Composable IT involves the creation of modular, flexible technology systems that can be easily combined and adapted to meet the changing needs of a business. This approach makes it easier to integrate different systems and technologies, allowing them to work together seamlessly.
ERP systems are, to some extent, the antithesis of this composable model. They are large, monolithic platforms that govern mission-critical business processes such as order management, transaction processing or running supply chain operations. Getting data out of such complex platforms often involves significant IT investment in data architecture, such as Extract Transform Load (ETL) tools to move, transform and deliver data in a usable form for analytics and data-driven decision making and data warehouses to hold that data over time.
With composable IT, the aim should be to integrate ERP data with other technology solutions so that the business can benefit faster. This can range from simple use-cases like democratising access to data with BI tools such as Tableau or PowerBI, through to delivering more targeted solutions that focus on specific challenges around reporting and analytics within operations or finance teams.
In the office of finance, timely access to ERP data can make significant improvements for the financial close process, allowing financial controllers to close the company books faster and with fewer reconciliation issues every month. For treasury analysts, unlocking ERP data on company transactions can ensure that cash and liquidity management is managed on a continuous basis from their real-time systems, rather than waiting for end-of-day ETL batch loads to complete (or fail!) in order to get a snapshot of the business and its financial health. The composable approach should complement these processes, making it easier to complete the building blocks of tools and processes needed to turn that raw data into useful business insights.
To achieve this, ERP analytics and financial management tools have to plug in and provide that insight. In practice, this means getting detailed, fresh ERP data that is available for self-service analysis on a continuous basis and that’s reconcilable down to the penny. The alternative relies on more fragile legacy ‘point-to-point’ integrations for data delivery and analytics, where data often arrives in summarised or aggregated form.
For operational teams, a composable approach to ERP data means that the business gains additional agility around asking new questions when markets shift unexpectedly, due to global trade issues or other unforeseen events that might affect supply chains. Answering these questions often requires drilling deeper into the underlying data.This data has to be delivered without requiring a multi-month, multi-team data pipeline project. By combining composable IT with the right analytics approach, companies can get the level of insight they need.
By using a composable IT approach, organisations can integrate their ERP systems with customer relationship management (CRM) systems, data analytics tools and other technology solutions to create a more comprehensive and flexible IT infrastructure. This integration enables organisations to have a more complete view of its customers, its cash flow and its operations in order to better optimise its business processes.
Nick Jewell is a technology evangelist at Incorta.