Acquia releases employee experience features for DX platform

Developers are the focus of Acquia's update to Open DXP. They get an all-cloud app dev environment, AI search and a toolbox to build employee-facing apps and services.

 Acquia Open Digital Experience Platform is the latest to add employee experience developer tools, among a broader swath of new features and capabilities.

Acquia makes the case to turn its flavor of the open source Drupal web content management into the next-generation corporate intranet, where employees can find training, forms, work scheduling and collaboration content they need to do their jobs. Other large vendors such as Oracle with Journeys and  Salesforce with a relaunched began applying CX tools to employee experience in earnest during the pandemic.

Acquia's employee experience tools will enable developers to build portals that give workers a personalized web portal that could access all enterprise content, services, resources and systems, said Kevin Cochrane, Acquia senior vice president of product marketing.

These employee experience tools aren't intended to replace traditional HR systems of record or talent management apps, but rather to integrate with those applications and data sources to give employees better, more intuitive access to them. The idea being, if a user invests capital into designing a top-notch customer web experience, why not use those building blocks to upgrade the employee experience as well?

With the Acquia customer data platform, users can deploy the same technology they use for marketing and e-commerce personalization to help employees navigate their jobs, Cochrane said.

Acquia employee experience web dashboard
Acquia employee experience tools are designed to improve the interface between employees and corporate applications by aggregating crucial feeds in one dashboard.

Customer, employee experience on the same platform

Using the same platform to serve customers and employees is a "huge trend," said Alan Pelz-Sharpe, founder of Deep Analysis. The COVID-19 pandemic forced many companies to find new ways to connect with their employees working from home for even the most basic matters such as logging time off. Offices might be opening up, but not everyone will return, so those digital experiences to support at-home workers need to be strengthened. 

"If you take all that Acquia and Adobe have done in the consumer world over the past 20 years -- they've transformed it," Pelz-Sharpe said. "There's no more right-clicking -- it's all interactive apps and looks amazing. We'll bring that into the employee experience and reimagine it. ... They don't need an endless stream of things like the Monday morning message from the CEO. They need practical things to get the job done."

Corporate intranets are terrible places… Everyone's got one, and no one likes them.
Alan Pelz-SharpeFounder, Deep Analysis

With so many employees going remote during the last year and a half, software vendors have focused on making it easy for remote workers to connect to things they may have asked an office colleague how to find on the corporate intranet, often hosted on SharePoint.

Making the next iteration of a corporate intranet a Drupal website is an interesting way to solve that issue, Pelz-Sharpe said. Companies like Adobe and Acquia have enabled developers to create elegant apps for customers over the last 20 years, and doing that for employees is the next logical step. Developers will likely see it as a new avenue to deploy and monetize their skills.

"Corporate intranets are terrible places," Pelz-Sharpe said. "Absolutely horrible things. Everyone's got one, and no one likes them. Nobody wants to build another one, but everybody wants to build a better employee experience."

Employee experience design chart

Marketing Cloud gets boost

Acquia added several developer tools to Open DXP as well as upgrades to Acquia Marketing Cloud in this year's update. For developers, the Acquia Cloud Integrated Development Environment (IDE) is fully cloud native. This means DevOps and SecOps can all be managed remotely, Cochrane said.

"In this day of hybrid work, work-from-home, some millennial developer working on a laptop in Starbucks... the code never leaks," Cochrane said. "Your organization and every line of code that is written is 100% safe and secure. It's all designed to make developers just be able to get in, get coding, and ensure not only fastest throughput but also make certain that you have performance, security and governance."

Also included is a new AI search tool based on a partnership with LucidWorks, which can suggest content and search results as a worker types, as well as a Lando plugin, PHP 8 and Drupal 9 support.

While Acquia is known to be a developer-first platform, its Marketing Cloud enables line-of-business users to manage campaigns on their own. Marketing Cloud features included in today's release include a unified user interface for Acquia CDP, Personalization, Campaign Studio and Campaign Factory, which has a different scheme from the DevOps suite; the Machine Learning Center, which aggregates in one place all the AI tools marketers tend to employ from a number of different vendors; and a "golden template" workflow tool in Campaign Factory that streamlines management of web pages, emails and marketing segments.

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