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Unpacking ideas at TCS Innovation Forum

This liveblog brings you key updates from the one-day ‘ideathon’ on Building Sustainable Futures

Welcome to the TCS Innovation Forum 2021

16 Nov, 12:48: We’re live at one of TCS’ first in-person and online events since the COVID-19 pandemic began. We’re delighted to be back with our Innovation Forum, in 2021, physically at the Design Museum in London, UK.

Our theme this year is ‘Building Sustainable Futures: Creating new collaborative ecosystems.’ We’re looking forward to being joined by futurist Azeem Azhar, TCS Chief Technology Officer K Ananth Krishnan, and a wealth of industry leaders, for an afternoon of stimulating discussions.

The one-day event will cover topics such as decarbonization; financing a sustainable future; and the evolving nature of the workplace. Our in-depth discussions will focus on how we can all come together to create a sustainable future for all. Follow this blog to keep up with the latest news from what promises to be a packed, informative, and engaging day. 

Check out behind the scenes of the hybrid event:

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Leveraging the Power of Collaboration

Technology is bringing us together, says Amit Kapur

16 Nov, 13:38: And we are off—the Innovation Forum 2021 has begun. Some delegates have arrived at the venue, and others are joining us virtually from across Europe. 

The theme is building sustainable futures, and the first speaker is Amit Kapur, Head UK & Ireland, TCS. He focused on the power of collaborating in his opening remarks.

Collective power multiplies when experts come together, which is why there is a need for working in partnerships, he said. “This year, technology has brought us together more than ever, acting as a ‘unifying fabric’,” he said, adding that it would allow us to take the next step.


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TCS's Systematic Approach to Innovation

The future is science-led, says K Ananth Krishnan

Nov 16, 14:26: K Ananth Krishnan, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of TCS, delivered the keynote address. He spoke about TCS’ innovation techniques and how the company is investing for the future.

No one can operate alone, he said, adding, “don’t try to do everything alone. Innovation and Research is a team game.”

“It’s also vital to have a systematic approach, a disciplined approach to innovation—for example, the way that TCS works through its innovation hubs,” he added.

K Ananth Krishnan also provided an overview of how technology was already making a difference. Using AI to ship parcels in the logistics industry; to improve regulation and compliance; and to increase connectivity within homes while caring for elderly people, are some such examples.

“The time to start is now, it is about the science-led future,” he said. Another example of emerging technologies helping solve current problems is the use of digital twins to monitor the state of degradation of food and reduce wastage, he added.

To read more about TCS’ approach to innovation, click here.

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How Exponential Age Impacts Technologies 

Exponential Technologies and the Future 

Nov 16, 14:56: The second keynote speech was delivered by Azeem Azhar, author and member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future’s Council on the Digital Economy and Society.

He addressed the Innovation Forum on the exponential age—the idea that the advancement of technology is becoming so rapid that the technologies themselves are getting dramatically cheaper.

“As costs decline, usage goes up,” Azhar said, adding, “marginal use cases become economically viable.”

He gave a range of examples, including the satellite industry, where the cost of getting real-time satellite imagery of the planet has declined from millions of dollars to tens of dollars. He said this technology has a myriad of applications, from retail companies using it to track the number of cars in their parking lots or that of their competitors, to acquiring images of rainforests on a daily basis to track and monitor deforestation accurately.

Azhar said the question that companies need to address as they face the future defined by exponential technologies is—how can they find a place in this new ecosystem?

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Why the Immediate Need to Decarbonize

Collaborating to decarbonize and supercharge the energy transition

Nov 16, 15:21: The high-level panel on decarbonization agreed that collaboration is the only way to achieve sustainability goals.

The onus is on all of us to collaborate for progress, Nial McCollam, Chief Technology Officer of Lloyd’s Register, told delegates, adding that the company is seeking to earn the right to be seen as a trusted adviser in the transition.

“The ways we do that is categorized into three: helping industry harness the data and digital capability to guide us to a hyper level of efficiency; secondly, in retrofitting innovative technology that can drive a step change in efficiency of those assets or energy capture to reduce the burning of fossil fuels,” he said. The third way is helping with the overall energy transition, he added. 

Seema Mehra, Business Head for TCS Energy and Resources Industry Solution Unit for UK, Europe and ANZ, said, “climate change is an urgent and personal matter for each and every one of us on this planet.” TCS is focused on building greater futures with collective knowledge, she said, adding that this happens in three main ways: a commitment to net zero, investments in digital technologies that make many processes more efficient, and working across industries to find solutions that will fast-track decarbonization and the energy transition.

“We need to have top down policy changes together with bottom up efforts,” Mehra said. “It is important that organizations, governments, regulators, financial institutions, and people actively participate in this journey and solve it together,” she added.

Kaveh Pourteymour, Chief Information Officer at Neptune Energy, agreed that sustainability must be made a priority at every organization and needs to be given the right resourcing.

To read more about TCS’ sustainability strategy, click here.

