28th September 2016

The DrupalCon Dublin 2016 wrap-up - a view from the floor

Asavin Wattanajantra
Marketing Manager

As a former tech journalist I am well experienced in attending conferences all around the world, so I was very excited to attend DrupalCon Dublin on behalf of Deeson.

With DrupalCon, it was a great opportunity to learn more about Drupal face to face with a thriving community. But with the ‘Future of Work’ approach being one of a number of reasons I decided to join the company, it was also a chance to share our message and the way people can thrive at Deeson with its openness, autonomy, flexible working, paid sabbaticals and paid time to contribute to the community.

DrupalCon Europe was very different to the conferences that I’ve experienced in the past in that instead of the slickness of a warm-up act with sales patter and a costly presentation, I was presented with fun and games from the Drupal community, including a singalong, viking claps, and some Irish dancing. Already I could tell this would be different experience to the tech events I’ve been used to.

This was great preparation for the day, and the first presentation I saw was a powerful keynote by the founder and lead developer of Drupal Dries Buytaert about how wide and far the community stretched, and how it gave opportunities in terms of a career around the world.

Below is a video of the keynote, and is certainly inspiring for anybody thinking of getting into Drupal, whether it’s as a developer or more business-focused person like me as a marketer, project manager, or salesperson.

My Second Day

The highlight was a meeting with Jeffrey A. McGuire, otherwise know as ‘jam’. He’s a well-known figure in the open source and Drupal world, with roles such as evangelist, speaker and storyteller.

He’s certainly quite a character, and is so passionate about open source and Drupal that you can’t fail to feed off the energy. We’re very lucky in that he will be attending a follow-up to DrupalCon in an October 10 event called DrupalCon Redux, which we’ll be holding in our London Kings Cross, St Pancras HQ.

I was present while our founder Tim Deeson and jam had a frank and interesting conversation on diversity and women in the world of digital. It’s something both are incredibly passionate about. Tim has already written a blog on the subject, and at DrupalCon Redux you can hear them talk about it in person and engage in discussion.

On the business end, one of the main takeaways from our talk for me was a sense of real excitement about the future of Drupal, particularly around the use of Drupal 8, which looks ready to cater for organisations that want to provide distinctive and diverse ways of interacting with content. Upgrade cycles are quicker than before, which means innovation can come to the platform much more rapidly than in previous versions.

As a marketer this is great, because there are obvious and clear reasons why certain businesses should consider Drupal to be a good option for them instead of content management systems like Sitecore, Adobe Experience and WordPress. But there are also a number of reasons why they don’t - and this extremely informative DrupalCon session is quite useful in seeing the issues.

Part of this is education. Companies such as Deeson have great case studies which I plan to share more widely, whether it’s through owned channels or with a wonderful community such as the Drupal Association. Drupal can be a very powerful option for the right organisations, and as a marketer I need to let people make the right decision for their businesses through the information we provide them on different channels.

It’s also good as a marketer for me to see the adaptability of Drupal, and the potential user cases I caan find. And with advances like the Internet of Things, digital signage, conversational interfaces and machine learning for example, we can think about the future.

Luckily, I’ve seen how Drupal 8 has a variety of capabilities which allows businesses to use content management systems as an API-first content repository - which means that it can be used for digital experiences that need centralisation rather than disparate digital touchpoints.

The Final Day

After a few social events put on the night before, there were definitely a few sore heads on the Thursday, as well as a desperate need for coffee!

Last day’s theme was around communities and giving back to Drupal, whether it’s contribution to code, UX and design or even documentation. The open source nature of the technology and the community it has inspired is fascinating to me and good to be part of. But there was also a focus on looking for new markets that could look at Drupal as a serious corporate technology that can really work for them.

There are certainly challenges, especially for organisations like the Drupal Association in reaching local communities in countries outside the US and Canada, and in some European countries. The post below shows what the Drupal community might have to think about when reaching new business markets around the world when it comes to the customer journey - from awareness to advocacy.

One of the interesting questions for me is how the Drupal community will change as the web technology matures and becomes more business focused and corporate, especially with quicker upgrade cycles and adaptability of Drupal 8. From what I’ve seen there are a lot of faces that regularly go to DrupalCon, and that injections of new blood, new ideas and new ways of thinking is crucial - we need to support that.

It’s certainly a challenge for me as a marketer - I already recognise that Drupal is an adaptable, stable and innovative option for certain businesses when it comes to content, and it’s my mission to share that with the corporate world in a language they use. But I don’t want to lose that community and open source vibe which I think makes Drupal what it is and so attractive to many. It’s one that I’m certainly excited about, and although I’ve been in the role a short time, I’m certainly developing a passion about what we do.

And finally - I just had to mention that I ended up on the winning team for the DrupalCon Dublin Trivia Quiz with Belgian-based Deeson Developer Kristiaan Van den Eynde. Together with presenting at the conference and opening a new Drupal module, it has been a super week for my colleague, and shows the quality that we have in the company as well as the fun we have as a team, even though a number of us live in different countries due to our distributed way of working