The New York-New York Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada was the site of the 2011 Advantage User Group conference and it was a hit! Attendance was up this year, with 53 people (8 from overseas) representing 26 different clients. In traditional AUG style, there were major travel woes on the east coast that caused delays, but most everyone made it safe and sound.
The two hot topics were AMB (access management and billing) and BI (business intelligence). Most clients are either on AMB, implementing AMB, or planning to implement it. There were ACS presentations by Phil Montgomery and me (Mona Hidayet) regarding the new AMB features coming in 2011, as well as two break-out round table discussions on implementing AMB and reporting on AMB. The popularity of the topics was evident, as the conversation flowed fast and strong. In fact, the last set of roundtables kept going well after ending time, as it seemed that networking really took off.
Corey Mantel presented on BI, another very hot new topic. AUG attendees showed a lot of interest in the new tool ACS has introduced. BI takes the world of reporting to a whole new level. Currently implementing BI are Kalmbach and the AMA. Kristie Fischer (KPC) and Sue Bukovsky (AMA) did an excellent job of presenting what each of their organizations are doing with BI, illustrating to the attendees some of the possibilities opened to them when using BI.
The keynote address was delivered by Ted Blizzard from the Massachusetts Medical Society, who delivered a spot-on, informative talk that got glowing reviews from the attendees. There were two sponsor companies, BillTrust and Silverchair, both of whom gave very informative presentations on what they offer and how they have partnered with our clients.
Dick Hile, Vice President Software Development at ACS, showed a sneak peek of the new interface design and turned his session into an open forum, passing out evaluation sheets to get the most important element of all: user input. "It was a lot of fun to show the latest prototype of our user interface to the AUG crowd," Dick said. "And it is proving tremendously valuable to hear their feedback at this stage of development. We have already implemented many of the suggestions we received." It seemed the attendees agreed, as they were as eager to give the feedback as we were to receive it, showing the true partnership between ACS and our clients.
The conference wasn't all business, though, it was Vegas after all! The fun started in the very first session of the conference, when I passed out actual casino chips to those who answered either Vegas or Advantage trivia correctly (did you know that ~ 230 couples get married each day in Vegas?). The group headed over to Planet Hollywood one evening for a variety show that got two of our own up on the stage (see photo) providing another great story for the AUG annals. Levi Hyssong of ACS is on the far left, and seated next to him, in the clown mask, is Clarence Adams from Wolters Kluwer Health.
Plan to attend next year's AUG and who knows? you might be in the featured photo.
ACS will be exhibiting at the annual UKSG (United Kingdom Serials Group) Conference and Exhibition to be held April 12 14 in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Fifty people descended on the New Maison Dupuy Hotel in the French Quarter of New Orleans January 13 - 15 for the annual Advantage User Group meeting. The 41 clients representing 23 different companies were joined by 9 representatives from ACS.
Although the conference officially opened on Wednesday night, three discussion sessions were planned for Wednesday afternoon for early arrivals and almost everyone attended them. Attendees had their choice of "XML ICEDIS Standards for Academic Publishers," led by Andy Wright of Oxford University Press, assisted by Dan Heffernan of ACS, or "Implementing Marketing Strategies in Advantage," led by Nikki Lorenz of Kalmbach, aided by Phil Montgomery of ACS. Much meaningful discussion took place during these highly interactive sessions. They were followed by an ACS-led AMB and BI module update/forum led by Dan Heffernan and Phil Montgomery. They were able to report on the latest additions to these popular modules.
The meeting officially opened with a vendor-sponsored meet-and-greet reception Wednesday evening. Representatives from two vendors, Jim Jankowski from Ladd & Associates and brothers George and Richard Coriaty of Sir Speedy, attended the conference. (Ladd is a circulation modeling software provider and Sir Speedy is a print-on-demand operation.) After the reception, many attendees headed down Bourbon Street to be amazed at the eclectic mix of elegant restaurants, famous music halls and the other, more low-brow establishments.
On Thursday morning, after a welcome and introductions by Andy Wright, the outgoing AUG chairman, Kevin Carr, president of Motor Information Systems, delivered an informative and entertaining keynote address. His talk was entitled, Change or Perish, and was a captivating case study of the Encyclopedia Britannica's rise to prominence over the course of the 20th century only to be followed by a rapid and nearly-complete collapse in the late 1990's and early 2000's. Carr's main point was that, due to a number of factors, EB did not adequately prepare for the technological changes that were making their way into the industry in the early 1990's. By the time they realized what was happening, it was too late. Their short-sighted refusal to acknowledge the realities of the changing marketplace led to their inevitable demise. Kevin cautioned the attendees to make sure they don't make that same mistake.
Rounding out the program on Thursday morning was a vendor presentation on circulation modeling by Ladd & Associates and Kristie Fischer of Kalmbach Publishing. Kristie, a user of the Ladd modeling software, explained how Kalmbach uses this application effectively by using data from Advantage to project a number of scenarios ranging from how many magazines to produce for a particular issue to how much revenue could be expected from a change in approach to renewals efforts. Jim Jankowski of Ladd Associates then demonstrated how to set up and use the Ladd application.
