I now have a lot of empathy for those of you that get to photograph children!!! I hope you enjoy this little (one-take) video message to celebrate the holidays!
Click picture to watch!
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!!!!
I now have a lot of empathy for those of you that get to photograph children!!! I hope you enjoy this little (one-take) video message to celebrate the holidays!
Click picture to watch!
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!!!!
It’s officially here! With the release of Service Release 4, we’re also excited to announce the introduction of a new Credit Card processing integration with Global Payments – available in Europe and Canada!
The ability to process credit cards is essential to all businesses. Powered by Global Payments, users in Europe and Canada can now process credit cards directly within Spectra/myStratus. While taking payments in InspiredByYou.com is coming soon, you can use this new integration with automatic payment plans and even take a deposit from clients in your Online Booking portal.
This powerful feature should save you countless time and money by streamlining your payment workflow within Spectra/myStratus!
This feature is currently available as a Preview.
Click here to get started setting up your account.
Want to see the integration in action? Click here to watch a training video.
Located in the United States, Australia, or New Zealand? Your credit card processing integrations are already available! Click here to see what company we are integrated with in your country.
Today I’m thrilled to announce that both Spectra 2018 and myStratus 2018 are available for general release!
As the CEO of StudioPlus Software, I want to publicly applaud the tireless efforts by my staff to deliver this new update. Creating a major update every year, from development to testing to documentation to video creation to delivery, is a time-consuming, detailed and difficult task. These updates require our staff to go way above and beyond what is normally required. Without this great team, we would not be able to deliver such great features to you. So, “Thanks, team!!”
All Spectra users with a current maintenance plan can upgrade today. All myStratus subscribers will automatically be upgraded during the next two weeks. If you are a myStratus subscriber, we’ll send you an email with the date of your automatic upgrade. You can let us know if the date doesn’t work for you and we’ll change it.
Get started by reading the Release Notes to learn about all the great new features as well as some important items that have changed in the software. Remember, if you have a suggestion for a new feature, please visit our User Voice page here, where you can cast your vote on other people’s suggestions or add one of your own!
Spectra users – Click here to start your Spectra 2018 download!
myStratus subscribers – Keep an eye on your email for the date of your upgrade!
On March 2nd, 1998, the day after my daughter Marissa was born, we introduced StudioPlus Version 1.0 to the world at a small trade show in Iowa! Not only will we be celebrating my baby girl’s 20th birthday next week, but we’ll also be celebrating the 20th anniversary of StudioPlus. Time has passed so fast and both the software and my daughter have grown up!
Over the past 20 years, we’ve seen thousands of clients in over 100 countries choose our software to help grow their business. To this day, I’m humbled that a small business owner or large corporation would place their trust in our company, selecting our product as the platform on which to build their business.
Statistics show more than 80% of small business start-ups fail within the first 5 years. Even more discouraging, more than 80% of those remaining fail during the next 5 years! For those that remain, it’s a journey filled with daily struggles to just survive. The average small business owner is discouraged by the amount of time that their small business is ever-consuming from personal and family lives. Stressed by the disorganization that often envelopes small businesses. Fearful their dream of running a successful business may come to an end, they wrestle with a sense of failure that their plans for running a successful business have not materialized in the way they once imagined.
I understand these struggles, because I’ve gone through all of them myself over the past 23 years as a small business owner. And that’s why our company mission is NOT to sell products and services to clients like you. Instead, our mission is to help every client succeed in building a healthy, thriving, and profitable business, whether small or large.
Our company is not perfect, nor are our products. Occasionally, someone even finds a bug in one of our products!!! I wish I could promise perfection in our service and promise defect-free products, but I can’t. However, I can promise the following:
Customer Focus – Our customers are the foundation of our business. We are driven by one relentless pursuit: Helping each of our customers build a successful business. It’s our goal to serve with excellence, and to treat everyone with the same diligence, courtesy, and respect we desire for ourselves.
