Drupal Universe

Build a Platform, Not a Site Part I: The Factory Approach

Acquia Blogs - Thu, 2017-06-22 20:15

The Factory Approach

At the 2016 Acquia Engage conference, I stood in front of a customer panelist group ranging from digital platform experts in planning, delivering, and managing a digital factory platform; and I said to them, “We are going to discuss building a platform and not a site today.” Each panelist knew exactly what I was talking about because each of them – Australian Department of Finance’s Sharyn Clarkson, Nestlé’s Raúl Jiménez, Warner Music Group’s Jeremy Kutner – had made amazing digital transformations from originally building project-to-project websites to building a digital factory that is now the most efficient platform for delivering digital experience content and applications across their entire organizations.

This newfound efficiency has allowed these organizations to bring sites and digital experiences to market twice as fast than they could before, and those digital experiences are more consistent and more effective. If you want to equip your organization to be successful in scaling your digital experiences, the importance of investing in building a platform is imperative. So how do you build a platform, not a site?

In this two part series, I will go through what a digital factory platform is, and I will discuss the necessary transformations an organization must make in order to become factory ready. The first part of the series covers the approach, and the second details the automation.

What is a Digital Factory Platform?

From the mid-eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries, a span of about one hundred years, the world experienced a revolution in how companies created and delivered goods to consumers. Previously, goods were created by hand. No one item was identical to any other. This resulted in wasted effort performing the same process many times with minor differences, poor maintainability due to the lack of interchangeable parts, and inconsistent quality control. The industrial revolution changed all of that by bringing scalability, repeatability, and governance to the world of manufacturing. Today, we are experiencing a similar revolution in the world of digital. Companies face the same problems of scalability, repeatability, and governance, and they are applying the same factory model to the production of delightful and engaging digital experiences.

Consider SABMiller, a company that manages multiple brands. Separate teams manage the digital experience of each brand. Since each team has a slightly different idea of what makes a good experience for every brand, features often differ across each digital experience. If an organization wants to implement centralized management to ensure the security and maintainability of each experience, they will need to perform assessments and updates for each property, with slight variations every time. As the organization grows, this manual effort becomes unmanageable. Unmaintained apps become vulnerable to security breaches and degraded performance, putting the entire brand at risk.

A digital factory platform is a highly efficient, standardized approach to assembling, manufacturing, and running the foundation for digital experiences (i.e. digital sites). The digital factory provides the right site components like templates, branding, CMS configuration and integration modules, access control and security, and cloud infrastructure resources to deliver and manage digital marketing and commerce experiences. Digital sites power digital content and applications as a service for the online branding, marketing, commerce, and customer service experiences across your business. The very image of a “factory” depicts standardized components, processes, and management that work in a hyper-efficient factory automation mode to assemble, deliver, operate, and govern digital businesses. As a result, the digital factory becomes the focus, IT project, and the platform.

With the factory being at the epicenter, the task at hand is to build a platform not a site. Build a digital factory platform that manufactures, delivers, runs and enables all of your digital sites and experiences for your company across the globe.

Inside the Digital Factory Platform

The factory platform is 75% approach and 25% automation. The reason why 75% of your efforts should be spent on the approach is because it is the foundational framework and mindset, both technically and organizationally, that is integral to mobilizing your entire IT digital and marketing teams to work in unison as a factory. Adopting both makes it a factory.

Let’s first examine the approach that you need in order to have a functioning factory. The approach is largely focused on organizational requirements within your IT digital team, as the group and its individuals are the ones ensuring the factory is running smoothly. It’s worth mentioning that our approach is meant as guidelines; it does not need to be followed down to a T.

The Digital Governance Team

Start the adoption by defining role-based teams. The exact number of people can vary based on the IT digital organization, digital projects, and overall platform scope. The teams and/or individuals can be centralized or distributed across the organization.

  • The Assembly Role: When building a factory, you’re now in the business of manufacturing sites at scale, not hand-crafting individual items. The assembly role owns the assembly of the shared Drupal distribution. This role analyzes site requirements for content types, integrations, digital assets, and management needs up-front and creates a site model to define the core Drupal distribution. The assembly role provides continuous distribution lifecycle management to maintain Drupal versions, modules, assets, and all platform required code. The benefit is the digital organization can set company-wide standards, without limiting individual flexibility.
  • The Delivery Role: This role is both internal and often an external digital development firm or agency. This role or team is responsible for the process of taking the shared Drupal distribution provided by the assembly team and customizing it to the individual site needs. It becomes a straightforward, less technical activity to customize sites provisioned by the standard platform in which corporate standards are baked in. Creative branding and content activities can work efficiently using the same shared distribution. If the platform does not meet all of the requirements, the assembly role is asked to upgrade the Drupal distribution for new requirements.
  • The Operations Role: The main responsibilities of operations consists of provisioning and operating the digital sites at scale. Working closely with the IT operations and support organization, this team provides all site changes, site content updates, security, and site retirement. Digital sites are the foundation for “living” experiences and the operations team needs to be prepared to treat them as such.
  • The Governance Role: The governance role consists of product or business managers, IT digital platform leaders, digital platform architects, and other experts who are involved in establishing standards and policies to support digital platforms. This role provides a unified company playbook for the people, policies, and standards for digital sites including planning, developing, delivering, and operating digital sites and experiences… basically, everything.

Digital Factory diagram

Organizing and restructuring to be factory-ready can sometimes seem like a daunting task, especially for organizations that have small teams and limited resources. However, digital transformation doesn’t have to happen all at once – in fact, it’s best that you take the time to do it right. To make transformation easier, getting creative with how you form digital teams and assign certain roles is a must. For example, the digital organizations that have creative and development partners may choose to have their partners as one of the roles listed above (often the partner takes on the delivery role). At Acquia, we provide professional services and dedicated technical account personnel who eventually become part of an organization’s digital team as well.

In the next part of this blog series, I will go through the automation transformation approach. This part of the approach is all about technical changes and requirements.

Categories: Drupal Universe

Why Financial Services Needs Drupal 8 to Innovate

Acquia Blogs - Wed, 2017-06-21 19:31

Why financial services needs Drupal 8 to innovate

The wave of digital disruption continues to travel from sector to sector. Outside of market trading technology, financial services organizations have a decades﹣long history of innovating very little due to regulatory compliance concerns and in turn keeping legacy technology in market that is past its prime. But every year the number of consumers that grew up with technology steadily increases ﹣an unstoppable force driving digital transformation across every industry.

This increasingly large number of digital natives has finally begun to exert pressure on one of the most regulated sectors in the US economy: financial services. In this need to rapidly innovate, modernize and deliver the kind of experience consumers are expecting, these organizations need to turn to and will find great success with Drupal 8.

Take a recent example: While the specific brand cannot be shared publicly, this company is one of the world’s largest leveraged buyout organizations, having owned many iconic American brands over the years. With a portfolio valued in the billions and a highly successful track record, this organization is among the highest caliber investment companies in the world. But their digital brand did not match this reality. This is where Drupal 8 comes in.

With a rapid rebrand and new, fully responsive design Third&Grove helped the client realize some immediate gains. We compared the performance of several key engagement metrics between the old site (Joomla) and the new Drupal 8 powered site, and the results were phenomenal:

  • Total traffic up 66%
  • Unique users up 53%
  • Time on site up 44%
  • Total pages visited up 97%
  • Pages per visit up 19%
  • Bounce rate down 21%

How did we achieve such startling improvement? Drupal 8 made a variety of refinements possible:

  1. With strong support for SEO and responsive design out of the box, search engine rankings were dramatically improved, and so, in turn, was traffic.
  2. By using a unique process that was both user-centered and data-driven, it was seamless to steer the client towards a design that improved customer engagement rather than hindered it (think story carousels of regret).
  3. Drupal 8’s awesome support for in-place editing made it easy for marketing to refine content to maximize engagement, instead of being a dreaded process of logging into the cumbersome editorial backend of doom.
  4. Being open source we could leverage Drupal 8’s large ecosystem of free modules that provide additional functionality so that the project budget could be focused on improving engagement rather than building features from scratch.

The pressure for increased digital innovation in the financial services sector continues to grow, and Drupal 8 continues to deliver. But the track record isn’t just isolated to marketing sites. Nasdaq chose Drupal 8 to power their investor relations site platform which is leveraged 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

Elevated Third Talk Success for Nonprofit Web Projects Using Drupal

Acquia Blogs - Wed, 2017-06-14 21:28

Elevated Third NonProfit Success
Building a digital presence as a cultural institution is a balancing act. On one hand, the institution's mission and goals must be at the forefront of a digital experience. On the other hand, limited resources, revolving staff and regulations weigh down and pressure these institutions to carefully consider how to craft its online presence.

Cultural nonprofits require an online experience platform that is both cost efficient and low maintenance to support. Also, decisions surrounding technology solutions are often made by various departments, causing integration issues to ensue.

After working with nonprofit and cultural institutions for more than 13 years, our friends at Elevated Third understand the sort of challenges these groups face. They have experience working with nonprofits like the Denver Botanic Gardens, The NFPA, and the Colorado General Assembly.

Specifically, in their work with the Denver Botanic Gardens, the company was able to help develop a responsive Drupal website designed around user experience, conversion and the beauty of the gardens. The website was a success and helped contribute to strong KPIs toward online booking and visits.

