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Optimizing the Empire: Best Practices in Galactic Security

Acquia Blogs - Fri, 2017-12-15 14:07

Growing up as an original trilogy fan, I never imagined as an adult that I’d be writing about “Star Wars” in anticipation of another brand-new film being released. My excitement around the cinematic rebirth of a franchise that means so much to so many got me thinking about “The Force Awakens” and the parallels between it and the original trilogy.

One thing that came to mind was that the Empire, for all its power and influence, keeps making the same mistakes. This is most evident in their security practices.

When I look at it from a digital marketing standpoint, the Empire...I mean the First Order (after an obvious rebranding exercise) is in desperate need of a post-mortem after the destruction of the Starkiller Base. What should have been a vast improvement on the previous model of planet-eliminating weaponry was infiltrated and destroyed in much the same way.

The very definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. It’s also poor business practice. It’s time for the darkside to upgrade and take full advantage of their technology landscape.

(There are so many more examples, going all the way back to the first Death Star, but for the sake of brevity, let’s focus on the the First Order).

Simple Roles and Permissions

There are clearly different ranks within the First Order along with different roles. It stands to reason that much like modern military organizations, there are a number of combat roles and administrative roles.

Although a stormtrooper might have a dual function as a soldier and as a sanitation worker, they should have had limited access to certain areas of the Starkiller Base.

Were there some kind of specialized cleaning needs for the main oscillator?

Also, how did he know exactly where it was? Why was he able to access any part of the base he wanted, whenever he wanted?

System isolation is another way the First Order could be better secured the Starkiller Base. Permissions and user accounts should not transfer from one system to another. Even if they had implemented SSO technology, having administration access in one of the systems does not automatically confer admin access to them all. All of the systems and the underlying permissions should remain isolated. It seems that any access level, from maintenance worker on up to the general/admiral have the same access.

It also seems like the First Order has a poorly defined termination processes. Finn -- or FN-2187, as he was called while employed by the First Order -- appears to use his old credentials to access the Starkiller Base. Unless all codes are the same (which is another terrible security practice), his should have been deactivated as soon as he defected. This also allowed Han Solo and Chewbacca access to the base via a practice called “piggybacking,” gaining access to a restricted area through a credentialed personnel.

Since this most basic principle was not implemented in the physical space, it is possible, even likely, given other events in the movie, that it wasn't done digitally either.

On-Premise vs. Cloud

Despite future technology, like as droids with sentient programming and interstellar vehicles with hyperdrive capabilities, the idea of storing data in the cloud instead of on premise seems completely foreign to the Empire / First Order. Nearly all of the security breaches in the history of the Rebellion center around on premise data storage facilities being infiltrated.

It’s understandable why an organization like the First Order would want total control over where its data is stored in a very concrete way. The cloud seems as intangible as the force compared to having your own servers on site where you can see and touch them, on your own base / planet. However, it has been proven in our universe and a galaxy far far away, that on-premise does not equal secure. Plus that fancy shield technology we saw in “Rogue One” could be applied elsewhere.

Any successful cloud implementation would have security protocols in place. These wouldn’t just be limited to clearance (which we already know is tricky) but include encryption, firewalls, and other forms of compliance.

Although this isn’t specifically shown with the First Order, the fact that the rebels know the location of the base (which later leads to the First Order finding their base on D'Qar in the Ileenium system). Information seems to be stolen quickly; too quickly to assume it’s all via hard copy within a trusty droid. That brings me to my next point:

Data Transfers, Encryption and Intrusion Detection

It seems that the Rebellion and the First Order have near real-time updates on each other’s movements and plans. I’m going to make an unverified assumption due to the Empire / First Order’s preference for hard drives and archive planets, that they haven’t probably secured any of their data in the cloud.

Although the interception of information could be solved by using quantum entanglement for data transfers, which is unhackable, the problem could be solved with some form of encryption. To bring that into reality, to have faster-than-light communication, which would be necessarily with a number of bases across the galaxy and a massive fleet of ships, you’d need quantum entanglement to transfer data.

If you implement quantum entanglement technology down to the point where your hand-held communication device can communicate FTL, you have an encryption technology that is unbreakable and un-spoofable, but I digress.

In addition to implementing encryption, finding and closing vulnerabilities has proven critical. Vulnerabilities need to be identified and closed in the various applications the First Order probably runs for tasks like targeting rebel bases and managing the flight deck as well as the underlying platform that they systems rely on. End-to-end encryption is recommended in this case.

Even the most secure cloud needs intrusion detection. This means anti-virus software and application firewalls to alert the security team to threats, contain them and place a barrier between rebel hackers and First Order systems.

With the fate of the galaxy at stake, every instance of a cloud implementation should include this, on every layer of the infrastructure. This prevents access to load balancers and guards against common tactics like SQL injections, which I’m going to assume, for the point of this post, exist in this universe.

Machine learning and AI for security

Artificial intelligence is a major part of the “Star Wars” universe. It’s what brings C-3PO, R2-D2 and BB-8 to life. However, it seems to be limited to droid technology. I mean, machine learning is in its infancy here on Earth and already we can do amazing things with image, pattern, and/or facial recognition. AI and machine learning could have a major impact on security if implemented properly.

For example, cameras could be built with AI functionality that scans for anomalous patterns that then trigger alarms or defensive systems. The First Order could easily create a rebel database for facial recognition and the imperial forces could use every droid’s optical sensors as part of a subroutine to scan for them.

We can assume that the First Order, much like the Empire before them, “employed” the top scientific minds in their quest for power. We can only hope (well, I mean, if you feel the pull of the darkside, that is) that in the future, their organization includes the top security analysts and advisers as well.

Special thanks to Kris Vanderwater and Jay Ferrin for their assistance with this post.

Categories: Drupal Universe

Acquia gives back this holiday season

Acquia Blogs - Wed, 2017-12-13 18:31
Acquia gift drive

Yesterday in Acquia's Boston headquarters, there were hundreds of presents covering the lobby. These gifts were donated by over 130 Acquians on behalf of the Department of Children and Family Services' Wonderfund. For years, Acquia has participated in this holiday gift drive to support children that otherwise wouldn't receive presents this season. This December, we were able to collect gifts for 200 children throughout Massachusetts.

One of Acquia's founding values is to "Give back more". Inspired by our Open Source roots, contributing back to our communities is ingrained into the way we work. Acquia's annual gift drive is one of the most meaningful examples of giving back. It's incredibly heartwarming to see the effort and passion that goes into making the gift drive possible. Year after year, Acquia's gift drive remains one of my favorite office moments. It makes me incredibly proud to be an Acquian. Happy Holidays!

Acquia gift drive
Categories: Drupal Universe

So, You Want to Be a Digital Platform Hero?

Acquia Blogs - Thu, 2017-12-07 20:58

So, You Want to Be a Digital Platform Hero?

Before we wrapped up this year’s Engage, executives from Nasdaq, IBM and Roche Diabetes Care revealed the secret behind being a “digital platform hero.”

Although open source tools might pale in comparison to Kryptonite and radioactive spider bites, and battling legacy systems isn’t nearly as cool as bringing down supervillains, these modern-day tech heroes had plenty of valuable insight to share about how to lead a successful digital transformation.

Finding Technology Fit for a Superhero

To kick off the discussion, moderator and Acquia Vice President of Products Girish Bettadpur asked each of the panelists who their favorite superheroes were growing up. For Brian Mackey, director of marketing tech and data services at IBM, the answer was easy: “Batman, because he wasn’t born with any special powers, but had the best tech. I always was excited to see what new tech he would use to augment a normal guy.”

Shifting gears from superhero tech, to enterprise tech, Mackey said before he joined IBM, the company was tied up in legacy systems that couldn’t be integrated with modern-day dashboards and other marketing tools. For IBM, the challenge was to find a CMS that could be used by nontechnical marketers to easily create, publish and manage webpages, while providing the industrial strength that a tech behemoth like IBM could turn to for a variety of use cases.

The solution? Drupal and Acquia.

The entire panel agreed and added that Acquia’s open source technology not only makes things easier for their marketing and tech teams, but shortens the time it takes to churn out content at scale as well.

Showing Your Team a Better Way

“Superman,” said Tom Solodyna, senior director of global software development at Nasdaq, when asked who his favorite superhero was growing up.

“I always wanted to be the center of attention. So Superman fit very well,” Solodyna said. “Everyone had to watch him. That transitioned into computer science and at my first startup I’d be like ‘Oh I can fix that,’ and I’d go off three-four days and be like, ‘Yep, I built it.’ Took me about 10 years to realize sometimes buying is better than building. And now I have to convince my team that buying is better than building.”

For Solodyna, the challenge at Nasdaq has been to take 3,000 Nasdaq websites that were on two 10-15-year-old disparate platforms, and bring them onto one, easy-to-use platform. And persuading stakeholders wasn’t easy.

“The customer’s not necessarily the client that’s paying for the website. It could also be the sitebuilding team that we have in-house,” Solodyna said. “You have to take input from all the different sides to see not just what the biggest bang for the buck is, but also what you think long term benefits are going to be.”

With Acquia and Drupal, the long-term benefits were clear — the ability to quickly and effectively keep tabs on thousands of websites around the world without having to manage any hardware. Today, by employing Acquia, Nasdaq has successfully moved 1,500 of their websites onto the platform, with plans to transition the other half over by next summer.

