Our CRM solutions have gained significant traction in India

Written by Vikram Chaudhary | Updated: Sep 29 2014, 07:50am hrs
If we have to evolve into a global higher education hub, attract students from across the globe and increase GER, we need to evolve in terms of adopting technology, says Raj Mruthyunjayappa, managing director, APAC & EMEA, Talisma, a provider of Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) software for a wide range of industries. In an interaction with FEs Vikram Chaudhary, he adds that planners need to have good knowledge of existing technologies and emerging business requirements to frame an agile roadmap for technology adoption. Excerpts:

How is IT adoption in the Indian higher education sector shaping up

Higher education is a R5,000 crore industry in India and it is in the midst of a transformation. Annual enrolment in higher education has grown steadily at 6.3% over the last decade; the GER (gross enrolment ratio) is nearly 17%. The government has set a target of achieving a GER of 30% by 2020. This means the number of student enrolments in higher education will doubleIndia will need at least 500 more universities and 50,000 more colleges in the next 7-8 years. While it may not be possible to set up infrastructure for thousands of colleges, what will emerge is a blended model, as is prevalent globally. As competition among universities increases, they will turn to technologies such as ERP and CRM solutions for gaining edge.

Campuses are becoming proactive and agile in areas such as onboarding, interactive learning and student lifecycle management. Further, the interaction between components of academic ecosystem such as students, faculty and authorities is changing and institutions are focusing on distance education and e-learning to minimise infrastructure costs.

How different is the Indian market vis-a-vis the global market in terms of technology adoption in higher education

India is the third-largest country in the world in terms of student enrolment and has the largest number of higher education institutions globally. But, as per data available, only 22% of government-run institutes have implemented an ERP solution and this is quite less compared to, say, Australia where over 80% institutions have implemented an ERP solution. Also, the adoption of higher-education-specific applications in India continues to remain low.

If we have to evolve into a global higher education hub, attract students from across the globe and increase GER, we need to evolve in terms of adopting technology.

So, what are the challenges we face

One of the major challenges is the lack of awareness. Planners need to have good knowledge of existing technologies and emerging business requirements to frame an agile roadmap for technology adoption. They have to study the existing IT infrastructure, set aside budgets, look for trained staff to run operations, and set aside resources for running pilot projects in campuses.

Since most technology projects deliver tangible RoI in the long run, planners have to convince senior members of boards/senate in universities. This is particularly apparent in projects that involve a multi-phase and multi-campus implementation. There has to be greater education amongst administrative staff on the benefits of automation.

And how can companies like Talisma help

According to a recent report, only 10% of the university-age population, between 22 and 35 years, has access to higher education. With our solutions, campuses can reduce their marketing and student engagement costs. This can help campuses expand their student base and raise the quality of education. Further, universities can establish distance education centres and reach out to more students using MOOCs or e-learning modes. In fact, we are working with about 40 colleges and universities in India; for example, Manipal University, SRM University and IIM Udaipur are using our solutions. We are also the technology platform provider for the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and few other government projects for skill development.

Also, our CRM solutions have gained significant traction in the Indian market. We want to keep the momentum going not just by expanding our customer base but also by continually investing in developing products that meet the growing requirements of campuses here. We do have new products and key releases lined over the next few months. These products will take our engagement with campuses to a whole new level.