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GCCs – A Strategic Imperative for Global Organizations

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World over, businesses have been forced to adopt new ways of working — many thriving on the opportunity the crisis has provided and many struggling to survive and stay relevant. Nimble and agile organizations are recalibrating themselves and their operating models to stay relevant. Items on the “To-Do” list, expected to fructify many years down the line, quickly moved to the “Do-it-Now” list. The need to push digital transformation frontiers, build business agility and amplify security for an all-digital environment rose to be some of the timeliest needs. Businesses also needed to implement virtual collaboration tools to replace physical presence and adopt flexible work policies into what now ultimately constitutes business performance. While birthed of necessity, these changes will define how businesses operate going forward.

Looking at GCCs, what does this new normal mean? Has the pandemic fast-tracked them from being a useful entity, providing aggregated shared services capability with some degree of innovation built-in, to “Strategic Imperative” or a must-have for parent organizations? What is your perspective of the same – as a CIO / CXO, GCC leader, manager, or as an associate?

GCCs demonstrated great resilience during the ongoing pandemic. The situation has future-proofed organizations for crisis preparedness thereby making them a strategic imperative for organizations. Crisis preparedness is a competitive advantage. What doesn’t kill your business actually makes it stronger.

The last two decades have been an exciting time for GCC’s. Not just in India but globally. The evolutionary shift of insourcing centers from being labeled as “Captives” (not a great representation by any means) and “Shared Service Centers” to “Global In-house Centers (GICS)” and now to “Global Capability Centers (GCCs)” has been phenomenal.

What is enabling this strategic shift organically while the pandemic accelerated it? What makes GCCs a critical element for the organizations as they reimagine their futures?

Well, there are a multitude of factors, nothing is more impactful than the talent capability available in India. The talent footprint thriving in the varied ecosystem of GCCs, IT services firms, startups and fintechs — all collocated in massive IT hubs —along with a robust educational feeder system and the sheer number of young people in India, make GCCs a compelling strategic desire for global organizations to tap into. This is considered from both from a cost as well as value play (cost play has always been integral to value play for me). GCCs are increasingly being perceived as home to co-equal engineering teams wherein new skills and competencies are swiftly incubated and scaled as well as at a company’s headquarters. “Hire, Reskill and Upskill” is becoming the theme for future collaboration with quick adoption of new technology and fungibility, making them the workforce for the future. GCC leadership, as well as middle-level leadership inclusion, is also coming of age in India.

COVID-19 raised some fundamental questions to global organizations in terms of transforming existing operating models to stay relevant and efficient. Mirroring your GCC to be a true microcosm of the enterprise is an opportunity global organizations need to build into the DNA of their operating models immediately. While many GCCs started as tech centers, they are quickly transforming their leverage across multiple functions.  Agile and elastic workplace models are becoming the new order of the day. Elimination of archaic rules and regulations by the government (OSP regulations as an example) is also having a catalytic effect. Optimization never was a stationary target and will be a defining element of organization robustness.

The pandemic is creating new opportunities and is also setting a new gold standard not just for efficiencies but also for resilience. Most of the GCCs were almost 100% operational from week one of the pandemic, and are continuing to function normally. Business continuity planning (BCP) has been completely rewritten. Every BCP in the past detailed an alternate site location as the endpoint for addressing concentration risk. The very concept of force majeure in our minds was an earthquake, floods, fire, riots so on and so forth. Now we all know what the scope of a BCP must handle. Empathetic leadership, remote workforce enablement, increased automation, increased security controls, work-life integration and collaboration tools will future-proof resilience which will define BCP for the future.

Going forward, much will change in our personal and professional lives. There will be plenty of opportunities and decision points for organizations. Some aspects will be fundamental, one of which is to take opportunities to be in a “better place” post-pandemic. Transforming GCCs to becoming a true microcosm of the enterprise is one of the opportunities for global organizations to be in a “better place.”

Written by Debasis Panda, Vice President and Head, TransUnion GCC India.

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