Acquia Engage 2017: Day 1, Part 2

Acquia Engage 2017: Day 1, Part 2

October 19, 2017 8 minute read
Engage team, back again. Check it to wreck it, let’s begin. Picking up where we left off, after lunch (graciously sponsored by Accenture), attendees headed back into the ballroom for second general session of the day.
Acquia Engage 2017: Day 1, Part 2

Engage team, back again. Check it to wreck it, let’s begin. Picking up where we left off, after lunch (graciously sponsored by Accenture), attendees headed back into the ballroom for second general session of the day.

First up was Nadine Stahlman, managing director of Accenture, with her presentation Challenges and Opportunities in the New Content Era.

Nadine Stahlman, managing director of Accenture, gives her presentation, "Challenges and Opportunities in the New Content Era" at 2017 Acquia Engage.

To get a true sense of what marketers are dealing with in terms of content marketing challenges, Accenture conducted global content survey of 1,000 marketing leaders across 18 countries and representing 11 industries. One of the biggest takeaways from that survey was content is bigger than marketing; it's the voice of a company, it’s the mission. If you think about it, in some instances, content can be the only interaction you have with your customer.

Ninety percent of marketers surveyed said the C suite executives should be responsible for content. Seventy-seven percent agreed that the most innovative companies are investing heavily in content. In addition, all your content needs to matter.

Credibility, authenticity and relevance are the key drivers of customer engagement. But with such a high demand for quality content, driven by personalization, new platforms and technology, how can you scale? In the new content era, Accenture has three rules of content transformation:

  1. Let your audience lead the way
  2. Know your content, know yourself
  3. Live outside the vacuum

Adhering to these three rules can help organizations deliver quality content while providing a seamless experience with speed, efficiency and at scale. Credibility, authenticity and relevance of to drivers of engagement.

Communities: Making a Difference with Drupal

Next up was a fireside chat Communities: Making a Difference with Drupal hosted by Lynne Capozzi and featuring Nathan Maehren, senior vice president of digital experience for the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities, and Dr. Jeffrey Burns, chief of critical care and chairman of the iCU Governance Committee at Boston Children's Hospital. If you know anything about Lynne, you’d know that the nonprofit space is near and dear to her heart.

In the U.S. alone, YMCA serves about 20 million consumers in all 50 states. The YMCA isn’t one singular organization but a loose federation. This structure creates a lot of autonomy to support local community but also digital waste and redundancy. The OpenY initiative was created to solve the YMCA’s digital challenges but also provide a better digital experience for their customers.

Before the OpenY project, there were 870-plus YMCAs all doing digital different ways. Drupal, in particular Drupal 8, gave the YMCA access to the evolving platform and a dedicated community of developers. In addition, the OpenY project allows for digital equity, which really matters when budgets and talent access can vary. Each YMCA can now are share capabilities (OpenY is actually a Drupal distribution) and serve up progressive and ambitious experiences. In fact, Drupal helped OpenY hit the digital trifecta; being able to do digital better, faster and cheaper.

Switching gears, Burns was part of a team with a very serious mission: Where can doctors go to get peer-reviewed information on how to care for a critically ill child. Experts from Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were recruited to build a platform to do just that, and was created. is now used in every territory in the world, including North Korea. It provides critical medical information to global organizations including the World Health Organization and Doctors Without Borders. For, Drupal was chosen by the Harvard team because the project required a platform that was secure and scalable but also open to other applications that shared the mission.

The Next Journey

One of the highlights of every Acquia Engage conference is what is affectionately known as “The Mother of All Demos.” This year, Chief Products Officer Chris Stone took us through Acquia’s The Next Journey. Using the fictional organic grocery store brand Freshland Markets, he and his engineering team walked through Acquia’s product roadmap in the context of an actual customer journey.

