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Something for Everyone at the 2021 Widen Summit®

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Blog header graphic: 2021 Widen Summit recap blog article.

For 10 years, we’ve been bringing customers together to learn, connect, and grow. We’ve built trust, created memorable moments, and connected virtually as the world worked from home. And while this year took a virtual stage again, the stories we shared were just as inspiring as they’ve ever been. 

With the September announcement that Widen has joined Acquia, many of this year’s keynotes highlighted what customers can expect as the two companies integrate. VP of Product, Deanna Ballew, said it best when she shared that “everything’s changed...and nothing’s changed.” Widen customers can still expect exceptional service and support, award-winning products, and a customer-informed approach to building software. 

Our customer speakers stole the show, though. From the fan-favorite Best DAM Contest to informative customer panels, this year, there really was something for everyone. 

Widen, an Acquia company

For anyone wanting to learn more about Acquia, this year’s Widen Summit® definitely delivered. Guest speakers from the Acquia team sat down with the Widen executives to discuss how Widen products will move forward within Acquia.

Matthew Gonnering and Mike Sullivan

Matthew Gonnering, Widen’s SVP-General Manager, and Mike Sullivan, Acquia’s CEO, kicked off the Summit by talking about Acquia and Widen coming together. Mike offered some background on Acquia, sharing that the company is rooted in digital experiences. 

“Nowadays it’s essential for any company to have a digital experience,” Mike said. “Most businesses have had a website but there are so many more channels, from text to social media and even the dashboard in your car.” And content is at the core of every digital experience. That’s why Acquia is excited to add Widen's digital asset management (DAM) and product information management (PIM) technologies to their digital experience platform (DXP) offering.

So how can customers expect to get more out of their content? Well, “more capabilities come from a tightly integrated DXP,” Mike shared. “If you want to personalize your website with content from Widen, it will be much easier. We’ll make it easier to create new, low-code websites that can be populated with Widen DAM content.”

Mike concluded that “[Acquia] acquired Widen for the same reasons [customers] invest in Widen — and we’ll work hard to continue earning your trust and business.”

Deanna Ballew and Dries Buytaert

A fireside chat with Deanna Ballew, Widen’s VP of Product, and Dries Buytaert, Creator of Drupal and Co-Founder and CTO of Acquia, gave even more insight into Acquia’s evolution and aspirations. Dries started the Drupal project from his dorm room in Belgium in 2001, and Acquia was born out of this project in 2007. The original company vision aimed to provide infrastructure, support, and services to enterprise organizations using Drupal.

As the company evolved, enterprise aspirations remained, while the focus continued to expand. Dries echoed Mike’s sentiment about the digital experience evolution. “It’s not enough to just have websites,” Dries said, “to win as a digital business you need a lot more — all sorts of tools.” This is why Drupal and Acquia continue to evolve as a company with DXP as their North Star. 

Though, unlike many DXP providers, Acquia’s software is an open solution. “We’re proud to be an open DXP...our approach recognizes that different organizations or verticals have specialized or preferred tools and we can’t build a suite of products that is the best at everything for everyone.” That’s where integrations come in. With over 40,000 integration options and counting, Acquia and Widen software will continue to integrate with tools that work best for each individual business. 

“We know Widen has a lot of integrations — even with our competitors. We love that,” Dries exclaimed. “We will invest in integrating the Widen DAM really well with Drupal products but we want [other integrations] to continue.”

Jake Athey and Alex Dal Canto

Rounding out our Widen/Acquia duos is Jake Athey, Widen’s VP of Marketing, and Alex Dal Canto, Director of Product Marketing at Acquia. This duo kicked things off by reviewing the five key findings of the 2021 Widen Connectivity Report, our ongoing study about the challenges marketers and creatives face when trying to balance technology with human touch. This year’s report focused on the role of product information in fostering deeper audience connections. So what does this have to do with Widen and Acquia?

Jake noted that “now that Widen is a part of Acquia, we have so much more we can offer, to help customers not only get more value from content investments but to take full control of delivering the best possible digital experience for customers.” And that’s where DAM, PIM, and DXP come together. 

