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A push for digital transformation has been talked about for years. However, new financial constraints and an economic crisis brought about by the pandemic required businesses to examine their strategies for optimizing operations. This led to enterprises accelerating digital transformation initiatives to improve efficiency and innovation so they could meet the needs of a world that had become even more digital. 

Today, the focus on digital transformation initiatives continues—it’s no longer seen as optional innovation but table stakes in staying competitive, according to experts from consultancies like Accenture, EY, and KPMG.

If you’re not on the technical side of things, you might be wondering: 

  • What does digital transformation actually mean? 
  • What does this look like within enterprises?
  • And how does it benefit me? 

We’re here to provide you with “Digital Transformation 101,” focusing on enterprise architecture as an approach to modernization and connecting technology ecosystems. 

Defining Digital Transformation

Global businesses of every size are increasingly concerned about two interrelated themes – productivity and competition. More specifically, 41% of midsize companies are concerned about competitiveness, while 39% of large enterprises are worried about improving productivity. 

As a result, businesses are constantly seeking ways to become more agile, responsive, and innovative. At the most basic level, digital transformation refers to leveraging technology to accomplish this.

Digital transformation: The adoption and integration of digital technologies across a business to fundamentally change how the organization operates and delivers value to customers to meet the evolving demands of the digital age.

Some of the most common digital transformation initiatives include:

Adopting cloud-native technologies: Cloud-native technologies are platforms and software services designed and built to run in the cloud. This means they can be delivered over the internet by cloud computing providers without physical hardware or on-premise infrastructure, making this technology more accessible and scalable.
Leveraging big data and analytics: Big data refers to massive datasets that also grow over time. This data can be collected from various sources and used to track customer behavior, business operations, and market trends (to list just a few examples). Technologies to manage big data make it possible to collect, process, and store large amounts of data, analyze datasets, and, most importantly, leverage these insights to optimize business strategy.
Implementing AI and machine learning to automate processes: As a very basic definition, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning use algorithms and statistical models to carry out complex tasks that typically require human intelligence. AI can continuously improve by learning from data, and implementing technology that leverages AI and/or machine learning can help teams streamline workflows and reduce manual errors.

But how do these initiatives come into play within creative operations?

The Role of Enterprise Architecture in Digital Transformation and the Content Supply Chain

Every company has a technology ecosystem—often called a tech stack—even if it is not formally documented. Multiple technology stacks can be used across different departments, and they may overlap. 

Within a tech stack, single or multiple software systems or vendors can exist within an architecture.

Architecture acts as a foundational framework and connects systems throughout the organization. It plays a vital role in enabling digital transformation initiatives by providing the (infra)structure that bridges the gap between business strategy and IT capabilities so that technology investments support business outcomes.

Take the example of the content supply chain, an essential tech stack that houses the entire content lifecycle. From ideation to distribution and measurement of content, the supply chain has several underlying technologies designed to drive productivity at a particular stage (see diagram).

diagram dam bold

While each software provides its own set of features and benefits, when integrated into other peripheral technologies that support the supply chain, those benefits are amplified as users’ data, information, and assets can pass seamlessly from one system to the next. This allows brands to obtain a 360° view of their content and identify further productivity and performance gains.

For example, by integrating a Product Information Management (PIM) and DAM together, product data such as size, color, and SKU can be attached to an asset within the DAM, improving content discoverability. To take it a step further, integrating a CMS into a DAM would allow brands to take the product data, and the asset and publish to a website, all through one automated workflow.

For this connectivity to be possible, how a technology is architected is incredibly important.

Features of a monolithic system:

Unified Codebase: All system features are contained in a single codebase (body of source code).
Single Deployment Unit: Software is built, tested, and deployed as a single unit, simplifying the deployment process.
Tightly Coupled Components: All system components are closely interlinked, meaning changes in one part of the system can have widespread impacts.

This has been the dominant approach to building software and is still sold by many vendors today because it is simple in design and deployment. 

Liaising with one vendor can be straightforward. A single application makes it easier to initially deploy the solutions, and from a user adoption perspective, different products within the suite offer a similar user experience and design.

However, the drawbacks of monolithic architecture are increasingly becoming a problem for modern enterprises – especially those focused on digital transformation and innovation.

Monolithic architecture@2x
How components interact in a monolithic system (Atlassian)

Why are enterprises shifting from monolithic architecture?


