It's Access Management and Billing (AMB) month! We've packed October full of sessions geared to give you the latest information on the most popular module of late. Using the AMB functionality, Advantage manages orders and access for all types of digital media, from your online newsletter to content databases.
October 15th and 22nd, Corey Mantel and Phil Montgomery will be demonstrating the AMB module. These are FREE sessions… don't miss out!
Later this month, John Sheehy will be providing in-depth training; "Administering the AMB module" on October 27th and "AMB Data Entry and Customer Service" on October 29th.
MOTOR purchased the Advantage AMB module to handle the authentication of customers and manage billing and accounts receivable for the database customers. A large benefit of using AMB is its integration with the rest of the system. The previous method involved several disparate systems requiring manual updating.
Along with the CRASH database, MOTOR also converted the rest of their E-Tech products, including such things as wiring diagrams, heavy truck products and technical service bulletins. Motor's Jay Goklani and Nilesh Acharya spearheaded the effort to combine the E-Tech family of products using AMB. Their efforts paid off, as there were no unanticipated issues at go-live.
"This was a huge undertaking by both Jay and Nilesh," said Todd Ladson, Motor's Director of Finance, as he announced the launch. "Both of them worked extremely hard at combining both the E-Tech family of products along with Advantage's Access Management module, creating a very robust application for our customers."
Offering access to online content and digital products is a little different from selling and managing print publications. The digital format allows you to offer your customers tremendous flexibility in their subscription start times, lengths and conditions, but with that flexibility comes the need to track and manage their purchases differently. That's where Advantage's Access Management and Billing (AMB) module can help.
AMB is a fully integrated solution for tracking, managing, and charging for access to online content that may either complement your print subscriptions, or be offered as its own product line. With the AMB module, you can:
- offer access agreements of flexible lengths
- record the valid participants and their authentication information
- price the access through a variety of means that include rate codes, discount overrides, and markup percents
Once the agreement has been finalized, you release it in Advantage, which creates access ("on-off") records that you provide to the content host. With the AMB module, you do not directly host the content from within Advantage, but rather fully manage and charge for the access.
AMB supports the flexible pricing and discounting models often needed for marketing online access. You can discount certain parts of the content (called "access points" in Advantage), or discount the overall agreement. Or you can provide override prices at any level---such as when you negotiate a set price with a customer for online access. AMB can be used to service agreements of any size, from single-user access to multi-site agreements with many participants, such as a large consortium.
With the AMB module, you can offer access agreements as part of a normal Advantage order---combined, for example, with a CIR subscription, a PRO product, or a CEM conference registration. Access Management and Billing is integrated with Advantage Web capsules, so that customers can self-service at your website. In addition, AMB access agreements can be offered as items on a promotion, as well as included in inventory packages.
AMB includes functionality that supports the subscription aspects of online access, including renewal efforts, auto-renewal, trial terms, and gracing. However, the module also offers features that are unique to online access products. These include agreements that charge per use (i.e., "n" downloads), administrative-only participants who service agreements for their site but do not receive access to content, and the ability to record acceptance of an end-user license agreement before access is granted.
The AMB125 upload process can be used to create fully loaded access agreements with all participants and their authentication information. The process can be used to supplement online order entry, or as a tool for converting or loading agreements that were created outside of Advantage.
Whatever your access management needs, the AMB solution is the ideal tool for any Advantage user, and the perfect fit for your integrated Advantage environment. For more information, contact your ACS account manager or email Ken Nemerovski.
- You can now include AMB agreements in inventory packages that are set up at the INVPAK workspace. You can include a CIR subscription (or a PRO product) with an AMB agreement within the same package for your customers, and offer package pricing. Currently, only single-access-point agreements may be used with this feature.
- A new view, OPRDAT/SES, tracks the history of user locations, as well as high-level activity (logging in and out, routing between views, etc.). This information could be of use in researching system problems, for example---since you have an audit trail of how users have moved through the system.
- With this release, separate transaction tables have been created as associated tables to both the CPNPMO-M and CIRPMO-M tables. The new associated tables contain only the statistical portions of the current promotion tables (and omit the fields related strictly to promotion setup). These tables are updated by Advantage processes, which in turn update the main CPNPMO-M and CIRPMO-M tables when the process completes successfully.
One effect of this change is that users can now be working at the CPNPMO workspace and its views (to add and maintain promotions) while the posting processes are running.
- A separate Date of Birth field has been added to the main Advantage customer record. Many clients use this information in their daily business, and previously have had to store this in a customer demographic field. The new date-format field allows the customer's birthdate to be stored directly on the main record.
For more information, contact your ACS account manager.
Last year, my family and I made our seventh move for Advantage Computing Systems. This was a move from beautiful, warm Alabama to beautiful, cold Michigan. Since Cecilia, my wife, was born and raised in a tropical country, you can imagine that this last move was met with something that could best be described as, well, "less-than-enthusiastic." Let's just leave it there.
After a 16-year absence from my home state, I'd forgotten how quickly winter becomes summer. Just two weeks ago as I write this it was snowing. Now, there are leaves on many of the trees and it's been in the 70s for several days. Of course, it will probably snow again tonight.
But this quick transition is good because summer is our family's favorite season for the aforementioned reason, and the sooner it's hot out the better.
