How To Deliver Personalized Customer Experiences With Microservices
Customers have come to expect a level of personal service from companies that is the digital version of a 24/7 concierge. Think Netflix, Amazon, and Spotify, all companies that have set the bar for personalized, instantaneously responsive, and increasingly predictive real-time service across all points of contact with companies.
Over the last decade, it has become increasingly apparent that traditional monolithic technology systems are not built to offer a competitive level of customer personalization. These legacy platforms are cumbersome, expensive, and risky to keep up to date. Built on a one code basis, a monolithic system is developed as a single unit, and over time customized technology is added and integrated into the system to meet the changing needs of the company as and when they arise.
Critical pieces of the technology platform are tightly coupled and highly interdependent, so it is difficult to make a change without affecting the entire architecture. This results in a system that challenging to scale and has little operational agility. Also, if one part of the system goes down, the entire network goes down.
Many traditional large financial services companies operate on monolithic systems, which means they cannot respond quickly to customer behavior, preferences, and choices.
A good example of this is that banks still show customers the products and services they already have on their website. In contrast, companies that make use of technology designed to personalize customer experience serve up websites that are specifically tailored to offer personalized guidance in real time, taking into account the customer’s previous activity with the company.
Companies that making the most progress and having the most success at achieving customer personalization are those that operate on a system of microservices. These are independent applications that are developed, deployed, and maintained separately to deliver on specific business requirements.
Why are microservices more suited to do the job? In a survey, titled Guide to Microservices: Speed, Agility, and Flexibility, DZone explains that microservices break down large tasks into simple, independent processes that communicate with each other via APIs. Developers adopt microservices architectures to help solve common, complex issues like speed and scalability, while also supporting continuous testing and continuous delivery.
In essence, microservices give a company the ability to be nimble and responsive to customers and allow them to be faster to market with services the company has identified will enhance a customer’s experience or meet a specific need. In so doing, companies provide a seamless experience across multiple channels, such as mobile applications, point-of-sale systems, social media, Internet of Things devices, virtual reality, digital assistants, or chatbots.
Given the immense potential offered by microservices to achieve personalization and considerably enhance customer experiences, many companies are leaving their monolithic systems behind in favor of microservice-based systems. This trend was captured in the Chef Survey 2017, which found that 67% of respondents had re-architected monolithic applications into microservices or planned to do so.
Microservices give companies many ways to change how they do things, even those that are hesitant about making a wholesale move away from their existing architecture to a microservices-based system. In these cases, no big bang is required, says Arish Ali, CEO, and co-founder, Skava.
“For the enterprise that wants to take advantage of modularity but isn’t ready to rip-and-replace their entire leacy platform, there’s great news. Microservices can be deployed alongside a monolith to replace components of the platform gradually.”
He adds that critical pieces of the legacy platform can be replaced systematically until a new system has been built around the old. This allows an enterprise to stay innovative (replatforming implementations can take years) with minimal risk, says Ali. “The result is a modern, flexible architecture that’s easier to maintain and grow with the business, instead of another inflexible monolithic system.”
Customer personalization is here to stay — in fact, it is well on its way to becoming part of everyday business. Companies who respond proactively to this by ensuring they have the technology architecture in place to adapt quickly and responsively are far more likely to win the hearts and minds of their customers than those set in their ways or hesitant to make the changes needed.
Microservices offer a valuable bridge for those companies ready to take the first step in leaving the past behind and positioning themselves for a more profitable future.
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