Constant Innovation – As a technology company, we recognize that greatness today becomes obsolete tomorrow. In today’s changing world, continuous, creative, outside-of-the-box product development is key to ensuring our customers’ ongoing success.
Highest Quality – We are committed to excellence in the products and services we provide. We continually strive to exceed our customers’ expectations by setting the highest possible standards, measuring our progress, and holding ourselves accountable for any shortcomings.
Utmost Integrity – If our customers are the foundation of our business, then integrity is the cornerstone. Everything we do is guided by what is right. We live by the highest ethical standards, treating our clients, partners, competitors, and coworkers with fairness, honesty, and respect. Regardless of the outcome of our business, we WILL remain positive influencers in our world.
As we rapidly approach the General Availability (GA) of both Spectra 2018 and myStratus 2018, I wanted to take this opportunity to pause and personally acknowledge with gratitude each of you for placing your trust in our company over the past 20 years. We’ve been truly blessed by the best clients in the world, so “Thank you”!
Stay tuned for the general release announcement of Spectra 2018 and myStratus 2018 in the coming days!!!
Over the past several weeks, I’ve been privileged to describe our latest 2018 features, and today I’m sharing some “Other Goodies” in the latest release. These features may not warrant their own dedicated blog post but we believe they’re still just as exciting!
Here’s what we’ve added:
Many of the new features added in the 2018 Version came directly from our StudioPlus User Voice page. Please, continue to use this page to submit new feature requests that you’d appreciate being added to an upcoming release, or simply cast your vote for someone else’s suggestion. The more votes a suggestion receives, the more likely it will show up in a future release. Help customize both StudioPlus Spectra and myStratus for years to come!!
Click here to visit the StudioPlus User Voice
Click here for the complete list of What’s New in 2018 Volume 1
Click here for the complete Release Notes for 2018 Volume 1
Today, I’ve got a trivia question – In how many countries have businesses used our Spectra and myStratus products over the past 20 years?
When I first saw that number, I was truly humbled to realize so many businesses all over the world have put their trust into using one of our products. To all of you, “Thank You”!
Now for the really exciting news! In 2018, StudioPlus is happy to announce that the myStratus Desktop and Spectra software have now been translated into the following languages:
For myStratus users, simply change your Locale setting under Maintenance > Preferences > Company (Location) Preferences > Regional Settings.
For Spectra users, simply modify your computer’s regional settings in your Windows Control Panel to change the translation.
Our new translation is not going to be perfect, so we encourage all of our users to please report any mistakes to us immediately, and we’ll be glad to make a correction in the next service release. Simply send an email to Support@StudioPlusSoftware.com. We’d appreciate it if you would send us a screenshot, let us know what is incorrect, and also what the correct translation should be.
In the future, we look forward to translating the myStratus Web App and myStratus Mobile app as well.
If you use one of our products and would like it translated into a different language, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you!
Effective May 25, 2018, the European Union GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) goes into effect!! Are you ready?
This post addresses the improvements we’ve made to myStratus 2018 to assist you in becoming GDPR compliant. Even though the GDPR only affects those businesses doing business in the EU, it’s important that all clients read this post to understand the changes we’ve made to the software, since the changes will affect all clients.
First, what is the GDPR? The GDPR updates and replaces the EU Data Protection Directive (1995) and will apply across the European Union as the de facto standard defining how companies can use customer data. EU citizens will get more say over how organizations can utilize their data. The new GDPR becomes effective as of May 25, 2018 across all EU member states. Failure to comply could mean a €20 million fine or 4% of your organization’s global turnover, whichever is greater.
Second, it’s important to state that only myStratus 2018 will be GDPR compliant! Because myStratus is a hosted solution managed by us, we have more control over the full solution and, therefore, have the ability to make it GDPR compliant. However, because Spectra is an on-premises database which resides within your network under your control, we do NOT have the same abilities to make Spectra GDPR compliant.
