Every year, Acquia Engage provides a can’t-miss opportunity to explore, learn and connect — and our eighth annual Engage was no exception. For the second year, Engage was held as a virtual conference, with day one of the event taking place on October 26. With more than 1,800 registrants, the conference focused on providing insights for marketing leaders, IT leaders, developers, and DXP pros.
With the pandemic continuing to make large, in-person events a nonstarter, Acquia brought together all of the elements that make an event compelling — actionable content and advice from industry leaders, unparalleled opportunities to connect and network with others, as well as innovative exhibit hall demos and experiences — into a jam-packed virtual experience that made attendees forget we were sitting in front of our computers. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most interesting moments, quotable quotes, and announcements from day one of Engage 2021.
Innovation Showcase: Acquia’s History And Future
This year’s Engage kicked off with Acquia CEO Mike Sullivan, who spoke about how Acquia’s customers are leading in their industries and how Acquia has historically taken the lead by being a first-mover in the digital experience market. From our early adoption of open source technology to being first to the cloud and, most recently, combining DAM and PIM through our acquisition of Widen, Acquia has been recognized as a leader by the analyst community and, most importantly, by our customers.
After learning more about where we’ve been, Dries Buytaert, Acquia co-founder and CTO, talked more about where we’re going: the composable enterprise, where developer and marketer workflows are unified and digital experiences can be rapidly developed and optimized at scale. In the Innovation Showcase, Dries highlighted a slew of new features and functionality that will help solve the top four challenges brands face today when it comes to creating amazing customer experiences:
- Working with the growth (both in volume and complexity) of digital applications
- Generating (and using) more data
- Encountering more risks
- Needing more content
From the introduction of Acquia Code Studio to the addition of the Machine Learning Launchpad to Acquia CDP, there’s no shortage of innovations being added to the Acquia suite, which Dries recognized. ”We made 18 great announcements today — I’ve been with this company since the beginning, and even I’m blown away,” Dries remarked. Make sure to check out our press release for the details on all of the enhancements to the Acquia Open Digital Experience Platform.
Disruption Accelerating Transformation
Businesses have continued to turn to Acquia to help adapt their operations to changing conditions, and throughout the day, we heard stories of our customers’ radical innovations, particularly from the past 18 months. From hearing about how four out of the top five COVID vaccine manufacturers used Acquia and Drupal to quickly make vaccine information available to the public to learning about UNICEF’s “One Million Opportunities” initiative to positively impact socially vulnerable young people, it was inspiring to see the work our customers are doing. In that spirit of generating positive impact, Acquia has committed to donating $5 to UNICEF for every live attendee of the Engage conference. If you’d like to join us in our #GiveBackMore initiative, you can contribute at unicefusa.org/acquia-givebackmore.
Achieving Radical Marketing Innovation
During the kickoff, Acquia CMO Lynne Capozzi promised to delve into the topic of achieving radical marketing innovation — and she delivered when she shared the results of Acquia’s fourth annual Customer Experience (CX) Trends Report. The CX Trends Report surveyed more than 8,000 consumers and 800 marketers across the globe, giving insight into how the pandemic has changed customer expectations and behavior and outlining how marketers are adapting. Survey results show that marketers are switching up their strategies and turning to technology:
- 94% of marketers say they’ve changed their digital CX strategy in the last 18 months
- Marketers have been heavily investing in martech — specifically DXPs (55%), CDPs (50%), and DAMs (45%)
- 96% say that ROI from marketing tech tools has improved in the past year
Lynne offered three imperatives for marketers who want to radically innovate, ensuring their brand continues delivering incredible customer experiences:
- Leverage and activate your first-party data
- Use low-code or no-code tools
- Inject personalization whenever possible
Learn more about how brands are pivoting their CX strategy amid pandemic-related disruptions and heightened privacy demands by downloading the full report: Deliver a Modern Digital CX: A Guide for Marketing Innovators.
Lessons and Advice from the Experts
The all-virtual format didn’t slow Engage down from delivering four tracks of sessions focused on marketing, DXP, IT, and developers. Acquia experts were joined by our customers and partners to provide insights on how they’re using Acquia technologies in innovative ways that break through the noise and allow brands to more effectively connect with customers.
