Hot Take: Acquia Buys AgilOne CDP

Today brings news that longtime Web CMS/Drupal vendor Acquia will acquire one of the older Customer Data Platform vendors, AgilOne

What to make of this?  Here's three quick take-aways.

1. Your WCM Can't Do Customer Data

The acquisition caps several years of Acquia trying (and largely failing) to manage customer data within it's "Lift" personalization module. It will take some work to retrofit AgilOne into Lift and other Acquia engagement systems, but on the whole, this is a good move architecturally.

Other Web Content & Digital Experience Management (WCM) vendors are also struggling to manage customer data that they're trying to leverage for personalization.  As an enterprise licensee, you don't want to "lock" your customer data into any specific engagement channel in any case.  So, this move puts pressure on the likes of Sitecore and Episerver to re-assess their solutions architecture around data management.

2. Acquia Has Become a Frankenstein

Acquia's suite now contains a somewhat heterogeneous mix of platforms:

  • Custom Drupal build
  • Separate Acquia-only tooling for personalization, multi-site management, syndication, search, and cloud configuration management
  • Acquired low-code development platform
  • OEMs of third-party cloud services for DAM (WebDAM) and Journey Orchestration (Kitewheel)
  • Acquired Marketing Automation Platform (Mautic)
  • Acquired CDP (AgilOne)

A savvy enterprise buyer will remain cautious about how well these are likely to integrate with each other.  But more importantly, you have to be careful about whether any particular module would actually make a good fit for you.  For example, the AgilOne CDP is very B2C-focused with an emphasis on large retail, while the Mautic email automation platform has a history primarily in mid-market, B2B use cases. 

3. Open Source and SaaS Are Uneasy Mix

Acquia has grown two ways: 1) building proprietary cloud services and 2) acquiring or OEM'ing commercial SaaS platforms.  With each step it moves farther away form its open source roots.  At RSG we don't make too much of this — license models are converging across the industry — but it dilutes one of Acquia's longtime selling points.  It also continues the vendor's trajectory away from the core Drupal community into becoming more of a walled castle in a dangerous world.  Fortunately, committed Drupal enthusiasts have many other cloud-based hosting options today.

Barbarians at the gate
How Acquia describes Drupal: exciting but occasionally dangerous.

Final Advice

Don't license a CDP from your incumbent WCM (or Email, or CRM, or whatever) vendor just because they want to sell it to you.  Prioritize your CDP business scenarios, and make sure that any customer data mart lives as an independent layer in your stack and not bound to any specific engagement channel.

You can always download complimentary samples of RSG's CDP (and WCM) vendor evaluation research.


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