With this sort of experience, Elevated Third has some ideas surrounding what to consider during a nonprofit web design project. They suggest that the big problem is that most nonprofit web design projects are considered a one time expense rather than a long term investment and a part of strategic thinking. Jill Farley, UX and content strategist at Elevated Third has outlined 6 points to think about:

  1. Invest in open source: It doesn’t cost anything to license and use. Because Drupal is open source, it is updated and maintained by millions of developers.
  2. Make integration-focused software a priority: Own the technology. Pick vendors by their commitment to playing nice with other tools.
  3. Learn how Drupal works for nonprofits: Drupal is a trusted, scalable content management and system integration platform. Integrations, scalability, and speed to market are all things to be kept in mind while selecting digital tools.
  4. Think in terms of conversions. Measure: Figure out how things are valuable and can be tracked like “conversions”. Assign value to non-monetary outcomes so gain and ROI can be calculated.
  5. Keep your staff happy: Drupal is built to make sense to users of any technical skill level, and the admin interface can be optimized for any type of workflow.
  6. Don’t forget hosting: It is important to have the support of a reputable hosting company.

6 THINGS TO CONSIDER DURING A NONPROFIT WEB DESIGN PROJECT

Read more about how to be successful during a nonprofit web design project and viewing it as an investment.

Categories: Drupal Universe

Partnership is Paramount: You Can’t Build a Cloud Overnight

Acquia Blogs - Wed, 2017-06-14 20:57

Partners and Acquia Cloud

This is Part 4 of a five-part series for Sitecore’s partners to take another look at success with Acquia and Drupal.

When selecting a technology vendor to partner with, you need to be certain that their products and solutions are the right choice for your customers. This becomes particularly important when looking at cloud companies. Acquia has remained committed to our cloud offering from the very beginning; along with open source as a core pillar of our business. But why should this matter to our partners? I sat down again with David Aponovich, Senior Director of Digital Experiences at Acquia, to discuss the important role Acquia Cloud plays for partners as a valuable product.

When asked what are the three central tenets of Acquia’s cloud, David said “When I think of the value of Acquia Cloud, several things come to mind. I think the fact that Acquia has merged content management with a secure cloud platform makes it so a partner does not have to worry about stability. That’s something we watch over on behalf of our partner and the customer. You don’t have to worry about that on your end.

The second key benefit Acquia’s cloud platform enables is security. The Acquia platform is used by some of the most security-intensive and security-minded organizations -- global enterprises, the largest government entities, and other organizations where security and compliance is paramount to everything they do.

Third is performance for digital experiences. Acquia Cloud is a high-performance platform that scales as needed; whether it’s the number of sites you’re building and managing, the traffic that you’re hit with, or the application load you’re carrying on that platform. Acquia’s cloud scales in a way that other platforms simply cannot. We don’t require purchasing new software licenses for additional sites, or charge for additional seats for more users, or cause customers to spend time requisitioning more infrastructure as they scale. This is all part of the Acquia’s platform promise.”

In today’s market, there is a significant emphasis on the importance of cloud to digital experience delivery and customer success, something Acquia has understood for nearly a decade - we’ve built our business on it. But even with cloud deeply rooted in our DNA, our competitors still claim, “Well, we’re cloud too. We do that so that’s not a big deal,” but the reality is proven execution and a business model aligned with customers’ and partners’ cloud requirements is a big deal. It matters deeply for our partners and our customers. What would you say about that?

There’s a great disparity in this market in terms of what a cloud is, including cloud platform-as- a-service (PaaS) and software-as-a-service (SaaS), as well as managed hosting. Acquia has been recognized as more than just a cloud vendor. Over the past nine years we’ve built PaaS and SaaS offerings for content management, multisite management and governance, personalization and digital experience delivery. As part of that, we’ve built an entire business around this cloud-first business model to serve our partners and our mutual customers. Every aspect of Acquia’s DNA is aligned with the cloud: how we run our business, how we go to market, deliver a subscription service, and leverage and optimize open source Drupal at every step.

"Here’s the truth. Our leadership in cloud platforms for WCM and digital experience is years ahead of the work by other vendors in this market. While they spent years selling high-margin, on-premise software, they left “cloud” options to their partners and customers to solve; they’ve painted over their cloud offerings by “cloudwashing,” ignoring that they lack an integrated cloud platform - it’s mostly software stuck on a hosting or a cloud environment others still must be responsible for. Acquia has delivered a robust cloud platform for modern experience creation, delivery, integration with other tools and optimization for thousands of customers and partners; we take care of infrastructure and application uptime. Our integrated cloud model lets us add new capabilities instantly for the benefit of customers and partners. The others? They’re trying to catch up, to make cloud offerings out of software and support models built on the expectation of on-premise delivery.

There are vendors who have not made the leap and not made the full investment; they are trying to catch up by partnering with Microsoft Azure, for example. Both Adobe and Sitecore are doing this in an effort to to catch up. At the same time, we have been cloud first for nine years and have a stable cloud platform ready for you to build on today. There’s a lot that goes into building a cloud business; we remain focused on what it means to deliver true cloud platform and its services to our customers.“

With Acquia, partners can be confident that we are there to ensure that each project is a success. We will always be responsive, whether it’s about addressing issues that may come up. Our partners can be sure that the capabilities we’ve built amongst the team are there to support the underlying technology as need demands.

Categories: Drupal Universe

How Media and Entertainment Giants Dominated Digital Transformation

Acquia Blogs - Wed, 2017-06-14 20:03

In 2006, only 22% of the Comscore MediaMetrix Top 50 digital properties were Media & Entertainment companies. By 2014, that number grew to 36%. Today almost 70% of the top 50 digital properties are either large media networks or entertainment services. How did they achieve such growth in just a few years?

At the top of the rankings you have Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Yahoo but just behind that are large media networks - in the top twenty - CBS, Time Inc, Turner, USA Today, Conde Nast, and Hearst. These titans beat out some well known digital and commerce players like Yelp, PayPal, and Target.

Media brands were the first movers to the web and mobile - but in world dominated by digital behemoths, how can they maintain and grow their position?

We will dig into the latest statistics from Comscore, App Annie, and NewsWhip to paint an accurate portrait of digital media landscape in 2017 in the upcoming webinar How Media and Entertainment Giants Dominated Digital Transformation and How They'll Maintain Their Position. We'll also examine the techniques some of the top tier Media & Entertainment companies are using and what you can learn from them.

How Media and Entertainment Giants Dominated Digital Transformation

Here are some of the examples and areas we will cover:

Build, Buy Or Partner to grow your brand and audience

For most media companies - the answer recently seems to "buy". Turner Digital bought sports network Bleacher Report in 2012, and in 2016 announced plans to invest another $100m in expanding it. The acquisition has lifted Turner from about 20th place to 11th place in the Comscore rankings over the past two years.

Build is critical too. Time Inc, now 10th largest digital property, is seeing a digital resurgence by creating new digital brands based around audience segments. For instance, they recently launched TheDrive, for automotive fans and Extra Crispy for foodies. However, Time Inc recently bought some of its audience, buy acquiring Viant in 2016 - that's the ad network and audience related to the former MySpace.

We will also explore some of the mistakes made in the build, buy, partner arena; for instance, NewsCorp's acquisition of MySpace, or the $100 million investment a major newspaper made in their digital platform, ironically named Thunderdome.

Syndicate everywhere + measure audience

Modern media brands have learned how to digitally distribute their content to platforms but also measure the reach and engagement using available APIs. Buzzfeed is the prime example, with 60% of its content views coming from Facebook Video and YouTube. With Facebook now accounting for 50 minutes of each internet users days (US) in 2016, "atomizing" your brand's content and making it available there is critical to maintain a relationship with your consumer. But how do you avoid the pitfalls of relying on digital media networks for distribution and audience?

Using digital to create new lines of business

Apple, the world's largest music retailer, takes 30% revenue of all transactions. In addition, streaming revenues while important, have diminished more profitable digital download sales. Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group have created new direct to consumer businesses (D2C) where new product offerings allow the companies to keep the bulk of the revenue while maintaining relationships with fans.

Register now for How Media and Entertainment Giants Dominated Digital Transformation

Tuesday, June 20, 2017 01:00 PM EDT
Duration: 60 min
Speakers: Chuck Fishman - Director of Industry Development + Marketing, Acquia

Categories: Drupal Universe

A Data-Driven Marketing Approach to Defining Customer Segments

Acquia Blogs - Tue, 2017-06-13 20:32

Customer Segmentation

Understanding the marketing dialect of 2017 and translating the countless buzzwords flooding the industry is an overwhelming task for many. Phrases like “customer experience” and “data-driven marketing” are just a couple of examples. But what exactly makes a great customer experience? Do you have the right people, technology, and processes in place to be a “data-driven” organization? If you feel overwhelmed, don’t be. While your peers and competitors all sound fluent in this new marketing dialect, these are still just words to many. Executing the practices will make it impactful.

There are many ways to define customer experience, but one of my favorite definitions came from the Harvard Business Review, calling out the need to focus on cumulative experiences across multiple touchpoints and channels over time. In order to do this, marketers must be able to understand how audiences interact with their brand including every click, download, and interaction on web and mobile to the types of emails and social posts that draw their attention. This means that yes, marketers must be “data-driven” if they want to successfully deliver customer experiences that will drive conversions and customer loyalty.

Marketers have multiple technologies in their stack, all with different use cases such as marketing automation or email marketing. Each of these technologies direct buyers to different channels and points of interaction; disparate data is a challenge for almost all organizations because of this.

It is essential to aggregate data from all of these tools into one central location in order to provide a holistic picture of each prospect and customer at every stage of their journey. With tools like Acquia Lift, it is possible to enable data collection on web and mobile, stitching together interactions as anonymous audiences become known. In addition, you are able to pull in data from other marketing technologies such as CRM, marketing automation, and social tools, ensuring the most complete view of your customers in real-time. But this is just step one. Now you need to sort through that data and find its meaning.

