The Better Bet: Edtech or Cybersecurity

edtech or cybersecurity
Representational Image from Freepik

Several market reports suggest that the global edtech market will grow from USD 133 billion in 2023 to USD 433.17 billion by 2030. The edtech market is currently plagued by a combination of factors including plunging valuations, concerns about profit and revenue among the investors, lack of funding, reopening of the schools and colleges in the post-Covid period, and increased focus on offline play and digitisation of the existing school system. While edtech garnered attention during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is another industry that benefitted on a large scale because of the mass online migration of almost anything and everything, Cybersecurity.

Ever since the mass exodus to digital platforms during the COVID-19 pandemic, the immensity and the intensity of digital attacks have increased manyfold. The attacks range from accessing, changing or destroying sensitive information to ransomware and business interferences. In 2022, the global cybersecurity market was estimated to be worth USD 173.5 billion. It is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 8.9 percent and is forecast to reach USD 266.2 billion by 2027. So the real conundrum is: Is the cybersecurity market just another bubble or unlike the edtech market, does it have a distinct future?

Bigger the Bubble, Bigger the Spectacle

In 2018, while the global edtech industry was valued at around USD 8.2 billion, the global cybersecurity market was reportedly valued at USD 37 billion. This gradually increased in the year 2019 with the edtech industry skyrocketing to USD 76.4 billion while cybersecurity zipping past the USD 120 billion mark. In the latest reports, in 2022, the global edtech market stands at around USD 120 billion while the cybersecurity market is estimated at around USD 170 billion.

The edtech industry has been largely driven by the fascination towards gamification, VR/AR and the market demand for online and hybrid learning, AI personalization and coding education. In the same period, the rising vulnerabilities of mobile platforms and cloud technology have further driven innovations in the cybersecurity industry.

In this post-pandemic era, there has been a sudden downfall for the edtech industry across the globe. The industry has been struggling with high customer acquisition costs and failure to meet customer expectations. Students are increasingly preferring the social interactive environment of offline classes. The quality of the content further hindered the growth of the industry.

The Cybersecurity industry, on the other hand, has garnered prominence in the same time period with advancements in digital threats that have become more frequent and complex. The popularity of cybersecurity essentials is hinted to grow manyfold considering a report that over 65,000 vulnerabilities were reported in 2022 by a small group of experts. Reports also suggest that the cost of cybercrime could reach USD 10 trillion by 2025 from USD 8 trillion today. The FBI reports that the total volume of complaints in 2021 was at an all-time high at more than 840k, amounting to a total loss of over USD 6 billion. This shows that, unlike the edtech bubble, the Cybersecurity pitch is going to remain bigger across the globe and will remain a top concern for organizations and individuals.

Keeping up with the tides

It has been established that the global edtech industry is currently going through some rough waters. 2023 is the year when many new unicorns and established names will have to rethink their business models. We have already seen mass layoffs and cutbacks in the education sector. Many of the smaller startups have either shut shop or have been gulped by the big fishes in the market. Some of the ‘premiere’ edtech startup companies are partnering with corporate firms and developing licensing agreements with new customized content for the clients. Investor funding has been limited to new unique and effective learning solutions that cater to the niche learning streams in the most innovative ways. The hockey stick graph of student enrollment will no longer entice the edtech ventures.

As per a recent study, edtech sector needs to harbour innovations such as hyper-personalized learning, incorporate AI and VR for online and offline platforms, develop the curriculum around micro-learning and nano-learning and embrace hybrid learning. As per recent reports, many venture capitalist are exploring these aspects in their existing assets. Government across the globe have started giving incentives to promote tech-based learning and updated curriculum. This, in itself, is quite promising for the edtech industry. The next big trend in the education sector involves democratizing the entire ‘unique learning experience’ for all students across the globe. Investments will reflow at 2021-22 levels into the edtech industry when companies leverage the accessibility of the metaverse along with the concept-wise hands-on learning experience.

Catching up with Inventive Cyberpunks

Unlike the edtech industry where the whole purpose is to cater to the dynamic needs of the education sector, the cybersecurity industry is trying its best to catch up to the whole union of cyber criminals across the globe. Recent evolutions in ransomware, IoT and Cloud attacks have only exposed the vulnerabilities of the remote workplace and the downsides of the 5G network. Obvious solutions such as the incorporation of an infrastructure that is based upon blockchain technology infused with AI and ML have been doing the rounds for more than half a decade. However, the main concern for the cybersecurity industry is the lack of skilled professionals, inadequate planning, software vulnerabilities, mobile malware, API attacks and lack of proper budgeting.

Innovation is the key for both, cybersecurity and edtech. While the former is suffering from insufficient innovations, skill and lack of budget, the latter is suffering from a new heightened conscience among the investors with regard to inflated valuations for sub-par performances. COVID-19 gave birth to both the market bubbles. It could take another 5 years for both sectors to meet their true potential and meet all requisites of their respective investors. While analysts expect 2022 to be the peak bubble for edtech, cybersecurity is into a stream of its own that is governed by the ingenuity of felonies across the globe. Cybersecurity today enjoys the premature hype that Pharma once enjoyed in the 19th century, when it transformed from a reactive industry to a disruptive one.

Article by Ujal Nair

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