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GCCs in India evolve from ‘captives’ to ‘digital twins’ of global HQs

Global capability centres (GCCs) in India have come a long way from the early 1990s when they were referred to as ‘captives’ of their global headquarters (HQs) to today, when they are emerging as the ‘digital twins’’ of their HQs, replicating the work done at their parent organisations and adding more value than ever before.

Indian GCCs today are more like mirrors of their parent organisations in the kind of work they do.

“Whatever is being done there can be done from here too. Distance has already vanished in a post-pandemic world, and the Indian entity has become as important or as imperative as any other office for the parent corporation,” said Srikanth Srinivasan, vice-president and head, membership and outreach, National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom).

For US-based enterprise software company Planview, its India centre is actually more than a digital twin; rather, it is a digital ‘next generation’.

“We build today for what Planview wants to see tomorrow. This is because we had the opportunity to build everything brand new, right from skills to process. In a way, we are future-proofing the organisation,” said Shalini Sankarshana, managing director (MD) and country manager, India, Planview.

She added that GCC evolution typically passes through a journey. It begins as an outsourcing unit of the parent company. Later, it moves on to higher involvement and modular ownership. Later still, it reaches the stage where the GCC takes complete ownership of a product or service line.

“At Planview, we set up a 360-degree model where we directly leapfrogged to becoming like a digital twin of our parent organisation. This essentially means, that all of our products, services, and functions are represented in our Bengaluru office and managed from here. Collaboration with all of Planview is key here,” said Sankarshana.

Take US retail giant Target, which began operations in Bengaluru in 2005. Today, it is a ‘fully integrated’ GCC and strategic partner for Target, so much so that it is often referred to as the second headquarters.

Target in India supports activities across marketing, technology, finance, analytics, digital, and the supply chain for its US operations.

UK-based Tesco believes it has been a pioneer in the development of a shared services or GCC model, which has, in recent years, matured into a leading ‘intelligent business solutions’ model.

“Our contribution and value to the group are not in silos. Rather, our purpose is to work collaboratively with the group and identify opportunities to add sustainable competitive advantage to Tesco. We are committed to more than just supporting the UK from India. Our aim is to establish a world-class business solutions model with a global outlook,” said Sanjay Dora, chief operating officer, Tesco Business Solutions and site leader, Bengaluru.

At Optum India, Uma Ratnam Krishnan, MD, echoes this view, calling GCCs a salient extension of the end-to-end business model of the enterprise and completely aligned in terms of culture, values, and business objectives.

“At Optum India, we have gone through a similar journey, evolving to becoming a strategic powerhouse that is integral to our parent organisation. We have a strong focus on working as one global team, where, based on the availability of the right talent, you can see multi-geography teams working cohesively, enabled through the tools of technology, towards our common goal of creating a healthier world for all. With the evolution of our delivery model, we have seen an increase in various global leadership roles being based out of our India footprint,” she said.

Many Indian GCCs are also leading the way in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, blockchain, augmented reality, and virtual reality. Much of such high-tech work has been incubated in the Indian GCC before it is adopted globally.

For instance, Target’s computer-generated imagery (CGI) capabilities were first incubated in India. Later, the team was expanded to the US.

“The CGI team builds high-quality creative and digital content for, including retail-advancing CGI imaging, 3D shoppable rooms, videos, images, and a wide range of creative content for dot com and our social media channels. It helps bring brands to life and deliver joy to guests through powerful design and creative support,” said Andrea Zimmerman, president, Target in India.

According to the latest Nasscom-KPMG report, in the fourth quarter of 2023 alone, 10 new GCCs were established in India, of which 60 per cent belonged to engineering, research and development, information technology services, and business process management sectors where niche skills like AI, data analytics, generative AI, and Cloud computing are in high demand.

US-based travel tech company, Sabre, said it has witnessed a remarkable surge in AI-related initiatives.

“We have cultivated a vast pool of talent dedicated to AI research and development, resulting in the creation of numerous AI platforms and products,” said Sriram Gopalswamy, vice-president of site reliability engineering and MD, Sabre Bengaluru.

Moreover, the company is actively integrating AI into its existing suite of products, enhancing their capabilities and functionality.

“The contribution of our GCC in the AI space cannot be overstated. Our expertise and efforts have been instrumental in driving Sabre’s AI initiatives forward,” said Gopalswamy. Business Standard

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