On the Road to Co-innovation

Happy New Year to my readers!

It has been an exciting and enriching journey for me as the Global Head, Co-Innovation Network (COIN™) for TCS. Through our COIN program, we have been trying to systematically identify, build and nurture a vibrant ecosystem of smart companies and smart people – from the industry and academic world, alike! No organization, however capable, can possibly achieve disruptive innovation and/or invention all by themselves. One needs an active, thriving network that goes beyond the organization to tap into the ‘right’ sources of talent in the spirit of ‘Open Innovation,’ and in a mutually beneficial fashion. Such a collaboration framework of participative creative forces helps make an impact on our capabilities across research and business.

We continue to focus on COIN with the overall vision of staying relevant and close to our customers; being able to deliver enhanced business value and superior experience to them – either through a new/ innovative solution /offering or an innovative delivery/business model. Today, the different nodes of our network are: Academic Institutions, Startups, Venture Funds & Multi-lateral organizations, Strategic Alliance partners, Tata Group companies, and TCS customers – each contributing positively toward the realization of this vision. Our partners are spread across continents, time zones and cultures. We understand the importance of mature processes in handling such relationships both at the strategic as well as transactional levels, and continue to work toward improving our existing process framework. COIN is also, as it should be, governed by an unambiguous set of goals and Balanced Score Card derived from the organizational goals and priorities.

In this journey, we have had our successes and learning. We have experienced the intricacies of inking multi-year, multi-research area partnerships with academics; we have negotiated discussions and debates on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and monetization thereof; and have witnessed the birth of new TCS offerings from collaborative research.

Nonetheless, the questions that still keep me awake are – are we looking at the right ‘technologies’ and ‘research areas’ – both for our customers and for TCS? Are we working with the right set of partners? Have we got the customer problems right? And are we able to match the right offering(s) to this problem? Is our engagement model the right one for all stake holders involved, is it mutually beneficial?

I have come to appreciate and believe that the following have to be in place for such collaboration-centric programs to create impact and be successful:

  • Mission-focused strategy – understanding of expectations
  • Clear definition of the charter of collaboration – and the risks and implications as well
  • Legal and technical due diligence
  • Shared measurement systems

The other critical success factor, and I can not emphasize enough, is clear and continuous engagement and communication with partners – and it is toward this that we have designed the Silicon Valley Meet and Greet event, on February 6, at Santa Clara.

This meet is intended to be a confluence of our partners from the VC and Start up fraternity, TCS’ customers, eminent academics, Tata Group as well as TCS’ executives from both the CTO organization as well as multiple business units. In short, all stake holders of the TCS Co-Innovation Network (COIN).

The day will offer a unique opportunity for all to network and build connects, for our customers to learn about our partners’ niche strengths, solutions and offerings; for our partners to get valuable insights into business problems and challenges facing multiple industry verticals. There will be ‘show and tell’ experiences by our startup partners and there will be exchange of ideas on a panel too.

I sincerely hope our partners and all other COIN stake holders have good take-away from the meet. Personally, I know this is an opportunity for me to learn more and understand the ecosystem further.

I look forward to welcoming all at the event.
See you at Santa Clara.

Until then, what in your belief are the top three things that make collaborative innovation work- in ways big and small? Have any co-innovation experiences and stories to share with me? Tell them here…

About the Author

Debasis BandyopadhyayDebasis Bandyopadhyay, Vice President & Global Head- CO-Innovation Network
Debasis Bandyopadhyay leads the Co-Innovation Network (COIN), a collaborative research initiative in TCS CTO organization. In the last 25 years, he has initiated and nurtured many new practices around emerging technologies and has created new market space for TCS business. Debasis is a Bachelor of Technology in Instrumentation and Electronics Engineering from Jadavpur University in 1977 and Bachelor of Science in Physics.


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