The Perks of Being A Digital Platform Hero

When Kelvin Lim, the manager of digital operations at Roche Diabetes Care, was asked who his childhood idol was, and his answer, the Invisible Man, surprised the audience.

“I’m shy and just want to hide behind the scenes,” Lim said.

Lim acknowledged that in his current role, he’s needed to learn how to be visible to support his team and Roche’s stakeholders, which turned out to be the most rewarding part of his job.

“I go in knowing (my teammates) are people I could hang out with. I also manage the team that does website support, so we are helping site owners day in, day out,” Lim said.

The rest of the panel agreed — the “people” they work with are the the most rewarding part of their jobs.

“At Nasdaq, we touch a lot of different companies,” Solodyna said. “You end up getting a lot of time with some very influential people that you get opinions from.”

Mackey said in his first job he was “putting his headphones on and coding (his) brains out for 8-10 hours a day.”

It wasn’t until he went onsite to a customer to see the real-world applications of IBM’s tech that he really fell in love with being a digital platform hero.

“That just really ignited it for me,” Mackey said. “I was just so much more energized to do my very best — seeing what I’d done put to use.”

Watch the entire session from Acquia Engage below:

Categories: Drupal Universe

3 Nonprofit Sites That ‘Give Back More’ All Year

Acquia Blogs - Wed, 2017-12-06 03:01

If you walk into Acquia’s Boston headquarters, you’ll find our company DNA posted in the lobby. These core values are woven into every aspect of the business and influence how we operate. One of the most important core values is “Give Back More.” After spending 10 years contributing to open source innovation, Acquia believes that investing in its community is a tide that raises all boats. While we live by this motto all year, our commitment to “give back more” is magnified during the holiday season.

At Acquia, we are lucky to have a network of nonprofit customers that also embody this spirit all year long. Everyday, our nonprofit customers work to enrich communities through innovation and collaboration.

There are a unique set of challenges facing the nonprofit organizations that are building experiences online. From driving donations to stretching existing investments, nonprofits need to think carefully about how they can make the biggest difference with technology. This holiday season, we want to highlight three nonprofit customers who are partnering with Acquia to elevate their missions.

The YMCA Drupal Distribution that keeps on growing

OpenY is a Drupal distribution that empowers every YMCA to operate as a unified brand through a common technology. In partnership with FFW and Acquia, the YMCA of Greater Twin Cities founded OpenY with a philosophy of collaboration that drives innovation and impact. Not only is OpenY improving member experience, but the platform has also inspired YMCAs across the country to contribute back to the project.

Since OpenY was launched in 2016, Acquia has been excited to celebrate our partners at the YMCA. Nathan Maehren, senior vice president of digital experience at YMCA of the Greater Twins Cities, joined Lynne Capozzi (Acquia’s CMO) at this year’s Acquia Engage to share how Drupal helps make a difference in the world:

What’s exciting about OpenY is that the impact of the distribution continues to grow far beyond the technology. In partnership with local charter school Rêve Academy, The YMCA of Greater Twin Cities provides six students with internships through OpenY. In addition to earning academic credit and their very first paychecks, students that participate learn how to use Drupal to develop critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration. Acquia is thrilled that the YMCA continues to find innovative ways to practice its mission with Drupal.

City Year grows its community by 1 million

City Year

City Year partners with public schools to keep students in school and on track to succeed. City Year AmeriCorps members work side-by-side with students, teachers, and families throughout the school year to provide individualized support, focusing on attendance, behavior, and coursework.

With 2,800 active City Year AmeriCorps members serving more than 250 schools in 25 U.S. cities, City Year needed to deliver an engaging digital experience to recruit the next generation of corps members who would truly educate and support students all over the world. City Year turned to Acquia to provide a platform and technology to help it fulfill its mission of making an impact in the lives of students and communities.

City Year turned to Acquia to provide a cloud solution that would help it continue to engage with young prospective corps members and other audiences all across the United States. Acquia Cloud provides the organization with the ability to scale its mission statement, support global engagement, and bring its program to new countries or schools. With Drupal, City Year found a community of 1,000,000 developers that it could relate to and truly feel a part of.

“Drupal gave eight people with no development experience on our team the ability to build content into an entire website in two months,” said Namrata Patel, director of digital marketing at City Year. “With this external facing channel, we can serve and make an impact on increasing the graduation rate in high need schools across the U.S.”

Parkinson.org reaches more than 500,000 people for Parkinson's Awareness Week

Parkinson's UK

Parkinson’s UK drives better care, treatments and quality of life for people living with Parkinson's. It works with the international research community to develop life-changing treatments - and won’t stop until they find a cure.

For this year’s Parkinson’s Awareness Week, Parkinson's UK tapped Manifesto and Acquia to help deliver a digital campaign that was different, that was creative, and could engage new supporters.

That work led to Parkinson’s UK and Manifesto winning the 2017 Acquia Engage Award for best Nonprofit site. Here’s the Manifesto team’s take on building the 2017 ‘We Won’t Wait’ Campaign:
This would be its first integrated fundraising campaign for Parkinson’s Awareness Week, with a target of recruiting tens of thousands of new financial supporters to help the charity deliver its ambitious new research strategy.

Using Acquia Cloud and Drupal 8 to build the We Won’t Wait site meant that Parkinson’s UK was able to get the campaign to market quickly and with confidence that, no matter how large the response, the solution would be secure and reliable.After launching the new site, Parkinson’s UK collected donations from thousands of new supporters and captured the details of thousands more, all of whom can now be nurtured by the charity with further opportunities to help fund a new wave of Parkinson’s research.

In total, more than 500,000 people took action during the campaign – driving real engagement during Parkinson's Awareness Week and beyond.

Categories: Drupal Universe

We have 10 days to save net neutrality

Acquia Blogs - Mon, 2017-12-04 18:51
Cable squeeze

Last month, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, released a draft order that would soften net neutrality regulations. He wants to overturn the restrictions that make paid prioritization, blocking or throttling of traffic unlawful. If approved, this order could drastically alter the way that people experience and access the web. Without net neutrality, Internet Service Providers could determine what sites you can or cannot see.

The proposed draft order is disheartening. Millions of Americans are trying to save net neutrality; the FCC has received over 5 million emails, 750,000 phone calls, and 2 million comments. Unfortunately this public outpouring has not altered the FCC's commitment to dismantling net neutrality.

The commission will vote on the order on December 14th. We have 10 days to save net neutrality.

Although I have written about net neutrality before, I want to explain the consequences and urgency of the FCC's upcoming vote.

What does Pai's draft order say?

Chairman Pai has long been an advocate for "light touch" net neutrality regulations, and claims that repealing net neutrality will allow "the federal government to stop micromanaging the Internet".

Specifically, Pai aims to scrap the protection that classifies ISPs as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. Radio and phone services are also protected under Title II, which prevents companies from charging unreasonable rates or restricting access to services that are critical to society. Pai wants to treat the internet differently, and proposes that the FCC should simply require ISPs "to be transparent about their practices". The responsibility of policing ISPs would also be transferred to the Federal Trade Commission. Instead of maintaining the FCC's clear-cut and rule-based approach, the FTC would practice case-by-case regulation. This shift could be problematic as a case-by-case approach could make the FTC a weak consumer watchdog.

The consequences of softening net neutrality regulations

At the end of the day, frail net neutrality regulations mean that ISPs are free to determine how users access websites, applications and other digital content.

It is clear that depending on ISPs to be "transparent" will not protect against implementing fast and slow lanes. Rolling back net neutrality regulations means that ISPs could charge website owners to make their website faster than others. This threatens the very idea of the open web, which guarantees an unfettered and decentralized platform to share and access information. Gravitating away from the open web could create inequity in how communities share and express ideas online, which would ultimately intensify the digital divide. This could also hurt startups as they now have to raise money to pay for ISP fees or fear being relegated to the "slow lane".

The way I see it, implementing "fast lanes" could alter the technological, economic and societal impact of the internet we know today. Unfortunately it seems that the chairman is prioritizing the interests of ISPs over the needs of consumers.

What can you can do today

Chairman Pai's draft order could dictate the future of the internet for years to come. In the end, net neutrality affects how people, including you and me, experience the web. I've dedicated both my spare time and my professional career to the open web because I believe the web has the power to change lives, educate people, create new economies, disrupt business models and make the world smaller in the best of ways. Keeping the web open means that these opportunities can be available to everyone.

If you're concerned about the future of net neutrality, please take action. Share your comments with the U.S. Congress and contact your representatives. Speak up about your concerns with your friends and colleagues. Organizations like The Battle for the Net help you contact your representatives — it only takes a minute!

Now is the time to stand up for net neutrality: we have 10 days and need everyone's help.

Categories: Drupal Universe

Massachusetts launches Mass.gov on Drupal

Acquia Blogs - Fri, 2017-12-01 08:06

This year at Acquia Engage, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts launched Mass.gov on Drupal 8. Holly St. Clair, the Chief Digital Officer of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, joined me during my keynote to share how Mass.gov is making constituents' interactions with the state fast, easy, meaningful, and "wicked awesome".

Since its founding, Acquia has been headquartered in Massachusetts, so it was very exciting to celebrate this milestone with the Mass.gov team.

