The pandemic has transformed far more than social norms and working conditions. It’s caused many enterprises to change their core business model. Consider app-based taxi services, which evolved from ferrying passengers to delivering groceries when the lockdown was at its peak. Such radical and rapid change requires savvy, agility, and having composable business processes and architecture. Savvy and agility are known buzzwords, but composable business is less familiar, even though the concept has gained recent attention and is more than five years old.
Traditional enterprises use business processes that rely predominantly upon legacy applications or monolithic ERPs. These processes are largely static, an attribute that’s become increasingly challenging in an always-on, digital world. Modern commerce takes place 24 hours per day. Similarly, transformation is an iterative and ongoing process, not a one-time event. If business processes ran at only a certain time, or accepted inputs only from specific applications, they would be impediments to transformation and hinder a company’s ability to respond to rapidly changing markets.
The pandemic has forced enterprises to have a rethink. Today and in the future, business processes need to be “composable.” Composable business processes are modular in the sense that they can be used independently/interchangeably or to build another business process. When such an infrastructure is in place, companies are empowered to make rapid changes with low operational impact.
Using the business of app-based taxis as an example, the processes that would be the most impacted were related to passenger management. These processes would have primarily had functions for pickup and drop-off, with dependencies on other processes such as route optimization, in-taxi experience, etc. If the processes were composable, a new “grocery management” module would handle pickup and drop-off of groceries, space optimization, integration with stores, etc. The grocery-management process would simply “replace” the passenger-management module, and with a few changes in other areas, the new business model would be up and running.
Although this is an extremely simplified view of the enterprise, it shows the efficiency of – and need for – composable business processes. Embracing this approach requires a composable architecture as well, with modular building blocks that enable the intended functionality. These building blocks could be realized through different applications, tools, and technologies.
For example, CRM functionality could be realized using an off-the-shelf SaaS application, with an API gateway acting as the tool to handle API traffic. Hybrid mobile web-development frameworks could then be the technology to enable multi-channel functionality. The architecture would be modular in the sense that applications, tools, and technologies could be easily replaced to enable new functionality. APIs would serve as the foundational glue, abstracting the implementations and allowing for easy replacement of the building blocks without any negative impact on the customer experience.
Having a responsive enterprise that can support changes to its business model is no longer a luxury. The pace of modern business – not to mention the need for a fast response to the pandemic – makes it imperative for enterprises to improve their agility. By defining composable business processes through a composable architecture, companies will be well-equipped to achieve this vision and position themselves for ongoing transformation.