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A free idea for the AMS vendors (from one of my clients)
6 December 2011, by , in Random Thoughts, 10 comments

I was speaking recently with Frank Wolfe, CAE, CEO of the Hospitality Financial Technology Professionals, in Austin, TX. Frank had a great idea for some simple but highly useful functionality in an AMS: when viewing an individual’s record, display the current time in that individual’s time zone. Frank explained because he has members all over the world, he needs to know what time it is in their part of the world before he picks up the phone and dials them up.

Right now, of course, he googles the correct time, but it seems to me it would be a pretty simple integration to call a web service that looks at the individual record’s physical address and then calculates the current time in that location.

I’ve not seen this functionality in any AMS to date, but would love to hear that it exists. So, AMS vendors, are you offering this functionality?

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  • Lee

    Wes,how much revenue will that bring an AMS company by adding this feature ? I say zero.

    • Wes Trochlil

      Lee, in and of itself, you’re right. But then, I could probably list a dozen features similar to this that could also be answered in the affirmative (e.g., how much revenue does having a feature that maps addresses bring in? How much revenue does providing VOIP integration bring in?).

      The point is that in toto, multiple features, especially of the “that’s cool” variety, can make one product stand out from another. Additionally, adding this kind of functionality can’t possibly require more than a couple of hours of development effort.

  • Lee

    Wes, AMS vendors would better serve their clients if the offered integrated custom reports via Business Objects, Cognos, and OBIEE.

    • Wes Trochlil

      To me, Lee, it’s not an either/or. They would do better to provide better reporting AND little things like the time zone idea.

  • Dave Janes

    Additionally, adding this kind of functionality can’t possibly require more than a couple of hours of development effort.

    Spoken like a true non-developer.

    • Wes Trochlil

      Somehow, David, I know you would say that! 😉

  • Some RAD database software, such as Filemaker Pro, have webviewers built right into the software. A quick and dirty way to find a particular time would be to point the webviewer to a sight such as http://tycho.usno.navy.mil/cgi-bin/timer.pl or http://worldtimezone.net/, depending on your needs.

    Calculations are also possible in many RAD’s, though it can be a little tricky if your database server is in a different timezone. WSDLs, as Wes mentions, may be an option, though not all web services are free and an organization would presumably need a developer to connect it to your database.

    Nonetheless, if you are working with clients nationally or internationally, having your contact database tell you the time before you call can be a great tool.

    • Wes Trochlil

      Good thoughts, Daniel.

  • Wes, As a major AMS provider, I can tell you that features like this that have a low cost (relatively) and high potential value are always interesting. More and more of our clients are global and have widely distributed memberships so I can see the value of something like this. We will be adding this idea into our product management funnel – we love getting ideas from as many sources as we can – not everything can make it into any product, ours included, but new ideas like this are always great to see, and I thank you for posting this.

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