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Education continues to play an important role in any country’s overall growth. The education market has become more challenging due to the rapid growth and evolution in the modes of imparting education; schools, colleges, private tuition, online education courses, distance education, test preparations, professional trainings etc.
The most concerning factor for universities or educational institutions across the world is student dropout rate, especially in developed countries. Here are some facts based on a research about the student drop out patterns in large economies.
Challenges

  • Multiple modes of education
  • Rapidly changing education trends
  • Targeting the right population is difficult
  • Selecting the right students and retaining them (curbing the drop-out rate)
  • Planning and budgeting for sustainable expansion
  • Instructor and Curriculum development

Consequences

  • Lose business gradually due to unawareness about the market and the trend
  • High drop-out rate
  • Higher debt pressure on dropouts
  • Increasing loan defaults
  • Failure of the education system
  • Universities lose revenues

How can Analytics help?

Analytics can play a vital role in the education industry by helping universities and institutes make data oriented informed decisions.

What-if scenarios, plans, budgets, forecasts
Analyzing academic, financial and operational data helps identify specific patterns and trends. This insight helps better decision making around planning budgeting and forecasting.

Reports, Dashboards, Scorecards

  • Tracking students’ performance across cohort, departments and courses and creating clusters based on different characteristics enables targeted strategies for specific segments of students. such as Students pursuing a particular course and performing exceptionally well or average or below average students finding the course very tough. For the below average cluster, the university administration can initiate structures intervention and provide them some special training to ensure retention and improved performance.
  • Analyzing the attendance data and focusing on students who missing the assigned course credit can help identify likely dropouts. Specific actions or retention programs for such students can have a significant impact on dropout rates.

Analyzing the trend

  • Analyze the curriculum and instructor development effectively on a regular basis to keep up with latest trends
  • Getting insights on how to stay competitive and maximize profits
  • Measure spend effectiveness against the results
  • Manage fundraising , advancements and alumni relations
  • Linking student information with administrative data enables better capacity planning


Survey Analytics for understanding student sentiment
Conducting satisfaction surveys and analyzing survey data is crucial for understanding the students’ sentiments. Surveys help identify key areas of focus needed thereby enabling focused investments and action plans. Periodic surveys help track improvement in key areas of concern and thereby the effectiveness of the actions taken.

Predictive analytics

  • Predictive analytics can help predict the future based on the past. It involves digging into historical data, finding key patterns and predicting future trends on the basis of those patterns. Predictive analytics involves various techniques viz. statistics, modelling, machine learning and data mining.
  • Data mining can help understand the reasons behind a student’s decision to leave the course midway. E.g. Insufficient or no financial-aid, high cost of education, poor grades, choice of subjects, distance from home, good job opportunity or better choice of college etc.

If you didn’t know how easy it was for hackers to grab information off of your smartphone before, you should now.

The Intercept reported earlier this week that the National Security Agency (NSA) and the British equivalent spy agency GCHQ had allegedly hacked into and stole information from millions of SIM cards produced by the Dutch company Gemalto. This may have given both agencies access to phone communications around the world and should serve as a warning to all that we need to protect our smartphones.

The good news is that the technology already exists to protect your text and phone messaging data. “Encrypted text messaging and phone systems are so easy to protect that we all have an obligation to secure ourselves,” American Civil Liberties Union senior policy analyst Chirs Soghoian told TechCrunch over the phone.

Soghoian believes it would be irresponsible to tell people the government might be hacking into their private information and then not give them the tools to protect themselves. So he hopped on the phone with me to go through some of the free tools we already have at our fingertips to protect our private information.

Apple doesn’t market iMessage or FaceTime this way, but according to Soghoian, both are very secure means of sending information. “FaceTime is portrayed as a tool to talk to your kids at night before they go to bed, but it’s actually pretty secure for audio and video use,” he says. The other Apple product Soghoian recommends is iMessage. “Apple encrypts the iPhone to iPhone messaging to the point where it can’t un-encrypt the data. So even if the government wanted that information and demanded it from Apple, Apple doesn’t have it,” he says.

Apple supported Soghoian’s recommendations and confirmed with TechCrunch that it has built-in privacy and security measures on both FaceTime and iMessage, but also iCloud data.

Soghoian recommended WhatsApp as an alternative secure texting platform for those with Android phones, but said the same security measures did not exist on WhatsApp for iPhones (we have reached out to but not confirmed this with WhatsApp). “[WhatsApp] isn’t perfect, but it’s about 90 percent there,” he says.

The senior policy analyst wasn’t very positive on most of the other technology tools out there, but Signal was an app that stood out for him. This is an open-source, secure text messaging system that was developed on tax payer dollars and built on the Open Whisper Systems, the same system that was used for the Android app technology behind WhatsApp.

Signal, also known as TextSecure on Android, is a free app and one of the few that works across platforms. It is also, in Soghoian’s opinion, easy to navigate and the most secure. When Signal is used with an app called RedPhone it can also encrypt your phone calls from end-to-end. RedPhone works the same way with TextSecure.
But even with greater encryption, nothing is 100 percent secure. “If someone wants to target you, be it the NSA or your boyfriend they can hack into your device,” Soghoian says.

The idea isn’t to rely on one app to encrypt all data and call it good, but to know the risks, not put things on any device you don’t want getting out somehow, and to make it a lot harder for hackers to get your information. For Soghoian, the point is to make it too difficult for the government to hack into the wide swath of readily available information of innocent civilians and instead focus its energy on the bad guys.

“These tools aren’t bullet proof but they are a million times more secure than what the phone company offers,” Soghoian says.

