The Digital Maturity Framework for Communications Service Providers

Resources to help you tackle the key stages of digital transformation.
 
July 12, 2021. 5 MIN READ

Today, communications service providers (CSPs) are far more than network providers. “Everything-as-a-service” (XaaS) is the name of the game as they combine core connectivity with adjacent offerings that enhance service, including entertainment packages and security protections.

To meet customer needs in an XaaS world, CSPs must embrace digital-first business models. At the same time, they must reduce complexity for employees and customers and drive greater value across the customer lifecycle. However, legacy products, business processes, and technology are holding them back.

Learn how to use this digital maturity framework.

Getting your organization to embrace digital-first operating models and improve business agility can feel like a tall order, but with the right tools, you can set your business up for success.

That’s why we put together a framework specifically designed for CSPs to help you determine where your organization is today on your digitization journey and show you how to chart a path forward. It starts with understanding the five dimensions of digital transformation and ranking your maturity against those areas. From there, you can build your strategy with a digital maturity roadmap.

 
 
 
 

Are CSPs on the right path to digital maturity?

Learn about the latest industry research and insights on digital maturity, including:

  • How the COVID-19 pandemic reset the communications industry
  • The current state of most digitization strategies
  • The steps to take to improve your strategy
 
 

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Understand the 5 dimensions of transformation in the digital maturity framework.

The digital maturity framework includes five dimensions that contribute to the success of any digitization project. You can assess your organization against these five dimensions to determine where you are today and where you need to put in the most time and investment to achieve a transformation.

1. Cultural transformation

Digitization requires you to introduce new leadership models that empower teams and drive collaboration. You will need to encourage a beginner’s mindset. Otherwise, you risk shifting back to the old ways of doing things with your new digital platform, which can lead to marginal results and ROI from your digitization efforts.

2. Executive involvement

Executives must provide leadership and context as to why the organization is undergoing transformation. Clear and decisive executive support is essential to ensuring organizational alignment. Executives may choose to hold town halls, publish regular video messages on a company portal, and send regular email communications about the project.

3. Program leadership

Successful digitization projects involve close collaboration with key stakeholders. The business typically leads the effort, while IT influences each decision. Organizations need a governance strategy that fosters a collaborative working model. Within these teams, managers need to articulate that everyone is accountable and remove any roadblocks.

4. Organizational structure

Most CSPs choose to either create a separate organization within their company to manage digitization or spin up an entirely separate business entity altogether. Choose your approach upfront to ensure proper resource allocation.

5. Architectural strategy

An architectural strategy sets the foundation for what you want to accomplish and the key actions you need to take to get there – from operations to technology. There are three basic strategies that regularly come up for CSPs: customer experience (CX), brownfield, and greenfield. Your approach depends on several factors and how your organization views digitization.
 

CSPs that increase CX scores by one point will generate an additional $3.39 in per-customer incremental revenue.

Source: “Rewiring Telecoms for Future Success Means Shifting to a Customer Focus,” Harvard Business Review, April 2021.

Rank your organization’s readiness against the digital maturity framework.

Use the questions below to rate your business in each of the five dimensions on a five-point scale (1–5, with 5 being the highest). The higher your rating in a given category, the more prepared you are to accelerate digitization.

It’s important that you answer each area honestly so that you can evaluate how digitally mature your organization is today. After this exercise, you will have a better idea of the dimensions you need to tackle first.

Cultural transformation

  • There is true collaboration and trust between business and IT teams
  • My teams are empowered to make necessary decisions
  • My company has fully embraced customer-centricity
  • Different business units operate as one team
 
If you’re scoring low in this category, ask yourself if old mindsets are holding you back. You want to strive for digital-first thinking.

Executive involvement

  • Leadership appropriately delegates decision-making and owns project communications, including the hosting of town hall discussions
  • Executives stay involved in projects to prevent conflicts and indecision
 
Are executives more focused on budget approvals than sponsorship and, eventually, ownership of your digitization project? That could be the reason for a low score in this category.

Program leadership

  • Leadership works with IT and business teams to drive collaboration, which ultimately impacts project governance
  • The right stakeholders attend key meetings and keep the program moving
 
Are your business teams competing for project ownership with IT? Ultimately, the business should lead the project with collaboration and input from IT team members.

