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    Thriving after Surviving 2020

    Seventy-five attendees from Advantage clients across the world (representing more than 8 countries) recently assembled via Zoom to share and catch up with each other after the upheaval of 2020. As the first open discussion, entitled “Weathering the Storm” began, one client fittingly remarked: “I didn’t know it would be a literal storm,” referring to the strong winter storms that were moving across the US.

    Felicia Muse (Agora/14 West), chairperson of the Advantage Users Group Steering Committee and emcee of this year’s event, welcomed everyone to the conference on Wednesday and encouraged all to consider joining the AUG Steering Committee. She expressed that being part of the group helps improve collaboration and connection. To further illustrate the benefits of these networking …

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    Congratulations to Mike Miklosovic: Soon-to-Be Retiree

    In his nearly 30 years at AdvantageCS, Mike Miklosovic has held a number of positions. He started out as a programmer in 1980, when AdvantageCS was T & B Computing, and he helped develop the first version of Advantage. (Do Fortran and Cobol ring any bells?) After 8 years, he left the company because he was interested in a position where he could meet and communicate with clients face to face. He moved to the University of Michigan Department of Surgery as a programmer/analyst where he worked for 11 years until he felt he was ready for a new challenge.

    Mike returned to AdvantageCS in May of 2000 as an analyst/project manager. In that job, he not only met clients, he spent considerable time at their offices during implementation projects. Mike truly enjoyed the travel and getting to know …

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    Register Now for the Advantage Users Group Conference February 17-19, 2021

    Register here for the annual conference taking place via Zoom February 17-19, 2021. Registration is FREE! But you must register to be included in the Zoom meeting.

    Sessions will take place over the three days including updates from AdvantageCS that you won't want to miss. Here's the planned agenda. (Times are in Eastern Standard Time.) Please share this with any of your coworkers who might be interested in attending.

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    Ray Zick: Persistent Problem Solver and People Person

    Ray Zick has his head in the clouds. No, he isn’t absent-minded or unaware, and he’s certainly not illogical. Quite the opposite, in fact. But as the manager of the Cloud Services team at AdvantageCS, he spends a lot of time with his head---as well as the rest of him---in the clouds. He and his team provide hosting services for Advantage clients in the cloud and are constantly working to enhance what services they can offer to cloud clients, such as continuing improvements to onboarding procedures.

    But that’s not all Ray’s team does. They manage our internal systems and network and provide user support to everyone in the company. When the lockdown in Michigan began last March, the team scrambled to get dozens of employees, who had always worked in the office, set up to work remotely. …

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    Data-Driven Decisions vs. The Movies

    Movies, TV shows and novels are riddled with uninformed decisions made by characters who don’t know the full story. This lack of accurate information provides tension and suspense as things go awry until another character, who knows the truth, reveals it.

    Unfortunately, uninformed decisions are also made by real people who don’t have all the data they need to make informed decisions. And some such decisions are important, high-impact ones that have repercussions for years to come.

    Why do humans do this?

    Is it because our emotions get in the way of critical thinking? 

    Is it because we’re too lazy to do our due diligence?

    Is it because we believe we have a good “gut feel” for such decisions, so we don’t worry about the facts?

    I can think of plentiful examples of each of the above. …

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    Have You Seen Our User Interface Lately?

    The Advantage user interface---we call the latest version Sky---continues to evolve to meet the changing needs of Advantage users and the technological landscape. The Sky UI offers increased efficiency, reduced complexity and added flexibility to the user experience for your team. It also comes with robust architectural underpinnings for the modern application.

    Full Web Experience

    Since Sky runs entirely in the browser, there are no more application installations. Users simply open their browser and start using the powerful features they are used to. Oh, and the transition to Sky happens seamlessly as part of our guaranteed upgrade path.

    Reimagined Ribbon

    The traditional horizontal ribbon has been reimagined as a vertical navigation pane for increased usability. The Sky UI boasts …

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    Publishing Trends in 2020

    This article is a write-up of a presentation by Philippe van Mastrigt, Director of European Operations at AdvantageCS at the 2020 European Users meeting.

    The Covid Disruption

    A year ago, who would have predicted the COVID crisis? This worldwide pandemic and the consequences of the first world-wide lockdown have impacted many industries, including publishing. For publishers, the impact has produced new challenges but has also had some positive effects.

    First the good news: the pandemic has generated a huge demand for reliable news. This is a significant shift from the previous trend of decreased interest in information according to several polls done last year (for example, the one done by French daily La Croix in January 2020).

