A ‘G-Local’ approach to building Global Capability Centres

This is not another piece about the ‘India Technology’ journey.

While the initial drivers for the growth of capability centres in India were cost arbitrage and operational proficiency, these are no longer a significant consideration. Today, all global organisations acknowledge India’s ‘deep-technology’ prowess and huge knowledge base. Big Data, AI/ Machine Learning, Cloud computing & architecture, etc. are now ubiquitous terms across industries and global organisations are increasingly looking at their India centres to drive global growth and value, leveraging these technologies.

Setting up such capability centres in India comes with its own challenges. In recent times, the most prominent one of them, and also the most fundamental, is attracting and integrating local talent into a global workforce. A typical capability centre tends to be structured around specific product/functional lines, with the sponsorship of each line coming from parent/regional HQ teams. The local teams tend to operate independently of each other while interacting only with their global counterparts.  Often, this results in some friction and plenty of duplication. Some common issues:

  • No common culture or ethos: Country/site leaders struggle with finding a common thread that can bring together the whole center as a common entity.
  • Disparate goals: These centers tend to lack a common business objective that extends across all the teams.

Clearly not an ideal situation for a centre determined to drive and lead a global charter!

We recently came across the case of a leading global technology-led, consumer-facing organisation that has a strong Indian presence, both in the form of a technology center as well as the India market for its product. The company is experiencing rapid growth across the globe and has been ramping up its India tech operations frantically to meet the growing demand. However, the assimilation of new team members into the goals, culture and ethos of the organisation may not always match up to the same pace.

An intervention designed to address this opportunity statement has two prongs.

  • Alignment to find common ground: Essentially, it boils down to asking one question – why does the India center exist? A fairly innocuous question by itself, the responses define the business value that the centre leaders put on the centre outcomes, and the cultural value system it seeks to inculcate while delivering to the established outcomes. Together these answers define the centre identity.
  • Narrow down on the business imperatives: An example of a business imperative in such a scenario may be committing to drive global leadership in all products influenced by Machine Learning (ML). The decision will be based on the criticality of the skill set to the global product suite, the fact that it is geography agnostic and because there is a sufficient local talent pool that can be groomed to contribute to enhancing the skill proficiency in the India centre.

Once the direction is established, here are a few things that an organisation can do to break it down such that its impact is felt on the ground.

  • Develop horizontal ‘centres of excellence’ that develop expertise and act as an end to end solutions for the company to support the technology across all product lines. They are equipped to deliver toward specific expectations.
  • Leverage internal resources through better talent management to ensure that each member has experience across product lines. This can be achieved through a year-long onboarding programme where the employees work on various teams to build their product knowledge. This exercise not only helps the company better understand the existing talent pool, but it also helps drive strategic direction.

The success of these initiatives can be measured on any number of parameters, ‘product go-to-market time’, ‘end-to-end product modules created’ or ‘global collaboration measures’ just being a few examples. The important thing is to find a common identity, a common goal post, and ensuring all actions that all members of the centre take are guided by the common mission.

We would love to hear your experiences and perspectives in such organisational scenarios! Write to us at reach@abovenbeyond.in