It was a long trip from Slovenia to Nashville, but after a good night sleep, I headed towards Music City Center for the first day of DrupalCon. Mondays at DrupalCon are reserved for sub-events called summits. There were Decoupled Summit, Higher Education Summit, Government Summit, Media and Publishing Summit, Nonprofit Summit, Community Summit and Business Summit. The last is the one I picked to attend.
The event was organized by Elia Albarran, Four Kitchens and Aimee Degnan, Hook 42. The idea of the event is to facilitate open discussions between Drupal agency owners and to be a safe place to talk about things company owners and executives usually have to keep to themselves, which can be overwhelming to many. With that in mind, I can't share too much, but here are my highlights from the summit:
- Drupal Association has started listening to Drupal agencies who need Drupal to be more aggressive in marketing.
- Agency need to build buyer personas, identifying who the buyers are (marketing or IT department) and tailor the message to them.
- To build outstanding digital experience, agencies should not ask if Drupal can do it, but if they or their clients can do it.
I very much enjoyed the talks this year, and the group work assigned to us was very insightful and initiated some interaction between the attendees. It seems like Drupal business community has to be reminded every once in a while at events like this that we are competing with proprietary software and unified businesses with marketing budgets that surpass Drupal's by far. To compete, we will need to invest a lot more and to win we will have to join forces.
Mondays are very busy, and I wanted to attend another summit, so I had to leave the business summit earlier. This summit was not part of DrupalCon, but it was an event organized by Acquia. For those who don't know, Acquia is the leading Drupal solutions provider, targeting the enterprise market.
Acquia Partner Summit
Acquia organises Acquia Partner Summits at every DrupalCon. Besides their main event, Acquia Engage, this is where they can connect with their partners, digital agencies. AGILEDROP is an Acquia partner too. Being an Acquia partner means a recognition that we are a part of the professional Drupal network, that we know how to use Acquia's tools and that we know how to build websites with Drupal. There are apparently 3000 partners, of which 400 are considered active, the ones that attend events like this and work with Acquia to provide feedback and of course bring and service clients on top of their technology and solutions.
What we could learn from roundtable discussions and talks was that Acquia is becoming a multi-product company and that they are going to start investing heavily in innovation. We could hear buzzwords like AI and machine learning. Even though I'm not a big fan of buzzwords myself, there is a point that end clients do want to hear about that, and that they want to use the tools that have such capabilities. I hope that this rebalancing from a sales organization to an engineering organization will be successful for Acquia. Even if their products are not directly Drupal, they will pull Drupal forward into the mature enterprise market.
I guess the question is how many agencies will be able to follow there. If truly 30% of agencies produce 70% of partner revenue, and this revenue is one-third of total revenue then one of the tasks for Acquia is to teach other 70% to sell enterprise solutions. Many agencies think this is a size question, but in reality, the trend is that corporations are replacing big agencies with specialized consultancy businesses. It only matters how the agency positions itself and who they target.
Opening ceremony and "Acquia & Partner Pig Out"
Full of new ideas we all went to the opening of DrupalCon, and hopefully people will remember something the day after. After talking to some old friends and meeting new people at the booths, it was time to move on to the next treat of the day, the dinner provided by Acquia. Thank you Acquia for dinner and to host us at such a fabulous venue.
Looking forward to Day 2 at DrupalCon Nashville.