CxO of the Week: Mr Anand Narayanan, Chief Product Officer, Simplilearn

By : |March 3, 2021 0

CxO of the Week: Mr Anand Narayanan, Chief Product Officer, Simplilearn

Technology is evolving at a rapid pace. Thus, in the process of creating new job roles that demand specific skills, we need to keep up with industry requirements. EdTech Simplilearn offers students an opportunity to upskill and get certificates in popular domains such as Project Management, Big Data, Data Science and Business Intelligence, AI & Machine Learning, Digital Marketing, Cyber Security, Software Development, Salesforce, Quality Management and IT Service & Architecture.

These certification programs on Simplilearn’s focus on an Online Bootcamp model. It blends online self-paced modules and LIVE Virtual Classrooms (LVCs) led by global instructors, with teaching assistance, projects, and assessments. In conversation with CiOL, for CxO of the Week, Mr Anand Narayanan, Chief Product Officer, Simplilearn talks about what goes behind the making of the company’s product portfolio.

What are the top priorities while making decisions to improve tech infrastructure at Simplilearn?

Post pandemic, most of the edtech players have seen an increase in monthly active users on their platforms. One of the fundamental needs that arise out of it is the scale that an organization can bring to the infrastructure. We were able to meet these shifting demands by being digital-first and leveraging the cloud. This, combined with the need to adapt rapidly to the learner base, made infrastructure investment a top priority for us.

What are some of the challenges you face in driving product transformation?

As the edtech space is evolving, we are seeing a growing number of global users; users who have always learned through physical infrastructure, move to online learning. . What worked five years ago might no longer be applicable in today’s market. The architecture and product design with legacy influence has become a roadmap, now. Fortunately, for Simplilearn, we didn’t face many obstacles and were able to scale up very quickly. Though it’s difficult to find talent who can work well in virtual environments and has digital-ready skills, thanks to the sector’s rapid growth, we’ve been able to attract the right candidates.

How does Simplilearn fit into the ever-evolving edtech?

The edtech market can be broken down into K12 and professional education. Simplilearn is a professional digital skilling platform. Within the digital skilling space, there is a spectrum of engagement and outcome levels provided by various edtech providers from MOOCs, which are primarily self-learning based, to Online Bootcamps which are based on a high level of engagement and outcomes. Simplilearn is primarily an online Bootcamp model. Within the online Bootcamp space, Simplilearn delivers the highest level of interactivity (4-10X more than others in this space) and will continue to drive a higher level of engagement and outcomes.

Additionally, with our combined postgraduate and executive programs, we have been creating programs that bring the best of academia and industry together in our programs. This is a unique approach that gives learners the best of both worlds. As an example: Our data science program is delivered in partnership with Purdue University and IBM.

Is Simplilearn crunching better numbers post the pandemic with the edtech boom? What are the top courses that are selling in 2020-21?

Yes, we have more and more active learners on our platform. We are also seeing a lot of demand in this space. Our MAUs (monthly active users) have more than doubled. We have also doubled the learner count in three years, reaching 2 million now. Moreover, our strategy of launching the ‘Skillup program’ for tech professionals and introducing mobile-friendly platforms is working well for our new global programs.

Digital skills remain the top-selling area for us that includes Cloud, Cybersecurity & Data Science.

A lot of companies are struggling because their products fail to go digital. How do they re-engineer themselves?

The easiest path is to partner with a digital expert and work with them. In many ways, this is borne out by the various brick and mortar universities. They are increasingly working with online platforms like Simplilearn. This helps us tap into this vast market quickly as a result.

For the more adventurous organizations, it will be a complete rethink of their approach since online is not the same as offline and it is not easy to deliver real value online quickly without strong experience in this space.

What is the future of learning in the next couple of years?

The future of learning is definitely online and is increasingly moving to higher levels of engagement. This is especially true since the learner is demanding more attention and desire(s) specific career outcomes from these programs. Personalized experiences at scale, interventions at the right time at scale and social learning will be the key guideposts to a strong online learning experience that engages and delivers real outcomes. As a result technologies such as AI/ML, social platforms and mobile applications will deliver the next generation of online learning solutions.

For the previous CxO of the Week, read here.

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