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Microsoft Azure: What it is and How Your Business Can Benefit

Have you heard about Microsoft Azure and are wondering what it can do for your business? This is a great question to ask, as Azure opens the door for cloud-computing potential for any size business. Whether you’re looking to migrate to the cloud, streamline your operations or better serve your customers, Azure will help you reach your goals. 

What is Microsoft Azure? 

Azure is a cloud computing service created by Microsoft for building, testing and managing services and applications from anywhere. It includes solutions like Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) that can be used for storage, networking and analytics. 

What are the Benefits of Using Azure? 

Azure is praised for being affordable, flexible and reliable. It offers 24/7 tech support and supports almost any OS, language, tool or framework. Better yet, you only have to pay for the features you use. As an example, if you choose to use Azure and Microsoft Access together, you can have a powerful database solution with cloud features for a fraction of the price. 

Here are some benefits of using Azure for your business: 

  • Security and privacy are built into the platform
  • Supports all open source technologies, not just Window apps
  • No upfront costs – pay for what you use 
  • Solutions available for all industries 
  • Only consistent hybrid cloud on the market 
  • Meets GDPR requirements, as well as other compliance offerings 

How Can I Use Azure for My Business? 

Now that you know some of the biggest benefits of Azure, let’s look at some of the ways you can use this software for your own business. 

  • Back up your data. Azure can back up your data in almost any language from any location. You can also determine your backup schedule – daily, weekly, monthly, etc.
  • Host and develop apps. Azure offers patch management, a feature that adjusts your resources based on customer web traffic. This way, you have the resources you need when traffic is high. 
  • Support a digital transformation. If your business is looking to move to the cloud, Azure will help you reach your goals. You can connect your devices to the cloud, plus take advantage of the SQL Database in Azure

There’s a lot to learn about Azure, so give Arkware a call and we’ll be happy to explain this cloud platform to you. When coupled with a database program like Access, you can build a powerful cloud database that meets your company’s highest expectations.

Duplicate Data Problems and How to Fix Them

The most common data quality issue is duplicate data, which can come from importing or exporting errors or mistakes from your team. Duplicate data doesn’t always get the same attention as inaccurate or incomplete data, but it can be just as troublesome. Plus, there are different types of duplicate data, such as partial duplicates and exact duplicates. Understanding duplicate data and its impact is an important part of having a reliable database.

Below are the reasons why duplicate data is a problem, as well as simple steps on how to avoid redundant entries in Microsoft Access. 

Duplicate Data Problems 

  • Inaccurate personalization. Customers expect personalized offers and communications. But without accurate data, it’s difficult to personalize your interactions. The only thing worse than no personalization is inaccurate personalization. 
  • Harmed brand reputation. If you send out the same campaign multiple times or address someone by the wrong name, this makes your brand look bad. People might get annoyed and you could lose a loyal customer.
  • Lost productivity. When your marketing and sales teams are struggling with duplicate entries, they have to use their time and energy to fix the issue. This is a big waste of time that could be spent growing your business and reaching new clients.  
  • Difficulty making decisions. Data-driven decisions are always best because they are based on concrete facts. However, if you have duplicate information, your teams can’t trust the data or make confident business decisions. 

How to Find and Fix Duplicate Records 

Now that you know some of the problems with duplicate data, let’s discuss the steps to finding and removing these records. We recommend using the Query Wizard because it’s fast and easy! 

  • On the Create tab, click Query Wizard.
  • In the New Query dialog, click Find Duplicates Query Wizard > OK. 
  • Select the table you want to use and click Next.
  • Choose the fields you want to match and click Next.
  • In the list of fields, choose the ones that contain the data you want to update and click Next.
  • Accept the suggested query name or enter a new name and hit Finish. 

Once you identify the duplicate records, you can edit or delete them. If you have additional questions on duplicate data and how to protect the integrity of your database, schedule a consultation with Arkware today. 

