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What is composable architecture and how it can transform your marketing strategy

illustration depicting the components of a composable architecture approach

Customers now engage with brands across a myriad of touchpoints and channels, each demanding a unique marketing approach. Rigid, one-size-fits-all software hampers the agility needed to deliver personalized customer experiences and quickly test new marketing tactics. Enter composable architecture: a flexible, modular software design strategy built on the MACH principles. This innovative approach allows businesses to integrate, modify and scale their systems effortlessly, ensuring they can stay ahead in a rapidly evolving market and deliver seamless, omnichannel experiences.

Today's customers interact with brands across dozens of touchpoints and through multiple channels. And each company's marketing mix is different — even your direct competitors won't have the same exact approach.

If the software you use is either one-size-fits-all or not interoperable, you won't have the speed or agility to deliver seamless, personalized customer experiences. You also won't be able to test and implement new combinations of marketing tactics and technologies — not quickly, at least. That's where composable architecture comes in.

Defining composable architecture

Composable architecture is a modern software design approach that emphasizes modularity, flexibility and efficiency in building and maintaining systems. It allows developers to create applications using independent, reusable components, often based on microservices, which can be easily integrated, modified or replaced.

We can define composable architecture by its reliance on the MACH principles:

  • Microservices Each service or component within a composable architecture is designed to perform a specific function and can be independently deployed, updated or replaced without affecting the other components.
  • API-first APIs are the primary way all the system’s components communicate with one another. APIs enable seamless processes and data transmission between components and facilitate integrations with other systems.
  • Cloud-native Composable architecture is built for and hosted on the cloud, allowing for scalability and elasticity as needed.
  • Headless While traditional monolithic architectures are tied to a specific front-end, composable architecture is headless, meaning the frontend and backend are separated, allowing for greater flexibility in design and delivery.

These principles guide the development and integration of components, ensuring they are scalable, flexible and suitable for cloud environments. The headless approach specifically enables organizations to deliver omnichannel experiences by decoupling content from presentation.

Monolithic vs. composable architecture

Monolithic architecture is the legacy approach to software development, where all application components are tightly coupled. Any change or update requires significant effort (if not a complete overhaul) and can potentially cause system-wide disruptions. Monolithic systems are difficult to scale, maintain and modify, making them ill-suited for today's fast-paced digital landscape.

Compared to monolithic architecture, composable systems have:

  • Independently deployable cloud-based components
  • Modular design for scalability and flexibility
  • Interoperable microservices
  • Ability to integrate new technologies without disrupting existing systems
  • Greater resilience and fault tolerance, with failures in one module not impacting others
  • Easier and faster updates and maintenance due to the isolation of components
  • Lower long-term costs through reuse of components and avoidance of vendor lock-in

Compared to its monolithic counterpart, composable architecture boosts development efficiency and speed by allowing separate development and testing of small, independent components. It simplifies issue identification and fixing by isolating problems to specific components. And parallel development and automated testing help you bring new systems and features to market faster.

When should you use composable architecture?

A composable system's modularity, flexibility and scalability make it suitable for companies using multiple tools, tactics and channels to reach customers. It also works well for organizations that need to (or plan to need to) quickly integrate new technologies or pivot their strategies without disrupting existing systems.

If one of these situations sounds like you, you're a solid candidate for composable architecture:

  • You need to integrate multiple systems.
  • You reach customers through multiple marketing channels.
  • You're building a new tech stack from scratch.
  • You expect to modify or update your tech stack in the future.
  • You have an ecommerce site
  • Your business manages a large amount of digital content across multiple channels.
  • You're in a sector like, say, banking or insurance, where companies need to rapidly deploy new customer-facing solutions to stay competitive.

That said, composable architecture might be an overkill for smaller projects or businesses that only require a simple website or application with basic functionalities. The complexity and overhead of managing multiple microservices could outweigh the benefits.

By Leslie Hughes, February 23, 2024
Navigate modern customer demands with a digital experience platform (DXP). Centralize, manage and optimize personalized experiences across touchpoints.
5 Min Read

Implementing composable architecture

Before implementing a composable system, you should understand your current tech stack and determine which components can be replaced or integrated with microservices. Audit your existing architecture and its capabilities (you probably have tools that can integrate with your composable system without any major modifications).

