Eva Johnson

Thriving After Surviving 2020

Advantage Users Group

Seventy-five attendees from Advantage clients across the world (representing more than 8 countries) recently assembled via Zoom to share and catch up with each other after the upheaval of 2020. As the first open discussion, entitled “Weathering the Storm” began, one client fittingly remarked: “I didn’t know it would be a literal storm,” referring to the strong winter storms that were moving across the US.

Felicia Muse (Agora/14 West), chairperson of the Advantage Users Group Steering Committee and emcee of this year’s event, welcomed everyone to the conference on Wednesday and encouraged all to consider joining the AUG Steering Committee. She expressed that being part of the group helps improve collaboration and connection. To further illustrate the benefits of these networking opportunities, she described situations in which members have, in the past, learned from one another about Advantage features that they were then able to later successfully incorporate into their own businesses.

Next, Dan Heffernan (VP & Chief Product Manager at AdvantageCS) expressed his gratitude to everyone for attending and for their continued business. He then kicked off the conference with his “News, Strategy & Direction” presentation, which first highlighted the industry’s rapid and incredible response to the ‘working from home’ paradigm shift. Next, he explained how AdvantageCS has been able to meet the challenges from the past year and still provide excellent customer service. Dan also announced several new software developments, clients, and upgrade/go-live projects. Last, he wanted to reiterate that AdvantageCS, as always, intends to “help you get your beautiful content out there.”

Following Dan’s presentation, Felicia Muse held a “Weathering the Storm” discussion about how companies have had to adjust to the new work-at-home lifestyle. Both Kevin Gervais (Massachusetts Medical Society) and Connie Hurt (Duke University Press) reported how each of their companies managed their connection technology and inter-office communication channels during the pandemic, all while trying to continue to provide excellent customer service.

On Thursday morning, John Sheehy, (Chief Solutions Architect at AdvantageCS) gave an energetic recap of the past year’s development efforts and documentation/video projects and introduced the Modification Team members to everyone. Then, he demonstrated some of the latest features and benefits of our Sky UI, which is Advantage’s browser-based user interface. Later, he presented the attendees with a demo of the new “Extended Values” feature, which is a dynamic and sophisticated “Business Demographics” restructure. Several attendees chimed in with very positive responses to these features.

The group took a quick break before moving into a “Managing Fraud” discussion. Joe Notari (Agora/14 West) and Nicole Deludos (also Agora/14 West) each shared how they currently handle potential and actual fraudulent activity. Following their presentation, attendees contributed several effective strategies they’ve successfully implemented into their own business practices.

Friday morning began with several hopeful attendees wishing for an in-person conference next year in sunny Florida, which quickly transitioned into an AdvantageCS Technology Update from Matt Varblow (VP of Engineering Services) and Howard Brooks (Director of Product Development). Matt presented the attendees with a strategic overview and analysis of Advantage’s architectural, performance and security enhancements throughout the past year. Howard followed his presentation by announcing several important development projects that are currently planned for this year.

Finally, Tim Dodge (Agora/14 West) shared his expertise on Advantage Workflow Events, explaining how they have helped automate business operations and boost customer support initiatives. Several attendees responded with such praise as “Thank you, great session!” and “Yes - GREAT presentation.”

Despite some initial disappointment that the conference was virtual, it was a great success. Thanks to all attendees for your active participation. See you next year---in a sunny location face-to-face, we hope!

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