Indian born TCS, which is a global leader in IT Services, Consulting, Technology and Digital Solutions, is now gearing up to create a standalone product brand for its artificial intelligence (AI) product Ignio.

The Mumbai headquartered company, which is a subsidiary of the legendary Tata Group and currently operates in 46 countries globally, has even hired professionals (about 10) from US companies to head the sales of Ignio as an individual product, a step which many believe is almost similar to creating a software company with a different model to its traditional services.

TCS wants to build Ignio as an individual brand with no or as minimal TCS branding as possible. This is why Digitate, the unit that currently houses Ignio, is referred to as a TCS venture only once.

Explaining the company's vision behind the bold move, Harrick Vin, global head of Digitate
spoke to ETin an interview and said, “If you want to sell Ignio as a product, you have to create a product brand. TCS as a services brand is humongous. We have to make sure that the product can stand on its own. It is deeply embedded in TCS, but from sales and branding perspective, you have to create an identity."

He further explained that initially when they started out, the clients weren't particularly clear if they would be bound into a services contract if they use Ignio. This is why they decided to go for a branding overhaul and combined it together with a revamped sales organisation.

Vin also shared that the entire revamping has worked wonders for Ignio. “We have created a sales organisation that is driving a lot of direct product-led sales. We are going to customers where there is no service–RFP and where TCS is not a service provider. We are entering those organisations with Ignio."

In his interview, Vin also shared that the pipeline for Ignio as a standalone product was much larger than that for a services contract and his company has now focused its attention on patents as a driver of valuation. “We have filed for 80 unique patents globally. Any product company will build a significant portfolio of patents. If you look at valuations of startups and product companies, they are often driven by IP portfolio. Strategically, it is an important thing to do," he said.

Until now, Indian IT companies always adopted the path of selling their AI platforms as part of their services, but TCS is first among its Indian peers to sell it as a standalone product. Commenting on TCS' incredible feat, Peter Bendor-Samuel, CEO at IT advisory firm Everest Group said to ETin, “TCS has taken a different approach to automation and cognitive computing than its competitors in the amount it is spending and that it is building its own software from the ground up and then attempt to sell it independently of its services."

Digitate is also currently in the midst of making Ignio a cloud-based product to be sold on a software-as-a-service model. According to Vin, when the unit finally puts Ignio on cloud, they will also end up opening an ‘Ignio studio’, using which one will be able to build apps for Ignio and make it do different things. This way, it will end up becoming much of an open platform.

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