02/05/2024 • Gunter Van Steen

How solution architect Gunter is shaping the future of DXP

In this blogpost Gunter Van Steen, solution architect, explains his role, journey and notable achievements at ACA Group. He gives an insider's perspective on the diverse responsibilities, rewarding milestones, and unique aspects of life at ACA. In the second part we shift focus to DXP (Digital Experience Platform), unraveling its definition, benefits, and applications. Read how ACA Group stands out in DXP solutions, about our approach to technology selection, and the future trajectory of DXPs in the digital landscape.

Part 1: Working at ACA

What’s your role at ACA?

"As a solution architect, my job is to understand the challenges our clients face and then identify the best products and solutions to address them. Typically, these solutions are built around a Liferay platform, but if other technologies are needed to provide the best possible solution, we'll incorporate those too.

Additionally, I'm involved in sales and marketing. I oversee all sales projects for our department, seeking opportunities to grow with our clients. I also contribute to our department's marketing plan, strategizing which messages to send to which audience at the right times. Lastly, I maintain relationships with our partners and vendors."

When did you start at ACA and what convinced you to start here?

"I started in July 2023. After being contacted by ACA, I had several conversations with ACA employees who told me a lot about the company's unique culture. With my experience in the IT sector, I already had an idea of what I wanted, and it seemed to align well with the stories I was told."

And what were the important aspects you found at ACA?

"Several things. The way they handle agile here, the strong team spirit, and also the focus on the human aspect and the well-being of employees. I also find the sports aspect a nice addition. For example, I'm part of the ACA-runners, a casual group of ACA colleagues who enjoy running and regularly participate in running events like the Antwerp Ten Miles. That sense of community adds extra motivation."

What does your average workweek look like?

"Thanks to my varied responsibilities, my job is quite diverse. Last week, I spent two days working on client projects. I organized some workshops to uncover and refine the client's functional needs, which I then translated into a concrete backlog for developing their new website. Additionally, I prepared some slide decks for sales and created content for marketing."

What achievements at ACA are you most proud of?

"I immediately think of two milestones that have given me a lot of satisfaction. The first one is winning the tender for TU Delft. Putting together the tender required a lot of time and effort, so it's really rewarding to see it pay off. I'm genuinely happy that we can contribute to the further development of the intranet of the largest technical university in the Netherlands.

The second achievement I'm proud of is organizing a 'sales meets sales' meeting where our account managers exchanged expertise with Liferay's sales experts. The aim was to strengthen the bond between ACA and Liferay and to elevate Liferay's importance in sales projects. That goal was more than achieved. The motto 'grow together' was further affirmed."

Why would you recommend others to come work here?

"First and foremost, for the positive team spirit. Everyone here is very helpful and always ready to proactively brainstorm, even in terms of sales and marketing. Additionally, there's a strong culture of motivation and gratitude. You often receive pats on the back as a sign of appreciation, which is very motivating and encourages you to take initiative. Moreover, at ACA, you get all the opportunities to develop yourself. If you see certain opportunities for yourself, you can always bring them to the table."

PART 2: Our DXP service offering

What exactly is a DXP?

"The term 'DXP', short for Digital Experience Platform, can refer to various things. It can both denote a platform like Liferay that encompasses multiple capabilities, and a concept where you utilize various tools that collaborate and integrate to ensure an optimized personalized digital user experience. The term 'user' can be quite broad in this context: a customer in an e-commerce environment, an employee in an intranet environment, or even a citizen using government portals."

What are the benefits of a DXP?

"DXPs enable organizations to provide personalized, consistent, and seamless digital experiences across various channels, such as websites, mobile apps, social media, and more. This enhances user engagement by delivering relevant content and functionality based on their preferences and behavior.

DXPs offer an integrated platform for building, managing, and optimizing digital experiences. Once the platform is set up, you can rapidly develop, test, and implement digital experiences, thereby reducing the time-to-market for new features and updates. Additionally, DXPs offer numerous benefits in terms of security integrations, flexibility, and scalability."

Which DXP applications can ACA assist with?

"We specialize in DXP applications tailored for public websites, intranets, and portals. These include customer self-service portals enabling clients to browse and purchase products while directly interfacing with the back office. Additionally, we've crafted Intrablox, an out-of-the-box intranet solution. This empowers employees to communicate, exchange information, stay on top of company updates, and collaborate on daily tasks."

What sets ACA apart from other providers of DXP solutions?

"We're not tied to any specific technology. We always start by understanding the client's needs thoroughly. By gaining a clear understanding of what a client wants, we can then choose the right technology. In practice, we find that Liferay covers most needs, even for complex projects. For projects where Liferay doesn't provide a complete solution, we have our custom development department to rely on. Additionally, we also use DatoCMS, and if necessary, we involve our colleagues from mobile development.

As a Liferay Gold Partner, we have over 10 years of experience with the technology. During this time, we've developed many reusable components that we can now offer as standard solutions, reducing the setup costs for our clients. For example, we've developed a Microsoft integration that we use for new projects as well. This significantly shortens the development process and reduces the likelihood of bugs."

How do you see DXP evolving further?

"We can't ignore AI anymore. DXP solutions will increasingly incorporate AI applications in the future. Think, for example, of chatbots trained on proprietary data or digital assistants. These applications will ensure that interactions with a DXP become even more personalized and efficient.

The rise of Low-Code will also continue, and Liferay is riding that wave. This allows you to easily develop additional tools and features yourself. What's great about Liferay is that they have a very clear roadmap and continuously innovate their solutions."

What advice do you give to organizations looking to invest in DXP?

"Invest in solutions that simplify your IT landscape while enhancing your customer experience. Don't rush into choosing a specific technology. First, ensure that you have clear objectives and a long-term vision. Opt for a partner who collaborates with you and makes choices aligned with your long-term goals. Long-term support is also important for maintaining the performance of your DXP in the long run."

Plans for the development of a high-performing and efficient DXP?
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