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Updated: 3 hours 42 min ago

Cracking Mobile Commerce Myths

6 hours 8 min ago

There’s no question: Mobile commerce matters.

In addition to driving half of all ecommerce traffic, mobile accounted for 30 percent of all US retail ecommerce sales in a recent three-month period. For some retailers, mobile accounted for as much as 40 percent.

What’s more, approximately 40 percent of all digital sales were “cross-device” –meaning consumers used more than one device in the purchase journey.

Despite this irreversible trend, less than a third of North American companies have a mobile strategy that looks ahead at least 12 months. This is partially due to mobile myths that prevent a business from making the organizational changes and investments required to maximize their mobile mojo. Let’s break down a few of the most common mobile commerce myths.

Myth: Mobile is a separate channel
Truth: Shoppers don’t think in terms of channels. They think of “the Web” and use their preferred device of the moment. Mobile is a key player in the customer journey. “Multi-screening,” or using multiple devices to research, evaluate, and complete a purchase is common. Criteo reports 68 percent of shoppers use multiple devices to purchase a product at least half of the times they shop online.

Mobile devices also serve as a bridge between digital and physical, connecting consumers to the content, pricing information, and offers that influence their purchase decisions. Google reports 84 percent of smartphone owners use their device in-store. Almost half are on their devices for 15 minutes or longer while they are in-store shopping. One in three prefer to look up their own information rather than ask shop employees, and shoppers who use mobile in-store buy 25 to 50 percent more than those who don’t.

Marketers that don’t recognize mobile’s role in the overall customer journey – both digital and physical – may erroneously believe mobile is its own channel, and silo people, technology and budget. This leads to underinvested mobile projects, and poor, non-integrated customer experiences. This can adversely impact ROI, reinforcing the notion that “mobile doesn’t matter – just look at the numbers.”

Myth: Mobile is an extension of ecommerce
Truth: Some see mobile and desktop as a unified digital front, while others consider the mobile experience as just a scaled-down version of the desktop experience. This often leads to mobile sites that are not designed to serve the unique navigational, informational, and functional needs of the mobile context.

In such organizations, mobile technology, design, and maintenance may even be outsourced, further siloing mobile and Web teams, and disconnecting the customer experience. For example, changes to the desktop site may not update to mobile in real-time.

Myth: Mobile is about Millennials
Truth: Chances are you know (or are) a Millennial that’s glued to his or her smartphone at all times. While Millennials have grown up with technology and live their lives through apps, they’re not the only mobile Web users and shoppers. Boomers and seniors are mobile shoppers, too, with one in four mobile shoppers over the age of 55 (proportional to their share of the US population). The fastest growing cohort of mobile users is age 46-54. Businesses that believe that mobile is only for the Forever 21s, Starbucks, and Apples of the world, but not for their target age demographic, are misinformed.

Myth: “Tablets are like smartphones” or “Tablets are like desktop”
Truth:Tablets are the in-between device – the mobile-ness and touch screen-convenience of a smartphone without the constraints of the tiny screen size. They render desktop versions of a regular site fairly well, so it’s tempting to make tablet design and optimization a low priority – or no priority at all.

According to the Monetate Ecommerce Quarterly Report, global conversion rates between tablet and desktop are very close (2.51 percent vs 2.71 percent respectively), compared to smartphone conversion rates of just under 1 percent.

Average order values for tablet shoppers have surpassed desktop for fashion/luxury and mass merchant categories, according to Criteo. For every $100 spent on desktop, Criteo reports that, on average, tablets drive $114 and $102 respectively. When experiences have been optimized for tablets, the results are even higher.

Econsultancy found only 37 percent of marketers report they understand the nuances of how their customers use tablets and smartphones differently. Without this understanding, it’s easy to make the assumption that they’re the same or similar.

Failure to appreciate that tablets are valuable and deliver their own experience (both in form factor and user context) leads to a lazy design strategy. This can mean either letting the tablet’s browser auto-scale down the desktop site, or design a tablet-sized version of the mobile site. This translates to sub-optimal customer experience, satisfaction, and conversion.

Myth: There’s still time
Truth: The fact that the majority of transactions still occur on desktop is not justification to delay investment in mobile development and optimization, and doesn’t mean the customer is satisfied with the status quo. And it’s somewhat alarming that, given the importance of mobile, 49 percent of businesses report they don’t understand how mobile fits into the customer journey (Econsultancy).

Mobile has arrived, and it’s only increasing in importance to the customer. Mobile strategy should be highly important to your online business, and appreciated as an integral part of both the digital and physical experience, while requiring its own consideration of mobile’s contextual role in the customer journey.

Categories: Drupal News

Giving back and making money

1 September 2015 - 12:29am

It's not easy to build an Open Source software company.

Canonical recently has made a change to its intellectual property policy. The new policy prevents developers from distributing altered binary versions of Ubuntu. Users are still allowed to distribute unaltered Ubuntu freely, but if they make changes to Ubuntu, Canonical wants developers to either go through a review process or remove all references to Canonical trademarks, Canonical logos, and proprietary software and recompile the Ubuntu archive without any of those.

This change has caused friction with the Open Source community; many are not happy with these restrictions as it goes against the culture of Open Source sharing and collaboration. After all, Ubuntu itself is built on top of the work of hundreds of thousands of Open Source developers, and now Ubuntu is making it difficult for others to do the same.

Canonical's stated intention is to protect its trademarks and reputation; they don't want anyone to call something "Ubuntu" when it's not actually "Ubuntu". I understand that. That aside, many understand that the unstated goal is to make money from licensing deals. The changes affect organizations that base their custom distributions on Ubuntu; it's easier to buy a license from Canonical than to figure how to remove all the trademarks, proprietary software, logos, etc.

Jono Bacon, Canonical's former community manager, wrote a balanced post about the situation.

My thoughts? I understand Canonical has to find ways to make money. Most companies are downright greedy, but not Canonical or Mark Shuttleworth. I find the Open Source community "penny wise and pound foolish" about the situation.

I can relate because Canonical, like Acquia, is among a small group of Open Source companies that try to do good and do well at scale. We invest millions of dollars each year contributing to Open Source: from engineering, to marketing, to sponsoring community events and initiatives. It is not easy to build a software company on Open Source, and we all struggle to find the right balance between giving back and making money. This is further complicated when competitors choose to give back less or don't give back at all. Companies like Canonical and Acquia are good for Open Source, and helping them find that balance is key. Don't forget to support those that give back.

Categories: Drupal News

Digital Experience Government Must #3: Implementing Personalization

29 August 2015 - 1:37am
Personalization for Government: Where to Start

The first steps of creating a personalization strategy involve observing your users and collecting basic user data. If you can find out basic demographic information, and a basic browsing history (both on your site and across the web), then you’ll start to understand not only what types of people are visiting your website, but why. Once you have enough background information, you can start to implement some personalization initiatives, like AB testing. This involves making a simple modification of an element or elements from any given web page and tracking user behavior given the two different test elements - ‘A’ and ‘B’. The elements could be things like different headlines, or different calls-to-action, which you’ll measure against each other to see which is more effective. Effectiveness is measured by number of actions taken, and AB testing will help you determine which action - A or B - will be more effective.

The other keys to introducing personalization are segmentation and profiling.This sounds a little scary to some people in government, but a lot of that has to do with a misunderstanding of what those terms mean in this context. Profiling and segmentation are simply ways to group like users so that they are aligned by behaviors and other defining characteristics. Let’s say, for example, that you have a group of users coming to your site from Washington DC. You see that they’re coming from the DC area, so that may become a geographic segment that you identify. Maybe you want to further narrow that segment down to users that are coming from DC AND have a .gov domain. That may be a segment of users that you can safely determine are government employees, given their defining information. You can also segment users based on behavior, either off-site or on, which tells you what content and information they’re looking for. If you’ve got content on your site that you’ve worked with your development team to align with taxonomy or to a categorization of different types of audience interests, it’s nice to be able to see a certain group of users looking at that specific content - especially when it’s the right group of users!

