K Ananth Krishnan (2015)
Chief Technology Officer, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).
As CTO, Ananth directs research and innovation in Tata Consultancy Services. Ananth has architected a 4E model to make invention, innovation and co-innovation at TCS deliver value to TCS business and its customers. Under his leadership, the TCS research community has created a significant portfolio of patents, papers and IP.
Ananth has been a member of the TCS Corporate Think-Tank since 1999, and has led several strategic initiatives. He has been a Principal Architect and Lead Consultant in the Architecture and Technology Consulting Practice, and earlier the head of the TCS Systems Management and the Systems Software Group.
Ananth is on the Customer Advisory Boards of several organizations including Symantec and IBM-Rational, He was elected a Fellow at the Indian Academy of Engineering (INAE) in recognition of his contributions towards engineering in 2013. He is a Senior Member of the IEEE and a member of the Computer Society of India, and is an invited faculty in the Department of Management Studies at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. He was an invitee to the quarterly management review with the TCS Board (the executive committee of Tata Sons Limited) from April 2000 to March 2004.
Named a Distinguished Alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi in 2009, Ananth has been listed in Computerworld’s Premier 100 IT Leaders (2007). He has also been chosen as one of Infoworld’s Top 25 CTOs (2007).
Ananth is an M. Tech. in Computer Science from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. He also has a Masters degree in Physics from the same Institute and a Bachelor’s degree in Physics from Fergusson College, Pune.
The pace of innovation has accelerated considerably across the world, as we build on past knowledge and successes. From information technology to life sciences (genomics, metagenomics), transformative inventions are being churned out with impressive speed. The ‘Industrial Revolution’ was a defining phase of history, much as 3-D printing promises the same, in fundamentally altering the way modern products are created. Furthermore, if products begin to be designed and distributed over the internet, coupled with remote, yet highly connected teams, it may well lead us to reimagine our modern, densely-packed cities, with remote industrial parks and co-located offices.
Advancements in genomics and meta-genomics promise to personalize medicine, arrest hereditary diseases and otherwise revolutionize the medical field. And modern engineering has led to the tapping of previously inaccessible oil and gas reserves, dramatically altering the economic landscape. However, in order to seize the initiative in this rapidly evolving world, countries and communities need to focus on STEM education as a fundamental ingredient in enhancing economic prosperity.
By 2018, the U.S. is expected to face a shortage of 230,000 STEM employees, which presents a strategic challenge for companies and the wider U.S. economy. It is crucial that STEM education be emphasized in order to fill this gap and maintain economic competitiveness.
Sciences, technology, engineering and math influence a wide variety of human endeavors, from architecture and design to the behavioral and social-sciences. STEM education can enhance both national competitiveness and global prosperity – it is not a zero-sum game. Technologies used to develop hybrid seeds in the U.S. have led to high-yielding agricultural production across the world in the latter half of the twentieth century, and the science used to create vaccines and modern medicine have saved millions of lives globally. Digital technologies and the Internet are lowering the barriers to entry for new ventures, spurring the pace of innovation everywhere. They are also reducing the information divide and enabling social inclusion. Enhancing STEM education raises the odds of a thriving, innovative and productive community, improving economic competitiveness.
TCS has invested considerably in promoting STEM education and practice through our co-innovation network (COINTM), which features research alliances with leading universities in the U.S. The COIN initiative offers regular sabbatical and research opportunities at TCS innovation labs globally, in addition to opportunities for the exchange of ideas and insights at various forums. By connecting with startups and venture capital firms, the TCS-COIN network also offers a multi-stakeholder platform for innovation and collaboration. We believe strongly in ‘collaborating to achieve success’ and the COIN network attests to this faith.
Some other ways in which TCS supports STEM education include:
- For students: TCS’ goIT provides year-round, in-school mentorship and technology career readiness workshops across the nation, bringing TCS volunteer mentors into the classroom to teach technology innovation and computer science. goIT exposes students to computer science topics that are inspired by robotics and innovative education, led by TCS employees.
- TCS hosts a technology-science quiz program, IT Wiz, with more than 5,000 participating teams from schools across Asia and the Middle East.
- The TCS-PALS (Pan-IIT Alumni Leadership Series) initiative actively reaches out to engineering colleges across India to arrange speaking engagements with research leaders, hosts innovation challenges on business and societal issues, and educates students about career opportunities in research.
- For teachers: the Academic Interface Program (AIP) for STEM faculty, builds capacity of teaching staff engaged in computer science related courses. TCS employees conduct workshops for academic staff, using real-world scenarios and problems to demonstrate the application of new technologies. Teachers can then take these real-world examples into the classroom, where they are more effective as a result of having seen the technologies in action.
- For researchers: the TCS-COIN program has strong relationships with leading universities, startups and venture capital firms in the U.S., offering beneficial engagement opportunities to researchers. In India, TCS sponsors the Research Scholar Program (RSP) for doctoral students in computing programs, funding nearly 20 percent of all doctoral students in the computing sciences.
- For prospective employees: TCS conducts coding competitions on its ‘Code Vita’ platform. Winners get the opportunity to intern at one of TCS’ research and innovation labs. Additionally, TCS’ Initial Learning Program (ILP) is targeted at recent college hires, and augments their understanding of computer science, especially in relation to the job they are expected to do.
As the world continues to embrace digital technologies, there is a tremendous opportunity to make STEM education more interactive, interesting and engaging for students around the world. At TCS, we are passionate about STEM and keen to engage with institutions, working towards enhancing STEM education. We are currently exploring how to use gaming and social media to ‘make work more engaging,’ and we are reworking our internal systems to move from traditional ‘workflow-based systems’ to ‘workshare-based systems,’ This enables teams to work together more collaboratively and productively.
TCS is also building contextual learning systems that offer real-time information to accelerate employee productivity and competency. Combined with customized assessment and simulation platforms, a more engaging and immersive learning experience can be offered to students across STEM programs.
The U.S. has the significant advantages of a unique and flourishing innovation ecosystem, and I am confident that given the right support, future generations of students will seek out challenging and satisfying careers in the STEM fields, adding to the tremendous innovation cycle around the world.