While monolithic systems can seem like an easy answer, they become difficult to scale and adapt to meet changing business needs. 

System maintenance continues long after the software is implemented, and making even a small change to the system requires additional customization work that is both extensive and expensive (two things we don’t want to hear!). This time-consuming process can quickly become a drain on resources. 

Purchasing monolithic software solutions from a single vendor can also lock you into a lengthy contract, limiting your ability to switch providers. Limited interoperability can also prevent these types of solutions from being integrated with other systems in the tech stack. 

Of course, this is extra painful (and costly) if teams aren’t using all of the suite’s products or features.

This lack of flexibility can hinder enterprise innovation, as monolithic software vendors’ innovation efforts likely vary across individual products in the suite, with some products receiving more attention than others. 

Ultimately, the drawbacks of monolithic architecture increasingly conflict with the agility favored by IT teams and developers today.

Composable Architecture

As a result, composable architecture, sometimes referred to as the “composable approach,” is gaining popularity among enterprises. 

In contrast to monolithic architecture, composable architecture is a system made up of individual, independent, but integrated components or pieces of software, each serving a specific purpose.

Composable Architecture: A modern approach to designing and building systems where individual components or services are integrated to create one unified system that can communicate via APIs.

Features of composable architecture:

Modular Design: Modules are independent components or services with their own codebase that can be integrated to form a larger technology ecosystem. Modular design consists of “plug and play” modules such as microservices, headless architecture, and API-first development that can be added or replaced to align with business needs.
Independent Deployment: Each module (independent component or service) within composable architecture has a specific function and can be developed, tested, deployed, and maintained separately.
Loosely Coupled Components: As components are independent, they communicate through standardized interfaces and APIs instead of being built as tightly interlinked.  You can think of independent components like Lego blocks – separate pieces that connect with one another. This allows updates or replacements to be made easily and without impacting the entire system.

Composable System

Simplified Diagram composable architecture

How components interact in a composable system

This example of composable architecture illustrates a content supply chain and common solutions within enterprise MarTech stacks. Digital asset management (DAM) underpins the entire composable architecture, touching each peripheral solution as content, (meta)data, analytics, and more pass from system to system.

While the above diagram illustrates a simplified version of composable architecture, it is important to note that what makes composable architecture so attractive is that any combination of technologies can be configured to create a tailored solution that aligns with a business’s unique needs. 

Why transition to composable architecture? 

The composable approach to enterprise architecture began
with the rise of SaaS (software as a service), followed by the delivery of SaaS through the cloud, and strengthening with the emphasis on MACH (microservices, API-first, cloud-native, headless) principles to drive digital transformation.

Composable architecture supports the next wave of digital transformation, providing the foundation for businesses to become more agile, efficient, and innovative in today’s competitive market.

The primary advantage of composable architecture for businesses is the ability to select the most cutting-edge technology for each part of their content supply chain. 

With monolithic suites, some features may lack innovation as they are not the product’s main focus. Additionally, features within the suite often go unused by teams, but all of this is still included in the overall cost of the system.

With composable architecture, brands can utilize technology from various vendors that their teams actually want to use and seamlessly integrate these solutions. They can leverage the latest in AI and automation to streamline workflows and processes, leading to a more efficient use of resources. 

Further, the modular design of composable architecture allows teams to easily add or replace modules to adapt to changing business needs without impacting the rest of the modules within the ecosystem. This design is also helpful in isolating any issues to specific modules, making system maintenance easier for technical teams to manage and less costly.

Composable is the Future of Digital Transformation

Shifting to composable architecture is becoming increasingly common as enterprises focus on digital transformation to optimize business strategy.

As digital transformation involves fundamentally changing how organizations use technology to streamline operations and enhance customer experiences, composable architecture supports these goals by allowing companies to build a flexible, scalable, and customizable technology ecosystem.

By transitioning to composable architecture, enterprises can overcome the limitations of monolithic systems, such as scalability issues, being tied to a single vendor, and the burden of maintenance for costs and resources. This shift enables organizations to remain agile, responsive, and competitive in an ever-evolving digital market. 

Embracing composable architecture is about more than updating technology; it’s about successfully aligning IT capabilities with business strategies to drive efficiency and meaningful outcomes across operations.

Thinking about starting
your composable journey?

Explore the blueprint for composable
architecture to optimize your content supply chain.

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