The CIO agenda: Composable business models for a technology multiverse approach to the future

Composable business is like playing jenga - many parts make a strong whole

IT budgets continue to grow at the fastest rate in over ten years, and as the business struggle to match the pace of a turbulent, disruptive market, how they choose to invest their resources could be a deciding factor in how they fare in uncertain economic times. The latest Gartner CIO agenda report shows how composable businesses came out ahead of their competitors – with the flexibility and agility to leverage change as an opportunity.

This increase means businesses and in particular IT-led companies need to make tough decisions about where they invest. Those that plan for many possible futures are primed to adapt to new opportunities and circumstances present.

The multiple futures of Tech post-pandemic

Disruption is not a new concept, especially in the Tech and IT space. However recent years have highlighted how external circumstances can disrupt markets and how the approach defines business success in turbulent times.

The pandemic saw market conditions rapidly change. For many Technology firms, there was a positive impact, with the adoption of cloud, remote and hybrid technology investments accelerating into the mid-size business market. The efficiency in dealing with the unexpected demand was most successful where there weren’t rigid processes and hierarchies that couldn’t be flexible. Those who pivoted to a more modular setup (composable) were able to plan for multiple future outcomes.

The “new normal” is disruption. Organizations that lean into this reality and leverage their innovation capacity, technology and reach will not only survive, but grow as a result.
Monika Sinha, VP Analyst, Gartner

What is a composable business?

Gartner’s latest CIO Agenda report details the elements of composable business structures within the technology sector and how these help companies manage risk and adapt their offering and processes to new market conditions.

Composable businesses are divided into modular and interchangeable building blocks, which are quick to adapt to the changing needs of a market, optimizing for rapid adaptability and business resilience.

Composable business strategy can be split into 4 key elements:

  1. Modularity:
    Splitting a domain into separately managed components helps scale and control change
  2. Autonomy:
    Components should as much as possible be independent from each other to maintain the integrity of change
  3. Orchestration:
    Prescribing and negotiating interactions between components allows for re-composition to form new processes
  4. Discovery:
    The ability to discover, understand and design new opportunities using existing components to direct and maintain change.

Read the full Gartner ICO report: Becoming Composable: A Gartner Trend Insight Report

Composability is a spectrum that ranges from those just starting to adopt it to those that have made composability the default for their business.

“The greater the level of mastery of business composability, the higher the relative performance.”
Gartner CIO Agenda Report 2022

What’s the difference between traditional and composable business?

Traditional businesses are focused on efficiency and improving their delivery towards set objectives – where composable businesses optimise for flexibility and agility over pre-determined objectives set in stone.

The approach to technology also differs. With traditional approaches focus on automation that drives efficiency and scale, composable businesses focus on technologies that support multiple outcomes simultaneously. This benefits both the Tech and IT firm through to the customer to end user. With a composable business structure, execution is quicker, allowing CIO’s to accelerate projects, and make more rapid changes.

Composable thinking can be leveraged when teams are trusted and empowered

“Composable thinking is the mindset to guide the business through uncertainties and opportunities.”
– Gartner CIO Agenda Report 2022

Traditionally, teams are composed of generalists and specialists all working towards set outcomes in their specific roles. Composable businesses look for their people to be flexible versatilists able to adapt and change hats as required to meet demand.

It comes down to a perspective on change. For Technology companies and consultancies, we are already seeing a shift of view. Seeing change as an opportunity, not a risk.  

Composable thinking isn’t just for the CIO. It needs to be embedded at every level of a business. Teams need to be empowered to respond to change in a high-trust company culture that allows them to identify and act on signals effectively.

Real change requires a technology architecture that allows people to take action.

This starts with mindset. But to build an architecture that secures a business now and in the future, people need to be able to continuously learn and adapt. This is the benefit of a composable architecture.

One way of promoting agility and cross-pollination is building multidisciplinary teams with a wide range of skillsets working towards achieving the same value proposition. Moving from generalists and specialists to versatilists – who have the capacity to achieve expertise while also consistently learning and adapting.

High business composability looks like:

  • distributing accountability across leaders
  • trialing and supporting new ways of working
  • designing technology and business in parallel
  • an architecture that allows quick and agile response to conditions.

Composable technology refers to systems that integrate data and processes quickly and easily  – and is an important component of composable business and architecture. An iterative approach that optimizes to improve performance as well as goals according to need tends to drive better results, especially when market conditions so rapidly transform.

How to hire for a composable business

Composable businesses, like all businesses, are powered by people. In a fast-paced market and ever-changing landscape, there are some principles we’d recommend to help you adopt a composable business strategy effectively

  1. Listen to your people
    Composable businesses empower people at every level to innovate and adapt – but without listening to what skills and support your existing people need, you risk biased decision-making and strategy that doesn’t match the needs of your business as they develop. Work with across departments to ensure regular feedback and constant communication channels.
  2. Create multidisciplinary teams
    A key component of composable business is multidisciplinary teams that allow you to leverage a modular business model, teams with the skillset to function autonomously as their objectives evolve. Teams should have a variety of skillsets and minds along with the capacity to continue to learn and adapt.
  3. Invest in training and development
    Another important aspect, particularly in a tight job market, is to invest in training and development. Versatilists don’t need to be bought, they can be grown. Development not only helps you retain your staff but it’s fundamental to success with a composable business approach. Development programs should evolve along with your needs, meeting needs as they emerge.
  4. Recruit for the future or futures
    Talent needs have always been quick to develop, however hiring with the futures in mind is key to ensuring you have the people to drive change. As pandemic times have shown, demand for specific skillsets is high and companies are competing for candidates to meet their needs. It’s important to think beyond what you need right now, and pair talent acquisition with training and development to facilitate composable business principles.

Recruiting into the unknown is possible with the right strategy

Our recruitment specialists have decades of experience matching technology specialists with versatile skills to roles in this ever-shifting technology and IT space. Whether that’s replacing someone, hiring a new role, or building a new team.

With Technology hiring experts on every continent, and some of the biggest tech and IT Consultancy clients in the field, our market insights and tailor-made strategies help you find the people you need to power change.

Partner with us for truly collaborative consultation that meets your needs as you define them.


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