Segmentation on Acquia Lift

Here are seven types of data marketers must collect and analyze in order to get a holistic understanding of their buyer:

  1. Customer Identity Data: This one sounds simple, but don’t be so certain. Determining who a customer is may not always be as easy as it sounds - especially in the digital age. As your audiences engage with your brand, it might take them multiple interactions before they identify themselves through a call-to-action such as signing up for a newsletter or downloading an eBook. It is important to be able to stitch together past interactions with a known user in order to truly understand this individual’s experience thus far.
  2. Demographic Data: This type of data can be essential when defining audience segments. It is important to determine not only who your buyer is, but also gather information like age, gender, and income to help guide marketers in orchestrating a more personalized offering.
  3. Geographic Data: Marketers can drill down segments further when targeting people in specific cities or metro areas. Different locations may require a unique set of rules and regulations around products and services. There might also be unique offerings for audiences in an indicated location.
  4. Firmographic Data: In the B2B world, it is important to know general information about the accounts you are targeting. This will include things like industry and size of the organization.
  5. Audience Behavioral Data: Behavior encompasses quite a bit. You want to track every activity that individuals display across all channels such as time on a website, click throughs, downloads, registrations, videos watched, emails opened, and the list goes on. It’s through this type of information that you can identify patterns that impact customer satisfaction and ultimately ROI.
  6. Implicit Data: Implicit data is information that is not directly given to you, but can be assumed based on the information you have collected. This type of data includes your audience’s preferences, interests, and desires. Through implicit data, you will determine what content best delivers your customers expectations.
  7. Explicit Data: Oftentimes, customers will willingly provide personal information on their own. Explicit data includes all data that the customer explicitly tells you. This could be provided through a multitude of ways including form submits, surveys, or registrations.

Once you have all this data, it becomes easier to define your segments.

First, identify the personas you are going after. You might have one persona or you could have one hundred. These should be detailed enough so that you feel like you know the person. Be sure to include information around:

  • Who they are/ title
  • Key demographics
  • Frustrations and challenges
  • Motivations and goals
  • Success metrics for B2B contacts

Once you have this information outlined, match your value proposition to the personas. Determine key messaging that would resonate with them to help guide your future communications. These personas represent an entire segment of individuals you could be targeting. Determine which of these key segments will drive the most success for your organization as these will be your priority. If you lack resources, you can always start by targeting your priority segments that will potentially create the most revenue, then scale and expand.

Further, make sure you align the right messaging to your personas. You must have enough content to support interactions across every touchpoint, whether on the website, via email, or even through SMS. It can take time and resources to create original content if it does not already exist. It can sometimes take more time to discover already existing content when it is spread across multiple sites, departments, and technologies.

In our next blog, I’ll provide guidance around how to scale your content efforts in order to support the various segments you have identified. Stay tuned.

Categories: Drupal Universe

Content Marketing for Life Sciences Organizations: A Crash Course

Acquia Blogs - Mon, 2017-06-12 20:20

Content is often hailed as an essential ingredient to a successful marketing plan and overall customer experience. But what defines success greatly differs depending on the industry. When it comes to Life Science, content marketing success can be measured by cultivating a favorable brand reputation, increasing online leads and maybe most importantly, by building trust with both your patients and stakeholders.

A content marketing plan that ticks all the boxes doesn’t happen overnight; it takes careful planning and preparation before you even start writing. It’s a careful balancing act; where each piece of content lives -- online, off line, across channels, etc. -- and how will your customers, patients and/or prospects interact with it, all the while making sure the content you’re delivering is interesting, informative and relevant to the targeted audience.

Boston Interactive, a digital marketing agency and Acquia partner, has perfected the art of a successful content marketing strategy for healthcare. This strategy has been outlined in their eBook The Healthcare Marketers' Guide for Creating a Content Marketing Strategy and has been shown to produce results for their clients.

The Healthcare Marketers' Guide for Creating a Content Marketing Strategy

Here are some of Boston Interactive’s recommendations for content marketing success.

Keep Your Audience Top-of-Mind

Your audiences should be the focal point of every business decision you make – especially prospective customers/ patients. Conversion is not enough; in the competitive healthcare space, you need to foster brand loyalty. But how do you build loyalty and trust if you have several different audiences that you’re catering to? By segmenting them into personas, grouping them together by similar traits and qualities to help you create tailored, relevant content. If this sounds daunting, don’t fret; there are personalization tools like Acquia Lift, for example, that help make the process of segmentation and tailored content delivery much easier.

Once you’ve segmented your audience into personas, the next step to understand the goals of each group. Understanding your audience goals will naturally unveil their challenges as well.

Boston Interactive’s client, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, had a unique set of personas. To address the needs of each defined persona,Boston Interactive identified unique triggers, user goals, channels, barriers and success factors, enabling the creation of tailored content to each persona’s needs.

Personas for Vertex Build Your Content Marketing Team

With your audiences segmented and each persona’s goals clearly defined, the next step is to build a team to meet your content requirements. As you move into filling your content needs, you should consider the following:

  • Who are your content creators?
  • What kinds of content are you looking to produce?
  • How much content do you need?
  • How often will you create new content vs. refresh existing content?
  • What is the review process?
  • What metrics will determine the success of your content?

Clearly defined planning upfront creates a well-oiled content machine within your marketing organization. Make sure to outline and define your strategy, roles and guidelines so that your entire team is on the same page. With a solid content governance plan, workflows, and processes will help lower communication errors and increase productivity.

Map Content Across The Customer Journey

Boston Interactive aligns with best practices for customer journey mapping, dividing the journey into four stages: awareness, interest, consideration, and conversion. Throughout each of these stages, your prospective customers/ patients should receive increasingly tailored and specific content that will ultimately bring them closer to converting to a one-time customer or long-term client.

It is important to note that even though you’ve segmented your audience into personas, their needs will continue to change as they move throughout the buying process and funnel you establish. A good content marketing strategy will be aware of these stages and try to reach buyers with the right content at the right time, while simultaneously nurturing a prospect towards purchase.

For Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Boston Interactive created journeys around Vertex’s established personas followed by serving up relevant content by journey stage on the way conversion.

Persona triggers

These solutions are essential to create a strong, long-lasting relationship between a company and its clients. To learn more about Vertex and how to develop a strong content marketing strategy of your own, download Boston Interactive's complete guide here.

Categories: Drupal Universe

Don’t Get Disrupted: How to Assess Your Digital Fitness

Acquia Blogs - Fri, 2017-06-09 20:56

Are you digitally fit

As new technologies emerge and customer expectations continue to evolve, will your organization have what it takes to survive the next wave of digital disruption in your industry?

While product differentiation and competitive advantages are crucial, sometimes they aren’t enough to prevent a disruptive business from acquiring customers and owning the market. Just take a look at the retail industry. Brick-and-mortar stores continue to close at a rapid pace in favor of eCommerce giants -- with up to 10,000 stores expected to shut their doors this year, according to an article by Business Insider.

To stay ahead of disruption, organizations are investing more in digital to reinvent their businesses and develop new opportunities. DocuSign is a great example of this; the e-signature giant completely disrupted the legal industry by providing a digital alternative for sending and signing agreements. DocuSign continues to reinvent its customer experience. With the help of Acquia Lift and Drupal CMS, it built a personalized digital experience for its web visitors through a unified digital platform. In only four months, DocuSign saw homepage engagement increase 89 percent.

Companies like DocuSign with a digital-first mindset expect disruptions in their industry and continue to take pulse checks on the market and competition. These companies recognize that digital transformation isn’t a “one-and-done” deal, but rather a long-term business strategy and ongoing investment in people, process, and technology.

Measuring how digitally fit your organization is can be one way to review your company’s readiness for digital transformation success. When thinking about your digital fitness, where is your business now and where do you want it to be six months from now? One year from now? Or even five years from now? Establishing a plan of where you want to go on your digital journey will help you to stay on track to the finish line. Here are a few key aspects consider:

Organizational mindset and people

Digital success requires a change of mindset in the organization from what once was to what’s possible. Your digital strategy should be part of your overall business strategy, not an add-on. To create an engaging digital experience that has lasting effects for your customers, your transformation must have cross-functional business impacts throughout the organization -- from development to IT to marketing, among others functions. Outline which teams should be involved in planning next-gen digital experiences for customers and what skillsets are needed to drive success in your vision. Across business, marketing and IT, do you have the right people with the right skillsets and resources to be successful? If there are gaps, plan early so you can meet your requirements.

Process and strategy

When it comes to building your strategy, first, really think about what your customers want, what your teams want to achieve, and what those experiences should look like. Do your marketing and commerce teams strive to create digital experiences that engage your customers across new channels like mobile, digital signage or conversational interfaces? Or, are they interested in personalizing those experiences to deliver the right content to the right people at the right time? Or rather, does your organization broadly want to scale its digital initiatives across multiple brands, sites and regions to ensure brand consistency and rollout new experiences faster with a level of governance and control? Think about the goals of your strategy now and for the future, and how you will be able to meet them. You may need to align internal processes and resources to support your strategy and make changes along the way so you can move from concept to reality easily.

Technology

Once you’ve planned and outlined a strategy, decide on what digital technologies you need to help deliver it. The right technology will help your digital team execute their vision and drive meaningful customer experiences. Complete an evaluation of your current technology stack and the capability requirements of the digital teams who will be involved in your transformation. Will your current technologies help you meet your strategy goals? Or will you need to evaluate new technologies to help you deliver initiatives like multisite management, personalization, or agility? Measuring how digitally fit your organization is will help you plan for your current needs and future targets.

Across business, marketing and IT, outline an onboarding plan for foundational technology like a digital experience management platform to help you quickly develop, deliver and manage customer experiences. This requires a flexible, cloud-based digital experience platform that can scale to support digital initiatives from one site to hundreds of complex personalized experiences across the customer journey. Your digital experience technology partner should be able to help you along the way in both your strategy and the implementation journey.

Digital transformation is an ongoing endeavor. Those companies that are quick to to embrace change and adopt new digital mindsets, strategies, and technologies to support the future experiences their customers demand will be successful in their digital customer journey and drive impactful business results long-term.

Continuing to measure how digitally fit your organization is when it comes to planning, executing and improving digital initiatives will help you stay ahead of the ever-changing digital landscape and better serve your customers.

