Tarun Jain, Country Head, Hitachi Home Electronics Asia (S) Pvt Ltd., Singapore, shares with digital LEARNING his understanding on White Board market in India and the challenges lying therein.
Country Head, Hitachi Home Electronics Asia (S) Pvt Ltd., Singapore
What are the challenges that the Indian education market, though growing, is facing?
Laptops and computers are essential digital learning tools. In fact they complement interactive whiteboard technology. However, as stand-alone technology, they are more geared to `individual-learning` than `group-learning`. It is this difference that is critical, and it`s precisely this point, once appreciated, will lead to change in mindsets regarding the importance of interactive whiteboards in digital-learning. Also, development of better infrastructure, digital-content, financing options and user-education/training will help expedite adoption of interactive whiteboard technology in India.
In comparison to UK, why is it that the Indian education market is yet to catch up with the innovative technologies of the Interactive whiteboards? Is it the cost? What is the reach out of Hitachi StarBoards in India?
It may not be appropriate to compare the UK and India markets. For one, they differ vastly in market potential and size. The Indian education market is also far more heterogenous in terms of economic, technological and infrastructural parameters. Finally, interactive whiteboard technology has been introduced in India much later as compared to the UK. Having said that, we are currently witnessing a phased and successful adoption of interactive whiteboard technology in the India market, with mostly urban and technology-savvy institutions leading the way. There is also effort being put in to fit within with overall ICT-in-education policy being formulated by the government so that the benefits of interactive whiteboard technology can be reaped by education institutes in tier 2/3 cities and rural India. However, India has around 1.2 million schools, which means that it is going to be a while before we can achieve UK levels of adoption.
It is a common perception that interactive whiteboard technology is expensive. However if we recognise that the interactive whiteboard technology is a `group learning` tool the cost-per-student works out to be very affordable. Hitachi`s award-winning StarBoards, while incorporating best-in-industry technology, are specially priced to be cost-effective solutions. Innovative financing models, provided by solutions providers, further reduce the cost impact for buyers.
What are the strategies you have adopted to capture the Indian market?
Since the market for interactive whiteboard technology is still nascent in India we have adopted a two pronged strategy of brand as well as category building. On the brand front we have introduced our cutting-edge globally award-winning StarBoards range of interactive whiteboard solutions. We showcase our products through demos, advertisements, PR and other communications tools. On the category front we are currently evaluating strategic alliances and PPPs to undertake capacity building for the adoption of interactive whiteboard technology.
Who are your channel partners? Are you looking for any new alliances?
We are currently partnering with HCL (government sector) for the distribution of our StarBoards across India. However we are actively looking to partner with more distributors with whom we can identify synergies to better address private-sector market segments.
Are there any new developments in the K-12 segments and higher education segments, as far as Hitachi solutions are concerned? What is the way ahead for you?
Hitachi is one of the few companies that has its own brand of interactive whiteboard as well as projector solutions. We have introduced the cutting edge combination of the FX-DuoBoard and the Hitachi CPA-100 Ultra Short Throw Projector (for virtually shadowless presentation). The DuoBoard offers the dual option of writing with a digital pen as well as the finger. This makes it more convenient for students to interact with the interactive whiteboard. In addition, the DuoBoard offers the dual-touch feature by which two people can simultaneously write on the board. This potentially enhances student teacher group-collaboration.
Apart from this, our Bluetooth wireless tablet BT-2G and our portable StarBoard the T17-SXLG are selling very well.