"The test prep, tuition, skilling, and career advancement markets aren’t bound by the approval process (as is the formal education sector) and hence they are adopting technology to gain reach and efficacy. Technology will democratize the enablement and training market in the non-formal sector," says Deepankar Roy.

Digitally Enabled Training Would Remain Focussed Around Easy, Quick, and Quality Content Creation and Delivery: MindScroll

MindScroll is a new-age, SaaS-based LMS which enables organizations to deliver, track, and certify online training courses. As a swiftly growing cloud LMS, MindScroll claims to have 99.8 percent uptime along with over 100 customers and 100,000 users.

Courseware World talks with Mr. Deepankar Roy, Co-founder & Director, MindScroll, on a number of industry-pertinent subjects including how Indian customers have started to appreciate the benefits of using a SaaS LMS against the on-premise, custom-developed ones.

Excerpts:

What all training and learning services does MindScroll provide through its LMS?

Digitally enabled training is about content (that is consumed) and the technology (enabling the deployment). We remain focused on the technology backbone that enables digital training and assessment. We provide our customers with the SaaS backbone to benefit from tech-enabled training without worrying about the hardware, hosting, and the software.

Our customers use MindScroll LMS for training employees, sales staff, and channel partners in the B2B space. On the other side, content owners and training organizations use our platform to sell content to users across geographies in a B2C space.

Another offshoot is where customers use our exhaustive assessment engine to conduct tests and certifications, primarily in the recruitment space and also as an augmented offering with instructor-led training. 



There are numerous LMSes in the market. What sets your LMS apart? Why do you call it easy-to-use LMS?

Interesting! Every business needs an USP and we too have ours in this crowded market. Our vision has always revolved around two things, viz. usability and simplicity. I remember the days when computer usage was taught, but things have changed now with mobiles and good internet connectivity. Mobiles are being used by a new audience that has never worked on computers ever and yet is making the most of the handheld computers.

With Uber, Paytm, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, software product usability has reached a new scale. That is to say, usability comes naturally to users without depending on any training or hand-holding.

LMS also caters to some of these new user base and necessarily needs to be simple and user-friendly.  To this question, my simple answer is – MindScroll LMS is simple and easy to use. I am really glad to share, we never had the need to train our end-users on how to go about using the LMS.


How is using a LMS beneficial over the traditional means of learning and training activities? How is the market responding to using LMSes?

The benefits are very obvious. Manual is how everything started, then mechanical revolution took over. A car or a locomotive was obviously better and more efficient than animals pulling carts or people carrying people. It wasn’t beneficial only in terms of cost, time, effort, but also increased the extent of inclusion. Today, when we stand witness to a digital tech revolution, the benefits are again along the same lines, viz. cost, time, effort, and reach – that’s what fuels our evolution as human beings.

Training done manually is limiting and exhausting. I am not saying this to belittle the benefits of human-led training. But, technology quite visibly helps us save cost, use effort effectively, increase reach, and enhance objectivity. Eventually, what makes a difference is to have a mix of training delivery mechanisms so that the power to make effective choices remains in the hands of the training function.

Besides helping us save time and cost, technology-enabled training gives freedom to learn at our own pace and time, with ease, and on our own devices. Also, the speed of implementing an intervention is just a few clicks and the reach out is disproportionately large. 


We are proud to share that we, in the last 4 years of business, have never seen such a thing happen; we have a record of 99.8 percent uptime.


There have been some complaints about LMSes not being able to handle a large traffic on the website. What features does MindScroll offer to avoid such problems?

I don’t deny those. But, that’s more to do with incompetency and undercutting services. We are proud to share that we, in the last 4 years of business, have never seen such a thing happen; we have a record of 99.8 percent uptime.

If your technology stack is robust and is backed by good tech team, utilizing SaaS capabilities well, you should not go wrong and such complaints can be avoided. On the other hand, there are cases where LMS providers sit on sub-standard hardware or have hoarded too many users on the same machine to keep costs low.  Such problems are bound to happen in such a scenario.

We are very sensitive about this specific problem and not only consider hits to the web server, but also monitor closely the data access rates to the DB servers. MindScroll uses lots of proactive maintenance products on the server side to keep tabs on server health. These measures help us stay ahead of such risks. Service risks are mitigated before they become unmanageable.

MindScroll is serious about its customers and understands their business-critical dependencies. We operate on a subscription model. The only way to ensure customers stay with us is to deliver on promises and keep evolving as a provider.

ATMs and banks are mission-critical business. If they can manage to stay afloat with so much daily traffic, why should an LMS be any different?


ATMs and banks are mission-critical business. If they can manage to stay afloat with so much daily traffic, why should an LMS be any different?


Is your LMS interoperable with other devices, apps and software programs? How is this (interoperability) ensured?

The beauty of technology today is (that) you just need a browser and an active internet connection to be working on a SaaS platform. That makes interoperability possible while eliminating dependency on plugins and installed software, and hence giving you the freedom to be able to use the services anywhere any time. MindScroll is a SaaS LMS, most of the action happens on the server side to deliver a delightful user experience.

You don’t worry about devices, apps, or software programs when you access Gmail or Facebook, why should your LMS be any different. The new generation demands such ease and we provide that. I remember when Salesforce started marketing their SaaS CRM, one aspect of their marketing communication was around ‘No software needed’. For the corporate world, it was a new capability then; but, today, it’s a norm and interoperability across devices is a way of life.


