Flexibility and resilience are no longer two words that business leaders use with a motivational imprint to become key axes for the survival of organizations. After the sudden, radical changes that the pandemic brought about –without warning and overnight– it became clear that companies must be agile to change and adapt, to the extent and at speed required by the context.
Gartner issued a report identifying the twelve technology trends for this year with this scenario in mind. The list included composable applications that are defined as those applications that are “built from business-centric modular components.” According to the consulting firm, they facilitate the use and reuse of the code, thus accelerating time-to-market for new software solutions and obtaining business value.
However, implementing these applications is not tantamount to obtaining the promised benefits. A cultural change must be brought about before transitioning to a composable business. The organization as a whole must be made up of interchangeable blocks. This is not an entirely new concept: most companies already follow some of its principles.
Steps toward composability
As we mentioned before, adopting a composable model is much more than merely creating modular pieces of the different areas of the business and encapsulating them in the apps. The actual change is strategic in nature and needs to be escalated throughout the organization.
Traditional operating models, centered on efficiency, were conceived for stable business environments, where changes come about slowly and predictably – safe for the appearance of a specific disruption. However, such disruptions are the norm rather than the exception. That is why efficient organizations that were not simultaneously flexible “snapped” when reality “bent” them.
The modularization of organizations into what is known as composable businesses makes it possible to reorient operations as necessary in the event of sudden changes, whether internal or external: new work models, alterations in the supply chain, a sudden turnaround in client behavior, new regulations or even totally unexpected situations – as was the case with the pandemic.
The four principles
According to Gartner, a composable business operates with four basic principles: faster reactions through discovery, greater agility through modularity, better leadership through orchestration, and greater resilience through autonomy.
As technology partners, at Making Sense every project starts with a discovery stage. A key and robust process, our discovery consists of an analysis involving technology, business, and design experts to rethink the business in a forward-looking manner.
To move from a utopian construction to a practical structure, the company will require a change in its mindset and the reconstruction of its business architecture to make it truly flexible and resilient. In this context, technology plays a crucial role in development. It is not a question of throwing everything away and starting from scratch. Instead, it is about intelligently combining digital investments already made –particularly those related to flexible technologies that are very well known by organizations, such as agile development, APIs, or containers– with new requirements mandated by the discovery principle that, in turn, enables leveraging the model.
In the era of composability, data and infrastructure are a part of the composable model. They are stored and sent to different resources, remote equipment, or devices; therefore, they are only provided when end users request.
Composable data and infrastructures accelerate business processes by preventing processing hardware from experiencing bottlenecks when storing too much data. It simply transfers them to another system and makes them available whenever required.
Additionally, composable infrastructure can be built and facilitated with no code or low code. That is, the labor force –and not just the data experts– will benefit from it.
The future is composable
The first step to draw up a composable strategy is to make a diagnostic evaluation to determine how advanced the company is in this regard and conduct a discovery process to identify potential areas for modularization and improvement.
Putting together a multidisciplinary team is of the utmost importance. The team must align itself with the following purposes: eliminating uncoordinated silos and turning them into an end-to-end flow of talent similar to the client’s experience or the organization’s needs, democratizing access to data applications, and training the human resources on the topic of agility. The use of agile methods must extend to all the activities in the organization and not only to those related to IT.
The good news is that these developments are in their early stages worldwide. According to Gartner, barely 6% of businesses can consider themselves mature in the composable model, while a broader 81% falls into the category of “moderate development.” Any step taken in that direction will be a pioneering step.
Composable business models supported by new technologies will allow organizations that face an uncertain and highly changeable future to adapt to each new scenario without falling apart in the attempt.