I think that we can all agree that the last two years have been some of the most turbulent times that most of us have ever lived through. Old habits have been turned on their heads, and we’ve all learned to adapt in new and unexpected ways.
Nowhere has this turbulence been more pronounced than in the digital sphere, as shoppers abandoned physical interactions for the safety of online meetings, digital shopping and virtual gatherings. Not all these changes have been welcome, but many are here for good.
Why Do Experiences Need to Be Frictionless?
As a result, we are living in a world in flux. Most industry analysts agree on one very important, yet sobering, thought: that right now the rate of digital transformation is the slowest it’s ever going to be. And it’s accelerating moment by moment, second by second.
Consider that between January 2018 and mid-2020, TikTok grew over 1,100% in user reach and hit 1 billion users this year. Thousands of micro-experiences are happening every second. And the amount of data that marketers and consumers need to navigate is growing as well. According to IDC, worldwide data will grow to 175ZB by 2025. It’s doubling every three years, and 30% of this data is real-time information.
As a result, most businesses are caught in a trap where serving customers, retaining them and securing their loyalty becomes more challenging every day. Customer expectations are climbing higher, yet available budgets and resources are trending in the opposite direction. If you can’t tame this rising complexity, your business will fall behind, resulting in unhappy customers and lost revenue.
Related Article: How COVID-19 Has Made Digital Transformation More Relevant Than Ever
IT’s Answer Is Composable DX
Fortunately, the IT world has come up with a response: the composable digital experience (DX) stack. Technology experts from analyst firms, agencies and business journals all agree that composability is key to enable the speed, efficiency, and flexibility required to tame this complexity, satisfy customers and future-proof operations.
Composable technology includes such things as microservices, APIs, cloud-native deployment, and headless delivery and all the other things that fall under the heading of MACH. None of these approaches are entirely new, but they have become the mainstream approach to the development of online applications.
I won’t try to unlock all the secrets of composability in a single article, however. What I want to focus on is why it’s so important.
Composability matters because it provides a flexible foundation for truly frictionless experiences across the entire value chain: from purchase and implementation through editorial workflows to customer engagement.
In this article, I aim to explain why frictionless experiences are so critical to composable DX and give some examples of how this approach can work at different points in the value chain.
Related Article: What You Need to Know About Digital Experience Platforms
What Is Composable DX?
Unfortunately, the term “composability” is so broadly used that it’s become increasingly difficult to understand what it means. Is it an IT methodology, a business philosophy, a UX paradigm, or a computer architecture? Depending on who you talk to, it can be all these things and more. Gartner has provided a helpful guide that links composability to several critical concepts including modularity, autonomy, orchestration, discovery and contextual awareness.
But all this hinges on a single overriding concept: frictionless processes and intuitive experiences. This can take different forms at different stages in the customer journey.
Software vendors and their developers need to provide intuitive user interfaces, based on low code/no code tools, that empower business users to:
- Access only the functionality they need when they need it
- Extend that functionality instantly as needed
- Access a diverse range of content and data via a single interface
- Automate manual processes
- Publish and retract digital content on demand
They also need to make it easier for decision-makers to evaluate products, optimize the value of their investment and analyze performance. And it all needs to add up to better experiences for shoppers and other end users. The idea of frictionless experiences should take place across the entire DX ecosystem from business decision-makers to developers to practitioners, and ultimately, to consumers themselves.
Related Article: What Is a Composable DXP?
How Does Composable DX Eliminate Friction?
The following section presents a few examples of where different stakeholders come into play along the composable DX stack spectrum:
Business Decision-Makers Need Clear Contracts, Vendor Transparency
Software vendors think a lot about how to make things easier for developers and users by breaking software down into modular components. But, often, they ignore the actual purchasers by subjecting them to hard-to-understand pricing models, complex legal agreements, uninformative websites, opaque negotiation tactics and cumbersome delivery. And in many cases, they ignore the buyer as soon as the ink on the contract is dry.
To be fair, I’ve seen many large enterprise buyers engage in their own version of this game. But, in truth, it serves no one’s interests. Composability should extend to the buying process itself by enabling:
- Information-rich, persona-driven websites and apps that encourage stakeholders to get answers to the questions that are relevant to them.
- Clear, transparent pricing that is designed to suit a range of requirements and scales based on the value the solution provides.
- Clear, modular contracts that are easy to negotiate and even easier to sign.
- Multiple, flexible deployment options.
- Ongoing ROI analysis and optimization to ensure retention and growth.
Developers and Admins Need Omnichannel Support, Microservices
Over the last few years we have seen enthusiastic buy-in from developers for a wide range of flexible extensible, and modular processes and tools. These techniques are often not new, but they have been given a healthy dose of adrenaline by the pandemic.
But as critical as these approaches are, they can’t be pursued independently and must be bolstered by appropriate tools for business users and shoppers. Important components of any composable IT stack include:
- Cloud-native SaaS microservices with robust self-service support.
- Easy access to code and containerized deployment.
- Support for low-code and no-code tools.
- Self-service tools for smooth, seamless upgrades and extensions.
- Hybrid headless delivery that supports an efficient omnichannel ecosystem without abandoning editors and other business users.
- Comprehensive APIs and easy to use SDKs.
- Dynamic, event-driven architectures and fast, serverless computing methodologies.
- Tailored online technical documentation.
Marketers, Merchandizers and Editors Need Composable UX
Faced with dwindling budgets, limited resources and ever-growing expectations, marketers and ecommerce professionals are probably some of the world’s most stressed-out professionals. To add insult to injury, many of the latest IT trends — including headless delivery — end up taking control away from business users rather than helping them do their work more efficiently. Composable UX can reduce friction here as well, but not all vendors are ready to deliver. Key capabilities include:
- Access to self-service plug-in marketplaces for extension and third-party add-ons.
- Modular UIs that expose only the functionality required to complete their tasks.
- Implementing AI and ML in the UX to automate manual processes and highlight the most relevant content and products.
- Smart optimization dashboards with real-time feedback.
- Tools for both ad hoc and structured collaboration across teams.
Consumers Need Contextually Relevant Experiences
Ultimately, empowering buyers, developers and business users is only important if it makes the end customer happy. Composable, frictionless experiences can help to increase engagement, drive sales and increase long-term customer retention. Such tactics are critical to ensuring the success of new direct-to-consumer sales strategies. They include:
- Always-on, contextually relevant experiences.
- Consistency across channels and devices.
- Ability to purchase is always a single click away.
- Complete transparency into the sales and fulfillment process.
- Ability to control privacy levels and data sharing.
What’s Next for Composable DX?
This is just a hint at some of the ways composability reduces friction and improves the lives of buyers, users, developers and shoppers. I hope to explore these topics more deeply in future posts. In the meantime, I welcome feedback from readers with their own ideas of how composable paradigms can help make business easier.
Douglas Heise is the vice president of Global Marketing at CoreMedia. He has over 25 years of industry experience with a specific emphasis on digital experience platforms, content management and digital media strategies.