TCS North America Chairman: Enterprises Preparing For GenAI Roll-Out
‘We have 100,000 TCS associates or employees who possess expertise in AI-related skills such as algorithm design, reliability and advancements in machine learning, deep learning, and so on. Then we have about 7,500 employees who are considered AI experts. There’s another 108,000 employees who have completed generative AI upskilling in the last six months across the company. So AI is a really hot topic within TCS and our client base,’ says Suresh Muthuswami, chairman of North America for Tata Consultancy Services.
Partnering On AI, GenAI
Tata Consultancy Services is investing in AI and generative AI in a way that shows the company knows that the technologies are key to future success of both TCS and its customers.
Suresh Muthuswami, chairman of North America for Tata Consultancy Services (pictured), told CRN in an exclusive meeting that the Mumbai, India-based company, ranked No. 2 on CRN’s 2023 Solution Provider 500, has 7,500 employees considered AI experts, and another 108,000 employees have completed generative AI upskilling in the last six month. About 90,000 of those employees have skills in either Azure, Google, or Amazon Web Services generative AI capabilities.
Working with the top three hyperscalers on GenAI is central to the success of building an AI business, Muthuswami said.
“We’re seeing our customers continuing to invest in the cloud to find value with AI,” he said. “So with our clients in mind, we think AI and cloud should go hand in hand. In August we launched a new AI.Cloud business unit to deliver the synergies that will help them transform their business. We formed this unit, and then brought all three hyperscaler dedicated cloud units together along with specialists in data sciences and AI and ML. This allows us to provide end-to-end solutions that leverage both cloud infrastructure and AI capabilities.”
Muthuswami said TCS works with customers to ensure they are fit and ready to adopt GenAI
“None of our clients are late to the GenAI party, but they all want to be the best dressed,” he said. “That's what we’re seeing. And our interactions are reinforcing the fact that cloud and AI go hand-in-hand. … Enterprises need to be fit, just like an athlete. They need to build capabilities, and they need to train for the future. So cloud, data, preparing for enterprise-wide GenAI roll-out, for all that you need to be fit.”
For more on how one of the world’s top IT solution providers is making sure both the company and its customers are fit and ready for GenAI, read on.
How do you define TCS?
We are a global IT services company. We have over 600,000 employees servicing Fortune 2000 companies, global 2000 companies. We have been doing a lot of work lately around the cloud, digital transformation, and AI/ML [artificial intelligence and machine learning], and now GenAI. We’re headquartered in Mumbai [India], but our North America headquarters is in Manhattan. We have about 53,000 people in North America. And we’re proud to be the No. 2 channel partner as recognized by CRN in the U.S.
TCS recently launched an AWS generative AI practice. First of all, how has TCS been involved with AI in general over the years?
Our take on AI is that AI needs to be industry-first, cloud-first, ecosystem-enabled, and enterprise-wise. We are helping customers manage successful enterprise AI deployments that are industry-first, and all the things I mentioned. But we need a strategy before implementation. Our approach really focuses on return-on-investment through industry knowledge, and also connections with partner ecosystems. You mentioned AWS. You need hyperscaler partnerships. We are a service integrator. Our approach is, we'll be advancing implementations for enterprises in all sectors. We service banking, life sciences, retail, telecom, energy utilities, and manufacturing. We have deep domain knowledge in all these industries.
We have developed an extensive catalog of use cases for generative AI. And we currently have about 250 generative AI engagements in the pipeline across industries that range from knowledge discovery, customer service chatbots, augmentation solutions for financial advisors and wealth management strategists, automated underwriting for insurance, AI-led drug discovery adverse event detection, and so on.
We have a partnership with Nvidia through our holding company, the Tata Group. And we have expanded our partnerships with hyperscalers. Also, training is so critical. We have a fast-growing training program that sets us apart in terms of our ability to deliver real impact with projects. We have 100,000 TCS associates or employees who possess expertise in AI-related skills such as algorithm design, reliability and advancements in machine learning, deep learning, and so on. Then we have about 7,500 employees who are considered AI experts. There’s another 108,000 employees who have completed generative AI upskilling in the last six months across the company. So AI is a really hot topic within TCS and our client base.
What’s behind that Tata Group relationship with Nvidia?
The Tata Group product group has partnered with Nvidia on AI capabilities to deliver computing infrastructure and platforms for developing solutions. This could result in thousands of companies, businesses, AI researchers, and startups in India being able to benefit from state-of-the-art AI capabilities. This partnership will also help these companies work together to build an AI supercomputer powered by the next generation Nvidia Grace Hopper superchip to achieve performance that is best in class. Also, our sister company Tata Communications and Nvidia also will develop an AI cloud in India aimed at providing critical infrastructure to enable delivery of AI services and platforms across the enterprise. So we're leveraging our group presence. We are part of a large group with companies in multiple industries including power, telecom, automobiles, steel, and so on. We will utilize the infrastructure and capabilities to build and process GenAI applications. And the Nvidia partnership will also enable TCS in collaboration with our customers to drive imagination with an AI-first approach.
