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Despite a marketer’s best efforts to create a great digital experience, if the device a consumer is using has issues, the consumer may associate their frustration with the brand. And today, customers expect nothing less than a fantastic digital experience.
Recently, Acquia conducted some research in conjunction with technology research specialist, Vanson Bourne. With wearables now established in the ecommerce space, we wanted to identify the steps they constitute in a consumer’s purchase journey, as well as pinpoint the niggles consumers might experience using them.
Here are my top findings from the research, although there’s a lot more to see – be sure to download the research report:
- Wearable tech is now firmly establishing itself as a crucial buying platform, with owners using them for the pre-purchase (66 percent), purchase (58 percent) and post-purchase (58 percent) stages
- PCs and laptops are the most trusted devices for purchases, with 97 percent using them for at least parts of the buying journey
- Devices in general are most likely to be used in the evening and at home, while smartphones and wearable technology are most likely to be used in the morning.
I find these statistics fascinating, but not surprising. We always urge our customers to think carefully about the cross device experience and this research shows that it’s vital. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket with mobile. “Mobile first” is still a strong principle; the PC / laptop, however, is still the most popular device (97 percent) for making a purchase. I’ve always suspected this devotion to desktops – it’s a platform not to be underestimated!
Brands need to understand that wearables are already staking their role in online commerce; users are now using them for half of their online purchases. The challenge for marketers, however, is how to leverage this devotion to wearables, when the platform itself is often causing technical frustrations? The research showed that 44 percent of consumers become irritated with wearable devices nearly three times a week. This is an issue not to be ignored.
Brands also should be aware of wearables as a growing platform for community access. Post-purchase, recommending a product or service to others was nearly as popular via wearable devices as it was with the PC.
We are all familiar with technical frustrations and these are often out of a brand’s control. Irritation with poor battery life was reported across all devices, including half of smartphone users. The second biggest hindrance was the loss of internet connectivity. Device crashing is another factor and one that wearable owners reported the most as a frustration.
Our research found that consumers most like the convenience of buying online any time as well as the ability to discover the cheapest prices. A focus on mastering these elements well across the customer journey will enhance the positive sentiment brands can bring to their customers’ digital experience.
With the growth in the use of new platforms like wearables, it’s clear that a brand’s digital marketing platform must be flexible enough to respond to the evolution of the consumer purchase journey. And making that journey friction-free is important. Sometimes the simplest things can really help build that great digital experience.
Personalization continues to be a top priority for businesses large and small. Customized experiences are now the expectation. While many marketing tools exist to help automate and deliver personalized digital experiences, what is truly driving the effort and satisfying customers is content. Content is the key to personalization. It is what makes the customer experience unique, it provides value to your audience, and it showcases that you know and understand what matters to your customers. Content makes your audience feel connected to your brand or business.
Any business that isn’t at the very least providing their customers with content relevant to their interests risks losing them entirely. To keep up with the demand, marketers need to produce mass amounts of quality content: content that applies to each of your audience segments, variations to test to see what is resonating best, and so on. All content needs to be fresh, timely, and accurate. It needs to be contextual, taking in not just demographic and geographic information, but history, trends, and seasonality. Depending on the diversity of a business’ customer base, this can prove challenging. The first step to delivering on the promise of personalization is to get your content under control.
Producing great content takes creativity, research, and a keen understanding your audience. These things require focus; this is where your time should be spent. However, if your content is spread out between different systems and siloed within different departments, that time is spent either creating content that might already be available or endlessly searching for what you need. With many companies running hundreds of sites, this can seem hopeless. The good news is, it’s not.
Acquia Content Hub can help.
Acquia has built Content Hub, a cloud-based content distribution and discovery service. Acquia Content Hub sits within your existing platform yet is separated from your site architecture and presentation layer. It enables secure authoring, searching and sharing of content across your sites, departments, and various technologies.
In this ebook, you’ll learn more about Acquia Content Hub’s bidirectional content distribution that enables users to access all available content from within the network. With content coming in from and going out to various sites and systems, Acquia Content Hub normalizes that content, serving as the central canonical source for all content. In addition, Acquia Content Hub has faceted search capabilities. Saved search filters help you find and distribute the right content for your audience by organizing your content around your audience's’ interests or segments (per your filters).
Acquia Content Hub can be a major asset to your organization; one that can save precious time, budget and resources all while giving your customers what they want.
After four years of hard work and dedication from the Drupal community, Drupal 8 became a reality. D8 becoming GA was truly a reason to celebrate...or rather, celebr8. The Boston Drupal community came together at Howl at the Moon in Downtown Boston to cut loose and enjoy this major Drupal milestone.
Acquia and Isovera generously provided food and beverages (that included a custom blue martini, the IsoveryThirsty!) to a packed house.
Moshe Weitzman and Jeannie Finks, co-organizers of the Boston Drupal Meetup Group kicked off the speeches and thank yous. Jay Batson, who co-founded Acquia with current CTO and creator of Drupal Dries Buytaert, took a moment to reflect on how far Drupal has come, and to congratulate Dries and the community on its success.
