The 76th Business Breakfast by foryouandyourcustomers was a morning filled with insightful discussions, networking, and a deep dive into the world of composable architecture.
How does a nearly 100-year-old, international retail chain transform its IT infrastructure for the future? Participants in the 76th Business Breakfast found out first-hand, as they learned about composable architecture: an approach to tech stack building that enables flexibility, speed and agility, while safeguarding security and stability.
Time well spent on networking
Straight from the source
Attendees were eager to explore the topic. The Business Breakfast was, as always, an opportunity to ask targeted questions and exchange ideas. "A developer must be constantly learning," said Zehra, a GIS Developer at an offshore construction company. "This breakfast is a great place to learn about new approaches, meet people with some of the same challenges we face, and connect with people who can really help."
"This breakfast is a great place to learn about new approaches, meet people with some of the same challenges we face, and connect with people who can really help."
— Zehra, GIS Developer at an offshore construction company
Amsterdam CEO Albert Jan Klunder opening the event
Amsterdam CEO Albert Jan Klunder opened the event with a welcome and introduction. He swiftly gave the floor to Alex Oppel, Manager of Architecture, Infrastructure & Platforms at HEMA: one of the Netherlands' oldest and most familiar retail chains.
Alex described his role at HEMA. “We aimed to give HEMA control over their infrastructure in a way that would enable them to manage everything themselves.” He described HEMA’s outdated and complex infrastructure and the sheer scope of its products and services – from home goods to loyalty programmes to made-to-order food and insurance.
Alexander Oppel presenting HEMA's organisational development
Cleaning up the mess
"Our task was to combine all of those different and individually complex business models – all with different supply chains – and make them work together,” Alex explained. With an outdated and monolithic tech stack and ever-increasing customer demand for outstanding digital experiences, the team had a lot of work to do.
With composable architecture, HEMA assigned responsibility for maintaining, monitoring and securing each of the individual building blocks of the system – like APIs, file exchanges, SNP and data – to a Centre of Excellence. Then, individual tech teams in each company domain develop autonomously and connect to systems with APIs. The Centre of Excellence ensures compliance and quality, while the teams innovate at the pace, scale and level needed for their part of the business.
Alexander Oppel showing HEMA's IT landscape in 2018
Alex explained why this composable architecture is best for companies that want to accelerate development. “First, you solve the integration challenges, and then you design the system for speed. By defining the parameters within which development can happen, you open the door to endless flexibility.”
Today, each of the 35 IT domain teams at HEMA have the autonomy to design, implement and improve systems independently. “We created a system that moves along with customer demand and changing retail trends, enables us to develop swiftly, and yet remains stable,” Alex said.
"We created a system that moves along with customer demand and changing retail trends, enables us to develop swiftly, and yet remains stable."
— Alexander Oppel, Manager of Architecture, Infrastructure & Platforms at HEMA
Questions from the audience
Proof you can feel
But is all this hard work paying off? Martijn Regterschot, Lead Customer Experience at HEMA took the stage next to explain that it is. Previously, 150 CX team members in 2 countries had used 25 different systems to manage CX. So, the service team needed to streamline for efficiency and efficacy. With composable architecture, HEMA was able to improve the time-to-market of new solutions that enabled business agility and growth. The CX team increased efficiency through reduced handling times, and customer satisfaction scores increased.
Martijn Regtershot presenting HEMA's CX approach
“We began with a clear vision and ground rules, including our aim to create an event-driven system with no tool-to-tool connections,” Martijn said. “With each development, the team asks 'do we really need it?', then refines together and ensures that they have their 'POOP' together: a Product Owner On-Premise.”
"With each development, the team asks 'do we really need it?', then refines together and ensures that they have their 'POOP' together: a Product Owner On-Premise."
— Martijn Regterschot, Lead Customer Experience at HEMA
With a wide variety of improvements, the number of questions successfully answered by CX voice bots went from 20% to 50%. Customer satisfaction increased 17%. And the HEMA CX team is continuing to streamline and optimise CX with digital tools and support. “Before composable architecture, we could never have imagined deploying a new system in two months’ time. Now, it’s happening,” Martijn said.
All about the view
To conclude the event, Senior Consultant and foryouandyourcustomers Zurich CEO Kevin Krifter brought the discussion full circle by demonstrating how the foryouandyourcustomers Exploded View model was applied as part of HEMA’s transformation. “HEMA is a well-known brand that calls up a lot of nostalgia for Dutch people,” Kevin began. “It’s always great to take a look at the hyper-complexity inside an organisation like this, and uncover the relevant IT elements: where they are, how they connect, and how they have to work together to make the company run successfully.”
“It’s always great to take a look at the hyper-complexity inside an organisation like this, and uncover the relevant IT elements: where they are, how they connect, and how they have to work together to make the company run successfully.”
— Kevin Kriftler, foryouandyourcustomers Zurich CEO
Using the examples that Alex and Martijn presented, Kevin walked through the six layers of the Exploded View – Customer, Experience, Organisation, Performance, Assets and Data – to demonstrate foryouandyourcustomers’ unique ability to reduce the complexity step by step, and help companies prepare for a digital future.
“It can be overwhelming for large companies to think about transforming their enormous and complex architectures,” Albert Jan said after the presentations concluded. “But without an agile system that enables swift development, companies will get left behind in an age when customer demands are constantly changing and technology continues to advance.
“Our Business Breakfasts are more than just a great meal and some inspiring presentations,” Albert Jan continued. “They are carefully crafted to help participants navigate the ever-evolving digital landscape and foster conversations that lead to the exchange of ideas. The breakfasts help build meaningful relationships and steer the conversation towards effective solutions. This breakfast was no different: participants left with a much better understanding of how composable architecture can contribute to the evolution.”
A warm thank you to all guests
Copy by Toni Bellanca from Two Points Copy
Get in touch
Want to map out your company’s transition to composable architecture? The experts at foryouandyourcustomers are ready to help. Our CEO Amsterdam, Albert Jan Klunder, is happy to start a conversation with you.