Acquia in the Big Easy: Highlights From Engage New Orleans Day 2

Day 2 of Engage NOLA was even bigger and brighter with insights into the future of tech, lessons in consumer trust and motivation from Kelley O'Hara!

dries at engage

As we returned for the second day of Engage New Orleans (full of coffee and beignets),  everyone was ready, as the locals say, to “pass a good time!” The venue was buzzing with enthusiasm and celebration as digital innovators shared their stories of overcoming challenges and transforming customer experience. It’s Engage Part Deux!

Giving Back and Doing More with Drupal  

A common theme of the day was learning from the past and looking ahead to what’s next. Dries Buytaert, Drupal founder and Acquia CTO and founder, spoke on the future of Drupal and open source technology. As we all continue to work toward a better Open Web, Dries drove home the importance of community contributions and collaboration. 

Driesnote engage

To continue developing and evolving our own digital efforts, it’s essential to keep contributing new ideas and resources to the projects we believe in. This commitment to #GiveBackMore is one of the core pillars of Acquia’s DNA, and we were thrilled to see so many attendees support our fundraiser for Girls Who Code during the conference. 

Lessons from the Mainstage on Ambition and Anticipation 

Successful digital transformation is an evolution, not a revolution. In our mainstage sessions, we heard firsthand accounts of how major brands overcame challenges and embraced new technology to deliver better experiences. One of the first major players on the scene in digital evolution and cloud technology, The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has enthusiastically embraced open source tech since 2012. Josh Hofmann, GM and global leader, ISV Partner Ecosystem at Amazon Web Service, discussed how FINRA successfully adapted to rapidly changing market dynamics while still prioritizing the security and integrity of their customer data with the long-term support of AWS and Acquia. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are one of the first things people turn to when they think about the next era of digital experience. But AI is much more than a fad. Bounteous SVP of Engineering Seth Dobbs and Acquia SVP of Sales and Global Channels Joe Wykes described how artificial intelligence has progressed over the years from fantasy to hype to a here-and-now reality that is helping businesses change the way they operate to become more competitive. Joe said, “Anticipating need is critical. We need to understand who our customers are and proactively customize and provide what they want before they know it.”

digital panel

In our Big Ideas in Digital Panel moderated by Acquia CMO Lynne Capozzi, we heard from leaders from the State of Georgia, Accenture, CentralSquare and Voice of America on developing public trust with consumers when trust is at an all-time low.Panelists generally all echoed sentiments of visibility and transparency in how brands are using consumer data and giving value back in a way that makes sense with where customers are in their journey. "Customers are looking for less: less noise, less mess, less confusion. Our job is to make things simple," Lynne said. 

Ken Murray, VP of digital marketing, CX for insurance company Jewelers Mutual
Ken Murray, VP of digital marketing, CX for insurance company Jewelers Mutual.

Ken Murray, VP of digital marketing, CX for insurance company Jewelers Mutual, demonstrated the power of knowing your brand’s values and staying true to yourself. By focusing on their strengths and loyal audience, Jewelers Mutual enacted a successful migration to the Acquia platform, driving massive gains in website performance and speed-to-market. 

Customer and Partners Share Transformation Stories

In our “Personalize” track, Mike Hoefer, director of web development at King Arthur Flour told the story of how a company founded in 1790 transitioned to an online environment and enterprise tools, while still staying true to its soft and sweet center. “We have baked the human touches by our employees into the core of our online strategy,” Mike said. “Faced with the decision of open source vs. proprietary, we realized that open source aligned with our core values as a company more. Just like our own community of bakers, we want to build things and not just take them out of the box.”

king arthur session
Mike Hoefer, director of web development at King Arthur Flour.

Once again, our “Focus On” track offered tactical solutions to real-life tech challenges. In his session on building unified customer experience, John Mozayani, VP of technology at Appnovation, underscored the difficulties digital leaders face when trying to execute quality interactions across many different channels. “We're challenged in defining the value of CX — nobody can do this on their own. Fast is the new normal.” 

Speaking of speed, Cloudflare solutions engineer Michael Tremante offered a much-appreciated forecast for the future of digital evolution in terms of both speed and security during our “Build” track. Michael demonstrated how the winning combination of Acquia’s Cloud Edge powered by Cloudflare results in more resilient, fast-running websites at scale. 


Jonathan Weber and Jordan Keddington from Bounteous dropped some essential knowledge on understanding user behavior in a “Create” breakout session on using artificial intelligence to power deeper personalization. Bounteous’s presentation offered the following tips for practical personalization: 

  • Build your team's capability and foundational data for AI.
  • Use AI for exploratory analysis and driving activation with intelligent targeting.
  • Understand that customer lifetime value is about looking forward, not backward.

Kelley O’Hara Scores Big with the Crowd 

After two jam-packed days of seeing how leaders and visionaries pushed the boundaries of digital to meet their goals, it was only fitting to close out Engage NOLA with someone with plenty of experience accomplishing goals and winning big — two-time World Cup champion and Olympic gold medalist, Kelley O’Hara! Our crowd of tech professionals instantly related to Kelley’s efforts to continually improve and refine her technique to outperform competitors. “I believe in an aggregation of marginal gains — the 1% margin for improvement in everything I do. I'm at the top of my field and so are my competitors. I continue to make minor tweaks and try to get better,” said Kelley. 

kelley o'hara
World Cup champion and Olympic gold medalist Kelley O'Hara motivates the crowd at Engage.

Kelley also spoke on a major issue in both the technology and professional sports world: gender equality. For years, she’s advocated for equal pay for women’s and men’s soccer. “We’re pushing forward and showing that we deserve equal compensation and equality for doing equal work.” In the STEM fields and in the Drupal community, we also still need to work harder toward achieving equality and opportunity for women. Kelley’s statements combined with the enthusiastic support of Girls Who Code throughout the conference proved that this is a mission that people care about and it’s one Acquia will continue to speak up for as we charge toward a better future. 

Our whole team would like to thank Kelley for helping make this Engage the most energized one yet. A special thanks also goes out to our partner sponsors, including Appnovation, AWS, Bounteous, Cloudflare, Evolving Web, FFW, Mirum, MRM//McCANN,, and VMLY&R, for their support of Engage.

As Engage New Orleans wraps up, one lesson I’m carrying with me is to keep moving forward. Digital is forever growing, changing and speeding up. We let the good times roll, and they keep on rolling! 

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