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The Growing Popularity of Global Capability Centers (GCCs) in India: Cost Center to Value Center

The growing popularity of Global Capability Centers (GCCs) in India is a significant trend in the global business landscape, reflecting the country's evolving role as a hub for innovation and digital transformation. 

As detailed in the "GCC 4.0 – India Redefining the Globalization Blueprint" report by NASSCOM and Zinnov, 

India is home to over 1,580 unique GCCs, with a workforce exceeding 1.66 million as of FY 2023. 

India's robust engineering talent, advanced digital capabilities, and supportive ecosystem comprising startups, academia, and service providers drive growth.

GCCs in India are moving beyond traditional roles focused on cost arbitrage to becoming strategic centers for innovation and transformation. They leverage emerging technologies such as AI, ML, blockchain, and IoT and are increasingly involved in product development, technological advancements, and spearheading digital initiatives for their parent companies.

The report highlights that engineering, research, and development (ER&D) constitute around 56% of the GCC revenue share, showcasing India's role as a core technology hub. Additionally, the trend of Indian leaders taking on global roles is growing, with projections indicating significant increases in such roles by 2030. 

This shift underscores India's strategic importance in the global GCC landscape, making it a pivotal location for multinational companies aiming to drive efficiencies, innovation, and business transformation.

Understanding Global Capability Centers

Global Capability Centers (GCCs), known as Global In-house Centers (GICs), Captive Centers, or Offshore Development Centers, are centralized units set up by multinational corporations in various locations worldwide, typically in low-cost regions. These centers perform business functions that support the parent company's global operations.

Functions of GCCs

GCCs are integral to multinational corporations, offering a wide array of services, including but not limited to:

  1. Information Technology (IT) Services that include development, maintenance, and support of software applications.

  2. Business Process Management (BPM) includes handling back-office functions such as finance, human resources, procurement, and customer service.

  3. Research and Development (R&D) that includes innovating new products, services, and technologies.

  4. Data Analytics includes analyzing data to provide insights for business decision-making.

  5. Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) includes Handling complex processes like legal services, market research, and financial analysis.

Role in the Global Business Strategy

GCCs play a pivotal role in a company's global strategy by:

  1. Enhancing Efficiency: Centralizing functions to streamline operations and reduce costs.

  2. Driving Innovation: Leveraging local talent to develop new products and services.

  3. Ensuring Quality: Maintaining high service delivery standards through direct control over processes.

  4. Facilitating Business Continuity: Providing redundancy and risk management through geographically diverse operations.

The Evolution of GCCs

Initially, GCCs were established primarily for cost arbitrage. However, over time, their role has evolved significantly:

From Cost Centers to Value Centers: GCCs have evolved into value centers that drive innovation, enhance efficiency, and contribute strategically to the parent company other than being cost-efficient.

From Transactional to Transformational: The focus has shifted from performing transactional tasks to undertaking transformational projects that align with the company's strategic objectives.

Integration with Global Operations: GCCs are increasingly integrated with the parent company's global operations, playing a critical role in business strategy and execution.

Why are GCCs flourishing in India?

1. Cost Efficiency

India offers significant cost advantages, with operations costs being 25-30% lower than developed countries. It enables companies to achieve substantial cost savings while maintaining high-quality service delivery.

2. Skilled Workforce

India boasts a vast talent pool, with over 1.5 million engineers graduating annually. Additionally, the country produces significant graduates in other fields such as finance and management, ensuring a steady supply of skilled professionals for GCCs.

3. Technological Expertise

India has established itself as a global hub for IT and software services, with the IT sector expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.36% between 2020 and 2025. The presence of leading IT companies and start-ups has created an ecosystem conducive to innovation and technological advancements, making India an attractive destination for GCCs.

4. Favorable Government Policies

The Indian government has implemented various policies to attract foreign investment and encourage the establishment of GCCs. Initiatives like the Make in India campaign, which aims to increase manufacturing to 25% of GDP by 2025, tax incentives, and simplified regulatory procedures have created a favorable business environment.

