Guest Blog: Heads-up, Marketers, go Headless
Most IT managers nowadays are certain of one thing: The MACH (Microservice – APIfirst – Cloud-native – Headless) approach has undeniable advantages over older technological solutions. Other practitioners, however, don’t seem to recognize that these benefits go beyond technological assets. The following blog post from our partner Valtech gives insights on the advantages of the MACH solution as a state-of-the-art technological approach for marketers and explains why this solution should also be embraced by retailers, content managers, and product owners.
For a couple of years “headless” or MACH (Microservice – APIfirst – Cloud-native – Headless) solutions have been talked about as the technological approach of the future: Built in and for the cloud, fast releases, based on easy to manage microservices – music to the ears of developers and IT managers who have become tired of managing large scale solutions of which only a fraction of features provided out-of-the-box are actually used.
While IT has embraced this as the way-to-go technology, practitioners such as marketers, content managers, and product owners have been more skeptical. Maybe this is not surprising: with the benefits apparently overwhelmingly on the technical side, the disadvantages spring to the eye: With no frontend to visualize functionality, it is hard to find out what capabilities the platforms actually have. On top of this, having to re-define basic processes such as checkouts gave the impression of having to re-invent the wheel. Add to this, missing standard connectors for external systems such as payment or recommendations.
So, no wonder marketers ask the big question: what’s in it for me? Well, here are some answers why marketers should embrace headless solutions.
Don’t let an interface weigh you down
Frontend technologies have been the fastest evolving area in IT in the past years. Think not just latest browsers and the new experience of so-called Single-Page-Applications, but also new and ever faster mobile devices, Connected (IoT) Devices, Artificial Intelligence, or voice-based interfaces. Who can say what options 5G will bring with its vastly improved real-time connectivity?
Only extremely easily connectable, light-weight but powerful systems will be able to handle the load and make sure you are always connected to your customers over all devices.
Best of breed means best of what I need
Look behind the promises: Too often big monolithic systems have done many things badly and only few things well. A microservice, API-first architecture allows you to pick and choose the most powerful systems for your need. What exactly do you expect from your integrated content management system? Do you need real-time dashboards to monitor your promotions? Your need for extensive AB-Testing should not stand in the way of using the best system for order processing and product management. So, though you might need to take a couple of extra decisions this is well worth it in the long run. After all, you will probably look better if you don’t buy all your clothes in one store!
Never crash on Black Friday
As a marketer you should think about what the best offer is for your clients – not whether the servers will be able to handle the load. Cloud-native systems scale just as you need them to. Go on! Try to make those servers crash on Black Friday. Your headless commerce systems will happily take the challenge. And, of course, your systems will be up and running the rest of the year too.
Introduce step by step
As APIs and microservices provide very specific functions that do not interfere with the rest of the system (or with each other for that matter) they are ideal for small, agile initiatives. You can add commerce functions to your content virtually in minutes. A microsite introducing a new product can be instantly connected with a large shop system just by using the shared API. This allows seamless integrations and is also ideal for step-by-step re-platforming initiatives.
To be fair, marketers might need a little help to truly embrace API-first, cloud-native solutions. For a start, system vendors might want to add a little more practitioner tooling to the backends to make working with these systems easier. Strong, pre-configured demo-applications can show how systems actually work so that less is left up to the imagination or system architecture diagrams. Bridges are built from both sides though: Practitioners need to understand the possibilities that MACH-solutions give them to take full advantage of them. For this, having strong partners – both internal and external – is crucial.
About the author
Steven Buxton is a Business Analyst and Practice Lead for the Headless Commerce & Content Practice of Valtech Germany with over 20 years of experience in eCommerce, both as shop operator as well as a consultant.
His passion is to explain business topics to IT experts and vice versa.
The original version of this blog post was published in Valtech.
See also Partner Spotlight Valtech on how headless commerce increases the value of customer interactions.