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The essential guide to business composability

A key to digital preparedness lies in software composability — an ability of an enterprise to easily, quickly, and safely adapt its digital assets to new rules.
Nikola Gemes

Nikola Gemes

Jan 11, 2023
The essential guide to business composability

Uncertain times have created a fast-changing environment, and businesses that want to stay on the surface need to be prepared for digital disruptions. A key to digital preparedness lies in software composability — an ability of an enterprise to easily, quickly, and safely adapt its digital assets to new rules.

#What is composability

Composability is a software design approach where individual components can be arranged. Rearranged, and discarded as needed using a no-code platform. It allows businesses to become more agile by replacing bulky legacy applications and data silos with composable building blocks that are modular and interchangeable.

These composable building blocks are known as enterprise components (ECs) that are designed to interact with 1) people, 2) systems or data, or 3) perform business logic. Each of these components is designed to address a specific problem or use case.

In a composable enterprise, enterprise components are connected and combined without code to create a multi-faceted platform that manages and streamlines part of the entire business process.

This process is similar to how developers build tools using open-source components or how kids build complex structures using pre-built Lego blocks.

The future of business software lies in composable architectures — a concept already ingrained in MACH technology.

MACH stands for Microservices, API-first, Cloud-native, and Headless.

In MACH architecture, applications are represented as microservices that are developed and managed independently from each other.

Communication between microservices is enabled by APIs instead of code-based integrations.

The applications are deployed in the cloud, which allows easy scaling and automatic updates.

The frontend presentation layer and backend database are decoupled from each other, making the platform “headless”, so it can connect to any channel.

An important aspect of composable architectures is that users can respond quickly to market shifts by adding or removing different components without disrupting the rest of the system.

In other words, there’s no downtime while the system updates — as was the case with monolithic legacy software.

#The 4 principles of business composability

Discoverability

Business composability owes much of its success to the element of discoverability. In a composable system, other team members must be able to reuse existing components and create new experiences.

This can only work if individual components are discoverable by other teams.

For example, if you’re building an application that uses an interactive chatbot, you should be able to consult the central catalog of components with enough metadata and descriptions to describe its purpose and limitations. This way, discoverability significantly improves the speed of implementation.

Modularity

Modularity improves the application agility by bundling a specific set of services into a single component that is dedicated to a specific purpose.

For example, an interactive chatbot or electronic signature.

These services are called “Packaged Business Capabilities” or PCBs. Each PCB should be small enough to be agile, but large enough to contain full integrity of its function.

Orchestration

To make composability work, you need orchestration. Orchestration is higher-order automation that automates business processes like policy enforcement, alignment of workflow to business goals, management of IT resources, as well as costing and planning.

Automatic provisioning lowers costs by 10 to 20 percent, mostly through higher human productivity and elimination of inconsistencies, as well as time-consuming, redundant tasks.

Autonomy

No system can be truly composable unless the individual components are autonomous. This means that they are fully self-contained and not dependent on other parts of the system. As such, teams can update part of the system without disrupting any other parts. For example, if you want to update your payment portal with more options, you should be able to do this without affecting other components of your application. As a result, your application becomes far more resilient to changes.

#The 3 pillars of business composability

Composable thinking

The concept that empowers the idea that anything is composable. When you think in a composable way, you can address the rapidly changing customer needs with more flexibility. Composable thinking includes sharing and seeking information inside and outside the organization.

For example, you can take clues from your employees to improve customer experience or observe customer experience in different industries. When you employ the principles of discoverability, modularity, orchestration, and autonomy in composable thinking, you have no issues deciding what to compose and when.

Composable business architecture

Composable business architecture makes sure your organization stays flexible and resilient. It integrates structural capabilities that give organizations mechanisms to develop their business.

In composable business architecture, each component in the system has standardized interfaces or APIs.

When using composable business architecture, you should keep in mind that:

  • There are three aspects of composable business architecture — engagement, capability, and technology.