A recent article in TechCrunch characterized nascent upstarts in the restaurant industry as wide-eyed idealists with little reality of the harsh, high-touch operating environment in which they operate. Having worked in the tech, food and health worlds for most of my career, I believe the article misrepresented the significant progress being made across the industry. On almost every front within hospitality — be it point of sale, loyalty, delivery or sourcing — change is in the air.

Point of Sale Systems Are Shifting Rapidly

For all the talk of the Aloha and MICROS point of sale (POS) systems dominanting in restaurants, a bevy of newcomers have been making inroads. Square, with its slick reader and now retail POS terminal, carries the most gravitas among the mobile POS companies for good reason: it inks deals with large retailers: Starbucks in 2012, then Whole Foods, Uniqlo and Godiva in 2014. Granted, none of these establishments switched over an entire store to Square, but these relationships suggest large retailers will embrace new technology.

Square isn’t alone in this space, either. Longtime ecommerce site Shopify launched its own POS system in 2013, bridging together digital and in-store selling in ways old-line providers can’t match. Even venerable POS provider NCR has dipped its toes into the market. Adil Consulting, a merchant POS consultancy, found 52% of small merchants now use a mobile POS for the majority of their payment processing, a huge change from even a couple of years prior.

Mobile POS upstarts are also eyeing the market leaders with more sophisticated products. POS startup Revel (which recently raised a $100 million Series C round) and ShopKeep aim at the heart of Aloha and MICROS by combining deep business analytics with mobile-based front-of-the-house systems. Alex Konrad of Forbes reported Revel’s growth rate at 250 percent year-over-year in February 2014.

If you want a historical parallel for the mobile POS market, consider the arrival of Japanese cars into America back in the 1970s. Toyota and Honda targeted the low end of the market, but within a generation, they delivered Lexus and Acura into the U.S. market, upending the staid American luxury brands like Cadillac and Lincoln. Substitute MICROS and Aloha for Cadillac and Lincoln and you can get an idea of what’s coming for the biggest POS names.

Mobile Payments Are Coming to Restaurants

For high-end retail, which acts as a harbinger of things to come, mobile payments have already arrived. Starbucks, an early mover in this space, reported 14 percent of its U.S. transactions were completed using its mobile app in 2014. But it’s not just the big players; even small merchants that represent the long tail of the industry are adopting new technology.

I spoke at length with Andrew Cove, co-founder of the Cover for this article. Long considered one of those ‘Why hasn’t anyone done this already?’ mobile opportunities, Cover brings mobile payments and check splitting into the high-end restaurant market. Built around creating a seamless payment transaction for users — think Uber, Cove said — Cover also delivers flat-fee transactions and 24-hour payment disbursement to restaurants. Cove said the product has already reached over 150 restaurants in NYC, San Francisco and Salt Lake City.

And let’s not forget what Apple Pay may do in this area. Payment industry guru Mike Dudas calculated almost 1 percent of Whole Foods transactions are happening with Apple Pay. Sure, that’s a tiny part of the retailer’s overall sales, but, if true, it represents phenomenal growth of a new technology no one had even heard of six months ago.

A Food Service Sourcing Revolution in the Making

Long dominated by Sysco and US Food, even the purveyor system — with its 10 mile wide moat to market entry — is at the dawn of a new age. Another innovative startup, Sourcery, allows chefs to manage disparate food suppliers from a central dashboard, streamlining payments and invoicing.

Ashwin Mudaliar, head of business development at Sourcery, spoke to me about Sourcery’s operations. A molecular biologist with a passion for food system reform, Mudaliar describes Sourcery as a commerce platform for the modern commercial kitchen. Restaurants bring their purveyor network into Sourcery’s orbit and they weave their technology across each restaurant’s web of suppliers.

The result of reducing friction for food sourcing may ripple through the supply chain, a long-term goal highlighted by Mudaliar. It encourages more restaurants to source widely, pulling restaurants away from the broadliner model embodied by Sysco. While it’s very early, technology like Sourcery has the potential to increase the diversity of local food options available at every restaurant.

Delivery and the Broader Food Industry VC Presence

GrubHub and Seamless dominate the restaurant delivery market, but that doesn’t mean innovation is out of reach here, either. Instacart, the grocery delivery service launched only back in 2012, is reportedly raising $100 million at a heady $2 billion valuation. Other upstarts like the more local-flavored grocery delivery services (Good Eggs on the West Coast and Relay Foods in the Mid-Atlantic) raised $21 million and $8.25 million in their last funding rounds, respectively.

There’s also a host of tangentially related food-tech startups that align spiritually with the restaurant industry and the broader food movement. VC funding in the food vertical has been on a steadily increasing trajectory for at least the last five years, touching all corners of the industry.

The DC-based organic salad chain SweetGreen raised $22 million in 2014 to promote expansion. West coast competitor Lyfe Kitchen boosted its reserves by at least $21 million in 2014, according to an SEC filing. Revolution Foods, the firm trying to remake school lunches, raised $30 million in 2014. And Hampton Creek, the food company replacing animal products with unique plant-based substitutes, managed to get its Just Mayo product into over 20,000 stores in just the last 12 months, according to Danielle Gould’s FoodTechConnect.

Solutions to the uniquely complex problems facing the restaurant and food industries will require still more innovation than what has been discussed here. Discovery, nutrition information, loyalty, distribution and food waste represent just a few of the frontiers that await intrepid entrepreneurs. But no matter what dimension of this industry you look at, it’s hard not to see the seeds of change blowing in this venture capital-fueled wind.