Dries echoed some of Jay’s thoughts when it was his turn on the mic; Drupal has come a long way from when he first began developing it in his college dorm room. He acknowledged that the release of D8 was both exciting and a little nerve wracking, but truly a group effort and a great accomplishment for the entire community.
And the release of D8 shares November 19th with another important day; Dries’ birthday! It wouldn’t be a party without cake, right?!
Special thanks to the Boston Drupal Meetup Group, Isovera, and everyone who made this fun- filled evening possible.
Happy Drupal 8 Day! It has been a long time coming, and we couldn't be more excited to step into this next phase of Drupal development. There's no doubt it will usher in a new era of digital experiences, and we can't wait to see how it all unfolds.
Dries discussed what the release of Drupal 8.0.0 means for the community, and you can read his full post here. We also caught him traipsing through the streets of Belgium wearing a sombrero... for your viewing pleasure!
Part 2 of 3 - I got to spend a half a day with Drupal Project Lead, Dries Buytaert, in Antwerp recently. This was a rare pleasure, given the success of Drupal and Acquia in recent years and how busy we both are. In between shots for some professional video material, Dries and I sat down in front of my tiny cameras and microphones to talk about Drupal 8. In parts one and two, we touch on how we got here and lessons learned along the way, what Drupal 8 brings to the table, and more. If you don't normally take the time to watch the video version of the podcast, this week is the week to do it. Parts one and two each have a couple of nice visual moments, but part three is something very special. It's all "behind the scenes" video of us driving back to the dorm room where Drupal was invented and Dries seeing it for the first time in 15 years.
Part 1 of 3 - I got to spend a half a day with Drupal Project Lead, Dries Buytaert, in Antwerp recently. This was a rare pleasure, given the success of Drupal and Acquia in recent years and how busy we both are. In between shots for some professional video material, Dries and I sat down in front of my tiny cameras and microphones to talk about Drupal 8. In parts one and two, we touch on how we got here and lessons learned along the way, what Drupal 8 brings to the table, and more. If you don't normally take the time to watch the video version of the podcast, this week is the week to do it. Parts one and two each have a couple of nice visual moments, but part three is something very special. It's all "behind the scenes" video of us driving back to the dorm room where Drupal was invented and Dries seeing it for the first time in 15 years.
A couple of weeks ago a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) of one of the largest mobile telecommunications companies in the world asked me how a large organization such as hers should think about organizing itself to maintain control over costs and risks while still giving their global organization the freedom to innovate.
When it comes to managing their websites and the digital customer experience, they have over 50 different platforms managed by local teams in over 50 countries around the world. Her goal is to improve operational efficiency, improve brand consistency, and set governance by standardizing on a central platform. The challenge is that they have no global IT organization that can force the different teams to re-platform.
When asked if I had any insights from my work with other large global organizations, it occurred to me the ideal model she is seeking is very aligned to how an Open Source project like Drupal is managed (a subject I have more than a passing interest in).
Teams in different countries around the world often demand full control and decision-making authority over their own web properties and reject centralization. How then might someone in a large organization get the rest of the organization to rally behind a single platform and encourage individual teams and departments to innovate and share their innovations within the organization?
In a large Open Source project such as Drupal, contributions to the project can come from anywhere. On the one extreme there are corporate sponsors who cover the cost of full-time contributors, and on the other extreme there are individuals making substantial contributions from dorm rooms, basements, and cabins in the woods. Open Source's contribution models are incredible at coordinating, accepting, evaluating, and tracking the contributions from a community of contributors distributed around the world. Can that model be applied in the enterprise so contributions can come from every team or individual in the organization?
Reams have been written on how to incubate innovation, how to source it from the wisdom of the crowd, ignite it in the proverbial garage, or buy it from some entrepreneurial upstart. For large organizations like the mobile telecommunications company this CDO works at, innovation is about building, like Open Source, communities of practice where a culture of test-and-learn is encouraged, and sharing -- the essence of Open Source -- is rewarded. Consider the library of modules available to extend Drupal: there can be several contributed solutions for a particular need -- say embedding a carousel of images or adding commerce capability to a site -- all developed independently by different developers, but all available to the community to test, evaluate and implement. It may seem redundant (some would argue inefficient) to have multiple options available for the same task, but the fact that there are multiple solutions means more choices for people building experiences. It's inconceivable for a proprietary software company to fund five different teams to develop five different modules for the same task. They develop one and that is what their customers get. In a global innovation network, teams have the freedom to experiment and share their solutions with their peers -- but only if there is a structure and culture in place that rewards sharing them through a single platform.