The other aspect of personalization that’s important here is tying in information about users from other sources. Information collected online comprises one data set, but you may also have data collected from in-person interactions, or through call center conversations. Being able to merge all of these different data sets into one database will help you make the most of your personalization strategy.

The ultimate goal here is to collect and use customer data to inform how you build the citizen experience. The more information you can collect, the more personalization you can apply, and the happier your users will be.

Citizen Personalization in Action Today

The State of New York homepage is a great example of personalization on a government website. If you go to their homepage, it actually shows you information that is specific to your geographic location in New York. If your browser can’t determine where you are physically, then you can type in your zip code for accurate details. While this is very basic personalization, it’s certainly a start. Once the State of New York homepage knows where you are, you’ll see things like jobs available or events happening in your area. It can also tell you whether the subway or rail system is having any issues.

The country of Aruba is another great personalization example. They have a tourism website that uses personalization based on the time of day you’re browsing. So depending on when you visit the site, you’ll see imagery that is consistent with the time of day wherever you are. Browsing at night? Maybe you’ll see a beautiful moonlit beach. Browsing in the morning? You might see a sunrise shining through some palm trees. It’s very subtle, but it’s a nice way to tailor the experience.

Personalization in Government: How to Implement

Government organizations that are considering making any changes to their digital experiences should consider personalization early on, during the discovery phase when you’re identifying the objectives of your project. If personalization is a priority, it needs to start from the very beginning. Utilizing a tool like Acquia Lift to track people’s behavior and collect user data is a great place to start, and from there you can plan and launch initial personalization initiatives.

It’s important to remember that personalization isn’t just a switch you can flip and forget about, it’s a practice that you have to engage in constantly. You need to continue monitoring user behavior on your site, and continue optimizing and re-optimizing content based on the behaviors you observe. The more you learn, the better you can personalize, and the more refined your citizen experience will become.

In the next post in this series on the New Digital Experience Government, I’ll explore Must #4: Omnichannel.

Categories: Drupal News

Les critères de choix d’un fournisseur Drupal

26 August 2015 - 11:44pm

Pour ceux qui n’ont qu’une connaissance superficielle de l’univers Drupal, il est difficile de comprendre le travail d’un spécialiste Drupal. Est-ce que tous les spécialistes Drupal font la même chose ? Ont-ils tous les mêmes compétences ? Offrent-ils tous les mêmes possibilités ? La réponse à toutes ces questions est non. En voici la raison : l’expertise des spécialistes Drupal – exactement comme les autres développeurs – peut se limiter à certaines fonctionnalités. Les services proposés par divers fournisseurs Drupal peuvent donc être sensiblement différents.

Si vous n’avez qu’une connaissance limitée du paysage Drupal, sélectionner un fournisseur Drupal pour votre prochain projet de site web peut poser de réelles difficultés. Voici donc cinq questions à vous poser avant d’arrêter votre choix.

1. Les compétences du fournisseur correspondent-elles aux besoins de mon projet ?
Avant même d’envisager des fournisseurs, vous devez savoir quelles sont les capacités requises pour mener efficacement à bien votre projet. Vous devez connaître l’ampleur et la complexité de votre projet, et déterminer si l’expérience et l’expertise de chacun des fournisseurs potentiels sont adaptées.

2. De quels spécialistes Drupal le fournisseur dispose-t-il ?
Tous les spécialistes Drupal ne se valent pas ! Une fois que vous avez déterminé le type et la portée de votre projet, vous devez trouver le ou les rôles Drupal appropriés. Il peut s’agir de constructeurs de site, de créateurs de thème et de développeurs front-end, de développeurs back-end ou d’architectes techniques. Cet article sur la constitution d’une équipe Drupal efficace est une excellente base pour commencer.

3. Le fournisseur possède-t-il une expérience solide ?
Malgré leur absence d’expérience réelle, de nombreux fournisseurs n’hésitent pas à affirmer qu’ils sont capables de porter un projet Drupal en s’imaginant que leur équipe pourra apprendre sur le tas. Pour autant, le cadre Drupal exige une expertise spécifique qui ne peut pas s’improviser. Il est important de choisir un fournisseur qui possède une solide expérience dans le domaine Drupal, ou mieux encore, un fournisseur qui ne travaille que sur des projets Drupal. Si, pour une quelconque raison, vous n’êtes pas en mesure de travailler avec un fournisseur expérimenté, la meilleure option consiste à faire intervenir un expert Drupal à des moments clés tout au long de votre projet, notamment :

  • Découverte et architecture technique – pour établir quel type de site vous allez construire et comment
  • Début du développement – pour vérifier que vous démarrez avec les outils et les processus adaptés
  • Audit de code en cours de projet – pour vous assurer que vous êtes sur la bonne voie et repérer les problèmes avant qu’ils ne se concrétisent
  • Audits de sécurité et de performance – pour vérifier le code quelques semaines avant le freeze

4. Les membres de l’organisation du fournisseur sont-ils actifs dans la communauté Drupal ?
Drupal étant une plateforme open source, il est facile de savoir si les membres d’une organisation sont actifs au sein de la communauté Drupal. Consulter un profil sur LinkedIn fait partie des vérifications de routine lors de l’embauche d’un nouveau collaborateur. De même, vous pouvez vous rendre sur Drupal.org et étudier le profil du fournisseur et ceux des développeurs qu’il emploie. Dans ces derniers, recherchez en premier lieu depuis combien de temps ils appartiennent à la communauté, les projets sur lesquels ils ont déjà travaillé et leurs publications (commentaires, questions et réponses postés).

Vous pouvez également effectuer une recherche sur Drupal Marketplace pour trouver des fournisseurs de services Drupal de toutes sortes.

5. Le fournisseur dispose-t-il de développeurs certifiés Acquia ?
Acquia a mis au point un programme de certification pour résoudre précisément le problème soulevé dans cet article : comment trouver un bon développeur Drupal ? Les développeurs certifiés Acquia ont prouvé qu’ils ont compris Drupal en passant et en réussissant des tests très rigoureux. Depuis le début de ce programme en 2014, les entreprises sont de plus en plus nombreuses à exiger des développeurs certifiés Acquia dans leurs appels d’offres de manière à garantir que leurs projets Drupal sont confiés à des développeurs hautement qualifiés.

Pour en savoir plus, vous pouvez consulter notre livre blanc 5 questions à se poser avant d'engager un fournisseur Drupal.

Categories: Drupal News

Why Engage? A Skeptical Acquian's Change of Heart

25 August 2015 - 11:07pm

We hosted our inaugural digital customer conference, Engage, in the fall of 2014. The event brought more than 500 customers, Acquians, partners, and other attendees together for three days of content-packed sessions, keynotes, and some crazy musical fun. Since the event went so well in its first year, we decided to do it again.

With the prevalence of conferences focusing on digital these days, it’s challenging to convey the unique value of a particular event. What’s the special value of this event? Why should business executives pay for a ticket? With everyone’s time at an absolute premium, if you can’t convey the value, you won’t sell any seats.

When we announced this event to Acquia staff last year, our marketing team was faced with a lot of questions. How was Sales supposed to sell something they knew nothing about? How could they possibly relay the value of an event we’d never held before? Why should they devote precious hours of their day that could be dedicated to closing deals, instead to selling a conference that may or may not be a success?

This perspective as relayed to me by Sean Burns, Regional Manager for NGOs and Non-Profits at Acquia. Sean admitted to being a skeptic at the outset of this initiative: “I was really reluctant to push Engage at first. It came out looking like a big marketing campaign to gather hundreds of customers together, but it fell on sales to actually make that happen. I thought: We already have enough on our plates, why should we pitch an event we know nothing about? I didn’t know if it would be a good experience for my customers, so I didn’t want to push it.”

His skepticism was shared by others on the team. It wasn’t until Burns was able to take part in the event that his perspective changed. “I was pleasantly surprised to see the value for customers at this event. The sessions I attended had quality content, but what really stood out was the conversations between customers, who were either making new connections or having meaningful conversations with peers about their own digital experiences.”