At Acquia, we want you to be successful in your digital customer journey and we understand what it takes to get there. Reach out to us and we’ll help you identify the strengths and weaknesses in your digital strategy and help you get fit. You can also take our digital fitness assessment to benchmark your organization’s digital fitness levels and get recommendations to stay in shape and running ahead of the market.

Categories: Drupal Universe

Partnership is Paramount: The Future is Open Source

Acquia Blogs - Wed, 2017-06-07 22:20

the future is open source
This is part three of a five part series for Sitecore’s partners to take another look at success with Acquia and Drupal.

Open source and cloud have been two of the pillars of Acquia’s technology capabilities since its inception. Coincidentally, it’s what brought Senior Director of Digital Experiences, David Aponovich, to Acquia from Forrester Research. While at Forrester, David lead research in web content management and digital experience platforms. It was Acquia’s forward-thinking in terms of open source that led him here. I had a chance to sit down with David to discuss the future of open source and the opportunity it presents for Acquia and our partners in the long term.

When asked about the advantages of open source and Drupal specifically, David highlighted several key factors that would give our partners an edge:

“The pace of innovation within the open source community is incredibly fast. Looking at Drupal, there is a dedicated community working to build and deliver updates, capabilities and features that are ready today, not six months from now. There is even more opportunity with regards to talent. With so many brilliant developers and engineers working on open source solutions like Drupal, it gives partners the opportunity to build a practice around it, to find the top talent and build the next generation of customer experiences for their clients. “

In addition, Acquia’s open source platform and Drupal expertise as the very definition of what David refers to as the “art of the possible”:

The discussion inherently comes down to platform vs. product. A platform is something that you build on, a foundational property, to get a greater and greater result. This is where our partners come in, to build on the platform and extend it to the point of delivering a site or experience that’s beyond what they would get with a commercial solution. Platform also means the ability to build on the success of others with things like repeatable frameworks and modules. It gives you the stability and flexibility to build whatever you choose to do with it on behalf of your customer. Choosing an open source platform also means that you not only meet the needs of your customers but define their needs beyond what they are even thinking. This goes beyond the initial build, leading to long-term working relationships and creating lifetime value. This is the nature of an open source, cloud-based platform.

Open source also opens the door to all kinds of new technology and applications, as we enter the world of IoT and multichannel, where everything becomes a channel. This is what customers want; they are looking to us and our partners to help them innovate for the future. Just look at something like Amazon’s Alexa and the idea of using content through voice UI; that wasn’t here a few years ago. Another example open source extending our platform is with digital signage in a retail experience, where you can utilize the same content both in store and online to build cohesive customer journeys.

For partners considering going deep with Acquia, open source matters because it’s the future; open source is eating the enterprise software world. It’s not just organizations looking for a engaging customer experience. Even highly regulated and secure industries like public sector and financial services industries are adoption open source solutions. This means a tremendous growth opportunity for our partners not just now, but going forward.

Categories: Drupal Universe

Education needs design thinking leaders

Acquia Blogs - Wed, 2017-06-07 17:24

Design thinking
About the author: Kevan Gilbert is the director of engagement strategy at Domain7. A facilitator, strategist, writer and coach, Kevan is a “co-creation evangelist” who has helped Domain7 and its partner organizations bring empathy-focused, human-centered design methods to the core.

The signs of life are springing up all over, and I’m realizing the potential is bigger than I had originally constrained myself to believe: We’re ready, I think, for a higher education leader to embrace the design thinking process, end to end.

I’ve seen admissions directors jam on student journey maps alongside athletics directors. I’ve seen deans and presidents share sharpies and Post-it pads. On our Acquia partnership with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, we saw staff of all stripes collaborate on a brand experience workshop that was foundational for teasing out a new design approach. These blossoming collaborations are showing me we might be ready to embrace design thinking, not just as a component of a digital redesign project, but to tackle some of the bigger institutional challenges we face.

Higher education is one of the key sources of personal transformation and enlightenment in our world, and it is facing a well-documented mix of challenging pressures. Meanwhile, entering stage left, is design thinking: at its heart, a practice of innovation. It has established itself as a proven method across various industries to solve problems, foster innovation and gain a competitive advantage.

I suggest that when design thinking and higher education finally connect, embraced by leaders within higher ed, we will see an approach adopted that has the power to lift us out of our institutional and industry-wide cycles of slump and decline, and truly embrace our potential.

What would that look like? Imagine a cross-disciplinary higher education collection (of leadership and technology and communications and admissions and academics and beyond) using design thinking to approach a higher ed problem at its root, choosing to ...

1. Identify the opportunity first, not the solution

Many higher education groups will kick off a project with a statement or belief like this: “We will restructure our academic offering to deliver on the president’s four key learning strategies” or “We aim to redesign our website in order to serve students and improve internal satisfaction” (Conventionally articulated through a large RFP).

At first glance, this seems OK. The statements identify an audience and provide parameters for a defined project. The problem is that the initiator has already decided on the solution.

Design thinking offers a different approach. It suggests the first step is identifying the true need of the user, before zeroing in on the solution.

We start by creating a simple brief. A healthy design thinking brief will contain the following elements:

  • It starts with the phrase “How might we.” This embraces openness (how), possibility (might), and collectiveness (we). With this phrase, an open-minded, constructive, collaborative approach is cued up from the outset, which is critical for all innovation.
  • It specifies the user group we desire to serve. It means not (exclusively) prioritizing the organization’s need, but instead a focus on providing relevant value for real people—a key ingredient for generating value in the market.
  • It indicates a future state for the user group. What journey are they on?
  • It doesn’t include the solution. We’ll get there. We must be patient.
  • It includes a paradox: what is challenging and worth solving?

Here are a few sample “How might we”-briefs for higher education:

  • “How might we better help prospective undergrad students feel more at ease during the admissions process by streamlining their digital experience?”
  • “How might we prepare 18- to 21-year-olds to become adaptive, nimble, continuous learners and find meaningful work, through an immersive, short-term experience?
  • “How might we help our 100-plus digital content editors to have a smoother administrative experience on our main.edu property?”

By articulating who we want to serve, and what we want their end-state experience to become, it sets our teams up to explore new creative possibilities that we may miss by deciding on our solution too soon. I’d love to see a higher education leader ready to start an undertaking this way.

2. Begin by talking to real users

Often, higher education leaders choose to act as the proxy for the communities they serve: “Our admissions team always talks to prospective students, they can represent their views,” we might say. Or, “Our communications team consists of alumni, and we’re already co-located on campus, so we can speak to the student experience.”

A design thinking process would begin, after the brief, by actually interacting with the intended audience. This might come in the form of interviews, focus groups, or other forms of qualitative and quantitative research. The aim is to understand their motivations and needs, their journey and their experience, before converging too quickly on a proposed solution.

3. Revisit original assumptions

From the brief to the user interactions, the design thinking leader in higher education would then revisit that original “How might we” question to see if it still stands up. How does what we’ve learned change what we thought we knew? How would we refocus this project to focus on the community’s true needs and provide the most value? From here, the design thinking leader would rearticulate the “How might we” question in the tightest possible way to guide the rest of the exploration.

4. Engage in divergent ideation

In higher education, the solution is often pre-decided: we need a new X. We need to redesign Y. And through this mode of thinking, new projects are undertaken.

But this assumes that all of our existing problems can be handled by applying a previously thought of approach. What if the problems facing higher education are complex? What if our industry is experiencing change, turmoil, turbulence or threat? Do the previously thought of solutions still apply? Can we be confident that unrolling a known approach is the way to tackle a newly emerged issue?

If we already knew how to solve the problem, the problem wouldn’t be here anymore. This phase of design thinking is about considering truly unexpected, unorthodox combinations and influences to arrive at new solutions to our new problems. It’s an unfamiliar, often uncomfortable mode of problem solving, but from the dozens of tools in our toolkit for facilitating a breakthrough ideation process, it’s often one of the most rewarding.

5. Test and prototype

The design thinking leader in higher education would connect back with users to show early iterations of the emerging idea and get direct feedback to influence the direction. It’s a rare show of humility and engagement and often the most powerful moment — showing our constituents we are serious about listening and adapting to their needs.

* * *

I would love to see higher education institutions choose to embrace design thinking from start to finish. In my mind’s eye, here’s what it would look like:

  • A brief would be created, instead of a stakeholder group starting pre-committed to a specific direction, and it would be human-centered, open-minded and collaborative.
  • User research would occur, in a way that enables the input to shape the overall project direction.
  • Ideation would occur — and not just contained to a specific area or element within a solution that has already been decided.
  • Testing would occur — and not just as a measure of quality assurance but meaningful input.

Don’t get me wrong, design thinking is no silver bullet. It’s really hard work. But it does provide organizations with an actual, formalized process, so we don’t have to wait for inspiration to strike, or for a hero to arrive, or for the threat to simply go away. The true power of design thinking and the design thinking process lies in its focus on people: by listening deeply to stakeholders, customers and audiences, we can shed the blinders of assumptions and push out of stubborn organizational ruts. Design thinking re-humanizes both the workplace and the end product or service, and gives us a chance to reimagine what is possible.

We’re on the cusp of industry-wide transformations that begin putting people first again, and higher education has a chance to strike the posture of leadership in showing how it’s done. This isn’t about “responding to the threat of technology” or “adapting the academic offering to becoming more competitive”— although perhaps that’s part of the puzzle. It’s about helping higher education continue to offer its tremendous transformational power by joining forces with a methodology born for transformation.

It might sound daunting, but it’s possible. Some of you reading this are more prepared than you think to put a team together that’s empowered and ready to take on an institutional or existential challenge at its very root. Here are some tools to get you started:

Get in touch with us at Domain7 to start co-designing a workshop to explore design thinking with your own school, university, organization or institution.

