Sunday, April 1, 2012

Innovation at TCS

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Bangalore Innovation Lab of TCS, India’s largest IT services company. R&D efforts in information technology in the Tata Group go back more than 30 years to the Tata Research, Design, and Development Centre (TRDDC) which was set up at Pune in 1981. Today, TRDDC is one of 19 innovation labs that constitute the corporate R&D effort of TCS.

TCS sees R&D playing three important roles:
  • Supporting the competitiveness of existing businesses
  • Providing platforms for non-linear growth
  • Developing new technologies to address new business opportunities

Here are some of the important achievements of TCS R&D in recent years that caught my eye:
  • mKrishi is a versatile technology platform that allows a farmer to get customized advice on fertilisers, pesticides, markets and prices on his low-end mobile handset. In its most sophisticated form, it can transmit information about in situ soil conditions using sensors or transmit pictures of crops using the inbuilt camera on the handset. mKrishi can be used in a multitude of local languages. It has won several awards from the Wall Street Journal, Nasscom, and other prestigious organizations.
  • Tools developed in-house have helped enhance the functionality and effectiveness of the BaNCS financial services software product, one of the principal pillars of TCS’s non-linear growth strategy. Domain groups use their expertise to expand the range of BaNCS offerings to new areas like algorithmic trading and multi-level derivative clearing solutions.
  • iON, a cloud-based platform developed within TCS, allows the company to provide an integrated ERP-like IT solution for small and medium businesses. This is another prong of TCS’s non-linear growth strategy. 
Some important figures about R&D at TCS from the 2010-11 annual report:
  • Total expenditure on R&D at TCS was Rs. 98.61 crores in FY 2011, constituting 0.33% of sales.
  • Upto March 2011, TCS had filed 448 patent applications across jurisdictions and 68 had been granted.

But what impressed me the most about the R&D/innovation activity at TCS is the organizational innovations that have helped drive innovation partnerships. In today’s era of “open innovation,” companies need diverse organizational arrangements to support myriad partnerships. The Co Innovation Network Model (COIN) of TCS provides platforms for TCS to collaborate with academic institutions, start-ups, customers, vendors and venture capital firms in different ways and with different IP sharing arrangements.

1 comment:

  1. Harshavardhan Reddy (HR)April 4, 2012 at 4:35 AM

    I have read two articles of Prof. Rishikesha Krishnan. One in OUT LOOK BUSINESS : The Holy Grail of Indian Innovation and the other one in Business Line : The IT industry needs more innovation. Both are based on his deep observation and industry based practical approach. Both are marvelous and apt to industry needs.