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Top 4 Pitfalls When Adopting Composable Tech

And How to Avoid Them

  • Article
  • 6 MIN READ
  • Sep 1, 2023
Matt Gould
Matt Gould

Chief Commerce Officer

A man ascends an upward arrow to avoid four pitfalls while approaching a display of composable tech pop ups


In recent years many major organizations have moved away from monolithic legacy tech systems (think Oracle) to take a more flexible, composable approach to their digital ecosystems. The results have been impressive: revenue, sales, and efficiency gains have followed for companies that deliver improved user experiences with modern tech.

Like any undertaking, however, the process of adopting composable technology carries risks. Those risks are far outweighed by the benefits of delivering modern digital experiences for customers. With that said, it’s still important to know what the risks are and how to avoid them.

Based on insights from Apply Digital’s Chief Commerce Officer Matt Gould and Chief Technology Officer Dom Selvon, we'll explore the four most common pitfalls encountered when adopting composable technology — and how to avoid falling into these traps.

1. Underestimating the operational impact of going composable

Adopting composable tech means change at every operational level. Some of those changes are cultural, but others are technical in nature.

For example, when it comes to measurement and reporting, monolithic systems offer consistent observability patterns across an entire environment.

With composable tech, it’s up to the adopting organization to determine the metrics generated by each component of the stack. The upside is unprecedented flexibility in how you measure, track, and report on performance. But if an organization generates multiple discrete, custom reports from each component, it can generate a vast amount of data that can be challenging to view holistically.

How to avoid this pitfall

Organizations should align key performance indicators (KPIs), tracking standards, and reporting formats across their composable stack and create a unified dashboard to display relevant data from a single source of truth.

2. Making digital change an 'IT only' initiative

Going composable isn’t just a technical venture. It’s a whole-of-business imperative, and the process should be treated as such to ensure success.

If a change evangelist in an organization focuses solely on convincing the IT team of the value of going composable, senior leadership in other areas of the business may struggle to understand the value of the transition. Crafting only technical arguments for the adoption of composable tech obscures the true value of transformation (namely, adding value in every area of operation) and risks seeing the project rejected by leadership as not being worth the effort.

How to avoid this pitfall

Reaching out to senior leadership across all areas of operations — including finance, strategy, marketing, and of course, IT — to generate interest and achieve buy-in at the early stages of adoption will help legitimize the project in the eyes of decision-makers. Doing so will also clear the path for transformation to move forward, reducing delays and making clear the holistic value of going composable.

3. Poorly articulating the business benefit of digital change

Digital transformation takes time, and decision-makers are results-focused, leading to a natural tension around the business benefits of digital change efforts. If the team handling the transition to composable tech can’t show tangible benefits in the near term, senior leaders aren’t likely to support the initiative for very long. This situation ties back to pitfall #2 — if digital change is an IT-only effort, tech-focused evangelists may struggle to explain the business benefits of the transformation to other areas of the company, resulting in an uphill battle to get buy-in.

How to avoid this pitfall

First, change leaders must focus on maintaining business continuity during the digital transformation. This ensures that revenue continues to flow during the transition. Beyond this critical step, change leaders need to show the potential cost savings generated by going composable over the long term, despite the upfront costs of making the change.

Ultimately, messaging about the transition must be business-led, not tech-led.

4. Taking the 'Lego brick' analogy too literally

Composable technologies are often likened to Lego bricks: individual components that can be ‘stacked’ together to create a seamless digital architecture. The reality is that when putting composable tech components together, there are technical hurdles to overcome. Achieving interoperability between components is a delicate and nuanced process: layers of ‘glue’ — custom code — are often needed to gel the operations of two or more components. Once components are connected, if a new component is required to be added to the ecosystem, it can be technically challenging to remove that ‘glue’ and reconfigure the system.

How to avoid this pitfall

Make the technical challenges associated with building a composable stack clear to stakeholders from the outset. Composable tech is not plug-and-play; each element must be configured to work with other components in the stack, and calibrated according to the business needs of the organization. While this up-front work can take time, remember that the business value composable tech delivers over the long term more than makes up for these initial hurdles.

Ready to learn how to craft a digital plan that can convince your leadership to move forward? Take your transformation planning skills to the next level with our Digital Change Masterclass featuring Apply Digital’s CCO, Matt Gould, who has 20+ years of experience delivering multi-million-pound digital change projects.

And if you’d like to learn more about composable technology, reach out to us at hello@applydigital.com, and let’s have a conversation.

Co-written by Nathan Munn

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