‘What Covid has shown is that tech is a huge force’

Venkatesh Ganesh Mumbai January 10 | Updated on January 10, 2021

Business is all about operating within the constraints, as shown by the SBWS delivery model of TCS: COO

TCS numbers for Q3 came in ahead of market expectations and the company has pointed out that growth in 2021-22 fiscal will be in double digits. In a chat with BusinessLine, NG Subramaniam. COO, TCS, outlines what continues to drive growth (with a spate of multi-billion, multi-year deals), how another stimulus in the US would help companies stay competitive and whether work visas are becoming meaningless in the age of remote working. Excerpts:

In the beginning of this financial year, TCS had said that growth will come back around Q3. You seem to be right on track.

Internally, we had planned by December to reach pre-Covid levels of business. I can say that we are slightly ahead of our plans. What is redeeming is that we reached out to clients and proactively provided solutions, which was accepted by them. This makes us believe that we are placed comfortably, with growth across verticals. Our deal pipeline looks strong (total contracts worth $6.8 billion in Q3) and we are confident that with this momentum and the way we end Q4, we are set for double-digit growth in FY22. However, we are mindful that the vaccine has to be distributed and economies of various countries have been impacted in different ways.

So, will clients continue to spend, considering the pressure on them as a result of the pandemic?

We believe this is a multi-cycle investment, which clients will undertake. The pandemic has forced clients to embrace digital, if they have to continue to be relevant and competitive. However, it is not about just putting IT infrastructure on the cloud and saying that is it. Increasingly, companies are trying to understand customer behaviour through technology and that is where AI, analytics, come into play. The future is about building ecosystems, collaboration and constant tweaks in business models, regardless of the sector. All this will drive our growth.

For clients to continue spending, will a second stimulus help?

Stimulus always helps business, especially SMEs. They are the wheels of an economy and are most affected.

In March, the US came out with a $2-trillion stimulus package, the largest economic stimulus in its history, in response to the economic impact of Covid-19. This had a trickle-down effect. Having said that, technology is the answer. Unlike the past when access to tech could be hindered with high capex requirements, with cloud computing, there is some level playing field as smaller companies can leverage best tech. The market will expand beyond large companies. Another round of stimulus would help the growth momentum continue in these challenging times.

With so much noise around visas, have software exporters built in total resilience, regardless of the stance of governments around the world?

What Covid-19 has shown is that tech is a huge force. Internet and cloud computing are scalable and resilient and this has been proven beyond doubt last year. Business is all about operating within the constraints and companies have always innovated with alternative methods or working and providing value to customers. I won’t say that visas are not required any more but it will be about collaborating and integrating workforce from different locations.

Can you give us an update on the Secure Borderless Workspaces (SBWS) model?

SBWS enables an employee to work from any place. Currently, around 3.4 per cent of employees (TCS has a consolidated headcount of 4,69,261) are working out of office. As we moved to the SBWS delivery model, we relied on data analytics to ensure service delivery and infrastructure availability, which we showcased to clients. The model has proved robust and it can be seen in the results. Strong growth across all our verticals, and operational benefits from our SBWS have allowed us to post the highest operating margin in the last five years, despite factoring in salary increases, which we announced in October 2020. We are well on course towards a location-independent, digital workplace.

Published on January 10, 2021

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