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UK Sustainathon Drives Green Thinking 

Sustainathon winners receive awards at the Innovation Forum

Nov 16, 15:39: The 2021 Innovation Forum saw a team from the University College London, Biophilic, present their winning idea for TCS’ UK Sustainathon. 

They proposed to expand the Scottish National Entitlement Card’s (NEC) offerings using an app, and transform it into a points-based digital loyalty card that encourages and rewards sustainable activities, like using public transport and recycling.

“The idea that we had was to create an app that would go alongside the NEC, and to make it more accessible to a wider demographic, and in turn make it more inclusive,” said Felicia Peto-Madew, team member of Biophilic, University College London.

“We also wanted to incentivize the card and make it similar to a loyalty card, so the more sustainable choices you make—such as using public transport over your personal vehicle—the more points you gain; and you would be able to redeem these points. We also wanted to bring local businesses in as well and involve the whole community,” Peto-Madew added.

The competition saw as many as 45 teams participate, with students coming in from across the UK.

“It empowers students to know that they are part of the solution,” Moyra Boland, Professor of Creative Pedagogy and Dean for Global Engagement in Central and South Asia, University of Glasgow, told delegates at the 2021 Innovation Forum taking place today at the Design Museum in London. “Long may it continue that universities and businesses work together,” Boland added.

Click here to read more about Sustainathon:

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Why Financial Firms Must Lead Sustainable Change  

Financing the transition: how to drive innovation and sustainability at the same time

Nov 15, 16:27: Sustainability has become a watchword, and financial institutions are coming under pressure—like all other businesses—to improve their efforts on environmental, social, and governance matters. 

“Supporting all customers, across all sectors, to manage the transition, and manage down their carbon footprint,” is one of the key responsibilities for financial institutions, said Jonathan Moore, Head of Client and Transaction Services at HSBC. 

Another element is innovation. “For us, it's about investment, major collaborations with partners across the ecosystem, and there is a philanthropic element as well with funding to support some of this,” he said. The next step for HSBC is about becoming a net zero organization, including all along the supply chain, he added. “So, there is a lot to do. But I am optimistic,” Moore said.

Olivier Guillaumond, Global Head of ING Labs and FinTechs, ING, outlined how the ING Labs helps generate maximum impact for ING and its clients in terms of sustainability.

Prab Pitchandi, Global Head, Chief Data Officer Initiatives, TCS, spoke about the company’s goal to achieve net zero by 2030 and reduce its carbon footprint by 70% over the next four years. He told the delegates that a part of the plan to reach net zero is through green buildings and data centers, and by using venues that make renewable energies.

The next part of the plan for TCS is how it can help its clients. TCS has helped financial services firms as well as non-financial services companies in the manufacturing sector, lead a path toward achieving around 8% to 15% reduction on energy consumption, Pitchandi said.

“Another way is creating a sustainable future by modelling the financial impact of climate risk and the climate transition, and creating ESG [Environmental, Social and Governance] insights,” he added.

Creating a sustainable future will require financial institutions to play a pivotal role, the panel concluded.

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The Emergence of Inclusive Future Workplaces 

The future of work: An acceleration of trends

Nov 16, 15:40: In a panel discussion about the changing nature of work, life, and wellbeing, Ashok Krish, Global Head of the Digital Workplace Unit, TCS, outlined how the pandemic had accelerated trends that were already in trend in the workplace.

“We saw pets, we saw kids, we saw ferrets,” he said, adding, “so, it's a new world. It's a part of the individual’s life that the organization has started to pay attention to.” Remote work has advantages of flexibility, “enabling a more diverse workforce, and being able to tap into a larger global talent cloud, and perhaps create new kinds of roles and opportunities,” Krish said.

“At the same time, there are serious concerns about wellness, about burnout, about anxiety,” he said, adding that the fundamental definition of work had changed for good.

Mike Yorwerth, Chief Technology Officer at Marks and Spencer, said, business agility has become even more important. “We, as technologists, need to build systems to enable our systems to continually change and adapt and lead,” he said, adding, “so, business agility is really the key, I think, in all industries.”

The panelists discussed how the new world of work now includes businesses that really work on incorporating mental health wellness and diversity; and on managing hybrid working. These are some of the ways in which employees engage with companies.

“To drive great performance, you have to be people focused,” Mr. Yorwerth said.


2021 TCS Innovation Forum UK Concludes

Innovation Forum: Creating opportunities to learn and collaborate

Nov 16, 16:40: Wrapping up the day’s events, K Ananth Krishnan, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, TCS, said the day had bee “outstanding.” 

The panels covered high-level topics like sustainability, decarbonization, the finance industry’s approach to environmental challenges, and the future of the workplace.

The Innovation Forum is all about learning opportunities, Krishnan said. “I hope you will take away a little bit of that into your lives, and we hope to continue the dialogue with you as a partner, as a customer, as a participant in this journey of innovation,” he added.

Click here to follow K Ananth Krishnan’s updates, at the 2021 TCS Innovation Forum, on Twitter:



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