Hosted Exchange Specialist Apptix Continues Company Transformation

Apptix , an MSPmentor 100 company, continues to pitch a familiar story with regular quarterly updates. The high-level pitch goes something like this: Apptix, a hosted Exchange specialist, began to refine and refocus its business when CEO Dave Ehrhardt arrived in 2008. At the time, Apptix was a hodgepodge of acquired brands and platforms. Today, Apptix seems to be keenly focused on key vertical markets that need hosted unified communications solutions. Here's why.

Back in 2008 "we were wasting money," concedes Ehrhardt. So Ehrhardt led the company down a consolidation path from 2008-2010. In some cases Apptix lost customers and suffered financially during the deepest points of the U.S. economic recession. "The recession added about six months to the process," he said.

Fast forward to the present and Apptix claims to be back on track. The company now focuses on security email services, voice-over IP, virtual desktop applications, mobile capabilities, cloud storage and data management, just to name a few. Ehrhardt also described Apptix's shift in its marketing strategy: "We went from a reactive marketing and sales strategy to a cash-flow positive, proactive approach while we were consolidating," he said.

Apptix is heavily focused on mid-market companies of 25 to several thousand users, and it uses three different avenues to approach clients based on size. Apptix has its own sales team to attract clients with up to thousand users. Then it leverages its partnerships with Cox Communications, Fujitsu, CMIT and Network Solutions to sign larger enterprise clients. Apptix has more than made up for the number of clients it lost during its consolidation period.

When Ehrhardt took over, Apptix had about 190,000 business users. Now the company serves 320,000 business users throughout the U.S., with small footprints in Europe and Canada because of U.S.-based clients that have international offices. Apptix has no set plans to pursue internationally-based clients, but Ehrhardt wouldn't rule it out completely. "We'll do what's best for the business," he said. "Right now there's a ton of business in the U.S."

Apptix focuses on companies in the health-care, financial and legal verticals -- where mobility is key and went after these companies with solutions like its Mobile Email Hosting Service. Ehrhardt also learned another very valuable lesson: "These companies will pay more for value and products that will give them the ability to compete everyday with the big boys like Fortune 500 companies. The demand for 'anywhere, anytime' is growing. We are not the cheapest company in this space by any stretch. We see less of a demand for cutting cost and more for making the dollar go further in the mid market."

Still, Apptix faces plenty of competition. Intermedia, a rival hosted Exchange provider, was first to market with Hosted Exchange 2010 and the company is now building a Hosted Unified Communications business. Also, Microsoft itself is preparing Office 365 -- a cloud platform that will promote all of Microsoft's major applications via SaaS. That includes Microsoft Lync, the successor to Office Communications Server.

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