How to Spring Clean Your Database

It’s not just your closets and drawers that need spring cleaning – your database does, too! Cleaning and organizing your database may not be the most exciting thing on your to-do list, but it’s one that you will thank yourself later for. By completing this task, you can improve your data’s health, reduce costs and improve your marketing campaigns’ ROI. 

Below are the steps to follow when spring cleaning your organization’s database. 

Backup Your Database 

Before you do any type of cleanup to your database, backup your files first. You should be backing up your data regularly, but this step is especially important when you start making major changes to your system. 

Identify Duplicate Records  

Identify any duplicates in your database by running a search. Duplicates are often inevitable, but it’s important to catch them before they cause problems. For example, you don’t want to email the same contact twice or waste your marketing dollars on people who aren’t interested in your products. 

Update Key Information 

When was the last time you updated your data? It’s possible that you need to solicit new or updated information, such as email addresses or purchase histories. Your database should keep on top of important details. This will make reporting easier and more accurate. 

Remove Inactive Contacts

In terms of the information in your customer relationship management (CRM) system, now is a good time to remove inactive contacts. Filter your contacts by activity date to see who’s engaging with your brand and who isn’t. For those who aren’t interacting with your brand, you can remove them from your database or attempt to re-engage them with a new campaign. 

Go to the Source

If you do find a great deal of outdated information, duplicate records and other errors, identify the source. It’s possible that there’s a deeper issue going on within your organization that needs to be addressed, such as automated imports or volunteer data entry staff. 

Consider Training Your Staff 

Now is a good time to train your staff to improve the quality of data in your database. More people are working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so you can ask employees to watch videos, participate in an online training course and more. This will help improve the quality of your data, reduce errors and limit employee turnover. 

Commit to New Processes 

Depending on what you find in your database cleanup, it may be time to implement new processes. For example, automating certain tasks is helpful, but there are some tasks that require a human to make decisions. You may also want to enlist help from a database consultant who can help design and document processes for your database. 

By spring cleaning your database, you can make a huge difference in reducing clutter, simplifying day-to-day activities and improving the accuracy of data reporting. To discuss a new or improved database for your organization, contact Arkware today. 

5 Benefits to Enjoy When You Upgrade Your Database

How long has it been since you last updated your database? If it’s been a while, you’re probably due for an upgrade. Outdated databases are vulnerable to security breaches, redundant data, inaccurate reporting and other errors. To ensure you are taking advantage of the latest software and technology, it’s important to upgrade your database software to meet the needs of your organization.

Below you’ll find five benefits to expect when you upgrade your database to something like Microsoft Azure or Microsoft SQL.

1. Get Security Fixes 

Databases are extremely vulnerable to cyber attacks because they are usually easy to get through. Organizations don’t update their databases as regularly as other systems, leaving them open to hackers. If this happens, all of the information in your database could be compromised. Thankfully, by updating your database, you can take advantage of the latest security patches. 

2. Utilize New and Improved Features 

Another benefit to upgrading your database is that you will have full access to new features like productivity tools and efficient architecture. When you have these tools at your disposal, you can organize your data and retrieve information easier, increasing productivity and reducing downtime. 

3. Resolve Bugs and Other Issues 

Outdated databases often have bugs and other issues that prevent you from being productive. Fortunately, most updates identify and repair bugs, internal errors and other technical issues. Plus, a database upgrade gives you the opportunity to review your software specifications. Oftentimes, new hardware is needed to support a new system. 

4. Reduce Operational Costs 

There are some updates that save businesses money. For example, some upgrades take up a smaller footprint, reducing storage costs. Others offer more storage and operations than previous versions, replacing older and more expensive hardware. Plus, when employees are able to work faster and smarter, this ends up reducing operational costs as well. 

5. Easier Transition to Cloud Migration

Many businesses start with an easy and familiar database like Microsoft Access and then shift to a cloud-based database like Microsoft Azure. By making this transition, the cloud-based database will be able to adapt to your changing IT needs. If your business needs greater size and scalability, a cloud-based database upgrade is worth looking into. 

