The New World: Desktop Software vs. Cloud-Based Subscriptions

Here is what to know:

  • A History Lesson
  • A New, Disruptive Technology Environment
  • The Subscription Economy
  • A New Value Proposition
  • Conclusion
80s rockin' CRT monitor
Check out the CRT monitor and the '90s mullet!

A History Lesson

There’s an old riddle about confronting change, and it goes like this.
Q: “How many folk singers does it take to change a lightbulb?”
A: “Four. One changes the light bulb, while the other three sing a song about how much better the old one was.”

Almanac Singers

Ever-changing technology trends can be like that, too.  In fact, humans aren’t wired nearly as well for change as they are for routine and habit.  Hence, the primary pain point for evolving technologies…hype for new and updated Apple products notwithstanding.

How many of us cursed our software providers when releasing updates or even altogether new versions, sometimes leaving our computers oddly unstable?  “What the hell, the old version works just fine!”  Until it doesn’t, of course.  Just ask anyone working on Microsoft Windows 7 or 8.1 in need of support…God help ‘em, because Microsoft won’t.  Intuit regularly ceases support for Quickbooks desktop software.  Oh, and Act! corporate continually lowers how long they’ll support each version.  The business models cannot support legacy versions while users desire new features.

Many of my clients have shared this kind of frustration with me over the years.  For example, once upon a time, Act! for Windows worked seamlessly with Microsoft Outlook with minimal suffering.  When the connection became unstable and unreliable, my phone rang constantly with terrified and unhappy clients.  In fact, the consultants like me wind up holding the bag because it’s a blame game between Act! corporate and Microsoft to determine fault. To provide support, I wound up creating several blog posts to help our clients so they could try to fix it themselves before paying us.  For this integration, Act! corporate must resort to a subscription model to fund the developers to keep pace with Microsoft’s changes.  Or, we sell third party Act! addons.   In short, it remains an inefficient, sometimes chaotic ecosystem for technology to evolve, and ripe for disruption.

Frustrated User
My clients calling me talking about how Act! and Outlook integration broke again
American land yachts tell great stories for the nostalgia, but they no longer remain practical as your daily driver.

We began to realize that keeping and maintaining essential software was very different from, say, the car-buying experience where one can keep their existing car for several years if they diligently maintain it.  Continuing with the auto industry analogy, this whole turnover cycle angered technology users just as when it was revealed that GM, Ford and Chrysler were all guilty of a “planned obsolescence” business model for years, eventually building cars in the 70s that only lasted a few years before breaking down.  All of us old enough to remember were suspicious Apple was up to the same shenanigans releasing a newly hyped iPhone every year with marginal upgrades to previous models.  It all begins to feel like a scam after a while, doesn’t it?



But the software industry operates a bit differently from hardware and automobiles. It has a different supply chain, different stresses on user experience, and frankly, operates in a different technology environment—like fish surviving in water vs. humans surviving on oxygen. Referring back to the auto industry for comparison, ubiquitous access to high-speed internet and 5G technologies are the tech equivalent of making traditional roads obsolete…or even the ownership model altogether. (One notable exception is Elon Musk’s Tesla. His management team is populated by ex-Apple people and their business model was designed very similarly as a platform complete with periodic software updates.)

Advancements like universal access to high-speed internet and 5G technologies essentially created a matrix, and we were no longer constrained by cables, hardware or networks. As a result, people expect to operate at full function wherever they are, 24-7. These new developments make software less dependent on local hardware and operating system configurations as long as it was operating on the World Wide Web.


This new environment brought new possibilities to commerce everywhere and the modes which people do business began to change, too. Much ink has been spilled telling us we now live in a subscription economy, and the data to supports it. The Washington Post reported the U.S. subscription-based economy was valued at $650 billion in 2021, and expected to more than double to $1.5 trillion by 2025. If we just look around us, we see subscriptions for more than just our television programming and news content—hotels, car washes, music, cloud storage, food and meal delivery, movie theaters, home workouts, even GM  launches a subscription-based auto membership experience beyond the conventional lease model.


Most of us remember when we’d bite the bullet every few years and spend $250 – $400+ per PC + I.T. contractor costs to upgrade Microsoft Office. As a result, people collaborating on projects often weren’t working on the same version. Google Docs essentially made that model obsolete, and now annual Microsoft Office subscriptions are priced very affordably starting at $69 per user per year.

So what’s the value proposition for the cloud-based software subscription model?

  • 24-7 access to your data with internet connection, no matter where you are or machine you use
  • Lower onboarding costs
  • Providers monitor friction points in real time, constantly improving features and functionality
  • Reduced technical support costs
  • Developers can deploy updates quickly
  • No more brutal software installs or data migrations
  • No servers to own and maintain
  • The Cloud offers better overall data security
  • Addresses compliance when and where relevant
  • Lower cost of entry and total cost of ownership
  • Subscription pricing tiers mean you only pay for the features you use
  • Subscriptions motivate SaaS providers to continually provide good great service.
software license infographic
Remain aware of the hidden costs of perpetually licensed software.

But the benefit few people talk about (but Mondo clients know!) is subscription pricing often frees up money for customizing the software to work seamlessly with your business processes rather than having to adapt your processes to counter the software’s limitations.



The Bottom-line? Subscription-based software just works better than the old desktop delivery model when users require constant updates that Microsoft, Apple or Google dictate. If it didn’t, the industry would go back to the old way. It’s simply more reliable, more adaptable and more cost-effective. And while there are still some single users inclined to sing a song about how much better the old way was, the new way is just better.

