A digital transformation strategy is critical for small businesses for many reasons. It improves your company’s culture, streamlines operations, increases productivity, and improves performance. Setting up the right digital transformation framework makes a huge difference in how well your call center runs. By following best practices for your digital transformation framework, you also get the benefit of flexibility so you can add and subtract digital tools as your company’s needs change.
Technical terms and processes can be complicated, so we’re breaking things down by defining a digital transformation framework and a digital operating model.
We’ll also explain why they’re so important for small businesses today and list some best practices to assist you in developing your digital transformation efforts.
Table of Contents
What Is a Digital Transformation Framework?
We live and work in the cloud era. In today’s marketplace, it’s hard to survive without the cloud, big data, APIs, IoT, machine learning, artificial intelligence, automation, and mobile technologies. All those things require a framework that enables everything to work together in perfect harmony.
A framework is an essential supporting structure. Without it, anything that you build won’t be strong or last very long. The same is true for your digital transformation framework. It’s the foundation for every software program and process that your business uses now and will use in the future.
You could describe a digital transformation framework as using the latest and greatest technologies to enhance your existing processes with the ultimate goal of improving the customer experience. Your framework is a roadmap for your digital ecosystem that allows you to remain competitive in the evolving business landscape.
Your digital transformation strategy should be a long-term strategy that encompasses plans for leveraging software to modify or upgrade existing workflows. With the right digital transformation initiatives, you’ll also have greater control over your data, which will help you manage it in useful ways to improve your existing workflows.
Overall, your digital transformation framework is the place to start whenever your data or new trends motivate you to change your tools or processes.
Why You Should Use a Digital Transformation Framework
Small businesses are finding it challenging to identify the best tools to change their processes in meaningful ways. That’s often because they simply don’t know where to start. The best place to start is to note your current challenges and understand what’s driving digital transformation.
These are a few of the challenges that businesses are facing:
- Legacy systems run on dedicated servers and require a local network connection to operate.
- IT personnel aren’t familiar with cloud technology.
- The endpoints for desktops, laptops, and mobile devices don’t integrate easily.
- How to manage organizational, regulatory, and geographical boundaries.
What Drives Digital Transformation
Two things are driving digital transformation—technology and evolving customer expectations. Software integrations assist on both accounts. Fortunately, new solutions are flooding the marketplace in record numbers. This is in stark contrast to the days before the technology age where new solutions disrupted the business space and the market stabilized over time.
While having too many choices is a good problem to have, the fast pace of emerging software solutions makes it confusing for business owners to know which ones are right for the company. Many software solutions have shared values that complement each other, which is a good thing if you know how to plug them into your framework effectively.
It’s becoming a common scenario for businesses to feel pressure to deploy new solutions out of fear of lagging behind the competition. There’s a temptation to rush into making individual choices rather than view digitization holistically. As a result, businesses end up with siloed tools that don’t work together, and it stifles innovation because all the tools are separate and uncoordinated.
Without a formalized strategy for digital transformation, businesses are forced to be reactionary. By contrast, a digital transformation framework creates order out of chaos.
The Digital Maturity Scale
If you’re wondering where you are on the digital maturity scale, Protiviti offers a breakdown to help you assess your business’ level of digital maturity.
- React to competition
- Embracing change
- Collection of point solutions
- Clear strategy
- Effective at change delivery
- High levels of automation
- Low-cost base
- Hyper scalable
If you’re on the lower end of the scale, the next section will give you an idea of what a digital transformation framework should look like.
What Does a Digital Transformation Framework Look Like?
A digital transformation framework can take on many different forms. Many of the frameworks companies use contain a lot of the same elements in different arrangements. Current models from various companies make good templates for other companies to follow.
To take out some of the confusion from creating a digital transformation framework, you can get a little perspective with a quote from Steve Jobs.
