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TCS picks up its pace to support innovation in the UK

Katy Ring Profile picture for user Katy Ring March 21, 2024
TCS's track record on innovation is strong. The latest of its Pace Port innovation labs continues that trend.


TCS has formally launched its new Pace Port innovation hub in London, which is a space designed to support technology-led business transformation facilitated by TCS consultants working with clients and prospects.

London is actually the seventh Pace Port that TCS has opened globally, following Amsterdam, New York, Paris, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Tokyo. The pause in opening a Pace Port in London (given that the UK is the largest country market for TCS outside of the US) was caused by the pandemic, which delayed plans. Up and running now, the Pace Port is already in use, led by Ved Sen, Head of Innovation for TCS in UK and Ireland.

Strong innovation pedigree 

TCS is one of the IT service providers with a long pedigree in using IP management and partnering strategies to drive innovation for customers and has been running innovation roadshows in London for a number of years now. Indeed, TCS has spent more than a decade evolving its innovation model, beginning with academic collaboration in the 1970s, launching its first Research & Innovation Lab in the 1980s, and adding the emerging technology ecosystem to this in 2003. It has had its Co-Innovation Network (COIN) of academics, start-ups and alliance partners in place since 2007. 

In 2018 TCS introduced its Pace brand to bring these innovation approaches and business transformation capabilities together, with the Pace Ports providing a physical manifestation of the approach. The Pace methodology is designed to enable initial proof of concept or minimum viable product milestones to be reached more quickly by combining emerging technologies and academic research with TCS consultancy and implementation expertise. For this reason, Pace runs as a series of sprints encompassing discovery, design, rapid incubation, marketing and growth.  

One of the strengths of TCS’s research and innovation program is that it had been led by K. Ananth Krishnan TCS’s CTO for 17 years, providing a consistency of approach and high-profile leadership and evangelism over a significant period of time.

Other competitors have chopped and changed their approach and methodology towards customer innovation programmes under a variety of different leaders. In comparison TCS research and innovation appeared exciting and leading edge but in a measured, business-friendly way. However, Krishnan retired last year and Harrick Vin is now TCS CTO. As yet, there is no indication as to whether Vin’s approach to research and innovation will be different.

London Pace Port

Located in Bishopsgate in Central London, the London Pace Port is a 9,000 sq. ft space that can be rapidly reconfigured to support varying client requirements. Sen explains that the UK is quite a mature market, and that the London location of the Pace Port makes it easy to work with the main UK banks, insurance companies, retailers and utilities as they are typically headquartered close to the space. He feels that this proximity has enabled TCS “to play off the ecosystem vibe” especially with regards to cross-fertilizing ideas between sectors. 

Pace Ports are used by TCS existing customers, prospects and not for profit organizations and the gating factor to be considered when wishing to use the space is that the client organization has articulated a problem statement that cannot be easily addressed with an existing IT capability. 

Once a problem is accepted as being relevant for the Pace approach, TCS can use gen AI to support a four-to-six-week discovery sprint to query publicly available data regarding competitors and can also bring its Tech Navigator into play to help clients reimagine the future within their problem area and the impact different emerging technologies may have.

The Pace method is not an approach designed specifically for CIOs and CTOs, but rather works best when the client fields professionals from across its organization including, say, customer experience, marketing, and operations. This is because successful innovation requires change management, ongoing funding and cultural belief. It takes an organizational village of stakeholders to transform a business.

Being close to the client, with a detailed knowledge of their business environment, broad industry domain knowledge, and with access to stakeholders outside the CIO office are all crucial to this. The Pace Port provides TCS with space to develop broader stakeholder relationships by generating short, high impact projects with clients. It also provides a stage to showcase TCS as an agile enabler of transformation.

My take

In uncertain times innovation is necessary, but timing and availability of budget may be sporadic. If an IT service provider is viewed as a player that can be trusted to execute large, complex IT projects, it may not be best placed to take advantage of opportunistic bursts of discretionary spend.

This is because the relationships between the provider and the customer may not be with the right stakeholders to get a heads-up as to when opportunities are arising. It may also be that a “steady eddy” system integrator will not be the kind of brand that springs to mind when short-term cost and optimization engagements are being considered.

TCS has been working for decades to be positioned to address both types of contracts. In this context, the physical Pace Ports offer tangible evidence of the company’s creative consulting expertise, to sit alongside its well-established implementation competence.

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