International IT services providers are moving up the value chain and opening local hubs to help customers with their digital transformation.

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), the India-based IT services provider, announced plans recently to launch TCS Pace Ports, a series of hubs designed to promote collaboration on new, innovative technologies with customers.

The company opened its first TCS Pace Port in Tokyo and will open sites in New York and Toronto in 2019.

While there are still plenty of opportunities for offshoring and near-shoring, IT services players are no longer solely focused on taking over the tedious tasks that customers want to offload. Instead, they are looking to help companies improve their operations, sales and customer support.

Selling these emerging, higher-value solutions requires a new, more collaborative approach.

TCS isn’t the first to pursue a localisation strategy to improve collaboration. Several providers are putting in place similar plans. France-based Atos is staffing up its US offices and plans to open an AI Lab in Dallas, Texas early next year. India-based Infosys is opening a series of Technology and Innovation Hubs across the US. Similarly, Tech Mahindra announced new Makers Labs in the UK, Germany and the US. And recently, IBM notes it was adding employees in France to meet the growing demand for AI.

In 2019, IT services players will be opening more local sites that foster collaboration, often in the form of innovation centres or solutions labs. These sites, staffed by subject matter experts and located closer to key customer hubs, will be venues in which teams can come together to develop innovative use cases and plan for adoption of new solutions. They will allow customers to test technology in a local environment and enable them to work side by side with their vendor on ideation and implementation.

When it comes to digital transformation, projects yield better outcomes when customers and vendors collaborate closely, and often, physical proximity improves communication and trust.

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