Two champions have emerged among service providers in digital transformation: Accenture and TCS. Accenture is driving business transformation, and TCS is doing a marvelous job of driving IT modernization. TCS’ recent acquisition of W12 Studios, a London-based digital design agency, is worth noting for its implications in the digital marketing space.
W12 will be part of TCS Interactive, TCS’ digital design division. Digital marketing is an attractive, high-impact growth area in digital transformation. It is pivoting toward greater and greater use of technology, clearly calling out for technology companies such as TCS to participate in it more fully. Accenture is building big business in this space quickly. Even so, this acquisition is surprising.
Unlike Accenture, TCS has not driven its success by acquiring companies. But the digital marketing space is growing very quickly, so TCS felt it needed to break its mold and gain a foothold in the space by acquisition. The increasing need for sophisticated technology such as AI and automation to execute well in this space makes it more attractive for TCS. This technology sophistication is well beyond the capabilities of customers for third-party services.
Two factors may be growth hindrances that affect TCS’ strategy for entering the digital marketing space.
First, TCS is late to this party. Companies such as Accenture, Capgemini, Infosys and others already created very large, formidable businesses in this space. Accenture is the prime example and has a big lead. TCS historically proved effective at closing market gaps once it established a foothold. But the firm has a big gap to close in digital marketing. It seems unlikely that TCS will succeed in closing this gap purely without further acquisitions.
Overall, the Indian services firms are late entries and are losing share to Accenture and the domestic players. For the Indian players to challenge for leadership, they will need to invest heavily and continue to grow inorganically.
The second possible growth hindrance involves the delivery model. It seems reasonable that much of the support of digital marketing technology can be delivered from an offshore model. But it’s not clear that the creative aspects are best delivered from a remote location. However, given that the technology and technology support is growing in importance it makes sense that TCS distributed model will work well for this part of the equation. Despite a growing and rich source of creative talent in India, I am skeptical that customers will move their creative work offshore. Why? Because proximity to the business and cultural emersion are critical aspects of the delivery.
I think it’s important to recognize that TCS’ goal may not be to enter digital marketing in a big way. At this point, there is such a fundamental disruption happening in the space that even capturing a small part of this marketplace might be a welcome and lucrative component to the broad portfolio that TCS offers. Even with a small market share, TCS can create a nice book of business given the growing market and secular trend toward technology.