Centers of Excellence (CoEs) are familiar models to share expertise and build alignment around a digital strategy in a decentralized, global enterprise. Some form multiple CoEs around shared utility functions such as advanced data analytics, search engine optimization, social media monitoring, and content management. CoEs have also grown to include Communities of Practice (CoP) where various "communities" of people doing similar things for different products or functions in multiple departments or locations, coalesce to share insights and techniques. In companies I've worked with that have standardized on Drupal, I've seen internal Drupal Camps and hackathons pop up much as they do within the Drupal community at-large.
My advice to her? Loosen control without losing control.
That may sound like a "have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too" cliche, but the Open Source model grew around models of crowd-sourced collaboration, constant and transparent communications, meritocracies, and a governance model that provides the platform and structure to keep the community pointed at a common goal. What would my guidance be for getting started?
- Start with a small pilot. Build that pilot around a team that includes the different functions of local country teams and bring them together into one working model where they can evangelize their peers and become the nucleus of a future CoE "community". Usually, one or more champions will arise from that.
- Establish a collaboration model where innovations can be shared back to the rest of the organization, and where each innovation can be analyzed and discussed. This is the essence of Drupal's model with Drupal.org acting as the clearing house for contributions coming in from everywhere in the world.
Drupal and Open Source were created to address a need, and from their small beginnings grew something large and powerful. It is a model any business can replicate within their organization. So take a page out of the Open Source playbook: innovate, collaborate and share. Governance and innovation can coexist, but for that to happen, you have to give up a measure of control and start to think outside the box.
The web has done wonders to make government more accessible to its citizens. Take the State of New York; NY.gov is a perfect example of taking a people-centric approach to digital government. The site lets people easily access state government news and services, including real-time public transit updates, employment resources, healthcare information, and more.
One year ago, The State of New York redesigned and relaunched their website on Drupal in partnership with Code and Theory and Acquia. Today, one year later, they’ve nearly tripled the audience to more than 6 million users. The most-visited part of the site is the services section, which aligns well with the governor’s priority to provide better customer service to state residents. Annual pageviews have quadrupled since launch to a record high of more than 17 million and mobile usage has increased 275 percent.
For more details, check out the press release that the State of New York published today.
Nous avons exploré les principes fondamentaux de l’A/B testing et souligné son importance lorsqu’il s’agit de maximiser les taux de conversion sur votre site web. Contrairement à l’A/B testing qui met l’accent sur la comparaison entre deux ou plusieurs variantes d’un élément unique par rapport à une « version de contrôle », le test à plusieurs variables vous permet de tester plusieurs changements simultanément pour trouver la bonne combinaison qui vous permettra d’atteindre vos objectifs quels qu’ils soient (renforcer l’engagement, augmenter les ventes, etc.).
Qu’est-ce que le test à plusieurs variables ?
Le test à plusieurs variables permet de tester des versions d’une page web dans lesquelles plusieurs éléments changent. Par exemple, au lieu de tester uniquement différents textes pour un titre dans une Variante 1 et dans une Variante 2, vous pouvez changer simultanément le texte du titre et l’image associée. Le test à plusieurs variables ne se limite pas à deux éléments ; vous pouvez tester simultanément de multiples éléments dans diverses combinaisons et apporter plusieurs ajustements à votre site web pour parvenir à la meilleure version possible.
Que tester ?
Tout comme avec l’A/B testing, vous devez tenir compte de vos objectifs pour sélectionner les éléments qui feront l’objet d’un test à plusieurs variables. S’agit-il de susciter plus d’intérêt pour un article ? Ou d’inciter les visiteurs à s’inscrire pour recevoir des offres par e-mail ? Dans ce dernier cas, les éléments à tester seront les suivants :
- Emplacement du bouton
- Couleur du bouton
- Texte d’inscription
Par exemple, un test portant sur la couleur et le texte d’un bouton peut être comparable à ceci :
Avantages et inconvénients du test à plusieurs variables
L’un des avantages du test à plusieurs variables par rapport à l’A/B testing standard est de permettre le peaufinage de votre site web. Comme nous l’avons dit précédemment, des changements apparemment anodins peuvent parfois avoir un impact significatif.
Le test à plusieurs variables vous permet d’affiner à loisir l’expérience proposée sur votre site. Mais avant de dresser une longue liste d’éléments à tester, vous devez prendre en considération les aspects suivants.
La seule contrainte ici, c’est le temps. Plus les éléments à tester sont nombreux, plus vous créez de variantes, plus le temps nécessaire pour obtenir des résultats concluants sera long. Gardez à l’esprit que lors d’un test à plusieurs variables, votre public sera uniformément divisé par le nombre de versions que vous créez. Si vous n’avez pas un nombre conséquent de nouveaux visiteurs chaque jour, il faudra un certain temps pour rassembler suffisamment de données pour déterminer quelle version est la plus efficace en termes de conversion.
Afin de ne pas créer trop de variantes, essayez d’apparier des éléments qui vont ensemble dans un test, comme le texte d’un titre et l’image associée, ou la couleur d’un bouton et son emplacement. Vous pouvez aussi limiter le test à deux ou trois éléments à la fois déclinés en plusieurs variantes. Par exemple, si vous décidez de tester une image et un titre, limitez-vous à deux images différentes et quatre formulations. C’est vous qui déterminez la complexité du test à plusieurs variables.
