If you’re reading this, then chances are you’re aware of the plethora of marketing technology options available today. The 2022 Martech Map (best viewed through a microscope) identifies 9,932 technology-based solutions — a 24% increase over last year’s count.

This marketing technology expansion will continue, even in light of concerns about recession, as more organizations embrace the idea of operating as a “composable business” — that is, using a headless approach to reduce time-to-market and meet critical operational needs. So much choice quickly becomes overwhelming and, without proper governance or martech expertise, produces messy, ineffective results.

Swappable Functional Modules

A “composable enterprise,” according to Gartner, is “an organization that delivers business outcomes and adapts to the pace of business change — using swappable modules and packaged-up frameworks.” The transition to the composable model goes beyond mere use of more licensed MACH (Microservices, API, Cloud, Headless) technologies and also includes evolving how an organization approaches vendor management, professional development and governance of marketing technologies.

It can also include these components:

1. Organizational: Aspiring composable businesses often rely on marketing technology experts rather than traditional IT to define a business-driven set of martech solutions by hiring a chief marketing technologist and/or setting up a martech team within the digital marketing organization. These experts can help leaders make sense of what might otherwise look like marketing technology chaos — and in so doing, the experts can drive effective use of decoupled technologies including integration with legacy monolithic (all-in-one) platforms.

2. Vendor Management: Composable businesses should expect, over time, to be able to purchase greater amounts of MACH-based martech at ever-lower per-unit price points. The abundance of martech — and the fierce competition among those 9,000-plus entrants — is already resulting in lower pricing throughout the category. By focusing on composable marketing technologies, procurement and vendor management teams can reduce their licensing commitments of five-to-seven years down to subscription terms of 12-to-24 months. Additionally, buyers are able to specify right-fit purchase options that allow for service-level agreements and flexibility scale to accommodate departmental (a single digital product) as well as enterprisewide (the business’s full range of digital experience and products) deals.

3. Education/Professional Development: Low-code technology is easier for nontechnical businesspeople, but developers prefer the headless approach. The reality is that executive sponsors, product owners, digital marketers, enterprise architects and developers all need to adopt a new mindset and way of working when it comes to decoupled digital ecosystems powered by MACH-based martech. Training will help participants move from thinking in terms of pages to thinking in terms of components and packaged-up frameworks. This creates a faster onboarding program to a new system, improves cross functional training and eliminates the need for IT personnel dedicated to specific systems.

4. Governance and Best-of-Breed Unbundling: Cross-functional governance focused on marketing and IT partnerships is critical to having both MACH martech and legacy monoliths working together within the same business. Businesses built on components benefit from the separation of concerns: risks exist within licensed modules that can easily be replaced, reassembled and reintegrated. An organization that may have once gone all in on an all-in-one software suite can instead choose a decoupled approach integrating a headless content management system (CMS), headless search, headless personalization and serverless functions.

composable stack
Organizational structure builds on a bedrock--usually monolithic enterprise software like legacy component management systems. A composable enterprise, though, leverages those existing investments and builds swappable modules from MarTech to front-end components and, the most flexible, customer experiences. VShift archives

Related Article: Composable: 8 Things to Know About Composable DXP

Rethinking MACH Martech

If you are an aspiring composable business, you may have already bought into one or more headless technologies to provide your organization with any combination of faster time-to-market activation, reduced costs, operational independence, greater employee satisfaction and preservation of intellectual property. So, what else do you need to do to reap the key business benefits of decoupling?

Learning Opportunities

1. Assess your current composable business maturity level.

  • Do you force business stakeholders to use a single CMS or do you offer choice through headless options that can co-exist with legacy monoliths?
  • Are non-IT business groups like digital marketing able to decouple and “own” the front-end experience layer from the content and data layers?
  • Are you able to design, develop and launch sites in days or weeks? Or does it take months or years?
  • Do you have entire departments or teams named after Big Tech vendors?

2. Develop a transition plan. As with the move from the older waterfall methodology to the more flexible agile approach, adopting a new approach requires reinforcement and training. Your transition plan must consider governance, martech expertise, professional development around composability, updated operational models, swappable tech procurement processes and reference model updates.

3. Learn by doing. Identify small-scale initiatives to launch new digital products or websites that would benefit from decoupling and (thereby de-risking) tech stack layers or modules.

4. Measure progress by quantifying your current baseline.

  • Time-to-market (weeks from concept to launch)
  • Operational independence (reduced risk of reliance on other resources)
  • Cost savings (tech, project and operational cost reduction)
  • Reuse of existing modules (front-end components reused, packaged frameworks in use, licensed MACH tech reused, etc.)
  • Percentage of work shifted to innovation rather than working on tech or integrations that are already coded and deployable (PCT)

Related Article: Composable: The Marketer’s Perspective and Roadmap

Your Composability Journey Is Underway

Organizations are realizing future success depends on being able to accomplish growth-focused digital projects and websites in a timely, effective, predictable and repeatable manner. Decoupling — breaking large problems into smaller chunks and thus separating concerns — is a proven approach for de-risking initiatives. Successful leaders will include trusted experts and marketing technologists on their team to help navigate the ever more crowded martech space.

And remember: This is still mile one of a marathon. Expect even greater benefits on the horizon as organizations adapt their practices and marketing technologies continue to deliver new and more powerful benefits.

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