Evolving Web: What I Learned at Acquia Engage 2021

Earlier this week, I attended the 8th edition of Acquia Engage, a two-day event full of learnings and connection opportunities by Acquia, one of the largest contributors to the Drupal open source. We at Evolving Web are proud to be Acquia Silver Partners, allowing us to support our clients with Acquia’s enterprise cloud and marketing solutions, which complement Drupal’s open source content management tools.

This was my first time at Acquia Engage. It gave me excellent insights into how organizations are leveraging Drupal to drive digital transformation, be more relevant to their audiences, and generate impact in their communities. It was truly exciting to see so many success stories, so here I’ll share my main takeaways from the event. Let’s get to it!

Drupal-based Business Solutions

Drupal is a powerful tool for businesses—and at Acquia Engage, I got to hear from end-users who pointed out how they’re driving innovation and efficiency in their organizations with Drupal. Those case studies involved more than 40 clients from many industries and sectors, such as house financing (Fannie Mae), food (King Arthur Baking Company), healthcare (WSIB), higher education (Penn State University, EAB), publicly funded media (PBS), and more.


King Arthur Baking Company’s CMO Bill Tine tells Acquia’s Lynne Capozzi what’s cooking with digital transformation.
King Arthur Baking Company’s CMO Bill Tine tells Acquia’s Lynne Capozzi what’s cooking with digital transformation.

Many of the case studies had a marketing focus:

  • PennState University is using headless Drupal and Gatsby to scale news delivery to partner websites and readers within the university community.
  • Fannie Mae implemented the Acquia platform to create content that is easier to find and share by audiences looking for house financing.
  • EAB (a US-based company that provides operational support to educational institutions) used Acquia’s Drupal-based tools to centralize their marketing resources and streamline content publishing processes for their distributed teams.

Others were about digital transformation and using Acquia’s platform to create richer experiences for users. Like King Arthur Baking, which went through a Drupal-powered journey from conventional food industry players to high-value content creators. In the end, they all were clear evidence that you can leverage Drupal as a complete digital experience platform (DXP) and not just as a flexible CMS—as we’ll be discussing in an upcoming webinar in November.

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One thing I found interesting was the emphasis on low-code and no-code digital platforms, such as Acquia’s Site Studio or Drupal’s Layout Builder and Paragraphs modules. These solutions are uniquely tailored for marketers, editors, and business leaders who want to save time and focus on “real work,” not worrying about technicalities.

Take SoCalGas, for example, the main provider of natural gas to Southern California. Their case study showed how their internal content team previously lacked the flexibility to publish and update content, needing constant technical support due to their unsupported legacy systems. By adopting Drupal 9, they incorporated a low-code approach to their content delivery workflows, helping them become a more customer-centric utility provider.

Human Connections, Moving Stories

Acquia Engage 2021 was not only about business, though. It was also about doing good through technology and awakening a sense of purpose. One example was Mick Eberling’s eye-opening note about his work at Not Impossible Labs. Mick and his organization are committed to tackling issues such as food insecurity and accessible healthcare by taking direct action. In the cases he presented, technology was a powerful means for change, like setting up a 3-D printing prosthetic lab based in Sudan.

Not Impossible Labs’s Mick Eberling gave one of the event’s best keynotes.
Not Impossible Labs’s Mick Eberling gave one of the event’s best keynotes.

Mick’s talk made me think about how our work in the digital industry has the power to make people’s lives better, for real. Like Evolving Web‘s recent work with Looking Forward, a mobile-first, bilingual website that provides information for patients recovering from all types of cancer, actively helping them rebuild their lives after completing their treatment.

I also saw some compelling talks about diversity at Acquia Engage. This is one of Evolving Web’s values and crucial in making the Drupal community more plural and innovative.

The Women in Martech panel, for example, mediated by Acquia’s CMO Lynne Capozzi, was an engaging talk about women’s roles in the digital industry. The panellists—Maria Greene, Senior Web Developer at Insulet Corporation, Barbara Von Euw, Director, Business Process – Consumer Data & Insights at PVH, and Hannah Smith, Senior Manager, Global CRM Solutions at MCM—discussed issues like gender equality, career options vs. parenting, and self-esteem, sharing some inspiring success stories and insights.

“Don’t compromise what you want because of expectations. One of the things that being a feminist is about is choosing your own path regardless of what society wants to push you towards.”
— Maria Greene, Senior Web Developer at Insulet Corporation

Acquia Engage’s Women in Martech panel brought relevant perspectives about gender equality in tech.
Acquia Engage’s Women in Martech panel presented relevant perspectives about gender equality in tech.

Watching this panel, it was clear to me that, while many women still have to hurdle the barriers of traditional gender roles, especially in a historically male-dominated industry such as ours, success is up for grabs for women in tech, as long as we promote inclusion. That’s why we at Evolving Web firmly believe that initiatives such as Drupal Diversity & Inclusion (DDI)—a team of Drupalists that provides a safe space to discuss and share resources about diversity, supporting people who feel underrepresented in the tech industry.

An Event Not to Be Missed

For a first-time attendee like myself, Acquia Engage 2021 was a display of innovation, inspiration, and human connection. It’s clear that Acquia not only offers secure, fully supported Drupal-based solutions, but they also know how to put up a fantastic event.

I can’t wait for the next Acquia Engage. See you next year, partners!


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