We talked at length about the attendee benefits, which included taking part in a great collaborative environment, networking, and comparing digital strategies with peers within your industry, or learning how businesses in different industries are managing their digital experiences. It gives attendees a chance to learn from others, and determine whether these new insights might be able to help shape and inform their own digital strategies.

Since his 180-degree change in perspective, I asked Sean how he’s been pitching the event this year. Sean says he tells the same story of how last year’s inaugural event converted him from a skeptic into one of the event’s most passionate advocates.

I asked Sean to share a list of the three most powerful reasons for attending Engage:

  • Professional Development: Having the opportunity to meet people in your peer group, and having collaborative, constructive conversations about digital.
  • Drupal Talk: If you’re already utilizing Drupal, learning how other organizations are leveraging this open source platform. Or, if you’re a business considering Drupal and Acquia adoption, having the opportunity to learn about Drupal and its global community.
  • Thought Leadership: Last year we had a some incredible keynote speakers, including Ethan Marcotte, who examined industry trends on a larger scale, Kristina Halvorson, who discussed the importance of content strategy, and Simon Mainwaring, who explained how to connect with the consumer by “scaling intimacy.”

This year you’ll get to hear Lisa Welchman, Jake Sorofman, and Daniel Pink in our keynote slots, along with many other industry thought leaders across a variety of industries. Check out the Engage site for a full rundown of speakers and sessions.

Considering Engage 2015? Take it from Sean - you won’t regret it. You digital future is waiting!

Categories: Drupal News

Your CMS is on Fire. How Burning Platforms Kill Your Digital Strategy

24 August 2015 - 10:57pm

Remember the web content management systems of yore… TeamSite, Vignette, Percussion, RedDot, Stellent, Interwoven, Sharepoint, Tridion, Fatwire. Are you using one of them? Many even using a couple of them? We call these “burning platforms”, and unless you put out the flames, your digital strategy is going nowhere while you continue to use them.

It’s pretty clear that every organization is going through the journey of digital transformation, and web content management remains a foundational technology. Gartner says that “web content management remains a vibrant and growing market, fueled by the aspirations of digital strategists on the demand side and continuous innovation on the supply side. IT application leaders, marketers, digital experience specialists and merchandisers all now view WCM as mission critical.”

While web content management remains an important priority, many companies are still fighting the fires burning on these dying platforms. Sometimes spotting a burning platform is easy, like when a vendor announces the “end of life” for a product. For example, EMC/Documentum was pretty clear when they killed Documentum Web Publisher in favor of a partnership with Fatwire in 2010.

But often vendors aren't completely transparent about the future of a product, like in the case of OpenText, who bought Vignette in 2009. At the time, OpenText owned RedDot (rebranded as Web Solutions), and post-acquisition it owned two directly competitive products. The acquisition press release claimed Open Text would continue to support both products, but that didn't happen. Vignette sort-of survived, while RedDot received no investment and has been a dead product for years.

Acquisitions are a common cause of burning platforms, like HP/Autonomy acquiring Interwoven TeamSite and Oracle acquiring Stellent and Fatwire. Ektron will soon suffer a similar fate post EPiServer acquisition. It makes no sense for vendors to maintain overlapping products, no matter what you read in a press release, or see on a PowerPoint slide. Sometimes burning platforms come from vendors like Percussion and SDL Tridion, who simply haven’t been able to keep pace with the rapidly evolving digital business requirements, and can’t afford to invest in their products at a level to keep them competitive.

Maybe the most common cause of a burning platform is when organizations attempt to maintain multiple web content management systems. For example, when global multinational organizations let lines of businesses make their own technology decisions, or when companies make acquisitions and don’t standardize on a single platform.

Regardless of what causes the burning platform, it creates significant pain for customers, starting with cost. How much are you paying in annual license, maintenance and support fees across all the web content management systems you are using? Not to mention the cost of disparate teams with different skillsets required to develop and manage these various platforms.

Enterprise software vendors typically charge 20% of the initial license fee annually for product updates and customer support. In the case of burning platforms, the vendor is providing bare-bones support, and the product is seeing little, if any, innovation. This is the dirty little secret of enterprise software… killing a product is usually profitable! Customers will keep paying their annual maintenance bill for many years, while the vendor scales back R&D and support investments. This greatly increases margin and profit for the vendor, as they fight to hold onto the customer revenue stream for as long as possible.

In addition to the annual maintenance bill, being stuck with a burning platform is costly to maintain and adding new features to the website can be prohibitively expensive. Finding skilled resources with burning platform experience is nearly impossible. For example, here’s a look at indeed.com job trends for enterprise web content management systems, going all the way back to 2006. (By the way, 2009 looks to have been a GREAT year to be a Vignette developer!)

Another cause of burning platforms is a “Do it Yourself” approach. Some organizations have grown so frustrated with legacy proprietary software that they look to build a web content management system on their own. The hope that cost will be more easily managed, and that they will gain greater flexibility and control over their future. While DIY projects often start well, they are difficult to maintain over time, as the tribal knowledge of the original development team leaves the organization, and just keeping the platform running is a chore.

Perhaps the most significant challenge of living with a burning platform is the opportunity cost of stagnant innovation. Burning platforms built on legacy architectures can’t keep pace with even modern requirements, like cloud delivery, security, responsive design, personalization, and integration with existing applications. While companies on burning platforms struggle to simply keep the lights on, competitors with modern web content management systems such as Drupal can focus on innovation, and the overall customer experience.

So why do companies continue to live with burning platforms when spotting them is so easy?

Analysts like Gartner and Forrester Research closely cover the web content management market, and produce research every 12-18 months or so covering the state of the WCM market. These reports are somewhat of a report card on the performance of a vendor relative to their competitors. For example, looking at the 2015 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management, it’s clear that only a few vendors, including Acquia, are demonstrating strong momentum. The majority of the rest, like OpenText, SDL, Oracle, IBM, and HP continue their slow decline.

While switching to a more modern platform takes time, planning, and investment, it’s simply the only solution to extinguish the flames of the burning platform within your organization. The State of Georgia switched from Vignette to Acquia, at a projected cost savings of nearly $5,000,000 over 5 years. The City of LA is currently migrating from Oracle/Stellent to Acquia. Every week I learn of new companies moving from their legacy burning platform to Acquia, and it makes me smile. Because once you make that move, your organization can get back to navigating the journey of digital transformation.

Categories: Drupal News

Digital Experience Government Must #3: Privacy and Personalization

21 August 2015 - 12:34am

Personalization of user experience will be the next major paradigm shift in government IT.

Imagine a strong hurricane is about to affect your region. You, like many people, are not as prepared as you could be. The storm is projected to make landfall within the next week and you start to go into panic mode about your lack of preparation. You have questions, too, about your flood insurance, FEMA, evacuation, and your children and pets. The TV news suggests online resources like Ready.gov, and you take some time on your lunch break surfing around the site for information. Later in the day you go back to the site, and even when you take your laptop home, you open your browser again to get more information.

Would you want your experience on Ready.gov to be tailored to your geographic region, the fact that you are a homeowner with kids and pets, and to be presenting you the kind of relevant, specific disaster preparedness information you have already shown interest in through your past browsing activity? I certainly would. Otherwise I would waste time clicking through all sorts of stuff I wasn’t interested in just to find relevant information every time I visited the site.

It’s not difficult to extend this type of scenario across many use cases:

  • Veterans and their families having improved access to relevant benefits and services (think mental health vs. survivors benefits)
  • Business owners being guided through the maze of licensing, permits, and other regulatory affairs (restaurateur vs. daycare provider)
  • New residents and visitors to a region looking for information on activities and services (sports fanatics vs. families with small children)

Being able to tailor an experience that personally addresses the needs of the end user is not a new idea, and in fact most users are accustomed to personalization in their everyday lives. In a day and age when people can get what they need, when they need it, through whichever channel they desire, and with relative ease -- government agencies must offer comparable experiences, or risk becoming irrelevant.

