Experts Explore ‘Leveraging Technology to Maximize Marketing and Admissions Output’

ASMA’s Founders’ Summit, saw two interesting panel discussions on how technology is being used not only in the admissions process but also to build brands

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ASMA’s Founders’ Summit, a part of the Higher Education Innovation Summit presented by NoPaperForms was held on 12th January 2021

The event examined how higher education leaders are driving the adoption of technology not only to offer innovative solutions in the admissions process but to build their brands as well.

The virtual event witnessed 2 engaging panel discussions on the topic ‘Leveraging Technology to Maximize Marketing and Admissions Output’ and comprised of stalwarts from the Higher Education and Technology sectors.

The first panel was moderated by Vikram Shah, Chief Business Officer, NoPaperForms and comprised Sanjay Padode, President & Chairman, Vijaybhoomi University, Mumbai, Joutishman Dutta, Managing Trustee, Assam Downtown University, Silky Jain Marwah, Executive Director, Tula’s Institute, Tarundeep Singh Anand, Founder & Chairman, Universal Business School and Rahul Singhi, Co-founder and Director, Poornima University.

Speaking about how technology has impacted higher education institutions, moderator Vikram Shah, Chief Business Officer, NoPaperForms commented, “It is unimaginable for businesses to be relevant and sustainable without leveraging technology”.

Adding his thoughts, Tarundeep Singh Anand, Founder & Chairman, Universal Business School remarked, “In the pandemic, we are all in the same storm, but not the same boat; the ones that had the right tools were able to stay connected and track student performance. Using technology has helped us to not have problems of having manual interventions and to get all the right analyses and data and tools to help us make sense of all of this. Technology really helped us to navigate these tough times”.

Silky Jain Marwah, Executive Director, Tula’s Institute said, “Technology plays a very important role today, it is a single point of contact and it has been beneficial not only in the times of the pandemic but before also”.

She added, “We believe in giving an identity to our students, we are a student-centric college, it is not made by the management. Education and interests should be taken seriously”.

Rahul Singhi, Co-founder and Director, Poornima University commented, “The local influence helps a lot. There is a lot of potential in rural markets, but there is a lack of information in rural areas. We are diversifying our marketing funds to developing the rural markets and we have reallocated our budgets in places where we get good returns”.

Joutishman Dutta, Managing Trustee, Assam Downtown University, explained, “The learning curve has been steep. Around 90% of our leads have come from online this year. The times have forced a lot of people to learn and I hope people will adopt this learning in the coming years. So that means your entire system of admission has to change.

He added, “We have had a simple formula that if you wanted a successful programme, then you need to have placements, and this has sustained for us. Students should not have to spend that much time in administrative issues, students should spend their time studying and this is an important aspect in creating great student experience”.

The second panel of the day was moderated by Suraj Sapra, Chief Strategy Officer, NoPaperForms, and comprised Dr Akhil Shahani, Managing Director, The Shahani Group, Rajita Kulkarni, President, Sri Sri University, Dr Suku Bhaskaran, President, GD Goenka University, Kunwar Shekhar Vijendra, Chancellor, Shobhit University and Dr Sandeep Marwah, Chancellor, AAFT University; Founder- Noida Film City.

Opening the discussion, moderator Suraj Sapra, Chief Strategy Officer, NoPaperForms commented that during the pandemic, Higher Education institutions had to reimagine the delivery systems for students overnight. He noted that the adoption of technology was not a choice anymore, but it became mandatory.

Speaking about the admissions and marketing challenges her institution faced during the lockdown and how technology helped in navigating those challenges, Rajita Kulkarni, President, Sri Sri University said, “We were faced with a lot of uncertainties, our performance was no longer restricted to what we did or didn’t do; it was linked to so many factors such as results of students, exams, etc, and whatever delays were happening in certain areas, had an effect on everyone else. So technology did play a major role for us, we were able to go online in less than 4-5 days after the lockdown was announced.

She also said, “To grow to scale, we must adopt technology. Technology is a great market equaliser and pushes us to provide better. It is not a question of yes or no – it is yes, but how?”

Kunwar Shekhar Vijendra, Chancellor, Shobhit University said, “When there is an international crisis, my concern is that students should be engaged socially also”.

Speaking about how institutions should choose the correct technology to meet their marketing needs, Vijendra said, “Every education institution has a life cycle and we have to see what should be integrated first. When selecting technology we must first see what part of the institution’s life cycle we want to address first”.

He added, “To create knowledge, we must use technology, to integrate knowledge; we must integrate it with industry”.

Adding his thoughts on marketing and engagement strategy, Dr Akhil Shahani, Managing Director said, “To build your reputation you need to look at PR, not just selling. The more content you build up, the more you will be seen as a thought leader in this area. If students start trusting you as a provider of good quality content that is useful to them, either as PR placements or a connected influencer or through webinars and interviews, then by default we don’t have to do much sales. We must start looking at a pull strategy rather than a push strategy”.

Dr Suku Bhaskaran, President, GD Goenka University added, “Student engagement was largely through the traditional model. There was also an idea that online training was not going to give the experience as the classroom mode. Over time we have understood that there is a lot of benefit to using technology for the teaching/learning experience”.

Dr Sandeep Marwah, Chancellor, AAFT University; Founder- Noida Film City opined, “The whole system has changed; we changed our entire systems and we have had enough time to build up our content. The entire entertainment industry has moved from outdoor to indoor, that is why there is a rise in OTT and online platforms. The pandemic has given birth to the rise of social media presence.

He added, “There is one thing that is very important for every institution and that is the Prime Minister’s Aatmnirbhar programme must be introduced to every education set-up. I have given a special definition for Aatmnirbhar, especially for the education industry – A stands for Ambitious, T stands for Tough, M stands for Motivation, A stands for Attitude, N stands for nationalist, I stands for Information, R stands for Responsible, B stands for Belief, H stands for Humility, A stands for Aggressive and R stands for Result-Oriented, and this is what every institution must take care of and it’s very important for our students to take the Aatmnirbhar programme very seriously.”.

In conclusion, Rajita Kulkarni added, “We are moving to a “phygital” way of life and our teachers have stepped up to that. It is a fascinating time we are in right now. The pandemic has shown us a way of accelerating and catalysing our own evolution”.

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