by Dan Heffernan
Some time ago, a group of us at AdvantageCS were trying to come up with a short description for Advantage (the application) and were struggling to put it concisely, since Advantage is so many things. It has been described as a CRM, an ERP, a fulfillment system, and an order processing system. We made poor attempts at metaphors to help communicate conceptually what Advantage does – we tried a heart, or the engine of a car. These metaphors broke down quickly. Then we thought of four words that describe the broad areas that Advantage addresses: marketing, sales, distribution, and analysis. We turned this into a marketing campaign: Market, Sell, Deliver, Analyze. Repeat. This is a pretty accurate description of what Advantage does at a high level.
But during this time, …
With apologies for the distasteful cat reference, content creators (authors, publishers, editors, marketers, photographers, teachers, you get the idea) have more ways to represent, package, and sell digital content than they did just a few years ago. In fact, there are so many ways of even talking about digital content that we usually begin meetings with clients and prospects by defining the terms we all use. This exercise alone reveals the myriad ways of attacking this and often results in creative thinking about other ways of monetizing digital "stuff."
Let's start with a straightforward example. A magazine publisher with a number of special interest magazines has three titles on woodworking. Of course, the publisher can digitize each issue of those three titles and sell the digital …
Although the calendar says it's spring, I am looking at snow falling outside my window. Tens of millions of people in the U.S. could probably have written that first sentence, so I apologize for being so obvious. But weather always reminds me of travel (probably because it affects it so much), and travel is something we do more of now than our predecessors did. And travel is a big part of my life.
Usually, I am travelling to visit a prospective client to show them how many business problems our software can solve for them. It is impossible to go through a thorough demonstration of our software in a day, because there are so many business problems that it addresses. It's a bit like exploring a mansion. Just when you thought you'd reached the end of the house, you open a door to …
One of the challenges of a company like ours is organizing ourselves in such a way as to be able to serve our existing clients well, implement Advantage at new clients effectively, and push our product into places where our clients will need it to be when they get there. This was brought home to me this week while visiting an AdvantageCS client who needs the products we are developing ASAP!
This is the story at so many of the publishing companies we visit. They are under tremendous pressure to deliver new products to their audience in order to grow and thrive. They are looking to technology companies like AdvantageCS to provide what they need, and speed to market is of the utmost importance.
We’ve made some changes to meet these increasingly crucial demands. Recently, a team of …
Last Fall, I attended the international conference of the Federation of International Periodical Publishers (FIPP) in Rome. Once again, the refrain "Go Digital!" was sung during two days by a full set of speakers, both from the vendor side and from the publishing world. Actually, it was not so much a "move away from print" speech as a lack of understanding of this traditional business that really struck me in those sessions. Multiple presentations around brand extension, social networking and new revenue streams were largely shown by the gurus of this new world. And when an "old timer" came on the stage to present about traditional print, the audience did not really take him seriously. However, the final conclusion brought everybody back to earth. The three executives that were …
We are always looking for ways to improve our internal processes to provide better services and software. Recently, we've started experimenting with a different software development methodology called Scrum. Traditionally, we have used the Waterfall methodology, which our clients will be familiar with in practice if not by name. Roughly, the process progresses through the following steps: business requirement -> functional design -> development -> QA -> release. Here is a diagram of the classic Waterfall method we've been using for the past 30 years.
Why change if the current process works? Well, we're not throwing out the Waterfall model entirely - it can be effective in some instances. However, in some development projects, particularly larger ones involving several engineers, the …
From our inception, there has been an attitude at ACS which I’ll call “can-solve.” It means we go all-out to come up with innovative solutions to business challenges. Recently, I overheard an experienced business analyst explaining to a newer analyst out in the hallway late one Friday that “we can’t just leave this problem over the weekend for Monday. We need to take care of it. Not solving it is not an option around here.” I was struck by how eloquently the experienced ACS'er encapsulated our culture. We bend over backwards to help our clients. We take problem-solving very seriously, both professionally and personally. In fact, it’s that ACS “ownership” of the problem which our clients say makes them trust us and stay with us. Forgive me for tooting our …
Every 10 years or so we invest deeply in the product to move it forward to a new platform. We are just completing the final touches on Advantage 2012r2 (available 6/30) which brings Advantage fully into the .NET environment. This technology leap is a springboard for further development of Advantage in all kinds of directions. It removes the borders around the software and opens up vast possibilities for integration, globalization, and deployment.
As a non-technical guy, let me explain what this means.
First of all, we are not announcing a new product which our clients will have to re-license. Our clients’ licenses to Advantage are a protected investment. We always provide an upgrade path to the latest release, and this huge leap forward is no exception. Our clients will have a …
During the holidays, we attended the requisite round of get-togethers with family and friends. This year, my family hosted four events, which actually made all the cleaning and decorating worthwhile.
My conversations frequently migrated to publishing and information technology. While sampling the wine and cheese pairings, I noted a number of common topics that were on the minds of my small, statistically-challenged sampling of the general public.
Why are bookstores going out of business?
My sample noted that bookstores are now hosting special events or selling video games, candles, collectibles, board games, jigsaw puzzles, coffee, and sandwiches rather than selling books. New library branches appear to have more computers than books.
All of my classes now use course packs. …