MarTech Interview with Deanna Ballew (SVP of Product, DXP) of Acquia

Marketers need to find what can enhance digital customer experiences. Are there any solutions that make this easy?

The most successful brands and organizations are those that understand the power of data to impact business decisions and drive the customer experience.

1. Can you tell us more about yourself and your career before Acquia?
My roots are in Iowa, where I grew up on a farm. I got my degree in Computer Science at Loras College, dove headfirst into the technology industry, and have never looked back. After a couple of brief tech jobs out of college, in 2004, I joined Widen, which has since been acquired by Acquia.

Widen has been a growth organization, so I’ve been able to pave my own career path. I feel like I have had six careers in my time at Widen. I started as a front-end developer, transitioned us into a software product organization, and then became Chief Innovation Officer in 2020.

Getting more involved with the product side of Widen was a true turning point in my career and allowed me to start working more closely with our UX team. This pivot opened my eyes to the true value of user-centered design methodologies — I learned that focusing on user-centered design leads to more innovation. This drove my desire to help bring more voices to the table. During my time at Widen, I was also inspired to take the next step in my personal journey by getting my MBA at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

My tenure at Widen allowed me to truly innovate and spend time digging into our products and the problems they can solve for our customers in order to provide the most value. This has helped me innovate with intent and have a more proactive mindset. I also translate this passion for innovating back to my days working on a farm. If the weather was bad or something broke, you have to solve the problem and move forward. Innovation was key to success then and it still is now.

2. Could you tell us more about Acquia and your role there?
As the Senior Vice President of DXP Products, I work across all of our business units to better understand our roadmaps and how they intersect. I oversee our UX and CX teams, honing in on the customer journey and utilizing service design skill sets to ensure all of Acquia’s digital experience platform (DXP) customers can embrace our full product and service portfolio for maximum results.

I’ve also been working with our product and marketing teams to explore product-led growth opportunities. As a leader, I’m always looking at whether or not we need to shift our direction.

3. Which industries do you mainly cater to?
Acquia solutions are used across all industries — 25% of the Fortune 500 use our products. A few particular areas of strength include retail, CPG, media and entertainment, financial services, higher education, and government.

4. What are the technology solutions that Acquia offers?
Customers use Acquia’s software to create digital experiences for customers, employees, and citizens. Our DXP includes solutions that help customers build, deploy, and manage by bringing together customer data and content, and then allowing it to be easily deployed across all digital platforms. Acquia’s solutions are open. Our Drupal Cloud offerings are based on the open source content management system, and the other pillars of our DXP — Acquia Customer Data Platform (CDP) and Acquia Digital Asset Management (DAM) are based on open APIs.

5. Can you elaborate on your Digital Experience Platform?
Acquia Open DXP combines the flexibility of Drupal with solutions for managing customer data and digital content across all channels to enable marketers, developers, and IT operations teams to rapidly compose and deploy personalized content to customers, employees, and citizens.

Acquia DXP serves as a central hub for teams to create, orchestrate, and optimize digital journeys at scale. With the power of many solutions integrated into one system, it gives teams the tools to gather cross-channel consumer insights, create comprehensive omnichannel strategies, build more personalized user experiences, and better manage campaigns. Acquia DXP picks up on customer engagement across channels and connects these digital touchpoints into a smaller, more informed ecosystem to manage.

6. What makes Acquia unique? Why should brands choose Acquia to create digital customer experiences that matter?

The most successful brands and organizations are those that understand the power of data to impact business decisions and drive the customer experience.

Acquia DXP is powered by Drupal, Acquia CDP, Acquia DAM, and our personalization solution to eliminate data and technology silos that hamstring teams from delivering superior experiences.

We also help organizations scale digital experiences from small to large, from one website or application to thousands, while maintaining brand integrity, supporting the most stringent security regulations, and protecting customer data privacy.

