MACH Alliance’s first annual MACH One conference took place last month in London. It was clear from the two-day event that businesses are keener than ever to make the switch from monolithic to MACH-enabled technology that is Microservices based, API-first, Cloud-native SaaS, and Headless.
How do you know if your business is living life at MACH speed?
That was the question posed by MACH Alliance co-founder Sonja Keerl at the opening of the two-day conference in London. Keerl answered the question by sharing some of the telltale signs of a business that is not living the MACH life:
- Your tech teams are unable to develop new ideas to improve your digital customer experience because they are too busy duct-taping a technology stack together.
- You nailed a digital experience which led to a large order uptick and your systems couldn’t scale up to handle the volume.
- Your developers are crying in the bathroom from the stress of keeping up with legacy systems.
Unfortunately, most businesses today can relate. “If turning your great ideas into reality is prohibitively expensive, chances are you’re not doing MACH,” Keerl summarized.
Interest in the MACH approach is growing rapidly, Keerl noted: MACH Alliance’s latest research shows that 79% of digital leaders plan to move toward composable architectures at some point to gain the flexibility, scalability, and speed that these systems provide. Turning those plans into reality can be a long journey, and MACH One attendees agree on the need to further explore this paradigm shift in digital experience architecture.
Taking the stage with Keerl during the opening remarks, Forrester analyst Joe Cicman shared his thoughts on why MACH vendors are poised to overtake the market. “Technology should enable brands to bring innovative digital experiences to life. It should not be what hinders companies from acting on great ideas,” he noted. The future, Cicman believes, is all about microservices. “The monoliths still provide value, but they cannot keep pace,” he explained.
Getting started on the switch from legacy to composable
When first starting with a technology transformation, like going from a legacy to composable architecture, it’s important to rally stakeholders around the urgency of making such a change, advised presenter Justin Thomas of Kraft Heinz.
Thomas focused on three main aspects when Kraft Heinz went through its journey to composable:
- Purpose: Why make the transformation? What worked for Thomas was showing stakeholders the capabilities that other companies had and how they were able to engage and win consumers. “We need to be better and this is how we’re going to do it,” was his pitch for a MACH approach, Thomas explained.
- Positioning: “We had to think about how to navigate through this process and positioning the project correctly was key,” he said. The company opted for small pilots throughout the process to see where the gaps and opportunities were along the way.
- People: “You’re competing with countless other opportunities the business is thinking about so you need to get the right people excited about how the headless approach can solve their pain points,” he explained. “You need to make them see the urgency.”
David Edwards, head of architecture for fashion brand River Island — which recently selected Cloudinary’s Media Experience Cloud platform and its Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution as part of its tech stack for image and video delivery — also adopted an evolutionary approach when guiding his company through the process of transitioning to MACH architecture. He explained in his talk that this approach allows IT to deliver value incrementally to the business. He also relied on internal cheerleaders to help him push the project forward.
“Our senior tech stakeholders understood the benefits of API-first and cloud-native; our business units needed more persuading,” Edwards said. What clinched it was getting them to see that “our current platform was not fit for us to compete with emerging pure plays and other companies that were investing significantly in tech systems,” he explained.
Katie Patt and James Conroy of Crate & Barrel shared a great case study on the benefits reaped by having a mature composable tech architecture. Having made the switch to a MACH architecture about five years ago, the housewares retailer was ideally positioned to handle the huge uptick in e-commerce that it has experienced over the last two years of the pandemic.
“Because we went MACH a few years ago, we were ready for the pace and scale that our customers needed,” Patt explained.
In fact, she shared, the company achieved record-breaking sales this year — 59% of which came through ecommerce. She credits the company’s original goal of “seamless integration of content and a shopping path that would be a gamechanger for us and our customers” as the launch point for the retailer’s journey to composable.
The clear consensus at MACH One was that enterprise suites are no longer “the safer choice;” the MACH ecosystem is. Agile, nimble, and always up to date, the MACH ecosystem is helping brands across the globe achieve their business, e-commerce, and digital experience goals effectively and efficiently.
The experts in attendance at the conference agreed that the next few years hold great promise for composable MACH solutions — and the brands that embrace them.
“MACH stands for speed, but also for dexterity and agility, giving you the technology to constantly innovate,” Keerl noted. “The result of MACH is fast learning and easy pivots and never having to worry about performance and scalability. That’s the foundation of digital success.”