This time of year usually forces some planning, as weekends begin to get filled up with graduations, weddings, visits for Mother's Day and Father's Day (you're welcome for the reminder) and family reunions, and we start to see that the summer is short and we'd better plan on a vacation or it simply won't happen.
At ACS, we force people to plan early so that we can stagger vacations to provide the appropriate amount of support to you, our clients. (Sometimes I think it would just be easier if we did what they do in many countries: all take the month of August off and head for the beach.)
This forward-looking exercise is something we're constantly doing for our product as well. We are finding that in order to be agile enough to keep up with the barrage of new ideas that come our way from you, our innovative clients, we need to consistently take a step back and make sure we're not only seeing the forest for the trees, but that we're in the right forest!
Let me provide an example. There have been clients who have accused us of being focused on print publishing, rather than digital. Our print-based functionality in our product has been cited as proof of this focus. Please indulge me in addressing this allegation.
Advantage has, for many years, provided solutions for publishers of digital content. When it became clear that the move toward digital publishing was not just a fad, we set about designing areas of functionality that would address the software requirements of publishers who wanted to sell digital content. (Digital, electronic, online call it what you will, we're talking about the same thing here it's not on paper.) We met our clients' needs in this area by expanding on functionality already found in our software to cater to the unique requirements of digital publishing. But it wasn't long before we decided to create some new functionality specifically designed for digital content sales - Access Management & Billing, affectionately known as the AMB module.
In the last year or so, this area of our software is receiving major attention from many of you. As a result, it is going through further development and refinement and is turning into the hottest thing on our plate. We can hardly keep up with the demand for demonstrations!
But this all took the foresight of seeing the need and developing the specific functionality BEFORE any of you required it. Let's use the analogy of a house: we had to build the model so you could see the potential. Then once we had the spec house in place, you were able to choose the carpeting, paint, tiles and cabinets to prepare it for occupancy.
We have made digital publishing a focus of much of our efforts over the last several years. We have not removed print functionality (such as direct mail costs and providing customer service letters on the printed page), because most of our clients still need it. But in the digital world, as you know, the reader wants to subscribe for periods of time which are much more variable, such as 24 hours, or 3 weeks or 4 months, when they know they'll be done with a course they're taking, for example. Digital publishing does not nail the reader or publisher down to issues of a journal or magazine. Digital content is more fluid and can change constantly. It can be purchased under many models: straight time-based subscriptions, number of downloads, phonecard models, etc. More models are being thought up all the time. And the content itself can be made up of pieces of journals or magazines, chapters of books, charts, pictures and tables of contents that the reader might want to package all together and access at a nice package discount.
It takes the print publishing business model and turns it on its head.
Here's a quote (reprinted with permission) from industry guru Bob Sacks of Media Ideas, which focuses on magazine publishers, but underscores why we are doing what we're doing with Advantage:
"Magazines are not changing, how you read their content is. What is a magazine? We at Media-Ideas believe that for a magazine to be a magazine, it must be metered, edited and have designed content, as well as be delivered periodically to the reader in a format that is date-stamped and permanent. We accept that a digital magazine with those six attributes is a magazine. We further believe that over the next 15 years, digital magazines will grow to become 30 percent of the magazine market. Within 25 years, they will represent more than 75 percent of the market for periodicals Publishers must create a specific road map today toward multiplatform magazine publishing and content distribution."
So as you are in the process of transforming your business away from paper, communicate with us and with our clients. There are probably Advantage users who have been through what you are facing and have used Advantage as the tool to drive that transformation.
For our part, we are looking at a number of areas where we'd like to expand functionality. Some of it we'll develop and for some of it we'll likely partner with other software developers. Please just be assured that I am pestering our engineers with ideas and impossible deadlines to make sure Advantage, both the product and the company, are ready to meet the latest requirements for your business.
Enjoy the Spring, and please pick up the phone and call whenever you want to talk about anything regarding Advantage new ideas or questions about what we can already do. I'd love to hear from you.
Advantage now supports multiple credit card (and/or direct debit) clearing vendors on the same instance of the software. This would allow your organization, for example, to use the same instance of Advantage for operations in different geographic locations, each with its own credit card or direct debit vendor.
An upload process has been added for Access Management and Billing. You can load up agreements---with full participant and access point information---including agreements that may have been entered outside of Advantage. The upload process can be particularly useful for moving agreement management from an outside system onto the Advantage database.
Separate "transaction only" tables have been created as appendices to the promotion analysis tables (CPNPMO-M and CIRPMO-M). The transaction tables contain only the statistical fields from CPNPMO-M and CIRPMO-M. Advantage processes that update promotion stats now write to the transaction tables and then roll up the statistics to CPNPMO-M and CIRPMO-M at the end of the process. As a result, promotion code maintenance at CPNPMO can occur while Advantage posting processes are running.
An upload process has been added for the Contact Management system, with the option to create a task that is linked to an image on the network. You could scan in documents that are related to customer service issues and then create a CRM task via the upload that is automatically linked to one of the images.
You can now enter PRO returns at SVCDAT/PRO, instead of MSTDAT/FST. For example, if a customer calls in the return, the rep can locate the order at SVCDAT/PRO and process an applied return without having to route away from the basic customer service flow.
For more information, contact your ACS account manager.