TCS, the Lone Warrior in the Innovation Battle Against China, US

The journey of TCS getting here started way back in 2006 when the company recognised the crucial role patents play in differentiating their offerings and creating strategic barriers to entry.
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The Indian IT sector is better known for its dominance in the service industry rather than its innovation. This perception is further reinforced by the fact that Indian companies are underrepresented among the world’s most innovative technology firms, with companies from the US and China occupying most of the top spots.

But, it seems as though the winds have changed. In the recent quarterly result of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), we witnessed Rajesh Gopinathan saying that TCS is now running on one patent a day on a calendar basis. “Today, we have 7134 patents applied, which is an increase of 738 annually. Even more importantly, our total patents granted have now grown to 2694 patents, which is up to 493 patents on a year-on-year basis,” said Gopinathan while releasing the quarterly report.

One such example of TCS’ innovation is the method and system for handling source field and key performance indicator (KPI) calculation changes. Business intelligence and analytics applications often use a data model to organise and analyse data. However, when there are changes to the source of the data or the way in which KPIs are calculated, it can take a long time to update the data model and implement the necessary changes to the background coding. 

TCS has developed a method and system to handle these changes more easily and without impacting the overall data model. The solution is divided into two parts: data ingestion and data reporting. Data ingestion deals with how the new data is added to the model while data reporting deals with how the updated KPIs are calculated and presented. This system enables making changes to the data model easier without causing delays or complications.

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Innovation Journey 

The journey of TCS getting here started way back in 2006 when the company recognised the crucial role patents play in differentiating their offerings and creating strategic barriers to entry. 

“This realisation came with the appointment of their first CTO, who made obtaining patents a key outcome of research investments,” Sankha Som, Chief Innovation Evangelist, TCS, told Analytics India Magazine

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Som added that around the same time TCS also set up its IPR (Intellectual Property Right) Cell, which built the systems and the processes that helped patents scale in TCS.”

It is noteworthy that TCS recently reshuffled their upper mid-management, which led to significant changes in the company’s focus.

Prior to changing the head of practices at TCS, the company was focusing on marketing rather than innovation. For instance, TCS previously promoted demo prototypes which were weeks away from being market-ready, a practice that has since changed. 

Now, resources are invested into backend development followed by developing working prototypes, and patent approval; and then focusing on product marketing.

This depicts a cultural change within the enterprise where it is recognised that IP is important for staying competitive and differentiating TCS’ services across domains.

Explaining the end-to-end IP management suite, Som shared that it streamlines the process of generating ideas and obtaining protection for them. 

“The suite, which utilises AI and automation, handles all aspects of IP management, including patent filing, copyright registration, trademark registration, and record maintenance.” 

According to him, this makes the patent filing process more efficient.

Highlighting how TCS employees are encouraged to innovate, Som said that patent filing and IP creation are a part of TCS Researchers’ goals; Patent Champions in various categories are awarded each year. 

“By highlighting inventors and their inventions through stories on social media, we envision inspiring new inventors,” said Som. To recognise and motivate inventors in the entire enterprise, TCS also has internal awards like the ‘Going the Extra Mile’ (GEMS) awards and competitions like the ‘TCS Innovista’.

“Inventor’s journeys are celebrated through several initiatives like Invent & Inspire,” said Som. “Our products and platforms business has seen a significant increase in revenue, making up 12–15% of TCS’ revenue. This growth has also led to an increase in the scale of patenting.”

Future of Innovation in TCS

Talking about the future of innovation at TCS, Som said that innovation at TCS has scaled well across the enterprise. “We are offering enablers to make it scale within our customer organisations. Through a construct called ‘AIC’, the TCS Agile Innovation Cloud, we are building deeper, well-governed relationships with clients led by innovation and research.”

TCS also has their own experiential innovation-based ‘PACE’ programme apart from the global Pace Ports, which provide the methodology and infrastructure to innovate. “A growing number of TCS Pace Ports bring the best of our intellectual content, innovation assets, capabilities, and practices to the clients in experiential and tangible forms,” remarked Som.

In addition, TCS has also created their own brands for research and innovation, namely, TCS Research and TCS PaceTM.  “We have made strong investments in what customers need today and what they might need tomorrow,” shared Som. “These include areas such as AI, IoT, blockchain, Cloud, Digital Twins but also future areas such as Quantum Computing, Metamaterials, Space Tech and Personalised Medicine.”

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