CTO perspectives I: No magic list for re-creating the Silicon Valley

Interview excerpt from Enterprise Innovation

In an interview featured in Enterprise Innovation, Ananth Krishnan, CTO, TCS shares his insights on re-learning in IT, innovation, and his vision of the unusual sources of future breakthroughs in technology


How does a massive company like TCS keep up with the constant changes in technology? Is there an innovation strategy that you've adopted specifically?
Clearly the rate of change of technology is not going to let up anytime soon, because the demand for computing has now embedded itself in every domain of human activity, whether it's health, whether it's governance, banking, transportation, etc. I think that is the biggest driver for change, which is positive for computing itself.

At an institutional level, the problem gets a little more interesting because institutions have to span across multiple generations of capability and technology. The systems we build typically outlast at least one or two cycles of technology change. Also, institutionally, we have to be able to not just push the frontiers on the leading edge, but also gracefully retire, re-engineer and transform things on the other edge of the technology cycle.

You have to be able to offer a managed evolution of technology, especially from an enterprise perspective. You can't just keep on investing on the leading edge — I have to also make sure that I support things reasonably well on the other side and help my colleagues in the business on the sustainable bit.

How does a large organization retain the talent it has and develop new talent on an institutional level?
.. In the current environment, there's a phrase that TCS uses called “digital re-imagination”. It is an extraordinarily interesting scientific experiment, at least from an academic perspective, to see how learning itself is transformed.
Learning is not just about assembling facts — it’s about adapting existing knowledge in a way which solves a particular problem and then moving on to do other things. The whole process of socially-enabled education is an important part of our “reimagined enterprise”. It's proving to be pretty interesting when we are working in a 300,000 people company.
How will this new generation of people learn? It's not that we have to send everybody to a classroom or give people reading materials — that's probably not going to work. We have to provide a socially vibrant environment where you can collectively learn, solve problems and also retain that applicability angle.

Read the complete interview - Part I & II here