In a world where every company is a software company, technology is no longer the sole differentiator, context is. When technology is applied in a specific context, distilling business, domain, technological, and enterprise insights, we create meaningful and effective transformations.
With a workforce the size of a small country, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has the potential and ability to harness the collective power of the hive mind to support our clients in their digital transformation journeys. This is made possible through the power of contextual knowledge.
Setting the context for change
During the computing era, technology was initially deployed to reduce costs and improve productivity. To succeed, businesses only needed a good understanding of the possibilities of different technologies. But with the rise of digital technologies and the widespread use of ‘as-a-service’ models, everything from processing power and access to storage and costs was available on tap.
In order to transform themselves, companies now needed to harness the power of technology to transform their business processes – even their business models. This called for a much deeper domain and enterprise understanding than previously needed.
TCS transformed itself to respond to these needs of its clients, building on strong technology capabilities and deep domain understanding to acquire incisive insights on the context within an enterprise. This was how our journey towards contextual mastery started.
The advantages of contextual mastery
What is contextual mastery, and how did thousands of TCS associates amass this knowledge?
The story goes back a decade, when TCS began reshaping its business into verticals. This strategic shift gave our associates the opportunity to take deep dives into the business context of their clients over long periods of time. Think of a doctor’s journey from being a generalist to a specialist, but for the software industry.
This verticalization journey brought in the depth and experience that associates needed to gain expertise into their clients’ contexts. Over time, through interactions with the larger industry ecosystem (within and outside TCS), our associates built rich perspectives about the IT landscapes, customers, internal culture, challenges, and aspirations of our clients. This also helped clients gain context into technological or industry trends.
Within TCS, an ecosystem of such associates – called Contextual Masters™ – built up over the years, creating a pool of knowledge that any of them could tap into for the growth of their clients. This collective depth of knowledge was further facilitated through interactions, engagement, and peer learning.
The outcome is exemplified by the strong suite of intellectual property created by TCS’ Contextual Masters, and the over 700 patents held by this community. Their insights have also empowered TCS to deliver transformational thought leadership in the industry.
Today, more than 50,000 such associates have been identified, and stories of their impact on client organizations shared across internal platforms. TCS CEO and MD Rajesh Gopinathan noted: “The contextual knowledge we have acquired over the years working with them [TCS clients] acts as [a] bridge of continuity and brings permanence of value.”
Building insights across TCS
The benefits of contextual knowledge and mastery are not limited to TCS’ clients alone. As associates accumulate contextual knowledge while moving up the ladder in the organization, they build valuable client relationships and draw respect from client teams. Associates are also able to achieve their aspirations without restrictions.
In the traditional context of organizations, employees would hit a wall in terms of learning after a few years at their jobs. But since contextual knowledge is not locked to roles, it gives associates a chance to keep learning and become true consultants to their clients. It is also democratized, which is why anyone can aspire to contextual mastery.