engage stage 2019

Acquia in the Big Easy: Highlights from Engage New Orleans Day 1

November 13, 2019 7 minute read
The first day of Engage New Orleans was full of insights and excitement, check out all the highlights here.
engage stage 2019

Legendary jazz artist Louis Armstrong once said, “Every time I close my eyes blowing that trumpet of mine, I look right into the heart of good old New Orleans. It has given me something to live for.” And after feeling the excitement and passion throughout our first day of Acquia Engage New Orleans, I know exactly how Louis feels. 

Acquia partners and customers came together to share stories, make connections and look toward the future of technology. Our first day began with a rousing keynote from our CEO Mike Sullivan on Acquia’s ongoing transformation and the future of digital experience. From there, Dries Buytaert, Acquia founder and CTO and Drupal founder, took the stage to present our Innovation Showcase to share Acquia’s eolving product roadmap and how customers use Acquia to deliver exceptional digital experiences.

dries keynote
Acquia CTO Dries Buytaert giving the opening keynote at Engage 2019.
  • As Dries said, we believe that today “Experience wins.” Acquia’s helping to solve the complexity of doing digital experiences at scale by bringing users: 
  • A single source of truth for content
  • A single source of truth for data
  • A single UI to orchestrate experiences across channels

Yesterday’s presentations contained equal parts enthusiasm and ambition as we heard from our partners and customers about how they’re making strides in digital. And our special guest Emcee, comedian Jake Johannsen, brought a dose of humor to the stage that had audiences laughing even at 9:00 am! Here are some of the standout moments from day one of the event.   

VMLY&R on Designing Modern Experiences

Leah Sand, Group Director and Practice Lead of Content Studio at VMLY&R, showed the importance of creativity and experimentation in her presentation, “What Architecture Has Taught Me About Designing & Building Experiences.” According to Leah, it’s important to always keep testing and taking risks and remember that no matter how quickly the tools and systems evolve, the tech industry itself is actually still in its infancy. We’re still carving a new path in a relatively new industry and trying to figure out the best ways of working within this new paradigm. She reminded us that the future’s uncertain and we’re all drawing our own roadmap together, one brushstroke at a time. 

Customer Stories and Session Soundbites 

From there, attendees set off to hear even more tales of innovation and leadership in our breakout tracks, Build, Create, Personalize and Focus On, designed to give developers, marketers and content editors the tips and tools they need to maximize their digital efforts. 

personalize presentation
Karen Loiterstein, SVP of Marketing at Enterprise Bank & Trust presents on personalization.

As part of our “Personalize” track, Karen Loiterstein, SVP of Marketing at Enterprise Bank & Trust, spoke on the importance of data-driven marketing and how her team used market technology gap analysis to gain a competitive edge and transform their approach to the customer journey. “We never want to be in a position where we are saying ‘marketing said this is what we should do’...We always want to show the data that is telling us what we should do,“ Karen said. 

With only two years before Drupal 7 reaches end-of-life in November 2021, developing a migration plan was a top priority for many Engage goers no matter their industry. During our “Build” track we heard from Colorado Interactive and FINRA on how they’re preparing to tackle “Migration Mania.” Alfredo Nevarez, Drupal Developer for Colorado Interactive offered insight into how his team migrated over 300 Drupal sites to Drupal 8 and maintained strict digital governance. 

World Vision had some steadfast advice in their “Create” track session on how a powerful combination of storytelling and technology elevated their mission to become a leading global nonprofit that provides children and families with relief, education, health care and other much-needed resources."Despite new platforms, channels and behaviors, stories are here to stay,” said John Snyder, World Vision digital properties manager.

john snyder
John Snyder (World Vision) discusses the power of telling stories through technology.

Our “Focus On” session allowed attendees to get hands-on experience with Acquia products and look directly into the future of digital development. In a demo of the new Acquia Developer Studio, teams were able to build and deploy their own Drupal applications in under five minutes! “Think of all the automations my team of five people could build to support hundreds or thousands of applications with Acquia Dev Studio’s CLI,” said Stephen Raghunath, product lead of developer experience at Acquia. 

Between the Breakouts 

cohesion build challenge
Callum Harrod, head of training at Acquia Site Studio demonstrates how Site Studio can build entire sites in a few hours.

The good times were rolling even between sessions as attendees swapped stories at the Partner Pavilion or snapped that perfect selfie to win swag from our exclusive Social Vending Machine. Customers from the healthcare, financial services and higher ed spaces came together at our Vertical Roundtables to discuss with their peers the different developments and challenges they face in their respective industries.  

Need a website? We’ll do it live! We put Acquia Site Studio, our low-code Drupal site builder, to the test by taking on the challenge of recreating a customer’s live homepage from scratch before the day was done. In an incredible six hours, we were able to design and launch zscaler’s homepage with no coding or back-end developer expertise required. 

Lessons from the Mainstage 

Other customers who wowed us with their tales of digital transformation included NOAA Fisheries and Workfront. Roy Varghese, the CIO of NOAA Fisheries, took us on a deep dive into how NOAA’s digital team used Drupal to reel in customers and earn the 2019 Webby Award for science. Previously, an inefficient content creation and distribution process made it hard for NOAA Fisheries to effectively inform and educate audiences. But once NOAA partnered with Acquia Cloud Platform, things began moving swimmingly. 

noaa banner
Roy Varghese, the CIO of NOAA Fisheries

Workfront CMO Heidi Melin also captivated the crowd by explaining how she shapes Workfront’s story through an integrated strategy designed to drive awareness and deepen customer relationships. Heidi presented new data from the company’s sixth annual State of Work study, including that 89% of workers believe their role matters but 91% crave more modern technology solutions at work.

The State of DX Today 

Next up, Mark Grannan, senior analyst at Forrester and Tom Wentworth, SVP of product marketing at Acquia, shared unique perspectives on today’s digital experience (DX) landscape. Mark gave his perspective on the forthcoming “death of the web CMS” and the rise of the holistic Digital Experience Platform in the marketplace. They dug deep into what’s behind the flurry of funding events around CMS technologies, as well as Forrester’s assertion that the rise of agile CMS signals a new era for the entire industry.

Mark’s biggest advice for clients to get the most value from their tech and data investments was to pay attention to the ease of integrating platforms with the rest of your organization’s technology and develop a more complete and accessible strategy to manage consumer data. 

Keeping Up with Customer Experience Expectations 


cx stat

What better way to close out Day One than with a look at closing the customer experience gap with Acquia CMO Lynne Capozzi and ChiefMarTec Editor Scott Brinker. Lynne revealed the latest research from Acquia’s global Customer Experience Trends Report. The challenge for marketers who are looking to improve their CX strategy is addressing the privacy vs. personalization paradox. Customers want a more personalized experience tailored to their individual preferences, yet many are still hesitant to give brands their personal data. As Lynne explained, the key to doing CX better is an open, transparent approach to technology. 

After-Party at the Fillmore 

After the official programming wrapped for the day, we had plenty to celebrate! Attendees kept the good vibes alive for an after-party at the Fillmore, one of New Orleans’s most popular live music venues! We grooved to some of Naw’lin’s most talented local jazz bands and drumlines, enjoyed tasty local cuisine and reflected on everything we’d learned during the day. 

The spirited mood from the party carried over to this morning and as we prepare for Day Two of Engage, I’m excited for even more inspiring and insightful moments to come. 

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