A 2020 retrospective with TCS CMO Ashish Babu

With the year winding down, Kavita Singh spoke with Ashish Babu, the CMO of TCS, to discuss the adjustments he had to make, as well as the lessons he was able to take away from this challenging year in B2B marketing.

How did your company respond to Covid-19 back in March?

AB: Like for many, we had to change the wheels of the bus while driving. Our first priority was to support our colleagues, clients, and community. Secondly, as a company, we communicated our 25 x 25 vision very early in the pandemic: that in 2025, only 25% of our workforce will be working from offices at any given time. Lastly, we pivoted towards helping our clients and partners to connect with each other globally through virtual events, group meet ups and one-on-one meetings to find solutions to be resilient. 

Can you tell me about any hurdles you had to face this year with remote work/Covid? 

AB: We were able to come together quickly as a team virtually, but we all missed intimacy, human connection, and the ability to hug colleagues when they were in pain or encourage them when they did well. We had found virtual ways of motivating and supporting each other as the pandemic slowly turned into a marathon instead of the sprint we all predicted. 

What's happened to your approach to innovation in the last nine months? 

AB: We ran cross-functional marketing sprints to develop the best ideas to drive virtual events, prospecting and deal support, storytelling and to improve brand experience virtually. These ideas helped us align ourselves to business needs and clear outcomes. Two examples of these sprints: 

TCS partnered with the biggest marathons around the world in London, New York, Chicago, and Amsterdam, among others. As a result of the pandemic, they became virtual. While a necessity, we felt that this change sacrificed several key environmental and contextual factors that helped runners enjoy the events from the atmosphere of cheering crowds to the feel of running in a group. So, we used sonic design to create a unique soundtrack for the Amsterdam Marathon, providing a soundscape to runners from the trains of Amsterdam Square to the bells of cyclists and motivational music. 

On the engagement front we looked at Netflix as a model to create a series of virtual events , which was moderated by Spencer Kelly, Host of BBC Click. We focused on themes relevant during pandemic- Digital Supply Chains, Future of Work, New Paradigm of Customer Experience, and Impact of 5G. We used our ecosystems to get our clients, academic partners, influencers, futurists, and our SME’s to share experiences to prepare for the future. All these engagements gave our customers hope, insights and helped them make new friends globally.