In the modern business landscape, agility and flexibility are key. An ability to rapidly develop and alter your company’s offerings, particularly through the utilization of technology, is increasingly necessary to maintain a competitive advantage.
The COVID-19 pandemic offers several examples of this in action. As lockdowns set in across the globe, technology was leveraged to enable remote working and adapt business approaches to ensure corporations remained relevant and viable. The companies that adapted their business approaches quickest put themselves in the best position to benefit over competitors.
Organizations are approaching this requirement for adaptability through multiple methods including digital transformation, fusion teams, and composability. But what exactly is composability in relation to a business approach?
First coined by Gartner in 2020, composable enterprises are those that opt for a modular approach to developing a personalized tech stack. If this sounds like gibberish, consider the way software platforms have been (and sometimes still are) built.
Traditionally, software has been created using a monolithic approach, where platforms are constructed as a single, large, indivisible unit. Imagine monolithic architecture as one large, solid block, cumbersome and inflexible and requiring a lot of work to make any alterations. If changes are made to any part of the platform, all of its software has to be considered and updated. The entire platform is likely to be in downtime when updates take place and adding new technologies must take into account compatibility with the full stack. Monolithic approaches require significant time and costs in relation to software development or updates and often lock out non-tech stakeholders due to their complexity.
If monolithic platforms are like a solid block, modular or composable alternatives would be more similar to Lego. As everybody knows, Lego can easily be put together in the way which best matches the intended outcome. The most suitable bricks can be chosen to create your final masterpiece, and if one part of the model needs to be adjusted, this can take place with minimal disruption to other blocks.
The same applies to composable enterprise, a modular approach of building software based on separate, best-of-breed services that can easily be individually altered or swapped. Composable enterprise offers faster updates, easier options for tech integrations, and more accessibility to company-wide stakeholders. The result, a highly customized tech stack, is more relevant and agile than off-the-shelf legacy options of past years.
Why is composable enterprise important?
As well as the time and cost savings, a composable approach allows companies to address rapidly changing customer expectations and deliver on unique business needs. Increasingly, customers demand additional functionalities, personalization, and the ability to access products and services across a range of touchpoints. By addressing each demand as an individual service that can be created, updated, or extended without affecting the overall tech stack, companies can more effectively implement solutions to match consumer wishes.
Composable approaches also allow multiple company stakeholders to offer input into the development of the final tech stack. As each service is broken down into an individual item with a specific use case, non-tech employees can more easily speak on and make requests regarding the services they would like to have extended, altered, or updated. In some cases, employees outside of tech entirely are able to make software updates themselves through the integration of plug-in style services.
Finally, composable enterprise may just become a necessity for ensuring viable business operations. Gartner predicts that by 2023 companies that have opted for a composable business approach will outpace competitors by 80% with regards to the speediness of new feature implementation.
Embracing composable enterprise
The composable approach aims to offer agile and rapid business customization. But without the correct team structures, companies are left still lagging behind. Newer organizational setups, such as fusion teams, work hand-in-hand with composable approaches to allow fast development and implementation.
Although these new management methodologies allow enterprises to match the necessary speed of change, they also require a working level of company-wide digital knowledge and understanding. With more company-wide stakeholders involved in tech decisions, digital judgment, as coined by Gartner, is required to ensure technologically sound decisions are made.
Furthermore, alignment between IT and enterprise leaders on the common business goals is essential to ensure the overall business objectives are still kept in mind.
Don Scheibenreif, Research Vice President at Gartner, has also stated that composable business begins with three elements:
- Composable Thinking – Ensuring creative thinking is never lost.
- Composable Business Architecture – Ensuring flexibility and resiliency.
- Composable Technologies – The composable tools, such as Packaged Business Capabilities (PBCs), for today and future business.
Below, we look further into the technologies which make composable commerce possible.
Composable technologies – Microservices and Packaged Business Capabilities (PBCs)
Microservices and PBCs are both examples of composable commerce, but they differ in some key ways. As the name suggests, microservices are small and particular to one service alone, whilst PBCs are a collection of features that target well-defined, specific business capabilities and are built around providing a specific business function.
Using our previous example, let’s say we have built a Lego house. Microservices would be akin to all of the blocks which make up the roof, and a PBC would be the entire roof section itself. The microservices can be changed individually to update individual elements, such as adding a chimney or replacing an individual block, but the PBC for the entire section could be switched out and replaced with another roof. The roof still performs its specific well-defined function, but the PBC allows for rapid alteration of the section as a whole.
Now let’s look at an example in digital commerce. Microservices, such as product labels, product attributes, and product options, are often grouped together into a PBC for Product Information Management (PIM). If your business’s current PIM system is not providing the information customers require, you can find a third-party provider better suited to your needs and can simply swap the PBCs, rapidly updating your business offering. It is this agility and speed which make PBCs and composable commerce key factors in future business resilience.
Further advantages of PBCs
- Allow companies to avoid vendor lock-in, something nearly impossible with monolithic setups. PBCs from third-party vendors can be integrated into the current tech stack.
- Solve common business problems. PBCs are a quick-fire way to address common business problems due to their targeting of specific functions. Specific PBCs can also be constructed using a mix-and-match approach.
- Enable cross-functional decision-making. Company-wide stakeholders can decide on the PBCs which should be implemented into the overall system.
- Accelerate scalability and time to market. Provided as an intact unit, the speed of initial setup and maintenance is increased using PBCs.
- Allow businesses to take advantage of the best solutions on the market. Offering an ability to swap capabilities with those offered by multiple third-party providers means organizations can opt for those which offer the most value to their business.
Learn more about how PBCs can help your business
PBCs, as offered by Spryker, are the fastest and most agile way to approach business setup and development. Offering a balanced approach between traditional monolithic architecture and granular microservice applications, they are optimized to provide the flexibility and agility highly sought after in today’s competitive business landscape.
Gartner has also predicted their rise in popularity in the coming years, forecasting that 30% of digital commerce organizations will use PBCs to construct their application experiences by 2024.
Would you like to be part of the above 30%? Contact our team to find out how PBCs can help your company, today.