Si vous voulez approfondir ces techniques, que ce soit l’A/B testing ou le test à plusieurs variables, ou si vous voulez en savoir plus sur l’aspect analytique, vous pouvez vous référer à Occam’s Razor, le blog d’Avinash Kaushik, spécialiste en analyse des statistiques web et évangéliste en marketing digital chez Google.
Récemment, Gartner a placé Acquia dans la catégorie Leaders du Carré Magique 2015 pour la gestion de contenu web pour la deuxième année consécutive. Notre objectif reste le même, à savoir fournir à nos clients des technologies et des services uniques pour répondre à la demande actuelle et future, mais nous ne pouvons pas nier la satisfaction que suscite cette reconnaissance de la part d’un analyste influent tel que Gartner.
Les rapports Magic Quadrant de Gartner apportent sans doute le point de vue objectif le plus suivi sur les technologies et les services. Gartner évalue les acteurs technologiques au sein de marchés spécifiques en fonction de leur capacité à aider les clients à long terme et de leur performance par rapport à sa vision du marché. Le carré indique également la position relative des différents concurrents actifs sur le marché.
Le marché de la gestion de contenu web (WCM) est alimenté par l’innovation digitale induite par la demande croissante des organisations de toutes tailles et de tous secteurs qui cherchent à se connecter et interagir avec leurs clients en délivrant des expériences personnalisées et engageantes sur tous les canaux. Selon Gartner, « les responsables d’applications IT, les marketeurs, les spécialistes en expérience digitale et les marchands considèrent tous désormais la WCM comme étant essentielle pour leur mission ».
Durant les huit dernières années, Acquia a aidé plus de 4 000 entreprises à créer, délivrer et optimiser des expériences digitales exceptionnelles pour leurs clients. En plaçant Acquia dans la catégorie « Leaders », Gartner confirme que la société a un impact important sur l’évolution du marché et qu’elle offre une vision et une compréhension claires du contexte plus général du « digital business ». Les Leaders possèdent aussi un solide réseau de partenaires, jouissent d’une présence dans de multiples régions, affichent des performances financières constantes, bénéficient d’une prise en charge technologique étendue et offrent un excellent support client.
Acquia a pu remplir ces exigences en grande partie grâce à Drupal, qui permet aux entreprises de bénéficier de la rapidité de l’open source pour innover et adapter leurs propres cadres de gestion de contenu.
D’autres distinctions récentes confirment la position d’Acquia : « Strong Performer » dans le rapport 2015 Forrester Wave pour les systèmes de gestion de contenu web et Société ayant la croissance la plus rapide de la Côte Est des États-Unis dans le classement Deloitte 2014 Technology Fast 500™.
Cette reconnaissance est gratifiante pour Acquia. Mais nous ne nous fions qu’à un seul baromètre pour mesurer notre succès : l’avis de nos clients, partenaires, investisseurs, développeurs et employés. Il est hors de question que nous nous reposions sur nos lauriers. Mais nous allons mettre à profit cette reconnaissance pour mieux servir les marques, grandes et petites, afin qu’elles puissent à leur tour mieux se connecter avec leurs propres clients.
The upcoming release of Drupal 8 (Do we have to remind you that it's on November 19th?) will no doubt inspire a flurry of "how to" blog posts. Which makes this a good time to focus on some D8-inspired professional development.
One resource that recently crossed our screen came from our partners at Pedalo, the London-based Web design agency. They've been compiling a series of blog posts to help teams prepare for the new version.
Mobile-first responsiveness is one of the features that Pedalo says will make a Drupal 8 upgrade worth it.
Why not check out their 5-part series to jumpstart your personal upgrade path.
Fifteen-year-old coder Brandon Relph recently had the opportunity to help build a site using Drupal 8, becoming one of the first developers to deploy this new technology. It was fitting that the site he worked on aims to give young people the opportunity to be creative using technology.
ThinkNation is the brainchild of Lizzie Hodgson, a digital specialist and Drupal evangelist. Last year, Lizzie organised the Digibury Weekender, a one-day tech, digital and cultural festival, and this planted a seed of an idea to create an event for young people.
ThinkNation is the result. This one-day event takes place on 5th December 2015 and will be hosted by Rick Edwards, the television presenter.
Young people, artists and thought leaders will come together to look at how technology impacts everyday life and is shaping the future, with talks addressing questions on artificial intelligence, space exploration, immortality, social media and screen time.
What struck me was how quickly Brandon was able to design parts of the ThinkNation site using Drupal 8. While the miggle team has built a fantastic site for ThinkNation, they also took ThinkNation’s mission to heart by giving Brandon a mission-critical role in the programme’s site development.
