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Ask the Expert: How Can Composable Tech Foster Innovative Organizations?

Feb 02, 2024

The flexibility characteristics of a composable commerce setup allow businesses to quickly adapt to changing market conditions. But how do you design your organization to grasp this opportunity?

We sat down with Johan Sommar, Chief Strategist at Avensia, to learn more. 

What Organizational Changes Are Needed When Moving to a Composable Solution?

Regardless of the technology you’re using I think all businesses need to consider how they can be more agile. Because market conditions and technology are changing at a faster pace than ever before. But I would say that when you move to a composable solution you get a chance to fast-forward this organizational development.

From a company culture perspective, moving to composable includes adopting a mindset and culture that embrace change. A good example of this shift is how you look at change - as an opportunity and a tool to innovate rather than a threat or challenge.

It's important to understand that you cannot create an innovative organization. Innovation is not an ingredient to success but rather a result of successful actions. As such, innovation can only be defined after the fact when we can see the economic success of a technology, product, or service. What we can do is establish a business model and organization that increase the probability of innovation, and thus success. Composability is one way to stimulate innovation as it enables the ability to change fast.

Composable technology is the tool that enables agility. But a tool alone will not do the job. You need to create an environment of trust, allow people to test (and fail), learn and change at a rapid pace in order to create business value. Plus, it’s important to bring people closer to the business objectives and needs so that experiments and change are moving the organization in the right direction.

Is There an Ideal Team Structure for Businesses Using Composable Commerce?

The idea of designing teams and organizations in a way that fosters agility and innovation is nothing new. Companies like Apple, Amazon and Spotify have all developed models for team structures and organizations that have later been adopted by many companies across the world. Often, these start in development teams and then spread across the organization.

From these successful companies we can learn that innovation is easier in smaller teams. The smaller the team, the better the collaboration and quicker the decision making. What a ‘small team’ means in numbers is up to your business to decide depending on your needs and goals. For Amazon, the optimal size was the number of people that could be fed by two pizzas. They call it the two-pizza team rule.

With a composable commerce setup, it is advised you organize people in specialized teams for each component of your platform. In practice this means that developers can work on new features without interfering with other parts of the solution. These teams are empowered with the end-to-end responsibility for that specific function. The key is to ensure all teams have a shared view of the overall business objectives and needs. That way, all experimentation and development are focused on features and functionality that will contribute to business success. Naturally, in smaller organizations you can’t have a team for each component, but you can still work with the same main principles.

What Skillsets Are Critical to Be Successful with a Composable Approach?

New technology will need new skillsets in the organization. You should start by conducting a gap analysis. Which skills do you already have in your team, what kind of training will be required, do you need to hire new staff and where should you engage expert agency support? When doing this analysis, be mindful of different types of skillsets, such as:

  • Technology skills – specific development tools, coding languages, SDK, API, integration frameworks, testing techniques etc.
  • Mindset skills – experimentation, analytical, creativity, collaboration etc.

Then, make a strategic decision on which critical skillsets you want to have in your internal team. This is where you need to focus your training and/or recruiting efforts. You can leverage your technology partner for additional competences and specific expertise to ensure a complete team.

Often, moving to composable technology helps attract good candidates, especially for tech and development roles. Top talent wants to join a mission where they believe they can have an impact. They also want to work with modern technology that’ll evolve over time. If you build an organizational environment of trust, experimentation and risk-taking, then you’re in a good position to attract the people you need to support your composable commerce journey.