“You need to think about customer experience and work backward to the technology.” — Steve Jobs
Gartner’s Digital Transformation Framework
Gartner suggests incorporating the following six elements into your digital transformation framework:
1. Create the right mindset and shared understanding.
2. Put the right leaders in place.
3. Launch a digital business center of excellence.
4. Formulate digital strategy to respond to opportunities and threats.
5. Find, develop, and acquire digital business skills and roles.
6. Create new digital business capabilities.
McKinsey’s Digital Transformation Framework: The 4Ds
By contrast, McKinsey, a company that also has a robust digital transformation framework, chose to set up its framework with a proprietary DX framework they call the 4Ds.
1. Discover: Shape digital ambition, strategy, and business case based on insights.
2. Design: Reinvent and prototype new capabilities and breakthrough journeys as a part of a program.
3. Deliver: Activate an ecosystem to rapidly deliver at scale.
4. De-risk: Structure the change program, resources, and commercial model to reduce operational and financial risk.
MIT’s Digital Transformation Framework
MIT created a different but effective digital transformation framework. It features the following elements:
1. Operational backbone
2. Shared customer insights
3. Digital platform
4. Accountability framework
5. External developer platform
Capgemini’s Digital Transformation Framework
As another example, Capgemini also has an effective digital transformation framework. It features three buckets at the top and goes into greater detail below.
1. Customer Experience
- Customer understanding
- Top-line growth
- Customer touchpoints
2. Operational Process
- Process digitization
- Worker enablement
- Performance management
3. Business Model
- Digitally modified business
- New digital business
- Digital globalization
Again, there’s no exact standard for developing your digital transformation framework, so take your time, be flexible, and be open to new ideas. You should end up with a framework that’s uniquely yours.
What Is a Digital Operating Model?
Digital transformation is more than just implementing the right tools and developing a business strategy. It encompasses how everything works together—your people, processes, and technology. Essentially, it’s how your company works and how the people within it work together.
That’s where your digital operating model comes in. The customer experience must be central to your operating model to have a competitive edge. Everything else revolves around it. A good operating business model eliminates redundancies and inconsistencies and creates operational efficiencies.
The right operating model enables you to take an iterative approach to running your call center where your sales and support agents and customers benefit from consistent workflows.
In designing your digital operating model, you’ll want to incorporate the following key components:
- KPIs: goals, performance, etc.
- Technology: software to support your business and operation systems.
- Processes: product lifecycle, quality assurance, management, etc.
- People: acquiring, training, and retaining talent.
- Organization: structure, governance, roles, etc.
- Partnerships and alliances: provision for tools, analytics, capturing data, etc.
How does your digital operating model leverage data and analytics to help with data-driven decision-making?
- Shortens your sales cycle
- Aligns your sales and marketing departments
- Improves internal communication
- Increases productivity
- Improves efficiency
- Responds to customer feedback
- Eliminates gaps in the customer journey
- Scales your call center
- Improves training and retention
As you develop your framework, you can save some time and effort by relying on best practices for your digital transformation framework that have already been refined through trial and error.
10 Best Practices to Develop a Framework for Digital Transformation
1. Take a holistic, company-wide approach to digital transformation.
2. Build customer-centric processes. Start with the customer experience. Your digital tools should support your operating framework.
3. Have a basis for comparison. Run an audit to create a benchmark to map your current status.
4. Identify your customers’ pain points.
5. Identify your target market using ideal customer profiles (ICP).
6. Develop a roadmap for the customer journey.
7. Design an entire ecosystem of tools that integrate seamlessly, share information, and sync data.
8. Leverage new cloud technology that includes a phone system that integrates with your other business tools.
9.Hire the right talent. Train them on how optimize the tools in your digital ecosystem to provide a better CX.
10. Leverage data and analytics software from your cloud-phone system dashboard and other software integrations. Use this to learn, measure, and evaluate your team members and processes.
