Behind the scenes at IT service provider TCS

Behind the scenes at IT service provider TCS


Some of the largest companies in the world are IT service providers. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has almost 615,000 employees worldwide, making it the second largest IT service provider there is. What is striking, however, is that, apart from those six hundred thousand employees of course, very few people are aware of what such a company actually does.

You can easily do this yourself: ask a random person what an IT service provider does, and the chances are that the answer will be something along the lines of “they provide services in the field of IT”. Of course, that answer is not very illuminating. We visited TCS’s Pace Port in Amsterdam, a development hub where the company is working with the latest technologies, to hear how they answer that question themselves.

Problem solvers

First of all, we were overwhelmed with numbers: the number of employees we mentioned above, but also the fact that TCS is active in 55 countries and is one third listed on the stock exchange are highlighted. In Belgium, the company works with approximately 1,000 local employees, in the Netherlands with approximately 3,000. These are considerable numbers, but they are also necessary. As the second largest IT service provider, TCS is in almost all lay of daily life, yet the company remains largely invisible. Whether it is your telecom provider, the mail, the train you take or even the tires on your car: the chances that TCS had something to do with it are extremely high.

There is a very simple reason for this: if companies have a ‘problem’ that they want to solve, they will contact TCS. The service provider and the customer will then search for a solution together. This is also the reason why the TCS development hub is located in Amsterdam: it is easily accessible for customers in the area, so that it is possible to search for a solution together.

In most cases, the company tells what kind of ‘solution’ it is looking for. This can be various things. Companies knock on the door to integrate AI into the company, to have AR applications developed for the workplace, but also to help set up new production lines or to tap into new markets. These are issues that companies may be able to solve internally, but TCS can do it faster, better and therefore cheaper.

Impact on daily life

That is a nice bonus for the companies, but the impact of this service is by no means limited to the business: real people also benefit from it. This is clear from the collaboration between the NMBS and TCS. At the Belgian railways, they wanted to make the stations smarter, but it was not entirely clear how exactly that would work. After a whole series of discussions, an idea for an app that helps people with a disability to book a train journey matured.


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Then the ball started rolling: developing such an app completely by yourself costs a lot of money. The IT service provider has all kinds of connections that can help create such an app. That made the development of an app like NMBS Assist possible, which makes the lives of train passengers with a physical disability a lot easier. Before that app existed, they had to request adapted services by telephone a few days before their journey. Every year, this involves approximately 60,000 of these requests. With NMBS Assist, that cumbersome procedure is a thing of the past: the request is made via the app, and those in need of help can immediately see where they have to go.

Signpost

That sounds very much like what they do at TCS itself: showing companies the way to what they could do with the technology that is available. That is more necessary than ever: according to futurist Frank Diana, we are facing the most transformative period that humanity has ever known. Diana sees the past as an important source of inspiration for the future, and sees changes today that are similar to those of the 1920s and 1930s of the last century. Only this time, mainly thanks to AI technology, it would go much faster than then.

Nevertheless, there are important lessons to be learned from the past. If you look closely at history – or listen to Diana for an hour – you will begin to see that there are parallels between then and now, that history is a bit repetitive. According to Diana, anyone who pays attention to this is better equipped to shape the future. That is ultimately what an IT service provider like TCS does: introducing companies to new technologies and helping them implement them, in order to shape the future.