Business composability for disruptive times

Composable organisations are like Lego bricks, re-shapable to create new value relevant to changing market trends

A report by Gartner identifies business composability as a priority CIOs must address in 2022. The term composability refers to a mindset and IT infrastructure enabling a business to adapt rapidly to changing business needs. Companies embracing a high level of business composability fared better during the past disruptive times than their less composable peers. They enjoy enhanced levels of innovation, responsiveness to target audience and partnership development.

Composable organisations are like Lego bricks, re-shapable to create new value relevant to changing market trends. Such mindset encourages a culture of continuous innovation, exploration of opportunities, plus devising game-changing business functions.

Defining Business Composability

The 3 actionable areas of business composability are defined by Gartner as:

  • composable thinking — a mindset to steer the business through unpredictable times and identify potential opportunities
  • composable business architecture — a blueprint plan to manage the pace of business change 
  • composable technologies — systems and data that integrate efficiently with minimal obstacles
Graphical representation of business composability practices

Business Composability in Southeast Asia

Another report by Gartner focused on the landscape of business composability in Southeast Asia (SEA). The report found SEA respondents have much room for improvement. Composable practices that are least adopted by SEA businesses are — using agile strategy to identify threats and opportunities (39%), forming multidisciplinary teams (37%), and providing cross-functional access to platforms and tools for collaboration (28%).

Gartner also observes businesses with low business composability practices performed poorly during the pandemic. They had little means to manoeuvre, dodge, and reduce losses stemming from the volatile markets.

Amongst the 3 areas of business composability, the area with the lowest adoption rate by SEA companies is composable thinking. Composable thinking comprises of 2 approaches — top-down and bottom-up approach. The former approach begins the composable thinking process at the executive level, then passing on to various subordinates. The latter approach begins the process at the technological level, and subsequently promoting aspects of composable thinking throughout the organization. Researches pointed out countries within SEA with an advanced network of digital enterprises tend to adopt a bottom-up approach. Countries with emerging digital markets such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand are likely to utilise a top-down approach.

A Way Towards Business Composability

To get the ball rolling on cultivating business composability culture, businesses can embrace the following mindsets:

  1. Foster fusion teams

Fusion teams refer to multidisciplinary team with members from diverging departments. Such teams thrive on blending members’ varied expertise to form unique collaborations. Multidisciplinary teams have un-conventional reporting structures, they may report to individual department heads or to leaders at the top of the organisation.

2. Reward innovative and agile decision making

Composability is built upon the ability to un-build and re-build one’s organisational flow according to current demands. Innovative and agile decision making is thus part of having a composable culture. By encouraging and rewarding employees to actively instil these practices into daily work, organisations are laying the foundation for a composable culture.

3. Utilise composable IT infrastructure

Characteristics of composable IT infrastructure include — scalability, the option to add and remove functional tools as and when the business’ growth requires so. Intelligent, infrastructure utilising machine learning and AI to devise predicative solutions. Operates anywhere, these applications’ operation isn’t limited to on-site or off-site. They are at foremost operated by virtual machines and on cloud servers. This makes their on-demand services easily deployable anytime, anywhere.

Self-assessment of a business’ level of composability

Building composable businesses is an avenue for future-proofing business from the effects of volatile markets. Exploring options for establishing flexible practices in relatively stable times, enables organisations to turn the tide against disruptions. Monika Sinha from Gartner sums it up in this quote:

The “new normal” is disruption. Organizations that lean into this reality and leverage their innovation capacity, technology and reach to deliver the scale and pace needed to achieve enterprise goals, will out-deliver their peers. They will not only survive, but grow as a result and stay ahead of the pack.

Monika Sinha VP Analyst 
Gartner 2022 CIO Agenda