These initiatives, promoting transparency between parties and encouraging collaboration, mirror our Drupal culture. We are excited that Brandon had such a great experience using Drupal. Grass roots in technology has never been more important; every day we read that young people are failing to choose careers in the STEM disciplines. This skills shortage is resulting in poor productivity for the UK, according to The Economist.
Inspirational events, such as ThinkNation, will not only help the next generation to develop the skills they need to be productive, but also inspires future digital leaders
Some of the best digital experiences are born out of strong partnerships. Great businesses can stand alone, but when you bring them together, amazing things happen.
Acquia partners with a variety of agencies, Drupal shops, and technology partners to maximize the adoption and effectiveness of the Acquia platform. By working together, we can help customers build bigger and better digital experiences for their customers.
The same can be said for being at the forefront of industry conversation. Recently we had a chance to collaborate with Acquia partner and mobile agency Hathway on the topic of using data to leverage buying decisions.
You can read the full post on the Hathway blog, but here’s a quick excerpt to get you started:
"As a consumer brand, what you don’t know can actually hurt your business. Gathering information on your customers is crucial to the success of your business. But data is meaningless if you don’t understand what it’s saying about your consumers and how to act on it.
Metrics platforms can of course give you a glimpse at your consumers. These platforms can tell you how many people visited your site, what they clicked on, how they got there, and if they shared a link to social media. On advanced platforms, you may even be able to find out where your consumers are located, as well as view some basic demographic information.
Using this information, you can try to define your consumers, but can you really segment them well enough to successfully market to them?
The answer is “no."
If you’re competing against industry giants who have a strong online presence, your digital banking experience has to offer consumers the convenience and service they’ve come to expect--no matter what device they’re using. Back in 2012, only 10 percent of Webster Bank’s site visitors arrived from their mobile phones. Fast forward to 2015, and the new standard is a mobile experience designed for users who don’t sit at their desktops all day. Instead, a brand’s online presence must be adaptable to all the ways consumers will access it, whether by laptop, tablet or smartphone.
So how did Michael Bernard, SVP of Internet Banking, help elevate Webster Bank’s mobile presence to what it is today? In 2013, his team realized that their mobile website wasn’t user-friendly and had very few capabilities. They also knew there was an opportunity to do more. They decided to create a “whole-mobile” experience, which would result in a mobile resource for customers where they could access all of the regular Webster Bank content they’d typically access from a desktop. The Webster Bank team wanted their mobile platform to be a place that people could turn to for quick and convenient information, that would deliver an experience that was as good as, if not better than, their actual website.
Their goals included creating content once and pushing it out anywhere, and building a brand that not only rivaled, but stood out from the competition. With that, the journey towards a “whole-mobile experience” was born.
What followed was a year-long revamping of Webster Bank’s public website. A crucial step toward making the project a reality was choosing Acquia Cloud. Over the course of the year, Bernard and his team redesigned 300 pages of content, exceeding expectations of what a bank could offer. Today, that content is fully responsive, designed to scale, and is pushed out to users.
To illustrate the ease of using the bank’s site, Michael shared the story of a couple sitting in a coffee shop and talking about their options for funding a new roof for their house. They’re ready to start planning, but haven’t brought their laptops. Webster Bank wanted to create a digital experience that enable the couple to quickly see their options on their phones while they sat together drinking coffee. This would enable them to use the time to review their options as planned, and eliminate the need to postpone their discussion until they were able to log into their desktops when they returned home.
After making a powerful and convenient mobile experience a reality, Webster Bank’s overall traffic numbers began to speak for themselves:
- 195,000 people using digital banking
- 105,000 people using mobile banking
- 800,000 site visits, at least 25 percent from mobile phones or tablets
Previously, Webster Bank was reaching only a segment of its audience digitally. Today, Bernard says Webster Bank’s homepage has seen a significant increase in mobile and tablet visitors, as have its product pages. Beyond the numbers, Bernard and his team also saw the following changes after their year-long redesign with Acquia:
- An improved and more efficient process for developers
- Greater brand consistency across devices
- Increased ability to meet customer expectations
- Ability to showcase products and offerings in a powerful, yet convenient way, leading to new business opportunities
In taking these steps toward a whole-mobile strategy, Webster Bank ensured its content and services will be accessible anywhere, anytime and and on any device.
You don’t have to go back many years – maybe to 2011 or 2012 – to recall when everyone was making bullish statements declaring it “the year of mobile.”
In retrospect, there was nothing bold about what they were saying; all the signs were there. What began as a trickle –We’ll get 12 percent of our traffic from mobile users this year! – turned into a torrent, then became...ubiquitous. Today, your organization has either discovered mobile, or you’ve been marginalized. The New York Times made this reality crystal clear when it declared print dead and buried in its October 7 digital strategy memo, which described the Times as having “one of the few successful models for quality journalism in the smartphone era.” Not web era, not digital. The smartphone era.
