Cloud-based Sankhya Infotech focuses on aerospace and defence sectors with simulated training solutions

By Neha Jain|25th Jan 2018
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Sankhya Infotech offers immersive VR solutions and training software platforms to power training technology for people and organisations involved in mission-critical functions.

What happens when technology, sound instructional design principles, and immersive graphics come together? You get immersive, engaging and enriching learning experiences.

Sankhya Infotech, founded in 1997, is working on this with its cloud-based learning and training management solutions for the aviation and defence sectors. The main focus? Providing technology for simulation and training for mission critical applications.

Sridhar Krishna, Chairman and Managing Director, Sankhya Infotech Limited, says, “Sankhya’s goal is to provide mission-critical training platforms and solutions that enable people of every enterprise on the globe to continuously enhance their effectiveness and adapt to the changing world.”

Sankhya has, so far, empowered over 1.5 million users across 50 global locations in four continents. The company offers a complete range of technology-based solutions for e-learning, simulation and training management systems, including learning management and online assessment systems.

Hyderabad-based Sankhya may have a strong focus on aerospace and defence, but it also caters to the energy, BFSI, medical and manufacturing domains.

The story behind Sankhya

Sridhar has a post-graduate degree in computer science and has published several research papers and articles on simulation and training technologies. He has a patent registered in his name for a software product called SIMS.

Sridhar says, “On February 14, 1990, India witnessed one of the most terrible crashes in its aviation history. A brand new Indian Airlines A320 fly-by-wire aircraft crashed at Challaghatta Valley, near Bangalore airport, killing 92 people. We learnt that the crash occurred due to pilot error. Better training could obviously have avoided this accident.”

The crash in Bengaluru was a spark to focus and establish a business called Sankhya InfoTech Ltd, as a product company focused entirely on training and Simulation. As the company transformed from Sankhya Management Services Pvt Ltd to Sankhya Infotech Ltd, the seed capital was already there. Thereafter investments came in 2000, and it went public.

Sridhar soon realised that training was key, and seized the opportunity to offer web-based training technology so that pilots of Indian Airlines based in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, and Chennai could save two days of refresher (recurrent) training time by staying at their home bases and accessing the courseware over the web.

“This was considered path-breaking, winning accolades from FAA, DGCA and many others, and getting contracts from Airbus,” he adds.

Sankhya focuses in the mission critical training area and comprehensively covers every aspect of training by offering simulated training solutions and training platforms, which can measure training performance and provide deep analytical insight into training data using artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Speaking about the clear focus on aviation and defence, Sridhar says, “One reason is that the standards of aviation training are similar across the globe. However, since India was just establishing its presence in the global IT space and is unknown for its strength in aviation, we did face barriers.”

He adds, “We struggled, innovated, and developed technology solutions that brought a paradigm shift in training technology. We were the first to develop this web-based training technology in the world.”

The launch of the Palm Personal Digital Assistant based Quick Reference Handbook for Aviation helped them overcome resistance and offer services in the global arena.  

It is because till then, if users had to refer anything, it was a huge book kept inside the cockpit. A handheld made it easy to carry and search by indexing.

Sankhya, in its earlier avatar, was working with Indian Airlines (now Air India) on automating Indian Airlines crew scheduling, training, and other activities. This ensured they were up to speed with the aviation industry and some of its key functions.

During 1987 to 1996 Sankhya was known as Sankhya Management Services Pvt.Ltd. and it was providing Crew Scheduling and Pilot Training records maintenance of both Air India and Indian Airlines.

Sridhar Krishna, Chairman and Managing Director, Sankhya Infotech Limited

Today, Sankhya, whose client list includes Airbus, Boeing, Etihad and Emirates, offers three products:

The learning management system, which is designed for trainees and helps deliver a course/simulation. It monitors the progress of the trainee during the automated training course.

The online assessment system, which also targets trainees and helps deliver assessments to evaluate their cognitive training abilities.

The training management system, the company’s flagship product, is bent towards organisational needs of managing the training resources, including curricula, scheduling courses, and evaluation of both cognitive and motor skills of trainees. The system is able to measure training based on established global training standards such as MPL/AQP/AQTP, and EBT (evidence-based training) standards.

Mission critical applications

Sankhya’s revenue model is most significantly driven by its cloud-based offering on a pay-as-you-go model. However, in the defence and military applications they have multi-year master services agreement for simulation and training solutions along with licence and AMC-based contracts for platforms.

“We offer three types of solutions and have three product offerings to comprehensively cover every training technology need for organisations that would like to train their workforce involved in mission critical work. The effect of not doing so could cause damage to equipment, loss of life, market share or reputation,” Sridhar says.

The company offers device-independent courseware development solutions that form the first step of training for training and simulation.

It also offers immersive virtual reality simulation technology, and is currently working on some classified defence simulation market-related projects.

“We are on the verge of collaborative development on a medical simulation project with an international customer,” Sridhar reveals.

Thirdly, it develops conventional desktop-based and full-motion system-based simulation.

Sankhya, which has 217 people on board as of now, reported revenue of Rs 161.06 crore ($24.86 million) in 2017. The company made a profit of Rs 4.76 crore. The per capita revenue for Sankhya is Rs 0.744 crore and the market cap as of November 28, 2017, is Rs 84.85 crore (according to Sankhya InfoTech annual report).

India has quite a few large companies who are in the simulation and training space. Companies like Zen Technologies, BEL, BAeHAL, Alpha Design Systems, and CC Engineers are some of the prominent names in the simulation market. 

What sets them apart?

Talking about their differentiator, Sridhar says, “Sankhya has a clear unique positioning in its market space as we are the only company in the world that offers a platform that measures trainee performance. Using artificial intelligence, machine learning and other business intelligence tools, we can predict the precise training needed for any trainee to accomplish any mission successfully.”

“We are the only company that offers simulation and training Solutions, including immersive virtual reality solutions and training management system platforms based on evidenced-based training standards. We cater to both sides, the trainee and the organisation,” he adds.

According to the globenewswire report, the global virtual reality (VR) market size was valued at approximately USD 2.02 billion in 2016 and is expected to reach approximately USD 26.89 billion by 2022, growing at a CAGR of around 54.01% between 2017 and 2022.

Traditional education is being disrupted by online education. In fact, 65% of college and universities now say that online courses are a critical part of their long-term strategy.

Virtual Training and Simulation Market is expected to garner $329 billion by 2022, registering a CAGR of 16.8% during the forecast period 2016 - 2022.

In the future, the global market for simulation and training technology will be in multiple billions of dollars. If one includes the applications of immersive simulations, there are well established predictions that seem to suggest a massive opportunity.

“The key to tapping this opportunity is to have a local presence. That’s why we decided to establish our presence in the Far East and US markets besides our current strengths in Europe and Middle East,” Sridhar says.

With a strong presence in France, Singapore and MENA region, Sankhya is looking to expand in the US. The company is seeking collaborations with and looking to invest in companies who offer technologies and financial advantages across all locations.

“Constant innovation and low-cost, high-impact based technology solutions based on advanced data science will be our focus in the future,” Sridhar ends.