Ben  Franklin Ben Franklin | 14 Sep 2022

A multitude of key factors influence how a business approaches its digital systems, at a time when disruptive technologies take charge. Among these are shifting customer expectations, the proliferation of digital platforms and the challenge of sustaining competitive advantage.

Focusing on digital capabilities and prioritising digital transformation initiatives are increasingly important for businesses. Composable architecture proposes an agile approach to a business’s digital setup. 

As digital experiences evolve, the demand for digital agility increases. The idea of composability has been gaining ground, allowing businesses to benefit from increased scalability and speed, and equip professional teams with new possibilities. 

With customer experience (CX) strategies becoming a priority across boardrooms and buyers , there’s opportunity to capitalise on a digital agility future.

What is composable architecture? 

Adopting a modular outlook can be extended to the way a business approaches its digital suite, increasing speed and scalability.

In a nutshell, composable architecture entails connecting – or composing – multiple systems. These systems can be scaled independently, exchanged or removed with ease, speed, and minimal disruption. 

A nimble alternative to monolithic systems, composable architecture enables businesses to take the leap from an “all in one” tech stack to a modular set up.

Businesses can build an enterprise digital ecosystem with capabilities tailored to their needs while leveraging best of breed technologies. The rise of cloud technologies contributes to a cloud-native world. Meanwhile, API first strategies make composable architecture possible.

The rise of the cloud

In recent years, we’ve seen an explosion in SaaS based tools. 

This was driven by the proliferation of cloud technologies, which also led to subscription-based payment models. Among other benefits, these resulted in simplified management of CMS platforms and access to niche tools for teams.

What does cloud-native SaaS mean in action? Sitecore’s definition of cloud-native SaaS does a great job of bringing all of them together: 

cloud-native SaaS is software that is built and developed for speed and scale, and licensed via a subscription model.”

Cloud services facilitate an easily scalable microservices architecture, while minimising disruption and increasing speed. The centrally hosted subscription format offers more agility compared to the software licensing and delivery model of monolithic structures. 

Tailoring business capabilities

Microservices are central to composable architecture. The microservice style wouldn’t be classed as novel or innovative, as its roots can be traced way back. James Lewis and Martin Fowler proposed a definition for the architectural term in 2014.

Composable architecture enables businesses to join multiple services at a micro level, also known as microservices. The benefit of this is that individual services can be swapped out, without it affecting the overall system.

One of the main characteristics of a microservice approach, according to the above definition, is that each function is deployed independently, communicating through APIs.

The fact that they are loosely coupled and can be organised around business capabilities 

translates into a tailored deck of services. These can be owned by individual teams. Upgrading or changing a microservice has little to no impact on the other services, leading to greater resilience. 

Flexibility through tailored and independent business capabilities offers a host of benefits.

There is opportunity for rapid responses to shifting market needs. Additionally, the cost is lower, through the scaling of individual services.

Contributing to a modular set up for a business’s digital suite are APIs. An application programming interface facilitates the connection between applications and data. 

Aside from being key in leveraging a microservice architecture, APIs support the effective development of applications across devices, platforms and operating systems. An API first strategy has the potential to decrease time to market while reducing development cost and risk.

Putting experiences at the centre of the tech stack

At the intersection of composable architecture and popular omnichannel strategies is headless technology.

Headless in a nutshell is “a content management system that manages and organizes content without a connected front-end or display layer”, according to Contentstack. Headless supports transformative digital experiences, notably through the ability to publish across unlimited digital channels.

The separation of front-end and back-end create independency for creative and development teams. The ability of a piece of content to adapt optimally to multiple displays is key in unlocking the full potential of an omnichannel experience.

Reimagining content delivery, headless CMS and ecommerce platforms enable content driven, highly scalable, rapidly deployed and tailored digital experiences.

In a nutshell…

Let’s take a closer look, using an example:

Contentstack falls under the category of a headless CMS, whereas BigCommerce is headless ecommerce. The two can be connected easily to create a seamless headless offering.

What does that mean in action? It’s possible to display or embed products and categories, without the hassle of leaving your CMS – and pushing your product data to a variety of platforms.

The outcome? A business’s internal team benefits from an optimised process that saves time and reduces risk. Consumers enjoy diverse and engaging multichannel content production. All by bringing together two headless systems. Quite simple really.

Composable architecture ultimately boils down to leveraging best of breed technologies – for user experiences that stand out. Modularity in this context means customisation, omnipresence and flexibility – scaled both easily and at speed.

If you would like to discuss how composable architecture can empower your teams and delight your customers, get in touch now and speak with one of our digital specialists.