Doing More with Digital Experience: Acquia Engage 2020 Recap Part 1

This week was the first global, virtual Acquia Engage! Check out the big DXP announcements and digital experience insights from Acquia Engage 2020.

Each year, Acquia Engage is a thrilling event that unites top digital leaders and shows us all the power and potential of technology to reach people and change lives. This vision was never more true than at Engage 2020. The seventh annual Engage was our first global and completely virtual conference. The event took place from October 20 - 21 and had 2419 registrants spanning 46 different countries. The themes of Acquia Engage were digital resilience, innovation and a mutual mission to leverage technology for good. 

Before the pandemic struck the world, a huge appeal of events and trade shows was the personal connections formed from meeting people face to face, sharing in food and entertainment and coming together as a group. A good experience today depends on making digital moments feel just as immersive and authentic as they would in person. That’s why Acquia combined modern technology with a personal touch, by welcoming people into our virtual office space where they could take advantage of dozens of booths, workshops and panels on the future of digital experience, IT and marketing. We’re excited to share with you some of our favorite moments, announcements and lessons from Engage 2020.

Innovation Showcase: New DXP Capabilities for Developers and Marketers

Acquia CEO Mike Sullivan opened up Engage 2020 with a look to the future, citing that as the pandemic accelerates the pace of digital transformation, Acquia is helping brands get out ahead of the competition as the fastest rising leader in the digital experience platform (DXP) market. Mike explained that our vision for the world’s greatest digital experiences is based on three “obsessions”: Simplicity, velocity and intelligence. “Moving fast is critical, and moving in the right direction is essential to getting to your customers effectively,” said Mike.

Already in 2020, our team has worked to help businesses reach people faster, pivot to digital and rethink their strategies for a new world. Customers like New York State were able to mobilize their COVID-19 response and served over 20 million people in just three days, while organizations like the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston and GODIVA used digital technology to reach customers through new channels when physical locations weren’t an option.

Acquia Co-Founder and CTO Dries Buytaert followed Mike to lead our Innovation Showcase. Dries unveiled exciting new features and capabilities for Acquia Drupal Cloud and Acquia Marketing Cloud that will help us bring customers the simplicity, velocity and intelligence they need.

Drupal Cloud

According to Dries, the aim of the latest updates to Acquia Drupal Cloud was to help teams “do more with less and help brands move faster.” Each enhancement will empower developers and IT teams to build, test and launch digital experiences quicker and more efficiently. Updates included Acquia CMS, currently in beta, a secure, out-of-the-box distribution for Drupal 9 that eliminates up to 80% of setup and update costs! Dries also announced a number of new migration and site building tools that will empower teams to rapidly build and scale their digital ecosystems. 

Marketing Cloud

When it comes to effective, meaningful marketing, Dries advised, “A great experience is not one that happens a week after it should. Customers make decisions in an instant and marketers must move in real time.” The Acquia Marketing Cloud updates enable marketers to move fast and get a picture of the real person behind the screen. With the out-of-the-box predictive sends machine learning model, currently available in Acquia CDP and soon to be available in Acquia Campaign Studio, teams can bring the right content to the right person, on the right channel and at the right time.

This only scratches the surface of the many exciting new enhancements and capabilities announced at Engage. You can check out our press release to read all the updates to the Acquia Open Digital Experience Platform (DXP)

Creating Strong Customer Experiences in Disruptive Times 

This focus on reshaping digital experience expectations was further emphasized on Day 2 of Engage when Acquia CMO Lynne Capozzi shared the results of Acquia’s third annual Customer Experience (CX) Trends Report. The CX Trends Report surveyed over 800 global marketers and 8,000 consumers and gave insight into how customer expectations have changed and what brands should do to reach customers in a post-COVID world. The stakes to get digital experience right are high with 75% of consumers having tried a new store, brand or way of shopping during the pandemic and 40% of consumers reporting that they’ve been “buying online more this year than they ever did before.” 

Lynne offered three key takeaways for brands to prioritize if they want to remain successful and earn long-term trust and customer loyalty:

  1. Marketers need to invest in digital branding and participate in open, continuous conversation to stay top of mind with customers and build their brand reputation.
  2. Organizations need to invest in powerful, open technology that allows them access to their data free from silos or lock-in.
  3. Teams must double-down on personalization efforts and make sure the messages they’re sending are relevant, convenient and valuable to their customers. 