Constituents at the center

Today, 76% of constituents prefer to interact with their government online. Before Mass.gov switched to Drupal it struggled to provide a constituent-centric experience. For example, a student looking for information on tuition assistance on Mass.gov would have to sort through 7 different government websites before finding relevant information.

mass.gov before and after

To better serve residents, businesses and visitors, the Mass.gov team took a data-driven approach. After analyzing site data, they discovered that 10% of the content serviced 89% of site traffic. This means that up to 90% of the content on Mass.gov was either redundant, out-of-date or distracting. The digital services team used this insight to develop a site architecture and content strategy that prioritized the needs and interests of citizens. In one year, the team at Mass.gov moved a 15-year-old site from a legacy CMS to Acquia and Drupal.

The team at Mass.gov also incorporated user testing into every step of the redesign process, including usability, information architecture and accessibility. In addition to inviting over 330,000 users to provide feedback on the pilot site, the Mass.gov team partnered with the Perkins School for the Blind to deliver meaningful accessibility that surpasses compliance requirements. This approach has earned Mass.gov a score of 80.7 on the System Usability Scale; 12 percent higher than the reported average.

Open from the start

As an early adopter of Drupal 8, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts decided to open source the code that powers Mass.gov. Everyone can see the code that make Mass.gov work, point out problems, suggest improvements, or use the code for their own state. It's inspiring to see the Commonwealth of Massachusetts fully embrace the unique innovation and collaboration model inherent to open source. I wish more governments would do the same.

Congratulations Mass.gov

The new Mass.gov is engaging, intuitive and above all else, wicked awesome. Congratulations Mass.gov!

Categories: Drupal Universe

Acquia à la conquête du Canada: Expansion et acquisition de clients au menu

Acquia Blogs - Thu, 2017-11-30 20:26
Plusieurs nouveaux clients pour Acquia

Au cours des derniers mois, plus de 20 entreprises et entités gouvernementales canadiennes ont confié leur optimisation numérique à Acquia. Parmi celles-ci, on retrouve Agropur, Domtar, Events East, GardaWorld, La Coop Fédérée (LCF), la Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ), SSQ, Onex, l’Aéroport international Jean-Lesage de Québec et la ville de Lincoln, qui sont toutes en service ou entrent en service bientôt sur Acquia Cloud.

Les experts se prononcent

«Acquia connaît une croissance fulgurante. D’un océan à l’autre, l’adoption de Drupal dépasse les autres plateformes digitales; le passage d’anciens systèmes propriétaires fermés vers l’infonuagique et le logiciel libre constitue un changement de paradigme », explique Malik Yacoubi, Chef stratégie et développement numérique chez Cossette. « On assiste à une accélération de cette transition vers Acquia depuis l’ouverture du centre de données canadien.»

Acquia Cloud : maintenant disponible au Canada

En septembre, Acquia lançait son offre infonuagique Acquia Cloud au Canada, propulsée par les services d’Amazon Web Services (AWS). Acquia Cloud répond aux besoins des organisations canadiennes pour l’hébergement de solutions infonuagiques Drupal et Node.js en sol canadien. En déployant sa plateforme dans la région AWS de Montréal, Acquia offre ainsi aux clients canadiens une performance rapide à faible latence. Cet investissement témoigne de l’engagement d’Acquia envers le marché canadien. Acquia Cloud est dorénavant disponible dans 12 centres de données à travers le monde, alimentant les applications digitales de milliers d’organisations.

Acquia enregistre également une forte demande pour ses solutions Acquia Journey, DAM et Node JS, notamment dans les marchés de l’éducation, des services financiers, des sciences de la vie et marques grand public partout au Canada. Ces offres, soutenues par la bonne impression laissée par Acquia dans le rapport Forrester WaveMC 2017 : Web Content Management Systems et le rapport 2017 Magic Quadrant de Gartner pour la gestion de contenu Web (WCM), rend l’inclusion d’Acquia dans toute évaluation de plateforme digitale inéluctable.

Acquia change les règles du jeu

« Les PDG, chefs marketing et chefs numériques avec lesquels Acquia travaillent ont fait leurs devoirs : ils reconnaissent que le marché a changé. Pour eux, l’agilité, l’infonuagique et le logiciel libre sont des moteurs de croissance pour leur entreprise. Ils veulent lancer de nouvelles expériences numériques en quelques mois et non en quelques années comme par le passé; ils souhaitent également travailler avec des talents locaux plutôt que de faire venir des équipes des États-Unis. Avec Acquia, tout cela est possible », a indiqué Jairo Romero, directeur des recettes chez Acquia.

Un écosystème de partenaires fort

«La disponibilité de talents, le temps de mise en marché et la liberté d’innover sans contraintes sont des facteurs essentiels à une conversion numérique réussie. Le modèle infonuagique d’Acquia simplifie le processus de transformation numérique et atténue le changement culturel associé au monde agile d’aujourd’hui », a déclaré Christian Ayotte, directeur général, Nurun (Publicis). «Le modèle opérationnel d’Acquia est résolument tourné vers l’avenir. »

Tout au long de 2018, Acquia investira de façon considérable dans son écosystème de partenaires afin de soutenir sa croissance. Au cours de la dernière année, Acquia a lancé des projets avec Absolunet, Accenture, Appnovation, Cofomo, Cossette, Critical Mass, Digital Echidna, ImageX, Infosys, Mirum (WPP), Nurun (Publicis), Open Plus, Opin, Pure Cobalt, Symetris et T4G.

«Il fallait être prévoyant pour développer des compétences Acquia il y a deux ans. Nos agences partenaires qui ont fait le saut à cette époque récoltent le fruit de leurs efforts aujourd’hui : des clients plus heureux, une totale liberté d’innover et plus de budgets disponibles pour le contenu et la créativité », a affirmé Joe Wykes, vice-président principal des alliances et e-commerce, Acquia. « Nos plans de croissance pour 2018 au Canada passent en grande partie par nos agences partenaires. Nous prévoyons des investissements supplémentaires pour assurer leur succès.»

Objectif 2018: Maximiser la croissance

Acquia Canada procédera à des embauches stratégiques sous peu en gestion de comptes, marketing et ventes pour subvenir à la demande canadienne et investir dans son écosystème d’agences en plein essor. De plus, Acquia agrandit son laboratoire de recherche et de développement à Toronto qui se concentre sur la personnalisation, l’apprentissage automatique, l’analytique avancée et la publication multicanale afin d’avancer la prochaine génération de sa gamme de produits Acquia Lift (personnalisation/syndication).

Categories: Drupal Universe

Acquia Accelerates Customer Acquisition, Canadian Expansion

Acquia Blogs - Thu, 2017-11-30 20:16
Many new clients for Acquia

In recent months, more than 20 Canadian businesses and government entities have entrusted their digital transformation to Acquia. Among them, Agropur, Domtar, Events East, GardaWorld, La Coop Fédérée (LCF), Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ), SSQ, Onex, Quebec City Jean Lesage International Airport and Town of Lincoln, are all live or going live shortly on Acquia Cloud.

“Demand for Acquia is fast rising. I am seeing Drupal adoption outstrip other platforms coast-to-coast in Canada; the move from legacy, proprietary systems towards the cloud and open source is a paradigm shift,” said Malik Yacoubi, chief digital officer at Cossette. “I see momentum growing even more now that Acquia is available in Canada.”

Acquia Cloud: Available in Canada

In September Acquia launched in Canada its award-winning Acquia Cloud running on Amazon Web Services (AWS). Acquia Cloud addresses the needs of Canadian organizations for local hosting, and provides Acquia’s cloud solutions and a platform as a service for Drupal and Node.js. By leveraging the AWS region in Montreal, Acquia offers Canadian customers fast, low-latency performance. This investment is a testament to Acquia’s commitment to the Canadian market. With this new region, Acquia Cloud is now available in 12 global regions, powering thousands of organizations.

Acquia is also uncovering strong demand for its recently launched Acquia Journey, DAM and Node JS solutions, notably in the education, financial services, life sciences and consumer brand markets across Canada. These offerings, building on Acquia’s strong showing in the 2017 Forrester Wave™: Web Content Management Systems and 2017 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management (WCM), make including Acquia in any CMS evaluation a must.

Changing the rules of the game

“The CEOs, CMOs and CTOs that Acquia Canada aligns most with have done their homework: they recognize the market is shifting. To them, agility, cloud-first, and license-free are what’s important to their business growth. They want to launch new experiences in months, not years and work with local talent rather than fly in teams from the US. With Acquia, this is all possible,” said Jairo Romero, Acquia’s chief revenue officer.

A talented partner ecosystem

“Talent availability, time to market and freedom to innovate are key success factors for digital transformation. Acquia’s cloud model streamlines the transformation process and softens the cultural shift associated with becoming agile.” said Christian Ayotte, managing director, Nurun (Publicis). ”Acquia’s business model is truly looking ahead.”

Throughout 2018, Acquia will be investing extensively in its partner ecosystem to sustain growth. In the last year, Acquia has started projects with Absolunet, Accenture, Appnovation, Cofomo, Cossette, Critical Mass, Digital Echidna, ImageX, Infosys, Mirum (WPP), Nurun (Publicis), Open Plus, Opin, Pure Cobalt, Symetris, and T4G.