Today you are YOU, that is TRUER than true. There is no one alive, that is YOUER than you. -Dr. Seuss

That said, government organizations are finally realizing the power and importance of implementing a personalization strategy. Basic personalization techniques like targeting and testing are simple enough to implement, and can educate and inform your team for future success. Leveraging personalization technology such as Acquia Lift enables governments to stop making assumptions about who their users are and how they will behave, and instead let their actual behavior and attributes inform the experience.

People tell you who they are, but we ignore it because we want them to be who we want them to be. -Don Draper

Privacy and Personalization

A common objection to implementing personalization technology in government is privacy concerns. In reality, there is no current legislation or policy that says a government agency cannot provide personalized experiences to users. Governments can provide personalized experiences. What policy says is that governments must not abuse PII (personally identifiable information), must clearly communicate to users what they are doing, and must give users a way to opt out.

In the US federal government, OMB Policy M-10-22 is the current definitive reference on personalization technology:

The central goal is to respect and safeguard the privacy of the American public while also increasing the Federal Government’s ability to serve the public by improving and modernizing its activities online. Any use of such technologies must be respectful of privacy, open, and transparent, and solely for the purposes of improving the Federal Government’s services and activities online.

The policy goes on to define inappropriate use and usage tiers of personalization technology. Acquia’s personalization technology encompasses tiers 1 and 2:

Tier 1 – single session. This tier encompasses any use of single session web measurement and customization technologies.
Tier 2 – multi-session without PII. This tier encompasses any use of multi-session web measurement and customization technologies when no PII is collected (including when the agency is unable to identify an individual as a result of its use of such technologies).

Finally the policy outlines what agencies need to provide for opt-out, documented privacy policies, and approvals:

Privacy policies must explain in detail usages and opt in/opt out procedures. For Tier 1 and 2, no additional approvals are needed, but they should provide opt out (either agency side or providing instructions/means for client side). “So long as the agencies (1) are in compliance with this Memorandum and all other relevant policies; (2) provide clear and conspicuous notice in their online Privacy Policy citing the use of such technologies, as specified in Attachment 3; and (3) comply with their internal policies governing the use of such technologies.

Governments commonly use technologies (such as Google Analytics) that fit into these tier definitions. Acquia Lift uses similar tier 1 and 2 tracking and allows anonymous personalization with absolutely zero tracking or storage of PII (Personally Identifiable Information).

While it’s true that agencies are asked to walk a very thin line with their personalizations strategies, the benefits far outweigh the concerns. When implementing personalization technologies, agencies should choose a flexible solution that has the ability to provide personalized content while following even the strictest of privacy policies.

In my next post in this series, I’ll explain how governments can start to implement personalization.

Categories: Drupal News

Acquia Engage 2015: Digital Marketing Sessions Sneak Peek

19 August 2015 - 3:16am

Digital Innovators. Digital Transformers. Digital Marketers. What do all of these digital masterminds have in common? They’ll all make an appearance at Engage 2015! We’ve already let you in on the deets for some Digital Innovation speakers, and some Digital Transformation speakers, but we’ve still got one talk track left.

Digital Marketers. I’m one of those, and my team is full of them. While I might be partial, I see digital marketing teams as an absolutely essential part of this new digital landscape we’re all a part of, and I don’t think I’m alone in that belief.

This track will demonstrate how digital marketing executives can gain a competitive advantage and drive better business outcomes using an Open Marketing approach. Our speakers will share examples of how marketing teams are thinking ahead with an agile, connected, and future-proofed marketing stack. We’ll discuss important digital marketing themes, including personalization, connected data, martech and adtech integration, and contextual marketing.

Digital Innovation in Media, Entertainment, and Publishing
Speakers: Angie May-Cook (Emmis), Dave Toomey & Jeremy Kutner (Warner Music Group), Lee Hammond (Interscope)
This panel will discuss the hot technology trends in Media, Entertainment and Publishing, an industry at the forefront of digital innovation. We will cover managing multiple sites, personalization and customer data management, content and commerce integration and much more. Join moderator Chuck Fishman for an interactive session on all things MEP.

How Intuit Relaunched Two Brands in 6 Months
Speakers: Janin Kompor (Intuit), Justin Emond (Third and Grove)
Intuit needed to re-platform and re-design two major websites: Quicken.com and Mint.com. With a tight deadline, two new technology partners and a plan for a brand new design and platform, there was no room for error or miscommunication. Projects like this take 1-2 years….they did it in 6 months and without killing each other (spoiler alert: cocktails). Hear from Intuit project lead and the the CTO of Third and Grove to learn how a happy, productive partnership with your technology partner can lead to incredible efficiencies and making timelines you never thought possible. You will leave this session with actionable best practices you can immediately use in managing your next digital initiative.

Marketing and IT alignment: The Critical Success Factor in Digital Marketing
Speakers: Panel featuring GE
Whether your industry is corporate, oil and gas or energy management, marketing and IT alignment is essential for your business’s success. In this panel, join the leading teams in Drupal and digital marketing to learn best practices for aligning IT and Marketing in GE across divisions.

Categories: Drupal News

Dries Buytaert talks Drupal 8 and the Future of the Web

18 August 2015 - 11:51pm

Recently we announced Drupal 8 availability on the Acquia Platform. We had customers ready and waiting for the latest Drupal release, and it seemed time for our company to take the leap. Drupal 8 offers a plethora of improvements and new capabilities, all aimed at developing and supporting the best digital experiences around. But what exactly does Drupal 8 readiness mean to you?

To answer this question, we went straight to the source. Dries Buytaert, chief technology officer at Acquia, and the founder of Drupal, sat down with Angie Byron, Wim Leers, and Alex Bronstein for a “Drupal 8 Coffee Date” to answer some pressing questions about all that D8 has to offer. They discussed several different questions, including:

  • What’s new in Drupal 8?
  • What Drupal 8 features are Dries, Angie, Wim, and Alex most excited about?
  • Can you speak to the competitive advantage of the administrative experience?
  • What do you think the release means for our growth as an organization and how would you recommend we capitalize on that opportunity?
  • Are there scenarios where you would recommend Drupal 8 to a client new to Drupal using another CMS platform?
  • What are the customer benefits of redeveloping scenes over Twig?
  • When you look at Adobe CQ5 as well Sitecore, how does Drupal 8 differentiate?
  • Drupal already has a pretty substantial barrier to entry for devs. Do you expect this to increase with the release of Drupal 8?

Click here to view the transcript from this webinar, or scroll down to watch.

Categories: Drupal News

Transactional vs. Operational Commerce Systems: Friends or Foes?

15 August 2015 - 12:46am

In our previous posts in this Building a Superior Customer Experience series, we discussed the logistical complexities retail businesses today need to tackle in order to simplify the complicated customer journey, as well as the sales process right from the beginning, when a customer places a new order. In this final post, we'll explore the different systems involved, and how they work - or don't work - together.

The practice of commerce platforms integrating with POS systems is an interesting approach, but it’s not the answer to all of the logistical questions that retailers are facing. Traditional POS systems handle the logistics of inventory management and the transaction process, and also act as the employee management system for clocking in, clocking out, tracking sales and stock levels, and reporting. Today’s POS offerings are streamlined and sophisticated, but they don’t control all the pieces of the puzzle. To support and maintain various sales channels, there needs to be dedicated staff for each, and those teams need to scale as business needs change (and hopefully as sales grow).

It’s clear that there is all kinds of complexity beneath the surface of an omnichannel commerce platform, but you can’t let that complexity become visible to the shopper. North Face, a brand with a strong omnichannel strategy, puts it plainly: you need to have:

  • Seamless experiences
  • Seamless inventory
  • Seamless data

Businesses need to decouple the way they guide, engage, inspire, and inform a shopper to create the best, most effective approach. This can be addressed via better content in the store, not only for the shopper, but also for the store associate -- better content and better data. Implementing a system that can manage all of these underlying processes without ever involving or burdening the shopper is the best way to accomplish this.

