The composable enterprise – the agile alternative to antiquated business systems

Rick Veague, CTO, IFS, North America, writes about why businesses need composable enterprise systems.

The composable enterprise – the agile alternative to antiquated business systems

Rick Veague, Chief Technology Officer for North America, IFS 

As new commercial opportunities arise, more businesses are finding that legacy ERP systems are constraining their need for agility and versatility. These systems can no longer offer the freedom for companies to adapt quickly to fulfill a specific client or customer need and instead prove to be a static and outdated barrier to growth and profit. These legacy monolithic systems are also flatfooted in the wake of sudden supply chain issues, brought about for example by the pandemic, or changes in customer expectation, such as the desire for lower carbon goods and services. 

Businesses are seeing these trends develop rapidly and are seeking a system that can easily evolve. No such issues arise from a composable enterprise system that can quickly adapt to serve both internal and external needs, and that’s where businesses are looking right now, as they move to make their enterprises more composable than ever before. 

Utilizing composability to maximize CX at every touchpoint 

A recent report by Boomi showed that by 2023 businesses that have already obtained and utilized a system founded on the principles of composability will have an 80 percent speed advantage on implementing new features when compared to a business that does not. This shift means companies are being forced to rethink the architecture of systems and operations to embrace adaptable and agile technologies that increase CX at the most vital moments of service. 

Composability shifts do not need to daunt a business—instead, they can be implemented in the following three ways: implementing a service-based mentality, rethinking microservices that easily incorporate scalability, and finally using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to combine and strengthen the capabilities of the business.

  1. Embracing customer-centric servitization to optimize outcomes and not costs 

A composable enterprise whose portfolio is made up of heterogeneous applications from a palette of best-of-breed solutions allows organizations to address key inflection points throughout every customer, product, or service lifecycle.

As more consumers demand continuous value and reliability throughout an asset’s lifetime, businesses recognize that they must shift to selling outcomes and experiences instead of products, to meet these new expectations for quality service. This requires each part of an operation to align not around immediate sales or revenue, but around delivering a quality Moment of Service™—the inflection point where everything comes together to create better value and outcomes for customers. 

Moving to a servitized model requires a composable stack in order to deliver services to order. At a systems level, this transformation requires organizations to adapt applications dynamically and deliver positive customer experiences with effective quality management, customer support, and access to complete information about the service offering. Unlike traditional enterprise software, this involves connecting data and applications that have often sat in separate silos. A composable enterprise can provide a service-orientated architecture that enables businesses to become outcome-based and ready to quickly adapt to future disruptions. 

  1. Giving microservices the freedom to grow with composable architecture

If applications are built as loosely coupled services, then companies can employ a composable architecture to capitalize on independently deployable modules that are organized around business capabilities. This allows organizations to swap modules in and out to suit emergent needs and build a well-structured, best-fit solution for their unique business. 

In contrast to a monolithic architecture, businesses can easily add resources to the most needed microservice rather than having to scale the entire application as demand for an application increase. In practice, this allows businesses to simplify customizable workflows and optimize business processes while leveraging and applying tools such as robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, or the plethora of hyper-automation capabilities available today.

  1. Exploiting APIs to boost data-sharing 

Packaged business capabilities (PBC) assembled using APIs are the foundation of every composable enterprise. They are used by businesses to secure data across cloud services, business systems, and mobile applications. Historically, APIs have been used in monolithic applications to exchange data between the entire application and external applications and services. In composable software, APIs exchange data from individual modules to external applications and within the application—from module to module. This has significant implications for how systems are designed and built.

APIs can provide a controlled and consumable method for connecting and sharing consumer and business data by creating experiences tailored to individual needs. For instance, an API-centric model can secure and manage data access to help businesses make decisions quicker and deliver relevant new services adaptable to market changes. In the future, there will be more automated continuous process improvements as machine learning models recommend, or even proactively make, process changes to improve outcomes for the business and end customer.

Revolutionizing IT systems to deliver greater efficiencies across the value chain and redefine CX

In order to transcend the limitations of legacy systems, a profound rethink is needed with a business’s approach toward applications. With composable software that is engineered with flexibility and agility at its core, both internal and external shocks can be absorbed without damaging a business’s value chain, CX or internal operations. 

With a composable enterprise architecture, businesses unlock the possibility to redesign operations and processes to improve all customer touchpoints while maximizing IT optimization to mitigate unexpected problems and encourage growth.

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