The world's IT department

If, as has been claimed, India is the world’s IT department, then Tata Consulting Services is a big part of the reason why. Sitting within the giant conglomerate Tata Group, TCS is India’s largest company by market capitalisation and has total assets of around $55 billion.

It is one of the main reasons why India is so strong in IT services, and since 1992 its European HQ has been in Amsterdam. ‘The Netherlands was one of the first adopters of a global sourcing model,’ says Benelux Director Amit Kapur. ‘So from that perspective, it was right to put our efforts here and then see if you can expand into other markets. The Netherlands was one of the driving forces of global sourcing.’

The ‘global sourcing model’ sees organisations buy their business services from whoever can offer the best value, regardless of where they may be. TCS offers more than just the call centres or junior programmers often associated with outsourcing, and has a full range of high-end consulting services. ‘If you look at the companies that come from the Netherlands, it makes it easier to engage with them because they have seen the world beyond their country’s boundary. And the moment you see a world beyond your country’s boundary, you are able to relate to trends in other markets,’ he says.

Anew global way of working

TCS was one of the first organisations to take advantage of the new global way of working, and has always been an innovative organisation (founder Jehangir Tata became India’s first licenced pilot in 1929). And it was the innovative nature of the Dutch market that helped encourage TCS to set-up shop in the Netherlands. ‘The Netherlands works as a huge hub for innovation and for adoption of newer processes, if you compare it to some other European markets,’says Kapur. ‘We see progress in other markets, but the Netherlands, we believe, is by far the leader.’

The firm’s taste for innovation has seen it create partnerships with many of the leading knowledge institutes that lie within striking distance of TCS’s HQ in the cluster of skyscrapers at Amsterdam Zuid. ‘Some of our managers have engaged with the University of Amsterdam, and we have gone on courses on strategy and management with the Amsterdam Business School. I always feel that you should never stop learning and we devised a special course with them tailored towards the business managers of TCS,’ explains Kapur.

Other programmes include sponsorship of the Amsterdam Marathon and supporting the cancer research of the VU University Amsterdam. TCS also opens up to students from Rotterdam School of Management, which has one of the world’s most highly regarded MBA programmes. ‘We give a real problem to a group of students to research, and they come back without a bias. You tickle the young brains on what innovative ways you can look at problems and it brings a complete new line of thinking. At the same time, it’s an open forum to engage students.’

Engaging those young minds gives TCS some advantage in the battle for local talent, but given the nature of its business, ‘local’ tends to have a fairly broad meaning. ‘In the continent of Europe, TCS will have close to around 20,000 associates servicing the market. Within the Netherlands, we have close to 3,500 people servicing the Dutch market,’ says Kapur. ‘Of which around 700 people will be living in the Netherlands and the rest will be servicing the market from locations like India, Budapest, China or wherever the customer calls for it. Around 25- 30% of our population is stationed in customer locations and the rest work from global centres.’

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