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February 4, 1998


NIIT's computer based training business climbs north

Email this story to a friend. Computer based training using multimedia technologies developed by an Indian company is helping the World Bank and top American corporations slash their soaring training costs.

The US subsidiary of the home grown multinational computer training company, NIIT (USA) incorporated in Atlanta has been hired by these institutions to develop CBT products to upgrade the skills of their
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The latest to utilise technology skills of NIIT (National Institute of Information Technology) is the global information technology giant Microsoft for whom CBT products are being developed for the software it is currently developing.

As soon as Microsoft products hit the market, the CBT module with NIIT's own brand name would also be released says NIIT Inc President and Chief Operating Officer C N Madhusudan.

"We are probably the world's largest producer of CBT products," he said pointing at the over 200 titles it has brought out. "We have the world's largest CBT factory (in New Delhi and Calcutta) where 500 software engineers work on new products," he said.

"Today everything that we do in the United States is for the global market," he said. "All our clients have global implementation strategies whether it is the World Bank, Microsoft, Oracle, IBM or Boeing," he said.

"Today our turnover is $10 million with an expected 400 per cent annual growth rate in the CBT segment. In the next few years we hope to hit $100 million from our CBT products," he said.

NIIT entered the US in 1991 by setting up a non-operational office and incorporated its US office three years later. To enlarge the CBT market share in the US, which is dominated by customised products, NIIT Inc last month opened a Web site where CBT products are offered for sale.

"The initial response to the Internet shopping mall has been encouraging," Mr Madhusudan said. The Web site offers CBT products for the Microsoft certified software engineer course. It offers 170 hours of interactive training including free online technical support for three months.

"In the Internet shopping mall there is a catalogue of 200 titles and people anywhere in the United States can browse through it, get the pricing and details of upcoming courses, download demo products, ask technical questions and place orders," he said. "We are sitting on the tip of an iceberg of business opportunities," he said describing the high growth potential of the CBT segment.

He quoted International Data Corporation research to say that the world market for IT and training market is growing at 12.7 per cent annually.

IDC research shows that the focus on fast growing markets can be a major advantage for IT companies and the multimedia and Internet based training are becoming key thrust areas of the future.

In the US, the CBT growth is expected to be 31.30 per cent, IDC research shows. This is the high-growth market that NIIT Inc is targeting, he said.

As the technology is changing fast and new people are entering the IT usage segment, the traditional ways of training have become expensive, he pointed out.

Besides in the IT industry, sectors such as manufacturing and banking are also finding it prohibitively expensive to train people in new technologies through the conventional instructor-led classroom training, he asserted. "That is the reason why we are getting into the area of soft skill training," Madhusudan explained.

Earlier, NIIT Inc was developing only customised CBT for its clients. Today, it is marketing CBT products under its own brand name so that the returns would be higher.

NIIT had tested the CBT market by taking up an assignment for a software-publishing corporation, which wanted one of its successful DOS-based software to have Windows-like features.

NIIT Inc developed this and also added more efficiency to the product engine. Buoyed by the success of this, NIIT took up projects for Lexmark printers of IBM, Oracle Corporation and Sun Microsystems. For Sun Microsystems, the brief was to develop a software for its commission and sales promotion people around the world.

NIIT Inc helped the computer hardware major, which has unique worldwide commission payment for its sales people, with a system that enabled the company to change the incentive scheme so that the models with the highest margins would get sold.

"Another CBT package that NIIT Inc developed was for the World Bank to help managers at its contracted project sites execute work as per the bank rules. The CBT allows officials at project sites to follow the World Bank commercial training," he said.

Today the bank need not fly out its instructors from its Washington headquarters to project sites enabling it to cut costs.

Currently NIIT Inc is doing a large project for American trust funds companies, which manage trust funds of banks and retirement schemes.

It is also doing CBT development for the internal revenue service. Two years after incorporating in the US, NIIT Inc opened an office in New Jersey and last year another office in New York.

This year it is opening offices in San Jose and Chicago. By leveraging its skills as a classroom trainer, the company is planning forays into training.

For this course materials acceptable to the American market are being developed. At the training centres, students will have access to automated CBT and they can structure the course and timing according to individual needs.

- Compiled from the Indian media

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