Sunday, September 25, 2011

'TCS deserved to go public much earlier'

Subramaniam Ramadorai took the reins at TCS in 1996 when the Indian IT industry was on the cusp of a quantum leap in growth and globalisation. During his 13-year watch, TCS became the first billion-dollar IT company to come out of India, even though it only went public in 2004, more than a decade after companies like Infosys had stolen the thunder in the stock market. Now, two years after his retirement, Ramadorai reflects on the challenges he faced and how he overcame them, in his book that’s just been published, The TCS Story... And Beyond. In this interview with DNA, Ramadorai fleshes out some key takeaways from his TCS experience.

You’ve written about how you changed the TCS tagline from ‘Beyond The Obvious’ to ‘Experience Certainty’. What was the logic behind this change?
We felt we had to clarify the obvious in some way, because obvious was obvious to us but not to the customer. People went haywire in talking about the future, future and future, when you had not even created the future. So we were in two extremes: one was stating the obvious and looking inward, I know what I’m good at, this is what TCS does; the other way was to say, let’s define the future, in three words — Innovation, Technology, Consulting. Then we saw that 100 companies do the same thing (innovation, technology, consulting). It doesn’t communicate anything that is unique about TCS. So we hired a global branding company to interview a bunch of people and come back to us with a definitive statement that exactly describes the TCS DNA and that is easily understandable to everybody. The key thing that came out of all these deliberations was that these TCS guys deliver what they promise and they don’t promise what they can’t deliver. Out of that came ‘Experience Certainty’.

On the business side, it seems to have suited Tata Sons from an accounting perspective to run TCS as a subsidiary until finally you had your IPO in 2004. On hindsight, do you think you would have been better off if TCS had entered the market 10 years earlier, along with its peers like Infosys and Wipro? 
We always had this debate. It’s not as if we decided in 2003 to go public in 2004. It was a continuous journey of looking at what was good for the parent, what was good for TCS’ growth, and what was the right thing to do. It is true we were not getting the visibility we should have had. We had everything that was required for us to be listed earlier than a lot of other companies because we had been in the industry much longer than them. But it was a constant process of dialoguing with the owners, Tata Sons, and coming to the conclusion that we will do it when the time is right.

Full interview here DNA

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