Large companies do a lot of things very well, but many struggle when it comes to innovation. Replicating the agility achieved by start-ups is one way to address this problem.

Start-ups move fast, take risks and attract talent. Corporations want to tap into this way of working without compromising what has made them successful in the first place.

In principle, the concept of ‘start-up as a service’ enables big businesses to have their cake and eat it too.

Technology partners can be quick to offer prospective clients a proposition that will provide them with the agility to thrive in the digital business environment. Yet few can actually deliver on such promises.

As the great and the good of the global tech community head to Helsinki for Slush 2017, I look at how start-up as a service has become a catalyst for digital innovation and why finding the right delivery partner is imperative.


The benefits of start-up as a service

The age of Business 4.0 has arrived and it brings with it a shift towards automated processes that are based in the cloud.

The need for agility has never been more pronounced. Corporates are consequently acquiring start-ups in ever-increasing numbers.

On the surface, this would appear to be a sensible strategy. However, in practice, integrating acquired start-ups can often be a complicated and expensive undertaking.

Start-up as a service allows corporations to bypass this process, enabling clients to look to the future.


Integrating acquired start-ups can often be a complicated and expensive undertaking.

The Holy Grail of start-up as a service

When companies – or tech partners for that matter – envisage start-up as a service, they picture the rapid delivery of the minimal viable product.

This is essentially a product that ticks all of the boxes in terms of expectations and is replicable and scalable once it’s in the client’s hands.

Unfortunately, what is actually delivered to the client is often something that looks good on screen, but doesn’t quite deliver the required results.


Our start-up solution

Tata Consultancy Services’ network of ecosystems formed around our research and innovation function – nominally our corporate technology office – enables us to deliver functional MVPs at a rapid rate.

As a 1,500-strong organization devoted to research and co-innovating with clients, it generates some cutting-edge outcomes in fields as diverse as autonomous infrastructure and media.

It’s a regular source of publications and patents, while also being the home of our breakthrough neural network ignio.


Start-up as a service has really taken off

Bigger is better

When it comes to developing a service that is both effective and fast, size does matter.

As a technology company that serves all the major industries globally, our networks run deep and wide.

Other than our R&I unit, we also operate through a network of technology start-ups, research institutions and university partners divided into three business structures: TCS Research, TCS Innovation Labs, and TCS Co-Innovation Network.

Perhaps the most notable of these structures is TCS COIN. At any point in time, we have around 1,500 start-ups as our TCS COIN partners. These are spread around the world with companies in the USA, Canada, Europe, Australia, Singapore, Israel and India.

It’s this global reach that enables our clients to pull ahead in the race for business innovation.

But it’s not about just drawing upon what resources currently exist, it’s also about looking into what may exist in the years ahead.

The TCS Future Group is tasked with projecting our current technological trajectory twenty years into the future. It’s a hands on strategy for informing possible outcomes – a kind of future proofing of present problems.


Our Nordic success story

With Slush fast becoming a Nordic institution, it’s fitting that our approach to start-up as a service has really taken off in our Nordic division.

We have recently proved our service delivers what it promises to three major clients, one in retail, one in banking and the third in logistics.

In the latter case, we were able to move from concept to realization in just nine weeks, which is nothing short of remarkable.

As corporates begin to fully explore the possibilities of start-up as a service, there is no reason why this kind of agility shouldn’t become the new normal.