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What is composability?
Composability as a software development and technology concept has grown in popularity since the late 2010s. However, composability stems from concepts dating back to the 1960s with object-oriented programming and, more recently, modularity.
Composability focuses on the idea that systems and tools are best built and managed with individual components that can be connected or combined to create more robust and complex systems. In 2020, analyst firm Gartner stated, “the future of business is composable.”
Composable architecture helps IT teams build flexible systems quickly and maintain them more efficiently than monolithic, or all-in-one, architectures.
Experts often explain composability in terms of LEGO bricks. Each brick represents an individual component of a larger system and can be removed or modified without impacting the other components.
Another analogy for composability is desktop computers. Computers are usually pre-packaged with a CPU, GPU, RAM, storage, and other components that allow the computer to run. This all-in-one package is convenient, however, it does not always provide the best specifications to reflect each user’s needs. PCs can now be built from scratch by customers with more sophisticated needs—such as high-performance gaming or music composition—and there are many options available for each component to create the optimal computer for their needs. They can also swap out components with ease (such as installing more RAM or changing graphics cards).
Composability in martech
Composable marketing technology (martech) keeps marketing teams agile and allows them to select and assemble various components to satisfy specific tasks or customer needs.
Composable martech has existed for decades, but its capabilities and necessity have grown because of evolving marketing strategies.
Marketing teams rely on many tools to perform specific functions, such as email marketing, social media marketing, direct mail, and advertising. Each marketing tool used is an individual component in composable martech.
The goal of customer 360 is to maintain a central view of individual customer profiles, enabling all teams to act on trusted customer data to inform their campaigns. This is a shift away from self-containment, in which teams have historically worked independently and used disconnected tools to perform separate tasks without sharing customer data.
A key enabler in customer 360 and composable MarTech is a customer data platform (CDP) or a composable CDP for optimal flexibility. CDPs act as a central hub for all customer data, and marketing and sales technologies integrate with the CDP to access, activate, and update each customer profile. Importantly, CDPs make it easier for marketers to access and understand customer data.
The role of the data cloud in composability
A data cloud warehouse takes center stage in composable martech. The data cloud facilitates composability and enables seamless integration and access to customer data across the organization’s different applications and technologies.
A data cloud can provide a centralized platform for data storage, retrieval, and processing, which supports each piece of the composable platform. A first party data platform can also provide these capabilities or connect to the data cloud.
Benefits of composability in marketing
Composable martech allows marketing teams to meet their customer needs in an ever-evolving landscape of channels and tools.
Composability enables teams to combine different software components for efficient and agile campaigns. It also ensures that teams work from a single source of truth for all customers through its integration with a data cloud or warehouse. Other key benefits of composable MarTech include:
- Avoid vendor lock-in - Composable martech empowers organizations to select and combine tools from various vendors because all marketing and sales concepts — like audiences, journeys, metrics, and measurement — live in the data cloud.
- Complete data ownership - A composable CDP doesn’t have a customer data layer. Rather, it activates data and writes data back to the data cloud. This means that the composable CDP is also a modular piece that organizations can change, giving organizations complete control over their marketing data, including their first party data.
- Flexibility - New tools and technologies are released frequently, often including advanced capabilities like generative AI. Composable martech allows teams to stay flexible in a fast-evolving technology and vendor landscape to use the tools best suited for their needs.
- Scale success - Composable martech makes it easy for organizations to replicate successful campaign elements and modify them for use in different contexts throughout the customer journey. This accelerates campaign optimization and allows organizations to deliver more sophisticated campaigns across their customer journey.
To illustrate the benefits of composable martech, consider an organization looking to optimize its martech investments. A composable architecture will center around the data cloud, which stores all customer data. If needed, the organization can migrate data to a new cloud or to its first party data platform.
All marketing and sales tools plug into the data cloud — either directly or via a composable CDP — and continually update the data based on customer activities, including calls with customer support, email marketing engagement, purchasing behavior, and social media updates. The organization can add, remove, or test new tools for channel-specific activities without losing access to their customer insights. For example, the team can replace its email marketing software or completely remove its social media management tool if that is no longer a priority — and they don’t lose any data in that process.
Composability and generative AI
Composable marketing architectures allow teams to achieve the full benefits of generative AI and generative marketing, because composable architecture provides a central point to apply generative AI on the data cloud. This also opens the door to a generative marketing platform, which is only effective when it uses a single source of truth: the data cloud.
Artificial intelligence can greatly accelerate and automate marketing tasks and reduce the time it takes to refine audience segments. As marketers work more with AI, machine learning algorithms improve the accuracy of AI outputs.
Taking AI one step further, generative AI tools for marketing assist with content generation, like drafting an email or customer support script, or even answering customer questions through a chatbot. A generative marketing platform makes it easy for marketers to create, test, and iterate campaigns more effectively, with benefits including faster optimization, increased productivity and efficiency, and more personalized (and successful) campaigns.
Achieving customer 360 and building composable martech enables marketing teams to employ any range of AI tools, instead of being locked into a specific data warehouse vendor’s generative AI offerings.