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How a server helps NewsDirect stay ahead

Why choosing SBS 2003 was a no-brainer

Reporting live from Edinburgh (and the kitchen table)

NewsDirect is like a private newspaper for the political elite. Every day managing director Kirsty Regan and four colleagues scan reports from the Scottish Parliament, which is five minutes down the road from their office, as well as feeds from Westminster, Brussels and Strasbourg. They supply their clients with customised news electronically.

Companies can't be sure that the mainstream media will report information that could be critical to their business. For example, select committee debates on the oil industry won't make the front page of The Times or The Scotsman but might be critical to an oil company executive.

The company started life in 2000 and has always taken a progressive but practical view of technology. Regan believes that the right kit allows the company to overcome the advantages of scale and geography enjoyed by competitors. "For a long time you had to be in London to be taken seriously but that's no longer the case," she explains.

"A no-brainer"

Kirsty selected mxIT, a Microsoft Partner that is based in Edinburgh, to install Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003.

It gives NewsDirect communication and collaboration capabilities normally seen in much larger companies:

The ability to work from home. "We really value this," admits Regan. Thanks to a feature called Remote Desktop, she can connect to her office computer from home and access all her files and programs just as if she was right there.

The ability to send and receive emails on Orange SPV Smartphones.

Support for Virtual Private Networks to allow the company's salesperson to have full access to the company's information while working at home for two days a week (saving her four hours of commuting each week).

Choosing Windows Small Business Server 2003 was "really a no-brainer," explains Regan.

Business Contact Manager

NewsDirect has recently started using Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager (BCM) as their sales opportunity database. It lets Regan 'brain dump' six years of sales and marketing information into a shared database that colleagues can use to plan and monitor sales activity.

"We looked at a lot of expensive [customer relationship management] software," says Regan. However, she worried about the cost and training requirements of a high-end program. BCM was a "very cheap solution" and, unlike the other options, it was not terrifyingly new because it integrated with Outlook 2003 which was familiar to everyone in the company.

Not technology for technology's sake

What is impressive about NewsDirect is their pragmatic approach to technology. Perhaps it is because the boss is a woman; technology for its own sake isn't attractive. "There's a tendency for men running businesses to stay more cutting edge in technology for the sake of it," says Regan.

Perhaps that's why Small Business Server 2003 and Business Contact Manager work so well for NewsDirect. Quite simply, they do the business.

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