Business

Tata Consultancy comes to town

The company overnight became one of Cedar Rapids' largest employers

LEAD PHOTO: An employee works in a cubicle at Tata Consultancy Services in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Oct. 26, 2018. The Mumbai, India-based company has moved into the space once occupied by Transamerica Corporation. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
LEAD PHOTO: An employee works in a cubicle at Tata Consultancy Services in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Oct. 26, 2018. The Mumbai, India-based company has moved into the space once occupied by Transamerica Corporation. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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When Transamerica went looking for a company to which it could outsource part of its Cedar Rapids business, it didn’t think small.

In January, it announced a $2 billion third-party agreement with Mumbai, India-based Tata Consultancy Services.

Tata Consultancy, which as part of Tata Group overnight became one of the largest private employers in Cedar Rapids, committed to offering employment to nearly 900 Transamerica employees in Cedar Rapids and 2,200 nationwide.

The company, the second-largest information technology services provider in the world, also agreed to lease two buildings at Transamerica’s north campus off Edgewood Road NE to house its operations.

Thus, Tata Group, with 400,000 employees worldwide, has established its North American insurance hub for business operations in Cedar Rapids.

As a result, Tata Consultancy employees now are administering more than $10 million of Transamerica policies, including annuities, life insurance, supplemental health insurance and workplace voluntary benefits.

The deal, which became effective in the second quarter of this year, is expected to yield annual savings of $70 million for Transamerica, growing to $100 million over time.

The Search

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When Transamerica was looking for a company to take over administration of its annuity and insurance policies, it conducted a search that lasted for roughly a year.

“We had a rigorous selection process with multiple third-party administrator vendors,” Transamerca spokesman Kyle Frette said.

“One of the reasons we chose Tata Consultancy Services was its deep expertise in the areas of specialties that complement Transamerica so well in insurance and annuities.

“We considered the investments that TCS has made in technology and how that will benefit our customers. TCS also has appreciation for the expertise and skills of Transamerica employees, and what they will bring to their organization.”

Balaji Ganapathy, head of workforce effectiveness at Tata Consultancy, based in New York, said the two companies had a previous third-party administrator agreement in the area of technology.

“This new agreement involves a mix of insurance administration and technology,” said Ganapathy, adding that the new Tata Consultancy employees will be provided with a variety of professional development skills, including training on the company’s digital platform — BaNCS.

“Over the next six to 12 months, all the employees will get training and move to the new platform,” Ganapathy said.

“It is the first use of the platform for insurance in the United States, but we have other clients using it for banking and financial services.”

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Tata Consultancy BaNCS has been a successful digital platform in the European market for more than a decade, with more than 17 million policies under administration.

It has been adapted for the U.S. market to meet operational and regulatory requirements.

The multi-year contract with Transamerica is worth more than $2 billion in revenue for Tata Consultancy, the largest contract signed by Tata Consultancy to date.

Ganapathy said Tata Consultancy expects other U.S. insurers will adopt the BaNCS platform for their operations.

Tata Consultancy, founded in 1968, posted revenue of $19.09 billion in the 2018 fiscal year that ended on March 31, up 8.6 percent from the previous fiscal year. The company recorded operating income of $4.73 billion during the same period.

In the classroom

Along with the jobs, TCS has pledged to work with local school districts and Kirkwood Community College to bring its two flagship educational programs to teachers and their students.

Ignite My Future in School and goIT are offered in partnership with Discovery Education, a Silver Springs, Md., provider of standards-based digital content for K-12 students and teachers.

Ignite My Future in School encourages teachers to incorporate science, technology, engineering and math activities into their day-to-day classroom lessons and make classes more interactive for students.

Along with the goIT program, students gain skills that are necessary to be competitive in the 21st century workforce.

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Representatives of the Cedar Rapids Community School District and Kirkwood Community College have participated in conference calls with TCS regarding potential implementation of the programs.

As the Cedar Rapids Community School District moves forward on its vision of Every Learner: Future Ready, partnerships with local employers is critical, said Akwi Nji, director of communications.

“Tata Consultancy Services offers professional learning for instructors in computational thinking,” Nji said. “Teachers at Roosevelt Creative Corridor Business Academy participated in the goIT training to learn more about this program.

