Konica Minolta, renowned for creating its products and services in the field of imaging has finally looked upon India.
Found in 1873, with roots from Japan the company has expanded over 44 countries globally and with 26 offices across India, they launched their product educoERP for India. Early in 2016, they entered the SaaS market with their Education ERP product targeted at the educational institutes across the country. While talking to V Balakrishanan, Executive General Manager for the company, here’s what we explored.
Defining the product (educoERP) Mr. Balakrishanan said, “It’s an enabler of technology adoption. Especially keeping the target market, the education segment in mind we see that someone with that background can adopt it quickly. It is a user-friendly ERP solution platform, designed specifically to be used conveniently in schools, colleges, institutes, universities and training centers. Providing the mobility to access the information anywhere anytime on any device to administrators, teachers, students and parents. The best thing is that it supports multiple languages for its user-friendly interface that can be used by anyone easily.”
On asking about the core value proposition and the problem educo ERP is solving he explained how a very high degree of standardization has gone into creating the product which makes it highly customizable. He added, “We don’t want schools to invest in technology they just have to invest in stable internet connection with reasonable speed and have a decent PC browser to enter data. So we have removed the one major factor of hardware, investments, who will maintain and all the cost related worries have been taken care of.
The second is standardization of the processes. To a large degree we have standardized the process taking the best in class and incorporate but at the same time we have designed it in a manner that it is highly configurable. What we are trying to do is create a good product on top and standardized as many processes as possible.
The primary problems that we are trying to solve are, first, technology adoption which is mainly to overcome. Having done this the next thing that would come is the configurable part that will make it much more adaptable to people and then the last thing is that people will say that we have given it very simple dashboards, kind of Tabular structure of field entry. Pricing plan is such that we can make it extremely affordable. It’s in way that they have to pay per year rather than pay per student. Unless we are going for a major change things will be like that you just simply have to renew the service and keep going on.
The entire ecosystem of the product is designed for the users. The target audiences are someone who can access the internet. The way we have structured it, it can be applicable right from the nursery school to higher education institution. University would require a little more detail so we have a different solution for them."
The next question was about the details on the number of education clients and the market response within India. For this he mentioned how till now they’ve been able to get over 300 institutions. In his words, “Somewhere around 300 plus institutions primarily schools and colleges' implementation have already been started with many of them. The feedback has been encouraging. The institutional leaders are liking the product and we have been receiving a very positive feedback both online and offline.”
Talking about the expansion plans for educo ERP, he said, “This is the first product that we have released for the education in India. This year we will be adding 3-4 more products for the education sector. Our objective is to create a whole host of products for the segment and create a value preposition in India and once we do well here we can connect globally. The new products could be mobile apps so that we are able to provide a greater ease and mobility to the institutions for their work. Also, the market response has made us to look forward for the expansion in other parts of the country as well.”
Explaining more about their product he further highlighted the unique features of educoERP that makes it different from other ERP players in the market.
He said. “When it comes to the core pedagogy and the ease of operation I think we stand out and other features that make it different from others is the offline and online support and the media support. Also, we have a multi-tenant system that can take care of groups of schools on the cloud. We can customize according to the users need. The major difference is that it is ruling the cloud and can be used with existing technologies in the campus. Our product is affordable as well as cost cutting as no hardware is required.”
He shared how in his experience the biggest challenges of selling in education is that there is limited timeframe you get for engagement. He said, “Because of the nature of the industry, the long hierarchy and layers of decision makers at times may take a little longer to reach the right person but once you reach the right person then it is easy.”
Further sharing views about the growth of Education Technology industry in general and specific to India and the differences in the EdTech Indian market in comparison to other countries, he spoke, “The way education is going to be delivered and technology being an important part of it; it is going to be extremely important for India. The biggest challenge of this generation is people who are yet to be educated and the mode that we need to use to educate them. In such a scenario technology have a very important role. It’s up to us, the people of the industry to be able to innovate.
Talking about the west, they have had access to technology much earlier than us and they are far ahead us. But the welcoming change and the openness to adapt within India is encouraging for the edtech sector and that is why India is home to many most used edtech products.”
At last being an experienced marketing professional, we asked him to give a tip to encourage the young edtech startups and entrepreneurs in relation to marketing approach to which he quoted, “If you’re able to create value for your customer there’s no way your customer would leave you.”