Categories: Drupal Universe

Replatforming Your Website: Looking Beyond a Redesign

Acquia Blogs - Tue, 2017-06-06 17:52

Looking beyond a redesign
Your website needs to be able to keep up with the times. For many, this means a facelift on an existing site. Front-end design is typically updated at regular intervals, a standard of about every two to three years (according to just about every article you find on a search for “website redesign”). But even with a fresh design and the inclusion of relevant content that follows both SEO and SEM best practices, the performance of your site may not be meeting your expectations. This is a critical sign that it is time to go beyond redesigning your website and instead focus on replatforming your digital experience. What does ‘replatform’ mean?

Replatforming digital experiences is more involved than simply redesigning. It involves evaluating the core systems that make digital experiences possible: the content management system (CMS), the database, and the servers that deliver your content to the masses. The options available to replatform present a complex matrix of choices that need to align to your organization’s requirements. When evaluating your options, consider the following three areas of your decision to find what fits your organization:

  1. Hosting: Cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS), Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Managed Service Provider (MSP), on premise
  2. Solution type: open source, licensed software
  3. Capabilities and integration
Consider the hosting options

When you start looking into hosting, there are many different infrastructure options to consider. In a nutshell, your platform approach -- whether self-managed (on premises or IaaS), managed hosting (MSP), or PaaS -- determines the level of investment in people and process you need to make to keep a secure, high-availability digital experience up and running for your customers.

When considering these options, pay close attention to your service-level agreements. Who is responsible for maintaining the hardware, software, and website code? Do these service levels align to your business requirements and current support capabilities? Ultimately, your choice in where your digital experience resides is going to be based on a variety of factors including:

  • Headcount required to manage the system
  • Investment in capital equipment
  • Operating expenses
  • Maintenance requirements and expense

There will be a balance between the capital, operating and maintenance expenses that best fits your business needs.

Think about the future of the software

Understanding your requirements today is a great place to begin evaluation when migrating to a new CMS, database, operating system or other core component. However, this is only the first step. In order to make a fully informed decision,you need to consider your future digital experience roadmap and make sure your selected software aligns to it.This is where open source solutions, like Drupal, start to make more sense.

Like all open source software projects, Drupal enables you to develop new modules and features to fit your roadmap, rather than wait for a software vendor to prioritize your requirements. Understanding the direction of your provider’s offering, alignment to your objectives and whether critical features and functions will continue to be supported in future versions should be top of mind in considerations. For example, Dries Buytaert recently posted in his blog that Drupal 9 will be backward compatible to Drupal 8, meaning now more costly projects to upgrade to the latest and greatest will be a thing of the past.

If you are considering a DIY model (IaaS or on premises), you need to repeat the evaluation of your CMS solution with your web database and operating system. Be sure to validate that the systems you choose are interoperable as you go forward. Gain an understanding regarding the frequency of updates to each component of software and the expected downtime you have per site.

As you evaluate developing the backend of your digital experience, keep your eyes on the horizon. What are the current trends among your customer base that may represent future challenges? Can you mitigate those risks today? Let’s look at the impact mobile devices have had on digital experience as an example.

For any website, responsive design is a must. According to Pew Research, looking at the United States alone, adult smartphone penetration is near 100 percent. Responsive design addresses only how your experience will render on user’s screen, not how well the experience is designed to accomplish a given task. As you replatform, will you have the tools to quickly develop, deliver and manage a micro interaction designed for a mobile device?

Recognize integration needs

It would be nice if our experiences stayed neatly packed in their own digital space but it isn’t the reality. The truth is we are speeding toward a future in which interactions will cross between the digital and physical worlds and back again on the path to gaining customers. There are three dominant ways to integrate digital experiences: APIs, SDKs and hooks. Organizations who are able to use these to their advantage and create seamless transitions are the ones who will see continued growth and success.

Interactions are not going to be driven by a single platform. This is where integration is so important. The ability for digital experiences to quickly and seamlessly share information among systems is critical. Paired with proper integration design, your digital experience can be seen anywhere. Customers can connect with your brand through mobile, IoT devices, in-store screens, or conversational UIs. A digital experience can seamlessly integrate with your CRM, marketing system, an iPhone or Android app, Amazon Echo, a wearable, or something we haven’t invented yet; an opted-in, known customer can have an experience with a brand that encompasses both the digital and physical world.

Do you know if and when your digital experience platform will support that?

Maybe your digital experience platform isn’t showing the frayed corners of age yet. While you may be well equipped to handle yesterday’s digital experience requirements, will your current experience satisfy consumers’ desires in the future? When evaluating your next move, instead of just focusing on the design elements, consider your platform as part of the investment.

When looking at your digital platform remember the three keys to your requirements:

  • Hosting model: Make sure your platform can scale for big events, meets your security and compliance requirements, and provides the SLAs as needed.
  • Software: Does the software roadmap align to your digital experience vision? What options do you have if they are misaligned? How big is the community of developers to help you make your vision a reality?
  • Integrations: The future of digital experience requires multiple systems to seamlessly integrate. While consolidation of systems may occur, a flexible system is required to enable you to choose the best of the best for your vision. Consider the availability of APIs, SDKs and hooks for your varied integration needs.

With selections that align to the quickly emerging IoT, wearables and digital assistant channels, and a scalable platform, you should be able to easily address your challenges for both today and tomorrow.

Categories: Drupal Universe

How Powdr brings the slopes to any screen with decoupled Drupal

Acquia Blogs - Thu, 2017-06-01 14:22

Any ski fanatic knows that variation in terrain or conditions can call for a different type of ski. The perfect powder ski doesn’t always translate to groomed terrain, and vise versa. To get the best experience, skiers need flexibility in the tools and hardware they bring to the mountain. Powdr Resorts, one of the largest ski resort operators in North America, required this same fine-tuned flexibility across all of their digital properties.

Powdr oversees dozens of skis resorts in North America that span from California to Vermont. However, a collection of disparate content management systems made it difficult to govern their digital properties across multiple brands and sites. Powdr needed a digital solution that provides each brand in the Powdr family the flexibility required to deliver customized web experience for their users.

Powdr turned to Elevated Third, Hoorooh Digital, and Acquia to build and design the ultimate Decoupled Drupal 8 site for Boreal Mountain Resort. Elevated Third spearheaded the decoupled Drupal development, while Hoorooh Digital supported the website’s frontend design.

What is Decoupled Drupal?

A decoupled CMS allows developers to utilize any technology to render the front-end experience (“the glass” where a user interacts with an application) in lieu of the theming and presentation layers that come with a coupled CMS out-of-the-box. In a decoupled Drupal architecture, the Drupal back end exposes content to other front-end systems, such as native mobile applications, conversational UIs, or applications built in JavaScript frameworks.

JavaScript frameworks are increasing in popularity due to the demand for more flexibility in the front end, in addition to the promise of increased productivity and maintainable code. Many JavaScript frameworks exist, but some of the most popular include Ember, React, and Angular.

Drupal can function as a services layer to allow content created in the Drupal CMS to be presented through a JavaScript framework. Drupal’s robust collection of web services and flexible APIs means that any system can consume data from Drupal with ease.

Boreal Mountain takes on Decoupled Drupal 8

Elevated Third lead the development of Boreal Mountain Resort's decoupled Drupal 8 site. Built on the Acquia Platform, Boreal can leverage Drupal as a content repository, which exposes content and data for consumption by their prefered Javascript framework in the front end. With Drupal 8, any team can take advantage of Drupal’s RESt-API out-of-the-box.

By positioning Drupal 8 at the center of their digital system, Powdr can power their flagship site, in addition to brand’s like Boreal, all on one platform. This provides front-end designers with flexibility, and allows them to customize their approach for each brand under the Powdr umbrella. This means that each resort can maintain their unique identity.

Drupal 8 also ensures that Boreal will be able to scale development today and tomorrow. Elevated Third utilized Drupal 8 on the back end to build a componentized architecture. These Drupal components allow marketing teams to easily reuse content types, and quickly compile new page configurations. This means that Boreal can continue to efficiently scale their site, and other Powdr brands can also take advantage. The team at Elevated Third was able to help Soda Springs, a sister resort to Boreal, spin up their own site in just a week’s time thanks to this components strategy.

Bringing the slopes to any screen

With the flexibility of a decoupled Drupal 8 architecture, Boreal now offers their customers an engaging digital experience that brings the mountain to any device or screen. In fact, Boreal has already witnessed a 45% decrease in bounce rate. With intuitive navigation to season passes and resources to plan a trip, 50% of users have also entered a purchase path right from the home page.

Few trends are spreading more rapidly than Decoupled CMS, and the ability to take advantage of other front-end technologies, in addition to those native to Drupal, offers a growing opportunity for digital teams. However, what does it take to bring your site off the decoupled Drupal bunny hill?

If you are looking to build an expert decoupled Drupal site, check out A Decoupled Drupal Story: Powdr Gives Developers Ultimate Flexibility to Build Best CX Possible Webinar on June 15th, 2017 at 1pm EDT.

In this webinar, Elevated Third, Hoorooh Digital, and Acquia will take a deep dive into the utility of decoupled Drupal for Powdr’s 18 ski resorts, how they were able to spin up sites quickly, and the hurdles they faced during the year-long project. You’ll also learn:

  • How a custom Drupal 8 solution cut implementation time in half vs Drupal 7
  • The ease in which Drupal 8’s internal REST API can be extended to fit a client's needs
  • The details of handling non-Drupal application routing on Acquia's servers

Joe Flores (Senior Developer, Elevated Third), Andy Mead (Drupal Developer, Elevated Third), Chris Cruz (Co-founder, Hoorooh Digital), and Corey Wood (Technical Account Manager, Acquia) will be your guides to help navigate even the steepest of decoupled Drupal terrain.

“If you’re interested in running a decoupled architecture on Acquia or debating snowboards over skis, you should attend.” - Andy Mead, Elevated Third.