Regional Breakouts, Genius Bar Roundtables and Innovative Workshops 

Past Engage conferences have given attendees the chance to absorb the spirit of a certain city, whether that’s New Orleans, Austin or London. But this year, the virtual format meant people from all over the world could take part in a unique global experience. Without the limits of physical space or travel expenses, Engage hosted multiple breakouts tailored for UK, French and German audiences. From discussions of personalization tactics to machine learning developments, these breakouts showcased that the power of digital connection is truly borderless.

To give people the chance to swap ideas and explore digital solutions with others in their industries, Engage also featured more intimate roundtable discussions at our Virtual Genius Bar. Experts in the fields of education, financial services and health care all had a session devoted to how they navigate the specialized challenges of their fields. The higher education roundtable explored topics of web accessibility and helping institutions prepare for a smooth transition between virtual and in-person learning. One attendee shared, “Universities are struggling to help guide students and parents to this ‘new normal’ of remote learning and we are searching for platforms that allow us to stay connected.” 

During a Women in Tech Roundtable led by female leaders from Johnson & Johnson and Acquia, attendees participated in a candid discussion of issues today’s female leaders face, such as diversity and inclusion and imposter syndrome in the workplace. Panelists from Johnson & Johnson shared how they’re actively encouraging employees to start conversations around these issues and advocating for more opportunities for representation on their team. One major takeaway was the importance of finding fellow allies and mentors in the field to support women and girls as they navigate their career journeys. 

And even after the main stage festivities wrapped on Day 2, Engage continued the learning opportunities with interactive workshops, where attendees got tactical tips on how to unlock the full potential of Acquia’s DXP suite from mastering low-code site launches and building a powerful content architecture with Acquia Site Studio to supercharging their development projects with Cloud IDEs. 

Customer Stories and Expert Track Sessions 

Engage was jam-packed with dozens of expert-led sessions spanning our Marketing Cloud, Drupal Cloud and DXP tracks. Acquians came together with leading partners and customers to share insights on the future of digital experience and show how they are uniting people, processes and technology through fast-acting and intelligent strategies.

In their DXP session, skincare brand Rodan + Fields told their story of how they worked with EPAM and Drupal to replatform their Skincare Solution Tool and refreshed the user experience of their interactive quiz that matches customers to their ideal products. Their efforts generated a 30% increase in quiz completion rates, a 100% increase in lead capture rates and 50% increase in subscription enrollments for long-term customer retention.

Dan Owens, CTO of PatientPoint, joined Acquia’s Angie Byron at an inspiring Drupal Cloud session to demonstrate how the power and flexibility of Drupal’s content architecture helped PatientPoint offer more individualized and relevant care to patients at every point in their journey from virtual waiting room consultations to getting diagnosis and treatment information to scheduling follow-up appointments. “No one in health care knew what was coming in 2020, but by choosing Drupal as our CMS we were ready to face the new challenges of the pandemic when they came,” said Dan. 

The need for technology that’s prepared for any sudden development was also the main point of conversation during our DXP customer panel. Bounteous CTO Seth Dobbs moderated the discussion between Mars Wrigley Global CIO, Romain Apert; Shake Shack VP of Digital Technology, Jeffrey Rausch; and Bounteous Founder and CEO, Keith Schwartz. 

The conversation examined how leaders in the CPG and fast dining spaces turned to digital innovation to meet customer needs in response to the global pandemic. COVID-19 struck a particularly hard blow to the restaurant industry that relies on in-person customers, so Shake Shack needed to be creative to replicate that same hospitality and quick service customers expected. Shake Shack rose to the challenge by shifting to an online to-go order business model and implementing curbside pickup in just seven weeks!  Mars has transformed their passion for candy into a sweet, creative experience through TREAT TOWN, an immersive virtual trick-or-treat experience that lets kids and families get all the fun of Halloween in their own homes! “It’s become clear success in digital channels may be a matter of survival,” observed Keith Schwartz, CEO of Bounteous. 

Sports and entertainment is another area that had to think fast to stay connected to their fans and loyal viewers while unable to pack stadiums due to COVID-19. Thankfully, for organizations like Pac-12, host of the annual Conference of Champions for college football enthusiasts, Drupal gave them a leg up on the competition. The Pac-12 team recently completed an amazing upgrade to Drupal 8 to 9 in just 45 days! With Drupal they’ve integrated all their content and game scheduling needs and are able to livestream all of their content to football fanatics without missing a single second of the action. 


See Part 2 of our Engage 2020 Recap for even more insights into how today’s top digital leaders are pivoting their strategies and using technology to make a positive impact on the world.

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