July/August 2021
What's New in Advantage? Midyear product update
by John Sheehy

Each year during our Advantage Users Group anEuropean Advantage Users Group conferences, I highlight notable features and advancements of the past year and review what percentage of our efforts was spent on the various development initiatives. Our clients appreciate knowing where our efforts are going and being reassured that we are growing together along the same path. 

We perform around 60,000 hours of development annually. Each year, the amount of time spent on different areas varies due to factors such as client requests, new client signings and major research and development projects. As you can imagine, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic heavily influenced how we focused our engineering efforts in 2020. Our company is structured to be agile and to pivot as necessary, so as other businesses pulled back, we adapted and accelerated our Sky UI project to great success.
Welcome New Employee Claire Stetten
by Cindy Twiss

We are pleased to welcome Claire Stetten, who joined the AdvantageCS Support Center team led by Scott Ghormley in April of this year. She is quickly getting up to speed with all things Advantage and really enjoys the dynamic aspect of client support. No two days are ever the same, she says—in fact, no two issues are quite the same—and she likes learning something new every day. The analytic aspect also appeals to her as she enjoys diving in and investigating a problem. 

An Ann Arbor native, Claire has a degree in computer science from Skidmore College in upstate New York, where she minored in French. After graduation, she spent a year in France on a student visa, taking classes in industrial engineering and perfecting her French language skills. She says that she has always been fascinated with the French language and culture and hoped to find a job where she could make use of her language skills as well as her technical ability. The position at AdvantageCS was just what she was looking for.  
Marketing / eCommerce forum 2021: “The money is in the popcorn”
by Eva Johnson

AdvantageCS recently held a virtual Marketing and eCommerce Forum providing clients with an exciting opportunity to discuss industry trends and learn from each other, primarily focusing on the rapid shift to eCommerce. As the forum got underway, Philippe van Mastrigt, Director of AdvantageCS European Operations, shared this quote from Kristin Skogen, CEO of Schibsted, as a way to imagine and design an organization’s eCommerce strategy: “It is the movie that draws the crowd, but the money is in the popcorn,” conveying that an organization’s successful eCommerce initiative should not only initially attract customers but offer an optimized user experience and desirable product offerings, which ultimately creates ongoing customer loyalty.  

Dan Heffernan, Vice President & Chief Product Manager, enthusiastically welcomed the group, which comprised 30+ attendees from all over the world, and thanked them for attending. He also strongly encouraged them to join in, ask questions and share amongst each other. 
The format of the forum was structured around four eCommerce topics to jumpstart discussions: 
  1. Trends: recent industry changes and developments.
  2. Players: leading eCommerce vendors and marketplace platforms.
  3. Concerns: transactional security, data privacy and software/technology options.
  4. Threats: competition, market shifts and cost/pricing strategies. 
Travel Log: First business trip since the pandemic began
by John Hughes
On March 13th, 2020, the world was shutting down and I (along with several other colleagues) was about to be stuck in Europe. We snuck out just in time and went immediately into quarantine “for a few weeks”. International travel was subsequently not happening for the next 15 months, for anybody at AdvantageCS, until recently.

As the first ACS-er to travel abroad for work since this all happened, I’ve been asked to keep a captain’s log of my journey. What follows is a description of my movements and observations, with minor embellishments where required to maintain readership.

Before the trip
The new rules for France (my destination of choice) as of June 9th require proof of vaccination and a negative Covid test (namely, A PCR test within 72 hours or an antigen test within 48 hours). Having been vaccinated over two months ago I had my card, which was of course smudged within an hour of getting it (I have 4 children). 

For the test, I went to my friendly neighborhood urgent care the day before leaving. Within 20 minutes I had the results and the all-clear.
Hope Clinic Fundraiser a Success
by Cindy Twiss

In the sixteen months since the pandemic really took hold, the stories of loss and tragedy have been ever-present. Of course, the huge loss of life is first and foremost, but also highly significant is the hardship many people have endured as businesses closed, some temporarily but quite a few for good. Jobs disappeared or were lost due to lack of childcare and many people with important but not life-threatening health issues did not seek medical help.

We at AdvantageCS have been truly fortunate. While our business was certainly affected, we never closed and all but a very few jobs continued uninterrupted. That’s one reason we were pleased to hold our 11th annual fundraiser in June for Hope Clinic (www.thehopeclinic.org), a local nonprofit dedicated to providing free care (medical, dental, food, and more) to those in need. 
AdvantageCS Wallyball Tournament
In addition to an exercise room, ACS has an indoor racquetball court for employee use. The most popular game played there is Wallyball. Known in some places as rebound volleyball, wallyball is a fast-paced sport that is similar to volleyball, but played in a racquetball court, where it is legal to hit the ball off of the walls.

The inaugural AdvantageCS Wallyball Cup tournament was held over a period of a week, timed to conclude before our summer interns went back to school, as they were avid players. Fourteen people entered and were matched according to experience and skill level so that the teams were as fair as possible. 

It was a double-elimination tournament and after the last game was played, interns Ethan Burt and Daniel Gorelik won the Wallyball Cup, with Claire Stetten & Aaron Ridenour taking 2nd place, and John Moore Jeff Leonard taking 3rd. 

Till next year!

Editor: Cindy Mikol Twiss
3850 Ranchero Drive
Ann Arbor, MI 48108 USA
Phone: +1 734 327 3600
Fax: +1 734 327 3620