The Infinity Gauntlet of Digital Experience

This week's premiere of Avengers: Infinity War has Acquia thinking about what "galactic powers” organizations need to rule the digital landscape. So we decided to have some fun to understand what the Infinity Gauntlet of Digital Experience could look like.

As you read this, I’m probably sitting in my local movie theater, watching a film 10 years in the making; “Avengers: Infinity War.” For those unfamiliar with Marvel Comics or the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), here’s the tl;dr: Thanos, a super powerful, otherworldly villain, has been slowly locating the Infinity Stones (or gems, as they’re called in the comics) over the course of the last 10 Marvel movies. For example, the Tesseract in “Captain America: The First Avenger” and the first Avengers film is the Space Stone and the purple Power Stone is featured heavily in the first “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

The Infinity Stone Powers:

  • Space Stone: Houses unlimited renewable energy
  • Reality Stone: When attached to a powerful host, it can increase the host’s strength
  • Time Stone: Can manipulate time to the user’s will.
  • Soul Stone: Incredibly powerful with a variety of uses, from reviving the dead to stealing super powers
  • Power Stone: Carries enough power to wipe out a planet
  • Mind Stone: Mind control / unlocks the powers of the mind

Each stone posses a great power in its own right but when all six are encased in the the Infinity Gauntlet, the wielder becomes omnipotent. In the comics, to impress Death (like, literally the embodiment of death itself), Thanos wipes out every living being in half of the known universe. In the movie, the Avengers and The Guardians of the Galaxy have joined forces to stop Thanos … if they can (no spoilers).

But at Acquia, we’re in the business of creating not destroying. What “galactic powers” would you need to rule the digital landscape (maybe the universe) and level the competition (and also maybe the universe)? What do you need in your Infinity Gauntlet of Digital Experience (I understand how much of a stretch this is, but go with me on it).

The Space Stone = Cloud

According to Gartner, the cloud computing market is projected to reach $411 billion by 2020. That sounds like an awful lot of power to me. But with great power comes … less to worry about in terms of maintaining infrastructure and servers. Capacity scales up and down as you need it instantaneously, without having to wait for IT. Theoretically, you can never run out of space, making it a virtual unlimited power source.

The Reality Stone = API

The Reality Stone makes its host stronger much like how APIs can connect and strengthen platforms, sites, and applications. APIs allow your websites and applications the ability to draw power from other systems; customer interaction data from your personalization engine, inventory information from a commerce platform, curated content from a digital asset management (DAM) system, content from JavaScript  front ends like React and AngularJS and so on. And when connected to a single, flexibility platform, you can build an incredibly powerful experience for your customers.

The Time Stone = Continuous delivery

While continuous delivery can’t help you literally manipulate time, it can help you manage it more efficiently. It does this by automating your tests, reducing the risk of bugs. Continuous delivery separates developers so they can work on different aspects of code. This prevents code collisions that can cause bugs in the first place. It can’t help you bend time to your will, but it can help you build and test faster.

The Soul Stone = Drupal

One of the hallmarks of Drupal, much like the Soul Stone, is its flexibility. While there’s probably not a module for resurrection or power theft (at least not yet), Drupal’s open source framework allows you to build the most ambitious digital experiences. You not locked into a certain set of tools or way of doing things. There’s no single way to implement a piece of functionality and many paths you can take with Drupal to digital success. Connect what you want to it. If it doesn’t exist, you can build it and share it. There’s also a dedicated community thousands-strong to help you along the way; the true soul of Drupal.

The Power Stone = Open source

To wield the Power Stone, it was thought you had to be someone who is already powerful (like a demigod). However, if that power is spread across multiple individuals, its power can be harnessed by regular beings as well. Open source by definition is open to all and build by dedicated communities. It’s because of this collaboration that open source is immensely powerful. It might not be used to wipe out a planet but it is sweeping the globe. Gartner states that 70 percent of new applications will run on open source databases in 2018.

The Mind Stone = Machine Learning

Katherine Bailey, principal data scientist at Acquia, defines machine learning like this; “One thread of AI research back in those early days broke away from the rules-based approach and is of particular significance in the story of what we now call machine learning; it centered around something called a perceptron. This was an algorithm that had been inspired by the way neurons work in the brain. It learns the weights to apply to input neurons in order to produce a correct binary response in the output neuron.”

Using algorithms, machine learning technology is designed to learn from your behaviors and usage to predict what you’ll do next. This information is then used to trigger the right content or offer or experience, without you, the customer, having to do anything. While not controlling customer actions per se, it can certainly be used to help guide customers down the right path. And through it’s collection and use of data, it can unlock some powerful insights that can be turned into awesome digital experiences for customers.

So there you have it; your Infinity Gauntlet is complete. Use it wisely and for good; create digital experiences that delight and inspire people. And if you want to team up, Acquia is up to the task.

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