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.
The traditional horizontal ribbon has been reimagined as a vertical navigation pane for increased usability. The Sky UI boasts …
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 …
Congratulations to Advantage client Air Business, which was recently awarded the ‘Industry Partner of the Year’ in the 2020 PPA Independent Publishers Awards in the UK.
“We loved Air Business’ commitment to helping Independent Publishers meet the challenges they face while embodying an ethical approach to business. In particular, their approach to Covid-19 challenges showed a willingness to go the extra mile to help their customers,” explained judge Sally Hampton of DC Thomson.
The judges’ comments included: “They show strong communication and a nimble approach, switching transportation to get the most reliable service and good deals. The growth figures are a testament to strong performance in more 'normal' times.”
Adam Sherman, Air Business CEO, said, “I am so proud that Air Business …
Tim Martin joined AdvantageCS in 1998 as a technical writer, tasked with writing modification specifications, release notes and documentation, including help files. Prior to Tim’s arrival, Advantage documentation had been handled by a variety of teams and it wasn’t always easy to maintain consistency. Tim changed all that. Having worked as a technical writer for a bank in Chicago where he learned to read code, Tim was able to hit the ground running at AdvantageCS. He instilled his own system of organization and for the past 22½ years, he has produced top-quality Advantage documentation, year after year.
Dan Heffernan has been Tim’s department head for the past dozen or so years. “Tim has been a joy to have on our team,” says Dan. “His intelligence, combined with a dedication to …
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)
AdvantageCS was one of the sponsors of the recent 43rd FIPP World Congress. Our own Dan Heffernan and also Paul Gee of the American Medical Association (an Advantage client) were featured in a session addressing the question: how do publishers broaden their discoverability? Here’s a snippet from the session and the entire session can be found here.
Dan was also recently featured in a special section of InPublishing magazine, which took an in-depth look at the world of subscriptions. In the section on onboarding and delivering subscriber satisfaction, Dan’s contribution addressed “Increasing engagement through personalized customer journeys.”
During the Advantage implementation at the IET, culminating in their go-live in August 2019, IET engineer and implementation team member Marc Green did a lot of Cider development for the project. Marc was an avid runner and tragically and unexpectedly had a heart attack and passed away in May 2020 while training for the annual Standalone 10k.
Even though she was not previously a runner (in fact, she had told Marc she was never going to run that race), Marc’s partner, Kim Pybus, an analyst at the IET, decided to train and run the Standalone 10k race in Marc’s memory.
The October 4th race was virtual this year, with small teams running in various locations. Kim and her team sported t-shirts honoring Marc and collected donations on behalf of the British Heart Foundation. Kim was able to …
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 …
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 …
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 …
A few weeks ago, we talked about our amazing users and the U.S.-based Advantage Users Group. While all Advantage users are welcome to attend the U.S. conference, we typically hold a separate event---the European Users Meeting---for our users in Europe, the U.K., and Ireland.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to shape the “new normal” and make traveling more complicated, we’ve decided to shift this year’s European Users Meeting online. While we are disappointed that we will not have the opportunity to see so many of our European clients in person, we are optimistic that this will allow more users to attend---virtually, that is!
This year's European Users Meeting is tentatively scheduled for September 28 - October 1, 2020 via Microsoft Teams (one ~2 hour session per day; exact …
We are delighted to welcome our summer interns and look forward to meeting them face-to-face when the office fully opens.
College and major?
Undergrad: University of Michigan – Mathematics. Masters (ongoing): Eastern Michigan University – Mathematics.
What led you to choose your major?
I always liked math and I liked the small class sizes at UM’s math department.
What are you working on at ACS?
I’ll be helping out with the rewrite of the support page and switching Cider from Orchard to Orchard Core.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work/school?
I enjoy gardening (let me know if you want any basil or oregano plants!), cooking, and hiking.
What are you most looking forward to doing when the stay-at-home restrictions are …
Congratulations to The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery (JBJS) who is now live on Advantage and Cider (https://storefront.jbjs.org/) after an implementation project spanning more than a year.
The primary focus of the project was Cider as that is what most people at JBJS use with only a few users regularly accessing the Advantage desktop application. Another unique aspect is that print subscriptions sold by JBJS are fulfilled by another AdvantageCS client, Wolters Kluwer Health, and customer service is shared between Wolters Kluwer Health and JBJS.
