How Apple and ‘composable business’ go hand in glove

Break it down to build it up. At its root, that’s the nature of composable business. I’d argue that the Apple platform has a powerful place to play in this new approach to business transformation, agility, and competitiveness.

What is composable business?

Gartner says that by adopting a composable approach to business, enterprises can become more resilient to future shocks. The idea behind this approach is that rather than being committed to monolithic business applications, a business breaks down its needs to find modular solutions that integrate.

“Composable business means creating an organization made from interchangeable building blocks,” Gartner explains.

In theory, this enables a business to make more rapid responses to changing business needs and to adopt more sophisticated tools as they appear. The glory here is that by adopting a composable approach, an enterprise doesn’t need to change the entire system, just relevant modules used within it. The different APIs, applications, and services simply slot together.

Gartner Distinguished VP Analyst Daryl Plummer calls it a “natural acceleration of the digital business that you live every day.” He argues that businesses that adopt this approach experience better business results than competitors that don’t.

The approach also enables business leaders to adopt new cutting-edge tech as old tech becomes dated. That’s important to data-driven business decision models, automation, and applied AI, as those technologies are evolving fast while new machine learning techniques and quantum computing-driven solutions emerge.

“A composable approach means that wherever you are today, you can adapt — component by component — to where you need to be tomorrow,” a Deloitte report says.

So, what’s this got to do with Apple?

Ultimately, it’s all about consistency and platform support.

You see, while the back-end systems used to drive the technologies employed in modern business are usually server-based and frequently rely to some extent on proprietary server technologies, for employees, the front end inevitably runs on consumer platforms. On the desktop these might be Windows PCs, but on mobile, most businesses coalesce around the iPhone.

A composable business will orchestrate the assemblage of backing technologies via front-end apps that work like any Apple app, focusing on simplicity and ease of use and adopting an upgrade cadence in lockstep with Cupertino’s OS upgrade cycle. This decoupled, headless approach empowers a business to make significant changes anywhere across the modular system, hopefully with little down time.

Such simplicity hides the complexity going on in the background as all those modular systems — microservices, APIs, cloud systems — work together to generate business efficiency. This block-by-block approach to business tech lets businesses quickly scale up, make changes, and deploy additional seats.

The beauty is that by slapping an Apple Human Interface-guided front end on the system, your business almost immediately generates the kind of usability it needs to ensure employees quickly become and remain familiar with the service.

After all, the current wisdom is that it doesn’t matter how much you spend on tech: if your people won’t use it, it will fail. That’s only one component of the entire stack, of course, but the inherent advantages of Apple’s platforms surely have a part to play in managing toward success.

Think deep but stay simple

This seems to be what I’m learning as I consider some of the ways bigger companies have managed to deploy Apple’s solutions in the real world.

Rituals Cosmetics, for example, uses iPads across its business, but its back-end systems are almost certainly independent of Apple.

At Volvo, Apple Watches used to boost customer connection in the service center are surrounded by other Apple devices, but the various back-end systems that drive the entire process come from multiple makers. It’s similar at Openreach, where 30,000 engineers now use iPhones.

Of course, to build a composable business it’s also important to work hard to identify business needs and prioritize those above business wants.

It’s also vital to engage in deep scrutiny around available technologies, and work very hard to ensure that no significant data is, or will be, held within proprietary systems that don’t play nice with others. Silos limit enterprise agility.

Tech that works just works

Some may argue that Apple’s interface is proprietary, but that’s missing the point. So long as the support infrastructure is working correctly, it should be possible to build a sexy front end across any device platform.

Apple’s inherent privacy and security advantages offer additional reasons to support its platforms — they help your business ensure good governance of data and services. The platforms also deliver big advantages in recruitment, retainment, and employee satisfaction — all of which deliver additional business benefits.

This is delivering measurable benefits to Apple. Why else do you think that while its Mac sales declined slightly in Q4 22, its market share grew to a significant 11.2%?

Combining smart device choices with smart device management solutions makes for icing on the cake on modern business mechanics as the tech melds itself across every layer of the enterprise, from HR to product design. IT, fundamentally, is no longer a division within your business; it has become a significant and vital business driver across your entire enterprise

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Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.


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