Einstein said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. We’ve all been expecting so much from our tech stacks. As the years have gone by, we’ve added more and more functionality to our straining platforms, leaving them creaking at the seams and unlikely to perform in the ways we need them to. Expecting one monolithic system to complete all of the services we need is either very difficult to achieve, or an unachievable utopia. So why are we still putting ourselves through it?
The MACH Alliance has just rounded up their latest webinar, this time with a focus on solving that challenge through the context of composable architectures. For those of you who couldn’t make the session, check the recording. Otherwise, find my rundown of what we discussed, and why it matters for businesses in today’s tumultuous markets below.
The consumer viewpoint
Companies shouldn’t think from the perspective of functionality and integrations; they should be thinking about how they can deliver the best possible experience for their customers across multiple channels. Whether offline or online, they know that their consumers expect a seamless journey to help direct them from browsing to buying. It’s often then up to the IT department to work through the complexity of delivering on those ambitions.
The modern customer buying journey is a ‘mix-and-match’ process, a complex path across online and offline touchpoints, a blurring of commerce boundaries. Consumers can sometimes expect a multi-touchpoint journey of 5 or 6 interactions before making the final transaction. In other cases, the customer might only be interacting with a single touchpoint on the frontend which is masking a web of 10 or more systems on the backend.
This shift in dynamics creates an interesting challenge for companies. When the journey is so multifaceted, and often not entirely under your total control (think review sites that review your products but aren’t owned or moderated by you … ), how can you ensure that everything across the journey is in sync? How can you be sure that your customers have the same experience no matter where they are in their journey, online and offline and irrespective of the device they are using?
You need to build a highly functioning architecture that enables you to meet the complex demands of your customers and your specific business objectives, but that also gives you the flexibility to adapt and respond to changes in the future. You need an architecture that supports integrations between different systems and solutions and that allows you to build on what you already have, rather than forcing you to re-platform at great cost and disruption.
What that means for businesses
There’s been a shift in the way that businesses are operating. In order to stay competitive in this new marketplace, they need to design business models that think ‘customer first’, not ‘product first’. They need flexibility, agility and speed.
Take the automotive sector; traditionally a customer’s only interaction in the car buying process would have been with the dealership. Now OEMs are building infrastructure to enable them to communicate directly with the people who are buying and using their products. They want to offer new services – from maintenance to renewals, services and upgrades. They want to take ownership of their marketplace and overhaul the customer experience. By going D2C they are getting access to data that they never had before – insights that will enable them to improve their products and experience faster and better.
For businesses to be able to make these changes and capitalise on customer access, they need an architecture that is tailored to them. Even in the case of the most complex monolith, there are ways to unlock new functionality - and therefore new opportunities - for those that want it.
The value of composable architectures
The term MACH stands for Microservices, API-driven, Cloud-native SaaS and Headless. It’s these architectural elements that can increase the flexibility, scalability and agility of your platforms.
By combining this API driven functionality with your existing architectures, you can create a completely unique composable architecture that provides your business and your customers with the functionality they need. There are multiple ways to integrate a MACH architecture with your existing architecture but what they all have in common is that the leverage APIs to integrate the various building blocks.
Not every tenant of MACH is equally important to your architecture’, explains Pavel Veller, CTO at EPAM. ’Microservices help with scalability and allow vendors to run and further develop their solution efficiently. The Cloud SaaS takes care of your infrastructure footprint and is ultimately operated for you – always updated, scalable and highly performant. Then you have the headless offering which is a product of the API structure and enables you to decouple the front and back ends … but it’s really the API-driven context that is the most important element of the MACH architecture. It’s being able to leverage the APIs that opens up all of the new functionality and opportunities.
As an industry, we need flexible and composable architectures to help us support the emergence of multi-touchpoint journeys and increasingly customer centric business models. These composable architectures are enabled by the API centricity of MACH, enabling you to access new functionality, new connections and new opportunities for your business. Remember that implementing MACH shouldn’t increase complexity; done right, it can enable you to build a fully composable, tailored solution that fits around the specific needs of your organisation. There’s nothing insane about that.
The MACH Alliance was established to support companies looking to embark on a future-proofed approach to modern architectures. If you would like to know more about how to apply the principles to your business today, please get in touch.
MACH: Business Technology for 2020 and Beyond
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