Organizational structure

  • Program management and development groups fully embrace a crawl-walk-run scenario by experimenting, getting real-time feedback, and iterating solutions in short sprints
  • Resources are allocated appropriately — either by blending into the existing organization, working independently, or creating a new branch of the company to focus on the project
  • Teams have adopted agile development: They extend the project to testing groups and have a continuous delivery pipeline
  • Multiple teams are running in parallel
  • There are digital transformation wave plans in place separate from more detailed development plans to keep strategy objectives clear
 
Similar to the cultural transformation section, if you’re relying on your existing organization structure for this project, it’s time to consider a new approach. Consider a dedicated team, or better yet, a net new branch of your organization to focus on this initiative.

Architectural strategy

  • There is a well-defined process to manage product innovation
  • There is a comprehensive plan to move from digital incumbent to disruptor
  • Everyone sees the value of omni-channel development (versus channel-by-channel development)
 
Unified user interfaces won’t get you where you want to go. Consider digital platform migration for the best results.

Build your strategy in 5 steps based on the digital maturity framework.

Once you’ve determined where you are on your journey and the dimensions you need to focus on first, you’re ready to build your digitization strategy. These are the five steps you need to take:

Step 1: Change mindsets

By addressing cultural transformation at the onset, you open the door to the possibilities that simplify and reimagine the way you do business. That’s why one of the first steps you need to take is changing mindsets in your organization. Doing so allows you to use technology more effectively, reduce time-consuming customizations, and accelerate your time to value.

Work with leadership to create a common language about your project. Develop a shared understanding of key milestones and your future vision. Communicate regularly with teams so they understand why they need to work in new ways. Develop a governance strategy to ensure everyone is following the same processes and using the right tools.

Step 2: Bridge technology silos

A business support system (BSS) layer, like an industry-specific customer relationship management (CRM) platform, simplifies the digitization process. A CRM creates a single source of truth for data across the customer lifecycle that were in previously siloed technology systems. With the 360-degree view, you can better understand your interactions and transactions. The right platforms also come equipped with prebuilt processes and workflows to help you effectively transact and monetize your products and services from one place.

Step 3: Prioritize the customer

Eighty percent of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services. Combined with better employee experiences, the customer experience can accelerate revenue growth. Consider that one CSP saw a 50% gain in new accounts after they launched a mobile app that allowed customers to enroll and activate their own service in as little as two minutes.

The key is to design experiences across the customer lifecycle that give customers greater control and transparency. Layer artificial intelligence (AI) to anticipate customer needs and remove friction to make it easier for them to do business with you. Allow customers to self-serve, whether it’s during the sales cycle for a new product or for customer support.

Step 4: Take an agile approach

Consider a crawl-walk-run approach that focuses on your minimum viable product (MVP). This allows you to get the results you need in real time and iterate your solution as you go. It also helps you to continuously show your leadership team results at every step of the digitization journey.

Invest in tools that reduce time and effort for your customers and add value to your business. For example, you can streamline and shorten an otherwise lengthy purchasing experience for customers with automation and self-service portals.

Step 5: Create continuous value for the customer

Equip your business with the digital tools required to meet customer expectations in today’s XaaS economy. For example, you can take a unified approach to the quote-to-order process, which improves the customer experience while mitigating order fallout and revenue leakage for your business. Capture accurate quotes and orders with configure-price-quote (CPQ) software. Use contract management applications to generate accurate contracts in real time. Then orchestrate order fulfillment on the fly with an embedded order management system.

This approach helps CSPs quickly define and launch new bundled offerings by leveraging existing product attribute definitions and rules. It also ensures quote, contract, and order accuracy because of consistent availability, compatibility, and pricing rules. Lastly, it provides CSPs and customers with visibility to complete the quote, contracting, and ordering processes and make changes whenever needed.

As you create your strategy, it’s important to remember the “what” and “how” behind every decision. How can business and IT teams better understand shared goals across your technology stack? What are the opportunities for agility, speed, and scalability in your organization? How do your people, processes, and technology all support your vision? Being able to answer these questions at every step in your journey ensures alignment and puts you on the right path to digital maturity.
 

More resources

 
Guide
The Customer 360 Playbook
Article
You Need Digital Experiences Fast: Here’s How to Find the Right Path for Your Industry
Report
Digital Maturity: Are We On The Right Path?
 
 

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