The trick is, however, that one system cannot possibly do all of this -- you need to be able to integrate different systems to create one unified, cohesive experience. Shoppers online need to be as informed as shoppers in-store, and vis-versa. The extras, like discounts, offers, and promotions need to be consistent across platforms. But as a retailer, how do you figure out the equivalent of a free shipping offer for an in-store shopper? How does a company like Crate and Barrel, who absolutely excels at in-store merchandising, execute similarly online? One experience can’t be more informative or beneficial than another, or you’ll risk losing business in whichever channel proves weaker. There has to be one single transaction process/flow/engine across all channels, and there needs to be an engaging, inspiring story woven throughout.

To do this, your business should focus most on what matters most to you. Complexities will only continue to increase as your business grows and evolves, so you really need to have a centralized, integrated, high level view or your strategy and goals. Different companies will take different approaches to the solution that tackles all of the logistical complexities. For Puma, the priority is their product inventory management system (PIM). For Brooks Brothers, they’re implementing new product lifecycle management and POS systems, then focusing on planning (enterprise resource planning, merchandise planning, replenishment and assortment planning). Other companies might choose to consolidate around their order management system -- each business should determine what is most important to them.

Once you’ve determined what’s most central to your business, which should be directly correlated to what will most enhance the customer experience,, you can work on unifying online and offline systems.

The online and offline shopping carts, online and offline signage, and the online and offline POS should all be managed by one system -- but that doesn’t mean each component must be managed by the same software or solution. There are purpose-built solutions for shopping carts, creating signage, POS’s, PIMs, and essentially every other facet of business you need to address. In order to create one seamless system, you must decouple, and find the best integrations for each piece of the puzzle. This allows you to focus on back-end efficiencies and the overall customer experience. The final step of this process is to add a layer that puts all of the pieces together, that manages the integrations, and pulls many unrelated solutions and systems together on top of your existing commerce platform. This is the experience management layer, the final piece of the puzzle that creates one harmonious, well-oiled machine. It can aggregate data and share data across systems and platforms, while still giving you the creative freedom you seek, and the operational efficiencies and expertise you require.

Categories: Drupal News

Digital Experience 'Musts': Why Open Source Matters to Government

14 August 2015 - 12:49am
Why OSS Matters to Government

There are clear reasons why governments are putting increased attention on open source solutions.

No Lock-in
With OSS, governments maintain complete control of their applications and data. They are not locked into proprietary formats, feature sets, integrations, roadmaps or agendas of a particular proprietary vendor. OSS solutions can be extended, customized, and maintained using common standards and technologies.

Going down the road with a single vertically integrated technology stack from a commercial vendor may seem like a great idea upfront. It may demo well, or have the name of a huge corporation behind it. The vendor may tell you that you don’t need anything else, because all the features are included in their own proprietary, fully integrated set of applications.

After the contract is signed however, it may be difficult to find skilled resources able to support the solution. You may find that a “one size fits all” stack doesn’t fit your organization as well as you thought, and because you have no ability to customize or change the solution you are dependant on the vendor and can’t get services out to your citizens quickly enough. And of course, you’re obligated to pay expensive licenses whether or not you use all components of the solution.

OSS is free. Of course, to be successful with open source technologies, you’ll need a good vendor support system, and that has associated costs, but you’re not actually paying for the technology itself, and you’re not locked into anything, either. At Acquia we like to think of our professional services as training wheels for customers. We’ll help you be successful, but our goal is to empower you to help yourselves over the long term.

Security
Because the source code of OSS is available for anyone to test or examine, vulnerabilities in OSS are found more quickly, and are able to be addressed immediately. OSS facilitates code reviews, static code analysis, and compliance with common standards. Some OSS projects get more security attention than others, and Drupal has been widely recognized as having an excellent security team and track record.

It’s important to note that just because a particular OSS project is secure, without proper management of that system’s boundaries (platform, infrastructure, and apis), security can be easily compromised. Acquia’s Digital Cloud platform is specifically designed to deliver Drupal experiences securely.

Agility
Governments can be free to innovate at the pace of change, not at the pace of a vendor’s release schedule. There is no waiting for a vendor or an expensive contractor - government has the control with OSS to deliver services and content to citizens right when they need it.

Tony Scott, the US Federal CIO, talks about the primary value of cloud and open source as faster time to market, not just cost savings.

Speed to market. Speed to solution. Speed to meet the needs of whatever our citizens need," Scott said. "We’ve got to draw the line, and say we’re going to do everything we can to get faster and faster and FASTER to be competitive in the global economy.

Re-use
With OSS, the government can build something out of a set of reusable components, which have a proven track record of security and scalability, and they can do so on their own timeline. They can leverage the work of the larger open source community for best practices, configurations, and contributed code.

Drupal is architected for reuse with a collection of modular components that you can put together in different combinations in order to solve a particular business problem. Drupal currently has over 35,000 contributed projects available ranging from integrations with CRM and email marketing tools to FISMA compliant password policy templates to responsive “skins” known as themes. These reusable components help governments build upon the work of others and not waste resources re-implementing functionality that already is available.

Alignment with Civic Values
Open source software embodies the values of democracy, transparency, diversity and freedom. Many government organizations have contributed open source software to the community, sharing their innovations for others to benefit from.

Open Data

With the Open Government Initiative of 2009, Obama directed US government organizations to publish open and machine readable data as the new default. The executive order states that making information about government operations more readily available and useful is core to the promise of a more efficient and transparent government.

A great example of this is HealthData.gov, an open data solution recently deployed by HHS. It tells stories about health data, and allows a citizen to download and interface with those data sets, as well as build their own apps. HealthData.gov is powered by Acquia, NuCivic, and DKAN (a Drupal distribution focused on open data).

The US Census Bureau is another good example. They’ve amassed a great deal of data over the years, which they’ve exposed to citizens who use it for innovative things, like building mobile apps. One particular app, Dwellr, allows you to find your ideal place to live. If you’re wondering “where should I move?”, the app uses Census data to spit out recommendations about where you might be happiest living in the country.

Parting Thoughts - Don’t Go it Alone

Government agencies considering a move to open technologies, or looking to maximize their existing open technology investment, need to identify a trusted partner who has experience with enterprise government scale implementations, and a history of working with open technology. Whether you partner with a third-party vendor team, or develop in-house, you want to make sure that the team you’re working with has the skills and resources needed to excel with an open source execution, and if they don’t have those resources immediately available, that they can work with a vendor like Acquia to help get them up to speed.

Starting right from the beginning with a strong discovery and architecture is absolutely critical, because with open technologies, there’s no prescriptive method that will dictate step one, step two, and so on for building the right solution for you. Open technologies are flexible and modular, which is what makes them so powerful and appealing from a technology perspective, but you’ve got to have the team behind you to drive the change.

In the next post in this series on the New Digital Experience Government, I’ll explore Must #3: Personalization.

Categories: Drupal News

Acquia Welcomes Aloe Blacc to Engage 2015!

13 August 2015 - 5:13am

Big news! We’re thrilled to announce our musical talent for this year’s after-hours entertainment at Royale: Aloe Blacc! You’ve heard his biggest hits, “The Man,” “I Need A Dollar,” and “Wake Me Up” - catchy tunes you can now hear live at Acquia Engage 2015. Here’s a little preview.

The self-proclaimed ‘singer, songwriter, producer, dancer, and lover of all art’ is certainly musically gifted, but that’s not all. And he’s agreed to join us for a special speaking engagement on using digital to engage audiences, in addition to delivering a smashing musical performance on Wednesday evening.

Don’t miss your chance to catch Grammy-nominated Aloe Blacc in action -- twice! -- at #AcquiaEngage15. Register today!