  • Composable business architecture is not a replacement for your current business architecture. It’s an extra lens that helps you identify and complement the changes you need to capitalize on the benefits of digital transformation. It assists in implementing these changes through tech investment decisions and business initiatives.

  • Composable business architecture is not a replacement for your business model but rather assistance in preparing a model that enables digital acceleration.

  • Composable business architecture is not an organizational structure but allows you to create organizations and teams whenever needed.

  • Depending on your industry, different elements of the composable business architecture can be gradually applied to your current business architecture.

Composable technology

Composable technology is there to provide agility and flexibility. It supports reusability, augmented connectivity, and transparency across your digital business.

In the context of technology, the four composability principles should be used as product design goals to develop solutions with features that enable composability. This means moving away from legacy applications and embracing a strong technological foundation that includes automation, the distributed cloud, and artificial intelligence.

#Key benefits for businesses to adopt composability

Pivot quickly for business opportunities

With composability, you have much better chances to spring for business opportunities, as the composable architecture allows you to make quick necessary changes. Adapt and overcome a business or cybersecurity event that has disrupted your operations. The ability to change through composability is the best defense against disruption and missed opportunities.

Build a more agile and cost-effective business model

A business with a rigid hierarchy and structure is always less resilient in the face of challenges. We’ve seen that during the COVID-19 crisis just too well. Businesses that were able to downshift, migrate to the cloud, and adopt remote working policies stayed afloat and kept paddling. On the other hand, companies that stuck to old business models or tried to transform their monolithic systems often couldn't save either people or finances.

Accelerate time to market

Businesses that choose composable systems can keep up with changing technology innovations. They can also more effectively respond to evolving market conditions and customer expectations. When you adopt a streamlined solution that is tailored to meet your business needs, there are fewer bottlenecks and less need for training. The time you wasted on modifying the platform and training staff can now be spent on activities that generate more business value. Products can go to market faster, as marketers have it easy to build, test, and replicate their content delivery and digital campaigns.

Better design (UX) alignment across applications

With more channels than ever before, businesses are facing hard competition. The user experience (UX) that you offer to your customers needs to stack up, or you risk losing their loyalty for good. By using the best-of-breed MACH technology and letting your business scale with demand, you can provide your customers with the personalized UX they’re looking for.

Better business scalability - define workflow as you want, not limited by the vendor

Add or remove components of your tech stack as needed and allow your ecosystem to scale to meet your needs. Got to replace an old piece of tech? Incorporate a new software tool? Upgrade existing functionality and capacity? Composable architecture allies you to eliminate vendor risk and take control of your tech stack.

Keep data unified

Composability is the key to the transformation of today’s data centers. It allows on-premises data centers to run a more agile and cost-effective software-defined model. With composable infrastructure, enterprises can deploy on-premises architecture just as quickly and seamlessly as the public cloud.

#How to apply composability

1. Define your goals

First, you need to define what you’re hoping to achieve by breaking the monolithic system.

  • What pain points are you looking to address?
  • What kind of functionality do you need?

Inspect the best composable solutions, including UI, API orchestration layer, eCommerce platform, CMS with a Digital Experience Platform functionality, as well as third-party tools.

For some time, businesses have mapped their move toward composability using MACH architectures. This eBook explains in depth what MACH architectures are and what a move to a MACH architecture could look like.

2. Analyze costs and build a business case

Apart from the costs associated with data migration, you also need to calculate how the new composable platform will impact your monthly operating expenses.

3. Set priorities

Improving business and web performance, and customer experience are the primary driving forces for applying composability, but you should include your frontend as well.

The presentation layer (UI) is the head of your composable stack. This is where all other elements must collaborate and function well to present your business message.

4. Map the re-platforming path

You may think that your website needs to go offline while re-platforming. Luckily, this isn’t the case if an experienced team implements the transition.

