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The composable architecture revolution

Circles, lines and hexagons

A composable architecture strategy uses a mix of the best and most appropriate technology platforms connected via APIs to deliver a superior solution to business requirements and capabilities. It means only paying for what’s needed and the ability to easily change as needs change - platforms are simply swapped in and out.  Vendor lock-in is avoided.

Amongst many options, a typical stack could include a Content Management System (CMS), eCommerce platform and Customer Relationship Platform (CRM). All are supplied from different sources but all work together to improve agility and boost speed to market. 

Composable architecture is simple and convenient and far less complex than a typical homebrew solution. However, it requires careful thought and planning and, while there are short term gains, it can take a little time for some of the cost and performance benefits to come through. However, enterprise businesses are becoming increasingly comfortable with the long-term value of implementing a composable architecture. A revolution has begun. 

The challenge of transformation

At a recent roundtable event hosted with Contentful, we looked at the challenges of getting started with a composable architecture. We were joined by senior leaders from major global brands across sectors such as Finance and FMCG. 

Discussions centered around the greatest challenges when transforming digital operations. A poll unsurprisingly saw ‘unifying cultural silos’ come out as a clear winner with over 50% of the votes. This was followed by ‘disconnected or misaligned systems across channels’ then ‘identifying disconnected data architecture’.

We looked at these challenges in the three key areas of People, Processes and Platform. 

Getting people in the right mindset

The first big challenge for adopting a composable strategy is breaking the mould of traditional waterfall projects – trying to unify people into thinking differently and removing silos.
We often see organisations that have all the right skills in house to deliver composable but struggling to pull them all together to reach their goals in terms of content and engagement from all their different channels.

To change this mindset, you need a sharp definition of what experiences you want to deliver. It has never been so easy to make the case for transformation, but all your teams need to be facing in the same direction. 

You need the organisational structure and people to understand and maximise the value of composable architecture – which is something many are struggling with. Composable architecture is the enabler, it sets the foundation, but you've got to have the strategy in place on how to execute.”
Steve Shaw, Technical Director, Kin + Carta

Putting the processes in place

One of the big challenges faced with composable architecture is in identifying and unifying disconnected data. Some are struggling to crack this issue for reasons of digital maturity. A company might have a huge amount of data that comes from regional groups and globally. However, this data is not unified or accessible in one place. 

Another issue is legacy technology. One of the senior leaders at the roundtable stated that building the digital front end is quite easy and creating capability really quickly can be done  through cloud capabilities on Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform AWS. However, taking new products to market really quickly was a problem due to backend systems that were decades old.  You’re only as good as your weakest link and, unless the foundations change, your business will never fundamentally be able to change.
One of the things that management can really help with is true end-to-end customer journeys. They should focus on procedures and the systems and unify the huge amount of disconnected data they often have.”
Thomas Clayson, Manager - Solution Engineering, Contentful

The opportunity

One of the senior leaders present talked about how many organisations are now looking to develop a Direct to Consumer strategy whilst others want to bolster their B2B2C approach.  For both, a composable architecture supports these ambitions through APIs that connect content, data and products. The separation of the different elements allows for greater agility in their offering.

By using the shared data sources and common API principles across the whole ecosystem, the silos are removed along with the duplicated effort of managing or updating content or product data in different systems. When it comes to content, using Contentful’s content platform as the single source of truth brings many clear benefits. Managing content in a global, scalable platform provides consistency of message and allows local markets to deliver additional context. 

Want to learn about improving customer experiences with composable architecture?

Get in touch.

Developing the platform

The real sweet spot of composable architecture is the intersection of People, Processes and the Platforms. It’s the composable architecture that can enable you to overcome the functional silos preventing you from being more agile. How can new tech unite organisational silos so that you can oversee complex systems, align the business and deliver value at every marketing touchpoint?

There is still the need to deliver quick wins and stay alive in the market while a composable strategy plays through. However, the nature of the process means that you're able to start small and iterate. Choose the most critical systems first, prove success early and build the business case for ongoing development.

Kin + Carta is currently supporting a number of organisations in different sectors including charities, financial services, FMCG and governments in setting out their digital vision. The digital vision and the strategy on how to achieve that goal helps to get people on board and working towards that unified goal along with the quick wins. 

Do you feel like you need to make a fundamental shift in your organisation so you can avoid repeating the same mistakes of the past?  Are you coming up to one of the usual upgrade cycles? Then now is the time to consider composable and get in touch to see how we can help you make the agile transformation.

Find out more about composable architecture and how it can provide your organisation with best in class customer experiences.

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