TCS iON has adopted a business-to-business approach to tap schools, colleges and universities, where content creators offer courses on the marketplace and respond to queries too
Tata Consultancy Services’ iON is taking its education marketplace overseas as it taps schools, colleges and corporate houses to offer online courses.
TCS has taken iON to Japan and is looking to expand to Latin America, the UK and Ireland. "We are not competing with an Udacity or Coursera. We are more like an Amazon," said Venguswamy Ramaswamy, global head of iON at TCS said. "There are multiple publishers who may be providing similar content and it will be demand-driven."
TCS expects the iON business to generate $1 billion in revenue, but doesn't have a timeline for this.
India has emerged as the largest market for massive open online courses (MOOCs), where players have designed in-house courses or collaborated with universities. MOOCs work on a freemium model, offering courses for free but charging for certification. While there is massive enrolment in MOOCs, the completion rate is less than 10 per cent.
To counter that, TCS iON has adopted a business-to-business approach to tap schools, colleges and universities, where content creators offer courses on the marketplace and respond to queries too. It also offers courses to corporate houses, mothership TCS being the biggest lab, training over 215,000 engineers.
TCS iON has had over 500 different content packets published on the marketplace, with 20,000-plus teachers on the platform. "Publishers publish their content for a charge and we take a percentage of that as fees. Students can pay to learn specific courses or buy bulk licences to access content through their institution or training partner. These are all demand-driven platforms," said Ramaswamy.
TCS had incubated iON as a unit to offer IT-as-a-service, an integrated IT solution that includes software and hardware for small firms with applications resting on the cloud. As the business took time to scale, TCS offered the infrastructure it built to conduct digital assessments for India's premier exams, conquering 80 per cent plus market share.
At the same time, the digital content it created to train over 200,000 employees also became a base to build a marketplace for publishers to offer content that is critically required by institutes to upgrade skills of students.
For schools, the firm builds the underlying platform for administration, assessment and even pedagogy resources. Content is also delivered on a mobile app. "It is also a social-first approach, where the learning takes place in an unstructured fashion. Students can study from books, community discussions, events and other such components outside of the regular pedagogy they are used to," said Ramaswamy. "It aims to develop the same kind of addiction to content that Facebook may have, but for education."
* TCS iON, a unit of TCS, is taking its education marketplace overseas as it taps schools, colleges and corporate houses to offer online courses
* TCS has already taken iON to Japan
* It is now looking to expand in Latin America, the UK & Ireland
* TCS iON controls over 80% share in the digital assessment space in India