Interview Marco Kraan

Business as ‘Art’

Marco Kraan, Head of Europe Business Development / Business Process Services at the Indian company Tata Consultancy Services, has been sitting on the other side of the table for 2 ½ years. Previously, he worked for large national and international organizations in senior management roles where business process outsourcing and setting up service centers were part of his responsibility.

Marco has lived and worked in Asia for a number of years and this has contributed to his view of doing business and creating solutions. Nothing is “black and white” in his view. Work and passion have now been integrated. Marco is associated with a traditional Zen Buddhist monastery and experiences that martial arts principles apply not only on the mat, but also at the conference table. It is easier to change from movement than from standstill and moving against the current is ultimately very tiring. Flevum spoke to him about his experiences at TCS and the vision for the future.

The accelerated digital transformation

TCS has become a global brand that owes its fame to its leading position within the IT world. Marco’s part, BPS (Business Process Services) is less well-known and is partly the reason for creating more awareness. “We even note existing customers to show that we can do more than just maintain an IT environment”. Business processes such as Finance, HR, Procurement and Supply Chain are currently undergoing major transformations. Robotics, IoT and AI as enablers ask organizations to look differently at their processes, but above all to imagine working methods that currently come across as science fiction. TCS has introduced Cognix as its future concept, “human-machine collaboration suite”, where advanced technologies and toolings are used to build environments for customers according to the “Lego” principle.

Corona has helped enormously to make companies aware of their vulnerability, but also how fast developments can go. For years there has been talk about working from home and how to deal with it. Suddenly the discussion was unnecessary and working from home became a fact. Many companies were confronted with the facts that their environments were not suitable and secure to properly act on this. TCS with more than 500,000 employees needed less than a week to have 95% of its workforce work remotely in a professional manner. Many companies are now lining up to follow.

And with that looking to the future, the question is no longer, are you going to digitize, but when? Traditional outsourcing, moving work from one location to another, is no longer required. Many manual actions can now be taken over by the “machine” and this gives room to pay attention to exceptions and the primary processes of the customer. Ultimately, it is about a happy customer and a happy employee.

Ecosystem for collaboration

“The martial art principles from Aikido and TaiKi, which I use in my functioning, are universal principles and we now also see them reflected in the new way of working, ecosystem wise; working together through natural principles.” Nowadays we see more and more the question, “do you want to work together?” The question no longer is who is the best, but rather who works best together to achieve something. Ultimately, we are all part of the whole.

TCS Europe has recently created a state of the art environment in Amsterdam, Pace Port™ Amsterdam. Here, various parties, start-ups, universities, government and business are brought together to brainstorm. In this environment, strategies are determined that would not have come about in a traditional way. At least not with the Pace Port™ speed, which can make the “idea to execution/implementation” process much faster.

Tata Sons as a philanthropic parent company

According to Marco, the big difference between TCS and other service providers is its Indian roots and the associated tradition of philanthropy. “It is often thought that Bill Gates is the greatest philanthropist of the past 100 years, when in fact it is Tata Sons.” A large part (66%) of the annual earnings goes back to areas where it is needed, such as education, research, health and wellbeing in the broadest sense of the word. The Amsterdam marathon is now well known and TCS sponsors this way of exercise worldwide. “I have to admit that it was one of the reasons for working at TCS, giving more than taking makes you feel better.”

The look ahead

Marco thinks the greatest shortcoming of the present time is that the older generations often still decide too much about the future. Given how quickly time changes, we need the younger generation. “That is precisely why I support the concept of mentorship. In the ideal scenario, the younger generation takes the lead and the older generation can provide guidance where necessary.”

On a personal level, the biggest challenge for Marco is to make the TCS Business Processing Services more known on a European scale. “I don’t mind losing, but I do find it annoying if we don’t participate in the game.”

Because the market in which TCS is active works with long-term contracts, having a network is all the more important. Being alert at all times to how the Dutch market and society is moving is crucial to him. “What do you run into? Where can we contribute? And how do we stay ahead of developments?” Being a member of the Flevum network offers the ideal entrance to hear what is going on in the community, and to provide each other with input.

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