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Tatas focus on design for growth

Mumbai, Nov. 24: Salt-to-software conglomerate Tata group is focussing on design and innovation to drive growth.

The Tatas, which used both the organic and inorganic route to develop into a $97-billion giant, spent nearly Rs 13,223 crore on research and development, which is about 2.5 per cent of the group’s turnover, in 2012-13.

“This number in rupee terms constituted a growth of 22.5 per cent over the spend in the previous financial year,” said Mukund G. Rajan, brand custodian and chief ethics officer of the Tata group.

Senior officials, however, believe that focus on design is not new to the group. For instance, Tata Global Beverages (then known as Tata Tea) pioneered the launch of tea in polypacks in 1985 when it was sold mostly in cartons.

“The focus of design, and by design we mean the action of planning the look, the function, the producibility, is helping the Tata companies to address strategic issues such as satisfying customers and creating commercial opportunities,” Rajan said.

He said Titan used the design-led solution to tackle the challenge of working women not spending money on jewellery. The result was the launch of the jewellery brand, Mia, which met the design and style requirements of this segment of customers.

The Mia range was created with contemporary design in light weight 14 carat gold to make them affordable. Mia soon turned into a success and is now yielding a business of Rs 200 crore.

Tata Technologies, on the other hand, generated 45 per cent of its annual revenues in 2012-13 through design activities.

The company advises manufacturing entities in the automotive, aerospace, construction and heavy engineering and consumer goods segments, said Gopinath Jayaraj, president, global delivery, Tata Technologies. It also offers services such as vehicle programming and development, apart from engineering and design.

Forum for ideas

Rajan said the Tatas were encouraging other companies of the group to focus on customer-centric design. The Tata group has established a group innovation forum, which aims to promote a culture of innovation.

This platform has generated more than 33,500 ideas, of which 1,976 were selected and 265 implemented within the group.

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