Categories: Drupal Universe

From imagination to (augmented) reality in 48 hours

Acquia Blogs - Thu, 2017-06-01 07:31

Every spring, members of Acquia's Product, Engineering and DevOps teams gather at our Boston headquarters for "Build Week". Build Week gives our global team the opportunity to meet face-to-face, to discuss our product strategy and roadmap, to make plans, and to collaborate on projects.

One of the highlights of Build Week is our annual Hackathon; more than 20 teams of 4-8 people are given 48 hours to develop any project of their choosing. There are no restrictions on the technology or solutions that a team can utilize. Projects ranged from an Amazon Dash Button that spins up a new Acquia Cloud environment with one click, to a Drupal module that allows users to visually build page layouts, or a proposed security solution that would automate pen testing against Drupal sites.

This year's projects were judged on innovation, ship-ability, technical accomplishment and flair. The winning project, Lift HoloDeck, was particularly exciting because it showcases an ambitious digital experience that is possible with Acquia and Drupal today. The Lift Holodeck takes a physical experience and amplifies it with a digital one using augmented reality. The team built a mobile application that superimposes product information and smart notifications over real-life objects that are detected on a user's smartphone screen. It enables customers to interact with brands in new ways that improve a customer's experience.

At the hackathon, the Lift HoloDeck Team showed how augmented reality can change how both online and physical storefronts interact with their consumers. In their presentation, they followed a customer, Neil, as he used the mobile application to inform his purchases in a coffee shop and clothing store. When Neil entered his favorite coffee shop, he held up his phone to the posted “deal of the day”. The Lift HoloDeck application superimposes nutrition facts, directions on how to order, and product information on top of the beverage. Neil contemplated the nutrition facts before ordering his preferred drink through the Lift HoloDeck application. Shortly after, he received a notification that his order was ready for pick up. Because Acquia Lift is able to track Neil's click and purchase behavior, it is also possible for Acquia Lift to push personalized product information and offerings through the Lift HoloDeck application.

Check out the demo video, which showcases the Lift HoloDeck prototype:

The Lift HoloDeck prototype is exciting because it was built in less than 48 hours and uses technology that is commercially available today. The Lift HoloDeck experience was powered by Unity (a 3D game engine), Vuforia (an augmented reality library), Acquia Lift (a personalization engine) and Drupal as a content store.

The Lift HoloDeck prototype is a great example of how an organization can use Acquia and Drupal to support new user experiences and distribution platforms that engage customers in captivating ways. It's incredible to see our talented teams at Acquia develop such an innovative project in under 48 hours; especially one that could help reshape how customers interact with their favorite brands.

Congratulations to the entire Lift HoloDeck team; Ted Ottey, Robert Burden, Chris Nagy, Emily Feng, Neil O'Donnell, Stephen Smith, Roderik Muit, Rob Marchetti and Yuan Xie.

Categories: Drupal Universe

Announcing OpenEDU, powered by Acquia Lightning

Acquia Blogs - Wed, 2017-05-31 21:18

When organizations are able to save time and money during development, they are able to devote more resources to strategic and innovative initiatives. The ability to jumpstart development and extend invaluable resources is especially important to institutions of higher education.

OpenEDU is a pre-configured Drupal 8 implementation that is specifically built for higher education institutions. It enables universities to accelerate the development of sites by providing a “kickstart” set of features. OpenEDU is a community-driven initiative developed in partnership with ImageX and Acquia.

Open source solutions provide higher education customers with a completely different way of operating, in comparison to their proprietary counterparts. With Drupal, not only do you have access to documentation, but you also have access to the code that makes it work. The ability for higher education organizations to own their platform, free from expensing licensing fees or restrictive vendor-lock in, establishes a more open starting point for building digital experiences.

The partnership with Acquia and building on top of the Lightning distribution allowed our team to focus on the higher education feature set," said Brent Wilker, Vice President of ImageX. "Having a best in class framework to support the distribution will mean more time can be spent adding features for the schools that use the platform.

What is OpenEDU?

Drupal distributions remain a growing opportunity because they allow organizations to build on top of existing features, modules, and distributions instead of needing to recreate them. The OpenEDU framework leverages an emerging capability in Drupal called hierarchical distributions, which allow you to build distributions on top of one another. An advantage of hierarchical distributions is that it enables organizations to customize Drupal for specific industries by simplifying the building and maintenance of distributions.

OpenEDU extends the functionality of Acquia Lightning, a distribution framework that accelerates the process of building authoring experiences through the four functional areas of Drupal authoring, including layout, workflow, preview and media. Lightning helps authors build Drupal 8 sites and applications fast, and produce rich content that is delivered seamlessly across all digital channels. OpenEDU extends Lightning’s out-of-the-box functionality and provides higher education institutions with an efficient and cost effective solution for managing their digital properties with Drupal 8.

What is available out-of-the-box?

OpenEDU provides institutions with a base platform for Drupal 8 development, while maintaining the flexibility needed to support an organization's custom needs. OpenEDU lowers the continuous maintenance of your digital platform by offering functionality right out-of-the-box, in addition to ongoing support and updates.

Out-of-the-box OpenEDU equips institutions with the following features:

  • Pre-built components for programs, courses and profiles: OpenEDU is outfitted with ready-made content types so institutions can quickly create and manage universally required pages. This reduces initial setup costs as department pages, news articles, course catalogs or faculty profiles are readily available and easy to create and manage.
  • Content workflows and governance: In addition to preconfigured content types, improved content workflows and governance capabilities enables any individual, regardless of technical expertise, to interact with their Drupal site. This empowers any institution to manage their sites more effectively.
  • Easy-to-use, responsive layouts: Leveraging the strengths of Lighting, digital teams can take advantage of the four functional areas of authoring including, Layout, Workflow, Preview and Media.
  • Powerful admin and user profiles: With Drupal 8’s improved permission controls, institutions can easily govern editing access across sites to moderate content creation and management. This enables allows university experts to create content in Drupal without sacrificing brand consistency.
OpenEdu takes advantage of peer review

The goal of OpenEDU is to spark a community-driven initiative that provides institutions with the flexible accelerator needed to build exceptional digital experiences for their students, faculty and alumni. In collaboration with ImageX and Acquia, over a dozen higher education institutions, spanning across the United State and Canada, have partnered in piloting the OpenEDU distribution. These partnering universities formed a Steering Committee to provide feedback on the sector’s needs.

The steering committee advised on features and capabilities that were integral to the success of higher education digital teams. With the help of the Steering Committee, the OpenEDU team was able to prioritize features and fine-tune a product roadmap. This invaluable industry insight has influenced the next generation of extensible features, which includes:

  • Content moderation available for subsections of departments
  • Standardizing out-of-the-box widgets that can be adapted by global users
  • Seamless integration with third-party solutions
  • Comprehensive “site owner” documentation

These features will be available to organizations, starting September 30, 2017.

Take your site to the next level

Today, any institution can take advantage of OpenEDU to build a powerful platform for their digital properties. OpenEDU lowers the barriers to entry when adopting Drupal 8 and offers a cost efficient solution to manage a cohesive network of university sites.

With OpenEDU, institutions won’t be hampered with the burden of starting from scratch or expensive proprietary licenses. Instead, universities can reinvest the time saved during development into strategic activities, such as improving content, optimizing design, and developing custom features.

If you want to learn more about OpenEDU or are curious to see a demo, please contact us or feel free to download it directly from Drupal.org.

Categories: Drupal Universe

Acquia Partner Profile: Lingotek

Acquia Blogs - Fri, 2017-05-26 19:12

At Acquia, our partners are an incredible part of our success. In this series, we’ll be profiling some of our premier partners, showcasing who they are and what they do, in their own words.

We had the opportunity to speak with Rob Vandenberg, President and CEO of Lingotek. Since 2007, Rob has brought his extensive knowledge of sales, corporate and product marketing, and software development to Lingotek.

Lingotek Translation Services Lingotek Quick Facts:

Founded: 2006

Location: Lehi, Utah, Silicon Slopes. “It’s like Silicon Valley, only at elevation with ski runs.”

Number of Employees: Approx. 100

Top Clients: Nike, JP Morgan, CA Technologies, Princess Cruises, LUSH

Awards:

  • EContent Top 100 Companies in the Digital Content Industry (2015)
  • Edison Award Finalist (2015)
  • Gartner Cool Vendor of the Year (2012)
  • Oracle Gold Partner (2012)
  • Stevie Award Best New Product or Service of the Year SaaS category (2010)
  • Most Innovative New Product Utah Valley Entrepreneur Forum (2006)
  • CIO Microsoft 100 Solution Providers CIO Review
What’s your least favorite buzzword in the business now?

“Least favorite? It has to be ‘bio break.’”

What are your areas of expertise?

“Lingotek specializes in innovative translation technologies and tech-enabled language services.”

What project/work are you most proud of ? What areas are you looking to expand or invest in in the future? Ex: technology like open source, IoT, etc. industries, markets, etc.

“In terms of technology, we’re excited about what the future holds for Saas, open API, intelligence, analytics, natural language processing, and machine learning technologies. When it comes to Lingotek’s growth as a company, we’re going to continue to expand by reaching out to more enterprise clients in our target verticals; automotive, life sciences, finance, manufacturing, tech and travel.”

What environments do you support?

“We support different CMS and marketing tools including, Drupal (we’re a Drupal.org sponsor) Adobe, Atlassian, MindTouch, SiteCore, Eloqua, HubSpot, Lithium, WordPress (We’re consistently ranked as one of the best WordPress plugins for multilingual), Marketo, Salesforce, Zendesk and more.”

What role do customers ask you to play in technology strategy or selection?

“They need tools that are going to help them distribute their content globally, that’ll help them keep up with the increasing demand for personalized, localized content and a 24/7 delivery cycle. They need our help because we’ve got the unique ability to offer them real-time, cloud-based integrated technology. We’re out front on all of those things and that’s why enterprise clients like us. They’ve got a lot of silos and inefficiency and that’s what we can help with. “

What makes you unique?

