The composite enterprise encourages innovation | MIT Technology Review


Overall, 74% of companies have accelerated plans to move to the cloud by more than a year, shedding legacy technologies and operating models to embrace data and applications, according to business analytics firm ZK Research.

A key part of that transformation relied on the use of applications, typically in the cloud, that integrated applications and data with low-code functionality to create more efficient workflows, faster than ever. Low-code is an approach to software development to build processes and functionality with little or no code, enabling non-software developers to create applications.

Companies that structure their daily workflows around these so-called “composite applications”—often called composable enterprises—have a much tighter relationship between technology and business units and can rapidly assemble new applications and services at a fraction of the historical cost.

Composable apps provide a way to easily upgrade or add apps—think building blocks: the work is already done and additional functionality can be added to the underlying capability.

That flexibility is necessary for the variability of the current workplace and economy, says Zeus Kerravala, founder and principal analyst at ZK Research. “We’re moving into an era where you can have everyone in the office, no one in the office, or any reasonable combination in between,” says Kerravala. “You could have all your customers online, just a few, or – depending on your industry – no customers online, and every possible combination in between. The pandemic has created these dramatic changes in the way we learn, the way we live, and the way we work, based on forces beyond anyone’s control.”

When it comes to cloud infrastructure, companies have often followed half-measures – adopting them in such a way as to reinforce old business models, creating private clouds that mimic their on-premises infrastructure. But composition gives businesses the ability to adapt to changes in their operations and markets by creating new applications to support the required workflows without hiring additional or external software developers to implement the changes.

Composite cloud services further free companies from relying on running their own software instances just to customize code for their needs. Composable applications bring together cloud, customization, integration and workflow management, enabling companies to be flexible and innovate quickly.

When companies suffered pandemic disruptions in critical business functions—such as call centers, IT support, and medical administration—composite applications enabled firms to adapt and continue. In one case, the company had to extend its call center system, which was housed in a controlled environment, to allow employee access via web browsers running on an Amazon virtual machine, says David Lee, vice president of products at RingCentral, an enterprise communications platform that focused on composing. “They had to make these changes work overnight in employees’ homes, and that was a big challenge for a lot of organizations,” says Lee. “Companies that have adapted well to the potential changes have actually made these transitions very easy by putting together new applications and workflows.”



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