Making Sure You Use the Right Digital Transformation Resources
There is so much to learn about the digital transformation process that it’s impossible to garner it all from one source. Blogs, research, and whitepapers provide a good starting point for setting up your digital transformation framework. For efficiency and to make sure you’re not wasting time moving in the wrong direction, we’re providing a list of helpful resources for you to check out.
- Forrester’s Digital Business Playbook
- Gartner: Digital to the Core
- Why Digital Transformations Fail: The Surprising Disciplines of How to Take Off and Stay Ahead
- The Digital Transformation Playbook: Rethink Your Business for the Digital Age
- MIT: Future Read? Pick Your Pathway for Digital Business Transformation
- Accenture Research Report
- Digital Transformation and IT: Current State of Research
- S&P Global Market Intelligence: Digital Transformation
- KWI: Digital Transformation, Ushering in a New Era of Retail Relevance
- World Economic Forum Whitepaper Digital Transformation of Industries
- Cloud Direct: Digital Transformation Whitepaper
- Fujitsu: The Four Essential Pillars of Digital Transformation
Digital Transformation Assessment Tools
- Open Roads: Open Digital Maturity Model
- EY Digital Readiness Model
- Digital Transformation Assessment for Associations
The Digital Transformation & the Future of Work
The future of work will be characterized by emerging technology, innovative business models and strategies, and flexibility in the workplace. Small businesses are slowly migrating over to digital transformation. As they do so, it will also change the future of work. As a result of digital transformation, many jobs will be lost to automation. At the same time, many new jobs will be created as businesses learn how to optimize people and their digital tools.
In the past few decades, IT was merely a part of the back-office infrastructure where equipment was crammed into an obscure corner of an office building, called a data room. Today, IT happens in the cloud. It doesn’t take up any space, and it’s a lot more cost-effective than legacy systems. More importantly, digital technology is driving efficiency and effectiveness in ways that could never be possible with older computer systems. It all goes to serve the purpose of improving the customer experience and becoming more competitive. As you digitally transform your operations, consider how your transformation journey can also improve your workplace environment and company culture.
As you look for the best talent to support your digital transformation, you may have a little difficulty finding people that have the kind of experience you need in your call center. Don’t despair, though. There are many people who were displaced from other jobs, and they’re looking to work for good companies like yours.
About four in every ten jobs created over the last decade have related to digital jobs. Most of the jobs that were lost were in fields other than technology.
Skills to Look for When Building Your Team
It takes people with a mix of skills to work in a digitally transformative environment. You should be looking for people who have (or potentially have) these skills:
- Digital skills
- Social and emotional skills
- Cognitive skills
- Adaptability skills
- Job-specific skills
The right digital tools will also help you hire quality workers and retrain or upskill them to mold them to fit into your company culture and your specific workflows. Job seekers struggle with the lack of time or ability to attend training. Digital tools offer you more flexibility in the hiring and training processes as they enable you to accept applicants virtually, and onboard and train them virtually as well.
The millennial generation and those that come after it have a reputation for wanting flexibility in the workplace. The truth is that older generations want flexibility for the same reasons. What’s more, large numbers of people made the switch to working remotely due to the pandemic over the last year. Digital transformation enables you to offer all employees a better semblance of work/life balance, flexible time off, variable shifts, and a remote working environment.
Using Technology to Enhance Your Digital Transformation
Whether your employees work in your call center or off-site, software integrations enable you to assess their productivity and performance automatically. It gives you the benefit of objective data that you can use to help in goal-setting and setting up incentive programs to keep them engaged and motivated.
A key component of your digital transformation framework is your cloud-based phone system. With Aircall, you’re getting a large number of valuable voice calling features like automatic call dialing, queue calling, IVR, and so much more. The system works with your CRM or helpdesk software and many of the programs you may already be using. The programs sync and share data to provide your team members with a single source of data so they can provide a seamless experience for your customers.
Any time you want to accomplish change management, it helps to have a game plan and a direction. A successful digital transformation framework pulls all the right elements together and provides the foundation for every tool and process that you currently have in place or may want to implement in the future.