Changing priorities for Global Capability Centers (GCCs) in India

- Shyamala Rajan

Global Capability Centers (GCCs) have played a crucial role in driving operational efficiencies and fostering innovation for large enterprises at a global scale. India has consistently been the preferred destination for the setup of these centers, owing to its abundant talent pool, cost advantages, and robust technological infrastructure. Nevertheless, the priorities for establishing GCCs in India have undergone significant evolution over the past three years. Various factors, including technological advancements, evolving business landscapes, and unforeseen global events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, have contributed to this shifting paradigm.

The GCC industry outlook remains optimistic as companies are seeking to establish their Global Capability Centers (GCCs) in India. This article aims to elucidate how, considering shifting priorities, GCCs are playing an essential role for multinational corporations by striving to become centers of excellence for innovation and cultivating digital mindsets.

GCC market size

The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) was projected to increase from 11% for the period 2019-2023 to 14% for 2023-2030. Projections indicate that the GCC market will likely surpass the US$ 100 billion threshold by 2030, potentially reaching around US$ 110 billion. Moreover, it is anticipated that India's number of GCCs is set to rise to 2,400 by 2030, possibly exceeding 2,500, affirming India's position as a global technology and services center.

Key drivers of priority shifts

The COVID-19 pandemic

The global business landscape has experienced a profound transformation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This period has underscored the critical necessity for resilience and adaptability in organizational operations. GCCs have played an instrumental role in ensuring business continuity amid this crisis, reaffirming their strategic significance. Enterprises now appreciate the intrinsic value of establishing a resilient and flexible GCC infrastructure capable of swiftly accommodating disruptions and facilitating remote work arrangements.

Technological advancements

The rapid evolution of technology has significantly reshaped the operational landscape for businesses. The integration of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), robotic process automation (RPA), and cloud computing has created new opportunities for GCCs to drive efficiency and foster innovation. Enterprises are presently prioritizing the establishment of GCCs capable of leveraging these technologies to attain competitive advantages and enrich operational capabilities.

Talent acquisition and development

The increasing demand for skilled talent in domains such as data science, cybersecurity, AI, and digital marketing has been remarkable. Major corporations are placing a paramount emphasis on establishing GCCs in India to leverage the abundant talent pool available in the country. Furthermore, there is a heightened focus on talent development through continuous learning and upskilling initiatives. Organizations are making substantive investments in fostering a culture of innovation and continuous learning within their GCCs to attract and retain top-tier talent.

Geopolitical and economic factors

The evolving geopolitical landscape and economic uncertainties have prompted major enterprises to reevaluate their priorities. Seeking to mitigate risks and decrease reliance on specific regions, companies are strategically expanding their GCCs in India. The country's stable political environment, supportive government policies, and burgeoning digital infrastructure collectively position it as an ideal destination for the establishment and expansion of GCCs.

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Changing priorities in GCC setup

Strategic alignment with business goals

Enterprises are actively working to align their GCCs with their overarching business objectives and strategies. This shift signifies that GCCs are being recognized as more than just operational units but as essential components of the organization's strategic framework. This alignment empowers GCCs to drive initiatives that significantly contribute to the company's growth, innovation, and competitive advantage.

Focus on end-to-end capabilities

There is a discernible shift towards the establishment of GCCs possessing end-to-end capabilities as opposed to fragmented or specialized functions. Enterprises are strategically positioning GCCs to manage a broad spectrum of activities, encompassing R&D, product development, customer support, and marketing. This comprehensive approach fosters improved coordination, expedites decision-making processes, and enhances the efficient execution of business strategies.

Resilience and risk management

The unprecedented challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have underscored the critical importance of resilience and risk management within the business landscape. Enterprises are now prioritizing the development of robust business continuity plans and disaster recovery strategies. This imperative has led to an intensified focus on building resilient GCCs capable of withstanding global disruptions and sustaining operational continuity. This involves a strategic approach to diversifying operations across multiple locations within India and making significant investments in advanced cybersecurity measures.

Regulatory compliance and data security

In light of the escalating emphasis on data privacy and security, regulatory compliance has assumed heightened stringency. Enterprises now place significant emphasis on aligning with global data protection standards such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and India's Personal Data Protection Bill. Enterprises have realized that it is imperative to prioritize the establishment of robust data security measures and the protection of intellectual property.

Sustainable and inclusive growth

To drive sustainable growth and social development, enterprises worldwide are actively prioritizing sustainability and inclusivity. Large enterprises are strategically focusing on establishing GCCs to champion environmentally friendly practices, foster diversity, and inclusion within their workforce, and drive impactful corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. The proactive efforts of GCCs are aimed at bolstering their corporate reputation and delivering enduring value for the organization and society at large.

