MACH Alliance - The Making of a Movement

Leoni Janssen
Innovation is not just about creating products; it's also about transforming, and building ecosystems and creating space for entirely new views.

Innovation is not just about creating products; it's also about transforming, and building ecosystems and creating space for entirely new views. That’s precisely what the MACH Alliance has done and this can only happen when the vision is as good - well timed and articulated - as the product it is related to.

The MACH Alliance is a groundbreaking global movement and helped redefine how many modern enterprises are approaching their digital architectures. Drawing inspiration from the MACH Alliance's success, let's delve into why it is such a good example of a playbook for creating a category or movement.

  1. Finding the Covert Issue

Every monumental shift starts with the recognition of a problem. A real problem. If there isn’t a big enough problem to solve, there isn’t a catalyst for change and then there won’t be a movement. 

The MACH Alliance started from the problem of enterprises being stuck for decades and spending billions of dollars on software monoliths. The existing status quo in which multiple monolithic big-tech companies were nurturing their own clientele and were fighting off an incidental competitive attack between them, felt safe to enterprise buyers. We lived in a world where ‘nobody was ever fired for licensing Adobe or Salesforce’ even though what they brought to market had not been modern and forward thinking for some time.

There was this huge dependency and a clear need and possibility for change. Yet it was kept quiet for obvious reasons by those in power. So a part of the problem was that the problem was covert and the market wasn’t fully aware, let alone ready to buy the best solutions yet. ‘Old products’ were seen as ‘safe and trusted’ while in reality they were locking companies in and making them slow. 

The MACH Alliance's journey began when a group of passionate makers of highly modern digital solutions identified the market problem and that it was hard to get through to buyers. They weren’t ready to look at alternatives yet as they still believed in the old way. 

  1. Make the Monsters Appear

Taking the lid off makes the monsters appear, therefore making a covert problem public, is the way to let the genie out of the bottle and draw the attention to where it is needed! 

And that is where our thought leadership and PR skills come in. 

Getting the wider industry to see the problem and then showing them the solution is the way to create a new paradigm. If done well, with enough authority, the right facts and influence, there is no way self-respecting leaders can 1) unsee what they clearly now see as an issue, 2) deny that reality and 3)  stick to ‘what we always did’. 

When we did this for the Alliance, we made it public how much money was misspent ‘because how to architect enterprise software had changed’.  By championing the principles of Microservices, API-first, Cloud-native, and Headless architecture, the story of how the status-quo is holding innovation back was told. And any tech leader would support this whether they were close to the Alliance or not. Tech folks got it immediately and they would amplify it to business leadership who often struggled to get on board. 

  1. Herding Cats to Win Over Monsters

While the Alliance was addressing a clear problem, had the facts on their side, and confidently exposed issues with the status quo, with authority, there was still a lot that could have gone wrong. 

One of the things that often brings new movements to a premature end is: dispute between the drivers. When there are too many ‘different points of view’ too early on, the cats will never make it to town together and the movement is not happening. 

Watch on YouTube

This is my all time favorite video on herding cats, if you are in video production and think you can make me a video like this, do reach out. I ride horses and own a cat - I see no issues!

There was a lot of convincing to do on many levels in the founding year, and that is where a solid brand positioning and message captured in a manifesto and audience-adaptable message kept the gang together. 

By bringing together industry experts, early adopters, and existing examples of MACH architecture, the Alliance created a community dedicated to driving change. 

This ‘herding cat phase’ is actually a journey to enjoy if you don’t mind an incidental scratch. 

  1. Starting Many Dances

Change is not just appealing because of the rational tangible solution, the ROI and TCO, but also because of the promise of a better, brighter future. 

Watch on TED

Remember the dancing shirtless guy TED Talk? We are getting to the dancing part now. This is where starting the ecstatic dance that the wider industry is invited to be part of comes in. And while ‘simple consumer movements’ like wearing clothes a certain way, or ‘a certain sneaker or bag coming into fashion’ develop like the ‘dancing shirtless guy’, in tech, the prior three steps are crucial to stand a chance. 

The MACH Alliance brought a fresh perspective to the market, introducing a modern approach to digital ecosystems. Its promise lay in the agility, scalability, and innovation offered by MACH architecture. By embracing Microservices, API-first, Cloud-native, and Headless technologies, the Alliance addressed the core challenges plaguing traditional systems. The real promise was Freedom and Independence.

For vendors and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), the appeal of the MACH Alliance was clear. By aligning with MACH principles, they would be the better, faster and future-proof alternative in the market ensuring they remained relevant and competitive in an ever-evolving industry. Not only did this liberate the enterprise buyer, it also provided a  platform for collaboration and innovation that spoke to enterprise buyers and the market as a whole, fostering a joint approach to problem-solving. One of the enterprise buyers who joined as an ambassador said: “I believed in this since the early 2000’s and now I finally found my people”. That is a big ecstatic happy dance that he is inviting others into!  

  1. Stamina Keeps the Dance Going

While both one-night stands and real deal love-relationships can have a good amount of dancing in them; in the latter one, the dance goes on and on. When launching a movement, it is vital that the dance, the outlook and the vibe catches on and offers a long-term connection. Otherwise people go home tired after the dance and you’ll never hear from them again. 

The MACH Alliance launched with a clear vision, captured in the manifesto, which they have safeguarded fiercely ever since. The focus has been on ‘guiding the buyer’ from the get go and remains to this day. The conviction, direction and vision is all movement has! 

Building out a diverse thought leadership strategy using high value content, ensured that the MACH Alliance remained relevant and increased its relevance for digital leaders over time. Analysts and journalists hailed the MACH Alliance as a game-changer in the industry. Its focus on interoperability, flexibility, and scalability resonated with experts, cementing its reputation as a driving force for change.

By creating a clear position and message, the Alliance could clearly define and describe its purpose to potential members and to the market to make it relevant and distinct. The dance grew. It was clear the MACH movement meant something for companies looking to navigate the complex landscape, without being self-serving. This drove MACH momentum, attracting passionate people into its member councils to BE the Alliance and embody the movement every day, speak in its name and identify as ‘we the Alliance’. When this works, the dance is on!  

  1. Be Open But Not Easy 

Perhaps the most compelling aspect of the MACH Alliance was its ability to galvanize buyers into a unified community and let them publish new ‘dance moves’ while staying in the family. Recognizing the benefits of MACH architecture, buyers from across 

companies rallied together, seeking to leverage the power of collaboration and innovation. By joining forces, comparing notes and moves, they gained access to a wealth of knowledge and expertise, empowering them to make informed decisions and drive meaningful change within their organizations, as well as proactively spreading the message far and wide.

The Alliance was clear that all participating organizations had to be 100 percent committed to and clear about the non-commercial set-up and nature of the group and collective goal. Working together with competitors to show the new way forward in the industry is an absolute prerequisite.

The MACH Alliance serves as a shining example of how to create a category or movement successfully. Building a movement isn’t as easy as the dancing shirtless guy makes us think, but it can be done when you’re not afraid to dance with monsters or cats!

Recommended posts

No items found.