Third, we’ll define several key terms in the GDPR – Data Controller and Data Processor. You, as the one doing business in the EU, are the Data Controller. The primary responsibility to meet all GDPR regulations rests with you. We simply serve as your Data Processor. As your Data Processor, we also have certain obligations that we must meet. This article will focus on the requirements we must meet as your Data Processor and how we are meeting those requirements in myStratus 2018. This post will NOT address your remaining requirements under GDPR as the Data Controller.
So, let’s discuss the responsibilities that we have as your Data Processor and the changes we’ve made in myStratus 2018.
Personal Data Privacy
GDPR has many requirements concern how you collect, store, and use personal data, making it necessary to first identify the personal data you hold about data subjects. It requires both the Data Controller and Data Processor to discover, identify, and classify all “Personal Data” that is being collected for your clients. As your Data Processor, we have already identified every table and field in your database that is designed to store personal data for your clients. In addition, we have classified each of these data fields as a special Personal Data Collection Field.
myStratus also maintains 30 days of detailed Audit Logs of every transaction that takes place in your database, including every “Read and Write” action. These Audit Logs now utilize this new Personal Data Classification and report every time Personal Data has been collected, read, or accessed in your database.
Rights to Access Personal Data
GDPR states that your clients have the right to request a copy of the data relevant to them and ask for it to be rectified or deleted. In myStratus, we have provided you with several mechanisms for you to accomplish this if you receive such a request from a client.
Secure Personal Data
GDPR requires that all personal data is secure through some method of encryption. First, we encrypt your entire database on our servers rendering it completely unreadable to any individual without authorized access. Secondly, we ensure that all data is encrypted as it travels in and out of your database. This means that all our applications use proper encryption when data is sent into or pulled from your database.
GDPR requires organizations to detect and report any data breach to data protection authorities generally within 72 hours of detection, unless the breach is unlikely to result in a risk to the privacy rights of individuals. As your Data Processor, we subscribe to the latest Threat Detection Services which alerts our team of any suspicious database activities, potential vulnerabilities, SQL injection attacks, as well as any unusual database access patterns. Once alerted that any suspicious data activity has occurred with your database, our Technical Support Team will provide you with an alert. You will then be responsible to report the activity if you feel that Personal Data has been breached.
GDPR requires that all your data always reside within the EU, and only be transferred to third countries with required safeguards in place. If your business resides in the EU, then we store ALL your data in a data warehouse within the EU, and not in the US!
If you are subscriber to StudioPlus Mail, which relies on a deep integration with SendGrid, a US based company, then email activity may be flowing to the US as an email is being sent to your client. The GDPR has created a voluntary self-certification program in which US organizations can participate to show they have adequate data protection practices in place to meet this requirement of the GDPR, known as the Privacy Shield. SendGrid is Privacy Shield certified.
Data Resiliency refers to the ability of cloud-based services, such as myStratus, to withstand certain types of failures and yet remain fully functional from the customers’ perspective. Data resiliency means that no matter what failures occur within myStratus, your customer data, including any personal information, remains intact and unaffected.
To accomplish proper Data Resiliency, we first ensure your database is automatically replicated to three separate physical drives in three completely separate server racks within our datacenter. For you, that means no downtime or data loss if there is ever a hard drive failure or other hardware-related outage.
Secondly, every database is geo-replicated to a secondary datacenter at least 500 miles away from the primary datacenter (but still within the EU). With geo-replicated databases, this means that we always maintain six copies of your data at all times!
Third, we have implemented a new feature in myStratus 2018 called Automatic Disaster Recovery (ADR). In the event of a major disaster which causes a full datacenter outage, our systems will automatically discover that your database is no longer reachable by your business. In that unlikely event, the system will automatically reconnect your business to the secondary datacenter within 20-60 seconds.
