iONisation of Institutions

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With more and more institutions turning to automation to ease processes, the education vertical has emerged as a big opportunity for n ERP solution providers. Venguswamy Ramaswamy,  Global Head, TCS iON in conversation with Pragya Gupta, shares the value proposition that TCS brings to educational institutions in the form of iON and its strategy to position the solution in this highly competitive area

How do you see the role of technology in education?

Technology is rapidly changing the way we perform our daily activities, do business and collaborate with people around us. I feel that the impact of technology in raising the quality of education and its role will be significant in the next decade. India has one of the largest student populations in the world where students are Digital Natives. They belong to a generation in which social networking on the web and emerging online media and natural mediums of interaction is relatively high. Educational institutes are facing the challenge of engaging this tech-savvy generation along with the need for streamlining and controlling processes.

Going ahead technology solutions for campus management, digital assessments, stakeholder collaboration and social learning are poised to change the way education is imparted and consumed in the near future. New models like online education and distance learning are picking up and putting pressure on institutes and universities to invest in the latest online platforms and avoid technology obsolescence. Another emerging trend is mEducation – delivering education content, assessments and campus management on the mobile or tablet.

Please shed some light on solutions offerings of TCS for Education?

We at TCS cater to the complete needs of the education sector with offerings for schools, colleges, education boards and universities. It is pay-per-use model, and it constantly enhances itself as an institute uses it. The use of service is seamless like consuming electricity and required no IT staff and no capital investment on IT.

Our services are offered in six layers. Bottom most is hardware, which we provide if required by the institute. We then integrate those into a network service, which may stretch across many sites. On top of these stands a set of utility and collaboration software like website hosting, messaging and document management. As we move upward from here, we have a set of business applications. First comes the horizontal business applications – like finance and accounting, HRMS and payroll. Then we provide the Campus Management Software – covering processes from enquiry to admissions, fees, academics management, and grading and promotion alumni, etc. Above these applications are a host of platforms like a Professional Virtual Community and a Business Reporting Engine. Now, all these come integrated. To the customer, it is one piece of multi-function software sharing a common data.

How does the TCS iON meet the needs of the education vertical?

We have met with key stakeholders from educational institutes across the country to understand the unique needs for this sector. I am confident that we have built an offering which creates value by addressing the challenges faced by the management, principals, teachers, student and parents.

iON has a service model that never gets obsolete due to a Perpetual Beta, helping institutes focus only on delivering education and stop worrying about IT. We have a commercial model that keeps the cost of ICT linear by allowing the institute to pay on a monthly basis depending on the number of teachers and students using the system, thus freeing institutes from capital expenditure.

All institutes are benefitted from a solution bundle that is fit for the purpose, incorporating global best-practices of international institutes. It enables creation of a boundary-less campus by involving multiple stakeholders in an extended ecosystem through virtual communities and networks.

What is your strategy to position the product among educational institutions?

Our strategy has always been to position iON as a ‘one-stop shop’ for the entire gamut of IT needs of the education sector. Along with our Channel Sales Partners who are called Cloud Service Partners, we are creating awareness about our product and penetrating into tier-2 and tier-3 towns aggressively. From a pricing strategy perspective we are purely pay-per-use, thus helping institutes scale linearly without incurring capital expenditure

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