I Want to See Aloe!
Categories: Drupal News

WCM is Critical to the Future of Commerce

12 August 2015 - 11:59pm

The customer journey has changed. We know this, you know this, and your customers know this. And technologies are beginning to change to keep up with the ever-evolving needs of both the customer and your business.

This is why Acquia took a stand last summer and dropped the ‘e’ in eCommerce. We don’t believe that commerce is relegated to an online or an offline channel. It’s a chaotic, exciting journey where customers go wherever they want whenever they want, and hopefully add to cart in the process.

As the customer journey gets more complex, so do the technologies retailers need to support this journey. OMS (order management systems) have cropped up left and right to support ominchannel order and fulfillment needs. PIM (product information management) systems are becoming divorced from the core commerce platform as both B2B and B2C retailers have much more complex product needs and bundling options. With both of those managing the backend processes alongside the core commerce platform, retailers are now realizing they need to enhance the front-end customer experience to allow for the back-end systems and technologies to shine.

Enter the WCM. By integrating a purpose-built WCM into the commerce platform, retailers are finding they’re able to offer up new and engaging experiences. These new experiences tell the brand story in a much richer fashion, they allow the customer to drive the journey (rather than the archaic home page → category page → product page → checkout funnel), and they ultimately create a deeper relationship with the consumer.
Last Spring, Gartner came out with a paper arming technology leaders with the research and stats to build a business case for a technical ecosystem that fully leverages both commerce and content technologies. They, too, see the WCM as the future of commerce.

As companies expand investment in digital technologies to support commerce, marketing, Web, in-store channels and many others, there is also an expanded volume and variety of content to deploy across those touchpoints. Ideally, a single WCM architecture underpins all of these touchpoints, enabling efficiency, interoperability and consistency.*

But it’s not just about the integration of WCM and commerce technologies; that’s just the beginning. Business needs are getting much more complex, and with that change comes varying needs for new and different technologies. Gartner also sees this as the future and believes that “by 2018, more than 50% of commerce sites will integrate technologies from more than 15 vendors to deliver a digital customer experience.”

We call this amalgamation of technologies “open marketing.” This concept is based on the simple idea that you know what’s best for your business. It’s an open approach to technology that allows for custom integrations of the tools you have and like, as well as any you may want in the future, whether you know it today or not.

But as they say, with great power comes great responsibility, and building a “best-for-me” technical ecosystem can be challenging. Closed platforms can be tempting, especially those who offer a full suite of services, however each business has unique needs and it’s unlikely one full platform can service all the nuances of your business. Organizations that are able to build a technical ecosystem around their customers’ wants and needs are rewarded. According to Forbes, 86 percent of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience. So why not deliver it?

*Create Digital Business Success With Better Interoperability Between Digital Commerce and Web Content Management. Published: 22 April 2015 by Chris Fletcher and Mick MacComascaigh

Categories: Drupal News

Apple Integrates Content and Commerce

12 August 2015 - 4:34am

Apple has traditionally been subject to what analysts refer to as the “Two-Site Syndrome” - a case where brand sites and online stores are separated through different platforms, creating a siloed effect that divides content and commerce responsibilities between different teams. When content and commerce are not unified, customer experiences are disjointed. Buyers must choose between learning about a brand and purchasing that brand. Apple, up until today, was guilty of just that experience. In order to make a purchase, an Apple customer had to leave the brand experience completely. Conversely, if a consumer went directly to the “shop” button, they missed out on the digital brand experience.

Today, Apple’s story has changed. When you visit the new Apple.com, you will find a unified customer experience, where content meets commerce. Customers who visit the site will no longer be presented with the disjointed experience of Apple’s old digital world. Rather than a divide between its online store and its brand experience, customers now have the option to explore and purchase Apple products all within one seamless experience, without ever having to leave the product page. Digital content and commerce operations are now integrated throughout all stages of the customer journey.

According to TechCrunch, an Apple spokesperson explained, “We redesigned Apple.com knowing that our customers want to explore, research and shop in one place. The new Apple.com takes the very best of our existing site and our online store to give customers one simple destination to learn and buy without navigating between two different sites."

So, what does this mean? Apple, one of the largest e-retailers in the world, is making a bold statement about the power of leading with content, and bridging the “content/commerce divide.” In today’s digital world, customers are demanding engaging digital experiences throughout the entirety of the buyer’s journey. If the opportunity for purchase is not present at any one stage, that purchase might not be made. And when a purchase isn’t made, retailers miss out on more than just a sale; they risk missing out on an opportunity to develop a relationship with that visitor, potentially converting them into a loyal customer and brand advocate.

Apple is just one of many retailers and brands who are choosing to bridge this content/commerce divide, and deliver the digital experiences customers today are demanding. Even so, it is somewhat surprising that such an innovative brand has taken so long to join the content/commerce movement. What is it that’s holding these retailers back? Many are simply afraid to take the leap, to stray from what has traditionally been done online. In some cases, it might involve a reorganization. Just last year, Apple brought on a new senior vice president of online retail and sales, Angela Ahrendts, to address this issue exactly. In her time with the company, it’s clear she has helped Apple take the necessary leap towards building a great digital experience.

There is no doubt that digital transformation is daunting task. But now more than ever, it is time to put the customer’s digital experience first, and integrate content with commerce. In a study on average stock performance, Forrester Research found that retailers lagging in customer experience had negative cumulative total returns of (33.9%). Customer experience leaders, on the other hand, generated returns of +43%. If retailers don’t make the digital experience leap, they simply will not meet customer expectations, and perhaps their bottom lines either. The time to integrate content and commerce is now. Take the leap.

Categories: Drupal News

Damon Davis: NextGov Bold Award Finalist

12 August 2015 - 12:21am

It was not quite 5 years old and HealthData.gov was already running on outdated technology. The portal launched in 2011 with 197 datasets and by 2015 had swelled to more than 1,900 datasets and a handful of data mining applications. The good news is that the size and demand proved the value of President Barack Obama’s open government initiative. The bad news is that HealthData.gov was not meeting demand and was in need of a major overhaul.

Rather than viewing this as a problem to be solved, Damon Davis, director for the Health Data Initiative at the Department of Health and Human Services, saw this as an opportunity for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to reinvent online data delivery. Not only for HHS, but for the entire U.S. government.

“What we are going to try to do is advance the platform to be something that is going to be more usable, better search, easier access to data sets that also will support more ‘liquid’ forms of data,” Davis said.

Davis has long held the idea that data is one of the most valuable and strategic assets within the walls of HHS. Davis saw the relaunch of HealthData.gov as an opportunity to further data sharing beyond the original intent of portal, and create a true community around health data sets. This would enable both those within and those outside of HHS to share and collaborate more easily, and enable outside experts to solve complex health care related problems.

At the onset of the project, cloud adoption within the U.S. Government was rare, but Davis wasn’t afraid to break the status quo. His new, bold approach used the cloud and open source software in ways never previously done in the field of healthcare data management. To meet his lofty goals, Davis chose to use DKAN, a Drupal-based open source, open data platform developed by NuCivic, supported by the Acquia Cloud. His team was able to migrate more than 1,900 data sets and relaunch HealthData.gov within 60 days. The ending result is an open, user-friendly data source available to all citizens ranging from academia to industry.

Through this approach Davis created the model for agile, impactful government operations. Because of this accomplishment, NextGov has named Damon a finalist in its Bold Awards honors. We're pulling for him and hope you'll take a minute to cast a vote on his behalf in NextGov's People's Choice Awards. Voting is open from August 10-14. Winners will be announced Sept. 9 during NextGov Prime.

Vote here!

Categories: Drupal News

Acquia Engage 2015: Digital Transformation Sessions Sneak Peek

8 August 2015 - 3:30am

Earlier this week, we shared a first look at some of the speakers and sessions you can look forward to at Engage 2015 -- a handful of Digital Innovators who are doing big things to shake up their respective industries. But lucky for you - that was just the tip of the iceberg!

