Krishna Kumar, Founder and CEO, Simplilearn

Amidst a downturn in the information technology and services sector, education technology firm Simplilearn is witnessing robust demand from IT professionals seeking to learn new skills. Notably, there’s a growing interest in generative artificial intelligence courses.

The Blackstone-backed firm, which provides online upskilling, reported a 195 per cent Year-on-Year increase in demand for GenAI courses in India in the first quarter of 2024. Simplilearn has seen over 300,000 professionals skilled in GenAI through the firm’s various programmes over the past year.

Companies are rapidly adopting GenAI in areas like content writing, workflow and process automation, customer support, and data analysis. Given the large size of these teams within most companies, professionals in these domains must embrace GenAI to stay relevant and advance in their careers.

“Companies are tight on their technology spend. But there is a strong demand for learning. Everybody wants to learn GenAI and not fall behind the curve,” said Krishna Kumar, founder and chief executive officer, Simplilearn. “GenAI is impacting different aspects of the business. We are seeing a lot of inquiries and interest and have launched programmes for professionals in different areas.” 

Kumar said that this is the first time in the past 10 years that IT services companies are witnessing a slowdown at a large level. This is putting pressure on them to meet their revenue targets. “Employees also now want more value out of their money. They are doing the courses only when they are sure that these would help them get a promotion or change their jobs,” said Kumar.

Growing interest

There is also rising demand for cybersecurity programmes. India contributes 72 per cent of learners, with high demand in the IT sector. As the world increasingly relies on digital transactions, Simplilearn said it remains committed to addressing the need for cybersecurity measures. It provides professionals with the skills necessary to navigate and mitigate cyber threats effectively.

The platform offers cybersecurity programs through partnerships with academic institutions and industry bodies. Across its programs, Simplilearn has seen a 25 per cent increase in learner interest year-over-year. This indicates a global trend toward prioritising digital security education. With over 16 lakh cybercrime incidents reported in the last three years in India, the need for robust cybersecurity measures has never been greater.

“For example, if you’re a cybersecurity professional, you need to learn how GenAI is impacting cybersecurity,” said Kumar.

Simplilearn reported 50 per cent Year-on-Year revenue growth, soaring from Rs 465 crore in FY22 to Rs 701 crore in FY23. The firm narrowed losses from 35 per cent to 29 per cent. The edtech firm’s consumer vertical showcased robust expansion fuelled by university partnerships and increasing demand for programmes in Gen AI, data science, Cloud, AI and ML (machine learning), and digital marketing domains. Looking ahead to FY24, the company maintains a focus on attaining operational profitability and a commitment to achieving positive cash flow. 

Growth & profitability

“Earlier there was a focus on growth at any cost. But now, growth with profitability is a priority,” said Kumar. “Whatever number you would spend on marketing per month, that’s reduced by less than half.”

The firm has also acquired Fullstack Academy, a US-based bootcamp education company. A successful fundraising round from a consortium led by GSV Ventures, a multi-stage venture capital firm, has further propelled Simplilearn’s global growth. These came amidst the backdrop of volatility in both the technology funding ecosystem and the broader edtech market.

Simplilearn creates programs in collaboration with companies such as IBM, Microsoft, AWS, Google, and educational institutions such as Caltech CTME, MIT Schwarzman College of Computing, UMass Amherst, and the Isenberg School of Management. Other such institutions include Purdue University, Wharton Online, IIT Roorkee, and IIT Kanpur. It conducts more than 1,500 live classes monthly, with an average of 80,000 learners who spend more than 500,000 hours on the platform. 

First Published: Mar 17 2024 | 9:02 PM IST

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