Then, assess your need for composability. What are you hoping to achieve? Are you planning to reuse components? How often do you expect to make changes or updates?

To ensure a successful deployment, take the following steps:

  1. Break down your system into smaller, independent and reusable components. Each component should have a well-defined purpose and be capable of operating independently. This could be based on user interface elements, business logic or data services​​.
  2. Understand and define how these components will interact. Determine the dependencies and establish interfaces for communication, such as APIs. This will involve detailing the data exchange and control flows between components, ensuring they can operate together seamlessly​.
  3. Opt for technologies that support modularity and independence. For the front end, frameworks like React or Vue.js can be beneficial. For the back end, consider using a microservices architecture. Select platforms like AWS or Azure that support deploying and managing these services efficiently​​.
  4. Start the implementation process. Develop each component independently and ensure they meet their functional requirements. Use APIs to connect these components, testing their integration thoroughly to ensure they work as expected in the system)​.
  5. Use headless applications. In cases where you need to separate the presentation layer from backend logic, use a headless CMS. These provide backend services via APIs, which your front-end applications can consume. This separation enhances flexibility and allows the front-end team to focus solely on user experience​.
  6. Continuously test and adapt your software. Due to the modular nature of composable architecture, it’s crucial to continuously test each component and the entire system to ensure seamless functionality. Be prepared to adapt and reconfigure components to respond to new business requirements or integrate new technologies​.

Improve the customer experience with composable architecture

With a headless approach, composable systems allow you to deliver personalized experiences across all your marketing channels by easily mixing and matching content and data from various sources.

Taking this a step further, a hybrid CMS approach will give you the full flexibility of going headless when you need it without locking you into a singular approach as new implementations and uses cases apply in the future. The hybrid approach to CMS combines a headless CMS's flexibility and development speed with the familiar content editing and management capabilities of a traditional CMS.

From there, add microservices and APIs. Your vendor will provide some out-of-the-box microservices, but you can also build connections with third-party tools and data sources. Incorporating more components creates a custom, composable architecture tailored to your needs.

In summary: FAQs about composable architecture

What is composable architecture?

Composable architecture is a modern software design approach that emphasizes modularity, flexibility and efficiency in building and maintaining systems. It relies on the MACH principles: microservices, API-first, cloud-native and headless.

How does composable architecture differ from monolithic architecture?

Unlike monolithic architecture, where all components are tightly coupled, composable architecture uses independently deployable cloud-based components. This modular design allows for greater scalability, flexibility and ease of maintenance.

What are the benefits of composable architecture?

Composable architecture offers numerous benefits, including faster development and deployment, easier updates and maintenance, greater system resilience and the ability to integrate new technologies seamlessly. It also reduces long-term costs by avoiding vendor lock-in and promoting the reuse of components.

When should a business consider using composable architecture?

Businesses should consider composable architecture if they need to integrate multiple systems, reach customers through various marketing channels or expect to frequently update or modify their tech stack. It's particularly suitable for companies managing large amounts of digital content or those in sectors requiring rapid deployment of new solutions.

What are the MACH principles in composable architecture?

The MACH principles include microservices, API-first, cloud-native and headless. These principles ensure that the components of a composable system are scalable, flexible and suitable for cloud environments, enabling seamless omnichannel experiences.

How do you implement composable architecture?

To implement composable architecture, start by auditing your current tech stack and identifying components that can be replaced or integrated with microservices. Break down your system into smaller independent components, establish communication interfaces and opt for technologies supporting modularity. Develop and test each component independently and ensure seamless integration.

What are the use cases for composable architecture?

Composable architecture is ideal for businesses needing to integrate multiple systems, deliver personalized omnichannel experiences, build new tech stacks or manage extensive digital content. It is also beneficial for organizations in industries like banking or insurance where rapid deployment of customer-facing solutions is crucial.

Get in touch to see how Brightspot's composable content platform can help your organization deliver seamless experiences across all channels.


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