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INNOVATION AT TCS
THE ART AND SCIENCE OF THE POSSIBLE

A hallmark of the human mind is its ability to understand and appreciate aesthetics and abstractions – be these color, sound, language, numbers, space and time. Little wonder then that we appreciate and pursue the fine arts, the sciences, music, dance, linguistics and so on. Tied to this primal ability to appreciate abstractions is the human need to create, innovate or invent. Everyone loves something new - regardless of whether one is the creator or the consumer of something. 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.

About forty years ago TCS’ founder CEO, Faqir Chand Kohli, set up our research division. He was clear about one thing back then: “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 idea.

HARNESSING A CULTURE OF INNOVATION

Innovation is done for markets, industries, and society. “Can you help me avoid animal testing for the new cosmetic we are developing?”; “How do we assess biological age for insurance under writing?”; “Will your robot predict where the next geyser could burst in our gold mines?” Finding answers to these customer questions requires bringing computing and several sciences together. These answers which evolve as IP, is one of the feeds into innovation that powers our business.

When it comes to innovation we look for answers enterprise-wide and there is a targeted effort towards technology evangelism. The central research unit works like a hub with spokes connecting to innovation labs within each industry segment. A pricing algorithm created by the central team, that works for retail, could work for travel too. A supply chain algorithm that works for a CPG company may 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. Our empowered employees, an enabling culture, and supporting structures, processes and technologies along with our customer-centric mindset, help us drive our customers’ growth and transformation initiatives.”

K Ananth Krishnan, CTO
TCS PACE™: INNOVATION AT SPEED AND SCALE

TCS Pace™, a philosophy that encapsulates our efforts in innovation, was born of the need to innovate at speed and scale. Today’s big idea makes way for a newer one tomorrow, and time and timing are therefore precious. Pace brings together the best of TCS innovation assets, capabilities and practices to build meaningful and accelerated outcomes. A visible and vibrant manifestation of this is the TCS Pace Port™.

Pace Ports are experiential centers that see innovation teams come together to ideate and innovate rapidly, building fail-fast approaches so that a project rebounds faster and sets itself up for innovation again. It is testimony to TCS’ investment in innovation. The Pace Ports are exclusive innovation hubs that run with a clear focus on client need -- it is innovation designed at speed, and to enable scale, with a clear focus on business outcome. Currently, TCS has a Pace Port each in New York, Tokyo, Pittsburgh, Amsterdam, and one coming soon to Toronto.

With over 450,000 employees, innovation cannot be the job of just one dedicated unit. The central research unit works like a hub with spokes connecting to innovation labs within each industry segment.

WONDERS OF CO-INNOVATION

Listening to customer problems and ferrying them to research is the first, most important step in innovation. 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 world as an innovative business solution, after de-risking.

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. 

TOO MUCH INNOVATION? NO SUCH THING!

While we have been creating intellectual property within, we moved to open innovation over fifteen 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 incisive forays into the marketplace with emerging technologies. The COIN program tries to bridge both worlds and give global businesses a piece of the excitement. Today, we continue to explore quantum computing; genome and metagenomic analysis for personalizing 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 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.

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To read more interesting stories on how TCS is adopting Business 4.0, click here

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