Recently I thought about the parallels of enterprise cloud adoption, including rapid adoption of Acquia’s cloud platform for digital experiences when I read a short piece The Cloud is Here, Separating Disruptors from Disrupted. The Times examined the massive cloud growth at the three cloud providers, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google. Yes, I read it on my phone.
The Times reported, “Cloud computing is no longer on the way, just a contender, or even a competitor to traditional enterprise technology companies. Instead, it is here, full force, and all the signs are that it is about to get a lot bigger, fast.” Some of the Times’ evidence:
- The collective market caps of Amazon, Microsoft, and Google grew a combined $100 billion in the hour after they reported quarterly earnings, largely due to cloud revenue growth
- Amazon had more operating income from its AWS cloud division than combined sale of goods through Amazon.com worldwide.
So, cloud adoption is growing. Fast.
Here at Acquia we see this shift to cloud and its power to drive digital business innovation every day. Our Drupal-tuned cloud platform for digital experience serves thousands of organizations worldwide, including enterprise giants like Intuit and Cisco, who’ve bet on Drupal and cloud to power massive digital business initiatives.
Even Forrester is making the call. In its newly released The Forrester Wave™: Digital Experience Platforms, Q4 2015, Forrester cited Acquia as an “open, cloud-first” vendor that’s embracing the cloud as a primary deployment option. Acquia is winning every day as organizations wake up to the realization that using a WCM or digital experience solution architected for deployment in your datacenter and supported by your IT and app dev teams, is a dinosaur model.
Just like mobile came on like a flood and left many enterprises stranded, cloud is doing the same. Enterprise applications including web content management and digital experience applications were long the purview of internal IT and app dev teams. They rallied around the belief that, just as certain as the sun rises in the East, so too should apps run in their on-premise data center. You, the marketer or business leader, want a new site, mobile experience, or digital campaign? Take a number, get in line.
Cloud has changed the rules of business and technology. The agility of the cloud is the catalyst helping established brands build innovative business models for today’s mobile world. It’s also the technology behind the new generation of power brands like Uber and Airbnb.
When it comes to cloud adoption, enterprises are way beyond the 2012 mantra of “this is the year of mobile”; we’re fast approaching ubiquity. The faster enterprises realize this and take action, the better opportunity to defend and grow in their markets and deliver modern, engaging, scalable digital experiences.
The question is: when it comes to digital experience, on what side of history is your enterprise?
What does it take to make a seemingly impossible task possible? Janin Kompor, Senior Manager of Web Strategy at Quicken and Mint, and Justin Emond, CTO and Cofounder at web design and development agency Third & Grove, answered that very question, sharing the digital marketing and project management lessons they learned along the way.
Both Mint and Quicken were running on old technology stacks, and the cost for maintaining both of these sites came with a high price tag. It was time to take those two legacy platforms and relaunch them on Drupal.
Intuit had a mission to use one technology platform for all of its offerings. At the time, Drupal was not the choice—but it would be soon. Emond’s company, Third & Grove, was hired to help with the migration undertaking in April, with the goal of having Quicken up and running fully by September, and Mint ready by November. As an added challenge, Mint was in the process of reinventing its brand, a process with a September completion date. Working with Acquia, Emond’s and Kompor’s teams made Intuit’s initiative a reality, migrating thousands of pages of content into Drupal, leveraging Acquia’s release API, and relaunching both brands in six months.
Throughout their presentation, Emond and Kompor shared some invaluable digital marketing advice about managing people, projects, processes, and tools. Here are some of our favorite takeaways:
- Align on what “good enough” means to your creative teams. You could go on and on making tweaks forever, but that won’t get you closer to the end goal.
- Take the time to teach your stakeholders, because that time will pay off in the long run. Emond and Kompor used the example of an SEO specialist going from not knowing how to talk to developers to helping lead requests for requirements.
- Focus your team on one thing and make sure you have project momentum every single day. It often takes weeks or months to finish a project, and you’ll need that strong sense of focus to meet your deadline.
- Decide how you’re going to move fast, and make decisions quickly, not perfectly. There’s no such thing as a “perfect” decision.
- Decide on guiding principle. For example, if every decision and action is guided by creating the best possible customer experience, anything that doesn’t connect to that principle isn’t going to move you forward.
- Don’t underestimate the effects of great collaboration tools on a distributed team.
- Things will go wrong throughout the process, but in the end, it’s the final product that everyone will remember.
In today’s digitally driven world, one website or even several websites is not enough to meet internal demand and external audience expectations. Pleasing the audience and supplying demand with affordable solutions, calls for a platform that can economically deliver engaging online experiences quickly and at scale. Managing and maintaining multiple sites can quickly get out of hand -- even with a solid digital strategy in place -- and sometimes the challenge is even knowing how many sites exist, who owns them, and what technology is used to create and manage them.
