‘Resistance to change and mindsets key roadblocks’

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What is relevant to students will be the guiding factor for institutions, believes Lux Rao, CTO – Technology Services, HP India Sales. In conversation with ENN, he emphasises on the importance of connecting with the student community on a plane that resonates with their learning priorities

Lux RaoHow is the confluence of the four forces – cloud, mobility, big data and social media – creating a robust network for better solutions in education vertical?In this context, how do you see HP’s role in bringing a paradigm shift in education sector in India?
The confluence of the four forces namely cloud, mobility, big data and social media has democratised technology in a big way. As it has for businesses, this confluence of technologies has also touched the education domain in an unprecedented manner enabling content and context to a connected institute. At HP, we believe that this disruptive change enables great automation for the education sector; be it for experiential learning for the student or comprehensive tools for better managing the school, college or university.

When was HP Education Cloud launched? How successful has it been leveraging the massive opportunities in India?
HP Education Cloud was soft launched 3 months ago and has seen quick successes in schools and colleges across the country. Simplicity of use, single unified portal, subscription-based billing and service standards have been the driving factors. We are now looking at an aggressive GTM to reach out to schools and colleges across the country.

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As several global firms are eyeing the Indian education market, what is the business strategy for IT leaders like HP in view of the ‘Digital India’ programme?
We believe that students should be engaged with learning tools that leverage emerging technologies such as Cloud, Mobility and MOOCs that provide an experiential training to students and skill seekers. This will create a new generation of digital natives who are conversant and prepared for the challenges of the increasingly pervasive digital-powered economies around the world. This will enhance the collective learning index (as opposed to studying for marks) and increase the employability factor.

Has HP done any impact assessment after its solutions been implemented in educational institutions in India? If so what are the insights?
While there are obvious gains on productivity and operational efficiencies by way of streamlined workflows on processes such as admissions, examinations, HR, finance et al, the biggest impact is in terms of the learning quotient for students. Initial pilots that were carried out indicated a 49 per cent higher test scores over just 2-3 months for the test group that were provided the tools vis-à-vis the group that were not provided the tools.

As HP has massive global presence, has it been easy to get a breakthrough in educational institutions in India?
The education segment has nascent opportunities for integrated solutions. HP Future school, as envisioned 3 years ago, has been the bulwark of these developments. This is a pioneering effort and the concept of a single stop learning-automation solution is unprecedented. We are putting in efforts to pursue the future school vision and solutions such as Education Cloud, VideoBook, SIMS (Student Information Management Solution) are the first tangible results of our program. We have several innovative solutions and enhancements planned in our roadmap for the education segment in India.

The Digital India programme is now on ground. What, according to you, will it take to make this programme successful?
Our Future School vision resonates very well with the Digital India objectives and we are confident that our solutions will provide impetus for skill building initiatives.

What are the roadblocks that you see in this process as things unfold?
Resistance to change and mindsets are the key roadblocks. We are confident that the gains experienced by early adopters will be the motivating factor for mass scale adoption. We are also working on driving awareness around education technology & technology for education that would provide a framework for accelerating the technology adoption.

Do you think there is a need for a paradigm shift in educational institutions for better teachinglearning outcomes and skill development?
It is important to connect with the generation in a way that is reflective of their learning behavior. For instance, the current student community can be classified as digital natives that are at home with Cloud and mobile Apps (although they may not know it consciously).

We believe that connecting in a way that makes learning a fun experience is the best approach. For instance, HP VideoBook is a solution that aggregates the best of videos from across the globe and provides relevant snippets of information. This enhances learning and provides a holistic view of concepts. This makes learning a very enjoyable experience.

How do you see the accessibility and affordability of education solutions offered by IT giants such as HP as many of these are targeted towards public and private schools and private universities?
Technology has made it possible to provide global standard tools at affordable rates. What was hitherto available only to elite institutions can now be implemented on Opex models. Institutions such as Xavier University have fully leveraged tools such as HP Education Cloud to create a Digital University that stays relevant to the student communities with a slew of learning tools whilst having a campus ERP that covers the gamut of automation needs of a university.

Do IT firms see a volume business in state-run educational institutions?
Yes and concurrent technologies namely cloud et al make it very viable to address the needs of the volume business. Technology is a great equaliser and democratisation of technology tools via cloud makes it possible to have global grade solutions at affordable rates.

Do you think education policy makers and administrators are taking long to adopt to digital solutions in their educational institutions?
The availability of affordable Internet, cloud based technologies, enabling and empowering policies and willing institutions has created the perfect environment. Hitherto, one or the other factors were short and hence resulted in rather slow adoptions but the current context is optimal.

Is it lack of finance or mindset that hampers digitisation of educational institutions in India?
It is a combination of both factors. While the mindset itself is a transient factor, it is important that technology providers ‘right-price’ their solutions and offer excellent value to stay relevant to the education domain. Solutions that are being offered on pay-per-use model (read Opex model) that can scale as needed are very attractive to institutions as typically they need low/no upfront investments (read Capex).

Most current solutions are built on archaic technology frameworks and are woefully out-of-context with the current generation. It is important to connect with the student community on a plane that resonates with their learning priorities and that will be one of key factors in driving adoption. In short, what is relevant to students will be the guiding factor for institutions.

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