5. Issue a request for proposal (RFP)

Now you need to send RFPs to potential platforms. It should state the bidding procedure and your initial terms. The goal of issuing RFPs is to achieve two things:

a) Establish your company’s objectives and requirements.

b) Formalize those goals and needs in a way that allows you to evaluate and assess prospective solutions on your terms.

6. Choose the storefront, eCommerce platform, and CMS

There are different composable commerce solutions on the market, and the key is to choose one that’s right for your business. This is the part when those needs and objectives come into consideration.

7. Migrate your data to the new system

Decide which data migration service you’ll use and when it will begin. Once you choose a composable commerce solution, you need to migrate your data from the old monolithic system. Make a timetable so you can transfer all of your services in the correct order.

8. Connect your frontend with the new backend

Couple integrations, extensions, and plugins win APIs. Redesign the site, relaunch in beta, and throw a QA session with stakeholders. Once your business data is in your composable CMS, you can use it to power your frontend.

This way, you end up with a fast, reliable, and decoupled frontend that you can easily update and maintain.

9. Test

Before your new composable commerce system goes live, you must thoroughly test it. This is to make sure everything works as it should and that there are no interruptions when you switch over to your new system.

#What is a composable platform

If we describe composability as a way of building software using building blocks of interchangeable business capabilities, a composable platform is a tool that non-technical teams and users use to assemble or reassemble those building blocks to create their own software solutions.

Without writing a single line of code.

In other words, composable platforms empower nontechnical teams to be technologically creative and not depend on developers, and IT teams to solve their problems.

Using a composable platform, you can build powerful software solutions that can be truly agile — to suit your business organization and the market’s growing demands.

Samsung’s journey of building a composable Members platform

About roughly 8 years ago, Samsung wanted to upgrade the CMS for their Members platform.

The main issues

  • To provide local solutions for individual subsidiaries while maintaining the global focus.

  • Static setup and code base in the existing CMS — editors needed a developer to change the content.

  • The existing CMS could not deliver the same UX to mobile and non-mobile customers

What Samsung needed

  • A flexible modern architecture that could overcome the global governance barriers and deliver more quickly on local requirements. An API-driven headless approach seemed to be a logical choice.

  • Separated content layer from the presentation layer that would allow the content team and the development team to work independently.

  • To gather user knowledge without third-party cookies. Samsung was looking for alternative ways to engage with customers. They wanted loyalty programs that should be able to gather user data through different touchpoints and predict users’ interests and deliver personalized experiences.

Samsung has chosen Hygraph as a composable platform for its API-driven headless approach.

What Hygraph delivered

Composable architecture

Using the out-of-the-box support for GraphQL, frontend developers could focus on building features without involving backend teams. With Hygraph, Samsung can now deliver content in a flexible, design-agnostic way.

Content modeling

With Hygraph’s content modeling feature, Samsung can create a clear content structure, model content, and develop custom workflows. No additional infrastructure is needed. The team can effortlessly grade the page and test different models.

Intuitive UI

Thanks to Hygraph’s intuitive UI, onboarding was made easy. Now even new content managers and publishers can update content in no time, while developers can improve critical features.

Scalability

Hygraph integrates easily with most modern tech stacks.

Results and benefits

  • Samsung improved content workflows for local custom solutions

  • Increased developer productivity by removing content updates from their plate

  • Cut the expected turnaround time and time to market for page updates by half

  • Achieved an estimated 15% increase in user engagement on website pages thanks to more frequent updates.

#Wrapping up

A Composable business means creating an organization from interchangeable building blocks, which allows non-technical teams to rearrange as needed depending on ini-house or market factors.

Composability is the future for enterprises as it provides greater agility, as different teams can replace and upgrade individual blocks without enlisting help from each other and, more importantly, without downtime.

Hygraph is a Gartner-recognized DXC (digital experience composition) solution that encapsulates different forms of content, allowing it to be unified and enriched, making it easy for tech and non-tech teams to create composable architectures that meet user expectations.

Blog Author

Nikola Gemes

Nikola Gemes

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