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Editorial

Is Being Digitally Advanced Enough?

6 minute read
Sonja Keerl avatar
Being a digitally advanced business no longer ensures you a competitive edge. Is it time to make the MACH leap?

Being a digitally advanced business no longer ensures you a competitive edge. It may not even get you further than middle-of-the-pack. The rapid pace of technological change means embracing tech will help you stay afloat, but it won't necessarily set you apart.

Why?

Because so much enterprise technology today is still legacy, and with being bound by the chains of outdated IT systems, businesses cannot compete against those who embrace a more modular approach. With a modern architectural foundation that provides the freedom to pick the right tools for the right purpose at the right time, organizations easily add, swap or take away any one of those tools without disrupting the rest of the stack. This yields unparalleled agility in being able to adapt in a challenging economic environment and meet customers where they are.

This is the way industry-leading businesses are building their IT infrastructure. If you want your company to be one of them, here's what you need to know.

The Case for MACH

MACH architecture has gained incredible momentum over the past few years, not because of the pandemic, but that certainly was a driving force for getting businesses on the train more quickly. It stands for Microservices, API first, Cloud-native SaaS and Headless. Businesses tend to seek out a MACH approach to their digital architecture when they have one of three realizations:

  • They need to move faster.
  • They need higher quality output.
  • They need better processes.

These needs, in whatever combination (sometimes all three), come to light as companies grow their digital business and need to be able to bring new offerings to market more quickly, offer more innovative, forward-thinking customer service options or break down data silos that exist across disparate systems. Enter MACH technologies, which are designed to seamlessly fit and scale with other solutions.

Related Article: What Digital Leaders Want in MACH-Based Architectures

Evaluating Solutions (and Your Readiness)

Transitioning to MACH gives companies incredible freedom to design an architecture tailored to their specific business needs. The core tenets of that design will differ for every business, however, which makes evaluating MACH technologies somewhat complex, so a few things to bear in mind are: 

  • Identify your core criteria from the outset and get buy-in from across the board to ensure everyone is on the same page. That should include everything from basic functionality to the many peripheral considerations about deployment, support operation and more that should be considered at this stage.
  • Refer back to them throughout the process, which will make the decision making process easier along the way knowing everyone involved has a unified mindset. This will also enable teams to make independent decisions that are cohesive with the overall architecture.
  • Align with cross-departmental teams. Arriving at your core criteria requires input from each department that will not only use, but be impacted in any way, by the new systems. Establishing a culture of collaboration in this way where the whole organization believes they're swimming in the same direction will lead to greater efficiencies and output down the road. Encourage teams to be vocal, though there may be some level of compromise involved.
  • Be hands-on in your evaluation process. One especially impactful way a large retailer did this within their organization was through a series of hackathons. The company put the shortlisted platforms to the test with mini-hackathons to get a taste for how they would fare. The team quickly found shortcomings or strengths of each, and this helped them make informed evaluations based on real business cases.

Moving to MACH

Once you've got a handle on those things, it's time to think through your transition to MACH. Remember that not every business is a great candidate to dive in head first. Implementing MACH technologies takes time and planning up front to map out and properly set up. This is especially true compared to traditional, out-of-the-box software, which seems easy to set up but gets more complex and cumbersome over time.

Learning Opportunities

The initial push for MACH is typically more involved than deploying a traditional platform, but it's worth it. Once a business has the structure in place, building becomes easy and making changes doesn't completely drain your time, budget and resources. MACH technologies are like building blocks that can be pieced together and moved or changed in a straightforward way. In this sense, releasing a new feature or creating a new dependency is as simple as swapping a block and can happen in a matter of weeks or days, not months or even years.

The nature of MACH is also conducive to starting out with it in only one piece of the business and adding in more over time. It's not uncommon for a company to begin dipping a toe in the water with a single MACH technology, and over time, that can be the driver for a bigger shift. Transitioning to MACH doesn’t require that a business completely reengineer its architecture at once, and in fact, most shift away from legacy piece by piece.

Related Article: MACH Architecture: What It Is, Why You Should Know It

Reaping the Benefits

The benefits of MACH are myriad, and they're well documented. Here are some of the big ones:

  • Cultivate talent: The most talented developers want access to market-leading capabilities and features, and less time spent on troubleshooting legacy systems. This equates to more time spent on creative and strategic work. MACH technologies also empower teams to make decisions based on business value, not requirement specifications. Especially during the so-called "Great Resignation" and war for talent, this can be a true game changer for attracting and retaining top talent.
  • Freedom to innovate: Technologists get to work with the architecture, language and framework they prefer, giving them a good level of autonomy they wouldn't have elsewhere. They can design unique customer experiences and other products and features that truly move the needle for their business. There are no bounds to what can be built with MACH technologies.
  • Modular design: Businesses with a modern IT architecture reap the benefits of having no vendor lock-in. They can select solutions that are the best fit for each domain instead of being forced to work with one large platform that's just OK. And the stack can easily evolve over time.
  • Channel-agnostic: Data, content and logic can be shared across channels for a consistent experience with MACH, yielding faster time to market for new customer offerings.

A modern enterprise experience is no longer a "nice to have." It's essential to stay afloat and even more so to get ahead of the pack.

Having a complex web of outdated legacy tools will only hold you back at a time when speed to innovate is separating the companies who win from those who falter. The time to embrace MACH is now.

About the author

Sonja Keerl

Sonja Keerl is a Co-founder and President of MACH Alliance and Global Head of Product Marketing at Contentstack. MACH Alliance is a group of independent tech companies dedicated to advocating for open, best-of-breed technology ecosystems.