Higher education has an acute need for a multisite solution. How many websites does the typical organization have? One Hundred? One Thousand? More? At Acquia, we work with hundreds of higher education IT professionals and the number of sites they have to manage can approach daunting levels. Based on our analysis and looking at a cross section of public, private and large and small schools, an average institution will have close to 2,000 web sites. At the low end of the range, we’ve seen customers with around 300 sites. The largest had over 50,000.How Multisite Gets Out of Control
How can a single institution rack up so many sites in the first place? It’s surprisingly easy when one considers how many different departments and groups exist within a single institution. Each one can have a different audience with different needs that need to be addressed. Internally, each one can have different maintenance requirements and different business goals associated with it.
Of course on any campus there are the large sites that get most of the attention. These include the main .EDU “flagship” site and other high priorities including admissions, alumni, athletics, academic departments and so on. Next are the sites that don’t require a lot of time working on but are there and need to be maintained and supported. These include faculty sites, research sites, HR sites, foundation sites, and so on. Lastly, there are sites that are surprising are still “live” at all, like a site spun up for a long-past and forgotten alumni reunion from 5 years ago, for example.
One of the biggests causes for concern is that these sites, whether they’re old or new, carry the school’s brand. They also contain relevant content that your audience may be looking for, and certainly they need requisite care and attention to insure security and accessibility protocols are being adhered to. But even if schools could pinpoint exactly how many sites they have, the sheer sprawl of websites around campus underscores the digital challenges that colleges and universities have.Getting a Handle on Multisite
The first step to achieving digital excellence and getting the sprawl under control is to centralize the management, governance and deployment of all school sites. Without a mechanism to centrally manage the expanse of websites, schools are hindered greatly in their ability to drive a coherent and high impact digital strategy.
The proliferation of websites that are not centrally governed has very real implications for colleges and universities. While a few colleges and universities are actively addressing their multisite problems, the industry at large is not. This is a costly mistake. We believe strongly that the time to fix this problem is right now for the following reasons:1. Fixing Your Multisite Problems Will Save Your Institution Money
If your school is more interested in allocating operating budget to academic, research and student support services than to redundant web platforms, then this should be reason enough to fix you multisite problems. After you have a rough estimate of how many sites you have, ask yourself the following:
- How many content management systems (CMS) does your institution pay for presently?
- How many internal web servers need to be maintained (and upgraded) or how many different web hosting contracts does the school have?
- How many resources, technical or otherwise, are needed to maintain the code that powers these sites?
- How much is invested in training site administrators and content editors across all these different systems?
Each one of these has a cost associated with it and there are often redundancies. Unequivocally and without a doubt, it is more efficient and cost effective to manage all these sites centrally to get a full picture of not just your sites but all costs associated with them.2. Fixing Your Multisite Problems Will Make You a Hero on Campus
Contrary to some concerns, instituting a methodology to centrally govern your web environment won’t take anything away from end users. Instead, it will provide them with the levels of creative control they desire and the freedom from technology that they need to do their jobs better. Site owners and content editors don’t want to procure, manage and support web platforms. In fact, it’s a hindrance to them. They want to innovate and create amazing digital experiences to support the institution’s goals. Instituting web governance isn’t at all about wrestling away creative control. Web governance means overseeing the things that should be centrally managed (security, performance, tooling, infrastructure, etc) while allowing for the creativity and innovation needed to drive your digital strategy forward.3. Fixing Your Multisite Problem Now Will Mean You Don’t Have to Fix it Later
Here’s a sneak peek into the future: the number of sites your school has will continue to increase, and with it so will the cost and complexity required to manage and support them. This problem won’t resolve itself. If anything the problem will only get worse as new functionality is needed, new integrations are required, new branding and content is rolled out, and new security and accessibility concerns arise. All of this poses a threat to your school’s ability to deliver on its digital strategy, which is growing in importance every day. The sooner you fix your multisite problems, the sooner you can lean on your digital strategy to set you apart.
And now for some good news: there are platforms, tools and expertise that already exist to help you solve this problem now. Acquia Cloud Site Factory is the leading digital platform for addressing multisite challenges, and Acquia has successfully worked with dozens of leading organizations suffering from the same pains that your institution is dealing with to institute a governance strategy to help reduce costs, reduce complexity, and deliver greater digital outcomes.Conclusion
If your institution is suffering from multisite problems, you’re not alone. Colleges and universities are sprawling content creation engines with a lot of decentralized control and distinct budgets serving multitudes of different constituents. This, along with the fact that websites have grown organically and tactically around campus, has put most colleges and universities in the position they’re in now. But it doesn’t have to be this way any longer. Leading institutions are already working to build their future digital strategies with this particular problem in mind.
Any school can address this challenge and put it behind them. Isn’t it time your institution mastered multisite?
While the idea of technology making our decisions for us may seem like a difficult concept to grasp, think about this statistic shared by Huge CEO Aaron Shapiro during his Engage presentation on anticipatory design: Americans make 35,000 decisions every single day. And technology only makes those decisions more complicated, providing too many options and leading to something called “decision fatigue.”
