Acquia Engage 2017 from a CMSC Perspective
If the theme of Acquia Engage 2017 was transformation, they can count me as one person whose perception of Acquia and their community was entirely transformed following my attendance of their annual event last week.
This marked the second year in a row I was fortunate enough to be a judge of their Acquia Engage awards, exposing me to many innovative and inspiring projects built on the Acquia platform, but this was the first year I was able to attend the event, and I was blown away by the creativity and enthusiasm radiating throughout the entire Acquia community.
The sessions I attended were so rich with diverse information, yet every topic covered was so relevant to the needs of their customers and partners,and the awards themselves, followed a brand new agenda that upended the traditional expectation of an awards ceremony in the best kind of way.
Hearing from the Acquians
2017 marks the 10th year since Acquia began with the hope to “be the enterprise guide to Drupal”, as Dries Buytaert stated in his keynote to kick off the event. What he showed us though, through a fictional grocery store called ‘Freshland Market’, were incredible examples of what seemed like future aspirations of what was capable in a customer experience, to then let us know these journeys he walked us through were available on their platform, here and now.
Using Amazon Go as an example of “how a journey can be reimagined”, he showed us that through connected journeys, chatbots, AI, mobile apps, voice assistants etc, Acquia is reimagining B2C and B2B and moving it to the concept of B2One, that will “not only create new customer experience but it will create new business models”, signaling as Dries also pointed out “We’re in the early phases of what is going to be a big re-architecture of the web”
When it came time to talk about the latest announcements of Acquia Journey, Acquia DAM and the integration with Node.js, Chief Products Officer at Acquia, Christopher Stone took the stage, but he wasn’t alone. He took the audience on a sort of digital adventure made up of real life scenarios through the use of once again, the fictional grocery store Freshland Market but uniquely, at every stage he invited a different member of the Acquia team on stage to go in-depth on how the various stages worked from their perspectives of data science, product, marketing, and content, just to name a few.
Before I left Boston, I was able to sit down with Christopher in a one on one interview discussing Acquia Journey and the new integration with Node.js so look for that go live on our site in the next week!
A New Way to Engage an Awards Ceremony
We all know how awards typically run, a showcase of nominees, winners are announced, and the audience is clapping over and over again for what seems like hours. There is nothing wrong with this model, after all, nominees and winners more than deserve their time in the spotlight, but Acquia figured out a way to do just that in a whole new way.
Joe Wykes, SVP Global Channels and eCommerce at Acquia, hosted panels on topics such as personalization, digital transformation and more, inviting a handful of nominees to come up and discuss their thoughts on the topic at hand. This was so incredibly informative because not only did each offer a unique perspective, but they showed a unique strategy in using the platform to achieve their goals.
One panel, included myself, Dom Nicastro of CMS Wire and Beth Negus Viveiros of Chief Marketer as we for the second year, served as judges for the awards themselves. During our time on stage we discussed how the nominees had differed year over year, what makes a winning nominee for us and why our decisions were so very hard when it came to picking winners (hint: they could’ve all been winners).
POSSIBLE Pushing the Boundaries
Digital Transformation was the topic at hand in many conversations, as it is an underlying theme of many events right now but Acquia went one step further with this by addressing the creeping worry of where agencies and marketers fall amidst the changes that are occurring so rapidly in the digital world. Acquia invited Brandon Geary, Global Chief Strategy Officer and John Cunningham, Global Chief Technology Officer, both from POSSIBLE, to expand on this with their presentation Less Dogma, More Transformation: Winning in digital with hard skills, hard work and hard choices.
During their time on stage they addressed the three worries likely on the minds of the audience: automation, disintermediation, and commodization, then giving their thoughts on how agencies and marketers can save themselves. The solutions they emphasized that stuck out most to me were radical collaboration, using platforms and data to strategize around the creative and most of all, “stop soft skills, work on the hard skills”. They describe soft skills as things like taking pictures of white boards and post-it notes, then emphasized the importance of the hard skills that back up ability, such as digital marketing skills, certifications and simply taking the time to consistently educate one's self to avoid complacency, allowing agencies to prove their value time and time again in the ever evolving climate.
To finish it off, these members of the POSSIBLE team took us through a recent campaign they did with adidas, where I saw them take every assumption on what must make a campaign work, throw it out the window and almost entirely reinvent how to market and promote a product. If sparking creativity and innovation in their event attendees was a hope of Acquia during this event, showcasing what POSSIBLE (an event sponsor) is doing completely out of the box, very much helped them succeed on that, at least as far as I’m concerned.
In my interactions with customers, partners and numerous members of the Acquia team I learned some valuable insight into the company and what makes its community so engaged.
Never before have I been at an event with so many customers from the higher education market, and after a bit of digging I found out there is a very good reason for that. The Acquia platform is very well suited for the needs of that industry, a story I am excited to share more in-depth in the coming weeks through interviews I conducted on site.
For customers of all kinds, they felt that the Acquia team themselves were so engaged with their needs, desires and overall journey with the platform. Acquia played an essential role in feeling more like an ally to them in their strategy versus just the platform they utilized.
As mentioned above, if Acquia’s premise for the event was to transform and inspire, I would say they nailed it. Understanding the needs of their customers, partners, sponsors and team members, they executed on creating a wonderful event that achieved its goals to the full potential.