So what’s the primary difference between what TCS and Tata Group is doing with AI?
Tata Group has a lot of group companies that are also leveraging AI. That's why the group has partnered with Nvidia. And TCS is leveraging that partnership to serve our customers. So, Tata Group is focused on the India market as well as group companies like Tata Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Tata Chemicals, Tata Steel, Tata Communications, and so on. As TCS, we are leveraging that partnership to serve our customers and train our employees. Our India business is just 5 percent of our global annual revenue.
How long has TCS been working with generative AI?
We have been working with AI/ML for at least five years. We launched what we call our mission-first daily model in 2017 or 2018. The idea is that our first priority is for machine learning to solve problems. As you know, AI has been around for over 50 years. And ChatGPT really is just celebrating its first-year anniversary now. That year has seen discussions with our customers, and the pace of training internal TCS employees has increased tremendously. So yeah, we have been working with AI/ML for a long time, and specifically in mission learning in the last five years. 2023 was a big year for us in terms of building use cases, working with customers, training our employees, creating our approach to AI and our frameworks for building use cases and how we go to market.
For example, we have a three-step approach: assist, augment, and transform. When we say assist, this is where workers use AI to perform their jobs faster and more effectively. I would argue that we're not there yet, because not all enterprises are allowing their employees to use AI fully due to various concerns they have. But many, many companies are at least in the assist mode. With augment, AI does some work itself, supported and reviewed by a human. And then transform is the more expert stage where humans’ role is to define the problem and then AI does the work to solve it.
One more thing I would highlight is that we also started working with the hyperscalers. We started our official partnership with Google Cloud last May, with Azure in July, and with AWS in November. These partnerships are specific to artificial intelligence. They've been our cloud partners for three or four years. But we specifically expanded our partnership with these three companies on generative AI.
TCS’ most recent partnership is with AWS’ GenAI practice. How is this similar with or different from its Google and Azure partnerships?
TCS received the AWS 2023 global system integrator Partner of the Year award. That is a big deal for us. It means that partnering with AWS will help us drive revenue, launch new opportunities, certify our employees, and achieve specializations. With our GenAI partnership, you're right that we have similar relationships with Google GCP and [Microsoft] Azure. Each of these companies has different tool sets, different language models, and so on. So it is important for us to partner with them to help our clients and, more importantly, for us to train our employees so that they can help our customers.
Another important thing is, early last year we had a growing cloud practice, and GenAI was relatively new. We’re seeing our customers continuing to invest in the cloud to find value with AI. So with our clients in mind, we think AI and cloud should go hand in hand. In August we launched a new AI.Cloud business unit to deliver the synergies that will help them transform their business. We formed this unit and then brought all three hyperscaler dedicated cloud units together along with specialists in data sciences and AI and ML. This allows us to provide end-to-end solutions that leverage both cloud infrastructure and AI capabilities.
The AI.Cloud business group services all industries in TCS. It really focuses on bringing hyperscalers and other partners together to provide industry-based solutions to our clients and our own business groups so that they can take them to market.
So this new AWS partnership rounds out TCS’s GenAI capabilities with all three hyperscalers, right?
With AWS, we have completed the round of partnerships with each of the major hyperscalers around generative AI. We just launched our AWS generative AI practice to help our customers harness the full potential of AI and AWS generative AI services. We have a commitment to certify over 25,000 employees on AWS generative AI services.
We are partnered with Google to bring Google's AI services—Vertex AI, Gemini application builder, Google Model Garden, and so on—with our own solutions to joint clients that we announced much earlier. We have about 25,000 engineers certified on Google Cloud. And we have a plan to earn another 40,000 skilled badges on Google Cloud generative AI by the end of 2024. So there is a lot of demand there as well.
We have also partnered with Microsoft. In terms of numbers, we have about 25,000 associates on Azure OpenAI. And also, we're working with clients to accelerate software development and to improve programmer productivity through Azure Advisor and Azure foundation. Azure has GitHub, Copilot, and tools using Azure OpenAI language model. Our plan is to leverage this to develop code faster and with less effort. So this completes the three hyperscalers around GenAI.
Anything else we need to know about TCS and GenAI?
Yes. None of our clients are late to the GenAI party, but they all want to be the best dressed. That's what we’re seeing. And our interactions are reinforcing the fact that cloud and AI go hand-in-hand. We hosted about 300 clients at our customer summit in Austin last year where we talked about enterprises need to be fit, just like an athlete. They need to build capabilities, and they need to train for the future. So cloud, data, preparing for enterprise-wide GenAI roll-out, for all that you need to be fit. That's the message we are taking to our clients. And it is resonating very well with them.