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Remember the Alamo!

After several years of bad weather in January, the Advantage User Group Steering Committee decided to move the annual user conference from January to February. This seems to have done the trick because, for the second year in a row, the weather—this year in San Antonio--was incredibly beautiful, with temperatures in the mid-70’s and sunny. By all accounts, the conference was a tremendous success, and not simply because of the weather.

There were 64 attendees representing 24 client companies. The general atmosphere was one of a warm family reunion, as clients from all over the country came together to catch up with each other, renew acquaintances and meet new friends, share some laughs, and exchange thoughts and experiences regarding Advantage.

After a welcome by Eric Fishman of APA, the conference opened with a keynote presentation by Cal Franklin, President of TN Marketing. Cal has many years of experience in direct marketing and delivered a fascinating presentation on his business and how it has adapted to changing conditions over the years. He also provided some keen insights on the meteoric explosion of social media and what it might mean for all of us.Eric Fishman kicks off the Advantage conference.

(Above:) Eric Fishman of APA kicked off the conference.

Dick Hile provided an update on new technology developments at ACS, and Dan Heffernan gave a presentation on ACS News, Strategy, and Direction. There was a lot of interest in ACS’s 2012r2 revision, our first fully-.NET revision. Agora Publishing, having recently completed an upgrade as our first client to migrate to the fully-.NET revision, participated in a panel discussion with ACS to share a wealth of information for clients who will be upgrading to .NET soon.

User presentations throughout the conference addressed hot topics that have been creating a lot of buzz within the user community in recent months. One decidedly popular session was on OrderStream, which piqued the interest of numerous clients. OrderStream delivers a new process to standardize and unify the various uploads in Advantage across a number of modules. Many of the current upload transactions are now available through a standard Advantage XML schema. It’s very flexible, allowing you to create rules for bad data conditions, and is freely available as of 12r1. No new licensing needed.

Another presentation addressed CRM integration. Many clients are interested in using CRM products already on the market such as SalesForce and Microsoft Dynamics. ACS shared its work on eventing and how we envision using it for real-time interfaces with these CRM products.

In addition to the various presentations, there were a number of roundtable discussions where clients shared tips and tricks as well as wish-list ideas, and ACS provided updates on coming developments for the particular topic.

Phil Montgomery leads a session at the Advantage conference.

(Above:) Phil Montgomery led a popular, and packed, AMB roundtable session.

On Thursday evening, conference participants were treated to a private guided tour of the Alamo, after which small groups scattered to enjoy dining at one of the many restaurants along the famed San Antonio Riverwalk.

Advantage user group at the Alamo.

(Above:) Attendees were treated to a private guided tour of the Alamo on Thursday evening.

As yet another successful Advantage User Conference came to a close, a huge winter storm was brewing in the Midwest and Northeast. Conference participants scurried on Friday to make last-minute travel adjustments and some decided to stay in San Antonio for the weekend due to cancelled flights.

Stay tuned for word on next year’s user conference location.

(Above:) “Hats off” to Dick Hile (holding the beer stein) who is rumored to have offered after-hours client sessions at a popular Riverwalk location….

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