Data in a MACH vs Monolithic tech setup

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Modern CX leaders understand that adaption to the ever-changing landscape of customer experience is crucial to meeting the needs of customers, and that speed of digital innovation is key. To stay ahead, digital experience must flourish at the same pace as customer expectations and behavior –or you risk falling behind.

“The key to success in CX digital innovation is to truly understand your customer journey and have the means to meet their changing needs. Your digital experiences must be unified and flexible.” -Jimmy Ekbäck

The battle for hearts, minds and dollars is won (or lost) in micro-moments -meaning you need to provide the right information, at the right time, throughout the entire customer journey, and at every touchpoint. Customer experience is no longer driven by staff on the sales floor, it’s powered by the digital experience, and the power behind that experience is your data.It’s time to move into the new state, to shift the focus awayfrom spending time on moving data between databases and integrating data models, towards spending more time on the customer experience, a win-win for your customers, your development teams, and your bottom line.

Access to experience data is key to delivering faster innovation in CXTo build new customer experiences and launch them at speed, digital teams must be armed with the right capabilities for accessing and combining data, the ability to turn enterprise data into experience data. Yesterday you needed an eCommerce store, today you need a mobile application and who knows what tomorrow holds? Are you adapting fast enough?

To innovate at the speed customers and employees expect, data and frontends needs to be decoupled. Frontends must be as thin as possible, and consume the data via real-time APIs, making data and frontend truly decoupled. There must be more focus on the experience, and the look and feel(design). The more decoupled you can be in your stack, the more adaptable to future changes and anti-fragile you will be.


Firstly, let’s look at the old traditional Monolithic setup

A monolith structure is designed to carry out multiple tasks, given their broad scope, monolithic structures tend to have huge codebases. Making a minor change will have rippling effects, such as needing to re-compile and test the entire platform, which goes against the agile approach today’s developer's favor.

Another big issue with data in a monolith approach, is that it is built on a static & rigid data model (structure). If data fits the model, no problem, but if even the smallest change in data is needed, you may have a BIG problem. With such a black box, all kind of ideation gets stopped because with every new idea or innovation, everything must be rebuilt from the ground up.



This will often materialize itself in:

• Exceptionally long and expensive project times, due to system integration challenges.

• More time spent on server testing and technical development, rather than focusing on the customer demand.

• A large codebase that is significantly harder to understand and/or change

• Every element is closely related and dependent on the others, so it is difficult to change to a new or advanced technology, language, or framework.


MACH architecture is the key to launching digital experiences faster

MACH architecture takes a composable approach to the data. You build your capabilities with an ecosystem of individual services, different components built as small de-coupled, inter-dependent services communicating via events and APIs, also referred to as microservices. With this approach, your enterprise data will be easily available, consumed and repurposed by other services (experience data).


Gartner report that by 2023 60% of organizations will seek composability within their software investments.

A tech stack built on services and capabilities, is well described with the MACH definition, focusing on scalability and APIs.

Microservices: Individual pieces of business functionality that are independently developed, deployed, and managed

API first: Functionality is exposed through an API.

Cloud-native: SaaS that leverages the cloud, beyond storage and hosting, including elastic scaling and automatically updating.

• Headless: Front-end presentation is decoupled from back-end logic and channel, programming language, and is framework agnostic.


This modular setup enables your business to rearrange, and re-purpose data as needed, depending on external or internal factors like a shift in customer values or sudden change in supply chain or materials, without requiring a total rebuild.

This approach comes with lots of advantages…. here are some:

• If a part of your microservices ecosystem becomes a bottleneck, it is easy to scale it horizontally, independently of other app components.

• If a service isn ́t needed anymore, it can easily be unplugged without the risk of breaking something in the main app.

• All microservices can be fully autonomous. Thus, any collapse in one of them will not affect the work of the main app

• Every component is pluggable, scalable, replaceable, and can be continuously improved

• With a MACH data approach, you can reimagine your stack with an API-first approach without the need of ripping and replacing your current stack. Enhance the value you get from your previous IT investments and drive the data to be used where it adds value.


Some small things to be aware of:

• In a MACH setup, it is important to not create a data maintenance hell for your Digital teams. They deserve a unified view of the data needed for the digital roadmap and the support of the current CX initiatives. Therefore, the data must be enriched/created and maintained in capable backend applications.

You will need a platform that activates & unifies the data from your services/backends: this is where an Experience Data Platform comes into play.

Conclusion

To win market share and retain customers in today’s highly competitive, digitalfirst landscape, retailers and brands must deliver a strong unified digital experience: with contextual relevance and customer experience in mind.

In my opinion, adopting a MACH architecture is the natural next progressive step for digitally mature organizations, and the best way to compete on customer experience, at speed! Organizations should be aware of the potential impacts on their data in the initial adoption of this approach and make sure they have the right tech stack and resources to move into this new state as smooth as possible – the result is well worth it.

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Author: Jimmy Ekbäck is co-founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Occtoo. Jimmy’s combined passion for new technology and frustration over legacy technology holding CX professionals back from launching innovative ideas is what brought the seed of Occtoo to life. Prior to founding Occtoo, Jimmy has founded and acted as CTO at inRiver, a globally recognized Product Information Management System.

Occtoo is an Experience Data Platform combining content and context to power unified customer experience.