If you are like most busy teams, introducing new software into your organization is a daunting task. While some stakeholders might welcome a new approach, others will argue they are simply too busy or too invested in the status quo to make a change.
That often leaves the burden of implementation on your Information Technology (IT) and operations staff, who already have a plate full (backlog) of other tasks, and can result in expensive software that goes underutilized.
So, is there a better way forward for organizations looking to streamline workflows without introducing a brand new piece of software into their crowded tech stack?
For many organizations, the concept of composable applications is helping to close this gap. In this article, I will briefly cover the concept, discuss why it is gaining ground in organizations of all sizes, and why it might be the right fit for your team.
What are composable applications?
Consider the different software services your organization uses to get work done. Perhaps your sales and marketing teams use a customer relationship management (CRM) tool to keep track of your client base. Your billing team might use an accounting platform, while your IT team may use a project tracking package. Most of these systems are likely Software as a Service (SaaS) tools that you pay for monthly or annually—and many do not talk to each other by default.
Composable applications help solve that interoperability problem.
Using this approach enables your organization to cherry pick services and solutions across the platforms you already use and integrate them together in a seamless, unified digital experience. Using the application programming interface (API) provided by these different software platforms, you can create modular applications that solve specific business challenges in a clean, easy-to-use way.
Best of all, because composable applications are built from interchangeable components, you can use them in new and different ways as your business grows and new opportunities arise.
Why do organizations choose composable applications?
The single biggest advantage of composable applications is in the name—composability. This refers to the use of reusable components that can be “composed” in different ways to build lightweight applications that solve problems. As the landscape changes, those same components can be re-composed in different ways to create new applications and solve tomorrow’s challenges.
Composability allows your team to work smarter, faster, and more efficiently using the resources you already have, rather than introducing another complex software package that requires onboarding, training, and time. As Mendix notes in their overview of what’s ahead for their software, “most applications will be built with components that were designed for reuse” as “the next step in how organizations continue to accelerate time-to-market.”
Research firm Gartner agrees. They predict that, by 2025, “60% of new SaaS designs will support both the UI-first and API-first access, making preparedness for composability a common cloud application trait.”
Are composable applications the right fit for my organization?
While the concept might be new to you, chances are the challenges that composable applications solve are familiar. If you have ever dealt with "top-down" software solutions that require your teams to significantly change the way they work, or if you have struggled to update your software workflow to face new challenges, you understand the value of composable solutions.
Nearly every organization can benefit from more flexibility and portability in their digital workflows, but composable applications work particularly well for organizations that:
- Look for digital workflows that can adapt as their business grows or their internal processes change
- Want a more flexible approach to solving internal problems, including utilizing software they already use
- Seek to build a strong working relationship within their organization, where teams from different departments can work together to develop solutions
You do not have to be using low-code solutions already to start moving towards a composable framework. But incorporating low-code can be an excellent way to jumpstart your efforts towards building solutions that are long-lasting and impactful.
How does low-code support composable applications?
Low-code software solutions—like those that we design at Kinetech using Mendix—are ideal for solving immediate business challenges with easy-to-use software.
Organizations that use low-code solutions benefit from faster deployment and easier collaboration than traditional software development. With low-code, everyone on your team has a role to play in the creation of a new digital solution. When the time comes to update a workflow to reflect changing business needs, making adjustments to low-code systems is considerably faster than traditional code (up to 6-10x faster).
With this emphasis on speed, flexibility, and transparency, it's no surprise that low-code solutions are a perfect fit for composable applications.
Mendix, our platform of choice, continues to release “connectors” that allow your low-code solutions to easily integrate with popular services like AWS, Salesforce, Slack, and SAP, making them highly adaptable and “composable” for many different uses.
How can I move towards composable applications within my organization?
Embracing composability within your digital workflows does not have to be a heavy lift for your IT team. If working with composable applications is new to you, consider seeking a partner organization as a guide. A partner can help you curate, organize, and analyze the software you already use, then design a solution that pulls different components together.
A critical first step before you engage a partner is to identify your ideal outcome. Perhaps you are juggling too much data “trapped” within too many different sources, making it difficult to measure business performance. Or maybe you are concerned that your different software platforms are siloed from one another, limiting your team’s productivity.
Whatever the challenge may be, consider what an ideal outcome would look like, as well as the impact it would have on your business and how you would measure your success.
Do not worry about designing the workflow that gets you there or trying to untangle the interplay between the software you currently use. Focusing on a clear outcome statement upfront can help your prospective partners better design a solution.
Are you ready to take the next step?
The only constant in business is change. Embracing composable applications can save your organization time, effort, money, and headaches as business needs evolve. To explore how this concept could help your organization solve the problems of today and tomorrow, we invite you to start a conversation with our team. We are here to unpack how low-code and composability can work hand-in-hand to create immediate and long-term business impact. Begin your conversation here.