to technology?

Enterprises are increasingly realising that HR and Training departments should be better aligned with corporate goals and objectives. As a result, HR and Training managers are more tuned in today with companies’ business imperatives.

Edutech devises solutions that are ‘tailor-made’ to meet the varying needs of its customers. This is achieved by choosing appropriate content, sound in instructional design and pedagogical approach, to achieve a certain learning objective in a given “community of learners” and using the right technologies to deliver content appropriate to the defined learners. We accomplish this through partnerships with world-class companies that have the best of the breed, proven solutions for meeting specific needs.

 ? What are the solutions you offer across the higher education and k-12 industry sectors? What forms the compelling basis on which Edutech’s solutions are built on.

Edutech’s solutions for the academic sector combine didactic equipment, advanced learning technologies, information resources, learning content and tools. These resources when used effectively support the development of skills, such as flexibility, adaptability, critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration capabilities that are crucial to achieving success in today’s knowledge economy. Additionally, we help build a learning environment that is accessible, reliable and relevant to students.

Edutech’s solutions include:
Edutech’s solutions include: • Online learning technologies for blended or distance learning programmes • Branded learning content for languages learning, mathematics, sciences, business and management, health and medicine, technical and industrial subjects • Custom developed content for specific curriculum • Online testing and assessment  solutions • Classroom control and response systems  • Digital language labs • Digital Library solutions The compelling basis for all our solutions is essentially reliability, scalability, ease of deployment and ease of use to achieve the desired learning outcome.

How did you succeed in establishing a place for the company in this global niche market of e-learning? What has been your forte in this sector?
A critical factor for Edutech’s success is our ability to listen to our customers and finding creative solutions that address their problems. We were an early entrant into this space and have done some pioneering work. Our forte is that we are probably one of the few companies in the world that is capable of providing end to end solutions facilitating the skill and knowledge acquisition and delivery processes for enterprises. Your company has global alliances and presence across GCC, US, India and Malaysia.

How different or similar is the enterprise e-learning concept in India and the Middle East?
In India the challenge is in the numbers and diversity. Awareness is also a major issue and much needs to be done to evangelise e-learning. Infrastructure in terms of connectivity is still a huge bottle-neck. In the Middle East, companies have to deal with multiple cultures as there is a sizeable expatriate work-force. The drive for learning is much stronger in India as compared to some of the other markets. What do you think are the most significant challenges that education companies have faced in approaching a system to facilitate e-learning? At this point in time, awareness is a key issue. Because of this, many organisations approach e-learning  with a great degree of skepticism.
Like with most things, there is a method to e-learning deployment and unless much thought is given and the strategy is worked out, it is unlikely to produce the desired results. We still don’t have Universities offering major programmes on educational technologies and instructional design. We need to create an ecosystem for the fledgling industry to thrive. Where do you see Edutech after five years? We see Edutech as a global brand to reckon with in the “Learning”  nd “Performance Management” solutions space. We would like to be seen and  remembered as a company that played a pioneering role in  evangelising the  use of technology or realizing better learning outcomes in institutions and  enterprises. We would like to be seen as an innovator and a company of choice for enterprises to partner with in their learning initiative and as an organisation that has the best talent pool in this industry.