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    The Advantage Support Center: Always At Your Service

    This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Advantage Support Center as it exists today. Prior to 1998, support was handled by the analyst teams, who also managed implementation projects and software upgrades, plus account management and training. With that model, however, team members often found themselves juggling conflicting priorities between their various roles. The solution was to form a team of analysts and engineers entirely devoted to support.

    The center now has a full-time staff of four, plus a manager, and analysts from other teams help on occasion. Depending on the client and the issue, any one of half-a-dozen engineering teams provides technical assistance. Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, the Advantage Support Center is available and its staff is eager to help. …



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    Conversations with Clients

    A team from Mediahuis (based in Antwerp, Belgium) recently visited AdvantageCS to work on integration requirements and specs. You can't have first-time visitors to Ann Arbor without sampling some Zingermans! Here, (L to R) Jurgen Van den Broeck, Johan Thijsen, our own Mike Hasey and Jo Samyn enjoy the renowned pimento cheese and bacon macaroni and cheese at Zingerman's Roadhouse.  

    Jo was kind enough to answer some questions so that we could get to know her better. 

    Jo Samyn, Mediahuis

    What is your name and current title?

    My name is Jo Samyn, I am Application Manager, Media Services Readers Market.

    Where in the world do you call home?

    I live in Haacht, a tiny village near Louvain, Belgium, at about 30 kilometers from the capital.

    What led you to your current position at …



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    A Sure Sign of Spring: Trade Show Fever

     

    It’s as reliable as seeing the first robins and crocuses---when the schedule starts filling up with trade shows (some on the same dates), you know Spring is almost here. The AdvantageCS team will be attending, sponsoring, and exhibiting this Spring at conferences in the US, the UK and Europe.

    First up is Digital Innovators Summit, March 18-20, in Berlin. DIS has the goal of helping legacy magazine publishers adapt to the digital era. Over the years, DIS has evolved to consider innovations across a range of content-driven media and related industries. Today, DIS attracts some 600+ delegates from over 35 countries. Come visit with Dan Heffernan and Philippe van Mastrigt at Stand 2h.

    Next, is the UKSG (United Kingdom Serials Group) Annual Conference, April 9-11 in Glasgow. This annual …



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    Extensibility Services in Advantage

    Advantage offers many integration options within a technical ecosystem. One of those is done through Advantage’s Extensibility Services framework. This framework allows our clients to create custom implementations of standard interfaces (e.g., address hygiene). This approach is an integral part of AdvantageCS’s open system strategy.

    The mechanics of the framework are straightforward: Advantage provides the extensibility service contract and interface files while the developer provides the implementation of the service. The service itself could be local to the Advantage software, distributed on a network, or web-based. In contrast, Advantage also supports many out-of-the-box point-to-point integrations to specific vendor packages (e.g., CyberSource for credit card transactions).

    The …



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    Bryan Varblow Promoted to VP, Operations

    Vice President Bryan Varblow has been promoted to Vice President, Operations, in which he will be responsible for the entire Client Services Division. The promotion took effect October 15th.

    In his twelve years at ACS, Bryan has filled multiple key roles including vice president of Client Services, director of Client Services, project director, team leader, upgrade project manager, implementation project manager, and Support Center analyst. He brings a broad-based knowledge of Advantage projects, client activities, and the publishing and membership association industries to this position.

    “Bryan is a tremendous asset to AdvantageCS.  His intelligence, analytical bend, juggling abilities and phenomenal memory are coupled with a willingness to tackle the most complex of problems.  I’ve …



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    Hope Clinic Fundraiser A Success

    AdvantageCS is family-oriented in more ways than one. In conjunction with being a family-owned company, we’re proud to champion causes that are important to our employees. One of the ways we do so is through our annual drive for Hope Clinic, a local organization that offers free medical care and dental care plus a variety of social services to those in need.

    Coincidentally, Hope Clinic was founded by the father of our Vice President & Chief Product Manager, Dan Heffernan. It all started as a Saturday morning clinic designed to serve those without medical insurance. Over 35 years later, Hope Clinic is a highly-regarded nonprofit with a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, which signifies high organizational efficiency. Each dollar donated to Hope Clinic provides $4 worth of …



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    Customer Relationships Are Moving On

     Starting with release 17.5 of Advantage, you can work with customers in an Accounts and Contacts mode (which parallels how Salesforce.com structures customers).  You can move your customer maintenance view into this mode, search for Account customers and then view the contacts at an Account, displayed in a lower pane.

    This replaces---and substantially improves---the Location Customer feature.  In that feature, Advantage automatically created a “location” customer, where now it creates an “Account” customer.  A “location” customer was identified by a special address code; now an Account customer is identified by the customer Account? field set to Y.

    The Consolidated Overview by Location customer (which was difficult to access and did not include Access Management & Billing agreements) …



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    Promotions in Engineering Division

    Howard Brooks has been named Director/Product Development and Toby Hartman and Paul Sauter have been promoted to Team Managers, reporting to Howie.

    Mike Hasey and John Moore have been promoted to Team Managers, reporting to Matt Varblow, Vice President/Engineering Services.

    In addition, Ray Zick has been named Manager of the Cloud Services Team, responsible for provisioning and supporting Advantage SaaS (cloud hosted) environments and for continuing to evolve and architect the Advantage cloud solution.

    While these changes do not represent dramatic shifts in responsibility, they do represent AdvantageCS’s recognition of these individuals’ increasing expertise, leadership and contribution to the critically important product development side of AdvantageCS.

    Congratulations to all!    

    ( …



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    Customer Permissions (the GDPR way)

    What’s the state of your email junk folder?  Mine is pretty active with various promotions for IT related products and services.  Occasionally, I’ve given out my contact information in order to download a white paper or view a demonstration, and although I haven’t been asked if it was okay to forward my email address to other parties for their use, that certainly happened.

    Such permissions---and lack of them---are addressed by the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation.  GDPR goes into effect in May 2018, and if you have any European customers, it does involve your operation.

    One of GDPR’s main principles is that even though you maintain personal information for your customers, they retain ownership of it.  Since the data isn’t yours, you can only use it for purposes the …



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    Forgetting a Customer (the GDPR way)

    Forget a customer? Why would you want to do that?

    The answer is: “because the customer requested it.”

    Welcome to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which was passed in April 2016 and goes into effect in May 2018. If you have any European customers, it does involve your operation.

    Here’s a one-line summary of the regulation: “The aim of the GDPR is to protect all EU citizens from privacy and data breaches…”  The regulation is more than 260 pages long and is keeping a lot of lawyers and system security consultants very busy.  It’s mainly about strengthening your system security measures, documenting them and obtaining explicit support from your organization.

    This is all about securing your customer’s Personal Data.  Personal Data, (sometimes called …



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