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Sustainable Platform Strategies in Digital Commerce – Recap Commerce Masters 2023

Written by diconium

The most important facts in 20 seconds
  • A modular composable architecture approach enables a stable foundation that can be flexibly adapted to current developments or new customer requirements.
  • Capability Based Planning (CBP) offers a powerful tool to ensure the alignment of business and IT transformation with strategy.
  • Speed, acceptance of optimized processes, implementation of releases and efficient requirements management are key challenges for companies in their architecture landscape.

Changing customer expectations and rapid digitalization push companies to continuously adapt and innovate. Existing business models must be regularly updated while new ones are introduced. Importantly, these changes require integration into robust, future-proof infrastructures to maintain smooth system operations. About 40 decision-makers across different sectors of the German economy gathered at the diconium Commerce Masters 2023 in Stuttgart to explore the most effective ways to address these challenges.


Composable Architectures: Stable base with flexible components


A concise expert keynote at the beginning of the event provided significant insights into "composable architecture." This modular approach to building customized tech stacks offers businesses a strong yet flexible foundation, able to adapt to changing trends and customer demands. A primary obstacle is the uniqueness of implementation—no two systems share the same conditions or needs, and architecture demands can drastically differ between companies. When choosing components, the focus should be on understanding their functionality and advantages. Packaged Business Components (PBC) as Software as a Service (SaaS) modules allow for the easy integration of essential functions. Yet, these alone may not be enough to distinguish a customer experience.

Frontends are crucial for improving user interactions and fostering innovation in composable setups. Companies need to discern which aspects to standardize and where custom development can create relevant market differentiation and competitive advantage. As a result, many are adopting a "buy AND build" strategy, moving away from the traditional "buy OR build" approach, in response to the trend towards consumerization.


Capability Based Planning (CBP) for a future-proof platform strategy


The subsequent workshop on future-proof platform strategy, led by hosts Markus Fleckenstein and Alexander Käppler, addressed an important question: How do we manage complexity effectively? Ultimately, architecture serves as a means of maintaining agility and balance across all areas. Capability-based planning (CBP) provides a robust tool for ensuring alignment between business and IT transformation with the overall strategy. The objective is to organize as many activities as possible within a CBP cycle, delineating clear starting points for companies and outlining successive steps necessary for implementing corresponding planning domains—from "understanding the customer perspective" to "planning and controlling the implementation."

In the group work, the participants discussed their companies' current use cases with the individual requirements and problems relating to the architecture landscape. It became clear that they all have similar challenges to overcome - including, for example:

  • Build up speed (especially in IT)
  • Gain acceptance in the company for optimized processes
  • Implement releases in the best possible way
  • Manage requirements to correctly "translate" requirements between different areas (e.g. marketing and IT)


Wrap-up: Important insights on the way to a future-proof architecture


The participants summarized the most important learnings and key takeaways from the intensive group work in the concluding wrap-up. With important insights for planning and implementing future-proof architectures:

  • Composable Architecture: Companies should move away from "monoliths" towards composable architecture and work with "small building blocks" wherever possible to quickly adapt their architecture to current developments and be able to scale flexibly at any time.
  • Costumer Journey: The customer perspective is always the top priority and the starting point for capability-based planning to reach the target group in the best possible way.
  • Added Value: It is important to define the value proposition and capabilities of individual "bubbles" within the customer journey to allocate resources efficiently, set priorities and ensure that technology investments achieve the greatest business benefit. It is important to test as quickly as possible and to discard unsuitable solutions.
  • Reality Check: For the successful planning and implementation of the IT architecture, the overall complexity should always be checked first so as not to move too quickly to the tool level.


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