The company is headquartered in Needham, Massachusetts, and The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery has been a valued source of information for orthopaedic surgeons and researchers for over 125 years---their comprehensive archive dates back to 188 …
Cookie Decorating Contest
Holiday spirit was on display in abundance at AdvantageCS this December.
The month kicked off with a cookie decorating contest. If it didn't turn out like you envisioned, you could just eat the evidence. There was cold milk and hot chocolate to enjoy along with the entries.
Ten women participated in a sock exchange with each one bringing a pair of holiday socks filled with little treats and goodies.
They were passed around the table either to the left or right by following directions from a special story. When they reached their final stopping place, everyone untied the ribbon and looked inside. They found lots of candy and chocolate, ornaments, scented lotion, candles, nail polish, a manicure set and even a small bottle of …
(This is a recap in three parts of the presentation made at the European Users Advantage meeting in Lisbon on 26-27 September 2019. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.)
New momentum, new strategies
2019 was the year of the podcast. Media coverage of this topic has been extensive. More and more publishers have launched podcasts but will this really save the sector? Alongside the well-known ones, such as the New York Times Daily or the Guardian, some Advantage clients have developed their own. Bayard Presse just launched its own for 7 to 11-year-olds, and De Telegraaf also has one.
However, publishers are entering a competitive field where they are not necessarily in the best position. There are radio stations, especially public ones (Radio France, the BBC ...) whose programs …
(This is a recap in three parts of the presentation made at the European Users Advantage meeting in Lisbon on 26-27 September 2019)
Part 1 (of 3)
A year ago, at the Advantage European User meeting in Paris, I first presented the major trends in the publishing industry, identified from various conferences, visits to prospects and customers and a close monitoring of the industry. I mentioned the rapid shift of subscriber portfolios to digital, new topics such as retention, print resistance, GAFA divorce and new tactical approaches to circulation and reader relationships. A year later, I wondered if I repeated the experience, could I hope for something new? To my surprise, the answer was yes. In less than a year, some themes have reached a new phase, others have accelerated their …
Join your fellow Advantage users in Austin, TX next February for a fantastic time of learning, sharing, networking and fun! The conference will be at the Omni Austin Hotel Downtown and there are lots of fun things to do close by. You won’t want to miss it!
Mark your calendar now---details of the conference will be coming soon.
Automatic renewal arrangements are popular and beneficial for both companies and consumers. Customers are saved the trouble of having to continually take actions to keep their subscription active, while companies improve their retention rates and forecasting abilities.
However, in the last few years, the legal environment has become more restrictive on automatic renewal arrangements. There’s been a push at national and state levels (Vermont being the most recent state) to better inform and protect customers from accidentally entering into long-term subscription service agreements, as well as enabling them to cancel out. It’s important for companies to be aware of, and plan for, complying with these regulations.
Fortunately, we have experience handling auto-renewal features, having …
Last year, we launched a blog post series called “Conversations with Clients,” a way for us to get to know our partners at client companies a little better. We were delighted to have a conversation with Steve Searle at Air Business Subscriptions.
Based in Haywards Heath, UK, Air Business Subscriptions is a leading service bureau for both B2C and B2B publishers, and has been in business for 40 years. They began implementing Advantage in 2016, and the team at Air Business is now in the process of moving additional existing publishers from their legacy system onto Advantage. They are also working on an exciting piece of new business, a scholarly publisher for whom they will be completing a two-phase migration through 2019.
(Steve Searle is pictured (on the left) alongside AdvantageCS’ …
Now in her seventh year at AdvantageCS, Stephanie Widrig is a member of the Program Services team. She began her AdvantageCS career in the implementations group and had a brief stint in support before joining Program Services over 4 years ago. Everyone who works with Stephanie comments on how speedily she responds, how well she communicates, and how she always knows the right answer or else finds it. These qualities make her a sought-after manager of upgrade---and other---projects.
“I enjoyed working with Stephanie on our latest upgrade,” says Christy Westcott of Unity World Headquarters. “She was consistently prompt in replying to any of our needs during the process. Her communication is always clear and concise. I look forward to working with her again.”
Although upgrades and …