Q.one: an end-to-end modular business platform for mateco

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In this case, we would like to share a very special project: the one that led to the founding of our company! Back in 2016, mateco and Cronos joined forces to build Q.one. Q.one is an end-to-end modular business platform that supports the entirety of mateco’s business using Event-Driven Architecture (EDA). As a joint venture between mateco and Cronos, Cymo started from the EDA-related knowledge that our experts gathered during this project, which we can now use to help other companies. In this case study, we will look back at how we helped set up Q.one and what the future holds for this innovative platform.

Q.one: mateco’s vision for the future

The Q.one platform represents a fundamental change in the IT approach of mateco, a global company that focuses on renting and selling industrial equipment. Their IT landscape consisted of thirteen different ERP systems and configurations in addition to many smaller applications, so mateco realised that growing further as a group in a digital future would require a significant overhaul. They are a family-owned company, which means they tend to think in generations rather than quarters. This made it possible to make a long-term investment, knowing that achieving financial profit for the project would take a few years.

Q.one is an end-to-end modular business platform that is easy to use, flexible, and scalable to other countries and business areas. We built it from the ground up to be the backbone of mateco, supporting the entire company across the globe and all of its employees, from truck drivers to accountants. The platform replaces the previous application landscape and offers unprecedented modularity and scaling potential. You can compare it to building a network of roads and utilities: once we lay the foundations, it’s just a matter of connecting the right places in the right ways.

Realising this ambitious vision required an equally ambitious technology. We decided on using Event-Driven Architecture, which organises a company’s (IT) applications around business events. These are dynamic structures that function as an immutable single source of truth. Their data can be retained indefinitely, and the events contain all relevant information for various applications. If you are not familiar with EDA, we highly recommend you take a look at our general introduction.

Mateco is a frontrunner by using EDA as the central component of their IT architecture. Such a thorough change required a lot of change management and knowledge sharing, which Cymo was happy to provide. As EDA evangelists and experts, we promoted its many benefits, such as increased resilience, scalability and responsiveness. We should note that these changes were only made possible by the general change in mindset in IT these last few years. Just like many other innovations, EDA requires business and IT to want to speak the same language.

Filling in the EDA gaps

At Cymo, we are convinced about the potential of Event-Driven Architecture. It is a fantastic concept, but the Kafka-driven technology stack behind it is relatively new, which means that it is sometimes not mature enough to get the most out of it on an enterprise scale. While implementing Q.one, we noticed that some supporting functionalities were missing from the EDA landscape. Filling in those gaps required developing several new solutions, which we will outline below.

The first of these is Cymo DocGen, a scalable document generation system which we have discussed at length in our iText case. We also devised a tool that could visualise and correlate business events and messages for its users, so mateco’s various employees could understand them at a glance. Other solutions, like our backup and restore module, have proven to be so useful that we are considering making them open-source.

Finally, we are currently building a governance component that warns users if a certain action in their business landscape is not triggered or happens too late. For example, Q.one will display a warning if there is no transport and expenses line added to an event once a machine has been rented. These streaming analytics provided by IoT devices (technical events) and business applications (business events) help to achieve mateco’s vision of digital twins. Q.one will give mateco a 360 degree view of their machines: its data-driven decision making will include cost-saving functionalities like predictive maintenance and usage analytics.

These new solutions make mateco one of the most mature companies in Belgium for Event-Driven Architecture. With their global rollout approaching, mateco will definitely be a pioneer in integrating EDA to this degree in a large enterprise.

Looking forward

At the moment of writing, the Q.one program has reached a tipping point. The foundations of our interconnected road network have been laid, and now we have started to make the actual connections. The base platform is there, so mateco can start gaining actual business value from their integrated solution. A first big step was the new ecommerce platform powered by Q.one, which adds to the top-line growth of mateco since it supports their core business.

We have rolled out the initial version of Q.one in five countries, and are busy doing so in the other regions where mateco offers their services. Thanks to EDA’s infinite data retention capabilities, we can also add new functionalities relatively easily when required.

This moment marks a tipping point for Cymo as well. The project is not over by a long shot, nor is it meant to be. Q.one is built on the principles of continuous improvement and expansion, and mateco is constantly growing and acquiring new businesses. It does, however, provide us with a chance to reflect. We have gathered some of our learnings and future best practices in a dedicated blog, so if you are curious about starting an EDA project of your own, we suggest you give it a read.

Cymo will remain at mateco so we can improve each other’s service, but both parties agreed from the get-go that self-reliance should be achieved at some point. For now, we are happy to have cooperated on Q.one as mateco’s driver for innovation and efficiency, and grateful for the opportunity that led to the founding of our company. We will use the expertise and the gap-filling solutions like DocGen to help other companies, so they can follow in mateco’s footsteps.

We are excited to see what the future holds!

Are you interested in the potential of Event-Driven Architecture for your next project? Not sure if it’s the right fit, or looking for more information? Contact us, and we’ll be happy to discuss the possibilities together!

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