Rolls-Royce to accelerate ‘Digital First’ strategy with TCS
Rolls-Royce to accelerate ‘Digital First’ strategy with TCS

Rolls-Royce to accelerate ‘Digital First’ strategy with TCS

Rolls-Royce to partner with Tata Consultancy Services and deploy its IoT platform on digital transformation journey.

Founded in 1906, the name ‘Rolls-Royce’ may be most commonly associated with posh motorcars, but today, the British engineering company actually builds other kinds of machines, from aircraft engines to propulsion systems for submarines. (Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited, meanwhile, is these days a wholly owned subsidiary of BMW.)

Increasingly, these machines are getting smarter. Bristling with sensors, they generate data that conveys information on their performance, status and condition.

Using that data to get the best possible performance from machines lies at the heart of the company’s ‘Digital First’ strategy – and that strategy has received a boost this week, with the announcement that Rolls-Royce is to work with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) with the goal of accelerating its digital transformation strategy.

This builds on a longstanding relationship between the two companies and, it is claimed, will help “deliver further value to customers, improve existing services, accelerate development and deployment times and create new areas of growth.”

Read more: IIoT could revolutionize UK manufacturing, says Siemens-led report

Digital transformation journey

As part of the agreement, Rolls-Royce will use TCS’ Connected Universe Platform, a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering for IoT applications. Here, data from across the company will be captured, shared and analyzed, so that new products and services can be developed.

In addition, the two companies will jointly launch an analytics and agile applications capability hub in Bangalore, while TCS has recently opened a new customer delivery centre in Derby, UK, which is dedicated to servicing Rolls-Royce.

According to Neil Crockett, a former Cisco executive who took the role of chief digital officer at Rolls-Royce last year, “We expect to be able to realize both short-term and long-term benefits through collaboration with partners and customer on the TCS IoT platform. It will allow us to take advantage of fast-paced innovation – including accelerating our application of industrial artificial intelligence and a range of other cutting-edge, breakthrough opportunities.”

Read more: Industrial IoT: Plenty of words, too little action, says GE

Testing times ahead for Rolls-Royce

There is much for Rolls-Royce to prove here. Achieving new efficiencies and harnessing new opportunities is vital for the company, after a somewhat rocky 2016 financial year.

In February this year, it reported a £4.6 billion pre-tax loss for 2016 – one of the largest in corporate history – partly as a result of tough market conditions following the UK’s EU referendum, which sent the value of the pound tumbling, and partly due to payments amounting to £671 million that the company made to British, US and Brazilian authorities in order to settle bribery and corruption claims.

The company has warned that it anticipates supply chain headaches after the UK exits the EU and CEO Warren East is a vocal opponent of a so-called ‘hard’ Brexit, having urged the UK government to deliver “as little change as possible.”

With such challenges ahead, it will be interesting to see to what extent Rolls-Royce is able to use industrial IoT (IIoT) strategies to soften some of the blows it may face.

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