TCS: 'We need to up our brand'

Top executives from the Indian IT services company embark on marketing campaign to raise its profile, as it faces a changing outsourcing market.

MUMBAI--Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is embarking on a branding drive in a bid to raise its profile, as the IT services company expands its business.

Girija Pande, executive vice president and head of TCS Asia Pacific, told regional reporters here Tuesday that while customers knew TCS provided high-quality IT services, the vendor's strengths were not always conveyed in the marketplace.

"We need to up the brand," Pande said, adding the new branding initiative will focus on the idea of providing business assurance to customers, which include Singapore healthcare provider Parkway Holdings, Qantas Airways and Bank of China.

Pande noted that businesses need some sense of certainty in their IT deployments, such as delivering projects on time and within budget. "If not, there will be lost opportunities and your go-to-market strategy will fail," he said.

Company CEO S. Ramadorai added that since TCS was listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange in 2004, the market had "demanded we [present] ourselves beyond our customers".

"Suddenly, we became accountable to 1.1 million shareholders, a number which has now grown to 2.7 million," he said.

According to Ramadorai, TCS had engaged external consultants from the United States to facilitate its new branding exercise. Eventually, the company's commitment to deliver excellence, in order to provide customers with "certainty" in their business objectives, was picked as the central theme.

"We make a commitment to customers and we live by the commitment," he added. "There's enough data to articulate that through measurements."

Pande noted that TCS's commitments to enterprise customers include completing 96.6 percent of deliverables on time, meeting 89 percent of quality expectations, and a 3.28 percent variation from a client's IT budget. These figures are above industry benchmarks, he added.

Already India's largest IT service company, TCS reported consolidated revenues of US$2.97 billion in its fiscal year 2006, ended Mar. 31. Pande said the company is expected to rake in revenues of US$4 billion in fiscal 2007.

Asked if the marketing initiative marks a competitive strategy against bigger IT services rivals such as IBM and Accenture, Ramadorai noted that competitors will definitely keep an eye on what TCS is doing. "But more importantly, customers are the ultimate testimony," he added.

So far, TCS and other Indian IT services companies including Wipro, Infosys and Satyam, mostly develop applications, as well as manage networks and infrastructure for their clients. However, Ramadorai said, the IT services market will change in future. Customers, for instance, will demand faster delivery of their outsourced functions.

"Am I going to [want to wait] for a three-year project, or am I only going to wait for six months or shorter?" he said.

To meet customer's shortening deadlines, Ramadorai noted that it may no longer just be about increasing the number of people working on a project. "It's also about the intellectual assets those people [have] who will meet the delivery [goals] from the [implementation] time and quality perspective," he said.

The global delivery model will also become more important, he added, as companies such as TCS deploy IT services for customers on a global basis.

For example, a service provider that delivers IT services out of Chile, Hungary, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia or China will need to ensure that the quality and level of service remains constant across borders, he explained.

Ramadorai also noted that the growing software-as-a-service trend will spill over to the IT outsourcing realm. "You pay as you use, rather than in terms of the headcount involved," he said, adding that this may actualize in four to six years.

However, IT services providers are now facing competition from telecoms operators looking to offer IT services on top of their network offerings.

Ramadorai dismissed any real threat. "Execution is the biggest challenge [for telcos]," he said. "[Although] they have access to customers [from] selling devices and bandwidth, customers are choosy in terms of [selecting providers] capable of delivering IT."

"It is very correct that competition may come from software companies and other systems integrators, but at the end of the day, delivery and service excellence will differentiate us."

Aaron Tan of ZDNet Asia reported from Mumbai, India.