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Hosting your own Microsoft Exchange Server: The Pros and Cons


Hosting Exchange in-house

Whether or not you should host your company’s Microsoft Exchange Server in-house depends on a number of key considerations. These include your company’s budget; data security concerns; and need for flexibility, just to name a few. With these factors in mind, let’s have a look at the potential pros and cons of hosting Exchange in-house:



The Pros

Greater control over your data

When you host your own Exchange server, your company’s data is under your company’s control and no one else’s. If you’re uncomfortable with a remote third party potentially having access to, and control over, your company’s data in the cloud, then you may want to host your server in-house.

Flexibility with your configuration

If you host your Exchange server in-house, you can configure it to your precise specifications. However, with a hosted solution, you will probably find yourself limited to the packages and options the host provides. Of course, they may offer a completely customizable solution, but this may come at a substantially higher cost.

Saving money on bandwidth

With an in-house solution, the emails and attachments your employees send one another will bypass the Internet, as long as everyone shares the same LAN. This can translate to significant savings on Internet bandwidth.


Large attachments, especially those that contain audio or video, may suffer a delay in transmission if your employees are sending them through a hosted Exchange server. In this case, every email attachment essentially becomes an upload or a download to your Internet-based server. Given this constraint, if your company’s communications are especially media-intensive, an in-house solution could save you time and frustration.

Using email attachments to store files

If you are hosting your Exchange server in-house, your staff can easily store files by adding them as attachments to their emails. However, this common practice is much more difficult, impractical and expensive when using a hosted server. After all, you are now sending your file attachments over the Internet, and storing them in the cloud, costing you bandwidth and storage space.

Less exposure to Internet outages

If you have an in-house Exchange server, any employees on your LAN can continue to send emails to one another during an Internet outage.

The Cons

Requires vigilance

A hosted solution will generally have systems in place for handling all the responsibilities, ongoing tasks and potential issues surrounding Exchange server management. These include handling outages; performing scheduled backups; updating your version of Exchange; and any number of other server-management tasks and concerns. On the other hand, when you are hosting your own Exchange server, your in-house or hired networking specialist will need to be vigilant to stay on top of all of these same issues.

Requires IT expertise

Hosting and managing your own Exchange server requires either in-house or hired networking expertise. If you don’t have the trained expertise in-house, be sure to hire a highly-qualified networking specialist or team in your area. However, only hire networking professionals that are specifically trained in setting up and managing Exchange servers. You will also want reassurance that your hired specialists will make themselves readily available to respond to any outages; answer any questions or concerns; and take the time to properly train any members of your staff that will work with your Exchange server.

Potentially higher cost

Hosting your server in-house will require an investment in equipment, setup, expertise, and maintenance. Depending on the size of your company, your chosen server configuration, and a number of other factors, an in-house solution could potentially cost more than a hosted solution. However, if you are saving money on bandwidth by hosting your server in-house, you might find that your savings can more than offset any potentially higher costs of in-house hosting.

Making your decision

Whether or not to host your own Exchange server is an important decision that depends on a number of key trade-offs. Before making your decision, be sure to carefully consider your need for control over your data; your budget; your access to in-house or local networking expertise; your employees’ use of large file attachments; your need for flexibility; and any other concerns you may have. Contact us to help you decide whether hosting your Exchange server in-house is right for you.

How ACT! Contact Management Software Can Build Your Business Credibility


Customizing Your Messaging Through Personalization and Segmentation

What helps your business attract customers? Chances are that based on your industry, your company has a very specific value proposition. But ultimately, that value proposition is worth little without a degree of credibility for your brand in the eyes of your audience.

In other words, your brand messaging needs to be both believable and authentic. When your potential customers comes across as less credible than one of your similar competitors, their choice will be easy. To prevent that from happening, you need to make sure your messages are relevant. It’s UnMarketing in action: promote your business subtly, not obviously.

Fortunately, building your credibility is far from impossible. To make it happen, though, you need a software that allows you to gather and organize enough customer and lead data to build more relevant messaging. In other words, you need ACT! Contact Management Software.

