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Guest Column

Published on: Dec. 31, 2023, 7:29 p.m.
Making India future-ready
  • With AI-powered systems that can act as virtual mentors it is technology that has strengthened the EdTech scaffolding

By Akshay Munjal. The author is Founder & CEO, Hero Vired

As of January 2023, India recorded a total of 1.51 million registered companies, reflecting a thriving and dynamic business landscape. The start-up ecosystem, which has witnessed staggering growth (from 450 start-ups in 2014 to 90,000 in 2023), is fuelling the demand for managerial positions, and consequently an increased demand for skilled talent for cross-functional management. 

In the business landscape today, companies increasingly seek professionals equipped with advanced skill sets. Management professionals possess the unique ability to seamlessly apply their expertise across diverse functions, ensuring a perfect match with the demands of varied industries. This versatility makes them invaluable assets, capable of navigating the challenges of today’s vibrant yet volatile business environment. 

Over the last decade, managerial positions have undergone significant evolution, transforming into more sophisticated job roles such as growth hackers, business analysts, business success managers, strategic communication specialists, etc. To meet these unique demands, EdTech platforms have emerged as pivotal players in providing access to high-quality management programs, making them accessible across the entire expanse of the country. This inclusive approach has not only widened the reach of such programmes but has also played a crucial role in reshaping and modernising the landscape of executive education.

Multiple tailwinds for online MBAs: While there were prominent traditional Business Schools like IIMs and ISB that have acted as pioneers for online education, it was the advent of EdTech that truly revolutionised the executive education space. With superior technology in their arsenal, EdTech start-ups have fast become the real proponents of executive programmes, transcending geographical boundaries.

In more recent times, the acceptance of AI has further cemented the EdTech industry’s position in providing more personalised and adaptive learning solutions. With AI-powered systems that can act as virtual mentors, provide real-time feedback and can quickly adapt to each student’s unique needs, it is technology that has strengthened the EdTech scaffolding. 

Online learning has also benefited from NEP (National Education Policy) 2020’s emphasis on digital education as well as the UGC’s (University Grant Commission) announcement that degrees acquired via online and/or distance learning are equivalent to classroom education.

Recognising the advantage of EdTech platforms, a number of national and international universities are even collaborating with them by unbundling their offerings to provide flexible, accessible and industry-relevant programmes. Such collaborations are leading to curricula designed for delivery through live and recorded sessions by their faculty or those of the EdTech partner. 

With EdTech partnerships, B-Schools are even starting to tap overseas markets in South Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Such partnerships are demonstrating high scope for executive programmes in India and countries alike that harbours world’s youngest population. 

At the same time, we are seeing a steady co-existence of traditional B-Schools and EdTech platforms in offering executive programs, sharing a common goal of delivering high-quality content without the constraints of limited seats, geographical boundaries, time restrictions, and more. 

Benefits, challenges and opportunities: While EdTech platforms embrace a digital-first approach, conventional B-Schools excel in delivering their programmes through traditional classroom settings. Leveraging each of their unique selling propositions (USPs), there is an opportunity to optimise outcomes for learners seeking executive education. 

  • By inculcating the ethos of lifelong learning, continuous upskilling and self-improvement in current and potential leaders, online executive MBAs are set to revolutionise the industry dynamics in India

Furthermore, digital first executive MBAs enable real-time updates in the course content. In this way, it is possible to align the curriculum with evolving and upcoming industry demands. EdTechs have been able to enable experiential learning through virtual classrooms, simulations, interactive case studies and consulting projects similar to that of traditional B-Schools.

This further facilitates the application of theoretical learning to on-ground enterprise challenges, honing the problem-solving skills of participants as well as their strategic acumen. Cutting through the geographical limitations in particular, through online forums and virtual events, professionals have been able to gain from networking opportunities with executives from diverse domains and business backgrounds.

Peer learning opportunities accelerate the process of knowledge acquisition and sharing, benefitting all participants. This also sows the seeds for future partnerships between learners that may potentially open greater opportunities.

The key challenge in a digital first approach is that of the large digital divide in India. Certain areas in Tiers II & III cities and beyond grapple with persistent connectivity challenges, impeding the seamless delivery of learning experiences to participants.

Nevertheless, the recent introduction and widespread deployment of 5G technology in India, covering 80 per cent of the population, present an opportunity to confront and overcome this challenge effectively.

EdTech platforms with executive MBA programmes have initiated a transformative change leading to enhanced pedagogies in India. CAT registrations recorded an 11 per cent rise in 2023 (from 255,000 registrations to 330,000 in 2023) and the professional online courses market size is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 16.24 per cent between 2022 and 2027, showcasing a growing demand in the space.

This collective goal of making India future ready is the first positive step for the ongoing EdTech revolution, which is poised to completely transform management education in India. By inculcating the ethos of lifelong learning, continuous upskilling and self-improvement in current and potential leaders, online executive MBAs are set to revolutionise the industry dynamics in India.

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