“We focus on our customers’ success by offering tech-enabled solutions to help them achieve their globalization goals. We offer an entire localization ecosystem; agile, cloud-based technology, connectors, open multilingual API, and tech-enabled language services. It’s all scalable and integrated within their existing applications. That provides a layer of control, security, and visibility that our customers like. We can keep pace with the speed of global business with continuous, round-the-clock translation, agile change management, and scalability. There’s no amount of content we can’t handle. “

What is most important to you/what do you value most as a company?

“Being an innovator in a space that’s not known for innovation or cutting-edge technology.”

How would you describe the culture at your company? What are the people like?

“Screens, jeans, t-shirts, and ping pong--and sort of a global village vibe since we’ve got a lot of bilingual team members. Free breakfast Fridays--that always seems to get everyone out of bed in the morning. In all seriousness, we focus on having an adult, autonomous, yet collaborative culture that rewards success.”

What’s one random fact about Lingotek?

“Lingotek was born in the intelligence community, but I can’t really say more than that, or one of us might disappear!”

Why partner with Acquia?

“We’re a long-time supporter of the Drupal community. We’re a Drupal.org sponsor, a premium technology partner, and we’re a top 30 contributor. Our Lingotek - Inside Drupal Module gives Acquia and Drupal users sophisticated translation technology to seamlessly integrate and localize their digital experience platforms for all of their global markets. Oh, and Acquia is awesome!”

What else would you like the community and prospects to know?

“You’re not using a flip phone anymore, so why are you still emailing files out for translation? It’s time to bring digital transformation to localization.”

Categories: Drupal Universe

Content professionals, it’s time to welcome in the unknown consumer

Acquia Blogs - Thu, 2017-05-25 13:14

unknown consumer
Not so long ago, content professionals only had to contend with the Browser Wars, and that was painful enough. Our main concern was figuring out which browsers supported which types of Markup, CSS, and JavaScript, and to what standardize on. Consistency was the aim of the game.

But content professionals today are operating in a dramatically different place. Since 2007, we've been living in a world of smart phones and tablets where it’s expected that everything we build on the web will work effectively on every variation of these devices. In 2007, it took the iPhone to move us into the next chapter. In 2017, we’re seeing a whole range of devices that will usher us into the next. We’re about to hit a new phase of web development where content takes precedence and the devices consuming it are unknown to us.

The rise of the unknown consumer

Today, content professionals must accommodate an explosion of new distribution platforms. Previously, voice user interfaces like Siri on iOS were proprietary and therefore inaccessible to web and application developers. Now, devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home offer a far more accessible APIs for content consumption, we’ll undoubtedly see a massive uptake in content-driven services in 2017.

These devices are not the only new destinations for our content. There are a huge number of smart devices that are not yet accounted for. I refer to these new platforms collectively as ‘the unknown consumer’. Many of these new and emerging internet-connected devices can be content consumers. We can't predict everything they’ll be capable of, or what they can do with our content – and there's no way we can ever know because the possibilities are endless.

What does the future hold?

We’ve seen this shift coming for a while now. Drupal project lead and founder Dries has posted about it in depth, and Acquia Labs is focusing exclusively on creating new distribution platforms for these unknown consumers.

When pondering this topic, I like to explore how application programming interfaces (API) are creating new opportunities for content professionals, and how any organizations can take advantage of them.

API lessons from The Economist

At a recent media and publishing event, our peers at The Economist shared some insight into vast array of platforms they can now serve content to.

economist

Compared to just a few years ago, this landscape now requires the capability to deliver content in raw forms. Using structured data, The Economist ensures content is customizable for every available platform.

Content is exposed to different media platforms and services through an application programming interface (API) layer in the content platform. This layer is responsible for ensuring content is optimized for the design and presentation that suits the platform being targeted.

Exposing your content

At Inviqa, we believe all technology decisions should be centered around the business goal or objective you’re trying to address. In this scenario, that objective (albeit very wide-ranging) could be the following:

‘I need to be able to serve content now and in the future to devices whose capabilities and intent may be unknown to me – without relinquishing publishing control’.

It’s important to note that many of tomorrow’s content-consuming devices won’t be able to read the contents of a typical web page.

In the traditional model, we expose our content as HTML with the assumption that a web browser will consume the content, making certain decisions about layout and presentation depending on the capabilities of the rendering engine. However when thinking about the content opportunities of tomorrow, we’re not concerned with layout – but instead pure, structured data.

Designing an API

The design of an API for the purposes of exposing our content is very much like designing the content model. We need to provide methods for systems to quickly and efficiently search for content and then to extract the specific parts of the content model they require.

Since we are not necessarily expecting to be in communication with those who are using our content, it is important to provide clear documentation so that anything we do provide is clear and concise.

One of my favorite tools for this process is Apiary, which allows you to create an API model in a prototype form and to provide mock responses for testing. This can become your blueprint and documentation so that anyone who wants to make use of your content is fully aware of what the capabilities are.

Once the Blueprint is agreed, we can build the API in our preferred CMS making sure it adheres to the contract the API implies.

We also need to respect that other people are building a dependency on our content and therefore we must be careful about versioning of the API in the future to ensure backwards compatibility.

Why Drupal is API-first

Drupal 8 has a core initiative to make it API-first. As Dries points out, this does not mean Drupal becomes API-only. With community modules like JSON API it’s even easier to expose Drupal’s content model to unknown consumers in an industry standard format.

Using Drupal allows us to model content effectively and therefore refine the editor experience for both headless and traditional use cases simultaneously.

Preparing for the future and creating a legacy

This post has been concerned with dealing with the unknown, but it’s also important that we are responsible with our content and the parts of the system that are under our control.

In the space of the last two decades we have made huge number of data storage formats obsolete. A recent office move uncovered some very short-lived Jazz drives from which it’s very unlikely we’ll recover data. Physical formats are one thing, but data formats are also a concern. Can we still read a graphics file from an obsolete application last used in 2003?

Even worse is the current tendency to replatform and rebuild your web presence every few years. In my experience, websites have a lifespan of 2-5 years due to changes in technique, design, and technology.
We should not be relying on the heroic efforts of the Internet Archive to preserve the content legacy of the 21st century. It’s far too easy to consider content as disposable and we will suddenly find a huge gap in our collective knowledge that is decades-wide.

We can’t predict the future, but we can prepare for it. By preserving your content in a pure form – that can be accessed easily by future consumers – you’re creating a legacy of content that can be presented in whatever formats the future holds.

Categories: Drupal Universe

5 out of 5: Market Opportunity [VIDEO]

Acquia Blogs - Wed, 2017-05-24 20:45

Cloud_Opensource_opportunity

This is part two of a five part series for Sitecore’s partners to take another look at success with Acquia and Drupal.

Nearly all of the leading analyst firms are reflecting the shifting needs of the digital experience market. Organizations are now looking to cloud and open source technologies to reach their digital business goals. This shift extends across nearly every industry; the market is wide open and full of opportunity.

Acquia has been placed ahead of its competitors based on our ability to execute on this shift towards complex technical solutions. Acquia was founded on the principles of open source and built on the strength of our native cloud solution. This has been and will continue to be the heart of our business. We are now seeing other vendors like Sitecore fall out of favor, including being left out of the “Leader” quadrant of the most recent Forrester Wave report for WCM. Sitecore’s marketing and commerce solutions aren’t performing or being adopted by the market. They do not offer a true cloud solution, one that their partners and customers can innovate on.

In addition, vendors like Sitecore and Adobe choose to prioritize a small number of partners who are in a place of favor within their partner ecosystem. At Acquia, there is a piece of the pie for all of our 2000+ partners across the globe. We don’t play favorites and there are no dominant players here. We we invest in all our partners who invest in us. With the marketing continuing to grow, that just wouldn’t be smart business practices.

Categories: Drupal Universe

A New Chapter

Acquia Blogs - Tue, 2017-05-23 20:00

I first met Dries Buytaert in the summer of 2007. Michael Skok, who was incubating the company, persuaded me to take a board seat at a new company in the process of being formed by Jay Batson and Dries. Dries was 29 years old, living and working in Belgium, and passionate about bringing his open source content management system -- Drupal -- to the world.

I turned down Jay and Dries’ initial offer to join them at the company they were creating and be the CEO - opting to join the board and focus on helping the company strategically. Later in 2008 they repeated their request for me to be the CEO. I had gotten to know Dries much better in the meantime and realized that he was much more than just the talented technical creator of Drupal. He was thirsty for knowledge about how to build a business; his curiosity ran from business strategy to customer success, from product positioning to financial planning. I asked Dries what he hoped from me if I were to join. He told me:

  • He never wanted to feel like he had a boss - he wanted to have a partner
  • He wanted to make a difference and have fun doing it
  • He only ever wanted to work for this company, and someday he wanted to run it.

Well, I wasn’t exactly perfect on the first point, but I can confidently say that we built a tremendous partnership. Dries and I have accomplished a lot in the past nine years together. Throughout this time I always kept the third point in mind -- it is a personal passion of mine to pass along the leadership lessons I was fortunate to gain from my mentors early in my career -- and after growing the company to more than 750 people and $150MM+ in revenue the time has come for Dries to realize his vision of running the company he founded.

Together, Dries and I have celebrated Acquia’s being named the fastest growing private software company in Deloitte’s 2013 Fast 500, and being the highest ranked software company in the 2012 Inc. 500 rankings. We introduced thousands of companies to the cloud, to open source, to Drupal ... most for the first time. We grew from our first small office in Andover, Massachusetts to having sales offices in seven countries around the world and customers in more than 40. We built a “follow the sun” support team that spans five time zones around the world, supporting the most demanding and ambitious digital experiences that exist.

