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Gartner: How to compose a resilient future

Building blocks towards a ‘composable business index’ according to Gartner who are calling on CIOs to seize the moment and outpace competition by 80%

Janet Brice
|Jan 4|magazine13 min read

Seize the moment to compose a resilient future, is the message to Chief Information Officers (CIOs) worldwide from consultants Gartner.

Through 2022, rapid innovation triggered by COVID-19 will accelerate the transition of 60% of organisations towards a composable business and by 2023 organisations that have adopted this approach will outpace competition by 80%, according to the report, Seize the Moment to Compose a Resilient Future Key Insights from Gartner’s 2020 Symposium Keynote address.

“The CIO can inspire the right kind of change in an uncertain future,” says the report.

“Moments of composability are happening every day and teams have to be ready to capitalise on them. The future will be defined by how organisations compose their responses to these moments. With composability, organisations can achieve digital acceleration, greater resiliency and the ability to innovate through disruption,” outlines the report.

Some of the key findings in the paper include:

  • Composable business has allowed organisations to rapidly pursue new outcomes in the face of disruption in an accelerated digital era 
  • The principles of composable business - modularity, orchestration, autonomy and discovery allow for extended capabilities
  • As turmoil persists, scenario planning can help leaders anticipate disruption in all possible contexts to prepare organisations for likely shifts in consumer trends
  • A composable business consist of composable thinking, composable business architecture and composable technologies

According to Gartner, the combination of the three building blocks (composable thinking, composable business architecture and composable technologies) and the four principles (modularity, autonomy, orchestration and discovery) make up the ‘composable business index’.

“As a CIO, start by shifting how the organisation is set up to sense and deliver on the needs of customers, employees, shareholders and society,” says Gartner. “Use composable thinking so the whole enterprise will see that anything is composable. Lead a composable business architecture to unleash innovation at scale.

“2020 shows that in disruption lies opportunity, even if it also proves how painful turmoil can be,” report Gartner recommends CI0s should practice the following: 

  • Practice composable thinking by building practices and behaviours in a culture of preparedness 
  • Arrange composable business architecture to sense the market, engage with customers, allow employees to adapt and work with ecosystems to generate value 
  • Leverage composable technologies to deliver against changing business outcomes 
  • Apply the principles of modularity, autonomy, orchestration and discovery to guide operations and pursue revenue goals 
  • Use the composable business index to lead conversations on how to increase the organisation’s degree of composability

Strategic planning assumptions presented to CI0s by Gartner include:

  • By 2022, social media consensus majorities will emerge around key issues such as climate change, healthcare policies and social justice 
  • By 2022, 50% of organisations will have business-IT collaboration teams driving technology-based business innovation
  • By 2024, 25% of traditional large enterprise CIOs will be held accountable for digital business operational results, effectively becoming “COO by proxy

“CIOs are ideally positioned to inspire citizens, customers, employees and fellow executives. Despite immense pressure, technology leaders have used composable business to pivot their organisations toward new ways of working and new revenue streams.

“In some cases, the pivot was immediate; in others, the potential for the shift was first developed years ago. For example, more than 1 billion people worked from home at some point in 2020. Technology leaders worldwide laid the groundwork for that shift with robust infrastructure, videoconferencing and collaboration tools,” says the report. 

Logistics firms moved vital supplies faster. Retailers became social media influencers. Government agencies were swift in serving the newly unemployed. All of this happened amid global volatility that Gartner expects to continue well into 2021. 

The moment is forming for more digital initiatives. Gartner data shows that 69% of boards of directors want to accelerate digital business initiatives to deal with disruption.  

Gartner takes an in-depth look at how composable business is effective in many contexts from local government to medium enterprises to multinational corporations with a focus on FedEx, Ocado and government agencies like the city of Turku, Finland.

Adaptability, resilience and societal impact

Most technology leaders are familiar with composability mechanisms like APIs and containers. But along with a technology context, the deliberate use of composability can also occur in a business context. 

“Because changes in this digital era are so profound and unpredictable, scenario planning becomes critical for adaptability. Scenario planning starts with uncertainty. In the context of the pandemic, potential futures are shaped by the duration of the disruption, and the extent to which resulting behaviour changes are significant.

“For example, COVID-19 swept away long-standing barriers to digital adoption. People began to purchase food, cars and homes, and access medical care through digital channels only. Remote work and the tools to support it have been adopted more than ever before. The question remains how much these behaviour changes will persist?

According to Gartner, composable business doesn’t replace digital business. “Rather, it is an accelerator of digital business transformation. It is designed so organisations are ready to respond in the moment of need. 

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