For the record, I love the DAM space…and not just because it lets me say things like DAM space, DAM ShortList and DAM solution. Saying DAM all the time is just DAM fun. I’m adult enough to admit I’m not adult enough to let that DAM opportunity pass. But a DAM is a critical tool that has oddly been confused with or replaced by cloud file storage solutions that allow for controlled file transfer and access…please…I beg you…don’t make error in content judgement. It is part of the last mile of experience delivery. Stop thinking it is just a place to stick brand police stuff.

Now with that out of the way, let’s focus in on the news of the day and why it should turn some heads. Acquia, the digital darling of the open-source developer set, has announced their definitive agreement to acquire Widen, one of the longest running names in assets. Terms have not been made public at this point.

Founded in 1948 as Widen Engraving, this family-owned business has literally been at the heart of turning words and photos into engagement, engraving type onto plates which then churned newsprint. As print turned into color, Widen evolved into a print leader producing assets from brochures to ads. As print turned into digital, Widen evolved yet again applying the organization, collaboration and distribution processes and mindsets required to successfully create printed assets into a comprehensive digital asset management solution. Widen has literally been there from the earliest days when assets started to shift buyer and market perceptions.

Acquia is best known for providing the building blocks for how experiences are developed, displayed and deployed across an expanding list of digital presentation layers. Acquia splits into two product clouds, Drupal Cloud for composing and deploying experiences and Marketing Cloud for engagement development and orchestration. Acquia’s CMS comes in the exact size and shape an enterprise needs with traditional, hybrid and headless applications available, enabling content to flow where and how organizations intend and envision. Acquia’s Marketing Cloud takes that same open-source spirit of their CMS and applies it to how customer experiences and engagements are developed, deployed and optimized with a CDP, marketing automation and journey orchestration capabilities.

Now…an open-source digital experience platform has brought on a seriously enterprise grade DAM and product information management (PIM) solution for an end-to-end content operations and experience play. I like both of these solutions for very different reasons having named Acquia to the recent Constellation Shortlist for DXP and Widen to the ShortLists for DAM for High Volume Commerce, DAM for DX and PIM. This is a bit like the ultimate ShortList mash up. And gotta say...I like it. The thing to keep an eye on is where the DXP heads next.

For so many in the DXP space, focus has been on unifying the tools and the data that power the most powerful digital experiences from websites, mobile apps to advertising and email campaigns. The addition of a DAM and PIM advance the toolkit of what can be used to aid in telling those content stories and delivering on those moments. While Acquia remains the developer’s friend, tools like Widen add to the growing demand for marketing and business unit friendly solutions that make the work of engaging with a connected customer through cohesive, personalized and relevant stories easier and more secure. It starts to empower engagement teams to think beyond the confines of an asset they have created or a channel they have built and manage.

The real power in these systems is in the intelligence they can deliver BACK to the organization…HOW are these moments in an asset’s journey helping optimize the next step or next engagement? Are the moments of content engagement occurring where, when and as long as we expect? Is there more to content’s value than its ability to appear where we ask it to appear? What can the content and drupal cloud tell the marketing cloud about the customer? That’s where the DAM rubber meets the road.

What is taking shape in this Acquia acquisition is a clear shot across the bow of the engagement and experience players like Adobe, Salesforce and Oracle. Acquia isn’t just “that Drupal CMS” or that open-source “build it yourself kit.” The intentional expansion of the Acquia DXP signals a clear intention to mix it up with those marketing and experience cloud players. With the addition of Widen to the arsenal, content has a whole new toolkit and a pretty big sandbox to grow in.