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INNOVATION AT TCS: THE ART AND SCIENCE OF THE POSSIBLE

 

The human mind is a thing of wonder when you consider its ability to comprehend and appreciate aesthetics and abstractions in the form of the arts, the sciences, linguistics and so on. Tied to this ability is the human need to create, innovate or invent. Everyone loves newness -- regardless of whether they’re the creator or the consumer of things. While creativity flourishes in gay abandon with no specific purpose or intent, innovation is the ability to create with a specific drive and purpose.

This persistent desire for innovation with the compelling ability to draw from innate human curiosity, and experiment with ideas purposefully is what drives us at TCS.

TCS’ founder CEO Faqir Chand Kohli had a core belief when he set up our research division about forty years ago -- that “all domains of knowledge must be pursued because at some stage of design, development or manufacturing, computers would be involved”. TCS Research and Innovation was born of this belief.

 
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Harnessing a culture of innovation

“Can you help me avoid animal testing for the new cosmetic we are developing?”; “How do we assess biological age for insurance underwriting?”; “Will your robot be able to predict where the next geyser could burst in our gold mines?” Finding answers to these customer questions requires bringing computing and several sciences together. The answers, which evolve into intellectual property, form a part of the many innovation feeds that power our business.

When it comes to innovation, we look for answers enterprise-wide with a targeted effort towards technology evangelism. TCS’ central research unit works like a hub with spokes connecting to innovation labs within each industry segment. A retail pricing algorithm created by the central team could work for travel too. A supply chain algorithm that works for a CPG company may also work for a manufacturer. This enterprise-wide evangelism ensures that these inventions are made known to every TCS employee, and it spurs further downstream innovation towards solutions. ‘Innovista’, where teams compete internally for top innovation honors, is an example of this continual fervor for innovation.

 

 

 

 

“BY BUILDING A CULTURE OF INNOVATION, WE ARE ENABLING OUR EMPLOYEES ALL ACROSS THE ORGANIZATION TO TAKE OWNERSHIP OF THEIR DOMAINS AND THINK UP NEW WAYS TO DELIVER BETTER OUTCOMES FOR CUSTOMERS,” SAYS K ANANTH KRISHNAN, CTO

 

 
 
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...OUR EMPOWERED EMPLOYEES, AN ENABLING CULTURE, AND SUPPORTING STRUCTURES, PROCESSES AND TECHNOLOLGIES ALONG WITH OUR CUSTOMER-CENTRIC  MINDSET, HELP US DRIVE OUR CUSTOMER' GROWTH AND TRANSFORMATION INITIATIVES.” - K ANANTH KRISHNAN, CTO

 

 

Co-innovation

Listening to customer problems and ferrying them to research is the first, most important step in innovation, at TCS. Prototypes built in response go through a time-bound journey -- with scientists, business teams and leadership participating. Finally, new technologies and solutions make their way to the customer’s world as an innovative business solution, after it has been de-risked.

But it takes the churning of more than one ocean to produce a pearl of an idea. A dedicated incubation team, in corporate and in our business groups, therefore, evaluates as many as 3,000 ‘start-up’ ideas a year. Prototypes can come from formal research, incremental innovations in projects, ideathons, process improvement initiatives, and proactive ideas from associates. 

While we have been creating intellectual property within, we moved to open innovation over 15 years ago. It was Harvard professor Clayton Christensen who helped us devise our three-horizon innovation strategy -- short-term (incremental); mid-term (platform); and disruptive (future business possibilities). It led to the development of the TCS Co-Innovation Network (COIN™).

While academia continually delves into new technologies, nimble start-ups make forays into the marketplace with emerging technologies. The COIN program tries to bridge both worlds and give global businesses a piece of the excitement.

Too much innovation? No such thing!

Today, we continue to explore quantum computing; genome and metagenomic analysis to personalize medicine; security and privacy by design so that more control stays with the individual. Deep computing architectures; model driven adaptive enterprises; behavior modeling and simulation are a few other areas of innovation. Soon, these will be a part of tools that can help an enterprise make strategic decisions more scientifically, bring intelligent automation to businesses, provide insights from huge and diverse data sets and bring value to end-user customers and the world around us.

We believe innovation is a river that must never run dry. All of the initiatives within and across our extended ecosystem are run continually. This endeavor to build a strong foundation in innovative thought has received global acclaim. Fundamentally, we realize that before the idea comes the ability to ideate. This is what we strive to nourish, nurture and perfect as the path of the possible. At TCS, the road to innovation may be less travelled, but is full of sights, insights, and, may we add, adventure. Simply put, we see innovation as the definitive route to perpetual progress.