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January/February 2014
Advantage Welcomes New Employee Jeff Leonard 
by Cindy Mikol

Jeff Leonard recently joined the Advantage Support Center team.   Jeff is a graduate of the University of Michigan and earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics.  His focus was on theoretical or "pure" math, as opposed to applied math, and Jeff says that his studies prepared him well for being in the support center because the major thing he did was learn to problem-solve.  This skill, as well as being someone who is very comfortable with computer technology and the computer programming world, makes him ideal for handling support issues.  Jeff truly enjoys being challenged with a problem and digging deep to research it and find a solution.



Introducing Project Codename Cider: Advantage eCommerce Initiative

by John Sheehy


new starburst Over the last 10 years, the publishing industry has experienced no greater trend than that towards digital media. This trend is certainly consistent with what we are seeing from our clients and it is no surprise that Advantage's Access Management & Billing (AMB) module continues to be a hotbed of development activity. As a complement to digital offerings, publishers are increasingly looking towards eCommerce sites to be the drivers of sales. Many of our clients use Advantage's comprehensive Application Programming Interface (API) to build their websites, while others implement the Foundation Site toolkit.


As AMB continues to offer a powerful platform for digital content, we recognize the need to offer a powerful platform for eCommerce activity. We are pleased to announce a key strategic research & development effort for 2014: Project Codename Cider. Cider is a feature-rich eCommerce platform that offers powerful shopping cart and self-service capabilities, a marketing portal for marketers to create and assign promotions, a flexible administration panel for customizing the look and feel of the site, and built-in support for third-party plug-ins. We are building this from the ground-up using our extensive experience working with publishers in building eCommerce sites and marketing products.


Cider is planned to be released in the 3rd quarter of 2014. Stay tuned for further information on this project. As always, contact your account manager if you have specific questions. 



AdvantageCS Offers Hosting Services

by Dan Heffernan


AdvantageCS is offering hosting services to those clients who want to outsource this function to a trusted partner. 


Question:  What are the benefits to you? 


  1. Outsourcing places the responsibility for operating and maintaining hardware on someone else's shoulders.  A number of clients with whom we have spoken indicate that they do not wish to be in the business of running computer hardware.  Some publishers we speak with have no IT infrastructure or staff whatsoever and always outsource hosting.
  2. By outsourcing hosting, you can take advantage of the pre-existing infrastructure of a hosting facility, including redundancy, security, PCI compliance, and disaster recovery plans.  Hosting facilities have the volumes to provide economies of scale, which keep your costs down.
  3. Hardware is a capital expense that many publishers would like to avoid.  AdvantageCS will own the hardware so you don't have to. 


The Advantage Ribbon Works for You 
by Stephanie Widrig


One of the most significant user-interface enhancements we made in our change to the .NET environment was implementing the Advantage ribbon.


Similar to the ribbon introduced in Microsoft Office 2007, the Advantage ribbon is a user-interface element that allows users to navigate the Advantage application quickly.  We've adapted Advantage to more closely resemble Microsoft applications, which most end-users are already familiar with.  Navigation and functionality in Advantage is now more intuitive, meaning you can spend less time training employees on the software.  The Advantage ribbon contains a variety of buttons and search boxes neatly organized for an improved user experience.


Key features of the Advantage Ribbon:

  • You no longer need to remember all the 6-character workspace codes and the 3-character view names they each contain; you can use the Advantage ribbon.  Clicking the appropriate ribbon button will open up the view you need. Alternatively, the Open View search box allows you to search all views by name or by their 6-character code.  
  • You can open any view in any workspace in just one step rather than routing to a workspace.
  • Ribbon tabs and groups organize buttons and search boxes into meaningful collections.
  • Familiar icons and descriptions add to the intuitiveness and user-friendliness of the ribbon.


Advantage: Front-Office Functionality
by Dan Heffernan


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.




Managed Services from AdvantageCS
by Bryan Varblow


Over the decades that AdvantageCS has served the publishing industry, we've worked to offer software solutions that meet each of our clients' individual needs.  No two publishers require precisely the same solution.  Through software modifications, customizations, and system options, we've adapted Advantageto match the continually changing requirements of publishers.


The same is true for the level of services that AdvantageCS provides to each of our clients.  Sales and order processing can mean something different to publishers based on their size, their market (B2B, B2C), their location (US or European-based), or their area of publishing industry.  For many of our clients, the nature of their sales and order processing is shifting by relying on AdvantageCS for greater system support, while still maintaining all the basic tenants of in-house processing, rather than contracting a service bureau.

Did you know that AdvantageCS is already providing your fellow Advantage users with services such as process monitoring, process error resolution, performance monitoring, onsite source code configuration and rotation, and application of 3rd party software updates?


New Orleans Is Site of February AUG Conference
by Cindy Mikol


The annual Advantage Users Group conference will be held this year in New Orleans at the Crowne Plaza New Orleans French Quarter hotel February  5 - 7. 


The conference will kick off on Wednesday afternoon with a keynote address from Nancy Becker, owner of UCG.  Panel discussion topics over the three days include "Salesforce Integration," "AMB Versus CIR And How to Convert Your CIR Data to AMB," "How to Structure Your Business Around Advantage," and "Tips and Tricks for Upgrading to .NET."

Attendees can choose from roundtable discussion subjects involving SQL, customer communications, AMB, credit card rules, .NET and Advantage reports.



Highlights of Advantage 2013r3

by Tim Martin


Here are some of the new features in the latest Advantage release. 

  • The CIR renewal chain feature has been expanded to allow use with regular CIR340 renewal efforts. Previously, the feature...which allows you to step a subscriber through a series of different offers...was restricted to term-to-term CIR350 autorenewals. You can now construct chains that move the subscriber through a series of regular renewal offers from term to term, or even between efforts within the same term.
  • All date controls in Advantage filters now allow you to easily configure them to use relative dates. Previously, filter date fields used absolute calendar dates (for example, "on April 17" or "between May 1 and May 31"). These expressions sometimes required continual maintenance to keep them up with the rolling calendar. Instead, you can now instruct the system to base the date on macro instructions such as "today," "start of month," "end of period," etc.


Customer Service Tip
by Mike Miklosovic


Tech Tip logo

The Customer Search view optionally displays the department for customer searching.


This behavior is based on a system option added at revision 2013R1:

Option Class: CDS

Option Name:  DEPTSRCH

When the option is set to Y, the customer look-up dialog box includes the department field.


Search for a Customer


1) Click the Find ribbon control to open the Customer Search view.






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Cindy Mikol

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