Sunday Interview: Monica Malhotra, MD of MBD Group, speaks to SkillOutlook

New Delhi: Ms Monica Malhotra Kandhari, Managing Director, MBD Group, is the driving force for the group, which has ventured globally with the launch of its first publishing branch in South Africa (Cape Town). MBD is the only Indian origin publisher to be included in the National catalogue of South Africa. Under Ms. Malhotra’s leadership, MBD has also announced MBD Nytra an Augmented Reality app (watch books come alive), MBD smart books (educational tablets) and MBD Nyx (collaborative classrooms) for the end users.

SkillOutlook talks to Ms Monica Malhotra Kandhari on the future business activities and expansion plans of MBD Group.  As an education company, it has ventured into all platforms available for reaching our end-user right from ICT Classroom (offline/online), to apps, SD Cards, tablets, 3D learning etc. Nytra, an augmented reality application, is the homegrown mobile app. Through MBD Alchemie, the company has become the leading providers of learning technology solutions with an overall experience of more than a decade in eLearning. SkillOutlook team has interacted with Ms Kandhari via Email. Here, we present the highlights of the Email Interview with Ms Kandhari.

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What are the key facets of your publishing solution? In what ways does it empower a transition from the needs of the conventional to that of the digital age?

 Ans. We publish books for all classes, in all subjects, and for all major educational boards in India and in most of the languages spoken in the country along with a few international languages. We also print books for technical subjects and children’s books under various imprints, which are popular in India and abroad. We, at MBD, print more than 5,00,000 books a day.

Keeping pace with the advent of the digital world, the MBD Group ventured into e-learning with MBD Alchemie . We are now the leading provider of digital solutions with an overall experience of more than a decade. Our company has implemented Ecademy (digital solutions) in 1500+ schools across the country and has trained more than 30,000 teachers in ICT. Digital content developed by MBD Alchemie is being used by millions of students around the globe.

What all technological platforms have you incorporated in your production process lines to empower you to meet the emerging trends in the publishing domain?

 Ans. We, as Education Company, are into all platforms available for reaching our end-user right from ICT Classroom (offline/online), to apps, SD Cards, tablets, 3D learning etc.

Nytra, an augmented reality application, is our homegrown mobile app, which we have developed two years back. I would be proud to tell you that we were the first publishers to bring this technology in India in education. Nytra, this freely downloadable app, brings our own textbooks (k-12) to life, it can make the images and illustrations in the book come alive with voice over for better understanding of children. It supports all Digital content, videos and, animations, which work on Android, iOS and Windows- based mobile devices and requires minimum Internet connectivity.

 The apps on rhymes, numbers and alphabets are already available.

 We have invested in 3D learning solutions. It uses additive technology to build physical models. The technology could guide students all the way through the manufacturing process, from concept to completion and reward them with an object they could hold in their hands. 3D printing allows for more authentic exploration of objects that may not be readily available to education institutions, such as animal anatomies etc. 3D printing teaches a lot in situations where students are expected to visualize complex shapes and mechanisms.

What’s the publishing mix you envisage? How would print and various digital channels co-exist and supplement each other?

 Ans. The market for digital education is growing. E-learning is a tool which is helping in the teaching process. Teachers should use it intelligently to deliver their lectures more effectively. It will help in mapping the learning outcomes of a child as well as make learning more receptive. Percentage of schools effectively using e-learning is increasing every year. It has been mandated in few states, as a must have.

As today both medium co-exist, it will remain to coexist though consumption will remain diverse from region to region. Today may be 85:15 (Publishing : Digital) approx. which may increase to 70:30 in near future for metros and B-cities.

What are the key challenges in making a digital push at the conventional publishing houses? What’s the most critical step which goes in digital turnover?

 Ans. The government’s pro-active push in this direction and the digital support offered across sectors is surely going to benefit millions of people. There are always challenges one faces when trying to bring about change. The digital learning opportunity is huge in the education, vocational, teacher training and skill development sector. As Indian students are still challenged looking for quality and standardized education resources, we see ourselves as a major player bridging this content gap.

How do you see the Publishing Industry converging in the years to come?

Ans. MBD is the only publishing house in India with complete backward and forward integration, right from self-owned paper manufacturing unit to in-house pre-press facilities, and binding units, and also our own distribution network with 34 branch offices pan India. We have also successfully ventured into the South African, Middle East and Sri-Lankan markets with our basket of education services.

While, we have instituted short and long term training development for our employees, we discovered that there was a strong need gap between skilled workers and the demands of the new workplace. Our own experience was the catalyst in giving us an impetus on this initiative. We have recently launched a new vertical ‘MBD Skills’ with the aim of bridging the gap between the supply and demand of skilled manpower. Today we are working on various projects laid down by state as well as central Government. Most government programs are employment linked and our aim is to train 1 million youth by the year 2022. MBD Skills will constitute 10 – 11% of the total revenues of MBD Group by 2020.

 

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