Rajashree R, chief marketing officer of TCS
The Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) saw its brand value soar by $1.425 billion in a challenging year, according to the Brand Finance IT Services 25 2021 report. This, at a time, when the brand value of IT companies collectively dropped by 3 percent. Rajashree R, chief marketing officer of TCS, speaks to Forbes India about the reasons behind the same, the increasing importance of technology and how the company navigated smoothly during the pandemic. Edited excerpts:
Q. TCS’s brand value increased by over 10 percent despite enduring an extraordinarily challenging year. What would you attribute this growth to?
Brand is a representation of the trust and faith that your customers have in you as a company. During the pandemic year especially, there has been a strong appreciation of the fact that TCS has played an important role in helping businesses across the world handle the pandemic, grow and recover. Also the importance of technology which has been greatly established in the last 12 months… technology is a key enabler for businesses across the world. So it's a combination of all these factors that has helped the brand grow.
Q. What role does the brand play in attracting IT workers, and what is the differentiator for TCS in the market for talent?
Today’s generation, in particular, likes to work with companies that are purposeful, value-based and those making a difference to society at large, to communities, businesses, and industries. A 21-year-old wants their life to be meaningful and TCS offers that amazing opportunity to youngsters—to make a difference with their career and life. That positions us strongly in the marketplace as far as talent is concerned. We are probably one of the highest recruiters and largest public service employers in India… our attrition rates, historically, have been the lowest in whichever era of business we have seen. These are all validations that people across the world, both inside and outside TCS, want to be associated with brands like TCS.
Q. How important is the ‘T’ in the TCS brand?
It is part of our heritage and a lot of our value system has been imbibed from the value system of Tata. At the end of the day, we are part of the very proud Tata brand. Of course, TCS has its own identity as well. But that (Tata) legacy is obviously important to us… and in the last 50 years, TCS has been a true guardian of that legacy.
Q. Since TCS is one of the older IT services brands (53 years this April), how big is the challenge to stay contemporary and compete with players less than half your age?
While we have been in the business for more than 50 years, we've also been number one for the last 50 years. So that is an assurance that we continue to be relevant to our customers, markets and associates… that is also a financial validation in some way. But more than that, we have this extremely innate ability to reinvent ourselves again and again. If you look at our history, every five years, we have transformed ourselves. In the last year, the way we responded to the pandemic… we launched the Secure Borderless Workspaces (SBWS) operating model; it is not easy for a company with 470,000 employees to adopt to this kind of a model as rapidly as we did. It's our ability to reinvent ourselves as an organisation, ourselves as associates in the organisation, that keeps us young all the time. They say remain young at heart… I think that is what probably TCS is—it's always young at heart.
Q. Tell us more about SBWS.
SBWS is essentially a transformative operating model about how businesses should work in the future and we are the first adopters of this model. SBWS creates a technology backbone—cloud, automation and digitally enabled—that allows an organisation to operate in an open environment. This model is taking organisations to cloud in some sense. So it's making the entire infrastructure accessible to associates anywhere in the world.
Q. How does TCS compare with Accenture and IBM in the global job market? Why would an international IT worker choose TCS over the multinationals?
I don't want to competitively respond to it. But I know for sure that we have always been able to attract the best of talent anywhere in the world. We hired heavily outside of India, in the US, the UK and Europe. The entire value system on which TCS is based, the innate innovativeness of the company, and the purposefulness of the organisation… all these factors are relevant to employees anywhere in the world. We continue to be an attractive employer across the world.
Q. What would you say is the correlation between market value (on the stock market) and brand value?
The most topical conversation in today's world is about how financial metrics and brand goals of an organisation need to come together. In other words, how do marketers position themselves as a revenue-generating and revenue-contributing part of the organisation, especially in the B2B marketing world? Most of the brand evaluation agencies are bringing the financial and brand metrics together when they do valuations. Even the current brand finance… they will talk about the fact that we don't understand the direct correlation, but we know that the financial and brand metrics are interrelated. There is a correlation—it might not be a direct correlation, but more and more of these matrices are coming together in most of the organisations, especially when brands are being evaluated. So you will not find a situation where a company is performing badly, but the brand is going up or vice versa.
Q. Covid-19 has been a boom time for IT services companies and provided opportunities for digital transformation. How much of the increase in brand value is because of this upside during the pandemic?
The overall interest and importance of technology, which has gone up significantly in the last 12 months, is an important contributor to the race of the brand, not just TCS but tech brands across the world. We see technology right now being the most important part of any boardroom conversation. Technology is an important driver for our near future, at least in the next few years.