Adapt Business Applications to Deliver Agility and Innovation

February 22, 2021

Contributor: Meghan Rimol

As organizations undergo digital transformation, IT leaders must modernize the application portfolio to operate at the pace of business change.

New business opportunities require agility from application portfolios. Yet many businesses today are limited in their ability to adapt, often due to their application portfolios being bloated, difficult to change and aligned to the strategy of the past. 

Enter the composable business. 

A composable business is an organization that delivers business outcomes and rapidly adapts to business change. Think of it as building blocks made from applications to be assembled and rearranged as needed. 

“Application leaders are in a unique position to support digital transformation, as the ability to adapt and change applications in the portfolio is central to delivering on the composable business,” says Dennis Gaughan, Distinguished VP Analyst, Gartner. 

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To deliver the future strategy of the organization, application leaders must modernize the application portfolio to ensure it operates at the pace of business change. 

Develop a vision for the composable business

The composable business will manifest in different ways for different organizations, based on business strategy dynamics and the competitive nature of the market. A critical first step to support this vision is to define what the composable business will look like over the long term. 

Ask key questions to help the organization understand the broader market and technology impacts that will inform and influence the composable business, such as: 

  • How will the markets we operate in evolve over the next three to five years, and how will that change the competitive landscape?
  • How does our business strategy and operational structure need to change to reflect the changing market dynamics?
  • What new business models are we pursuing? What new markets do we plan to penetrate?
  • In which areas can we gain competitive advantage by developing capabilities in-house, rather than buying standard capabilities from vendors?

Once a set of longer-term goals have been established based on the current technology landscape and architecture, begin to define the organization’s roadmap to the composable business. 

Essential elements of the roadmap include:

  • A clearly defined set of business outcomes
  • A plan for modernizing the existing application state
  • A vendor strategy 
  • A target architecture
  • A plan for adapting the application delivery model
  • A powerful integration platform strategy 
  • A mechanism for measuring the realization of business outcomes 
  • A risk analysis and mitigation strategy

Read more: It's Time to Disrupt the Application Organization

Begin the architecture evolution toward PBCs

Application leaders can support composability through the assembly and combination of application building blocks, also known as packaged business capabilities (PBCs). PBCs deliver more unique and customized application experiences to users.

“The dynamic experience of the composable business will become the prevailing architecture, integration and delivery model for software innovation”

PBCs can be sourced from third parties or composed internally. They are assembled using their APIs and event streams to create application experiences that are intuitive and can be tailored to individual needs or preferences. This new portfolio is grounded in a mesh app and service architecture (MASA). It defines a new set of application capabilities that can be combined and recombined as business needs shift.

The transition to the composable business is gradual. Over time, more PBC-centric applications will be available from software vendors and marketplaces, and legacy applications will be modernized toward the PBC model. The dynamic experience of the composable business will become the prevailing architecture, integration and delivery model for software innovation.

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