What I did not know about the Tata Group

In a recent article in The Economist, I learnt a lot about the Tata Group, the largest industrial house of India and an emerging global enterprise. Their 2009-10 revenue was over $67 Billion dollars and they operate in 80 countries. While growing up as a kid in India, the association of Tata was always to the steel industry. I used to visit my uncle in Jamshedpur, a real industry-built township with Tata’s biggest steel plant. Now steel is one of six major diversified portfolios of the Tata Group. These are: Steel, Chemicals, Telecommunication, Software consulting, Hotels and beverages, and Motor Vehicles.

Since the year 2000, the Tata Group has been on an acquisition mode, spending over $20B in global acquisitions. They bought Tetley Tea of UK, then acquired Corus, a huge steel company. The most visible acquisition was Jaguar Land Rover and they are the largest employer now in the UK. The Tata group is also acquiring companies in Asia, namely Daewoo trucks from Korea. It surely is becoming a global powerhouse.

The other interesting observation is Tata’s emphasis on innovation. In the Motor vehicle division, they have invented the $3000 vehicle called the Nano for the Indian market. They are also designing a special car for the European market.  Mr. Ratan Tata heads the group since 20 years and will retire next year. Recently the Tata Group made a significant donation to Harvard University ($50 Million).

Personally, I was invited by the Tata Consulting Services (largest software consulting company in Asia) way back in 1982 to give some talks on advanced database research. Since then I have visited TCS many times and interacted with the executives. They clearly led the way into India’s rise as software outsourcing behemoth. According to the article, they are also innovating in new software.

The Tata Group is an example of an emerging giant with such a diverse portfolio of industries across the globe.

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