Through Dell Aarambh we have engaged with 1 mn students: Ritu Gupta

Dell India has been fortifying its presence and brand connect in the Tier 2, 3 and 4 markets with its Dell Aarambh initiative. Started in 2016, Dell Aarambh is a pan-India initiative which aims at spearheading the use of the personal computer for education. The project is founded on the understanding that exposure to interactive methods of learning in the developmental years, most easily delivered by using a PC, contributes to the well-rounded growth of a student. 

Through Aarambh, Dell is targeting three key audiences – students, teachers and parents – through a series of activities meant to build their confidence and familiarity with using the PC. The programme aims to enable both parents and teachers to actively aid in the educational development of the child, while using a PC and create an encompassing ecosystem and supportive background for the child. The core idea behind the project is to establish the PC as a gateway to learning by increasing access to knowledge, building upon individual skill-sets and by enabling exposure for students for holistic growth. 

Extending the ambit of Aarambh, in 2017 Dell launched Dell DigiMoms, which is a PC awareness and training programme for mothers on the occasion of International Women’s Day. The campaign aims to equip mothers with the basic understanding and usage of the PC, introducing them to interactive learning methods which are useful for students. 

In conversation with Adgully, Ritu Gupta, Director – Marketing, Consumer & Small Business at Dell India, speaks about the genesis of Dell Aarambh, the objective behind launching such an initiative, the challenges faced and the outcome that Dell has been seeing. Excerpts: 

What was the objective behind launching Dell Aarambh?
Before answering this question, let just take a step back and look at India around us. 65 per cent of the population is under the age of 25, which really makes it a very young market and by 2022 India is set to be the world’s youngest nation. In a market like this, it’s very important that the youth category grows, and for that there should be something which can equip them. As an individual, it’s important to be technologically equipped in order to become future ready in this new age economy. With that as a context to look at India as a market, our PC penetration really has been about 10 per cent. 

Dell Aarambh, founded in 2016, was started to spread awareness about the importance of PC as a tool for learning. It’s a kind of reinforcement of our brand’s believe that technology continues to play a very crucial role in shaping the skills of the future workforce. With Dell Aarambh, the attempt was to engage with three audiences – Students, Teachers and their parents. There has been a series of activities which meant to build familiarity and their interaction with PCs. With this programme, we have today successfully engaged over 1 million students and 100,000 teachers across 5,000 schools; and 200,000 parents in 75 cities across the country. In order to bring the digital transformation, we have done partnerships with teachers, educators and their parents. It’s not a CSR activity. The genesis of the initiative is to explain to the people the potential that technology has and the way it can shape their lives. 

How you plan to take it forward?
As a programme, it started in 2016 and till now it has evolved a lot. We started with a series of programmes to engage with the students, teachers and the parents. But over the years, we have also realised that one of key influencers in a student’s life is his/her mother. 

Just to give some statistical knowledge, the ratio of women on the Internet is too low – only 29 per cent women are on the Internet. With that as a thought, we launched Dell Digimoms, which was a sub-programme within Dell Aarambh, which was launched for mothers. 

This is not just to make them learn new things, but also help them to get involved in their child’s learning. 

It started off in 8 small towns across Karnataka and Maharashtra. Later, we have taken it to 34 cities across 11 states. We have successfully trained 50,000 mothers and have conducted over 15,000 sessions with mothers. 

What are the key partnerships that Dell has formed for these initiatives?
Partners like CENTA and Tata Class Edge have really helped us to widen the reach in terms to reaching out to our TG. 

We haven’t really partnered with any Government bodies. Our schools have been a combination of both private and government schools. For Digimoms, we collaborated with the local cells, groups and the local Mahila Mandals, which helped us to reach out to the mothers and be able to connect with them. 

What are the key markets that you are focussing on?
Our focus has been Tier 2 to 4 markets. Tier 1 market is already high and saturated in terms of technology, consumption as well as understanding. 

What are the challenges that you faced in implementing these initiatives?
This time we have come across a very varied kind of audience profile. They may or may not be illiterate, but would definitely not be aware of the technical jargons. The whole challenge was first to build connect by winning their trust. The Mahila Mandals got the women at the centres for 2-3 hours from their busy schedules. It was really connecting with them at an individual level. We made sure that our training material did not have those technical words. It was really about simplifying and communicating at the grassroot level from people of various profiles. We had digital women mentors and hence, those interactions between women become easy using interactive video formats. 

How it has given a boost to brand Dell?
Overall, if you look at Dell as a brand, it is the strongest brand in the country. According to the Brand Trust Report, Dell is the No. 1 most trusted technology brand in the PC category. As brand, it is very much familiar and respected. Having said that, the feedbacks that we get from the mothers definitely show us that the relationship with the brand is getting closer and stronger. I think its just relationship which gets stronger and more enriched. 

What is the budget allocated for this entire initiative?
I don’t think I have liberty to share the budget. But what can I say is that we are probably the only OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) brand that is driving an initiative like this on a very consistent basis. Going forward, we will continue to invest in this programme because we do realise that this programme is not just generating sales, but bringing about a digital transformation and also changing the mindset of the people, which is not something that happens overnight.

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