Into the Lion's Den-- TATA Consultancy Services Visits CONTROL

After all the articles we've written and the columns we've written (well, mostly Rich Merritt has written) decrying Offshoring to India and other places, it would appear that it took a lot of guts for Krishnakumar "KK" Nagarajan and Michael McCabe of TATA Consultancy Services to drop in for a visit with the Putman Editors. Not so! First of all, Merritt was not there, and we were all on extra-good behavior...and besides, we agree with him editorially. Automation engineers, KK noted, make four lakhs of rupees (about $9000) per annum at entry level, and after ten years, 10-12 lakhs of rupees ($20-$30K) per annum, with correspondingly lower cost of living. The cost of living, however, is rising rapidly, and salaries are being forced to rise rapidly as well. Nagarajan thinks, and this editor agrees, that Indian automation and software engineers will reach parity with their North American and Western European colleagues within this decade. Then it is going to be a matter of who's local, and who can get the job done. There just won't be the dramatic cost differential that sent GE to China in the early 1990s. Just who is KK, and who is TCS? TCS is part of the great TATA Group of companies, the third largest in India and one of the fifty largest companies in the world. TATA is, among other things, the largest manufacturer of tea and coffee n the world. The Group makes steel, runs hotels, and is extremely profitable. TCS is one of the top 15 IT consultants in the world, partnering with IBM, EDS, and other huge companies. They are the first IT consultancy anywhere in the world to be rated enterprise-wide at Level 5 for both CMMi and pCMM standars. They have 33 "delivery centers" worldwide in 10 countries, with 156 offices in 34 countries. TCS is in the business of vertical information integration. They've partnered with Pavilion Technologies, and SAP worldwide. They've defined parts of the workflow that can be done outside the enterprise and outside the vendors, as well, at 25-50% savings. TCS' fastest growing segment is engineering and industrial services, or EIS. And that's what brought Mike and KK to CONTROL. They do product development, product lifecycle management, sourcing and manufacturing solutions, business consulting and plant design. I interrupted the slideshow. "KK, what it sounds like is that you are competing with the biggest EPC companies, like Jacobs, Bechtel, Fluor, et alii." "No, although we do the 'E' without the 'P and C,'" KK replied. "We partner with the traditional EPCs, we don't compete with them." Then it hit me. What has happened in the IT space in the last decade and a half is that standards for engineering and writing and securing code have been internalized in a significant way. What is different about TATA Consultancy Services is that they are coming to plant optimization and design from the IT space. Most EPCs come to the same things from the "build things" space. In TATA, the IT-enabled folks are in charge, while at Bechtel, et al., the civil engineers are in charge, and software design is a 'bolt on' function. So TATA takes a completely different view. It is about the data, turning the data into information, and getting the information where it needs to go, and getting the decisions based on that information back down the chain. Like many system integrators (one I can name is the former Interwave, now part of Rockwell Software) TATA quickly realized that they could save time and money by re-use management, knowledge management, and tech independent standardized design. They call this middleware "Smart Box" --an application framework and a testing and simulation system. KK revealed several projects including a project at Cummins, and a project we assume to be at Eli Lilly, although KK neither said so nor confirmed it when we asked him. You will be seeing papers and even some articles by KK in Control, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing, Chemical Processing and Plant Services this year.

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