Customer-centricity and agile operations

Enterprises are adopting a customer-centric approach and advancing their operational agility. They are leveraging GCCs to gain comprehensive insights into customer preferences and to deliver personalized experiences. Agile methodologies are currently being executed to facilitate swift responses to market changes and customer feedback. The imperative drives this strategic realignment to elevate customer satisfaction and foster loyalty in an intensely competitive market.

Scalability and flexibility

The primary objective at present is to achieve swift scalability and adaptability in response to dynamic market conditions. Enterprises are harnessing GCCs to rapidly expand their operations, explore new markets, and accommodate evolving customer requirements. This necessitates a flexible and agile approach underpinned by advanced technologies and a highly proficient workforce.

Expansion of services

According to the EY India report titled - 'GCC Pulse Survey 2023', 86% of GCCs in India are prioritizing service expansion as a key business objective. GCCs are proactively diversifying their service portfolio to encompass marketing, legal, advanced analytics, and data science, in addition to traditional IT, finance, HR, and supply chain services.

In comparison to EY's 2021 survey, there has been a notable 36% uptick in efforts to enhance capabilities and expand functional scope. Additionally, there is a continued emphasis on driving enterprise-wide digital transformation, which remains a top priority for enterprises establishing GCCs.

Marketing and communications

Enterprises have been strategically utilizing marketing focused GCCs to elevate their marketing effectiveness, enhance customer experience, and drive business growth through services, including digital marketing, market research, brand management, public relations, and more.


Enterprises are proactively implementing legal focused GCCs to efficiently manage diverse legal functions globally through services like regulatory research, contract management, etc.

Data and analytics (D&A)

D&A GCCs leverage advanced technologies such as AI/ML and big data analytics. Their pivotal role involves scrutinizing data sets to extract actionable insights, offering strategic guidance to businesses, and evolving into epicenters of innovation.

Tier 2 cities catching attention

While Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai, Pune, and Delhi/NCR remain popular sites for GCC establishments in India, tier-II cities are also grabbing the interest of GCC leaders. Based on data and estimates from ANSR, an end-to-end GCC solutions provider, the expansion to small towns is also facilitated by the growth efforts of existing enterprises aiming to diversify and capitalize on talent and cost advantages beyond major cities. The establishment of smaller GCCs is fostering the development of GCCs in India's tier-2 cities.

Examples of GCCs set in tier 2 cities:

  • Metso, a sustainable energy giant, has established its GCC in Vadodara.
  • Pernod Ricard, a premium spirits manufacturer, operates its GCC in Nashik.
  • Flex, a manufacturing service provider, has its GCC in Coimbatore.
  • Kraft Heinz, the 5th largest food company in the world, has set up a GCC in Ahmedabad.

Implications for the future

Increased investment in technology and innovation

The increasing emphasis on technology and innovation is expected to stimulate greater investment in GCCs. Companies are likely to continue investing in advanced technologies, digital infrastructure, and innovation hubs within their GCCs to remain competitive. This is also anticipated to encourage stronger collaboration between GCCs and other parts of the organization, promoting a culture of innovation and ongoing progress.

Greater focus on collaboration and partnerships

Collaboration and partnerships are expected to be key drivers for the future of GCCs. Enterprises will actively seek opportunities to collaborate with local startups, academic institutions, and industry bodies to leverage external expertise and stimulate innovation. These partnerships will empower GCCs to embrace technological advancements and industry trends while also making meaningful contributions to the local ecosystem.

Evolving talent strategies

The challenge of attracting and retaining top talent will drive the evolution of talent strategies. Enterprises will proactively craft compelling value propositions for employees, featuring pathways for career advancement, continuous learning opportunities, and a healthy work-life balance. Furthermore, there will be an increased focus on fostering diversity and inclusion, with GCCs actively working to cultivate diverse teams that can fuel creativity and drive innovation.

Resilience and agility

The emphasis on resilience and agility will remain a key focus for GCCs. Enterprises will proactively invest in building resilient operations to effectively mitigate disruptions and swiftly respond to changing market dynamics. This will involve adopting agile methodologies, fortifying supply chain resilience, and formulating comprehensive business continuity plans.


Over the past three years, there has been a discernible shift in the strategic focus of major enterprises establishing Global Capability Centers (GCCs) in India. This shift signifies a transition from an exclusive emphasis on cost reduction to a more nuanced focus on creating value, propelling innovation and digital transformation, and prioritizing talent acquisition and development. These strategic adjustments are driving a notable transformation in the operational priorities and practices of GCCs.

As enterprises grapple with an increasingly intricate and dynamic business landscape, the role of GCCs is poised to become even more pivotal. By closely aligning their GCC strategies with overarching business objectives, making targeted investments in advanced technology and innovation, and fostering a culture of collaboration and inclusivity, enterprises can effectively harness the complete potential of their GCCs and catalyze sustainable growth in the years ahead.

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About the author

Shyamala Rajan

Manager – Content Strategy,

Torry Harris Integration Solutions