If you utilize email marketing in your business, GDPR requires that you get explicit permission from your clients before you send them marketing emails. This permission is best obtained through an “Opt-In” process where a client has the ability to click a checkbox stating that you have their permission to send them marketing emails.
However, GDPR also makes provision for using an “Opt-Out” process (also known as “soft opt-in exception”) as long as:
In myStratus 2018, we’ve made several changes on how we collect email addresses via the web. A new question has been added to both the myStratus Online Booking process and the new Client Referral Page asking the client “May we email you marketing material?”. If the client leaves this box unchecked, the software will automatically check the Do Not Market checkbox on the client’s record. For clients in other countries who do not wish to show this question, it can be turned off in either the Online Booking Preferences or Referral Program Preferences.
Finally, GDPR requires you keep detailed logs of each time a client changes their email preferences. So, in myStratus 2018, the software will now add a note to the Client Status Notes every time the Do Not Market checkbox is checked or unchecked.
At StudioPlus, we are proud of the complete and robust systems we’ve spent the past 20 years building for our clients!! As a StudioPlus client, YOU are the one who benefits from this work! Rest assured, by using myStratus 2018, you’re using a best-in-class service to help you attain GDRP compliance.
This post is for general purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice or to determine how GDPR might apply to you and your organization. We encourage you to work with a legally qualified professional to discuss GDPR, how it applies specifically to your organization, and how best to ensure compliance. STUDIOPLUS SOFTWARE MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS, IMPLIED, OR STATUTORY, AS TO THE INFORMATION IN THIS POST. This information is provided “as-is.”
Click here to watch a SendGrid Webinar on GDPR as it relates to using StudioPlus Mail as your email provider
Click here to read more about GDPR
Click here to read the full GDPR Text
We’re proud that both myStratus and Spectra offer the richest Dashboard reporting tool within the industry. Dashboard Reports provide real-time analysis information, empowering you to make timely decisions to ensure your business prospers. With drill-down capabilities, you possess the ability to see the “meaning behind the numbers”. Learn each number’s significance and discover exactly how that data impacts your bottom line. That’s the essence of the Dashboard – empowering you with the key performance indicators needed to make the timely decisions necessary to manage a successful business.
In both Spectra and myStratus 2018, we’ve added 13 new reporting Data Types, including:
In addition, the Group By feature was enhanced with the following:
We’ve also added an important feature to Dashboard Reports called Data Criteria. Data Criteria allows you to filter reporting data without the need to build a complete Filter. For example, you could easily choose to show only Sessions where Session Type is “Wedding”. We’ve added 40 of these new Data Criteria to Dashboard Reports!!
I encourage every business owner/manager I meet to utilize the power of the Dashboard. Your business will never be the same!
Click here to read more about the Dashboard
Click here to watch a video on the Dashboard
In the Unites States, Cayan (formerly called Merchant Warehouse) has been a key partner with StudioPlus for many years. Cayan’s always been on the forefront of delivering new technologies, staying current with all the latest trends, and ensuring compliance and security for our clients.
Cayan was one of the first to provide secure virtual terminals via the web (called Transport.Web) to allow our clients to take credit card payments via a browser while never requiring our software to touch the sensitive credit card information. This has always been key to keeping our software out of PCI scope and making it much easier for our clients to obtain PCI-Compliance.
Cayan was also in the forefront to provide tokenized payments, where Cayan would store the credit card information in their secure vaults and allow us to store a simple token. This token is what allows our software to process repeat transactions and automatic payment plans without having to store any sensitive information on your networks.
Cayan then invested heavily in the development of the Genius platform, the first payment technology to integrate processing, payment acceptance and customer experience in one fully-scalable platform. With the Genius platform, customers can choose to pay with credit, debit, chip cards or even mobile payment solutions like Apple Pay and Google Pay. Genius is fully PCI Level 1 compliant, uses point-to-point encryption, and is future-proof by accepting new features direct over the Cloud.