“In the future, this could be a good fit for the work underway with digital literacy and our one-to-one technology plan through which we aim to ensure that students, families, and staff are engaged in learning how computer science exists in all content areas.”

Kim Becicka, Kirkwood vice president of continuing education and training services, also expressed interest in the Tata Consultancy programs,

“I think there is definitely the potential to integrate the resources and curriculum of the TCS programs in KICK (Kirkwood Interactive Camps for Kids), our summer program for youth ages eight to 15,” Becicka said

“While the TCS programs are primarily aimed at K-12 students, we also know there is a digital literacy issue.”

Less than 25 percent of the nation’s schools teach computer science related courses.

In less than five years, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting that a million additional jobs will require computer science skills.

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Tata Consultancy and Discovery Education have a goal of engaging 20,000 teachers and a million U.S. students by 2021.

The School District of Janesville, Wis., is one of 10 pilot school districts nationwide selected to implement the program in 2017.

“The students are very involved and in control of their learning with these lessons,” said Jenna Rosienski, a seventh-grade science teacher at Franklin Middle School in Janesville. “We have combined the lessons with all of our content.

“When the students went to different classes, they all did the same lesson so they could see how it connected with different subjects. They learned that it wasn’t just a science thing or a math thing. It also was something that could be applied to English, social studies and the arts.”

Ignite My Future in School aims to help students apply computational thinking and problem-solving in their work. Much like critical thinking, computational thinking is a higher-level process enabling students to decipher problems and form innovative solutions.

“We are giving students real world problems to solve, something they are not usually asked to do in their everyday classroom,” Rosienski said. “They are asked to solve the same problem in each of their classes.

“We are not giving them answers. We are asking them probing questions, and that’s really what the computational framework is all about.”

The Seven Components of Computational Thinking

Ignite My Future in School, an initiative promoted by Tata Consultancy and Discovery Education, aims to help students apply omputational thinking and problem-solving in their work. Here are the components of computational thinking.

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• Collect data — Determine sources from which you will collect data, and decide which qualitative and quantitative data to collect.

• Analyze data — Produce and evaluate charts, and use appropriate statistical methods to test a hypothesis.

• Find patterns — Identify patterns to make predictions, create rules and solve other problems.

• Decompose problems — Take large complicated problems and break them down into manageable pieces.

• Abstract — Identify similarities and remove details to create a solution that works for many different problems.

• Build models — Test, tweak and refine an object before building it in real life using design software to predict outcomes.

• Develop algorithms — Create solutions using step-by-step instructions that operate like a road map for performing a task.

What is Tata Group?

Here’s some background on Tata Group, to which Transamerica outsourced its annuities and insurance business based in Cedar Rapids:

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l Tata Consultancy Services is part of Tata Group, a $100 billion international conglomerate based in Mumbai, India, with 690,000 employees worldwide that operates in more than 100 countries across six continents.

• Founded by Jamsetji Tata in 1868, Tata Group is comprised of more than 100 independent operating companies.

• Tata Sons is the principal investment holding company and promoter of Tata companies. Sixty-six percent of the equity share capital of Tata Sons is held by philanthropic trusts, which support education, health, livelihood generation and art and culture.

• Tata companies with significant size include Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Steel, Tata Motors, Tata Power, Tata Chemicals, Tata Global Beverages, Tata Teleservices, Titan, Tata Communications and Indian Hotels.

• Each Tata company or enterprise operates independently under the guidance and supervision of its own board of directors and shareholders. There are 29 publicly traded Tata enterprises with a combined market capitalization of about $144.8 billion as of March 28, 2018.

• Tata Motors is among the top 10 commercial vehicle manufacturers in the world. In June 2008, Tata Motors bought the British Jaguar and Land Rover brands from Ford Motor Co. for $2.3 billion in cash.

Surprising critics who thought the company had made a costly mistake, Jaguar Land Rover posted a 27 percent jump in retail sales to 306,000 vehicles in its last fiscal year, which ended in March, and became the primary driver of growth and profit for Tata Motors.

• Tata Global Beverages, owner of the Tetley and Good Earth brands, is the second-largest tea company in the world. Tata Chemicals is the world’s third-largest manufacturer of soda ash.

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