The Composition Platform: like child’s play
If you ever played with Lego as a child, then you already understand Composition Platforms. The Composition Platform, though confusingly similar in name to “composable enterprise”, is distinct from it. Gartner describes a composable business as one that “synthesizes aspects of their business into reusable digital assets that can be assembled to compose business solutions”.(1) Whereas the Composition Platform is the development environment within which such an enterprise is built. It is like a Lego set where the blocks are a variety of enterprise capabilities.
Enterprise capabilities are assembled into business-oriented applications or services, much as a child assembles a variety of blocks into a car or a house.
Say your company provides shipping services, and you are contractually bound to deliver goods within certain time frames or indemnify the customer. With the many unforeseen incidents that can delay a shipment, such as inclement weather, having accurate estimates of the ETA of a container would allow you to take mitigating action faster and minimize the costs of delays. It’s usually cumbersome to collect live location data and data from SAP and combine them in a way that will give you intelligence you can act on. But with the right composition approach it’s much easier. If your containers have IoT devices on them, their data outputs can be easily combined with your SAP data. To do so you would use a block that will obtain location data from each IoT device and another one that will retrieve your contractual terms from SAP. Then, using a block that calculates the ETA based on the container’s live location you can assess if delivery might be delayed, notify the right persons, or identify alternate routing.
A good composition platform makes available to you the most suitable building blocks for the specific business need at hand, no matter how niche it might be, to assemble the best possible outcome. Like a Lego set, a composition platform must offer:
- Intuitiveness for near-instant delivery: because the child sees in real time whether the car tires she has built fit on the axle or not, she does not need to have read lots of documentation beforehand on how to assemble building blocks.
- Re-usability across projects: To build a car or a house the child has most probably reused many if not all of the blocks
- Specialization over time: over the generations we have seen more and more specialized Lego blocks appear
- The ability to create reusable assemblies of blocks: Lego has produced a motor engine which is itself an assembly of various smaller blocks. This engine can be inserted in a modular fashion in several different cars and trucks.
As you can imagine, a Composition Platform is actually much more than a Lego set for a CIO. I am excited to share my vision of their power and complexity in more detail in future articles.