April 2015 | Christabelle Noronha

'At TCS, it's always about the team'

For N Chandrasekaran, the chief executive of TCS, agility is not just about teams running faster; it's equally about removing roadblocks.

It has been yet another year of breakneck growth and success for TCS. What has kept the machine purring and are there any spheres where you think the company could have done better still?
There is no one simple reason for the success. We have had the right strategy and a strong focus on the customer, not just in terms of doing what the customer wants but also being organisationally enabled and having the structure to be customer centric. And we have executed very well.

Our focus has been on remaining close to the customer and staying relevant. Growth, as a result, has been holistic and broad based across markets and industries. In terms of our talent strength, we continue to attract great talent in the key markets we operate in. As an organisation we continue to become more diverse in terms of gender, nationality and age. We employ 100,000 women and we are proud about that.

We are positive and happy about where we are and we see great opportunities in digital transformation. We are investing significantly in digital capabilities, digital studios, digital recasting tool kits and automation platforms. Our customers are partnering us as they reimagine the future.

In terms of what we could have done better, there are many areas. To name two: we need to improve our presence in China, and we also need to accelerate our growth in platforms.

You have constantly made the point that agility and speed in embracing change is the key for TCS. What factors have made it possible for the company to stay on its toes?
The organisational structure has to be agile. The moment we feel that we are not responsive enough, we work on our structure and tweak it. It's all about teamwork. How can a group be structured better? When we meet customers, we are always thinking about how to get the best of TCS to make an impact on their situation. Similarly, when we are brainstorming internally we are thinking of which customer will benefit from our solution. It's never about one person; it's always about the team and playing well together.

Agility is not just about teams running faster; it's equally about removing roadblocks. We have proved that we are able to run faster as small independent units, so the structure has been built to drive empowerment, agility and nimbleness at all levels. It's also about letting people aspire and not putting artificial goals before them.

You have said that digital, which includes big data, cloud and customer experience, will be a multi-billion dollar business for TCS. Is that the frontier the company is most keen to conquer in the coming years? What about other avenues?
We live in a world where the default is digital. Therefore, the way to look at digital is that everything is on its way to evolving into a digital platform. Of course, the opportunity is in many billions of dollars, but there will be different components based on the combination of digital forces like big data analytics, cloud, social, customer experience and new composite technologies such as the 'internet of things', hyper-localisation and 3D printing. One thing is now clear: a digital strategy is not about building mobile apps or using the cloud; it's about building new business models; it's about changing the whole way of working as well as the products and services you offer. As companies go through their digital transformation journey, TCS is well positioned to help make them successful in the new digital economy.

This is an excerpt of the interview from the April 2015 issue of Tata Review in which chief executives of 14 Tata companies speak about the performance of their companies in the year gone by and their plans for the future:
Jaguar Land Rover: 'Will deliver 12 significant product actions in next 12 months'
Read the complete interviews and more in Tata Review
Tata International: 'Scale is necessary for a trading company'
Tata Steel: Driven by innovation
Tata Steel Europe: 'European countries remain the key to our success'
Tata Motors (commercial vehicles): 'We will deliver tangible value to our customers'
Tata Motors (passenger cars): 'We plan to introduce two new vehicles every year'
Tata Chemicals: 'Fiscal 2016 is going to be a year of consolidation for us'
Tata Global Beverages: 'The global market is vital to our health'
Titan Company: 'Will continue to explore opportunities in lifestyle space'
Tata Communications: 'Mindset is the key'
Rallis India: 'Want to be among the most valuable companies in our domain'
Tata Technologies: 'We see opportunities in aerospace and defence'
Voltas: 'We look forward to deploying our strengths...'
Tata Projects: New areas of business, new opportunities