THE TECH DIVISION of Indian conglomerate Tata is gearing up to take on Irish government services.
Chief technology officer K Ananth Krishnan told Fora that the firm was “actively exploring” ways to get a foothold in providing its tech and consultancy to the Irish government.
“We’ve been in Ireland for many years, this is nearing the end of our second decade here, but we haven’t really contributed to the government space. The government space is significant for us in India and a few other regions – the UK, for example,” Krishnan said.
Tata Consultancy Services, or TCS, is the IT services division of the wider Tata Group.
It first entered the Irish market in 2001 and has amassed customers such as the ESB and clients in sectors like insurance, telecoms and financial services. The Mumbai-headquartered firm has booked global revenues of over $20 billion.
Tata has a significant presence in government services in its native India and several other regions globally.
It provides digital imaging technology for the issuance of passports in India and has deployed IT services in healthcare in some of the country’s states.
“We’re looking at the health area and the public service provisioning area, all kinds of digital, whether it’s artificial intelligence, data, cybersecurity and 5G,” Krishnan said, speaking on the sidelines of the Digital Government Conference at Croke Park.
“All of these are things that we are doing in other parts of the world. I don’t know which of these will be relevant in this (Irish) context but certainly some of them will be.”
The whole matter of expanded technology use in the provision of public services can be fraught with challenges.
Most infamously, the recent fiasco around the public services card (PSC) has shined a light on excessive data collection.
Krishnan said the balance act of privacy and security with the convenience of technology is a constant challenge.
“There is absolutely no doubt that these are serious questions anywhere in the world and we ask those questions in India as well,” he said.
He floated the idea of developing a regulated open market where people could manage how their data is used, likening it to financial exchanges.
“A government has oversight on the way a financial exchange works. Are there lessons for data?” he said.
“Can I place my data in trust with an intermediary and that intermediary then deals with my data in an open market way, in a secure way and I can then benefit from that data market in terms of monetising my data or not monetising my data.
“Such models don’t exist, so we are exploring those and seeing whether those are options that can be then meaningfully tried out at scale.”
TCS employs 200 people in Ireland, spread across the country, servicing its clients.
Krishnan added that TCS will seek to expand its footprint in Ireland through partnerships as well.
Tata’s Co-Innovation Network, or Coin, is a programme where the firm partners with local startups and big companies alike to fill gaps in services for customers, though it does not invest in the companies.
“Let’s say you’re a startup here in Dublin, you’re doing something in technology X and there is a need for technology X which arises somewhere in the global TCS. We would then bring that opportunity to you, a startup, and say would you be willing to work with us,” Krishnan explained.
“We haven’t yet brought that programme here so one of my objectives is to see whether there is a propensity for Ireland-based startups to look at this global on-ramp that we can create for them.”