“It took foresight to start an Acquia practice in Canada two years ago. The partners that made the leap then are reaping the rewards today: Happier customers, freedom to innovate and more fees left over for content and creative,” said Joe Wykes, Acquia senior vice president for channels and commerce. “Our FY18 growth plans in Canada go squarely through our channel partners. We are planning additional investments to make them successful.”

2018: Further expansion

Acquia Canada will also be making strategic hires shortly in account management, marketing, and sales across the country to support sustained growth and our growing agency ecosystem. Acquia will further be expanding its research and development lab in Toronto that is focused on personalization, machine learning, advanced analytics and omnichannel publishing to support new feature enhancement of its Lift product line.

Categories: Drupal Universe

3 Best Practices for Building a Digital Center of Excellence

Acquia Blogs - Wed, 2017-11-29 21:07

Best practices for digital center of excellence
For organizations adopting a new digital site platform, establishing organizational support early on is imperative, especially if you want to increase your chances of success. This means building a center of excellence. But let’s start with the basics: what exactly is a center of excellence?

A center of excellence (CoE) is an internal group made up of stakeholders from various teams that monitors digital site governance throughout the organization and beyond. Sometimes called the shared IT unit or shared digital platform group, the center of excellence creates site policies and processes and ensures that they are being followed on every digital implementation.

Now, how do you create your own center of excellence? Here are three best practices to keep in mind when building your CoE: building the team, undergoing a creative maturity assessment, and creating a site governance model.

Building the team

The first step is to identify who should be on the digital site governance team; this will be the core of your CoE. Two critical characteristics to look for when you’re filling roles are flexibility and initiative. You want people who can take on new digital initiatives with speed and agility.

Each of the roles within the CoE can be assigned to one person or shared with several, depending on the organization’s size and digital ambitions.

Center of Excellence Roles Governance

The roles and descriptions below are meant to be guidelines, not restrictive commands:

  • Digital Business: This role includes the product owners that determine the business strategy and the vision for the platform. They review, approve and prioritize feature requests, as well as communicate business requirements to the site architects, developers, and operators.
  • Architecture: Architecture is responsible for any change management and feature development on the platform code. They put architecture governance in place so that new feature requests can be evaluated to ensure it can work within the architecture of the platform.
  • Digital Operations: Digital operations maintains the digital sites and ensures that the platform works as expected. They manage new support requests, security requests, bug fixes, and feature requests. They also complete sprint management and platform development.
  • Site Operations: The site operations unit is focused specifically on enhancing content and experience at the site level. They build and theme individual customer websites and manage customer requests. This is the group that takes care of the feasibility studies, looking at site-specific, feature request requirements and ensures that they can work with the sites.
  • Digital Security: Digital security is responsible for reviewing adherence and compliance to different security guidelines. This team is responsible for working with digital business and architecture to ensure the platform and all sites are secure and compliant with both organization-specific standards and industry-specific standards.
Undergoing a creative maturity assessment

The second step is to undergo a creative maturity assessment. A creative maturity assessment is when organizations evaluate their current state of digital site creation, delivery, and management.

The assessment includes users, processes, technologies, and various data or information involved in your digital site delivery strategy. The assessment also encompasses how you measure planning activity, development, delivery, management and governance overall.

Evaluating your current state of digital delivery and management is a great way to understand all of the gaps and roadblocks. It’s worth taking the necessary amount of time to ensure a thorough evaluation, as the results will help you envision and plan for your future state.

Once your assessment is complete, you should develop a plan around how to close the gaps.

Creating a site governance model

The next best practice is establishing a site governance model as part of your CoE. A site governance model is a standardized model and approach to defining a set of specific policies or principles that your digital sites (and even teams) should follow. For instance, if you look across your corporate, brand, and commerce sites, what are your policies from a security perspective? How are you going to capture site data across your sites in a secure and reliable way?

A site governance model should also include a specific governance team that can help drive established requirements. Your center of excellence will need to think about what capabilities should be standardized and made available to all sites. In order to ensure consistency and compliance, you will have to find the right balance of providing sufficient creative freedom and flexibility (to users like marketers and content editors) and retaining certain level of control and oversight over all your sites.

SABMiller is a great example of a company that has established a site governance model and its own Digital Development Standards; these encompass legal and compliance standards as well as user experience, development, quality assurance, analytics and more.

Making your digital site governance standards easily available to your team is a step in the right direction toward adoption of your center of excellence team, site governance model, and digital site governance overall.

Categories: Drupal Universe

Fast-Growing Credit Union Uses Drupal 8 to Compete with National Bank

Acquia Blogs - Tue, 2017-11-28 20:37

Union Credit
Carousel30 recently partnered with a large credit union to redesign its six websites. Each digital property represents different aspects of the business and are required to be on separate sites for legal and compliance reasons.

With a fast-growing customer base, the client was facing several serious challenges to continued growth. One of these was its core customer demographic continually shifting to include more millennials, who are accustomed to banking with digital-first organizations.

Another challenge was continued competition from larger regional and national banks with more advanced technical infrastructure, such as seamless integration between corporate websites, online banking and loan platforms. Although the credit union could handle everything from banking to home and auto loans, as well as insurance and financial planning, its previous website infrastructure offered a less-than-optimal customer experience, forcing visitors to switch between systems, which didn’t share consistent branding and user interfaces.

The credit union also needed to provide a better technical platform for long-term growth. This included addressing the marketing, content, technical integration and security needs of the financial institution for years to come. Previous websites were on several different content management system platforms, from Ektron to WordPress (and even static HTML), making internal operational efficiencies a driving factor in the unification. In addition, their legacy sites were not responsive – making user experience on mobile, especially for the millennial audience, a major priority.

Finally, the large cross-section of users that would be interacting with the websites presented a significant design consideration. With both business and consumer audiences across many demographics – from young professionals to those reaching retirement – the content needs of the different organizations vary greatly. There was a need to structure flexible page templates that maintain consistency while allowing a wide variety of content to be displayed.

Strategy – Process – Solution

To create a great family of websites for the credit union, Carousel30 took a strategic approach that tied the business, branding, marketing, and technology goals of the organization together.

The credit union evaluated several content management systems and Carousel30 worked with the client to ensure the best solution was chosen. Drupal 8 was recommended.

The Drupal multisite architecture was perfect for the needs of the organization to have separate but related websites that share features and functionality between them. Drupal also met the stringent security needs of the organization, including the ability to restrict access and provide database encryption.

Finally, Drupal’s vast developer community and its contributed modules provided several pieces of functionality that were requirements of the project, and that the team could utilize without having to create custom features.

The discovery process involved extensive research into the credit union’s existing and fast-growing customer segments, which included several types of businesses as well as consumers at various life stages. Personas were then developed, refined and utilized to ensure that the user experience and customer pathways addressed everyone’s needs.

With Drupal 8, the team designed a digital experience that allows the flexibility for each aspect of the business to utilize their distinct branding, while maintaining overall brand and user experience consistency. The system also features an easy way to maintain loan and interest rate information (which needs to be updated frequently) across pages on the sites, a universal account login, and responsive design that allows all content to be displayed in an optimal way on smartphones and tablets.


The credit union achieved consistent branding and design across all of its digital properties – reinforcing the strength of and trust in the brand.

Performance of their sites improved in several ways. Bounce rates decreased dramatically both from improved user flow with relevant content served up by audience type, as well as from the responsive design that increased performance across the board for mobile users.

By providing a single content management system for the entire organization, operational efficiencies were achieved and administration is now seamless regardless of which sites need to be updated.

Security has also been bolstered by standardizing on a single CMS. By following Drupal best practices throughout the development process, rigorous security standards have been maintained. By adhering to recommended Drupal module security updates, the sites remain protected from emerging threats as monitored by a network of experts in the Drupal community.

The six Drupal sites represent a major step forward for the credit union and are providing a foundation for their future growth. Drupal 8 will be a fundamental aspect in the organization’s ongoing success.

As banks and credit unions compete for better customer experiences, Drupal 8 continues to deliver. The proof points aren’t singularly from marketing sites. Nasdaq chose Drupal 8 to power its investor relations site platform, which is used by some of the largest companies in the world.

With such a strong value proposition and demonstrated track record of success, Drupal 8 is emerging as a digital content and experience management system of choice in financial services.

Categories: Drupal Universe

Forget Cyber Monday, It’s Time for Cyber 365

Acquia Blogs - Mon, 2017-11-27 04:43

Cyber Monday

It’s Cyber Monday, and you, like millions of others, know what you want.

You’ve done your research. You know who has which deal. You don’t care where you buy the items you want, you just want to get in and get out online before the offers expire or sell out.

Now, it’s up to the retailers to deliver.

Every year, Cyber Monday deals and online holiday shopping are inching closer to an eclipse of their counterparts, Black Friday and brick-and-mortar store purchases.

The outcome appears inevitable. If retailers deliver on the brand promise with a consistent experience on every device and in their stores, game over.

The questions now are, which companies will bridge the gap the best, which will innovate faster, and how will their use of technology stand up?

Eighty-seven percent of brands surveyed say they know their customers well, but just 37 percent of consumers surveyed say their favorite retailer knows them, according to Manjush Cheruveedu, senior director of technology for SapientRazorfish in Boston.

What’s more, 81 percent of consumers surveyed say the performance of retail websites and the consistency of experience matters, Cheruveedu said.

