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TCS is driven by a persistent desire for innovation, underpinned by the ability to draw from innate human curiosity and experiment with ideas purposefully. Our Research and Innovation vision was established on founder CEO Faqir Chand Kohli’s core belief—“all domains of knowledge must be pursued because at some stage of design, development, or manufacturing, computers would be involved”.

TCS’ Agile Innovation Cloud (AIC), a framework for operationalizing innovation in an enterprise setting to ensure innovation does not happen by chance but by design, reflects the sole purpose of TCS PaceTM which is to bring together the best of TCS’ innovation, global capabilities, and talent to deliver accelerated outcomes.

AIC helps customers build strategy by identifying disruptors and opportunities; create an innovation portfolio; and scale innovation.

Why an innovation portfolio

Discontinuing ineffective innovations early can save about 50% or more of the allocated budget. We make sure to trim our clients’ innovation portfolio before they make expensive investments that are likely to go nowhere. Our role is to ask the difficult questions that our partners’ internal team may be unwilling or incapable of addressing.

Our culture of innovation plays a key role in bringing in a comprehensive and international perspective on innovations that can also be transferred from one market to another.

We also factor in the following tenets in our approach as these often go unaddressed in an organization’s transformation strategy:

  • The single largest predictor of the success of a new product is a differentiated high value product or service offer.
  • Yesterday’s technology often needs rapid replacement—set goals for a percentage of revenues and profits recent products or services are expected to yield.
  • Experiential marketing is not just a product design decision, but a competitive strategy. Websites, touchpoints, pricing, interactions—these need to be upgraded to support the end-user’s experience.
  • Consumers’ decisions to purchase are influenced by reviews and social networking, even while being far removed from each other in the physical world.
  • Changing an organization’s culture to support a new business model is likely to be resisted. The culture, the people, the incentives, and the IT systems often conspire to deter innovation.
  • Transformations that move slower than changing customer needs lead to revenue failure.
  • Most technology is complex for customers and prospects. Building a technology without the experience of customers’ needs and usage is the strongest predictor of innovation failure. Quick learning and building a minimum viable product (MVP) in an agile environment are the requisite solutions to an unknown customer and needs of an emerging or new customer.
  • Innovation is no longer centered in the developed economies. Competitors in developing markets often innovate and develop extremely low-cost solutions, something difficult to conceive in higher cost countries.
  • Companies rarely pursue just one innovation. Explicitly managing a portfolio of innovations allows a company to sequence the current and future demands of the business.

In essence, we help bring our clients’ growth and transformation strategies to life before they commit and make expensive investments.

What we know best

Successful innovation is complicated. There is no magic rule book, as innovation can fulfil a variety of objectives, such as:

  • Defining a new direction for transformation
  • Building adjacent, net new business growth strategies and models, some of which are called ’blue ocean’ strategies and products—those that target new customers in new markets where competition is non-existent
  • Acting on customers’ unmet or unarticulated needs by creating disruptive products or by replacing older products with brand new services
  • Designing a product or service, as well as helping test them
  • Building a growth plan to scale the product in the market

Leveraging the TCS innovation ecosystem

TCS spends about 1.5% of its turnover on research and innovation. As of March 31, 2021, TCS has applied for 5,879 patents, and has been granted 1,850 patents.

COIN™, TCS’ open innovation network amplifies in-house applied research capabilities through connects with startup technology companies, academic research labs, leading technology vendors, venture funds, and other research bodies, to facilitate collaborative innovation for customers. This enables the creation of new streams of revenue and accelerates go-to-market initiatives to help TCS’ clients in their digital transformation journeys.

