During a recent set of interviews with IT service providers on how they help their client’s innovate, I had the opportunity to speak with K Ananth Krishnan, CTO at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).  Ananth described to me what I consider to be one most progressive innovation programs I encountered during these interviews – it was consistent with TCS’s capabilities, holistic in scope, and has the potential to be a important part of the company’s long-term evolution.

A few key findings from my discussion with Ananth:

  1. TCS understands innovation stakeholders. Though the company recognizes its core strengths in serving IT stakeholders, it is expanding its innovation focus to include line-of-business stakeholders and executive-level stakeholders.  TCS understands that these new stakeholders require vastly different innovation offerings than an IT audience, so it is segmenting its innovation efforts accordingly. This recognition is helping TCS to broaden its portfolio, expand its base of potential buyers, and create the “business alignment” that many services companies are talking about — but not investing in.  
  2. The innovation approach is comprehensive. TCS recognizes that innovation must come from all parts of its organization – and can’t only be viewed through a traditional R&D lens. Thus, new technology offerings are only one component of TCS’s broader innovation efforts.  The company now has 700 associates in research and development, 19 innovation labs, an internal innovation platform, a growing set of thought leadership research, and several industry awards that highlight its innovation leadership.  It links its marketing messages to these growing capabilities.
  3. The Co-Innovation Network continues to grow.  TCS is several years into the development of its Co-Innovation network, one of the more unique innovation capabilities among IT services providers.  This network, consisting of entrepreneurs, customers, academics, and financiers (among others) represents TCS’s long-term commitment to developing business relationships and uncovering global innovation best-practices.  The company now has 24 active TCS co-innovation partners and is even helping its clients develop their own innovation networks. This is a program many of TCS’s competitors won’t be able to replicate very easily.

So why is TCS’s innovation focus important to sourcing professionals?   When 36-38% of IT services customers complain about lack of innovation and business value, any company that is proactively investing in innovation and business alignment capabilities is worth noting.  TCS is going well beyond just marketing with its innovation efforts – it is setting a comprehensive strategy for the long-term evolution of the company. 

Have you heard about TCS’s innovation offerings?  Have you engaged with them in an innovation discussion?  Are you skeptical of low cost IT services providers who push their innovation potential?  Please leave your comments and I’ll try to incorporate them into future posts/research.