Cheruveedu has spent more than a decade helping companies embrace the digital revolution. He said there’s a reason Toys R Us, Radio Shack and Circuit City filed for bankruptcy, and there’s a reason well-known chains, such as Sears, Macy’s and J.Crew, are looking for answers.

It’s this simple: Customer expectations for results are down to the millisecond.

Meeting consumers where they are in their purchasing decisions

If you research something at home on a desktop computer, you expect to be able to close the deal on your smartphone while riding the subway to work the next day. Or you expect to walk into the store and have the salespeople able to quickly catch up and know exactly where you are in the process.

Then, you expect the ads that follow you on say Facebook or BostonGlobe.com to not show you the product you’ve already purchased. Right?

Well, we’re getting there.

“Me and my wife, we were shopping for refrigerators. Like most of us, we go online, we make a whole spreadsheet of what models do we like, what features are in there, what’s the cost, where do we buy,” Cheruveedu said. “All of that while I’m logged in. Then, of course, it’s a refrigerator; I just don’t want to buy it online. We actually ended up going to the store, and I showed them my membership card, and I’m hoping that they know that I just spent hours researching what I want.

“Hopefully, I don’t have to repeat everything that I just researched to customer service. They didn’t know what I researched online. It’s me, my membership, if I did not give my information, I agree they don’t know me, but I gave my information. I’m a loyal customer, they freakin’ should know me, right? That is the problem in most cases,” he said.

Who is winning the online shopping experience these days? Wayfair, Walmart, Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, Apple and Best Buy, Cheruveedu said.

You don’t have to be digitally native, but it helps. However, some historically brick-and-mortar stores are adapting. In the first quarter of 2017, Walmart reported a 63 percent jump (quarter over quarter) in online sales after acquiring Jet.com, he said.

Keys to Digital Commerce Success

Cheruveedu’s three keys to successful digital commerce are: putting customers first, having a digital mindset, and having technology at the core of the operation.

It’s not enough to understand customers and personalize ads and content; digital storefronts have to perform. Making it happen is difficult because e-commerce is in a constant state of flux. Companies need to keep up with increasing expectations.

To do so, Cheruveedu suggests companies adopt a different mentality to allow them to fail fast, fail smarter and recover faster.

And that means using open source technology, and decoupled commerce – choosing the right tech stack for the right thing.

“Organizations are getting stuck on enterprise platforms right now,” Cheruveedu said. “You choose one platform, one technology. You’re either a Java shop, you’re either a .Net shop, you’re either a PHP shop, a Ruby on Rails, but the reality is all of these technologies have their strengths. How do you make it happen such that if Java is the right thing for something, or if PHP is the right thing for something else, or .Net is the right thing, how do you actually have an ecosystem that lets you develop using the right tech stack at the right time?”

For Cyber Monday, it takes some firms nearly half the year to ramp up and add hundreds of servers to make sure their infrastructure can meet the demand. Part of the problem is web technology isn’t changing at the same pace as e-commerce.

The need to create features separate from the back end of traditional websites by using something that sits outside (or on top of it) to create a better customer experience is becoming more important. But that alone won’t fix the problem. Scaling for large increases of customers has to be addressed.

No one wants to have an online outage from a super surge of traffic.

“So how do you now leverage the right tech for the right thing and not get bottled into, ‘We chose this tech stack, that’s the skillset we have. We cannot change the skillset. We cannot change the people’ ?” Cheruveedu asked. “Now, do you solve for the technology problem because you invested in all Java, or do you solve for actually meeting consumer experience?”

The keys to return on investment are speed, quality and agility. That means having smaller teams for micro-services, using all the tools at your disposal, no matter what tech stack you have, and making sure it all works in a millisecond.

In other words, Cyber Monday is about to become Cyber 365, so get ready.

To hear more of what Cheruveedu had to say at this year’s Acquia Engage conference, watch the video below:

Categories: Drupal Universe

3 Websites That Treat Online Customers Right

Acquia Blogs - Fri, 2017-11-24 14:27

Retail has seen some big shifts during the last several years. Digital commerce continues to grow at a rapid pace with more retailers closing brick-and-mortar stores. Even today on Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year, more consumers are shopping online than in stores.

The challenge for brands is that today’s shoppers have infinite options at their fingertips with vast amounts of information and content guiding them to compare different products and prices. Consequently, brands face even steeper competition from their direct competitors, as well as big retailers.

To attract new buyers and retain existing customers, brands have adapted their digital strategy to create a cohesive customer experience that tells their story, and brings together content and commerce for a more relevant, in-context interaction, while still offering great performance on the back end.

We’ve rounded up three examples of beautiful commerce experiences.

Wilson Sporting Goods

Wilson Wins At Experiential Commerce

You can’t think of sporting goods without thinking of Wilson.

For more than a 100 years, Wilson has provided gear for both professional athletes and consumers. Through digital, Wilson has been able to create an engaging shopping experience for its consumers, one that’s both responsive and content rich. Wilson’s site marries content and commerce, with each of its brands, products, and sports having its own distinct design aesthetic.

Working with partner HS2 and Acquia, Wilson created a seamless integration between Drupal’s CMS, Magento’s eCommerce system, and their preferred PIM and CRM tools. As a result, Wilson is able to deliver experiential commerce on any device or channel, rapidly and at scale.

Wilson’s strategy enables their teams to better incorporate storytelling about their favorite sports into product pages. While consumers come to Wilson.com to purchase equipment, they also come to the site for content on their favorite teams. Wilson has improved revenue by 10 percent on site and by 44 percent on mobile.

Weber Grills

Weber Grills Fosters A Grilling Culture

Picture this: A warm sunny day on a holiday weekend, with family and friends on a deck enjoying barbecue straight off the grill.

When it comes to offering great customer experiences, Weber’s is one of the best. Weber positions itself as being more than just a grill and accessories; for Weber it’s about the grilling culture and exposure to Weber as a lifestyle.

Weber Grills differentiates its brand from big retailers by sharing its story and combining brand presentation with commerce on digital. Weber’s site offers its visitors a captivating, fully dynamic and beautifully designed website that’s both informative and useful.

Weber’s site features a grilling section that showcases their culture and the grilling lifestyle, offering recipes and grill skills for its visitors. Working with partners Media Monks and Acquia, Weber features a decoupled architecture that employs multiple e-commerce systems and personalization with Acquia Lift, integrated into the custom front end framework.

Combining Drupal with a front-end framework provided the autonomy for the Weber team to create any type of animation and design needed, while allowing for customizations for local audiences. Drupal was also responsible for the content management and the back-end (API).

Using the power and flexibility of Drupal’s open modular framework, they could access different modules, reducing the effort needed to deliver the right solution for their site. Since the launch of the new weber.com site, average session duration is 2:37, with 3.17 pages per session. For every dollar spent, Weber has seen a 200 percent return on investment.


Interflora Withstands Peak Shopping Traffic

When it comes to online shopping, retailers will all agree that it’s critical to have your site up and running at all times – especially during peak shopping days like Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

This isn’t an issue for Interflora, one of the world’s largest suppliers of flowers. When planning for the site redesign, the goal was to maintain market position as a leading supplier of flowers with a brand new platform, designed as a personalized gift universe.

The new site had to be built to handle even the most extreme peaks in traffic volume, which equates to potentially thousands of transactions per hour.

From a design perspective, our partner Adapt A/S worked with the Interflora team to put the focus of the site on the customer with a better user experience and optimized checkout-flow that creates a smooth journey from browsing to purchasing.

Interflora’s new site delivers the best experience to its visitors, regardless of device, time or occasion, drawing them into a personalized gift universe that is built to withstand even the super spikes. Interflora’s new experience provides a better load speed, reducing the average load time by 56 percent and a smoother checkout experience, increasing basket sizes by an average of 15 percent.

Categories: Drupal Universe

Nestlé Purina’s 7-Step Guide For Digital Transformation

Acquia Blogs - Wed, 2017-11-22 15:50

“Our love of technology is only rivaled by our fear of change,” Allie Eskelsen, UX Designer at Nestlé Purina North America, said at this year’s Acquia Engage.

The young developer has worked at Nestlé Purina for less than three years, and in that time, has successfully overhauled all of the multibillion-dollar company’s web properties – including Friskies, Purina ONE, Fancy Feast, and Beneful – using Acquia Cloud Site Factory.

“I grew up in the digital age,” said the 2015 college graduate. “I’m a millennial. All these things that come naturally to me are so scary to the people around me.”

Although the move to Site Factory may have seemed obvious to a digital native like Eskelsen, she said for a company like Nestlé Purina, which is rooted in tradition and legacy technology, it was a challenging undertaking.

Eskelsen distilled her experience into seven tips to help digital leaders overcome the fear of change and pioneer a successful digital transformation in legacy organizations.

Step 1: Identify the Problem

Define the problem and come up with a clear objective and high-level plan for solving it. For Eskelsen, the problem was the complicated digital sprawl marked by more than 65 separately managed Nestlé Purina websites. The individual management of the properties resulted in inconsistent user experience, redundant marketing costs, security compliance issues, and slow launch times. Each site launch would take 12-18 months.

Right from the start, the objective was clear: to create an exceptional and consistent consumer-centric experience across all of Nestle Purina’s brand websites.

Step 2: Start at the Top

The project was immediately met with resistance.