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A glimpse of TCS’ research and innovation ecosystem

AIC’s construct

AIC supports:

a) Building a culture of innovation

b) Leveraging a disciplined innovation process that spots disruptive, blue ocean strategies, and cost driven innovations

c) Delivering innovation through a tested execution approach that considers new possibilities -- from digitizing products to transforming business models

d) Monitoring the process of innovating through an outcome-driven governance mechanism

Using the AIC framework, TCS looks at partnering with businesses that are in the process of creating a viable innovation strategy to deliver innovation at scale. In order to facilitate the deployment of this framework, we propose to establish the role of an ’innovation champion’ as a single point of contact, responsible for enabling the TCS innovation ecosystem for our clients.

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Indicative process to drive the priorities and execution cycle for the AIC

The Clay Map: Building an Innovation Portfolio

Choosing projects for the AIC presents a pressing dilemma—whether to spend on enhancing existing businesses or to invest in new ones.

While investing in improving existing businesses is certainly necessary, improving efficiencies in a stagnating or drooping business does not help the future. Similarly, while investing in the new is exciting, it carries with it, huge risks.

We use a portfolio model based on the work of late Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen to create an innovation portfolio for the AIC, as illustrated below.

The building blocks of an innovation portfolio

These four quadrants are summarized as:

Improve (bottom right):

  • Improve the efficiency of core business by making operations leaner and more disciplined, for quick, visible, and effective results
  • Generally branded ‘industry best practices’ or matchable ‘standards’
  • Drawbacks—competitors tend to implement similar technological improvements; gains are often short-lived

Experiment (top right):

  • Technological innovation in operations and sales cycles to serve existing customers in newer, more profitable ways
  • Requires changes in behavior across the organizational functions as well as re-educating customers on these interfaces

Partner (bottom left):

  • Tweak sales, operational, and behavioral characteristics to service new customers in existing ways
  • Improve accessibility to products such as in newer markets

Explore (top left):

  • Serve in completely new ways by leveraging societal, technological, and behavioral changes in customers and the business
  • Build an ecosystem to create more effective solutions for customers (and in some cases, for suppliers and competitors)
  • Challenge—to figure out how to capture the most value

An important pre-condition for the portfolio approach would be to allocate capital to each of these quadrants, depending on the firm and its environmental scenarios.

Refining the Innovation Portfolio to Create a Backlog of MVPs

Post the completion of high-level prioritization and resource allocation for innovation for its clients, TCS supports in detailing out solution approaches, and technical and market feasibility reports, to create a backlog of innovation ideas for building minimum viable products (MVPs) in an agile manner.

This stage also looks to create hypotheses for testing the MVPs for technical, operational, and commercial feasibility. As per requirement, to find the best solutions, TCS Innovation also facilitates research talks and academic collaboration; partnering with start-ups; and democratizing the idea pipeline through hackathons and ideathons.

TCS’ Pace Sprints™, designed to facilitate the processes at various stages of the innovation pipeline, handle business model development, technology showcasing, and designing solution approaches, with the support of the innovation champion assigned to the AIC.

A view of the various types of Pace Sprints™ applicable to different stages of the AIC is shown below:

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Innovation sprints – starting from digital strategy and extending to the growth hacking stage

Bringing the Ideas to Life: Digital Factory

Once a backlog of MVPs is created, the Digital Factory, comprising agile teams, executes the creation of MVPs in rapid cycles of 30 to 90 days based on the technical feasibility determined in the theme-based funnel stage. The MVP teams include solution architects, developers, and specialists. The output MVPs are tested against the hypotheses created for technical, operational, and commercial feasibility, based on which, decisions for further scaling can be taken. This stage shall be operationalized through the Pace Rapid Incubation and Development Sprints.

The rollout of selected ideas shall be supported throughout the Rollout and Adoption and Maintain and Improve Pace Sprints™. Find more details on TCS Pace Sprints here.

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Digital Factory

Create tomorrow’s capabilities today

TCS invests in technologies that will shape the industries of the future. Our breakthrough research is creating capabilities that are needed tomorrow but can be experimented with today.

AIC helps companies tap into global sources and developers of innovation, and learn from international markets. Without gearing up an expensive innovation infrastructure, TCS supports its partners achieve new growth and gradually replace declining products and services.