Business 4.0 is changing the way we work, think and interact. It is driving greater connectivity within ecosystems. And it is fundamentally reshaping the attitudes of leaders – from one of making the most of scarce resources, to harnessing an abundance of talent, capital, data, and computing power.

This year’s TCS Summit North America, held in San Antonio, Texas, drew out the lessons C-suite executives have learned throughout the process of their business transformation.

The leadership team at TCS – Rajesh Gopinathan, CEO and Managing Director; NGS, Chief Operating Officer; and Sury Kant, President of North America, UK and Europe – kicked off the event by expanding upon the theme of “Business 4.0: Leveraging Ecosystems and Abundance” and laying out the roadmap for location-independent agility. 

Top-level speakers from diverse organizations such as Petco and USAA through to Verizon and CVS Health then laid out how the proliferation of digital technologies, such as AI, IoT and machine learning, are fundamentally revolutionizing their businesses. From shifting jobs and roles, to evolving business models and new products and services shaping the market. This is happening more quickly and efficiently, and in a way that drives greater customer satisfaction, putting clients at the heart of every decision.

The stage at TCS Summit North America

Leveraging your ecosystem

Delegates heard about the challenges CEOs face as they try to stay ahead of the disruption curve. Without a concerted effort to remain connected to all parts of the business, they risk becoming isolated. As the boundaries that historically divided businesses and their partners are broken down, great CEOs draw on the expertise of all players in their ecosystem to ensure their businesses continue to innovate.

“More listening, less talking,” is how Chandra, Chairman of Tata Sons, summarized the way CEOs can leverage the expertise within their businesses.

And speakers from across the C-suite highlighted the importance of drawing on the knowledge and specialisms within a business’ ecosystem – namely, all of the partners and service providers that it works with. 

“You need to understand your role in that ecosystem,” said Jennifer A. Smith, Executive Vice President and CIO, Zions Bancorporation, “and ensure you are contributing to the health of the ecosystem as a whole, whether or not it benefits you directly.”

However, CFO panelists also pointed to the inherent risks of this strategy if the quality of collaborators have not been properly assessed. 

Dave Jordan, Global Head, Consulting and Services Integration, TCS said: “If you are the ecosystem driver or owner, does that mean you are responsible for compliance across that ecosystem? And if not, who is? Because someone needs to be.”

Customer first

The need to mold your business around your customers was another common theme that emerged. Companies must have a laser focus on what their purpose is, and that purpose needs to be viewed through the lens of its customers.

This means understanding what it is they offer, and what makes them different. For some businesses, that will mean moving away from areas that aren’t their core focus and choosing to use the expertise within their ecosystem instead. This could also include partnering with companies that were previously considered to be competitors, as long as that results in a more agile business that provides a better service to your customers.

“We are moving to a world where we leverage a broad people ecosystem. And the power of that is immense. As any company, you must focus on your core competency,” Mike Shadler, SVP and CIO, Pacific Life, told conference participants.

The power of connections

Delegates also received a one-year update on TCS’ Machine First Delivery Model (MFDM™) , which lays out a pathway to businesses becoming ‘AI ready.’

PR Krishnan, Executive VP, TCS, talked about the three pillars of enterprise behaviors a machine-first approach influences: heterogeneity, granularity and industrialization.

Heterogeneity is the idea that there will be multiple technologies coexisting.  Granularity is the concept that these technologies will connect and work alongside each other in the context of their roles. And industrialization covers the changes that these technologies will bring in terms of service delivery, new products nand the shape of the workforce.

“MFDM combines the ‘here and now’ of automation with future proof architecture that allows you to incrementally leverage AI capabilities from multiple sources,” said PRK

The power of connections was also showcased by Regu Ayyaswamy, Global Head IoT, TCS, who announced the launch of TCS’ new IoT framework – Bringing Life to Things™.

Bringing Life to Things™ is about bringing context to connectivity. It allows businesses to be agile and enables them to unlock value by using digital intelligence to respond to physical contexts. It’s about connected devices being able to predict outcomes or scenarios, and allowing businesses to optimize their value chains, flex their models and continue to deliver the best for their customers.

And as Anthony Roberts, Senior Vice President and Global CIO, Walgreens Boots Alliance, summarized: “The tectonic plates of technology are really driving some fundamental changes. When we look back, it won’t be Trump, it won’t be China, it will be the changes in technology that are leading to really different ways in which society is going to evolve.”