Embracing the “Best of Need” Approach to Composable Tech Ecosystems


Adapted from our web event, Condensing the Path to Composable for B2B: An Executive Conversation, with Kelly Goetsch, CSO of commercetools and Ryan Heusinkveld, CEO of Smith.

Flexibility is a key requirement when it comes to building and maintaining a robust tech ecosystem. The ability to seamlessly integrate and adapt various pieces of technology is what makes the concept of composable commerce so compelling. In a recent conversation, we explored the idea of “best of need” within this context and how it can revolutionize the way we approach technology solutions.

The “Best of Need” Concept

Traditionally, we’re familiar with the “best of breed” mentality. This approach involves evaluating various solutions, weighting them against the specific needs of your business or industry, and selecting the best option in its totality, e.g. buying the suite. However, the “best of need” concept takes things a step further.

The term best of need is a concept that holds great promise when it comes to creating a tech ecosystem that truly serves the specific requirements of your business and customers. This concept is an exercise to map a particular piece of functionality or technology to a specific problem or requirement. This is why it translates so well when thinking about composable commerce.

Best of need introduces the crucial element of relative value. In other words, it prompts you to consider how valuable a particular capability is to your business in relation to the effort, distraction, and hard costs associated with implementing it. This nuanced perspective ensures that you don’t blindly pursue an all-in-one solution when it might not be the best fit for your specific needs. It can ensure that the business does not over-buy, acquiring tools and functionality it will never need or us, and help create a more granular picture of ROI both qualitatively and qualitatively.

Balancing Value and Cost

To illustrate the best of need concept, let’s consider two different scenarios:

  1. Heavy Equipment Manufacturer: This type of business deals with a small number of highly complex, expensive products. In this case, conducting a “best of need” analysis would likely reveal that implementing advanced site search functionality won’t provide significant value to the business or customer. However, creating and delivering high-quality multimedia content is critical for customer education, presenting fitment options, and enabling comparisons with competitive products. Thus, content becomes a priority.
  2. Wholesale Distributor: A distributor selling tens or hundreds of thousands of consumable products might find that site search is of utmost importance to implement functionality like predictive search, SKU lookups, and a range of ML-powered merchandising tools. In this scenario, content can be more basic since it doesn’t significantly drive the business’ value proposition.

Quantifying Value

When analyzing value, it’s essential to look beyond just the hard costs. While licensing or usage costs are seemingly straightforward (still, read the fine print), value can take on different meanings for different stakeholders. Business value might include factors like improved efficiency, resource allocation, and increasing margins. Customer value could encompass improved user experiences, reduced churn, and improved NPS and customer satisfaction scores.

Ideally, what benefits the business should also benefit the customer, but there can be nuanced differences. Defining, understanding, and measuring business and customer value is crucial in making informed decisions about which technologies to integrate.

Embracing Holistic Change

One aspect that often gets overlooked is the potential for qualitative efficiencies in the back office to translate into direct customer experience improvements and cost savings. A holistic approach that considers both front-end and back-end operations can yield significant benefits.

The days of massive “lift and shift” technology implementations are coming to an end. The focus is now best of need approaches that focus on proactive, incremental change, allowing organizations to adapt and evolve one improved area at a time, while considering both the immediate needs and long-term objectives of the business.