What will this cost us? When will we see results? This won’t get approved. What are templates? Who will manage this? The brands will not be on board. What about our agencies? What about our existing sites? Brands need to be their own brands.

The team knew it needed more buy-in for the project, and decided to start at the top of Nestlé Purina. Eskelsen’s No. 1 tip for pitching enterprise execs is lead with results. Her team knew the project wasn’t going to show immediate, quantifiable return on investment, so they emphasized long-term benefits of the investment to Nestlé Purina’s chief marketing officer.

Step 3: Remove Barriers

Buy-in from top executives doesn’t remove all roadblocks – digital transformation is a long road, that demands collaboration with multiple stakeholders. Roadblocks should be expected.
Eskelsen said digital leaders need to be disruptive and scrappy. Well-established enterprise companies are often marked by out-of-date management structure and legacy technology. Eskelsen credited her team for its tenacity, expecting and working through any challenges they met along the way.

Step 4: Communicate Early and Often

To maintain and drum up continuous support they needed to promote transparency throughout the course of the project.

”To ensure success you have to have advocates across the organization,” Eskelsen said. “Everyone wants to know everything, and this is really hard in a large organization. When people are not involved in something, they feel uneasy. They want to be informed.”

At a large enterprise like Nestlé Purina, documenting everything, sharing timelines and strategies, and frequently emailing project updates to the larger organization helps dispel uncertainty and head off uneasy inquiries.

Step 5: Validate Everything

Before tackling the full multisite project, Nestlé Purina decided to launch a pilot to validate that the project could work. They chose to overhaul Fancy Feast’s website, one of the many billion-dollar brands under the Nestlé Purina umbrella.

From pilot to final product, Eskelsen’s team collected data about what worked with the new websites, what didn’t, and what could be improved, which was then shared with their colleagues who weren’t involved in the day-to-day trials of the project.

Step 6: Never Say No

When taking on any big task at work, Eskelsen warned, you should never say no, a lesson she learned over the course of this project. Eskelsen said in the past, her mentors and colleagues often said she should learn to say “no” more to stay focused to the task at hand and not waste any time responding to useless queries.

“Saying no fails on two accounts. It fails to educate and it burns bridges,” she said. “The person either argues with you or walks away feeling disappointed. And then you become a barrier for them to avoid in the future.”

By opening up to any and all requests and questions around the project, Eskelsen said she and her team ended up building relationships and collecting more support from those outside of their immediate group. Eskelsen said all of her “yeses” will continue to pay off.

Step 7: Iterate and Refine

Even after a successful digital rehaul, the work will never be done. Eskelsen compared Nestlé Purina’s work with Site Factory to a garden – ”by all means built but not finished.” This is an opportunity, rather than frustration – there is room to make mistakes, get the product out there, learn from consumer feedback and user testing, and continuously improve every iteration.

Watch Eskelsen’s full Engage session below:

Categories: Drupal Universe

Digital Asset Manager vs. Content Management System: What’s the Difference?

Acquia Blogs - Mon, 2017-11-20 19:11

Digital Asset Manager vs. Content Management System

Technology stacks have grown exponentially, keeping pace with the digital revolution. It’s not enough to have a website; it needs all the bells and whistles when it comes to martech like analytics, personalization, CRM, etc. With so much needed to run a successful digital marketing program, you wouldn’t want to add anything you don’t really need. Most of the heavy lifting is done by a Content Management System (CMS) like Drupal. Because of this, organizations might feel like they have their assets under control. However, rich media assets are another story. Which leads to a common question: Why do I need a Digital Asset Manager when I have a Content Management System?

On the surface, both manage what is generically called “content”. But the two have some fundamental differences. The biggest is that your CMS, whether it’s Drupal or Wordpress or a proprietary vendor solution, doesn’t just help you manage your website; it’s the entire foundation. Content management systems don’t just deal with assets but every single piece of content that will be displayed. The term “content” refers to anything that is on a website, not just things that marketing cranks out like blog posts or images. If you take away a CMS, you’d be left with nothing to manage your content, and your site would basically cease to exist.

With the steady growth of media-rich marketing channels that require images, video, animations, and even augmented reality, the need for more rich media assets extends beyond your site. Bandwidth cost is next to nothing and smartphones have powerful graphic processors that can display images and videos in high-resolution. On top of that, the modern-day consumer demands nothing short of a captivating experience; their attention spans are short, they are simultaneously wary of advertising but also expect a personalized experience from brands they engage with.

A DAM services more than just your website; it can power your entire sales and marketing organization. DAM is both a central repository for the approved creative assets, and a collaborative workflow engine between marketers and designers for creating, reviewing and approving those assets. Capabilities of a DAM are often extremely focused on a vibrant set of features that can include; asset tagging, searching and filtering, providing or revoking permissions, image resizing, archiving, managing asset expiration dates, mark-up tools for images and videos and more. These out-of-the-box capabilities work as soon as someone logs into the DAM and drags in their first hero banner image. DAMs are the bridge between graphic designers and digital marketing to manage the creating, approving and organizing the deliverable for marketing activities.

Now, organizations often try to function without a DAM but should they? Do-It-Yourself asset management can cause major headaches for an organization. Digital asset creation is most commonly a partnership between creative designers and marketing (even if they are within the same department).

Designers work with marketers to develop assets for the website, but also web applications, social media, product labeling and packaging, presentations, ads, etc. During the asset creation process, many companies rely on email, IM, cloud-storage, Google Drive, and so on for creative review and approvals. While it might work for a while on a small scale, it renders important aspects, like version control, meta-data, and in-context markups non-existent.

With DIY, once assets are finalized and approved, the entire process is plagued with inefficiencies. Assets get scattered on the aforementioned digital locations but also on people’s hard drives. Final assets are often left in cloud storage after they have become outdated, never replaces, where they are easily shared across the company. Outdated or off-brand versions of assets thrive and continue to be shared with prospects. This isn’t just a branding nightmare; assets with limited-time licensing can rack up hefty fines if they’re shared after their expiration date.

Some DAMs offer benefits beyond just asset control and organization. For example, Acquia DAM has workflow tools built in that streamline efforts and keep collaborative communication going throughout the creative process.

When evaluating a DAM, it shouldn’t be considered an add-on or a “nice to have” but a necessary piece of your marketing stack. The benefits outweigh the costs or concerns. It’s a DAM good investment (I limited it to one pun per post. You’re welcome).

To learn more about Acquia DAM, visit: https://www.acquia.com/products-services/acquia-digital-asset-manager

Categories: Drupal Universe

Raising Awareness for Breast Cancer

Acquia Blogs - Fri, 2017-11-17 18:09

Raising Awareness for Breast Cancer at Acquia

Every October, people come together to raise awareness for breast cancer and show support for women’s health.

This October, Maureen Lawson, our talent acquisition lead and a survivor of breast cancer, shared her story with us to educate our team on preventative measures and motivate our community that it’s possible to beat cancer.

When were you diagnosed and at what stage of breast cancer?

I was diagnosed young, at just 39, with stage 2A breast cancer, but the really disappointing part of the story is that I could have been diagnosed several years earlier, had my doctor performed the correct tests. Cancer can be an unpredictable animal, especially when you are diagnosed at a younger age. I underwent chemotherapy and active treatment for 15 months. It really affects every part of you, inside and out, every function of your body. You are looking out your eyeballs, but everything inside feels different.

Sometimes you can’t focus due to “chemo-brain,” or you get weird cravings – it affects your heart, skin, nails, bones, everything. Some of these issues I still have today – it never leaves you. Thankfully in my case, targeted therapies like chemotherapy and other treatments worked on my cancer.

Maureen Lawson, Acquia's talent acquisition lead and a survivor of breast cancer, shares her story with coworkers to educate our team on preventative measures.

Why are you sharing your story?

Before diagnosis, I didn’t receive the right tests I needed. If I had, I could have been diagnosed years earlier. Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common occurrence - many young women are told “you’re too young for cancer,” “it’s nothing,” “you have no family history,” and if they’re nursing, they’re commonly told “you have a clogged milk duct.”

I sit here at work and I see my peers walking around, and I think with all of the people that we work with, the chances of someone being diagnosed with cancer is there. I’m compelled to get the word out there about the misinformation and lack of information. I also want them to know that they can deal with it and get through it and survive, that their family member or friend can deal with it and survive – and still be here 10 years later. I hope that my story will help them or someone in their circles get through it.

I was lucky to have an amazing support system around me when I went through cancer.

What are some of the preventative measures you can take?

When you’re under 40, it’s imperative that you conduct self breast exams monthly to look for any changes. If you can, arm yourself with your own medical history, ask your family: parents, aunts, grandparents, siblings. If you’re younger, and you know you have the BRCA gene, you could be more susceptible and take action against that.

No matter your age, If you ever find a lump or change in your breast skin, you need to push for tests from your doctor and get to the bottom of it. It’s important to be proactive about prevention and ask questions and to advocate for yourself. If you need help, ask a friend or relative to go with you to take notes and be a second ear.

What are the type of questions you should ask doctors?

In my case, when my doctor felt a lump, she said it was nothing, just a fibroadenoma, which is common in younger women, so she suggested we keep an eye on it. I’m a question asker, and I did my research, and still I didn’t receive the right tests I needed.

