The business value of Packaged Business Capabilities

Anatolii Iakimets

October 8th, 2020

In the previous article, we have discussed the relation between Packaged Business Capabilities (PBCs) and Microservices on the technical level. Still, for business users, most likely, this was not very relevant. It is not evident why anyone, besides enterprise architects, should care about Packaged Business Capabilities. This article addresses this question and explains how Packaged Business Capabilities can create value for your business users.

The business value starts with the business problem that needs to be addressed. Of course, every business will have its challenges, but we will list some of the potential ones:

  • Introduction of a new business model. It can be a service, a subscription, a partner-enabled business model, or anything else. The important thing – it is not just a new product or offering but something the business has not done before.
  • Introduction of new touchpoint(s). This need can be driven by the desire to drive revenue growth through new touchpoints or deliver better customer experience through omnichannel journeys.
  • Introduction of a new sales channel. Compared to the problem above, this one focuses on entirely new sales channels. For example, a company that previously sold through retail and distributors decides to sell to consumers directly.

These business problems can be solved with the existing software in some cases, but you will have to acquire a new solution in others. And most likely, your solution will be used by multiple business users with different roles and business requirements:

  • The product manager creates and manages offerings. How easy is it to manage the product portfolio? Import and export data? Is synchronization with the CMS automated?
  • Another person is responsible for promotions. Which promotions are types available? How easy is it to create and manage them? What are the limitations?
  • The customer service representative resolves customer issues. How quickly can you find a customer order? Can you make all the necessary changes within the same user interface?

All those roles have different needs, so you want to ensure all their needs are addressed when you select a solution. Sometimes, a single commerce software application can handle all the requirements, but often this is not the case. If possible, you would want to create a solution from multiple software applications in this situation, a so-called “best of breed” solution.

But how do you do this? All the software applications on the market are different. Which pieces do you take, and which you don’t?

Packaged Business Capabilities to the rescue

PBCs are independent building blocks that you can combine to create your “best of breed” solution. Each of the PBCs has the following characteristics:

  • It represents a well-defined business capability, functionally recognizable as such by a business user. This means that the business roles we discussed above will immediately understand what a specific PBC can do. A product manager will recognize Catalog PBC as a tool to manage the product portfolio. A promotions manager will recognize Promotions PBC as a tool to manage promotions.
  • It is independently deployable. This means that you can combine the Promotions and Catalog PBCs from the example above in a single “best of breed” solution. Without the PBCs, you would not know if you can take promotions functionality and add it to your solution or whether it is possible at all.

To understand the PBCs value, imagine you plan to have lunch with a large group of friends (users of your solution) who have different food tastes (different roles and requirements). You have several options:

  1. You can buy the food and prepare everything yourself. It takes significant time and effort, but you are free to do anything. This is similar to building a commerce platform from scratch or composing it from many independent microservices.
  2. You can go to a restaurant. You are limited to what the restaurant menu offers, and you will have to find a compromise. Possibly some of your friends won’t be happy. But its relatively easy. This is similar to going with a monolith solution.
  3. You can go to the food court.  Every one of your friends can pick what fits their test the best, and no compromise is needed. You can go to Chipotle for food and to Starbucks for coffee. This is what Packaged Business Capabilities allow you to do.

You could argue that a restaurant is not a bad choice, but if you have to stick with it for several years – the food court can become a much more attractive alternative.

PBCs Benefits

As always, Packaged Business Capabilities are not a silver bullet for every business context, but they can help your business to create a solution addressing your unique business needs without sacrificing speed:

  • Unlike monolith platforms, you can create the best of breed solution that addresses your exact business need. You don't have to settle for a "middle of the road" solution, covering only some of your needs.
  • Composing a solution from PBCs is also much faster and cheaper than building it from scratch. 
  • The solution selection process is also much more straightforward since business users can evaluate independent PBCs based on their needs because this is what they will be using.

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Anatolii Iakimets

Anatolii is a Product Marketing Manager at Elastic Path, where he is responsible for the telecommunications and media industry.