This week, we’re diving into the second talk track, Digital Transformation. In this day and age, digital transformation is a necessity for businesses looking to excel in the digital world, and we’ve gathered some thought leaders who can share their first-hand experience in this arena. With the sessions in this track, we’ll call on business leaders to teach us how their organizations have made the digital shift by embracing new strategies, technical tools, and tactics to service customers and win in this digital-first world.

Pac-12 Network Reimagines Digital for the Ultimate Sports Fan
Speaker: Mark Kramer (Pac-12)
Stanford. UCLA. USC. Oregon. If you are a sports fan, you know the heavy hitters of the Pac-12 Conference. Pac-12 Network offers fans the opportunity to watch renowned universities’ football, basketball and softball teams compete from any device, everywhere they go. Pac-12 Networks has transformed fan engagement across web, mobile, TV and even in-stadium digital experiences with its exceptional digital platform. In this session, learn how Pac 12’s digital innovator hit a home run with the Acquia Platform and related digital technology. Discover how you can advance digital transformation in your organization, and overcome any hurdle with innovative ideas and creativity.

How to Evolve as a Digital Enterprise
Speaker: Sushil Kumar (Pegasystems)
Becoming a strong, self-sufficient digital enterprise isn’t easy. Many companies have difficulties executing a roadmap that will make their digital plans a reality. Learn how Pega accomplished their digital transformation journey to redesign and launch their new website, Pega.com, on the Acquia Platform. Pega will show you how to build an internal team to drive self-sufficient digital capabilities, foster internal competency around digital marketing and Drupal and much more. Let Pega’s digital journey outline the various components that drive growth and evolution as a digital enterprise.

Transformation at Sea: Princess Cruises Re-Imagines Digital Experiences for Its Guests
Speaker: Nate Craddock (Princess Cruises)
When Princess Cruises voyaged to build a new site, they didn’t anticipate revolutionizing the on-board digital experience for their guests. However, with strong IT and business team collaboration, Princess did exactly that. In this session, learn how a portal project morphed into ‘Princess at Sea and became the cruise industry’s most ambitious and innovative on-ship mobile experience. Built on the Acquia Platform, Princess at Sea lets passengers get on-ship information and services, plan and book meals and excursion, access an on-ship messaging system, read about ports-of-call; manage account info all from their phone and tablets in real-time. And that's not all. Princess has enhanced crew experience by digitizing offline processes and allowing staff members to bring new ideas to the platform. Guest satisfaction is as high as ever

Using a Mobile-First Strategy to Transform Financial Services
Speaker: Michael Bernard (Webster Bank)
Going mobile matters to organizations in every industry – especially in banking and financial services. Webster Bank, a Northeast US-based commercial bank, has made a giant leap forward with its customer experience and business model by implementing a mobile-first strategy. Webster Bank’s story shows that mobile innovation keeps customers happy and satisfied. Learn how Webster Bank’s mobile-first mantra is leading the charge in online bank and services with a strong digital strategy.

We’ll take a look at the final talk track next week: Digital Marketing!

Ready to commit right now? Register today!

Categories: Drupal News

The Second Digital Government Must, Part I: Open Technology in Government

7 August 2015 - 3:22am

In my last post I discussed Digital Cloud - the first “Must” of the new Digital Experience Government. I explained how by leveraging a true digital cloud platform, organizations gain tremendous freedom to focus resources away from operations and maintenance, and onto innovation, mission fulfillment, and serving their end users. In this post, I’ll explore the second “Must,” Open Technology.

If Digital Cloud is the well-staffed garage I alluded to in my last post, then Open Technology is your dream vehicle in that garage - safe, fast, efficient, maintainable, and customized just how you like it.

Open Technology as a term encapsulates a few different things - source code as well as technical approaches and organizational structures. I’m going to focus on Open Source Software, but will touch on communities, architecture, and open data as well.

Open Source Software (OSS)

According to the Open Source Initiative:

Open source software is software that can be freely used, changed, and shared (in modified or unmodified form) by anyone. Open source software is made by many people, and distributed under licenses that comply with the Open Source Definition.

Because anyone can contribute to OSS, innovation is rewarded. I like the analogy of sharing a favorite recipe among friends. You can have the freedom to follow Grandma Charlotte’s kugel recipe to the letter, but you can also adapt and improve the recipe before passing it along to your friends. These kinds of adaptations serve the common good. The best variations will naturally dominate.

Compare this approach to proprietary, closed-source software where the code and roadmap are controlled by a single organization. You wouldn’t have learned about that kugel recipe from your Grandma. You paid for it from a vendor, and they own the rights to it. You can’t change it, or share it. It’s someone else’s property. If there is a problem with it, you can’t just make the change yourself, because the ingredients are the vendor’s own proprietary items as well. You have to request an update from the vendor. They may get around to it if enough people ask, or they may not. It’s possible that a key ingredient may no longer be available. Then your recipe is useless, or you pay a premium to source that ingredient.

Trust Grandma and your friends.

Open Communities

OSS projects come in all shapes and sizes. Linux, Apache, and Drupal are some of the largest and most successful communities. Drupal (which Acquia works with, invests in, and supports), currently has over 95,000 active contributors, over 35,000 contributed projects, and over 1 million registered community members.

The common themes that make OSS communities like Drupal so successful are diversity, transparency, openness, and collaboration. Linus Torvalds, the Linux community lead, compares good OSS to scientific communities in a 2006 interview with CNN (no offense to witches or alchemists intended...):

I often compare open source to science. To where science took this whole notion of developing ideas in the open and improving on other peoples' ideas and making it into what science is today and the incredible advances that we have had. And I compare that to witchcraft and alchemy, where openness was something you didn't do.

Diverse communities, whether we are talking about forests or open source projects, are more robust, adaptable, resilient, and secure. Elinor Ostrum, who shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economics, is most well known for her study of governance and natural resource management. In her essay, Diversity and Resilience of Social-Ecological Systems (from the book Complexity Theory for a Sustainable Future), Ostrum explained how sustaining diversity is important for increasing a complex system’s capacity to cope with change, reduces sensitivity to loss of specific elements, and enhances human well-being.

When successful managerial methods for supporting diversity avoid the trap of letting one solution dominate, and provide a richer experience and knowledge base… diversity in general increase the capacity of systems to tolerate disturbance, learn and change. This capacity will be one of the most crucial assets of societies in the coming times of rapid global change.

OSS in Government

Over the last 10 years, government adoption of open source software has skyrocketed. As an example, Drupal now powers nearly 34% of all US government websites (Web Technology Usage Report for United States Government, W3Techs). The Australian federal government has decided to standardize on Drupal through their govCMS initiative. In governments around the world, “open by default” is becoming policy and mandate.

The United Kingdom mandates a preference for open source software in government:

Where appropriate, government will procure open source solutions. When used in conjunction with compulsory open standards, open source presents significant opportunities for the design and delivery of interoperable solutions.

India has followed suit and has gone so far as to require procurements to include open source:

RFPs must include a specific requirement for all suppliers to consider open source software, along with closed source software, when they submit their bids for the project. Should they choose to exclude open source, suppliers are to provide justification for doing so in their bids.

And here in the USA, through the work of the Obama administration and establishment of Digital Services teams such as 18F and USDS, open source is recommended as a part of several memorandums and policies, including the the CIO Playbook, a series of 13 best practices to help government build effective digital services.

Now that we’ve explored open technologies and the different ways that government can use them, we’ll explore why OSS matters to government, and how to use it successfully. Check back next week for the next post in this series.

Categories: Drupal News

Acquia Engage 2015: Digital Innovation Sessions Sneak Peek

5 August 2015 - 1:10am

It’s hard to believe Engage 2015 is less than three months away - time sure does fly! And quite honestly, I wish it’d slow down a bit during these precious summer months. I don’t know about you, but I definitely haven’t had my fill of beach days, boat rides, and barbecues just yet, but I also haven’t quite figured out how to morph time… So in lieu of being able to make summer last forever, we’re focusing our efforts elsewhere. Namely, we’re bringing on board some great speakers for Engage, and we’re ready to start sharing some session sneak peeks with you!