7. Could you give a sneak peek into the recent developments at Acquia?
We are always innovating, and there have been a number of notable developments in 2022. Most recently, we announced new capabilities for Acquia DAM called Channel Portals. These portals enable businesses to easily create and share branded, secure, and up-to-date digital product catalogs with individual partners to accelerate sales and ensure products are accurately represented in the market. We also announced new integrations for the combined Acquia DAM and PIM solution, allowing customers to create a more coordinated, automated content supply chain. Customers can sync assets and metadata across their martech stack. Furthermore, we announced new regulatory compliance features that help organizations using Acquia CDP comply with data subject requests and privacy laws in general.

8. Could you tell us more about your work culture, and what makes Acquia’s culture unique?
I transitioned into Acquia’s culture from Widen a year ago, and it’s already been an incredible journey. Acquia’s culture is rooted in deeply caring for our customers. Across every touchpoint and conversation, it’s clear that Acquia employees want to do right by our customers—whether that be delivering customer value or quickly resolving customer issues—we are there every step of the way to support them and their experiences. Our customers see this level of care as a differentiator and appreciate it, allowing us to create strong, long-lasting relationships.

9. In your opinion, what are the most exciting topics in MarTech right now? How do you keep up with the constantly changing landscape?
While the pandemic is certainly not a favorite topic, it has brought a rapid pace of change to the technology sector, and I’ve found these changes particularly fascinating. In martech, it’s been interesting to see how customer behavior has changed. Not only are we buying differently, but we even interact with brands differently. It’s been very exciting to see what new martech tools and technologies are getting stitched together to deliver exceptional customer experiences at every touch point.

The metaverse has also been a very exciting topic. As a mother of three boys, I see my sons using Roblox every day and it’s a constant reminder of how many brands are dipping their toes in the virtual reality space to reach new consumers. These are new emerging areas that marketers are interested in, and that’s very exciting to see.

10. What is the biggest piece of advice you would want to give to company leaders?
Make space for everyone’s voice to be heard and ensure you have diversity across these voices. As I reflect on my career, one of the things I’ve loved most about my job is that there’s always been an opportunity for me to do more. As leaders, we can get caught up in driving towards goals but that’s not where innovation happens, nor does it delight our customers. Goals are just an outcome of us doing our job, and the innovation and the customer value really come from having those diverse voices in the room.

11. What movie/book has inspired you recently?
I recently read “The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World,” by Melinda Gates. What inspired me most about this book was not only its focus on empowering women to have a voice but its emphasis on the incredible impacts that women make on communities. It dug into how by ensuring that everyone has a voice and can play their role, the whole community is elevated.

That book also focused on the impact that women have on those around them when they jump into leadership roles or “find their voice”. I found this particular theme very inspiring, especially as a woman in the technology sector. I’ve noticed firsthand that any time I bring new women into a male-dominated team, the conversation and collaboration changes, and a stronger work environment is created. This book really made me think about what more I can do as a female within the broader technology community.

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Deanna Ballew (SVP of Product, DXP) of Acquia
Deanna Ballew joined Widen in 2004 with a focus on research and development activities and served as the company’s Chief Innovation Officer from 2020 through the acquisition by Acquia in 2021. Her leadership transformed Widen’s software-development operations to embrace a product-led and user-centered approach to solving marketing problems. Deanna has built cross-functional teams of software engineers, designers, researchers, data specialists, and product managers in support of innovation necessary to capture market opportunities. In her role as SVP of DXP Products at Acquia, she continues to guide core strategy while planning for future growth.
Deanna holds degrees in computer science and English writing from Loras College, and an MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Acquia empowers the world’s most ambitious brands to create digital customer experiences that matter. With open source Drupal at its core, the Acquia Digital Experience Platform (DXP) enables marketers, developers and IT operations teams at thousands of global organizations to rapidly compose and deploy digital products and services that engage customers, enhance conversions and help businesses stand out.

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