Category: Business

The potential of composability in business operations

By Brett Li, Tonkean

Attitudes about work are shifting. Employees want and need new things, such as flexibility, autonomy, and the ability to operate in a truly agile fashion. Digital transformation has likewise created new opportunities for innovation and process design. But so, too, have these forces created new challenges that need to be addressed. To adapt, organizations need to empower employees—and, in particular, business operations teams, who are charged with designing new work experiences—with the ability to innovate and solve problems more efficiently and in their own right. To do that, organizations are increasingly turning to a new approach to solutions design: composability.

Once adopted at scale, it will change everything. Here’s how.

What is composability?

Composability is a way of constructing software or processes with “building blocks” composed of business capabilities. The building blocks, which are generated and regulated by IT, represent actions. The blocks are fundamentally interchangeable, and they can be assembled and reassembled with a no-code platform to create layered, more complex solutions—roughly in the same way open source components are manipulated by developers to create applications.

What makes composability so revolutionary? 

According to a study by Tonkeancomposability is revolutionary in part because of the self-sufficiency it allows. Historically, doing things like automating workflows is something that organizations have relied on their IT teams to facilitate. That’s because using automation software has often required that users know how to code—something only roughly .4% of the population knows how to do. This has created inefficient dependencies.

Composability obviates those roadblocks by enabling domain experts to design and create their own workflows and solutions even if they don’t know how to code.

Of course, no-code tools available on the market already claim that they do the same.

The issue with most no-code platforms, though, is that there is a tradeoff between how accessible the platform is and the complexity of solutions that can be built. Thus, they can’t be used to create truly cross-functional or operationally impactful solutions—solutions that are actually needed to accelerate the business.

Further, when no-code tools are used in a stand-alone manner to create apps without input or oversight from IT—apps that are unvetted and ultimately unsupportable—they risk exposing sensitive data, creating internal vulnerabilities, and compromising compliance.

When no-code is used as a means of accessing and building composable solutions, however—because building composable solutions entails assembling and reassembling modular, IT-curated, integrated building blocks, each with explicit permissions built in—operations teams can build much more sophisticated solutions which succeed in increasing agility and empowering organizations, but without compromising their company’s data.

Organizations that empower non-IT employees to create composable tools prove 2.6 times more likely to accelerate digital business outcomes than organizations that do not, according to a Gartner survey.

Business Operations will be redesigned to accommodate composability

There are myriad hurdles that business operations teams will be able to overcome in the composable enterprise. There are likewise many different kinds of gains composability should help organizations realize—such as increased revenue growth, for starters. In 2022, CIOs and technology executives at composable enterprises expect their revenue to grow on average by 7.7%, according to another recent Gartner survey.

In addition, composable platforms allow companies to save on resources. Research shows that most organizations are bogged down in apps. Non-technical teams remain dependent on developers for all forms of technological enablement. Apps; developer-time; time squandered waiting on IT to solve every little problem operations teams, for example, run into—all this is expensive, and results in delayed projects.

Composable platforms, however, solve for these issues, by enabling non-technical teams to in effect enable themselves, facilitate faster production cycles through iteration, and, ultimately, create processes that empower employees to both work the way they want as well as make better overall use of the tools they already have. This creates a more enjoyable and effective employee experience, leading to better retention rates and avoiding expensive and unproductive turnover, among other things.

Composability will redefine the way we work—both in business operations and beyond

One reason business operations is such a fitting department for organizations to empower first with composable software is the role business operations teams play in designing employee experiences and company processes writ large. Business operations teams are the directors of a given company’s orchestra, determining how its unique mix of people, technology, and data are used to move the company forward.

Composable platforms in essence give business operations teams, regardless of their technical acumen, a supercharged ability to go about that work with more creativity, efficiency, and self-determination.

But they also give business operations teams the tools they need to finally tap into the full potential of innovative and promising technologies such as automation and no-code.

With a composable platform, process designers can—without ever writing even one line of code—create internal workflows and process solutions that automate for end-users all manner of formerly menial and demanding tasks, and that empower employees to spend more time focusing on the work for which they’re uniquely qualified.

Take, for example, vendor intake and approval—or, the process of receiving, triaging, managing, and resolving all new and existing vendor requests across the organization. Many organizations still facilitate all this effectively manually. Domain experts who don’t know how to code are unable to build or implement automations which might enable them to optimize this process for efficiency and agility on their own, because most automation platforms are inaccessible to the nontechnical. But composable platforms change all that, and empower the users who are the ones completing this work to build and iterate on an optimized procurement intake, coordination, and approvals process that not only decreases the amount of time and energy legal, finance, security, and IT folks need to expend on the procurement process, but makes the process more reliable and effective over all. How? By removing the potential for human error—automating repeatable tasks—and liberating the procurement team to spend their time focused on the things that maximize their skillset and value. This improves the speed & agility with which procurement teams can support the business and maximize customer satisfaction.

This has always been the promise of automation. But allowing business operations teams to more strategically manage how and what is being automated—and to do so with the customization that composability allows—enables organizations to make the best use of the technology as possible.

The same can be said about no-code. No-code is not a silver bullet in and of itself—though that’s how it’s been positioned in the market, by virtue of its ability to create “citizen developers.”

No-code is, however, a very effective means of abstracting the technical expertise required of working with complex software components. It’s powerful for the manner in which it enables composability and makes accessible composable building blocks.

Composability is the key, then, to unlocking a future of work in which organizations are not only better positioned to operate with a greater kind of holistic agility, but to deliver for their employees a more human-centric and empowering work experience.

Led by composability, the way we think about leveraging technology is soon going to change. No longer will employees be forced to work for or around the limitations of your organization’s tech stack. Rather, we’ll all—from the world of business operations to every other element of an organization—have a new ability to make technology work for us. 

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