By Anil Chirravuri
Did you know that India tops the global markets for venture capital funding in the education sector, only to be trailed by the so-called biggies – China and the United States? According to reports, about $4.04 billion of funding was received by the Indian education sector since the beginning of the pandemic. Ed-tech players have attracted a whopping $3.81 billion in funding only in the first seven months of 2021, according to a report from analytics firm – Tracxn. This goes to show how ed-tech has risen in the last two years from merely being an otherwise supplementary education platform, especially when it comes to information technology (IT) oriented programmes.
Now, most ed-tech companies are based on a more visible and high marketing budget spend B2C model than a handful that follows a low-profile but robust business-to-business (B2B) model. There’s no doubt that the majority of the business-to-consumer (B2C) driven ed-tech platforms are flourishing and filling the coffers. But imagine a business model that promises better customer acquisition rates, lesser costs, low attrition rates, and creating a win-win for ed-tech platform providers, academic institutions, and the students alike. Sounds like a better prospect? Well, that’s what B2B can offer.
Here’s a case on B2B in IT-oriented careers:
When the colleges shut down during the lockdown, the immediate requirement of the academic institutions was to transfer the classes online. While online conferencing platforms like Zoom and Teams were of some help, they could not be scaled to tackle the other aspects of classroom teaching such as one-on-one attention and conducting assessments or exams. B2B platform became an immediate requirement for most colleges specially to deliver IT courses wherein much hands-on is required by the students. Colleges noticed the advantage B2B brought and remained in partnership even after the reopening of the regular schools.
Now you may wonder as to why B2B model for ed-tech is a strong robust model as against a more visible B2C? The answers lie in the fact that you can expect a purposeful approach through a B2B model owing to the long-term relationship it can generate between the EdTech platform and the academic institution. It is delving deeper into ‘understanding the customer’, viz., the students and their needs against the industrial background. And it is indispensable to identify and design the kind of curriculum that is required to fulfill the industrial demands and prepare the students to meet the industrial standards.
A B2B Relationship features multiyear engagement that not only serves as a long-term association, but also serves as a trust factor for educational institution and students. Besides, it also helps the students and parents make an informed choice between data-driven and rational decisions as against an impulsive or emotional decision. A long-term engagement is also the key to increasing the student engagement size through a customised partner institution engagement. On the other hand, the partner institution can leverage the campus placement drives in association with the ed-tech platforms. So, while the students are ready with the traditional curriculum, they are also ready to be absorbed by companies for their practical industry-level competencies as well.
And it’s not yet over, here’s how the students have other benefits. Through a B2B model, ed-tech platforms can help students be trained in an industrial simulated environment by throwing at them real-time problems and exercising students to come up with practical industry-relevant solutions. This especially holds good in programmes designed for IT careers wherein the curriculum could be vetted by industry experts as they are on ground zero and understand what is required on the job. That way the students also know what to expect through campus placement drives, with a possible promise of industry access and once on the field can deliver on par with an experienced professional.
In this case, the ed-tech platform, benefits through building high-value relationships which form the basis for a successful business algorithm in a long run. Not only would the platform invest its capital, time, and energies in trust-building that can fetch more business even if it were through word-of-the-mouth references, but also ensure that it delivers the quality for customer retention. In the case of B2C model the supplier must invest in high visibility advertising. In terms of IT career industry, the B2C model can be more helpful in upskilling the users who have over one year’s experience in real career world. Trust-building in case of B2B oriented ed-tech models grows by leaps and bounds owing to the subscription of academic institutions who are aware of where exactly their curriculum gives the students an edge and alongside the industry references which together can form a strong backbone of the B2B landscape. What’s more, the platform would also ensure building best practices are replicated throughout the supply chain.
The corporates too get a piece of the cake. Long-term engagements with EdTech platforms help in continuous process review and planning with a backdrop of industrial demands. It also helps in enhancing the effectiveness and efficiencies through absorbing the best fit from a highly trained talent pool with an ability to help the company scale. And all this translates to lower customer acquisition costs, higher student engagement rate, low attrition rates, and high renewal rates at the four levels – the company, the academic institution, students and the ed-tech platform itself.
Corporate benefit from training students by shortening their learning curve. Students benefit by quicker learning on the job and planning their careers ahead of time. Colleges benefit from an enhanced reputation among the corporates, students and parents thereby leading to higher student intake. The EdTech platform ties the ecosystem together leading to a four-way benefit.
The author is chief strategy officer, byteXL.