Challenges of Setting up GCCs in India

1. Talent Retention

While India offers a large talent pool, retaining skilled employees can be challenging due to high competition and attrition rates of around 20% in the IT sector. Companies must invest in employee engagement, career development, and competitive compensation to retain top talent.

2. Infrastructure Bottlenecks

Despite significant improvements, infrastructure challenges such as traffic congestion, power outages, and inadequate public transport can impact the efficiency of GCC operations. According to the Global Competitiveness Report, India ranks 70th out of 140 in infrastructure quality. Companies must navigate these challenges to ensure smooth functioning.

3. Regulatory Complexity

Navigating India's regulatory landscape can be complex because of varying rules and compliance requirements across multiple states in India. The World Bank ranks India 63rd out of 190 in ease of doing business. Companies must stay abreast of regulatory changes and ensure compliance to avoid legal hurdles.

4. Cultural Differences

Managing a diverse workforce across different geographies requires understanding cultural nuances and effective communication strategies. Companies must foster an inclusive work environment and promote cross-cultural collaboration, ensuring that teams work cohesively.

Can SMBs risk to set up GCCs in India

Setting up Global Capability Centers (GCCs) in India can indeed be a risky endeavor for Small and Medium-sized Businesses (SMBs) due to several factors:

High Capital Expenditure (CapEx): Establishing a GCC involves significant upfront costs involving infrastructure, technology, and talent acquisition. SMBs often operate with limited financial resources, making it challenging to invest high initial costs without jeopardizing their financial stability.

Limited Resources: Unlike large corporations, SMBs typically have fewer resources in terms of financial capital, managerial bandwidth, and operational expertise. This limitation can hinder their ability to effectively manage and scale a GCC, especially in a competitive and complex market like India.

Operational Challenges: Setting up a GCC involves navigating regulatory requirements, cultural differences, and operational complexities. These challenges can be daunting for SMBs with no experience in international expansions and managing remote teams.

Given these challenges, SMBs can consider the following strategies to mitigate risks:

Start Small and Scale Gradually: Instead of making huge investments upfront, SMBs can begin with a smaller setup and gradually expand as they gain confidence and experience. This approach allows them to test the waters, understand the market dynamics, and scale their operations based on actual performance and needs.

Partner with Experts: Collaborating with an experienced partner who understands the Indian market can significantly reduce risks. An expert partner can assist with talent acquisition, setting up infrastructure, and managing day-to-day operations, allowing the SMB to focus on core business activities. This partnership can also provide access to local knowledge and networks, facilitating smoother and more efficient operations.

Leverage Existing Infrastructure: Instead of building a GCC from scratch, SMBs can leverage co-working spaces, incubators, or managed office spaces. These options offer flexible and scalable solutions with lower upfront costs and reduced operational complexities.

Outsource Initially: As an alternative to setting up a full-fledged GCC, SMBs can consider outsourcing certain functions to third-party service providers in India. The approach allows them to benefit from cost efficiencies and access to talent without significant investments.


The growing popularity of GCCs in India is a testament to the country's strategic importance in the global economy. While there are challenges, cost-efficiency benefits, a skilled workforce, technological expertise, and favorable government policies make India an attractive destination for multinational companies. By addressing the challenges and leveraging the opportunities, companies can successfully set up and operate GCCs in India, driving innovation, efficiency, and growth.


1. Nasscom Report 2022

2. AICTE Annual Report 2021

3. IBEF IT Sector Report 2022

4. Make in India Initiative

5. Deloitte Global Outsourcing Survey 2020

6. WIPO Patent Report 2021

7. Everest Group GCC Market Report 2021

8. Nasscom GCC Factbook 2021

9. Xpheno IT Sector Attrition Report 2022

10. World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report 2021

11. World Bank Doing Business Report 2020


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