Book Review, Financial Express, 6 May 2007
'Research by Design: Innovation and TCS', ed. by Shivanand Kanavi,
A look at how TCS has transformed the interface landscape in India –
Take an offshoring success story. Add the excitement of bringing the fruits back home; get company insiders to narrate the four-decade long saga of the tech powerhouse, Tata Consultancy Services, or TCS. And you get Research by Design: Innovation and TCS. TCS is arguably the grand daddy of the great offshoring wave and clearly the biggest of them all. It has just propelled its revenue past the $4 billion milestone and created about 90,000 jobs and is now toying with a 10x10 vision of reaching a revenue of $10 billion by 2010. Virtually every Western giant is today embracing the offshoring business model that helped Indian IT majors like TCS shake up the rules in the tech world. And a new winning formula has emerged — employ large numbers in India or other low-cost destinations.
Research by Design might remind you of the famous Infosys-inspired The World is Flat or lesser known Bangalore Tiger: How Tech Upstart Wipro is Rewriting the Rules of Global Competition, but this compilation is more focussed on how TCS made it big. It tells a rather straightforward story and offers a glimpse into IT innovations at TCS, CMC and other Tata group tech companies.
Devoid of wisdom and superlatives to describe TCS’ footprints on globe, it does not dwell into how TCS competes with global giants like IBM and Accenture nor is it an attempt to explain the offshoring enigma that struck the world as jobs started moving to India. But it will not disappoint if you are interested in looking behind-the- scene developments at various TCS development centres; capture their multi-disciplinary R&D and understand how various arms of TCS have related it to business. As with most other offshoring case studies, the book is focussed on achievements and challenges and hurdles take a back seat.
TCS is one of the few Indian tech giants whose story is not limited to success in US and Europe. Its engineering solutions went a long way in transforming Indian banks, stock markets and government organisations and even transformed parts of interface with citizens. If you are interested in knowing what went into the making of a success story like TCS, you get reminisces of tech leaders like former deputy chairman, FC Kohli; current chief executive and managing director S Ramadorai; and CSIR director general, RA Mashelkar. A compilation of anecdotes, it provides a holistic view of the research and innovation that went into creating TCS.