If one wants to choose an affordable LMS with all quality features. What features do you suggest one should look for?

A very pertinent question! Affordability, features, and quality are three vertices in a triangle. Among features, the war has been minimized with SaaS DIY offerings; so I would not worry about features. Maybe the differentiator now is how features are enabled and how they scale. For an LMS, content upload, course management, user management, notification centre, subjective and objective assessments, certification, static and transactional reports, etc are the basic features; you need them all. Ease of operation and management is what makes the difference today.

However, these days, there are a few new-age modules like dynamic test engine, gamification, assessment proctoring, ILT management, skill analysis, single sign-on, etc, which may be useful for the advanced LMS users. These advance modules are not necessary for all customers but make sense to a few based on their use case and user volume.

With SaaS version of LMS, there are no fixed costs, the product is affordable across different sizes of organization and I think it would get better with reduction in hosting and data costs in the future. Also, to aid affordability, it is important for LMS players to provide advance modules as pluggable features so that customers may just add them when they are ready and need not pay for them from the day 1. 


With emergence of so many online platforms and MOOCs, how do you foresee the future of LMSes? Do you think this technology will remain relevant in coming times? What more features, according to you, can get added/upgraded in future?

Good you brought this up. There are many who still bear the misconception that MOOCs and LMSes are the same and use it interchangeably. Let me use this opportunity to clarify for the larger audience — MOOCs are LMS platforms with courses in them. LMS is the course deployment backbone. The way I see it, LMS’s evolution in years to come will better the MOOC experience and adoption. We as LMS providers are not at war with MOOCs, we enable them.

In the future, easy and affordable LMS will democratize digital education and training.  With its cost and reach advantage, many MOOC providers would come up with content and, finally, it will lead to specialized (on specific skills and capabilities) MOOCs. In another 10 years, specialization would become the norm and gradually wipe out the generic ones.

Broad roadmap for digitally enabled training would remain around easy, quick, and quality content creation and delivery capability. AI and ML would start contributing towards helping customers/learners arrive at exactly what they need. Beating around the bush wouldn’t let us make the whole experience much smoother and precise. Quick plugging of the cheese holes would become a reality.


Indian customers have started to appreciate the benefits of using a SaaS LMS against the on-premise, custom-developed ones.


Tell us about your revenue model and your customer/client base? Which sector uses LMSes /online learning more than others for their employee training needs?

Keeping in line with easy adoption of the LMS, we have user-based pricing for B2B customers and have an enrolment-based pricing for B2C customers and both benefit from user slabs. We are catering to more than one lakh users across customers around the world.

Indian customers have started to appreciate the benefits of using a SaaS LMS against the on-premise, custom-developed ones. They now understand that product development, hosting, and maintenance slow them down and with a ready-to-use SaaS solution, they can focus on content and training delivery.

Currently, all sectors with geographically spread user base tend to benefit the most from LMS deployment. From retail organizations with sales force spread across the country to training institutes catering to students in different locations, the benefits remain the same, i.e. standardization, zero logistics, unmatched reach, and deeper insights.


What sort of customer support services do you provide?

The MindScroll platform is really simple to use, and our customers, post deployment, don’t need our help at all.

Our customer support comes under two heads: reactive support and proactive support. Under the former, we help administrators at our customers’ end to understand all features the platform has and guide them in how to make the most of those features. We have the SLA defined for support issues and there is a dedicated team responsible for the same.

Under the latter head, we keep track of workflows at customers’ end and look at opportunities to automate them. We open dialogues with our customers through our account management team to relate to their wish list and, thereafter, look at ways to prioritize those developments in our product roadmap.


Formal education providers in order to be recognized as certifying bodies need to follow lots of mandates around learning hours, activities, student-teacher interaction time, and so forth.


Do you also have clients from education (formal) sector? How do you see the potential of LMSes in transforming e-learning and, in turn, education? Do you consider it to have positive outcomes? How?

Formal education providers in order to be recognized as certifying bodies need to follow lots of mandates around learning hours, activities, student-teacher interaction time, and so forth.

Keeping in view the speed with which the society undergoes changes, I would say transformation or replacement is a long-term thing; and, what we see happening now is a beautiful augmentation of technology-enabled services in the education sector.

The test prep, tuition, skilling, and career advancement markets aren’t bound by the approval process and hence they are adopting technology to gain reach and efficacy. Technology will democratize the enablement and training market in the non-formal sector.

Good teachers from any part of the world can make their offerings available to anyone across the world. Any student, or knowledge seeker, on the other hand, will be able to reach out to the subject expertise they need without being physically present. The branding opportunity will trickle down back to teachers and trainers from education houses and institutes.

Imagine, we are still using RS Aggarwal across India for CBSE Maths. I used the book three decades ago and my kid uses it today! There aren’t many options available till date owing to the hassles of the publishing industry. But with tech capability, Mehra Sir in Palwal, Gupta Sir in Kanpur, and Reddy Sir in Vishakhapatnam will be able to reach out and help students across the world. Learning would be easy and fun with not just reading but watching and hearing. Not very far, we will have the freedom and ease-to-learn ‘magnetism’ from Mehta Sir and ‘optics’ from Aggarwal Sir; the possibilities are enormous and exciting.