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Can you please tell us more about the MAZ framework that won you this award, elaborating on how it is innovative compared to the way the same task is normally handled?
One of the key challenges facing companies in talent acquisition is the geographical spread of talent, and issues of bandwidth in reaching out to this talent at a rapid pace. It is, at best, an arduous task for companies to reach different places, and this is compounded with infrastructure constraints, especially in the case of conducting assessments online. Online testing is recognised worldwide as the most efficient method of conducting assessments, with capabilities of realising high cost-effectiveness.
The lack of adequate resources in terms of supervised centres with secure test-taking ambience is cited as one of the major reasons for the lack of growth in the online assessments space. MeritTrac has traditionally conducted assessments in the offline mode (paper and pen), due to the constraints presented in the current scenario. The resource constraints mentioned was a primary reason for MeritTrac to continue delivering assessments offline, with their higher cost of delivery, with people being deployed to conduct tests, the infrastructure required for these, along with the logistics for printing, transport, etc.
Though in possession of proprietary online testing software, the quantum of online assessments conducted by MeritTrac has grown at only a steady space. A considerable shift in processes was required to optimise the delivery mechanism of assessments by MeritTrac, by making online assessments viable in India. The solution was first-party (i.e., assessment centres set-up and managed by MeritTrac itself) centres that combined bandwidth across the country, while retaining direct control over these centres.
This idea led to the conceptualisation and setting up of a unique infrastructure input, and the introduction of integrated assessment centres called MeritTrac Assessment Zones (MAZ). These are state-of-the-art online assessment hubs, combining online testing terminals, trained evaluators, GD (group discussion) rooms, and interview rooms with advanced proctoring and biometrics. MAZ provide an ideal testing ambience with end-to-end recruitment processing, from registrations to offer rollout, at a single place, helping MeritTrac reduce the heavy cost of conducting offline tests while offering great customer value. There are currently 21 MAZ spread across 16 cities in India, with over 1300 online testing terminals.
Online testing at MAZ accrues significant advantages in terms of costs by centralising processes, reducing resource costs while eliminating logistical costs. It also provides enhanced security for content, and a stringent mechanism for identifying candidates. In fact, the innovation has opened the doors to a new market of education assessment, by taking large-scale academic examinations online.
The onus of pushing the innovation agenda lies with all the stakeholders in an economic system. For employees, it is all about contributing to make their work more efficient as well as enjoyable. Coming up with new ideas also contributes to personal growth. Clients need to encourage innovation by questioning existing products and processes, and challenging companies to evolve. Their role is also important in embracing innovations that make a difference. Finally, the government needs to provide an environment for innovation to prosper, with better regulations and incentives.
India, I think, is catching up with the rest of the world in having an ideal breeding ground for innovations, but we still have some way to go. It must be noted that innovating is as much a question of attitude as it is of skills, and while we have plenty of the latter, the former seems to be missing. This is an offshoot of our education system, which seems to encourage strait-jacketed thinking. Though the current thinking translates into a lot of emphasis being placed on education, i.e., higher qualification levels, the spirit of creativity is sadly lost. A definitive agenda on career development and management is necessary to develop individual interests and skills,which will ultimately lead to great innovations.