Upgrading your database is an essential task that ensures the health and reliability of your database. To discuss your options for a database upgrade, contact the database experts at Arkware. 

Why Every Small Business Needs a Database

As a small business owner, it’s likely that you are assessing the benefits of having a database to streamline your customers and audiences. For many new business owners, a database isn’t the first thing on their minds. However, as time goes on and businesses grow, creating a reliable database sounds more appealing. 

Here at Arkware, we believe that most businesses can benefit from having a database. Not only can you keep track of your customers, but also you can understand your audiences better and develop new business strategies based on this information. Below we share the reasons why small businesses need databases. 

Customer Relationship Management 

One of the best ways to boost your profits is by understanding your customers. The more information you have about your customers, the easier it is to speak to them with personalized messaging. Thankfully, customer relationship management databases allow you to gather customer information to utilize when creating special offers, introducing new products, sending out direct mail and so on. 

Customer and Product Analysis 

When you create a database that holds customer and product information, you can quickly see which products are selling, which ones aren’t and which customers are returning for repeat sales. Doing this manually takes time away from your business, but a database makes it fast and easy. 

Inventory Management

You can use your database to control your stock as well. Take a quick look over your database to see what items are out of stock and which ones you have plenty of. This way, when you place orders, you’re only ordering what you need. To save extra time, consider automatically reordering stock once products reach a certain level. 

Payroll and Scheduling 

Tired of entering in payroll every other week? You can use your employee database to simplify payroll and reduce errors. Information to include is hourly wage, salary or commission, tax withholdings and more. Using this same database, it’s also easy to build out a schedule and track employee vacation time. 

Reducing Overhead 

The time and labor that is required to process manual transactions takes attention away from other business tasks. With a reliable and efficient database, you can streamline your business operations and save time and money in the process. And, when you know what buying patterns and purchasing decisions your customers are making, you can put your efforts into these areas. 

Ready to build a database that meets your needs and budget? Contact Arkware today for a free consultation. 

4 Types of Information to Include in Your CRM Database

A customer relationship management (CRM) system uses a database to gather information about your company’s prospects and customers. You can even use CRM data in your marketing and advertising efforts to target customers more effectively. With the ability to customize the information you collect, you can make endless configurations to fit your sales strategies. 

To ensure your CRM has the valuable information you need, we recommend focusing on these four areas.

1. Personal Details 

Anything that has to do with your customers should go in your CRM system. If you need to take notes on a particular customer, such as during a phone call, you can do so by adding notes and attachments to your CRM. This way, you can easily pull up your customer’s info and provide them with reliable and accurate customer service. 

This is not a complete list, but here is some key information to collect from your prospects: 

  • Contact name
  • Email address
  • Phone number 
  • Social profiles 
  • Order history 
  • Survey responses 
  • Payment history 

2. Lead Source 

New customer leads can come from virtually anywhere. It’s helpful to know how they are finding you, as this tells you which channels are most effective. Your CRM can read the source information coded in the URL to determine the lead source, such as an email campaign, organic search or social media. 

3. Customer Interaction Method 

When you have interactions with your customers, whether by phone, email or social media, it’s important to keep a record. This will allow you to look back on conversations and provide your customers with better service. 

Tracking customer interactions also allows your CRM modules to analyze customer communications and extract insight from them. As you come to certain conclusions about your customers, you can share this data with your teams. 

4. Purchase Records 

Use your CRM to keep track of your customers’ purchasing histories. Your CRM can analyze patterns in their behaviors and help you understand which products sell best and which ones don’t. Tracking purchasing information is also useful when creating campaigns, running promotions and ordering inventory. 

Having a CRM database is an effective way to manage your relationships with customers, provide excellent service and understand your audience. To learn more about creating a CRM database for your business, contact Arkware today.