• 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. …

  • 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. …

  • 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 …

  • 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 …

  • Air Business Wins Industry Partner of the Year

     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 …

  • 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 …

  • Congratulations to Soon-to-Be-Retiree: Tim Martin

    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 …

  • 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 …

  • AdvantageCS in the Media

    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.”

  • Running in Memory of Marc Green

    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 …

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