Marketing Firm Cuts Email Costs 30 Percent by Moving to Microsoft Online Services

“Time that our IT staff used to focus on email can now be refocused on supporting resources that drive revenue. We like the fact that managing email infrastructure is now someone else's responsibility." 

- Robert Neill, Vice President, Corporate Technology Services, Harte-Hanks


As a global company, Harte-Hanks depends on email messaging to keep its 4,000 information workers in touch with one another and with customers. Concerned about the rising cost and complexity of its existing email solution, Harte-Hanks migrated to the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite, part of Microsoft Online Services. With the help of Binary Tree, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, Harte-Hanks migrated 4,000 mailboxes to Microsoft Online Services in two weekends and cut messaging costs by approximately 30 percent. Relieved of messaging administration, the Harte-Hanks IT staff can focus more time on creating and supporting solutions that drive revenue. With the availability of instant messaging and web conferencing, and able to access email messages from more mobile devices, Harte-Hanks can be more responsive to its customers.


Harte-Hanks is a worldwide marketing company that provides multi-channel direct and digital marketing solutions as well as shopper advertising opportunities to local, regional, national, and international consumer and business-to-business marketers. Based in San Antonio, Texas, Harte-Hanks has 5,000 employees (4,000 information workers and 1,000 production workers) in more than 30 offices worldwide.

Harte-Hanks used the same email messaging software for many years. However, with numerous clusters of mail servers around the world, two administrators devoted to email administration, and remote-office personnel spending considerable time supporting email infrastructure, the company was concerned about rising costs.

Additionally, many employees, especially newer additions, were more familiar and experienced with Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Exchange Server than they were with the existing messaging solution. In many cases, new employees had to climb a learning curve just to become familiar with a service as basic as email messaging. Also, productivity functions such as instant messaging and video conferencing were not included with the existing solution, so Harte-Hanks had to provide them as separate applications. Launching and switching between multiple applications throughout the day reduced employee productivity; additionally, access to some of these programs was limited because of the high licensing costs. While employees were increasingly using smartphones and wanted to access email messages, calendars, and contacts from these devices, those services required extra servers.

For at least five years, we had discussions about potentially switching to a new email platform, but it required significant financial commitment, and we couldn't justify bringing in a brand new email infrastructure,” says Robert Neill, Vice President of Corporate Technology Services for Harte-Hanks.


In late 2008, Harte-Hanks learned about the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite from its local Microsoft account team. This suite includes Microsoft Exchange Online messaging software, Microsoft SharePoint Online collaboration software, Microsoft Office Live Meeting for PC-based web conferencing, and Microsoft Office Communications Online for instant messaging. These enterprise communication and collaboration applications are hosted in the “cloud,” in Microsoft data centers, and are purchased from Microsoft or its partners.

The Harte-Hanks IT staff was familiar and comfortable with Microsoft software, as many of the company’s servers ran the Windows Server operating systems. The company also runs many of its databases on Microsoft SQL Server data management software, uses Microsoft Office productivity software on its desktops, and uses Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 for collaboration sites.
Harte-Hanks decided to run a pilot program of Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite, a part of Microsoft Online Services, and other cloud-based email solutions, which provided similar functionality. Using a pilot group of 40 users, mostly in the IT organization, Harte-Hanks tested basic email functions, including scheduling meetings, creating collaboration sites, checking email and calendars from smartphones, and other functions. It ultimately decided on Microsoft Online Services.



By migrating to the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite, Harte-Hanks reduced its messaging costs by approximately 30 percent, freed up IT staff time, which can now be spent on creating and supporting revenue-producing services, and improved responsiveness to customers. It also outfitted its 4,000 information workers with a richer palette of communications options.




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