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Dan's Blog: Front-Office Functionality

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, many publishers have changed their focus to things that have more sizzle than the heart or the engine: things like email marketing, analytics, social networks, digital publishing, and mobile. Marketers, in particular, have driven this desire for more customer-facing technology. In the last year or so, we have heard it said that Advantage is strictly a “back office” application. This stems from a misconception which I’d like to lay to rest.

Advantage has always been a front office and back office application. We have had a web API in place since the late 1990s, allowing publisher’s customers to directly update the transactional database. Customer service views were designed to handle customer service inquiries while the agent has the customer on the telephone. Telemarketing was designed to walk the agent through the offer and perform cross and upsells effectively. Those clients who use Advantage extensively are familiar with its front office functionality.

We’d like to alter the perception further. We have some exciting new developments in 2014 which will address such areas as e-commerce, call center, and marketing. To those who participated in our marketing forum held in October, thank you for your invaluable input! This helped direct our development planning for 2014.

We are also pleased to announce that Advantage clients using can synchronize customer and contact data between the two applications and view Advantage order information from within This is the result of developing a connector to Scribe Software’s Scribe Online product, which provides a tool for mapping fields between Advantage and various contact management systems, including, MS Dynamics CRM, and SalesLogix. We plan to further develop our connector to allow for closer integration with email systems.

In 2014, we will increase the frequency of our releases, which we have been issuing 3x per year for many years. We have already made changes in our deployment strategy to accommodate this, and are working closely with one of our large clients to make this transition. It is driving us to change many things, including improving our quality assurance testing. More to come on this as the year unfolds.

Please let us know how we can serve you-- our clients-- better this year than last! Is it time for us to do an operations review of your processes, to see where you might be able to gain some efficiencies in your use of Advantage? Would you like to outsource your hosting or managed services? Other articles in this newsletter describe our hosting and managed services offerings and there are many services we can provide to help your business succeed.

We wish you all the best in 2014!

Filed under: Dan's Blog