    The first indicator of this was the boom in web traffic …

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    2020: A Retrospective

    Could it have been a more challenging year?

    There were moments, especially in the last few months, when it seemed as if everything I encountered was negative and I really wondered if we would ever return to our “normal” life.

    Then I watched a Band of Brothers episode and realized that life isn’t as bad as it could be. We are not in the middle of a world war, though some fellow humans are experiencing war.

    So, the answer to my opening question is a resounding “yes!” It could have been much more challenging.

    This is not meant to minimize the difficulties that many have experienced, nor the sorrow in the face of loved ones dying and others suffering from the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, either physically, emotionally or financially. It has been tough for most, but it has been …

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    Advantage Academy 2020: A Virtual Success

    The second Advantage Academy took place remotely throughout the month of October. More than 100 attendees representing 20 client companies and hailing from 5 different countries participated in the 2020 event.

    The 2018 inaugural Advantage Academy took place in Ann Arbor, Michigan, at the AdvantageCS office and the plan was to repeat it every other year. Then along came 2020 and like so many other plans, the Academy had to be re-thought. While there are certainly benefits to in-person training, going remote allowed more participants to take part as the sessions were spread out over nine days and offered in easily manageable chunks of time.

    Sessions covered a multitude of areas and were led by a variety of ACS staff:

    Jeff Leonard (Omnistream)

    John Hughes (Workflow Events)

    Nicole …

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    Mediahuis Netherlands Live on Advantage

    Congratulations to Mediahuis Netherlands (MHN) who recently went live on Advantage following an extensive implementation project.

    MHN is the publisher of the largest daily circulating newspaper in the Netherlands (De Telegraaf), along with several regional newspapers. Mediahuis Netherlands (formerly known as Telegraaf Media Groep, or TMG) was acquired in full by Mediahuis in 2017 and started their Advantage implementation project in May 2018.

    The first phase of this project culminated this past September and included many software enhancements and integrations. As of now, the regional daily newspapers Noordhollands Dagblad, Haarlems Dagblad, Leidsch Dagblad and De Gooi en Eemlander are live on Advantage. The second cutover for De Telegraaf is planned for the first quarter of 2021. …

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    European Users Meeting 2020: Virtual and Valuable

    The 2020 European Advantage Users Meeting conference wrapped up today after four afternoons of presentations and discussions. Although the virtual format meant that there was no visit to a beautiful European city with dinners and other events to enjoy, the upside was that the ease of access meant that more people could participate. About 50 people tuned in for at least part of the program.

    Philippe van Mastrigt kicked it off with his annual “Current Publishing Trends” presentation---always a popular discussion. Some of the major trends of the past year he reported were:

    A higher demand for local news in the COVID period, when the demand had been declining prior to that time.

    Certain segments of magazines increased circulation, including home and garden, cooking, youth, crosswords …

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    AdvantageCS Earns “Best Support” Award

    Based on its high levels of customer satisfaction and likeliness to recommend ratings from real users, Advantage has earned both the “Easiest To Do Business With” and “Best Support” awards in the mid-market category of the Fall 2020 report on review site G2.

    Advantage achieved these top ratings on the Fall 2020 report by receiving positive reviews from verified users compared to similar products in the mid-market category. For inclusion in the report, a product must have received ten or more reviews.

    “Providing superior support is a top priority here,” said Dan Heffernan, Vice President and Chief Product Manager at AdvantageCS. “It is tremendously gratifying to see that reflected in the ratings from Advantage users.”

    “We also prioritize excellent communication with our clients,” Dan …

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    Our Sunday Visitor and AdvantageCS: Partners for 30 Years

    It was in 1990 that Our Sunday Visitor (OSV) first became a part of the Advantage family. In the years since, the two companies have gone through countless projects together---large and small---including upgrades, in-conversions and new development. Today, OSV is the largest provider of church envelopes and one of the largest Catholic publishers in the world, and all OSV divisions are operating on Advantage.

    The Publishing division of OSV had been happily using Advantage for nearly 20 years when Harcourt Religion Publishers (now referred to as Our Sunday Visitor Curriculum Division) was acquired by Our Sunday Visitor Publishing in 2009. The conversion of the Curriculum Division to Advantage allowed Our Sunday Visitor Publishing to consolidate data, streamline customer service, improve …

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    Congratulations to Ken Nemerovski: Soon-to-be Retiree

    Ken Nemerovski—known to all as “Nemo”—has been a fixture at ACS since early 1982; the earliest start date of anyone currently at the company.