At the Big Ideas in Digital panel discussion, Aqif Hassan, Head of Digital Strategy & Operations for AMD, and Xavier Carou, Senior Director, Digital Technologies for Stanley Black & Decker joined Lynne and event MC Mark Jeffries to talk about how they’re driving innovation and digital transformation. One lesson learned that Aqif shared is, while it’s tempting to think of customers as fitting a certain audience type, the reality is that you're dealing with a human being — one who wears multiple hats. In the case of AMD, the B2B user who interacts with them during the day as a developer, for example, may also be a B2C consumer of AMD’s services at night if she happens to be a gamer. He urged attendees to remember that people can be part of multiple segments and to find a balance when communicating with them.
As part of the developer track, Lance Brown, Blue Cross Blue Shield Kansas’ Manager of E-Commerce & Internet Operations, shared how his company used Acquia CMS to deliver projects ahead of schedule and under budget. Before Acquia, Lance’s team was on an antiquated platform that required all site updates to be made manually, a time-consuming and tedious task. Lance knew they needed a DXP that would allow them to consolidate websites from multiple platforms into a single, easy-to-maintain solution. “Acquia provided us a way for different divisions to access their portion of the website. We were able to train them to make the changes that they needed with very little change in their actual workflow,” Lance said. “Instead of taking seven to 14 days to make changes, it now takes them seven to 10 minutes. It’s fantastic.”
Luxury brand MCM Worldwide has also enjoyed success with Acquia technology, particularly Acquia CDP. In a marketing track session, Hannah Smith, MCM Worldwide’s Sr. Manager of Global CRM Solutions, recalled some of the benefits she’s seen from empowering teams across the organization with Acquia CDP. MCM’s regional marketing teams and content teams are digging into the data and getting excited about the insights they can glean and the actions they can take. Audience segmentation has evolved, and people are using the CDP holistically beyond just pulling numbers. In these ways, MCM can assist their in-store retail business with a traditionally digital tool.
Hannah also shared advice for brands just starting their journey with Acquia CDP. “Start with the basics” — by getting the first piece right, you’ll be able to evangelize why centralization can help with efficiency and getting more value out of your data. And be prepared to move at a quick pace, leveraging the CDP’s machine learning technology to help inform your best next step.
In an IT track session, we learned how Moonraft helped SoCalGas — the largest natural gas utility company with more than 21 million customers — to migrate more than 700 pages of content in fewer than three months. Deepak Viswanathan, Business Head, U.S. & LATAM of Moonraft, and Seth Heng, Moonraft’s Digital Product Team Lead, discussed their agile approach to content delivery. Deepak explained that SoCalGas’s legacy website had numerous performance issues, leading to downtime and an unstable environment. So, to meet the company’s goal of becoming the most customer-centric utility in the world, Moonraft led a seamless transition to the Acquia Cloud Platform.
According to Deepak, the new site keeps the customer experience at its center, allowing for a collaborative environment that lets developers focus on creating new functionality rather than site maintenance. The faster, more stable site has pleased visitors: Metrics show a 65% increase in page downloads, 79% decrease in bounce rates, and a whopping 304% increase in session duration.
Workshops, Exhibits, Networking Suites: Ways to Engage at Engage
One of the best parts of any conference is what happens outside of the planned sessions — visiting the exhibit hall to see the latest and greatest vendor offerings, catching up with old friends, meeting new contacts, and diving deeper into interesting topics. And, even though the conference was virtual, Acquia Engage didn’t disappoint. With a packed virtual exhibit hall, partner booths, networking suites, and workshops covering everything from how to keep your platform running smoothly post-launch to how DevOps investments pay dividends, attendees made the most of Engage without leaving their home offices.
Day one of Engage 2021 felt like drinking from a fire hose — there were so many insights, lessons learned, how-tos. and announcements. Day two was just as exciting and insightful — catch the highlights from the rest of the virtual conference in our Engage Day 2 recap!