Exclusive Interviews with Acquia Executives from Engage 2018
This year, I’ve been so fortunate to be able to travel the world and attend various events with my sidekick Laura Myers, and as sad as it is when those events came to an end, I’m able to relive those great conversations by sharing the moments here with you. The time we spent at Acquia Engage 2018 was nothing short of memorable and the engaging discussions was the icing on the cake.
We were able to sit down with various members of the executive team of Acquia to discuss their tremendous year in 2018, their global trends report on closing the CX gap, the Drupal community and how it’s a differentiator for Acquia customers and how customer expectations are influencing businesses and their service delivery model.
Mike Sullivan, Chief Executive Officer
2018 has been a tremendous year for Acquia with record sales, massive company growth and an acceleration of products that have only just launched in the last couple years. We had the chance to sit down and speak with Mike to talk a bit more about their accomplishments in 2018 and where they're headed in 2019. “You know it’s such a good feeling inside the company we had record sales growth, we had record company growth, we launched some great new technology, we get really high rankings and credit from the industry analysts and from you know many of the top companies in the world and the most successful and valuable brands.” said Mike and added that 2019 will be when “a lot of those investments will pay off so today we announced a number of new items in our roadmap, we showed a preview of a lot of that stuff will come in the first half of next year.”
A few of those exciting announcements included their new partnership announcement with headless commerce platform, Elastic Path and ecommerce cloud platform BigCommerce. “Our strategy is to really integrate with the best commerce platforms out there. Elastic Path is an open source platform, BigCommerce a leader in the space and our partnerships really include integration into our commerce manager platform which is designed to streamline the integration of commerce in our Acquia experience platform” said Mike. “People want experiential commerce they don’t want to just have the classic shopping cart experience, people now look at commerce as the place where they have to differentiate themselves in the experience layer” added Mike.
Acquia brings a uniqueness in terms of being an open source platform which was highlighted in a report on some of the gaps that marketers are feeling in terms of data and experience so we were curious to hear more about that uniqueness that Acquia bring to their customers: “we have an open platform that allows you to integrate in a lot of different ways and we’re trying to make it easy to fit in a variety of different types of environments so what we’re doing is empowering our customers to do it the way that they want to do it rather than trying to create a cookie cutter solution” said Mike.
Lynne Capozzi, Chief Marketing Officer
As I briefly mentioned above, Acquia released a global survey entitled Customer Experience Trends Report 2019 on closing the CX (customer experience) gap that surveyed 5,000 consumers and 500 marketers from all around the world. Since we were so intrigued by the report, we had the chance to speak with Lynne to discuss why they invested in the report.
“What we felt like we were seeing was there was a bit of a disconnect between what everyone is trying to do for customer experience and what we were getting back for feedback of, are people hitting the mark? Are the products everyone is making, are they meeting customer expectations and is that experience happening? And so we wanted to actually see where people are at and find out both from the consumer side and the marketing side, what did people think? What’s the assessment of how everyone is doing around a full customer experience?”
Lynne said the biggest challenge marketers are facing right now are “the gap between what marketers think they’re doing and accomplishing and what consumers feel like is not being accomplished.” The data that was captured showed that marketers felt very strong about the customer experience they were delivering but the consumer felt they were missing the mark for customer experience which showed a large disconnect. "Ease of use, simplicity and scalability" will be Acquia’s focus for 2019 and to take what they’ve learned from the report and what they heard from marketers and to build that right into their products.
Dries Buytaert, Founder, Chairman and CTO
Next, we were very excited to finally meet and speak with Dries to discuss the Drupal community and how it’s a differentiator for customers when choosing the right platform. As you may or may not know, Dries started and ran the Drupal project for 7 years before founding Acquia. “In many ways, Acquia was born out of the open-source community and so from day one we always wanted to have a really close collaboration and tie with the Drupal project” said Dries.
Drupal is one of the largest open source projects in the world with thousands of people who contribute which then translates into the innovation of over “40,0000 modules or integrations with all sorts of different technologies and so customers love that because it allows them to go fast and at the same time Acquia makes it a little bit easier for companies to consume Drupal, it makes it more enterprise great, it makes it more like other software that they may buy from a commercial vendor” states Dries. Acquia is very vocal about being best of breed. Having this approach gives companies not only the flexibility with open source but also allows customers to have the best of both worlds too“we can fit into their environment instead of us maybe pushing down a whole suite to them.” adds Dries.
Customers have been very excited with not only their customer experience but also with pushing the boundaries so our final question for Dries was what he hopes will enable customers to excel in the future: “I think it’s actually a very exciting time right now. There’s a lot of new technologies that have just come online or are emerging if you will from being conversational UI’s, chatbots, and voice to more channels, digital kiosks, to companies integrating more different platforms and so customers have a lot of data and now we have machine learning and these kinds of things that are starting to unlock the power of that data” said Dries and added “It’s exciting as a technologist given all these technologies coming together sort of, what we can do to change the customer experience.”
Steve Reny, Chief Operating Officer
To begin, Steve and I dove into our conversation of Acquia expanding its offerings from being a single product company to being a multi-product company now. Steve emphasized “that expansion has really been driven obviously by the needs of our customer’s, as our customers’ needs expand and as we move from that web content management world into the digital experience world it brings with it a whole new set of capabilities and requirements that our customers expect us to be able to help them meet and, as we do that, we’ve expanded our product portfolio and innovated our product portfolio at the same time it requires us to innovate in many other ways as well.”
It’s no doubt that customer expectations influence the business and influence the service delivery model. Some customers should be handled differently than others, so I asked Steve what those customer expectations look like to him, he went on to explain: “what it really requires is us to have a service delivery model that is flexible enough to treat customers in a higher touch model as well as in the lower touch model and then frankly everything in between and to be able to do that you really need, an aligned expectation with your customers as to what their capabilities are and what their expectations are from a service delivery standpoint.”
Steve says the bottom line is “we need to simplify the experience for our customers, at the end of the day a service delivery experience for our customers’ needs to be simple, they should not have to sort out how to navigate through our organization.” Overall, the customer experience shouldn’t be complicated and we are the ones that should be providing that experience to our customers.