MACH architecture on the rise among Belgian B2B key players

May 22, 2023 | Isabel Donvil, Managing Director


Port of Antwerp-Bruges and Atlas Copco demonstrate the power of MACH in B2B

GHENT – Belgian B2B companies increasingly see a MACH IT infrastructure as a creative answer to the perfect storm they are currently experiencing. This was revealed during a colloquium organized by the Ghent-based B2B digital agency The Reference together with commerce partner commercetools.

“As corona, the war in Ukraine and energy prices shake the business world, the technological landscape is changing at breakneck speed. The customers’ need for frictionless experiences demands the utmost from companies. MACH is a very welcome solution”, explains Isabel Donvil, Managing Director at The Reference.

infographic illustrating the MACH architecture and its components

The acronym MACH stands for Microservices (individual pieces of business functionality that are independently developed, deployed, and managed), API-first (all functionality is reachable through an API), Cloud-Native (which leverages the full capabilities of the cloud) and Headless (the front-end user experience and the back-end infrastructure are completely separated).

The MACH approach is highly scalable and flexible, allowing functionality, features and services to be added and removed quickly, depending on demand. In this way, an IT system can be quickly adapted to a large growth, without having to be completely redesigned.

Port of Antwerp-Bruges’ digital twin

One of the resounding names in B2B that demonstrates the power of MACH is one of The Reference's clients, Port of Antwerp-Bruges. It has set itself the strategic objective of evolving into a ‘smart’ port. An important pillar in this is APICA (Advanced Port Information & Control Assistant), a digital twin of the port that gives in-depth insights into the functioning of the port. APICA is built according to the MACH principles. This was crucial for Port of Antwerp-Bruges to evolve into a ‘smart’ port.

“APICA is powered by hundreds of smart cameras, IoT sensors, radar information and even a network of drones and tells us in real time, for example, which ships are moored in which locks and docks, whether all lifebuoys are in their lockers and how much energy our wind turbines are producing. We also deploy scent sensors and capture conversations between ships and shore. With this, we effectively know exactly what is happening in the 120 square kilometres that make up the port.” - Erwin Verstraelen, CIO Port of Antwerp-Bruges.

Atlas Copco’s e-comm business case

At Atlas Copco, in turn, MACH is being called in to set up several new platforms. As a supplier of industrial productivity solution it started working on a PIM platform, a product information management platform, following the MACH principles. MACH was also called in to set up a new e-commerce initiative of its compressors division together with The Reference and commercetools. 

“The e-commerce project was mainly driven by creating customer value, but it also had to have an absolutely solid business case behind it. The ROI and business commitment have to be there, and you have to take your time to set up your strategy. We also started talking to distributors, set up workshops with customers. Only then technology and partners were chosen." - James Houseman, e-Business Manager Atlas Copco.

"It's not about technology, it's about enablement"

A key insight of the colloquium is that MACH is not about technology. It's about business enablement based on a futureproof foundation, as an alternative to monolithic suites. “Characteristic features are openness and interoperability, built in manageable components”, concludes Isabel Donvil.

A statement that was confirmed by the multiple business discussions of the attendees during and after the event. 

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Want to discuss your business challenges?

Are you in doubt whether or not your business can benefit from a MACH approach? Feel free to reach out, we are happy to start a discussion.  

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