The fifth installment in our series of six blogs featuring the learnings shared by our amazing speakers at Modern Commerce Day 2022 focuses on MACH architecture. It was back in 2019 that commercetools combined the first letter of each of the four technologies the company was using to build its commerce solution — microservices, APIs, cloud and headless — and introduced the acronym MACH. As a word synonymous with speed, it was a perfect choice.
Today, MACH architecture serves as the foundation for composable commerce, the approach which Gartner predicts will define the future for sales-driven businesses. MACH Alliance board member Chris Bach, who is Co-founder, Chief Strategy and Creative Officer at Netlify, sat down with Danielle Diliberti, a MACH Alliance Ambassador, Chief Executive Officer at Sommsation and Senior Director in Strategy for Eldridge Industries, to discuss why MACH-driven solutions are so powerful, debunk myths preventing brands from embracing the architecture and provide reassurance that it’s the right choice for businesses that want to retain a competitive edge.
What is MACH?
Chris kicked off his session with Danielle by offering up a simple and clear definition of MACH: “MACH is an industry tech standard, essentially describing modern technology with an initial focus on enabling a new generation of eCommerce; the prerequisites to achieve this standard is to be microservices-based, API-first, cloud-native SaaS and headless.”
He also delved into the mission of The MACH Alliance, the not-for-profit, vendor-neutral organization that advocates for the open and best-of-breed enterprise technology ecosystems that MACH architecture enables. He explained that the alliance provides resources, education and guidance to help enterprises navigate their digital transformation journey, so they have the confidence to choose “compatible, best-in-class vendors that can deliver commerce solutions that are both more performant and more scalable” — and, most importantly, brought to market much more quickly.
Getting past the myths to embrace the magic
As dedicated advocates of MACH architecture, Chris and Danielle have experienced first-hand how once implemented, the agility and flexibility it delivers not only transform an organization’s digital commerce capabilities but its mindset and culture as well.
Danielle shared how organizations have reaped incredible benefits after migrating from a legacy platform to a MACH-driven composable commerce solution, from massive sales growth to cost reduction and increased innovation. Her stories prompted Chris to pose the question, “Why are there still monoliths out there? Why hasn’t everyone migrated yet?” Daniele proceeded with laying out why companies are hesitant to make the move to MACH.
The reasons, she says, have a lot to do with three key misconceptions:
It’s very costly
You need a massive project team
You don’t have the skill sets within the organization
To understand why migration costs are irrelevant compared to the long-term value MACH delivers, Danielle said retailers first have to recognize MACH solutions are designed differently than monolithic platforms. First, the modular, composable architecture allows gradual migration (unlike monolith platforms) so organizations can spread costs over time. In addition, once your MACH solution is in place, the need to replatform again is eliminated — forever. “The legacy way of thinking — 5, 10, 15 years ago — was if you did a major transformation, you had to lobby for a significant amount of money, a significant amount of resources, a significant amount of time. And, if it wasn’t successful…an individual didn’t want to be on the chopping block for that.”
Chris reinforced Danielle's point by stressing that MACH solutions are able to deliver lower TCO (total cost of ownership) over time as opposed to monoliths, which are intrinsically built with unnecessary costs attached. When you buy one, “you end up with everything you need, plus a whole bunch of stuff you don’t. It’s part of the package.” With MACH, you’re only paying for what you use, he said. ”That’s quite a powerful argument for embracing this technology.”
If you’re doing a true omnichannel strategy, you’re getting 3, 4, 5x return or bang for your buck.
Chief Executive Officer, Sommsation; Senior Director in Strategy, Eldridge Industries and an Ambassador for The MACH Alliance
“Not only can you have cost reduction, you have cost efficiencies,” said Danielle. “Rather than paying an extremely expensive licensing fee for one massive system where you're only using 10% of the capabilities, you can design something that really is efficient and effective.” She added you can also factor in other savings, such as “labor costs, marketing and other things that improve your operations.”The end result? “If you’re doing a true omnichannel strategy, you’re getting 3, 4, 5x return or bang for your buck.”
As for the concern over resources, she dismissed the myths that migrating to MACH requires a massive project team or hiring individuals with specific skill sets. “The whole point of The MACH Alliance is to make it easier for brands to access the resources they need to get their technology where it needs to be…we have experts that do things really, really well, so creating those partnerships, I think, is really important.”
Both Chris and Danielle feel that, eventually, organizations will realize buying into these myths and using them as objections to migrating is just delaying the inevitable. Danielle reinforced that part of the beauty of MACH is that you can transition incrementally. “You can work with many vendors to get an MVP or a proof of concept out there to make it a lot more digestible…really simplify it down.” She suggested starting with a single project or two projects. “It will prove quickly that you can have a lean workforce….you really start to see that there are not a lot of reasons as to why you shouldn’t be doing this.”
The conviction felt by both speakers that brands need to embrace MACH architecture now was undeniable. Chris summed up his feelings on the topic, “To me, MACH is an expression of a world embracing a new and much more efficient architecture where we move off legacy monoliths to building solutions that use best-in-class components.”
To learn more about MACH and how you can leverage the architecture to meet evolving consumer expectations, achieve strategic business goals and retain a competitive advantage, watch our on-demand webinar, “Digital Transformation at the Speed of MACH.”