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TCS Pace: Integrating Capabilities to Drive Innovation


In NelsonHall’s 2019 survey of IT service buyers, when asked about the key capabilities sought in vendors, a significant majority cited a range of digital consulting capabilities. More than 65% of respondents placed high priority on capabilities such as the ability to take a business perspective to apply digital, provide a roadmap for adoption of digital, and undertake a digital maturity assessment. In parallel, clients are looking for vendors that understand the specific needs of their industry, including sector-specific applications or their digital platforms tailored to industry needs.

For IT service vendors delivering increasingly commoditized services using standard delivery tools, demonstrating these capabilities to clients can be a challenge.

In late 2018, TCS introduced a new brand and integrated service capability, TCS Pace, as part of a corporate thrust to differentiate its digital innovation capabilities from its core legacy services. To support the delivery of these capabilities, TCS has also begun rolling out specialized hubs called Pace Ports.

NelsonHall recently had the opportunity to visit TCS’ Pace Port New York and discuss the vision for the Pace organization and the Pace Port network.

TCS Pace

The TCS Pace brand was introduced in November 2018 as a consolidator of disparate capabilities: a brand identity encompassing its research, innovation and digital transformation capabilities, applied within a business framework. Beyond the brand, TCS is also integrating its delivery capabilities to offer a more seamless service for digital transformation engagements that span multiple offering areas. In a full-service play, TCS is also building close integration for capabilities that have not formally been brought under the Pace umbrella. And there are specialized CoEs dedicated to specific emerging technologies such as blockchain and IoT as well as TCS Interactive, where TCS’ core experience and design capabilities reside.

To ensure that it integrates a full suite of capabilities, stakeholders across TCS were engaged, including its CMO and CTO units, Business & Transformation Services delivery units, geography leadership teams, and vertical business units.

With a broad set of stakeholders, the performance measurement framework for Pace is primarily focused on outputs rather than financial results.

TCS Pace Ports

The Pace Port network has evolved from TCS’ innovation and co-creation location strategy. TCS’ first purpose-built space for client innovation discussions was its Executive Briefing Center in Mumbai, opened over a decade ago, followed by a customer collaboration center in Santa Clara, CA in 2012 which has since evolved into the TCS Digital Reimagination Studio.

TCS opened its first Pace Port in Tokyo in the fall of 2018. Why Tokyo? While Japan is relatively small in terms of revenue contribution, it is a priority country for TCS from a growth perspective, and one with unique market demands. The second Pace Port, opened earlier this year in New York, is clearly a major location.

Pace Ports are purpose-built facilities. These are dedicated spaces, co-located with one of two complementary functions:

  • With an existing TCS office to enable collaboration between the Pace Port employees and the broader organization. The Tokyo Pace Port is housed in the same building as the TCS Tokyo office, on a new floor
  • With academic partners to facilitate close collaboration with both academics and students in pursuit of specifically defined objectives. Pace Port New York is housed on the Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island. While the Pace Port occupies a portion of a floor in the Tata Innovation Center, the remainder of the floor is populated with Cornell Tech graduate students, Ph.D. candidates, and teachers.

Pace Ports are a result of a collaboration across TCS. The local geographic unit acts as the owner of each location but partners with a lead vertical (manufacturing in Tokyo, retail in New York); however, Pace Ports are not exclusive to a single vertical. On the day of our visit to the Pace Port New York, they were preparing for a Life Sciences client event. It has an interactive display for identifying specific solutions based on business needs. Innovations that it showcases for the retail industry include ones for managing inventory and improving the shopping experience through the integration of digital and in-store capabilities.

In addition to the geography and vertical organizations, Pace Ports are also incorporating other capabilities. For example, they will have a rotating team from TCS Interactive for conducting design thinking and deliver experience design services.

Pace Ports are designed to be modular with movable walls that can be used to cordon off work areas, be opened up for a collaborative design thinking session, or removed for presenting to clients. There is also an informal area with couches, and in New York, chairs facing floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Manhattan skyline.

TCS has identified seven components that comprise the Pace Port network, with each location housing at least four. These are:

  • TCS Digital Library: an interactive digital display that enables accessing knowledge captured globally
  • TCS Rapid Labs: an innovation factory for quick turnaround proofs of concepts and MVPs
  • TCS Think Space: design thinking space aligned to TCS Interactive
  • TCS Agile workspace: modular, agile development working space
  • TCS COIN Accelerator: processes and tools for collaborating with start-ups and partners
  • TCS academic research lab: collaboration with local academics
  • TCS innovation showcase: space for demonstrating TCS IP to clients.

Each Pace Port will have a mix of these features tailored to the local market; not many will have all. Features in the New York Pace Port include the innovation showcase, agile workspace, academic research lab, COIN accelerator, and conference space.

The Pace Port Tokyo was designed to be a physical manifestation of client innovation processes. Clients begin in an executive briefing room to enable problem definition, then move into the innovation showcase and IoT lab to see TCS offerings. This is followed by a TCS Think Space for design thinking sessions to develop solution ideas. The outcomes of these sessions are addressed by the development of PoCs leveraging the COIN accelerator before being handed over for MVP development in the agile workspace.

With Tokyo and New York up and running, TCS will continue to expand the network in 2020. Openings will include:

  • Amsterdam, TCS’ first European Pace Port will be based on a new floor in the TCS offices and is envisioned to become the Digital Innovation hub for the region
  • Toronto will be the largest Pace Port opened to date and will include all seven components, including collaborations with the Universities of Toronto and Waterloo
  • Pittsburgh, located on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University in TCS Hall, a building built with an endowment from the Tata organization. The primary focus is research.

Other future locations include London, Sydney, Paris and others. Ultimately, we expect TCS to open Pace Ports in all its major markets.

Rapid Labs in Pace Ports act as innovation factories that deliver PoCs or initial MVPs using emerging technologies in an accelerated timeframe. A unique feature of the labs is their focus on leveraging new joiners on a rotational basis, thus enabling them to gain practical experience. Pace Ports’ collaboration with academic partners provides a strong pipeline of talent including, for example, the ~65 Ph.D. candidates and ~300 graduate students located literally across the hall from the TCS Pace Port New York at Cornell Tech which can be tapped for expertise in addressing client needs. Rapid Labs at Pace Ports follow the TCS Incubation Rapid process that has been used to produce innovations for several years.


IT service vendors with a large legacy services footprint have been investing heavily in recent years to develop their capabilities in digital offerings and demonstrate their innovation capabilities. Accordingly, many have been opening facilities that often have the words ‘innovation’ or ‘digital’ in the nomenclature, and most have used small acquisitions in this drive. In a few cases, the approach has looked somewhat piecemeal. TCS’ approach has been slightly different: it has taken a considered and organic approach in developing a full-service play, including strengthening its positioning around innovation with Pace and in setting up Pace Ports: 2020 will see an acceleration in the opening of these facilities. With the Pace initiative and its concept of ‘Business 4.0’, TCS has clear ambitions to be seen by its major clients as a full-service partner capable of supporting them in their digital transformation journeys.

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