Composability is driving change for digital experiences

PHOTO: Athiwat

Seeking to solve long lead times and inefficiencies, companies are moving away from monolithic technology and toward composability, decentralizing innovation and delivering business results faster than before.

The support is there, with venture capital flowing into decoupled, headless and Jamstack technologies, but companies will need to overcome internal inertia and engage people and processes for the transition to a decoupled future.

Dig into MACH architectures

Composable, decoupled, and MACH (microservices, API-based, cloud, and headless) marketing technologies are all part of the same modern, modular technology approach where the front-end (what the user sees and interacts with) and the back-end (the business and the underlying data processes) are separated from each other. Non-IT functions like marketing and human resources are then able to manage these separate digital interfaces.

Components can be quickly selected and assembled in different ways to independently optimize front and rear ends without fear that changing one will affect the other.

The separate front-end and back-end work together efficiently through simple communication protocols – more efficiently, in fact, than if they were truly intertwined.

In technical terms, composable technologies disrupt traditional architectures by using decoupled patterns for applications, integrations, and cloud services. Headless content management, headless search, and Jamstack services are examples of well-funded marketing technologies that support the notion of operational independence and rapidly evolving composable businesses.

These modular technologies dramatically reduce time to market, enabling agile business maneuvers like setting up new websites in days and new features in hours.

Related Article: Goodbye DXPs, Hello Composable Stacks

Decoupling promises solutions

Digital technology investors and evaluators clearly recognize the need to address long-standing digital transformation issues such as time-to-market delays, uncontrollable project costs, vendor lock-in, and reliance on specialist skills. Let’s take a closer look at some of the critical expected business outcomes of composable investments:

  • Speed ​​to market: Executive sponsors can immediately demonstrate measurable results with technology that allows them to compete with digital-focused companies, capitalize on timely opportunities, and meet rapidly changing market demands.
  • Operational independence: Business leaders are looking to manage digital products with much less reliance on scarce IT resources or expensive systems integrators.
  • Cost control: MACH composability inherently allows you to reduce technical debt and decommission legacy systems that consume budget and talent.
  • Optimization of intellectual property: By decoupling the front-end from other systems, you can compete with your business rules, market savvy, and differentiated customer experience.
  • Professional development: Your staff is exposed to a broader set of product management and go-to-market skills, which helps retain talent during this “big quit” time.

Related Article: What Digital Leaders Want in MACH-Based Architectures

Traditional businesses stuck on outdated platforms

Are these promised business results coming true? Yes and no. Businesses built on speed and market-ready technology (such as FinTech and HealthTech) benefit. However, traditional enterprises, which remain stuck on outdated platforms and neglect to integrate their processes and teams, are yet to fully realize these significant business benefits.

Many enterprise-scale organizations are struggling to let go of monolithic technologies. Time and money have been invested in integrating things like digital marketing software suites – libraries have been built, development teams and management processes put in place, entire departments structured around platform maintenance.

Systems integrators who benefit from longer lead times and more complex and expensive technologies do not help. This limits opportunities for innovation and can lead to turf battles over resources and prioritization, which is why culture is so critical to achieving composable business outcomes.

Keys to success: platforms, processes, people

What does it take to recognize success here? It is a three-pronged approach:

  • Platforms: End portal software suites and monolithic technologies that have passed their expiration date. Leadership teams should work cross-functionally on composability and agree that the adoption of MACH and decoupling will require active efforts to terminate agreements and untangle older technologies such as portal software and legacy content repositories .
  • Process: Established governance processes focus on decision-making. To support the vision of composability, business units will need to break out of entrenched hierarchical structures, decide together to support common user experiences across digital products, and enable creative innovation to localize processes. Business results can be achieved when cross-functional business teams (e.g., marketing, sales, finance, strategy, HR, and IT) together create new processes that previously belonged to IT.
  • People: Empowering cross-functional teams is perhaps the single most important factor in driving digital transformations and achieving business results through decoupled technologies. Achieving operational independence while reducing dependency on vendors and IT requires a culture that enables a decentralized way of working. Hierarchical cultures will struggle with composability because of their siled approach to organizational power that is fueled by “owning” technologies that should be retired or decoupled so that business owners can leverage layers of experience without depending of a key person.

Conclusion: Which side of the composable tipping point are you on?

Despite the fact that many organizations of all sizes will always struggle with cultural barriers, more and more organizations will proactively implement decoupled technologies with an evolved set of processes and updated operating models as as an essential factor in the growth and transformation of their incomes.

We are at a tipping point – investors and buyers have realized this. It is now up to the rest of the organization to help realize meaningful gains by recognizing that internal inertia exists and that organizational change and cross-functional trust are prerequisites for realizing composable enterprise gains.

Eric Feige is a digital transformation leader serving innovation-driven financial services, healthcare and technology organizations. As Chief Strategy Officer at VShift, he mobilizes the marketing, sales, product, technology, human resources and operations functions around actionable strategies that increase revenue growth.

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