Roughly a year ago, Acquia Labs and Digital Services Georgia partnered to produce the first-ever Alexa skill for citizens of the State of Georgia.
Vote to See Acquia Labs, State of Georgia at SXSW
This time, Nikhil Deshpande (chief digital officer, State of Georgia) and I are planning to take the Ask GeorgiaGov story and its behind-the-scenes goodness to SXSW Interactive in Austin, Texas, and spread our findings even further.
But to do that, we need your help — community voting for the SXSW PanelPicker is open until Aug. 30, and it only takes two minutes.
In this blog post, I offer a sneak peek at some of the insights we learned. If you'd like to see us on stage and hear from us, please give us your vote.
Lessons Learned from Ask GeorgiaGov
Ask GeorgiaGov supports citizens of the State of Georgia and addresses inefficiencies in citizen engagement that plague state and local governments.
Today, citizens jump through many hoops to access the information they need to be successful in their jurisdictions, whether due to long hold times on an agency hotline or a poorly conceived information architecture.
Acquia Labs and Digital Services Georgia collaborated to architect an Alexa skill that allows anyone to ask questions about living and working in Georgia.
Part of a larger effort to unify all content across the Georgia's many web presences, we uncovered fascinating findings in the areas of content strategy, information architecture, and usability testing.
For instance, one of the most compelling results of our work is that usability testing of voice interfaces requires retrospective probing and a completely distinct approach from that of websites or mobile applications.
The lessons we learned and the best practices we landed on are invaluable not just for other governments, but also for enterprises and brands who are exploring adding a voice component to their content ecosystems.
But the most critical lesson we came to understand as a team was the importance of an effective content strategy: one that maintains a single source of truth for content and that ensures a "write once, publish everywhere" model.
For cash-strapped governments that rely on small editorial teams, content centralization can be not only a boon but also a smart investment in the future.
What's New from Acquia Labs
For the past year, Acquia Labs has been hard at work conceiving innovative approaches to some of the most intractable problems in customer engagement.
Earlier this year, we released a prototype of a virtual reality interface that includes Drupal editorial capabilities and allows a prospective applicant to a fictional university to experience campus without setting foot on the quad.
We also partnered with a large pet food brand to build voice-enabled search into its flagship website using open technologies and browser-native tooling.
Thanks to the use of standard and broadly accepted technologies, we can ensure that as support improves for voice-enabled search, the number of customers with the ability to access this feature will only increase. Read more at our launch announcement from several months ago.
Finally, I've been on the road and spreading the message of how open innovation that acts as a tide raising all boats ultimately yields better results for everyone and for the bottom line.
Most recently, I took this vision to Mirum Opus London, a daylong event hosted by one of our global select partners, and shared why Acquia Labs believes that a closed innovation model without benefits for the wider industry does a disservice to progress.
In the coming months, you can find Acquia Labs at events like Drupal Europe, where I'll be speaking about the decentralized web and Drupal's stake in the game, and Acquia Engage in Austin in November.
I'll also be keynoting DrupalCamp Atlanta, where I'll be discussing why innovation is about more than just code. We're also working on a rollout of some new prototypes and videos that demonstrate ambition in digital experiences. Stay tuned.
Innovate for the omnichannel with Acquia Labs
How can Acquia Labs help your organization achieve its innovation priorities and think beyond? To learn more about working with Acquia Labs, contact our sales team and mention Acquia Labs during your conversation. Together, we’ll work on your forward-looking ideas that need the right expertise — just like our innovation partnerships with Digital Services Georgia and Nestlé Purina North America — and map out your digital future.
Preston SoDirector of Research and Innovation Acquia
Preston So has been a web developer and designer since 2001, a creative professional since 2004, and a Drupal developer since 2007. As Director of Research and Innovation at Acquia, Preston leads Acquia Labs and new open-source and research initiatives. Previously, he managed the Entertainment Weekly website, led its development team at Time Inc., co-founded the Southern Colorado Drupal User Group (est. 2008), and operated an award-winning web and print design studio. Preston has presented at conferences on four continents and in multiple languages about diverse topics such as decoupled Drupal, responsive design, front-end development, and user experience. Most recently, Preston presented the keynotes at DrupalCamp Connecticut 2016 and, in Portuguese, at DrupalCamp Campinas 2016 in Brazil.
"Working at Acquia allows me to contribute back to an open source community I love deeply," he said.