interview:
We anticipate all Indian Universities to effectively run digital campus environments
23 May 2011

Vinod John, Senior Director (Sales) at SunGard Higher Education, in an exclusive interview with India Education Review, shares perspective on SunGard’s focus in India and an overview of the organisation in the country vis-à-vis its global operations.

Q. What are your views on the higher education sector in India? What are the emerging trends in this sector?

Vinod John: Indian higher education sector is in a very interesting phase and over the last 4-5 years we are seeing mushrooming of multiple new institutes all across India.  The reason behind such a trend is the growing interest of people to take up higher education. Therefore, the quality of education being imparted to students needs to go up radically. I believe technology has a major role in improving the quality of education in India.

Q. What are the products and solutions that you are offering for Higher Education sector in India?

Vinod John: At SunGard Higher Education, we have introduced a vision and technology strategy that gives institutions flexibility to shape how technology meets their evolving business needs in a dynamic future. We call this vision the ‘Open Digital Campus’.  In addition to traditional on-premise implementations and alternative delivery models such as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and hosting, composite applications and on-demand services, provide more flexible options to suit an institution’s unique needs and preferences. SunGard Higher Education helps institutions to promote individual achievement, enhance institutional performance and foster education communities worldwide.

Besides this, we have ‘Banner Digital Campus’ which is a widely used collegiate administrative solution. The Banner supports institutions of all sizes and types with a tightly integrated suite of proven, scalable, enterprise-wide applications on a single database. Combined with Luminis portal, integration, and content management, Banner helps institutions build an Open Digital Campus for personalized constituent services.

We have another product called PowerCAMPUS which is a cost-effective, scalable, flexible solution with robust administrative and academic functionality. Built on Microsoft SQL technology, its architecture provides ease of implementation, management, and interoperability. PowerCAMPUS helps unify the functions of every department and it helps routine tasks that normally take hours to be performed in a fraction of the time.

Q.  How do you see SunGard’s vision of the Open Digital Campus helping Indian Higher Education sector?

Vinod John: As India aims to transform its higher education to further inclusive growth in the country, technology would play a key role in allowing institutions to work more cost-effectively towards the goals of building infrastructure, ensuring effective teaching and learning and at the same time being flexible enough to accommodate new challenges and ventures.

Traditionally, higher education institutes look at technology to help manage the traditional back office business processes such as financial accounting, payroll, inventory and so on and provide lab facilities to students. While these are important, we believe institutions can and will look at using technology to deliver more learning content and services to students, to help faculty, to enable collaboration with alumni and industry and to provide progress reports to parents.

We anticipate another wave of innovation will occur once all Indian Universities effectively run digital campus environment. At this point, we expect the emphasis to shift towards personalized learning, with the institution able to adapt and respond to an individual learner’s needs. Technology will help connect the learning community, help cultivate relationships with stakeholders such as faculty, students, alumni, industry, parents and administrators, and enable wider collaboration between Indian institutions as well international institutions.

Q. SunGard provides solutions to higher education sector worldwide. What has been the experience of working in India?

Vinod John: A number of institutes in India benchmark themselves against their more established peers in various parts of the world.  We understand the challenges that universities and colleges face in their journey towards excellence. Some of these challenges can be around the areas of accreditation, faculty retention, enrolment management, reporting and governance etc. Our approach is to understand the goals and objectives of an institute and its various stakeholders along with their current challenges and issues and then work with them to develop solutions that would help them.

Q. What are the challenges and opportunities that you see for SunGard in implementing its programmes in India?

Vinod John: Firstly, we try and understand the customer’s processes, problem areas, objectives and then implement our solutions. Going by our association with prestigious institute like IIM Bangalore, I can say we don’t rush into an implementation. We talk to a customer and we try to understand what the objective of the key stakeholder, chairman or the dean for the next five years and where does he want the institution to be. After that we talk to the IT department to understand the operational and functional issues they have been facing and then we come up with solutions. We map every problem and there we take time to ensure that implementation goes well.

Q. What are the key focus areas of SunGard in the coming year for Indian education sector?

Vinod John: Our strategy for India is to work with institutes that are forward-looking and have a vision of becoming truly world class in the future.  From our experience, we have seen that these institutes are more open to change and adoption of new technologies. At the moment we are focusing on three segments like top business schools including IIMs, large private universities and institutes of national importance like IITs, NITs, IISC etc.

Q. What are the future plans of your organization? Are there any partnerships and acquisitions underway?

Vinod John:  Not yet, the Indian market is not ready for this yet.


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Dr Sayed Sayeed Ahmad
04 Jul 2011

Could you please list the name of the universities which are using ERP