The scenario around education has taken an all-new facet owing to the massive transition the pandemic has initiated. However we humans are strong-willed to beat the odds and come up with a solution.
Education, healthcare, and the environment are critical issues that cannot be ignored if we intend to make this world a better place. Also, it’s worth an applaud that we have swiftly resolved a lot of challenges regarding education and business carrying on their operations.
Today we are talking to Dmitriy Istomin, Examus founder and CEO who had focused his efforts in taking online education a notch higher in terms of value addition. So without any further delay let’s start knowing about this whole vision coming to reality with streamlined efforts and dedication.
In conversation with Dmitriy Istomin, CEO at Examus:
How long have you been working with this product?
I’ve been working on this project for five years. In 2015 The Ministry of Science and Higher Education in Russia launched a project to create a national online learning platform for leading universities to post their lectures. This was intended to provide an opportunity to take verified online courses in 2015, which were accepted by universities as a part of a bachelor’s or master’s degree program. Everything was close to perfect, except it was unclear how to identify and validate the students appearing for the exams and for the program. Also, we needed to supervise online exams and make their test results more trustworthy.
We looked through existing solutions, mainly from the United States, and found out that they mostly used old technologies and were too expensive for developing markets. So I decided to build a team and create a proctoring solution based on modern AI and computer vision approaches that would be flexible and cost-effective for developing countries.
It’s evident that these requirements are also relevant for the clients from the United States, Europe, and other countries.
What is the most exciting thing about your job?
I communicate with clients and partners from different countries of all continents, except Antarctica, and I see how regional differences affect the needs, the ways of doing business. It’s a very complicated yet exciting task to determine the product’s development strategy in particular. Examus is working towards ensuring that it meets most of the market needs. (although sometimes these two goals contradict each other) The goal of building a large international company inspires me, as does the possibility of developing a solution that becomes the quality standard in AI proctoring solutions.
Are there any ideological principles that your organization follows to maintain the brand value?
From the very beginning, the main principle is to examine our customers’ needs profoundly and then suggest the most efficient and flexible solution. If necessary, we adapt our solution for specific cases and rarely say that something is impossible to do.
The second principle is to provide the best possible service. Technical problems during exams seem like disasters, and they make students nervous. They call the university, and the teachers get worried, too. Our task is to minimize the students’ stress; therefore, teachers don’t receive the problems but receive the verified online exam results.
Considering the pace at which the SaaS market is growing, how important is it to keep innovating to stay in the game?
To compete successfully in any IT segment and on the online proctoring market, in particular, it’s necessary to apply modern approaches and respond to requests promptly. And it’s not just about innovations in technical solutions. For example, now we use three different business models for different regions, which we have developed over the past six months. And, of course, technological innovation is essential. In 2020, we completely upgraded our automatic algorithms, and for some of them, we applied for patents.
What is one thing that puts your product apart from the crowd?
At first, we focused on providing a high-quality proctoring service. But pretty soon we realized that this is not enough, since we can’t grow as fast as we expected. Some clients, especially enterprises, also didn’t need a ready-to-use service. They were looking for an effective and flexible solution to monitor hundreds and million of exams for an affordable cost.
In 2019, we set ourselves to develop a solution that would completely automate the online proctoring processes, including integrating with the testing system, providing the student a convenient way to sign up for an exam, and experience a transparent testing process. In this model, the student should not have any discomfort while switching from testing to a proctoring system and vice versa. The customer’s administrators and teachers can solve all problems by themselves without our assistance. It is based on the best algorithms for the automatic analysis of student behavior. We completed it by early 2020 and presented our new solution at Bett in London in January 2020 and at the Microsoft Global Education Partner Summit in Seattle in February 2020. Now, large corporations, Ministries of Education, and leading universities can use our solution to make their own proctoring centers while considering their region and country’s safety requirements. Additionally, testing and training systems can include our technology in their solution as an extra module to provide AI proctoring.
How would you define “a successful product”?
A successful product is one that sells well and leaves customers and users satisfied.
What exciting event is coming up from your side in 2020?
We’ve just updated our AI algorithms, so the accuracy of automatic cheating detection has increased by at least 20%. Moreover, we’ve also released a proctoring solution for verbal exams, which is a unique offering from us.
What helps you stay updated, interested, and inspired?
I am inspired by our clients’ success stories and their gratitude. Last month, we helped students enroll in a university in Peru under total quarantine conditions. It wasn’t easy since the students were taking the online exams and working with the proctoring system for the first time, and of course, there were technical issues. Our team worked all night due to the time zone difference but managed to help everyone. As a result, the university was happy with the way the online examination process was carried out, and the students were able to pass the entrance exams.