How composable applications can de-risk your business transformation
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a type of software developed to manage many facets of a company or organisation – financials, supply chain, operations, commerce, reporting, manufacturing, to name a few.
But what if your ERP system – an organisation’s “heart and lungs” – is constraining growth? A wholesale transplant would be out of the question. Think of it this way, if you spoke to the manager or head of every department in the business that relied on the ERP system, for activities as diverse as tracking orders, raising invoices, dealing with payroll, supervising logistics, to tell them the ERP was going tomorrow, they would probably never want to speak to you again because you just made their job orders of magnitude harder to do.
There is a smarter way, one which retains the core ERP while letting you leverage technology to help you realise growth ambitions and create a more efficient organisation in the process.
Identify capabilities and find the best application
Rather than just swap out the ERP system, look at what the business needs to do and break it down into chunks of incremental capabilities. Those capabilities can be supported by “best-of-breed” applications that support individual capabilities.
Instead of one big monolithic ERP system which does everything but probably not in the way you ideally want it to, pick the “best-of-breed” applications for each function, for example, the “best-of-breed” application that just does order management or one that just does customer relationship management (CRM).
Investing in a composable business application estate offers the potential to de-risk business transformation. This is achieved by composing new pieces of processes by knitting together “best-of- breed” applications of software.
Going from one-size-fits-all to choosing the “best-of-breed” composable applications that you can bolt on to enable those capabilities will deliver incremental value over the lifetime of your transformational programme.
Within just a few months composable applications can be ready to deliver incremental value to the business.
Take this example of a retail business that wanted to enable customers to scan and pay for goods via a mobile phone application within its stores. The retail group couldn’t have done that within its existing technology estate.
Simply bolting on that specific functionality was simply too challenging due to the old legacy IT systems that characterised the retailer’s technology estate. A new piece of software couldn’t just be plugged into the existing software. It required a migration path from the legacy IT systems to the new composable technology.
Composable applications enable agility
Composable applications enable retailers, and many other businesses besides, to be more agile when it comes to rolling out new services, customer experiences and product lines. But it requires a common system or bus – a digital integration hub – to create a decoupled architecture that allows new software to be implemented quickly, while also allowing all the systems and applications to “talk to each other”. This is necessary step when you may have several “best-of-breed” composable applications required to run a business, such as:
- Order management
- Reduced ERP functionality
- Finance system
- Warehouse management system
- Customer data platform
Composable technologies are the pieces and parts for enabling agile businesses. But the idea of leveraging them can be daunting because it can entail a wholesale restructuring of existing IT systems. The alternative is acquiring in-house expertise dedicated to effectively integrating old with new and ensuring it all works seamlessly. Both approaches are high-risk and can be costly.
Another way is to work with a partner, experienced in developing the architecture that sits between the legacy IT systems and the newer composable applications. Such an approach removes all the complex heavy lifting of integration off the critical path of the transformational journey, freeing you up to pursue business growth.
Chief Executive Officer
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