As measured and judged by the leading industry analysts, Acquia’s success has been rapid and undeniable. Forrester Research gave Acquia the highest score for strategy this year, naming us a “leader” in their 2017 Web Content Management wave. Gartner named us a leader for the second year in a row in their 2016 WCM Magic Quadrant.

In a recent meeting with us, an analyst stated the “Symbiosis that Drupal has achieved with the business community is phenomenal”.

The road hasn’t always been clear nor smooth. We haven’t always gotten it right but we learned to to pivot after our first ideas did not work out as planned, For example: in 2008, we had a strategic offsite meeting where we came up with the ideas for two new products, codenamed “Fields” and “Gardens.” I regard that strategy session as where the key seeds were sown for the company’s future. Shortly, we began to acquire customers and the revenue we needed to realize that vision set forth in that first offsite.

Advance the clock forward to the present. “Fields” evolved into Acquia Cloud. Acquia Cloud defined an entirely new business model in the software world that paired open source and the cloud, an often-imitated success model followed today in other sectors and by our competitors. “Gardens” evolved into Site Factory, Acquia’s unique platform for building thousands of sites from a shared code base that not only lowers costs, decreases time to market and offers multi site governance for many of the world’s largest brands, but now powers some of the world’s greatest global consumers brands to national governments.. There simply is nothing like Site Factory when it comes to delivering massive projects around the world in multiple languages, across decentralized multi-brand conglomerates with the need for unified data, regulatory compliance, confidence in security and personalization in real-time across devices we couldn’t have conceived of nearly a decade ago.

The biggest highlight for me of the past decade has been working with the amazing team that we assembled, both presently and along the way. I love nothing more than helping to grow “up and comers” and have great pride in the heights that our team has reached.

Secondly, I have taken great satisfaction in the caliber of the customers we’ve served so successfully. Our customer conference -- Acquia Engage -- has featured executives on the stage from IBM, NASDAQ, Nestle, Tesla, NBC, McKesson, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and many more. The feeling of pride for what Acquia has done for its customers, partners and employees is indescribable. I have been told by some that their work with Acquia has been the best experience they’ve ever had with any technology vendor. These are the successes that confirm our dreams and vision for Acquia. If I have a hope for how my record at Acquia will come to be regarded, I hope it is for my undying passion for customer success, and for our amazing culture of “committed to awesome.”

With this success behind us, this is a perfect time for Dries to assume a larger role. He has a vision for digital experience management that one industry analyst recently called “game changing”. He’s learned a tremendous amount about the importance of customer success, business strategy and the mechanics of running a company.

Today we are formalizing the way that Dries and I have worked together from the beginning, forming an “Office of the CEO” from which Dries and I will jointly run the company. The board has named me Chairman. We are going to search for a new operating partner for Dries. When we locate that individual, I will be stepping down as CEO. Dries will focus on product areas, including product architecture and roadmap; technology partnerships and acquisitions; and company wide hiring and staffing allocations. I will continue to work with sales and marketing, customer success and G&A functions.

As Dries assumes a more prominent role, I’m excited for the company’s days ahead. He’s extremely talented, hard working, and deftly leads a community of tens of thousands of developers in addition to his contributions here at Acquia. I’m fully confident that Acquia and Drupal will continue to thrive under his leadership.

I’m not going far from Acquia. I’ll remain on the board of directors, the same place where I started in 2007. And in the spirit of Acquia’s DNA, I am looking forward to “Giving Back”. In the past two years, I have become involved a lot more growing the broader Boston tech community and I’m looking forward to rallying them around Acquia as an enduring business for Boston and beyond.

Dries’ blog on the next phase of Acquia can be found here.

Categories: Drupal Universe

Acquia's next phase

Acquia Blogs - Tue, 2017-05-23 16:34

In 2007, Jay Batson and I wanted to build a software company based on open source and Drupal. I was 29 years old then, and eager to learn how to build a business that could change the world of software, strengthen the Drupal project and help drive the future of the web.

Tom Erickson joined Acquia's board of directors with an outstanding record of scaling and leading technology companies. About a year later, after a lot of convincing, Tom agreed to become our CEO. At the time, Acquia was 30 people strong and we were working out of a small office in Andover, Massachusetts. Nine years later, we can count 16 of the Fortune 100 among our customers, saw our staff grow from 30 to more than 750 employees, have more than $150MM in annual revenue, and have 14 offices across 7 countries. And, importantly, Acquia has also made an undeniable impact on Drupal, as we said we would.

I've been lucky to have had Tom as my business partner and I'm incredibly proud of what we have built together. He has been my friend, my business partner, and my professor. I learned first hand the complexities of growing an enterprise software company; from building a culture, to scaling a global team of employees, to making our customers successful.

Today is an important day in the evolution of Acquia:

  • Tom has decided it's time for him step down as CEO, allowing him flexibility with his personal time and act more as an advisor to companies, the role that brought him to Acquia in the first place.
  • We're going to search for a new CEO for Acquia. When we find that business partner, Tom will be stepping down as CEO. After the search is completed, Tom will remain on Acquia's Board of Directors, where he can continue to help advise and guide the company.
  • We are formalizing the working relationship I've had with Tom during the past 8 years by creating an Office of the CEO. I will focus on product strategy, product development, including product architecture and Acquia's roadmap; technology partnerships and acquisitions; and company-wide hiring and staffing allocations. Tom will focus on sales and marketing, customer success and G&A functions.

The time for these changes felt right to both of us. We spent the first decade of Acquia laying down the foundation of a solid business model for going out to the market and delivering customer success with Drupal – Tom's core strengths from his long career as a technology executive. Acquia's next phase will be focused on building confidently on this foundation with more product innovation, new technology acquisitions and more strategic partnerships – my core strengths as a technologist.

Tom is leaving Acquia in a great position. This past year, the top industry analysts published very positive reviews based on their dealings with our customers. I'm proud that Acquia made the most significant positive move of all vendors in last year's Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management and that Forrester recognized Acquia as the leader for strategy and vision. We increasingly find ourselves at the center of our customer's technology and digital strategies. At a time when digital experiences means more than just web content management, and data and content intelligence play an increasing role in defining success for our customers, we are well positioned for the next phase of our growth.

I continue to love the work I do at Acquia each day. We have a passionate team of builders and dreamers, doers and makers. To the Acquia team around the world: 2017 will be a year of changes, but you have my commitment, in every way, to lead Acquia with clarity and focus.

Categories: Drupal Universe

The Final Straw: Do You Trust Your Cloud Partner?

Acquia Blogs - Mon, 2017-05-22 16:29

Do You Trust Your Cloud Partner

You can tell a lot about a company not just by how they treat their customers, but how they treat their partners as well. Digital agencies, systems integrators and technology vendors must work together seamlessly and in the spirit of true trust to create the best experiences for their customers. These partnerships need to be built not just on trust and good faith, but the mutual benefit of all three parties: vendor, partner and ultimately the client.

It’s been about a month since Adobe informed their partners that new architecture and launch services are required for what Adobe considers key “Experience Cloud (Adobe’s recent re-dubbing of its Marketing Cloud) deployments. In talking with our partners post-launch, it’s clear they are not happy. While it makes eminent sense for any technology vendor to be prepared to provide technical support to its partners and their mutual customers, this new and potentially expensive professional services agreement is mandatory and not the best nor most good-faith way to provide such services.

One reason for Adobe’s edict of mandatory launch service engagements could lie in the fact that the Adobe Marketing Cloud and it’s various components (like Adobe Experience Manager) are not true cloud solutions. This is “cloud-washing” at its worst and changes the way Adobe will work on cloud deployments with their partners. Their complicated integrations leave too much room for failure and now it seems they are demanding an exorbitant fee to ensure success. In a recent blog post referencing the 2017 Forrester Wave, David Aponovich, Sr. Director, Digital Experience at Acquia explained cloud-washing best:

They are painting over the reality that their WCM and related software is still being deployed on site, or on a traditional hosting environment …. perhaps with a sheen of ‘managed hosting’ assistance thrown in for good measure

At Acquia, we are committed to providing enablement (both sales and delivery) resources and 24/7 support to ensure that our partners are successful. Acquia also provides technical resources to our partners. In a cloud-native world, customers buy subscriptions and those subscriptions include Technical Account Managers - akin to dedicated support experts - who work with both the customer and partner to ensure success - both getting the customer project live and beyond. Rather than surprise its partners with mandatory launch services, Acquia includes Technical Account Management in all of its pricing. Acquia’s technical account managers (TAM) work in collaboration with both the partner and customer, not one or the other. Partners get to work with our TAMs to ensure that they can work alongside experienced experts to answer any questions or tackle any issues that may pop up during the course of a client deployment.. As a result of our long-standing commitment to providing TAM support, our solutions get integrated and deployed successfully. TAMs working with partners -- augmented by foundational training from partner delivery enablement -- result in seamless teams comprised of our respective talent. We believe this is a more elegant solution focused on collaboration and communication, both of which are critical to the success of a project.

When a partner and their client works with Acquia, the entire approach toward customer success is different. Yes, we price our TAMs into our agreements (and the choice to use a TAM’s services are optional depending on the level of the subscription selected) but the difference here is that there is transparency, teamwork and trust in our partners. We want partners to never feel they are being asked to “pay to play”, especially the exorbitant amounts Adobe is demanding. We do not believe that this sort of “protection money” is any way to manage partner relationships. Customer success should always be the top priority; TAMS are included to ensure technical support is provided, not an add-on designed to increase our own revenue.

Partner success is a constant priority for us at Acquia. Our commitment to them is to help them manage and stay ahead of the waves of continuous change sweeping over the world of digital marketing and digital experiences, helping them adapt to a future where we both succeed in the name of customer success.

If this is the final straw for you with Adobe, then contact Acquia and see how we do it. Call us at 1-888.922.7842 or email us at partners@acquia.com.

Categories: Drupal Universe

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