Digital transformation is pushing companies out of their comfort zones and causing them to change and adapt to the ever-growing digital world. According to a recent Gartner report, “driven by cloud, digitalization, and the pandemic, enterprises are adopting new networking technologies faster than previous years.” Another Gartner report showed 58% of organizations surveyed increased their technology investment in 2021, double what it was in 2020.
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A composable enterprise, defined by Gartner as “an organization that delivers business outcomes and adapts to the pace of business change”, relies on the assembly of interchangeable application building blocks. This architectural overhaul has largely been driven by a demand for more configurable application experiences, and the need to evolve existing application portfolios that are often too risky and costly to replace.
New business opportunities require agility from application portfolios; however, many enterprises are still limited in their ability to adapt. Why? They rely on monolithic ERP systems and cumbersome legacy applications with static processes and haphazard structures. A modular setup can enable a business to rearrange as required depending on external or internal factors, such as shifts in consumer attitudes or sudden supply chain disruptions. Organizations are experiencing these shifts now and require a new approach to enterprise applications to be able to adapt.
Bridge the CX Gap with Greater Composability
A composability approach is the best way to capture all the advantages of modern enterprise software. According to a recent Boomi report, by 2023 organizations that have adopted a composable approach will outpace the competition by 80% in the speed of new feature implementation. This shift requires enterprises to rethink how they architect their operations, harness a combination of packaged functions and technologies and successfully deliver seamless moments of service to their customers.
There are three key ways that businesses can make the composability shift:
Adopting a service mindset
Scaling the delivery of microservices
Packaging business capabilities using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).
1. Designing for Service: Compete on Outcomes, not on Products
A composable enterprise whose portfolio is made up of heterogeneous applications from a palette of best-of-breed solutions allows organizations to address key inflection points throughout every customer, product or service lifecycle.
As more consumers demand continuous value and reliability throughout an asset’s lifetime, businesses must shift to selling outcomes and experiences instead of products to meet these new expectations for quality service. This requires each part of an operation to align, not around immediate sales or revenue, but around delivering a quality Moment of Service™ — the inflection point where everything comes together to create better value and outcomes for customers.
Moving to a servitized model requires a composable stack to deliver services to order. At a systems level, this transformation requires organizations to adapt applications dynamically and deliver positive customer experiences with effective quality management, customer support, and access to complete information about the service offering. Unlike traditional enterprise software, this involves connecting data and applications that have often sat in separate silos. A composable enterprise can provide a service-orientated architecture, that enables businesses to become outcome-based and ready to quickly adapt to future disruptions.
2. Scale Component-based Architecture with Microservices
If applications are built as loosely coupled services, then companies can employ a composable architecture to capitalize on independently deployable modules that are organized around business capabilities. This allows organizations to swap modules in and out, to suit emergent needs and build a well-structured best-fit solution for their unique business.
In contrast to a monolithic architecture, businesses can easily add resources to the most needed microservice rather than having to scale the entire application as demand for an application increases. In practice, this allows businesses to simplify customizable workflows and optimize business processes while leveraging and applying tools such as robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, or the plethora of hyper-automation capabilities available today.
3. Embrace Open-ended APIs to Maximize Data-sharing Capabilities
Packaged business capabilities (PBC) assembled using APIs are the foundation of every composable enterprise. They are used by businesses to secure data across cloud services, business systems and mobile applications. Historically, APIs have been used in monolithic applications to exchange data between the entire application and external applications and services. In composable software, APIs exchange data from individual modules to external applications and within the application — from module to module. This has significant implications for how systems are designed and built.
APIs can provide a controlled and consumable method for connecting and sharing consumer and business data by creating experiences tailored to individual needs. For instance, an API-centric model can secure and manage data access to help businesses with faster decision-making and deliver relevant new services adaptable to market changes. In the future, there will be more automated continuous process improvements as machine learning models recommend, or even proactively make, process changes to improve outcomes for the business and end customer.
Opt-in to the Composability Evolution
To overcome the limitations of monolithic applications, businesses must rethink their approach to enterprise applications — starting with the business architecture and technology stack. A composable software architecture enables organizations to address the internal and external pressures that send shockwaves throughout the value chain.
As a composable enterprise, organizations can re-engineer their businesses to ensure customer touchpoints and stages come together for better moments of service, but companies must be certain that processes are optimized across each of these inflection points to mitigate issues and fuel growth. An IT architecture built on a foundation of composability will be essential to the successful delivery of a software-powered business development strategy that can provide continual value to customers and the business itself.