    In his nearly 38 years at ACS, Nemo always worked in sales in some capacity. Even though he officially moved to the Client Services Division in 2006 as a Senior Account Manager, he kept his hand in the sales game, with responsibility for selling additional software licenses and third-party products to ACS clients. Nemo also managed third-party relationships for the company as well as license compliance, monitoring usage for clients with such agreements. All that, while serving as the account manager for 14 ACS clients!

    InterVarsity Press is one of them. “I have very much appreciated having Ken Nemerovski (aka “Nemo”) as our Advantage account …

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    A Trade Show Season Like No Other

    A typical September sees us busily planning and preparing for the onslaught of fall trade shows and conferences. Coordinating booth furniture and graphics, booking flights and hotels and shipping collateral materials and giveaways are some of the usual tasks. This year, however, it’s all changed.

    Many shows have been canceled outright, while others have decided to go the virtual route. That means more people can participate and saves on travel costs. However, what will the virtual experience be like as sponsors or attendees? This year will tell the tale.

    AdvantageCS is a partner in the virtual World Media Congress put on by FIPP which takes place throughout September. Dan Heffernan will host a session with Paul Gee, Vice President, Digital Product Management and Development, The JAMA …

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    AdvantageCS Celebrates 40 Years

    This year marks our 40th anniversary as a company. A milestone to celebrate!

    We have experienced many highlights and transitions over the course of those 40 years, including product advances, shifts in our business model, moving to new office locations, recessions and now, a pandemic. Our software and services are renowned for their functional breadth, reliability, richness and flexibility. We continue to expand our software and services to align with the never-ending advances in technology and business.

    Let’s look at a brief history:

    1980: T and B Computing was formed as a fully-owned subsidiary of Townsend and Bottum, a power plant construction company, using the talents of their IT staff to “go, make some money” using their programming skills. Our first two clients were a book …

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    Altroconsumer Live on Advantage in Italy

    Congratulations to Altroconsumo, a member of the Euroconsumers group, who recently went live on Advantage in Italy. This multi-phased ongoing project involves consumer advocacy organizations in five different countries---Portugal, Belgium, Brazil, Spain and Italy---that all promote and defend consumer interests, solve their problems, and help inform them about their fundamental rights.

    The Italian project phase was spearheaded by Fabrizio Datrino, program manager, and Graziella D’Amico, project manager for the Advantage implementation project, with the executive sponsorship of Christelle Roche, Customer Care & Commercial Support Group Manager. Assisting on the project was a cross-country team that previously accomplished successful go-lives on Advantage in the other EU countries.

    “ …

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    Keesing Media Group Live on Advantage

    Congratulations to Keesing Media Group (KMG), on recently going live on Advantage. Seven puzzle magazines were purchased from Aller Media in 2019 and were selected to be converted to Advantage.

    The project began in the fourth quarter of 2019. The KMG team included Joost Freriks, Marie Gabrielson, Anders Juhlin, Sharon Lewis, Jaap Nijman, Felix van der Sommen and Lena Thelenius. On the AdvantageCS side, the major players included Levi Hyssong, Binoy Philip, Mark Sauter and Tim Zapawa. In addition, the project received assistance through the involvement of a team from Aller Media.

    “During this project, we migrated the running Aller Media subscriptions seamlessly into our AdvantageCS area. Besides the technical tasks (mainly setup of integrations and data conversion), this also meant …

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    The Evolving New Normal

    “We’re learning to live with a new normal.” It seems that phrase is being spoken everywhere nowadays. You really can’t get away from it. Whether you’re watching a news broadcast, reading an interview, participating in a virtual business meeting or even just catching up with friends, that is definitely the phrase of the current times.

    What is this “new normal,” though? For many, it means adjusting to reduced social interaction. Gone are the ad hoc discussions in the company break room or quick discussions with a co-worker a couple of desks away. No more gathering with friends after work either. Even a quick trip into the grocery store to purchase a few items often includes the necessity of donning a face mask. For businesses that are looking to restart (or continue) operations that …

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    The Always Amazing Annual Advantage Users Group Conference

    The Advantage Users Group is full of remarkable people who are hard-working, smart and generous with their time. They come from large companies and small ones, from all over the US and Europe; they publish magazines, journals, newspapers, books and much more, targeted to all types of consumer and business audiences. In addition to Advantage software, they have in common a desire to share with, and learn from, each other. There have been user group meetings of some sort for nearly three decades, and, invariably, the feedback surveys list “meeting and networking with other users” as one of the things attendees value the most about the annual conferences.

    The group has its own Steering Committee and bylaws and is completely controlled by the users themselves. They plan and run the …

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