The Benefits of a CRM

At its core, ACT! is a CRM – short for customer relationship management system. The benefits of CRMs for businesses across industries range widely, but tend to come back to organization. Put simply, a platform like ACT! allows you to gather as much information as you can about potential customers in a centralized space.

The results, in many cases, are increased productivity and better marketing-sales symbiosis through a singular system. But at the same time, don’t underestimate the potential for increasing your credibility through the same functionality, as well.

Building a Reliable Lead Database

Through ACT!, you can build your lead database. You might have heard about inbound marketing, a promotional philosophy that has taken the internet by storm. It emphases organic lead generation by offering valuable content in exchange for signing up, rather than purchasing or sourcing leads for money.

Of course, you need a place in which to store your new leads. Given that only a quarter of the leads entering your database are actually sales ready, your CRM acts as more than just a pool for new leads. It’s the system through which you can slowly nurture them to become customers.

Customizing Your Messaging Through Personalization and Segmentation

At the core of ACT!, much like many other CRM platforms, is email marketing. You can easily send beautiful emails to every contact in your database. For the sake of your credibility, though, you shouldn’t. Instead, use the features available for you to maximize the relevancy of your messaging. You can increase your messaging relevance in two ways:

  • Personalize your emails. Use the software’s integrated personalization tool to substitute individual details about your leads into each message. From first name to company size, personalization will maximize your engagement rates.
  • Segment your audience lists. Instead of treating every potential customer the same way, consider segmenting them into relatively homogenous lists based on common characteristics. Now, you can build more relevant messages targeted specifically toward that segment’s needs and pain points.

Through this type of customization, your credibility will maximize. Put simply, a potential customers who signs up on your website expects messages that are not promotional, but relevant to their individual needs. A company who can deliver on that expectations quickly and effectively will incur significant goodwill.

Get Started in Implementing ACT!

To build your credibility, especially among new leads, you need to increase your relevance. The authenticity and quality of your messages also matters, but personalization and segmentation are vital first steps.

That, in turn, requires a CRM platform specifically optimize to accomplish your credibility goals. And as it turns out, that’s exactly where ACT! enters the equation. Through its contact management and email tools, you can build a marketing strategy designed to increase your credibility and grow your business. To learn more about implementing the software and optimizing your marketing efforts, contact us.

Ways to make your IT help desk more efficient


Your first stop to ensuring better service

While all departments in an organization work together towards a designated goal, the IT help desk is a crucial part of any organization. Depending on an organization line of work, the help desk and the Tech support form one unit or you can separate the two as well. However, in this case, we look at the help desk, and IT support as a single unit.

Help desk, is the first place a customer will stop to report any issue with a product from the company that is faulty. The response of the help desk personnel is fundamental in fostering good relationship between the customer and the organization for future business.

Ability to solve problems is essential for IT help desk personnel, since it is the first line of defense, when it comes to handling customer issues. The approach that help desk takes in resolving customer issues determines the growth of your organization or its fall. So, what are the tips to incorporate into such a platform to achieve customer satisfaction?

Assess and evaluate the problem level

Customer issues vary in urgency and complexity. The ability to assess and determine complexity of the issue presented by a customer, allows you to give correct guideline on resolving it. For complex and technical matters, you can refer the client to the most competent person in that area.

One wrong move on the help desk like trying to fix technical issues that you are not capable of handling, can backfire and make the issue worse. Hence, compromising help desk’s reputation and the organization as a whole.

Knowing the magnitude of the problem not only makes you an effective IT help desk professional, but it also allows you to give accurate guidelines to customers. Some issues do not need tech support to resolve. Knowledge of such solutions as video tutorials to refer to, is a bonus.

Gauge the customer’s technical know-how level

When it comes to tech savvy abilities, not everyone has the gift. You should first gauge and assess the expertise of the client before delving on the steps to resolving an issue. You should realize that what looks like a simple fix to you, becomes a tough aspect to understand for those without any knowledge on tech issue.