As soon as I learned my mother was diagnosed with cancer, I was sent for a baseline mammogram and ultrasound and then a biopsy. You need to get specific tests and investigate with mammogram, ultrasound, and biopsy – it’s the only way to find out if the lump is cancerous or not.

Follow-up is important here. Are there certain types of cancerous cells in the biopsy? Are there further tests or biopsies to help determine my course of my treatment? Should I get a second opinion? What’s the best treatment facility for my type of cancer?

How did you deal with cancer?

People who are diagnosed with cancer handle it in different ways - it’s an individual choice. I dealt with my own cancer out and in the open. I try to be positive and have a sense of humor about everything, and cancer was no different.

While I’m an introvert and keep most of my personal life to myself, I am compelled to be open about my breast cancer survival story. It helps to understand how you can help others during treatment and be supportive. In the talks I do, I find that some people get emotional because they hear I went through cancer, or their family member or friend went through this.

If I can help one person within the doors of Acquia and they help transfer that information beyond, I feel like I’m making a positive impact. Most people feel helpless when it comes to cancer – you don’t have a choice about the diagnosis nor much of a choice in treatment. – Maureen Lawson, Acquia

How does it feel to speak with a family of people you work with?

I was glad to be given the opportunity to speak with the group in an open forum and am appreciative that there was support for my wish to do so. The positive feedback was overwhelming; we’re creating a community within a community.

If I can help one person within the doors of Acquia and they help transfer that information beyond, I feel like I’m making a positive impact. Most people feel helpless when it comes to cancer – you don’t have a choice about the diagnosis nor much of a choice in treatment.

The one thing you have control over is your attitude and what you do with the information provided to you. Being an advocate for awareness is very important to me – I’m glad we are doing something about it.

For preventative resources, please visit http://www.dana-farber.org/cancer-genetics-and-prevention/breast-and-ova... or http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-self-exam. If you or someone you know is going through cancer, http://www.breastcancer.org/ and http://www.lbbc.org/ offer information and support.

The sessions Maureen presented to our team helped surface questions and discussion. You can watch one of them below:

Categories: Drupal Universe

Acquia.com Gets a Boost from Lift 3

Acquia Blogs - Thu, 2017-11-16 17:13

Previously in this series, Gigi Anderson, Senior Marketing Communications Specialist at Acquia, talked about the content migration for website redesign. Catch up and read Gigi's blog, here.

At the outset of our site redesign project, there were a few core principles we vowed to stick to. One of the biggest undertakings, but arguably most important, was to utilize as many of our own products as possible. Not all of our tools would have a practical application on the site, but some of them, such as Acquia Lift, would help us to deliver a superior digital experience on par with what we already deliver for our customers.

Lift is our personalization tool, which aims to deliver contextual content throughout a user’s journey. It captures data from users who are visiting your site, and sends that data into Profile Manager - the data warehouse that stores all user information and analytics data. Although Lift 3 is more robust and user-friendly than ever, it hasn’t always been the belle of the ball.

Historical challenges with Lift 2

With Acquia.com running on Drupal 7, we experienced some challenges with Lift 2. The campaign building process was a manual one, and while the workflow was logical, it felt clunky and stale. The interface was functional and helped us to achieve personalization goals, but it was a lengthy process to build new campaigns. Logged-in users also experienced poor performance, which meant that we often had functionality turned off on Acquia.com.

Lift 2 was built with many different Drupal modules and sub-modules, so it was entirely Drupal-dependent. In order to deploy a new campaign, you’d have to build out the segments and parameters ahead of time, before previewing your work on the live site. Any changes made would require the campaign to be paused, before going into the backend, updating parameters, and then previewing again. It was a workable process, but far from ideal.

Improvements we’re looking forward to in Lift 3

With our shiny new site running on Drupal 8 and with Lift functionality completely overhauled, the game changes dramatically. It’s amazing the difference a new interface makes, and that’s precisely what is at the core of the new and improved Lift. Where the build and deploy process for new campaigns lived separately from the live website in Lift 2, you can now edit live on page in Lift 3. Where campaigns used to take anywhere from 30-60 minutes to build, they can now be done in a matter of seconds.

Another highlight is the Experience Builder – an Ember application that sits as a sidebar console on top of your site, allowing real-time changes to be made to personalization segments and rules. This also means that it can be used on any site, Drupal or non-Drupal.

Any content in your CMS can be built and stored in Experience Builder, where it can be reused indefinitely anywhere on your site. Experience Builder has drag-and-drop functionality, and can easily toggle between rules to show you exactly what a given user will see.

Rules – formerly known as campaigns – are new for Lift 3, and are composed of three distinct components:

  1. User segment (a specified user group)
  2. Piece of content you’d like the given segment to see
  3. Slot on the page where you’d like the content to go (like the header, for example)

Rules are easy to define, and you can create as many rules as you need for your site. Some site visitors will fall into more than one segment (which is the first defining parameter of a rule), so you can set priority rules to ensure visitors always see the most accurate content. For Acquia.com this is especially important, because we often have fresh new content that we want users to consume as soon as it’s available.

Lift 3 is also lightning fast, loading personalized content within milliseconds, so the user can barely perceive any change in content delivery.

Acquia’s personalization goals for the future

Lift 3 will be an integral tool as we rollout the new site. With so many big changes all happening at once, we’ll ramp up slowly, and get comfortable with all the new and different functionality that this tool has to offer.

There are several different ways we plan to use Lift on Acquia.com, including A/B testing for page elements like banners, personalization by geographic area, and content recommendations based on user attributes, just to name a few. We’re excited to see where Lift 3 can take us, and we’ll be sure to report back on our findings as we dig in.

Categories: Drupal Universe

Beautiful Not Boring; Standardizing Your Sites the Right Way

Acquia Blogs - Tue, 2017-11-14 22:19
How standardization can help organizations deliver better, more cohesive experiences across all of their sites

Your websites are the main digital representation of your brand. They can be a prospect or customer’s very first impression of your organization, potentially setting the tone for that entire relationship. It’s imperative you make sure that you put your best foot forward. An inconsistent online experience can cause confusion, frustration or distrust for visitors, which then can hurt your bottom line. But how do you ensure that each of your sites has a great experience, the right content and consistent branding at scale?

Standardization and templatization might seem in contrast to something like brand consistency, but in reality, it allows organizations to deliver better websites in a scalable way. This is Acquia Cloud Site Factory’s approach to site development. Standardization does not equal boring; Acquia Cloud Site Factory helps organizations create stunning, consistently branded digital sites by enabling templates -- from simple to more feature flexible --to be built off of single code base.

Standardization doesn’t come without drawbacks, including some limitations on certain architectural decisions. However, bringing uniformity to your digital site strategy means all of your sites are brand compliant and consistent. Also, a standardized approach to site design, look and feel, and user experience can entice visitors to stay longer, which deepens the connection between customers and the organizations that serve them.

That all sounds like an ideal approach to multisite, but where is the proof? We know we can get lost in the weeds with all of our technical speak, so we wanted to take a step back and showcase a couple great examples of the beautiful, but standardized sites and digital experiences from Acquia Cloud Site Factory customers.

University of California Davis

After a thorough rebranding effort, UC Davis developed a web style guide using PatternLab and rolled it out to existing Drupal 7 sites and all new Drupal 8 sites on Site Factory. UC Davis has a number of stakeholders on campus, from academic and administrative departments, to research labs, centers, and initiatives and each of their respective web audiences differ in what is relevant to them.

To meet so many varied use cases across the campus, UC Davis developed their SiteFarm distribution for consistency yet flexibility. SiteFarm is in the process of being implemented beyond UC Davis, and throughout the University of California system.




Warner Music Group (WMG)

Before Warner Music chose Acquia Cloud Site Factory, they were looking for a platform that allowed them to provide standardized templates with customization abilities for each of their artists. Warner needed a platform that made it fast and easy to spin up sites; they have a lot of artists with lots of demands. With Acquia Cloud Site Factory, Warner Music was able to create beautiful, customized sites that all had a similar user experience and information architecture so that visitors could easily find what they were looking for on each of the artists’ sites. For example, most artists have a “home” page, “tour” page/section, “store” page/section, and “social media/news” page/section.






Interested in learning more building your platform with Acquia Cloud Site Factory? Check out this ebook.

Categories: Drupal Universe

Mike Sullivan joins Acquia as CEO

Acquia Blogs - Mon, 2017-11-13 15:59

Today, I am excited to announce that Michael Sullivan will be joining Acquia as its CEO.

The search for a new CEO

Last spring, Tom Erickson announced that he was stepping down as Acquia's CEO. For over eight years, Tom and I have been working side-by-side to build and run Acquia. I've been lucky to have Tom as my partner as he is one of the most talented leaders I know. When Tom announced he'd be stepping down as Acquia's CEO, finding a new CEO became my top priority for Acquia. For six months, the search consumed a good deal of my time. I was supported by a search committee drawn from Acquia's board of directors, including Rich D'Amore, Tom Bogan, and Michael Skok. Together, we screened over 140 candidates and interviewed 10 in-depth. Finding the right candidate was hard work and time consuming, but we kept the bar high at all times. As much as I enjoyed meeting so many great candidates and hearing their perspective on our business, I'm glad that the search is finally behind me.