We’ve talked about new technologies and channels infiltrating the customer journey throughout the day, so what better way to show that than an Alexa demo. Chris, a self-proclaimed “octopus fanboy,” was in the mood for a recipe for grilled cephalopod (which would be a running joke throughout the presentation -- more on that in a minute). Alexa delivered a recipe for charred octopus with arugula. But how did Alexa know? Because the recipe had been classified through machine learning. Katherine Bailey, principal data scientist for Acquia, walked us through how that happened.

“The Alexa skill you saw demonstrated was accessing Freshland’s thousands of recipes as managed by their CMS,” she said. “As it happens, they have not categorized these recipes in any way; no keywords, no classification whatsoever. Normally, unless we impose some structure on content through the use of keywords or fancy indexing, to a machine these pieces of content are just a big chaotic jumble.

“But we’re using a powerful technique called word embeddings that allows us to represent the recipes as high-dimensional vectors. We’re talking about 300 dimensions, but that’s pretty hard to visualize so here we’re taking just three dimensions. Given that we’re talking about recipes, we can imagine there’d be dimensions for things like meatiness, sweetness and healthiness,” she added.

Katherine Bailey, principal data scientist at Acquia, talks about machine learning at Acquia's 2017 Engage conference in Boston.

As Katherine walked us through her 3D visualization, Chris received a push notification for free home delivery for his charred octopus ingredients. This was another piece of the customer journey that Product Strategist Dave Ingram.

Through Acquia Journey, Acquia Lift, and Acquia DAM, Dave was able to map out Chris’ journey and select the right offer, on the right channel, with the right content … all with a healthy dose of witty banter.

Acquia Product Strategist Dave Ingram, right, and Chief Products Officer Chris Stone talk about Acquia Journey at the company’s 2017 Engage conference in Boston.

Next on deck was Acquia Product Manager Sonya Kovacic to walk us through how the recent addition of Node.js support on Acquia Cloud can create awesome decoupled experiences for things like mobile and commerce.

“Putting an entire grocery store on a mobile phone might be difficult to navigate quickly for a customer on the go so Freshland decided to use their recipe library to help customers create shopping lists and have the recipe items added to their cart. When they open the app, recipes are displayed by most popular first,” Sonya said.

After diving into the backend technology that makes this particular mobile experience possible, Katherine returned to the stage to talk content classification. Why should you manually classify content when machine learning can do that for you?

“The content owner simply has to manually tag a few items in each category, and then our similarity engine can automatically tag the rest. This is an example of ‘human-in-the-loop’ machine learning, where we provide a UI for humans to get in on the action and fill in gaps in our machine learning,” she said.

Rok “Roktopus” Zlender (even though I didn’t say it, I apologize for the terrible pun) wrapped up the product showcase with the latest from Acquia Cloud.

“We have thousands of customers on Acquia Cloud today and we’re always working to improve it and create a better experience for our users,” Rok said. “Some of the ways we did that in the past year was with an improved user interface, addition of pipelines, CD environments and a lot of other improved and added functionality.”

Closing out the guest presenters was Acquia’s Vice President of Product Management Girish Bettadpur with some good news: many of the products show are GA. Several are in beta. And what’s not available yet will be in 2018.

But the finale was when a peppy member of the kitchen staff delivered an actual octopus to Chris, just before Alexa kicked him off the stage.


Acquia Engage Awards

In lieu of acceptance speeches thanking everyone’s team, family and/or deity, for the Acquia Engage Awards, we decided to do something a little different. Joe Wykes, our senior vice president of channels and commerce, took the stage to host a series of “lightning round” panels. Finalists from each category took the stage to showcase their expertise in less than eight minutes. Every awards program needs winners right? Here our the 2017 Acquia Engage Award winners:

Congratulations to all winners, finalists and nominees! Day one ended with a chilly but fun night at The Acquia Blue Drop Lounge. Guests mingled, roasted marshmallows and even partook in a game or two of ping pong. It was a great end to a great first day.

Acquia Engage Party

We’ll be back with day two, coming your way shortly. Stay tuned.

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