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Connecting Our Clients

Last week AdvantageCS facilitated a meeting in Paris between Ouest France and Agora’s Publishing Services subsidiary. Many in the AdvantageCS User Group are familiar with the rapid growth of Publishing Services over the past 15 years and their use of Advantage to support many of the world-wide publishing affiliates of Agora. Publishing Services has established Advantage at the hub of their systems architecture, making it the system of record for all interaction with customers and prospects. Now that Ouest France has upgraded to Advantage 2014.1, they are considering moving more business onto Advantage and making Advantage the core system of record for their customer relationships and transactions…reminiscent for me of a similar direction taken by Agora in their pre-Publishing Services days.

It occurred to me that the lessons learned by Publishing Services might be valuable input for Ouest France as they consider this next step. The picture below shows us at lunch together at an excellent restaurant adjacent to the Paris office of Ouest France. From left to right, that’s Didier Kurz (OF), Philippe van Mastrigt (ACS), Philippe Toulemonde (OF), Jean-Joseph Lattuada (OF), Hervé Barbot (OF), Daryl Berver (PS), Grace Epperson (PS), and me. 

Daryl Berver, President of Publishing Services and Agora COO, was the first up front. First, he shared the lessons learned for how to make editorial content successful and profitable in the digital world. He went on to share the many lessons learned while building their network of major enterprise-class systems to support the ever growing business of Agora’s publishing affiliates. With Grace Epperson, Publishing Services’ director for marketing analysis and consultant to Agora publishing affiliates, Daryl also shared Agora's novel business strategy of partnering with publishing affiliates around the world and helping them grow through innovative marketing.

It was then Ouest France’s turn to take the stage. Phillippe Toulemonde, COO and Direction Générale for Ouest France, reviewed the editorial and marketing strategy of this oldest and largest news publisher in France (the first issue of Ouest France was published in 1899). Didier Kurz is the IT director for Ouest France responsible for Advantage-related strategy and the team running and supporting Advantage. Didier presented their current systems architecture with Advantage moving toward the center, similar to what Publishing Services did with Advantage many years ago. Didier shared important lessons learned and asked key questions of Daryl and Grace concerning how they’ve made things work for Agora affiliates.

Lots of interaction, some important lessons shared, and hopefully new ideas garnered that can be put to good use for both Ouest France and Publishing Services. And one of the best lunches ever with Philippe Toulemonde's favorite Sancerre from the Loire region. Certainly a special treat for us all.

Through the years with some frequency, I’ve seen opportunities to bring several of our clients together for such exchanges. Certainly our annual user group meetings—both in America and Europe—do this on a grand scale, and also our executive roundtables in the USA and Europe. But a one-on-one meeting between two of our clients is a very special opportunity for exchange of strategies and experience, and for building long term relationships. I think it’d be great for all our clients constituting the Advantage community to look for these opportunities and ask one of us at AdvantageCS to help you put it together.

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