Acquia in Tokyo: Surviving Super Typhoons to Gain Global Market Insights


I’d love to start off by telling you about how I’m an avid business traveller, fascinated by how digital is changing global markets. However, only the second part of that sentence is true. While I am deeply interested in how technology is impacting different regions, I’m rather new to world travel. After what could best be described as a “third of life” crisis, I decided to go on a solo adventure to Japan earlier this year. The abridged version of that journey: I loved it so much that I returned six months later. Super typhoons and language barriers be damned.

Part of what has always drawn me to Japan is how culturally different it is from the U.S. and what a unique and interesting country it is. But while I’m pretty knowledgeable about Japanese food and pop culture, I used part of my latest trip to understand more about digital business in Japan. Lucky for me, one of Acquia’s amazing partners, CI&T, has an office in Tokyo and we met to discuss the market, our partnership and what we can do together to grow our business opportunities. Early in the week, along with Acquia’s own Tom Cochran, Chief Digital Strategist and VP of Public Sector, speaking at adtech: Tokyo, Acquia and CI&T hosted the Drupal Community Summit, which saw a great turnout from Drupalists and enterprises alike. Our partnerships are critical. Strategic relationships with agencies are a fundamental part of bringing Acquia and Drupal to the Japanese market.

I met with CI&T’s Yoshiyuki Ueda, business director, Japan, Hiroaki “bucci” Kawabuchi, scrum master, and Felipe Rubim, general manager, Asia-Pacific. They (along with Acquia’s Darren Watkins, Channels and Partnerships Director, Asia Pacific and Japan) were kind enough to share their insights with me. Here’s what I learned.

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Digital Challenges in Japan

In terms of digital marketing, Japan has many similarities with North America. They are globally / outward looking. They are comfortable with digital; however they’ve been mainly hardware focused. Personalization is important, especially for B2C. Organizations are investing in data management platforms (DMP) along with content management systems (CMS).

The Japanese market has been in decline; now with digital, many Japanese companies are playing catch-up. But the timing is right. Companies like Salesforce have lead the way. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is seeing growth in the market. Cloud is now more mature and secure and viewed as such; adopters are now seen as leaders rather than risk takers.

However, global digital marketing companies struggle with competing with domestic solutions, from social media to marketing automation, that are fine-tuned to the Japanese market. In addition, culturally, the nature of agile digital process butts up against the business culture of Japan, where failure is not considered an option. It’s hard to “fail fast,” meaning try new things and if you fail, learn and move on quickly. To catch up, they will need the CI&Ts and Acquias of the world to help them not only adapt their technology set, but move their operational capabilities to the new agile “fail fast” world. Companies like Astellas Pharma are already seeing the benefits.

Drupal in Japan

The Drupal community in Japan, while smaller than that of North America or Europe, has been steadily growing. It’s a dedicated community; I even met several members of the Japanese Drupal community who made the trek to DrupalCon Vienna. However, Drupal’s reputation has been as a CMS for individual sites. CI&T has been working to change Drupal’s reputation and market perception within the community, showcasing its potential for ambitious enterprise sites. And it’s working. The event hosted by CI&T and Acquia saw 60 attendees from enterprise companies last year. This year, there were 290.

Japan presents a new and exciting business opportunity for Acquia, Drupal, and our partners like CI&T. We’ll be keeping an eye on it and checking back with the latest digital trends, customer stories and insights. Stay tuned.

Reena Leone

Former Senior Manager, Content Marketing Acquia

Reena Leone had nearly 10 years of digital marketing experience, working for both digital agencies and global brands.

A self-described “writer, podcaster, cosplayer, and nerd,” she said her favorite aspect of working at Acquia was her collaboration with colleagues.

“When we say ‘#ilovemyteam,’ it's not a joke. This is the kind of place where you can be you; individuality is encouraged,” Leone said.

Since she started at Acquia, Leone had the opportunity to forge her own career path, she said.

“This flexibility has made me more capable of handling any challenge thrown my way, and allowed me to grow my skills as a writer, editor, and manager.”