May 24 2022

What Is Business Composability, and Why Is it Correlated with Growth?

The most successful organizations take a modular approach to everything, including IT.

If the past 2 ½ years have shown us anything, it’s that life is unpredictable, and the most successful businesses are the ones that are quick on their feet.

Many people call this quality business resilience, while others have different terms. Whatever words you use, what I’ve seen over many years from organizations that possess it is that it comes from two places.

First is the nature of the leadership: Some executives are simply more unflappable than their peers, and these cool-under-pressure leaders tend to have sustained success. Perhaps even more important, though, is the internal structure of the business. The best-run organizations are purpose-built to be nimble.

That idea of resilience by design is what the IT research firm Gartner was getting at recently when it touted what it calls “business composability.” In particular, it said its survey of CIOs and other tech leaders found that 63 percent of highly composable organizations reported superior business performance.

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How Can Composability Make Your Infrastructure More Resilient?

When it comes to IT infrastructure, composability means designing IT systems in a modular way so that an organization can quickly adapt to changing business conditions with new applications or revamped processes, replacing certain pieces with others without undue impact on the rest of the environment.

The old way of doing business was to “focus on efficiency and assume an orderly, slow-changing and relatively predictable business environment,” explains Monika Sinha, a vice president and analyst with Gartner, in its 2022 CIO Agenda report. The new way is to understand that “the ‘new normal’ is disruption,” she says, and “organizations that lean into this reality” will outdeliver their peers.

In practical terms, this means rethinking the IT planning and budgeting process, moving away from static budgets formed during “budget season” that can’t grow with the business and instead using an iterative process so that tech leaders can respond to business conditions in real time.

EXPLORE: Learn what technology should be a priority in your organization's IT budget. 

How to Make Your IT Budget More Composable

In most cases, this means spending more money on tech. In 2022, CIOs at high-composability enterprises expect IT budgets to grow, on average, 4.2 percent, compared with a 3.1 percent increase for moderate- and low-composability organizations. But it also means making more money, with composable organizations anticipating revenue increases of 7.7 percent, compared with 3.4 percent for their less composable peers.

What kinds of technologies do these more adaptable businesses invest in? Unsurprisingly, cloud is a popular investment, not only because it allows them to scale quickly, but also because it gives them access to a range of advanced services, from data analytics to machine learning.

“Composability needs to extend throughout the technology stack, from infrastructure that supports rapid integration of new systems and new partners to workplace technology that supports the exchange of ideas,” Sinha says.

All of this confirms what I’ve seen: The most effective organizations respond better to unexpected change because they take a modular approach to everything they do, starting with their IT stacks.

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