Composable Enterprise

What is Composable Enterprise?

If a business wants to be able to innovate and adapt applications rapidly and dynamically, it must implement a composable enterprise.

Composable enterprises leverage the API economy and involve businesses putting their offerings together in a modular way—breaking down components into smaller services called microservices or packaged business capabilities (PBCs). It’s a move away from single, large applications to modular business procedures that can be made into workflows for specific business purposes and integrated across a company’s tech stack.

The reason for this shift is constant technological advancement. Businesses are being forced to meet customer demands and keep up with technological innovation, so they must be able to adapt quickly. Customers want increasing personalization, connected digital experiences, on-demand capabilities, artificial intelligence, and more digitization of older business models.  

The Composable Experience

Imagine a salesperson emailing a lead, scheduling a call, and providing a demo all in one environment. That’s the composable experience. Seamless workflows across business processes can be configured in the way your business requires.

Composable architecture enables your organization to be more agile while adapting, evolving, innovating, and responding faster than ever before. Design elements and systems can be reused across any digital experience. The same applications and user interfaces (UI) your employees use will be the same as those your customers use. You can compose simple and streamlined processes for employees and a compelling customer journey for consumers. 

Composability means rapidly delivering a seamless, personalized digital experience. You can customize your whole system, supporting and enhancing existing processes and infrastructure.

Packaged Business Capabilities, Microservices, and APIs

PBCs are a key piece of composable enterprise. They’re used to create the “best-of-breed” solution.

What exactly are PBCs?

PBCs are software components that consist of a collection of a data schema and set of services, APIs, and event channels. 

Basically, PBCs represent certain defined business capabilities. They’re building blocks for developers to create custom-assembled apps. They connect key software and microservices in a way that allows organizations to scale business functions more quickly. Capabilities can be reused and repurposed to form new and different applications. 

Since they’re building blocks that can be assembled in a variety of ways, development teams can piece together components in order to come up with new functionalities to address a business’s unique needs.

The other critical variable in this formula is APIs and API management. APIs are required for enterprise architects to facilitate and scale PBCs across an entire digital enterprise. APIs allow the custom mix of components to be pieced together.

API developer portals let app developers and fusion teams (also known as application teams) explore, test, and learn about the capabilities that exist across the tech stack. 

Fusion Teams

Fusion teams are groups of people with skills ranging from business to IT. This blend of skills and experience allows companies to adapt and meet consumer demands. Through regular collaboration, these teams can better achieve objectives, adapt to changing priorities, and learn new tools and processes more easily. 

By not siloing these teams into their respective departments, decisions can be made and products delivered more quickly as all the necessary individuals are working together.

Some of the advantages of having multidisciplinary teams are:

  • Better distribution of responsibility for delivery—collaboration is heavily encouraged
  • Less time waiting for certain information and answers from other departments
  • The ability to make informed decisions more quickly
  • Increased autonomy, which often leads to greater commitment from the team members

Microservices 

Microservices are the functions of an application that are broken down into small, autonomous services that work together.

They complement PBCs, which can be thought of as combinations of microservices. Microservices are how an application is designed, constructed, and deployed. PBCs are how the app is brought to market and how users consume it. 

Companies can then become more of a business platform than just a provider of one service or product. Consider Amazon, for example. They sell products, host servers (AWS), provide digital services like TV streaming (Amazon Video), offer groceries and delivery, and more. An organization that thinks in this way can rethink, repurpose, and put together complementary and diverse products and services.

In theory, a solution can include 50 microservices, but each would be from a different vendor. This would mean integration costs would be huge, and users would have to experience 10 different UIs from different vendors within one commerce platform. 

This is where PBCs enter the picture. 

PBCs offer benefits, such as:

  • Less complexity – Businesses deal with fewer building blocks, meaning simpler construction, deployment, and personnel training.
  • Ability to change and upgrade – As new microservices appear, older ones can be altered to accommodate new tech and frameworks.

Benefits of Composable Enterprise

A modular architecture paired with well-defined APIs has benefits including more flexibility and agility. Other benefits of a composable enterprise include: 

Speedy Innovation

With composable applications, there’s no going into the backend code to make changes, as the business logic can be configured within the API. When you add or alter existing code other bugs almost always crop up. However, with this modular approach to design, everything is easier and therefore faster. Updates can be made or undone across touchpoints seamlessly. With this unified logic across all touchpoints, there are no siloes and no unnecessary work.

Complexity Support

Modular architecture can support complex business models that span markets and channels. Companies that are working to bring shopping solutions from a web browser to mobile apps, voice commerce (Amazon’s Alexa©), AR and VR, in-store digital and contactless transactions, will need this composable architecture. 

Custom Solutions

Organizations can curate their own packaged business capabilities and microservices, meaning they can pick the best tools for their needs at any given moment. The flexibility also allows them to swap components in and out as needed. A combination of built and bought services work together in a composable environment. 

The Composable Enterprise Workforce

Firstly, there’s a talent gap that needs addressing. On top of mapping business needs, setting objectives, and exploring related technology, organizations must be able to acquire talent and find vendors that are ready to innovate. Regardless of where a company is at, even making small efforts toward becoming a composable enterprise can lead to a bright future. 

The composable enterprise is altering the workforce in a variety of ways, including:

  • Requiring IT and business leaders to align on goals
  • More and faster collaboration between vendors, tech staff, and contract workers
  • Exploring alternative management methods to enable rapid change
  • Making additional and app-specific tech partners necessary

Software Democratization and Citizen Developers

Gartner, in their Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2020, encouraged organizations to explore democratization of expertise, which includes software democratization. It’s estimated that only about 2% of the world’s population know how to program, and the job demand for software developers is expected to go up by 22% between now and 2029. This clearly indicates the gap between the need and the workforce. 

Democratization means providing easier access to technical or business expertise without intensive and expensive education and training. Democratizing software will enable companies to be more efficient—responding faster to change and reducing delays in progress. It also makes for greater flexibility with less time and cost spent to develop apps and other solutions. 

Citizen developers are those who can make their visions a reality when the technical language and other barriers are removed. 

What does a citizen developer look like?

  • May or may not have system development knowledge 
  • Doesn’t necessarily have an IT background or education
  • Likes to solve problems
  • Uses low or no-code platforms to develop business solutions

Low-Code & No-Code

Low-code solutions, just like they sound, provide the opportunity for citizen developers to create applications through platforms that require very little coding. It can be as simple as dragging and dropping or using pre-configured elements.

Going one step further, no-code development platforms (NCDPs) enable users to create application software through a user interface that is business-user friendly. There’s no need for any coding or programming. These platforms are increasing in popularity as companies compete for qualified software developers and deal with a largely mobile workforce. 

These platforms vary greatly in terms of functionality, but the goal is the same: accelerate development and delivery. To assist in building a composable enterprise, this no-code option allows you to control the experience without the need to spend time hard-coding.

How to Build a Composable Enterprise

Start your path to building a composable enterprise by taking the following steps:

1. Opt for composable applications**

2. Create a strategy for the shift to modularity. 

3. Figure out your perfect combination of “buy” and “build” for microservices and PBCs.

4. Be prepared with questions to ask composable vendors.

**It isn’t necessary to implement only composable applications as certain solutions can actually make just about any application work in a composable manner. You can begin building a composable enterprise today with a solution like WalkMe’s code-free Digital Adoption Platform.

Join the industry leaders in digital adoption