We’ve aligned our sessions to three major talk tracks: Digital Innovation, Digital Transformation, and Digital Marketing. In the coming weeks, I’ll share a few of the abstracts for each talk track, starting today with Digital Innovation. This track will look at how organizations are optimizing their digital strategies by leveraging cloud architectures, open source technologies, and big data solutions to innovate at the speed of the web. We’ve got an awesome line-up of Acquia customer speakers for this track, a few of whom you’ll see below.

Freed For Speed: The Drupal-First Approach To Rapid Application Development
Speakers: Keyvan Eslami, Executive Director, Global IS Innovation and Ben Pollack, Executive Director, Digital Marketing
Sealed Air, the inventors of Bubble Wrap, needed a website that was as iconic as their product. The Fortune 500 company adopted Drupal as a rapid application development framework to relaunch their internet and intranet. Sealed Air went “Drupal-first” and tapped into the 30,000-strong Drupal development community. Find out how they replatformed in 10% of the time at 50% of the cost originally projected while circumventing nearly 80% of development issues.

Grade A Digital: Georgetown's Journey To IT Modernization
Speaker: Beth Ann Bergsmark, Interim Deputy CIO and AVP Chief Enterprise Architect, UIS
Georgetown University knew that modernizing their digital strategy was essential to being a leader in Higher Education. However, with 400 sites across seven schools and multiple departments, transforming the complex technical footprint was no easy task. Discover how Georgetown broke the mold with Drupal. Learn how the university accelerated their journey to modernization with open source to reduce costs, gain flexibility, and move quickly and confidently.

Lean and Mean: KAZ and The Successful Switch to Drupal
Speaker: Rebecca Corwin, Associate Marketing Director, Digital
Eight days is all KAZ, the leader in consumer goods manufacturing, needed to build a new brand site on Drupal. Learn how the manufacturer of brands like PUR, Braun, Honeywell, and Vicks utilized a lean development team to leverage a flexible platform that grows with their expanding product portfolio.

A Healthy Recipe for DevOps
Speaker: Jebarson Kirubakaran, Architect, Digital Technology and Delivery Manager for API Team - DevOps
Whole Foods provides their customers with best practices for a healthy and vibrant lifestyle, and their IT team is no different. Discover how Whole Foods standardized their development process to make site deployment fast and reliable. Learn about the DevOps best practices that provide transparency to business and technical stakeholders. Get the Whole Foods recipe to increasing communication, reducing cost, and maintaining quality of sites.’

More to come on our other talk tracks soon! In the meantime, if we’ve piqued your interest, why not register today?!

Categories: Drupal News

Building a Superior Customer Experience: The Initial Order

1 August 2015 - 3:18am

In our previous post in this Building a Superior Customer Experience series, we discussed the logistical complexities retail businesses today need to tackle in order to simplify the complicated customer journey. Let’s take a look at the process right from the beginning, when a customer places a new order.

An incoming customer order sets off this chain of complex logistics, and the operational wheels start turning. Business needs to know where stock exists, where an item is shipping from, and where an item is shipping to. If it’s shipping from a store, could that item already be safely nestled into another shopper’s cart, headed for checkout? If it’s shipping from a different store location, is there enough in stock not to require replenishment? If it’s shipping from a warehouse, how long will it take to fulfill? Just because your system says a certain product is in inventory doesn’t mean it’s actually in inventory. It’s not enough to know that a product is in-stock in a store in the morning, because what if a sales associate checks stock levels at 2pm and things have changed? To combat this, stock levels need to be updated across all channels in real time.

According to a study done by RSR, 93 percent of retailers rated system-wide inventory visibility as the most significant capability in executing their omni-channel fulfillment strategy, but only 45 percent can enable this, and only 39 percent are enabling this via system synchronization across all channels.

This becomes an especially challenging problem for luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, who have a very limited quantity of merchandise. How do they decide, for example, whether to use a physical location to fulfill an online order for a specific bag, when doing so might take the only in-stock bag of that type out of a showroom? Additionally, if they decide to fulfill the online order with that in-store bag, who gets credit for that sale -- a store associate or the ecommerce team? The answer isn’t clear, and may vary greatly between organizations.

Order processing -- picking and shipping products
When a sale comes through, and stock levels have been assessed, the item(s) on that order must then be picked, packed, and shipped. This is where the Amazon model has historically thrived -- what they lack in a beautiful retail model, they more than make up for with their efficient and exacting distribution warehouse model. Other business models, however, have struggled to find the same fulfillment efficiencies.

Using a grocery store example makes a strong case for the complexities of cross-channel purchasing. According to Business Insider, online grocery sales will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.1% between 2013 and 2018, reaching nearly $18 billion by the end of that period. Roche Brothers is one grocery chain that’s doing it right -- they have strong ship-from-store and parking-lot-pick-up programs, but even with those types of programs in place, sourcing from store inventory has it’s own set of challenges.

Imagine you’ve just put through a grocery order online. You’ve selected your items, scheduled a pick-up or delivery date, and your shopping list has gone through to an in-store associate for picking and packing. A typical supermarket doesn’t have much back-room storage space, given the perishable nature of many grocery products, so the employee with the picking ticket (your comprehensive order and associated instructions) has to shop the front of the store, just like you might if you were to enter the store as a shopper yourself. Invariably when they head out to fulfill your order, they’ll encounter another store associate who is restocking the shelves from boxes or pallets (generally the only available product in stores), pinning employee against employee, each with a competing goal, and each getting in the way of the other, as well as actual shoppers. This can then lead to the demise of the customer experience -- both in-store when they have to compete for space with store employees picking shipments -- and on the receiving end of online orders, where the end consumer could easily fall victim to underripe bananas, bruised apples, or spoiled dairy.

To make matters even more complicated, a grocery order is incredibly complex, and without very specific instructions from the shopper, can be next to impossible to fulfill. Instead of buying a shirt in a certain size and color, which has a simple assigned SKU, picking produce and other perishable items can involve a lot of guesswork. A green banana doesn’t have a different PLU number than a yellow banana, and yet an underripe or overripe banana could mean different things to different customers. As the associate picking this order, how do you really know for sure? To add even another element of complexity, what happens with orders that include half shelf-stable items, and half frozen items? Pickers and shippers in those instances need to take into consideration how to store those items, and then package and ship them so they arrive at the proper destination intact and edible.

The grocery store example is by far the most complex, but even in other retail sectors, like convenience or clothing, the issues persist. SKU numbers aren’t always consistent across channels, which means that an online SKU associated with a certain item might be entirely different than the in-store SKU for that same item. Businesses must find a way to normalize this information, so that it doesn’t get jumbled across channels, and so that an expeditious and streamlined delivery is possible.

In the final post in this series, we'll discuss transactional vs. operational systems, and how to make them work together.

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Acquia a Leader (again) in new 2015 Gartner Magic Quadrant for WCM

31 July 2015 - 9:50pm

Gartner just released the 2015 version of its Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management. For the second year in a row, Acquia was identified as a Leader.

You can view the full report here

According to Gartner: “Acquia represents one of the fastest-growing options for WCM among large enterprises.” We’ve now significantly distanced ourselves from the legacy WCM vendors like OpenText, HP, Oracle, SDL, and IBM. And for the second straight year, Acquia was the fastest moving vendor, as we continue to move “up and to the right.”

In my opinion, it’s only a matter of time before Acquia is the dominant leader in the WCM Magic Quadrant, perhaps as soon as next year. Why? Because we’ve got an unfair advantage: Agility. Because Drupal is open-source and built by a massive community of developers, it simply moves faster than proprietary technologies like Adobe and Sitecore. And with the cloud-native Acquia Platform providing the scalability and security needed by large enterprises, it’s an unmatched combination.

Not to mention that Drupal 8, the most important release in the history of web content management, is now available on the Acquia Platform.

It's certainly great to be a Leader and fastest moving vendor for two years in a row, but we're just getting started!

Disclaimer: Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

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