Dancing Partners: Transitioning to MACH
The new dance craze: what is MACH?
MACH is a new strategy for technology evolution, procurement and implementation built on four key principles: Microservices, APIs, Cloud-native SaaS, and Headless.
Developed in response to decades of under-performance that have arisen from businesses being encouraged to opt for suites of applications from ‘one-size-fits-all’, suites-based vendors, MACH enables enterprises to leverage composable technologies to build continually evolving digital experiences with remarkable speed and scale.
The approach has a compelling business case:
· Microservices can help reduce development lead times by 75%.
· Robust APIs quickly integrate technologies with any new tools (like personalization engines) or new channels such as augmented reality.
· As it is cloud-based, MACH technology is continually updated, eliminating costly upgrade cycles and helping to deliver three times the ROI of an on-premise deployment.
This approach received a huge boost in June 2020 with the creation of the MACH Alliance - a non-profit organisation to introduce a new, open, and best-of-breed enterprise technology ecosystem. Counting 15 members at launch, the MACH Alliance helps enterprise organisations navigate this complex modern technology landscape.
Choosing the right dance partner for MACH
Chasing these benefits by moving to MACH architecture requires specific expertise both for the initial shift as well as the ongoing, business-wide transformation that switching to MACH can incite. While many digital transformation projects can be begun ‘in-house’ and then made more successful with the support of a qualified implementation partner, it is almost essential for businesses that want to pursue a MACH architecture to start with a mindset of collaboration.
The right partner will be based in a heritage of systems integration, but also offer the full services normally found within an agency. This will be demonstrated in not only having the right staff available to get the implementation off the ground but also key value-added services to help design and implement a solid foundation for the future of the business and provide ongoing guidance.
So, with such a prize on offer and a clear need for partners, how can a business make the right decision?
Putting skin in the game
Successful MACH implementations are highly idiosyncratic to the company undertaking them. One-size-fits-all demos of specific individual MACH solutions will not give a full picture of how an organisation-wide implementation will progress. Size matters and simply talking to an agency or watching their pitch will not be the same as working with them at scale and to deadline.
Enterprises should consider a small, paid proof-of-concept project. The monetary investment enforces discipline and makes the pilot a much more accurate reflection of the actual project. It does this by making sure stakeholders are engaged as everyone knows real results (and funds) are at stake.
As a bonus, this investment need not be a loss leader. There is no reason that the enterprise cannot emerge with a useful chunk of code or even a start to a product that can be developed for customer use.
And this pilot need not be arduous. MACH projects can be created and underway in weeks. Take advantage of the speed and agility that cloud affords.
Go beyond just the tech
A successful MACH implementation demands more than just technology. There is a host of additional skills a partner should also have to make the transformation a success - businesses should consider especially the areas of content management, customer experience strategy and data science.
By their very nature, MACH projects are strategic and agile, so they need to fit with the rest of the processes and underpinning technology within a business. This demands an implementation specialist that is aware of these impacts. The partner must be able to support digital transformation through the less technical tasks just as much as issues of software.
Make sure your partner is on the same page
MACH projects often necessitate a lot of change beyond the IT team. It is vital to work with an implementation partner that aligns well with the culture throughout the entire enterprise.
A good place to start is to ensure all partners, including the vendor of the MACH technology that is to be implemented, make the end-user experience a top priority. This needs to be more than mere lip-service – there needs to be clear and specific understanding around the customer experience and how changes to the end-user will be measured.
Elsewhere, cultural alignment should be built on a commitment to pushing boundaries and prioritising innovation (and thus accepting there may be some disruption). This soon moves the partnership away from a focus on the specific features or solutions a potential partner is currently working with and instead assesses if partners have the same vision.
This cannot be understated. MACH technology is ever-evolving and ever-improving. Businesses and implementation specialists that are not comfortable with trying new things or putting innovation at the heart of strategy will never make it in a MACH future. Both parties must be sure they are willing to go on a journey of continuous innovation, not just a one-time dance.