For a customer who is tech savvy, conversation becomes easy, and they will figure out things more quickly than those who don’t have the knowledge. Gauging the level of the know-how of the client determines the directions to give to resolve the issue.

Check for previous support tickets  

It’s common for customers to encounter similar technical problems when handling various gadgets.  Checking for previous support tickets from the customer gives you an upper hand on the issue.

With previous records, it will make it easy to resolve each client’s issues fast and more efficiently, since notes available, provide details on problems addressed. That means that you do not have to do full screening, since you already know the areas that need maintenance and checking.

Use of previous support tickets gives useful clues on the issue at hand and helps you fast-track the stages of resolution, to refer the customer to the right personnel. Quick response not only increases efficiency, but it also leads to enhanced customer satisfaction.

Being the first stop a customer makes, help desk means a lot to the organization. The implication is that a lot of time and resources are instrumental in making IT help desk the best department in the company for a greater good. That will ensure better service to customers and an increase in productivity at all levels of your business. Call us now for more information.

Microsoft Product Releases: Visual Studio 2017 Was Released In March


Visual Studio 2017 gives you the depth of capabilities you need to create outstanding solutions

Microsoft recently launched another application development tool, Visual Studio 2017. Microsoft first introduced the application development tool in 1997, and the company has continued to introduce a versatile and flexible toolkit that is unlike any other in the industry.

Visual Studio 2017 gives a programmer the depth of capabilities he or she needs to create outstanding solutions for their business. Visual Studio 2017 includes more developer activities than it ever has, and the latest features are more focused on improving productivity, streamlining the development, and improving mobile development.

Here are some of the high-level improvements that have been made in Visual Studio 2017:

Improved Productivity

For Visual Studio 2017, Microsoft did not just focus on the cloud, mobility, and development capabilities. Microsoft also focused on improving the performance and productivity experiences that programmers would obtain from using Visual Studio 2017. When you use Visual Studio 2017, you will experience a faster start time, it will use less memory than it has before, and it will be more responsive.

Multiple Accounts

Visual Studio has introduced a new service that will allow you to share your user accounts across various platforms. Another great improvement in Visual Studio 2017 is that you will be able to stay logged into those accounts longer. You will not be asked to sign into your account again after 12 hours.

Extension Manager

You will find it easier to manage your extensions because you will have the Roaming Extensions Manager. The Roaming Extension Manager will be able to keep track of all of your extensions. When you want to see a full list of your extensions, you can click the Tools option, go to Extensions & Updates, and then go to the Roaming Extension Manager. The Roaming Extension Manager will keep track of all of your extensions, but you will have the ability to choose the extensions you want to add to the list.

Improvements In Performance

The new Visual Studio makes it easier, faster, and better for you to install the features you will need. When you need to use certain features, you will be able to use them immediately once they have been installed. One of the most important changes you will see when you install Visual Studio 2017 for the first time is the experience when it comes to the setup.

How Long Will It Take To Load?

When you are working on solutions that require you to have a large number of projects at one time, this does not mean you will have to use all the files at the same time. You will have the ability to edit the files without waiting for Visual Studio 2017 to load for every project.

Mobile Application Development

When you use Visual Studio 2017, you will be able to be more innovative. You will also be able to get more results faster. With Visual Studio 2017, you will be able to go mobile with your current teams. When you make investments in technology and new equipment, Visual Studio 2017 will allow you to go mobile with those investments. If you want to deliver a first-class consumer experience when it comes to mobility, Visual Studio 2017 is the tool for you.

It does not matter if you want to use Visual Studio 2017 to build something for the Web, mobile, cloud, etc. It does not matter if you are building something for educational purposes, healthcare purposes, government, etc., Visual Studio 2017 will have everything you need, in every language, on any device, and on any platform.

Are you interested in learning more about Visual Studio 2017 and other Microsoft product releases? Do not hesitate to contact us today for additional information on recently released or future Microsoft product releases.