Shapiro broke down the three key change drivers when it comes to making anticipatory design a reality: demographics, bandwidth ubiquity, and machine learning. Once these work together, we can move away from “help me make decisions” and move towards “make decisions for me.”
So what could anticipatory design look like? Shapiro used two great examples: Uber syncing with your calendar to call a car when you’re wrapping up at an event, or a thermometer embedded in a pot that communicates with the stove to turn down the temperature as needed so dinner is never ruined.
We’re already seeing the first signs of anticipatory design emerging in the marketplace. Magic, a text message delivery service, allows users to get whatever they want on demand. Say you want to order a bouquet of flowers for your significant other -- you just text Magic, and they’ll be able to find a flower shop, pick out your flowers, and have them delivered to you right away.
The Tide button from Amazon enables the order and delivery of new Tide laundry detergent whenever you need it, just by the simple press of a button on your washing machine. In the future, a scale in the washing machine could sense the weight of the detergent used, and by collecting that data, be smart enough to know when it’s time to order more -- eliminating the need to do so much as press a button.
And for Huge, anticipatory design isn’t just a futuristic concept. It’s a reality for the staff and their customers at the recently launched Huge Cafe. The experimental project, Shapiro says, is intended to examine how the digital world can communicate with the retail world. In the works are plans to eliminate lines by building an app that senses when a repeat customer is driving to work and prompts baristas to prepare their regular order. Those baristas will have their hands free to make drinks thanks to a queuing system that works with the Apple Watch. Finally, each cup would have an embedded chip that activates the billing of a customer’s credit card as they leave the store.
Ultimately, we’re undergoing a big shift in how we interact with technology. In the future, says Shapiro, data and design will converge to become an art. UX professionals and data scientists will work together to make this a reality, and brands will be the ones facilitating the transformation of products into services.
The excitement level was high during the first day of Acquia Engage 2015. To kick off the conference, we heard stories of digital transformation from our CEO, Tom Erickson, as well as companies like Princess Cruises, Intuit, and Whole Foods, and got a glimpse into the future of the web from our CTO and Drupal founder Dries Buytaert.
In the afternoon, Chris Stone, Chief Products Officer, took the stage to share Acquia’s technology roadmap, which included “the mother of all demos” from our product managers and engineers. In case you missed the action, now’s your chance to catch up on the highlights. Here are the products available now and a preview of what’s in the works for 2016.Available Now
1. Announced at Engage, Content Hub makes it easy to create content once and publish it everywhere. It’s designed as a solution to the problems that come with having multiple sites and multiple systems. Content Hub makes it easy to discover, find, and syndicate information -- keeping everything consistent across sites. It also helps authors and site owners reuse content from other sites, commerce platforms, and more.Coming in 2016
2. Acquia Grid will make scaling up easy—and automatic—thanks to a container-based grid architecture. With Acquia Grid’s automated health tracker in place, pushing out new features will be a smooth process each and every time. Using Grid, developers can get their jobs done faster, while Acquia automates the hard work of provisioning and ensuring maximum uptime.
3. In addition, we’re working on a new Cloud UI, built on principles of API-first and responsive design and designed to handle orders-of-magnitude more applications. It can be customized in many ways, and itself utilizes AngularJS on the frontend and Drupal on the backend. It reflects our passion on decoupled Drupal, which gives site builders the freedom to use the front-end technologies they desire to build digital experiences.
4. A card-based, fully responsive, developer experience for the next-generation of Acquia Cloud development tools is a game changer enabling site builders to easily deliver more websites and applications at scale. This environment is highly secure and compliant with a number of standards and certifications, including PCI and HIPAA.
5. With the new Acquia Lightning distribution of Drupal 8, we’re empowering editorial teams by giving them the tools to create great authoring experiences. With a responsive layout and the ability to spin out content to multiple sites, distribution challenges will become a thing of the past. Lightning will provide a rich set of capabilities, such as workflow, drag-and-drop layouts and the ability to comment directly in the CMS, effectively cutting email out of the equation. It also seamlessly integrates with other Acquia products.
6. Later next year, keep an eye out for updates to Acquia Lift. Lift is all about understanding the site visitor to create a highly customized, contextualized user journey. By creating unified customer profiles with information such as location, behavior, and interests, and further organizing those profiles into segments l, marketers can better grasp the needs of their audience. It’s all about serving up the right content, to the right user, in the right place, at the right time.
At Acquia Engage, our annual customer and partner conference held last week, Cisco's Jamal Haider spoke about the tremendous savings ($400 million USD!) that came from building its support community on the Acquia Platform and Drupal. The company transformed its support organization into a valuable self-service portal for customers, leading to a 77% deflection rate for customer service calls.
Using Cisco's support community, customers can access detailed, multilingual technical information on all of the company's products and services, including advice from experts, events, documents and videos. The site boasts more than 38 million visits a year and 600,000 active users. It is faster, more flexible and more user-friendly than ever before. In addition to massive cost savings, Haider cites Drupal's feature velocity as a main reason for the company's move away from Jive.