The food at the New Maison Dupuy hotel was superb and Thursday's lunch was no exception. Yum, yum!
Dan Heffernan, ACS VP of Product Direction, had the dreaded after-lunch time slot and tried to keep everyone awake with a colorful presentation of the latest ACS news, including current initiatives and the importance of keeping in touch with customers in order for ACS to provide real software for real life – at least in the publishing/information content business. He succeeded in holding the attention of the entire group and gave them much to think about.
Brandon Marsh of Penton Media then led a session in which he reviewed the results of a survey done prior to the conference in which people were asked to identify and rate the interfaces that they use. The list included credit card, address cleansing, manifest shipping and other interfaces. Attendees found this information helpful and ACS will be putting this on its website for ongoing reference.
Brandon's short presentation was then followed by roundtable discussions on several of those interfaces. Participants found this exchange with one another engaging.
The day concluded with an AUG business meeting in which Kevin Quinn of Wolters Kluwer Health was tapped as chair for the next term. Although some in the audience suspected that he was bribed, others responded that "it's about time." Also coming on board were Sue Sherrill of the AMA, and Ricky Land of National Auto Research.
Dinner Thursday evening was aboard a paddleboat on the Mississippi River. It was a little on the chilly side, but the lights of New Orleans from the water were breathtaking.
Starting off the Friday activities was a presentation of Advantage New Features, given by Mona Hidayet. The reps from Speedy Printing then gave a presentation on Print-on-Demand, and after that, the group broke up into small groups to attend the first of two hour-long roundtable discussions. Topics included Packages/combo orders, Print-on-demand, Promoting for Renewals, and Duplicate Consolidation. These roundtable discussions have become an important event at the conference, since everyone gets a chance to talk and all find something helpful to take away with them.
After a short break, the roundtables were repeated and attendees were able to attend a second discussion of their choice. The conference ended shortly after noon on Friday.
According to a survey performed after the conference, everyone who attended was either satisfied or highly satisfied. There was a tangible comfortable spirit at the conference, which even the new attendees felt. If you missed it this year, make plans now to attend in 2011.
Here are just some of the new features available in Advantage 2009R2.
- Access Management & Billing (AMB) - The AMB module now incorporates renewal statistics tracking, similar to functionality in the CIR module. The AMB340 process (regular renewals) and AMB350 process (auto-renews) will now auto-assign renewal promotion codes. Also, renewal responses to AMB promotions are reflected on the CPNPMO-M promotions statistics table, at the agreement level. A new promotion table, AMBPMO-M, reflects response statistics at the level of the access point.
- The Customer Overview display now incorporates the same routing functionality that is available in the Customer Portrait. From the Overview, you can access a number of different Advantage informational views for the customer---including, for example, A/R and subscriptions---as well as route immediately to MSTDAT/FST for the purpose of entering orders.
- Advertising Management (ADM) - Order entry and maintenance for the Advertising Management module has been consolidated into a single tabbed workspace, ADMDAT. From ADMDAT, you can enter and maintain advertiser contracts, as well as perform standard functions related to insertion orders. The ADMDAT workspace uses Advantage scripting functionality, meaning that you can tailor your contract and order entry fields according to the needs of the contract or order, or by user.
- Inventory Management (INV) - Advantage has added "price point" functionality to the Inventory management module. With this feature, you associate an item to a separate price point inventory item for the sole purpose of assigning and maintaining prices. For example, if you have a line of 100 items with identical pricing, and wish to increase the price incrementally each year, you can assign all the items to the same "price point" item. This means that ongoing price maintenance need only be performed on the price point item; the other items would inherit the pricing structure assigned to the latter.
- Conference and Event Management (CEM) - You can now offer Conference registrations as items under a promotion (along with PRO items, CIR subscriptions, MBR subscriptions, and AMB access points). As with the latter, you can set up multiple Conference offers under the same promotion, using different pricing, or a different mix of sessions. Finally, as with PRO, CIR, MBR, and AMB, you can set up reusable Conference "choices" at the CPNTBL workspace, so that you can assign the same offer to different promotions.
For more information, contact your ACS account manager.
In addition to flowers and sunshine, Spring means the publishing trade show season is getting underway. This year, ACS is exhibiting at the SIPA (Specialized Information Publishers Association) International Conference and at the Audience Development (formerly Circulation Management) Conference.
On Monday, June 1st at the SIPA conference, Dan Heffernan will participate in a panel discussion entitled: "Renewal Capabilities of the Top Fulfillment Systems" along with representatives from other industry vendors.
Information on the conferences is listed below. Plan to stop by the Advantage booth - and Dan's panel discussion at SIPA - if you attend either or both of the shows. We hope to see you there!
SIPA 2009 International Conference
"THRIVE in the Now. NAVIGATE in the Future."
May 31 June 2, 2009
Audience Development 09 Conference + Expo
"Your Roadmap for Growing and Managing Audience Across your Entire Platform."
June 7 9, 2009
Hyatt Chicago Riverwalk