Today, we are thrilled to announce that both Spectra 2018 and myStratus Desktop 2018 will support the new Cayan Handheld and Cayan Mini (mobile) devices in addition to the existing Cayan Countertop device.
Genius Handheld keeps sales associates out from behind the counter and directly in front of your clients, helping them close the sales and finalize payments. The Genius Handheld device is just as simple to set up as the Genius Countertop device but works wirelessly over your wireless networks.
Genius Mini turns your mobile phone or tablet directly into a payment processing genius. Using either your audio jack or Bluetooth, the Genius Mini can process credit, debit, chip enabled cards, NFC/contactless digital wallets, or traditional mag-swiped cards—all from a single compact device. Genius Mini is available for both iOS and Android devices. Currently, a Genius Mini transaction must be initiated from either myStratus Desktop or Spectra. However, future versions of the myStratus mobile app will have the ability to initiate the transaction direct from the phone, providing a truly portable solution.
Finally, Cayan has enhanced their credit card storage vault. This enhanced vault has the ability to auto accept updated expiration dates from both participating MasterCard and Visa providers. So, when a card is about to expire, there’s no need to contact your client to get an updated expiration date. Instead, the data updates automatically. Cayan calls this new feature their Card Updater Service, and a small fee does apply. Simply contact Cayan to enable this feature.
We’re thrilled to bring these new features to our US clients and look forward to our continuing partnership with Cayan to deliver the most current technologies!
Click here to watch of video of Genius Mini (Mobile) in action
Click here to watch a video of Genius Handheld in action
Click here to read more about Genius Devices
Click here to visit Cayan’s website
Click here to receive a no obligation quote from Cayan
In 2015, we introduced our StudioPlus Mail™ add-on service which is now the primary email delivery mechanism for the majority of our clients. StudioPlus Mail relies upon a deep integration with SendGrid, the world’s largest provider of email infrastructure service. SendGrid’s clients include technology leaders such as Uber, Spotify, Airbnb, and Yelp.
StudioPlus Mail works worldwide and is fully integrated with both Spectra and myStratus Desktop. With StudioPlus Mail, you’ve got the power to:
Now in 2018, we’re bringing real-time, in-depth tracking of your emails directly through StudioPlus Mail! Now you’ve got the capability to track the Delivery Status of all outgoing emails within myStratus (not available in Spectra). These statuses include whether an email was Delivered, Opened, Bounced, etc. After clicking the delivery status within an email, also view the Email History to see the exact date and time each status was recorded. This gives you the bonus of knowing which emails are delivered, opened, and read!
(Why is this feature not available in Spectra? This integration relies on real-time communication between SendGrid.com and your myStratus database. Since Spectra databases do not live in the cloud, as myStratus databases do, they are inaccessible to SendGrid.com.)
To further enhance with the new Delivery Statuses, we’ve enhanced our Triggers and added a new Trigger Type for Email Records. This allows you to automatically create a task or phone call record whenever an email bounces, granting the ability to follow up with the client to get a valid email address. Or maybe create a phone call record when a marketing email has been clicked on to enhance the effectiveness of your phone sales!
We’ve also added Email Categories to the HTML and Form Letter Builders for added email tracking in both myStratus and Spectra. This feature enables every email sent via the software to be tracked via Analytical Reports in the SendGrid Portal and in 9 new Email Dashboard Reports built right into Spectra and myStratus!
The new email-related Dashboard reports include:
Now, track the effectiveness of every email campaign you run direct from within your software. In addition, with the new Dashboard Group By the Hour of Day feature, you can even see when your clients are opening and reading your emails, telling you exactly the best time of day to run your email campaigns.
Email marketing is key to running any successful business today—you’ll find these new email features to be invaluable in building your business!
Click here to read more about StudioPlus Mail.
Click here to watch an overview video about StudioPlus Mail.
Click here to visit SendGrid.com website.