Using the example of a new, inexperienced marathon runner, Alex walked through the connected in-person and digital experiences that many businesses are missing out on. Jake and Alex encouraged brands to rethink how they architect experiences to deliver content and product information from the ground up, breaking down experience silos and implementing global brand, data, and experience governance. So that when an amateur marathon runner begins their journey, content, data, and machine learning come together to compose the perfect experience at every turn. 

The Best DAM Contest

In just 50 minutes, three incredible customers highlighted the amazing work they’ve accomplished in their Widen Collective sites. Each contestant was tasked with sharing what they believe sets their DAM site apart from the competition. Each presented a different use case, strategy, and winning approach, but the audience response was unanimous...every story was informational and inspiring!

Rent the Runway

This year, Max Kristula-Green and Juliana Werring from Rent the Runway were awarded the title of “coalition-building champions” for their user-informed DAM site. 

Max and Juliana implemented a first-time DAM system for Rent the Runway and used the opportunity to create a show-stopping dashboard for their users. They set their site up for success by building a governing community, naming their system, and establishing an elevated and visually-appealing look.

Werner Co.

As our only solo contestant this year, EJ Fromer from Werner Co. was awarded the title of “people-focused prizewinner.”

EJ significantly simplified his site by making it publicly accessible, stripping down conversion format names, and building more than a few sparkling portals. Every action he took to improve his DAM site for Werner Co. was made with the user in mind and after extensive user research. His approach? Don’t make me think


And our Best DAM winners this year were Kara Bone and Sherwin Tolentino from T-Mobile. 

Together — although miles apart — Kara and Sherwin rose to the dual challenge of a merger and a pandemic by rolling out a new branded experience, leveraging the use of portals, and provisioning their users with the tools they need to successfully utilize the site.

A big congratulations and thank you to all of our contestants!

Tips from the Widen experts

At the Widen Summit, you can always count on Widen experts to share the inside scoop. This year, Wideneers from across the company highlighted different ways you can get more from your Widen Collective site. 

Product Roadmap
Deanna Ballew updated attendees on what’s coming next on Widen’s product roadmap including more integration options, Channel Portals, the Product Update Hub, and even more learning opportunities. And she reminded us that as we join Acquia, we’ll continue to deliver the same great products and services customers have come to expect from Widen. 

How Integrations Elevate Your DAM Strategy
Our partner and integrations teams were eager to share how customers are using their DAM system as a central source of truth and heart of their martech stack. With content as the currency of e-commerce, being able to easily access and deliver assets consistently and effectively across channels will elevate the digital experiences consumers demand. Integrated technologies allow teams to confidently source the content they need to deliver exceptional experiences.

From Excel to PIM: Moving to a Product Information Management Tool
We all love spreadsheets, they’re great. As Chris Schroeder, Widen’s Head of Product Management, explained, they’re flexible, familiar, and simple. And while spreadsheets still have their place in the modern tech stack, this flexibility and simplicity is a limitation when it comes to product information management. Chris reviewed the steps along the journey of moving from spreadsheets to PIM software and how spreadsheets and PIM tools can work together. 

Metadata Nirvana
Associate Product Manager, Michael Orear, defined metadata nirvana as a state of perfect findability for your assets. Essentially, it’s the optimal workflow for creating and maintaining the metadata in your DAM site...but we recognize that it can take a significant amount of resources to get to that point. Breaking your Collective data structure into categories, collections, custom fields, and tags allows you to section off each data type to optimize them individually. Michael offered tips and best practices to session attendees to help them work with each data set to create their own metadata nirvana.

Inspiring customer stories

No Widen Summit would be complete without aspirational customer stories. This year’s presenters shared everything from how to balance admin duties to leveraging the DAM API to bring the corporate art collection into employees' homes. 

Team stories

Empower Your B2B Sales Team with Connected Sales Materials and Portals
Sometimes there is a struggle between marketing and sales. But if the DAM team can look through the lens of a sales representative, sales and marketing can work together to become a powerful dynamic duo. Theresa Pennington, Director of Partnership Marketing at Life Time, reviewed common pain points that come from this disconnect and how cohesive sales materials, an integrated sales portal experience, and continuous feedback loops can help marketers connect and empower sales teams with relevant resources. 

