Managing Innovation – A short story


How IT assets and capabilities engender business value and start the process of innovation is a serious topic. The last time I spoke on the subject, at an institute seminar at IIT-B, it was clear to me that I had failed to carry the audience with me.

This time, I was expected to convey an even more complex story to a much younger audience whose commerce background was another ‘first time’ for me. It was a students’ workshop at Mumbai’s HR College organized by King’s College, London.

I decided to weave a story around the topic to make it interesting and simple.

To relate the story of how TCS helps its clients innovate, I decided to equate the history of the IT services industry with that of TCS. Next, to convey the concepts of value from outsourcing services and, in particular, from information technology, I used a very nice case study that I kept developing, partly fictional. The story was about Toyota offshoring the manufacture of light trucks to General Motors (GM). It explained how the paper-based Toyota Production System (TPS) and Kanban helped this GM plant at Fremont to outshine GM’s other highly computerized plants. It also added how GM then added the essence of Toyota’s more paper-based methods to its IT capability and finally, beat Toyota.

I added a bit of fictional spice to the story as it unfolded through the eras of mainframe to open systems to Cloud/SaaS. I explained how each era evolved, providing novel and often inimitable competitive value and market advantage; and how TCS gradually enhanced its role from staff augmentation to become a strategic business partner.

If, as they say, necessity is the mother of invention, demand and supply are the parents of innovation! With rising global competition and the growing demand to innovate business across all sectors, TCS kept pace by globalizing and continuously innovating its own service offerings and processes.

TCS also reorganized and strategically aligned its scientific and technological research initiatives towards these goals. The marriage of business contexts to its R&D has begun to yield the fruits of innovation, often disruptively.

The full story of how TCS innovates its own business and innovates for and with its clients is for a separate post, perhaps.

And Oh yes, the young audience seemed to connect to my story.

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About the Author

Dr SenGupta
Dr. S. SenGupta, Principal Scientist,TCS
A PhD in Space Physics from IIT Kharagpur, since 1985, Dr. S. SenGupta had been leading research at TCS in Expert Systems, Data Mining and methods of Artificial Intelligence. Over the past 15 years, his applied research has enabled TCS customers benefit from automation & optimization of business planning & scheduling in transportation, retail, logistics & value chains. His several patents cover workforce planning, order management in liner shipping, rescheduling for railroads, etc. Dr SenGupta’s latest series of research papers show how IT-enabled value may be created by architecting enterprises. He has been a member of the Senate of IIT Kharagpur and the Boards of academic institutes.

Connect with Dr. S. SenGuptaConnect with Dr. S. SenGupta

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