The right fit for Acquia

Finding a business partner is like dating; you have to get to know each other, build trust, and see if there is a match. Identifying and recruiting the best candidate is difficult because unlike dating, you have to consider how the partnership will also impact your team, customers, partners, and community. Once I got to know Mike, it didn't take me long to realize how he could help scale Acquia and help make our customers and partners successful. I also realized how much I would enjoy working with him. The fit felt right.

With 25 years of senior leadership in SaaS, enterprise content management and content governance, Mike is well prepared to lead our business. Mike will join Acquia from Micro Focus, where he participated in the merger of Micro Focus with Hewlett Packard Enterprise's software business. The combined company became the world's seventh largest pure-play software company and the largest UK technology firm listed on the London Stock Exchange. At Micro Focus and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Mike was the Senior Vice President and General Manager for Software-as-a-Service and was responsible for managing over 30 SaaS products.

This summer, I shared that Acquia expanded its focus from website management to data-driven customer journeys. We extended the capabilities of the Acquia Platform with journey orchestration, commerce integrations and digital asset management tools. The fact that Mike has so much experience running a diverse portfolio of SaaS products is something I really valued. Mike's expertise can guide us in our transformation from a single product company to a multi-product company.

Creating a partnership

For many years, I have woken up everyday determined to set a vision for the future, formulate a strategy to achieve that vision, and help my fellow Acquians figure out how to achieve that vision.

One of the most important things in finding a partner and CEO for Acquia was having a shared vision for the future and an understanding of the importance of cloud, Open Source, data-driven experiences, customer success and more. This was very important to me as I could not imagine working with a partner who isn't passionate about these same things. It is clear that Mike shares this vision and is excited about Acquia's future.

Furthermore, Mike's operational strength and enterprise experience will be a natural complement to my focus on vision and product strategy. His expertise will allow Acquia to accelerate its mission to "build the universal platform for the world's greatest digital experiences."

Formalizing my own role

In addition to Mike joining Acquia as CEO, my role will be elevated to Chairman. I will also continue in my position as Acquia CTO. My role has always extended beyond what is traditionally expected of a CTO; my responsibilities have bridged products and engineering, fundraising, investor relations, sales and marketing, resource allocation, and more. Serving as Chairman will formalize the various responsibilities I've taken on over the past decade. I'm also excited to work with Mike because it is an opportunity for me to learn from him and grow as a leader.

Acquia's next decade

The web has the power to change lives, educate the masses, create new economies, disrupt business models and make the world smaller in the best of ways. Digital will continue to change every industry, every company and every life on the planet. The next decade holds enormous promise for Acquia and Drupal because of what the power of digital holds for business and society at large. We are uniquely positioned to deliver the benefits of open source, cloud and data-driven experiences to help organizations succeed in an increasingly complex digital world.

I'm excited to welcome Mike to Acquia as its CEO because I believe he is the right fit for Acquia, has the experience it takes to be our CEO and will be a great business partner to bring Acquia's vision to life. Welcome to the team, Mike!

Categories: Drupal Universe

Creating a Bright, Brilliant Future for Machine Learning

Acquia Blogs - Fri, 2017-11-10 22:28

Creating a Bright, Brilliant Future for Machine Learning

Without a strong understanding of machine learning, it’s easy to be swept away by headlines that read “Facebook engineers panic. Pull plug on AI after bots develop their own language” or “You Will Lose Your Job to a Robot — and Sooner Than You Think.”

With a newsfeed flooded with articles predicting a dark future for anyone without a metallic heart or algorithmic brain, it’s hard to look the other way.

To challenge this flawed depiction of our future, Katherine Bailey dedicated her Acquia Engage session to weeding out some misconceptions around artificial intelligence to get to the bottom of how machine learning tactics can make a positive and tangible impact.

AI has become a blanket term often used to describe a range of emerging technologies. In the process, our understanding of what AI is, and can realistically do, has blurred. As the principal data scientist at Acquia, Bailey sought to bring the real potential of machine learning and more reasonable concerns to the forefront.

The Issues that Matter

Machine learning is a specific set of techniques that enable machines to learn from data, and make predictions. A primary concern for many people is the idea of singularity: the point in time when machines reach a higher level of intelligence than humans and, in turn, take over the world (essentially).

In reality, this is nonsense. There are plenty of things to worry about with the future of machine learning, and the singularity is not one of them.

What’s more of a cause for concern is the machine learning bias we see on a regular basis. For example, there are certain systems that claim to predict your interests based on your name, and some that conclude “man” is to “computer programmer” as “woman” is to “homemaker.” Even worse, some claim to predict terrorists based on facial features. Clearly, there are major flaws with the methodology powering these predictions, and these issues should be addressed.

Machines only learn from the data at their disposal. When the biases of our past and present fuel the predictions of the future, it’s a tall order to expect AI to operate independently of human flaws. If we want machine learning to affect our lives in productive and ethical ways, awareness of this fact is critical.

Katherine Bailey, principal data scientist at Acquia, talks about machine learning at Acquia's 2017 Engage conference in Boston

The User Experience Challenge

Without even realizing it, people interact with machine learning systems on a daily basis, surfacing a whole new set of issues for consumer-facing brands. Google’s “did you mean?” feature was built to help users in the search process, but in practice, there’s no denying it can get a little creepy and feel invasive. On the other hand, if you’re given a Netflix or Spotify recommendation that’s off base, users get frustrated and expect better understanding of their preferences. Today’s companies are forced to toe the line between helpful and creepy.

Companies are also running into problems around AI’s inability to explain its suggestions and recommendations to users. For example, Alexa can’t explain her reasoning for recommending a new product or service. Although we want to trust the devices that give us answers, at the same time, we want to understand where they come from. Solving these user experience challenges is what will separate the leaders from the laggards in the machine learning realm.

Baffling with Brilliance

With big picture issues and UX challenges not letting up, where do we go from here? We need systems that understand context and how the world works, and this isn’t going to be solved overnight. For now, tech leaders need to look past the hype and the bafflement, recognize the roadblocks right in front of them and set more achievable goals.

Clearly, there are obvious limitations involved with AI and machine learning. Mastering how to work within these bounds, building safeguards against machine learning biases and doubling down the UX challenges that affect our daily lives are keys to building a brighter future.

To watch Bailey and other Acquians discuss how machine learning fits with customer journey's click here.

To view Bailey’s full Engage session, watch below:

Categories: Drupal Universe

How Planet Fitness Delivered a Modern, Digital Experience for Its Customers

Acquia Blogs - Wed, 2017-11-08 02:34

As a company grows and changes, its digital experience must evolve as well. At Acquia Engage 2017, Chris Lavoie, vice president of information systems, and Kate King, digital marketing manager, at Planet Fitness explained how they relaunched the company website to provide members with a more engaging, modern experience.

Since its founding in 1992, Planet Fitness has grown to become one of the largest fitness brands in the U.S. The company’s digital needs changed drastically as it grew to serve more than 10 million members at 1,400 locations in four countries. The site had to offer a more tailored user experiences than ever before.

“Our original website was static,” Lavoie said. “There were no opportunities for member engagement. It featured limited content and was not optimized for mobile. If a franchise manager wanted to promote a flash sale at midnight, someone needed to get online and push out the content at midnight.”

The digital team partnered with Acquia to address the three major challenges with its digital presence: member experience, content creation and franchise customization.

Member Experience

The website was highly transactional and offered little to no opportunities for members-brand engagement. Planet Fitness needed a new site that was optimized for multiple channels and could accommodate the growing number of members who engaged with their brand via mobile devices.

Using Acquia Lift, Planet Fitness was able to deliver targeted messages to prospects and members. After noticing many prospects abandoned the signup process midway through, they could house that data on Salesforce and use Acquia Lift to send targeted messages to those early abandoners.

Additionally, when designing the new website, the digital team studied the flow users followed when signing up for a membership. Based on these patterns, Planet Fitness crafted a registration process that was more intuitive and user-specific.

Content Creation

Members wanted the website to better highlight the benefits of joining the gym, and drive home their idea around “fitness for everyone.” The digital team wanted to create a localized content section to engage members and incorporate the brand message. Planet Fitness members valued community, so the new site needed the ability to help members find workout buddies and offer support to fellow gym-goers. However, the content creation system they had in place was difficult to use and time-consuming.

The solution: The Drupal 8 content management system allowed the company to build a non-transactional content section that provided fitness information delivered in a “judgement- free” tone. As King mentioned in the session, Planet Fitness serves pizza on Mondays and they wanted to be sure that the content on their blog was reflective of their unique brand.

How Planet Fitness Delivered a Modern, Digital Experience for Its Customers

Franchise Customization

To cater to their members' interest in community, Planet Fitness needed to empower local franchise managers with more autonomy over their landing pages. That way, each branch would have content and promotions that catered specifically to its community, while maintaining cohesion with the Planet Fitness brand.

The solution: Planet Fitness leveraged Drupal 8 to build a new site that was easier to navigate, more responsive and channel-agnostic. Utilizing the Drupal CMS tools, franchise managers could make changes to their branch page without going through headquarters. Now, they could easily change their “about us” section, upload local photos and highlight the amenities specific to their location.

“We kept our members at the center of focus for this project,” King said. “We wanted to ensure the Planet Fitness website serves as an extension of the friendly atmosphere felt in our physical locations.”

Categories: Drupal Universe


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