Bridging Platforms and Managing Archives
When Autodesk launched their DAM system in 2016, they had a vision: one source of truth for multiple platforms. They ultimately wanted the Collective to be a bridge between their other repository, One Team Source, or OTS, to help connect marketing and sales assets across multiple platforms. While they originally started by mirroring assets between the DAM system and OTS, in June 2021 they finished the API setup and files now sync automatically to OTS from the Collective, making their DAM site the central repository across their content lifecycle. They also used a consistent taxonomy across their martech platforms. Ultimately, this harmonious vision for integrated solutions keeps assets and teams aligned, across workflows and projects.

The Art of API: Flexible iOS App Content
While you might know Progressive’s icon, Flo, you’re probably less familiar with the role that art plays in their company culture. In 1974, Progressive CEO, Peter Lewis,  began purchasing art for a corporate collection that has since grown to over 10,000 pieces, including sculptures, paintings, photography, and new media. Progressive’s desire to share this collection with the world took on new momentum during the pandemic when employees missed working alongside their favorite artworks. 

The DAM team developed the Progressive Art Collection app, which organizes artwork into exhibits and collections — similar to an art gallery. It also uses augmented reality (AR) to allow users to see how the artwork would look in their own space! And they did it by leveraging the Widen API to pull content from the DAM system into their art application. 

You can check out the art collection and the Collective-populated experience for yourself by downloading the iOS version of the app in the App Store. And yes, the team is working on an Android version next!

Portals: The Key to User Adoption
Global cosmetic and skincare company Laura Mercier, famous for their flawless face look, had purchased (but not installed) their DAM system when their Manager of Digital Assets, Anna Raugalis joined the team in 2019. After officially launching the Collective to a subset of teams in April 2020, Anna realized that getting the system set up was the easy part...getting people to use it proved more challenging. 

Teams across the company were used to the simple folder structure in Box and were having difficulty making the leap to a new, more advanced DAM system, Anna shared. They wanted to see everything in one place, in one click. Enter Portals. 

She set up her portals to mimic the folder structure users were accustomed to and received rave reviews. Users had everything they needed for a launch in one place and the creative team appreciated that assets were now featured in a branded environment. After testing the portals with teams closest to her, Anna rolled them out to all global users across North America, Europe, and Asia. And with Zoom training sessions, teams got more comfortable with finding assets in the DAM system, not just in the curated portals. 

But there was something else. This process was easy for users but not scalable for Anna. As a team of one, Anna needed a compromise that made users happy and set Anna up for success. So she went back to the DAM basics, breaking out roles and assets groups into more regional, use-specific groups. Now, instead of making individual portals for each region and use case, Anna uses a combination of roles, asset groups, and permissioned portals to send everyone one link to login and retrieve the assets they need — reducing the work for Anna while keeping her users happy. 

Moral of the story: the better the user experience, the better the DAM manager’s experience. 

Panel discussions

Plan to Grow: A Panel Discussion
While it’s hard to recreate the magic that happens during a panel discussion, the talented, veteran DAM managers from Trek, Pegasystems, and New Holland expertly handled questions from the moderator sharing practical tips and advice for DAM success. 

Finding the Equilibrium: Keys to Balancing Job Duties and Site Admin Responsibilities
As every DAM manager can attest, an admins job is never done! Admins from Baptist Health South Florida, Darden Restaurants, and Pilot Pen joined Senior Implementation Consultant, James Wanke, to share their insights and experience on everything from the impacts of COVID on site usage, DAM trends they see for their organization, and a look at how one admin approached revamping their DAM site. 

A huge thanks to all of you!

In addition to our full speaker and presentation agenda, all-access pass attendees had the opportunity to join Tabata and yoga workout sessions, test their trivia knowledge, and participate in the exhibition and networking lounge. There really was something for everyone and we’re grateful to you for making the Widen Summit happen. 

To quote Matthew’s closing remarks, “On behalf of Widen, on behalf of all of Acquia, thank you very much for everything you’ve done to make the 10th Summit the best one yet. We are grateful. Thank you!” 


Learn more about Acquia
Join Acquia Engage, the online event happening October 26-27, 2021.
Register now.

Topics: Widen Summit

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