MondoCRM Acquires WiredContact UK

MondoCRM Opens an Office in the United Kingdom

Blenheim Palace
Mark Mondo & Cynthia Zimmerman at Blenheim Palace, the childhood home of Winston Churchill.

MondoCRM is pleased to announce its acquisition of WiredContact UK, the only WiredContact consultancy in Britain, earlier this year.  After almost 30 years in business, we have a long and rich history of growth and adapting to changing conditions in technology and the business services marketplace.  This is our second strategic acquisition in recent years.  Most recently, MondoCRM closed its acquisition of Novak Information Systems in June 2017, a mature Act! consultancy located out of Chicago.

Given my wife’s and my deep affection for the UK, its culture, and its people, we are particularly excited about our prospects for this new venture!  Here’s what to know:

  • Background: How the opportunity was presented
  • Rationale: Why acquiring a company on a different continent makes sense for us
  • Strategic Value: How WiredContactUK brings value to MondoCRM and our clients
  • What’s next: Our plans for what’s ahead delivering great client experiences


Tower of London
Yes, this is our client. The Tower of London uses WiredContact to manage corporate sales and e-marketing campaigns.

As some of you know, WiredContact was founded by former Act! and Saleslogix consultants who’d grown frustrated with its functionality and stability after a series of acquisitions by private equity investors.  Over the years, WiredContact has developed into a uniquely user-friendly, highly adaptable platform designed to deliver custom CRM solutions around the client’s business processes, instead of the client having to modify its processes around the software’s limitations.

We’ve observed over the years that WiredContact presents a powerful niche in the CRM marketplace for small-to-medium sized businesses (SMB)—especially those requiring custom-designed solutions—and they’re attractively priced compared to other larger players like Oracle, SAP, and Salesforce.  MondoCRM has long and deep relationships with WiredContact’s leadership and engineers over the years having collaborated on many custom CRM design projects.

I’ve known the founder of WiredContact UK for about 20 years, and when I heard he was looking to retire, I reached out to him pronto!  Over time, he diversified his consultancy impressively with practice areas including real estate development, property management, trade associations, local government economic development, higher education, funeral management, and even Royal Palace private event sales!  But what I found most fascinating was their ingenious use of WiredContact’s custom CRM design capabilities, far more so than I’ve seen here in the United States.

Needless to say, our due diligence process began straight away!



Avg Client Relationship in Years


Number of New Features for WiredContact


Years of Local Support Experience

When considering our own growth and recent experience with acquisitions, our calculus revealed that MondoCRM can more efficiently and profitably expand our business by acquiring existing profitable consultancies than staffing up a business development team for aggressive marketing campaigns.

Our process of due diligence was considerably more challenging than our domestic acquisitions for some reasons that are obvious, and others that are less so.  Long story short, making a trip to London smoothed over any rough edges that are customary to such a transition.  We joined the British American Business Council here in Chicago, a membership that promises to be helpful in regulatory matters and making strategic introductions when required.  But mostly, we needed to take a deep dive into the subtleties of both WiredContact UK’s book of business and the personalities involved.  We’ve learned in our client work over the years that a business is much more than debits, credits, and growth metrics.  They’re run by and for people with very human impacts and considerations.

We found their local support teams to be outstanding and their customers quite happy.  Like MondoCRM USA, customer loyalty is strong, with their average relationship lasting 10+ years.  Core to our client work, we know customer churn wrecks growth, and that it costs 7x more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing customer.  We know that long-term customer relationships are much more profitable over time than shorter-term, more transactional ones.

Strategic Value

Total Spend on Cloud vs. Desktop CRM (Gartner Group 2019)

Previous acquisitions have taught us that we aren’t just acquiring customers; we came to the realization that we could leverage our blended capabilities to grow our practice here, as well as throughout the UK and EU.  We believe our existing clients will soon see these new capabilities at work as we begin to drive more innovation and develop custom-designed CRM and business process solutions for them.

Also worthy of consideration is Mondo’s very close partnership with Caldere Associates, another cutting edge CRM consultancy and Zoho partner located near London.  You may have had contact with them via Meeta, Vivek or Graeme in the past.  To wit, we never considered Caldere a competitor and have been routinely rewarded for this progressive mindset when collaborating on countless projects with them over the years.  The vitality of our partnership will only improve with this new and exciting opportunity that WiredContact UK brings to us both.  While Mondo and Caldere are both Zoho Certified Partners and its platform capabilities are truly amazing, we don’t believe in one-size-fits-all approaches for our clients and think WiredContact UK will bring intriguing custom solutions to the table for our clients on both sides of the pond.

What’s Next

Road to Growth

As I mentioned earlier, we believe there is an exciting market opportunity to deliver custom CRM and business process solutions for SMBs who simply don’t have the budget for Microsoft Dynamics, SAP and Salesforce. We maintain very close working relationships with the engineers at WiredContact corporate and expect these relationships to only flourish further as we bring them a wider array of interesting client projects. We routinely work with WiredContact’s Chief Architect to create custom features and functionality, completely bypassing the committees common to other CRM providers as well getting fixes rather quickly when a defect is found.

For example, we are working with Walgreens to build a common platform for all their contractors to operate from, and we think WiredContact is just the right fit for developing a custom solution for them while avoiding layer upon layer of corporate bureaucracy. In fact, we have the explicit backing of WiredContact’s ownership and management.

At some point in the future, we expect to explore opportunities across the EU using WiredContact UK in London as a launching point. But for now, we continue to learn about what we have in WiredContact UK, explore its potential and bring it the best vision and management we have to offer. And who knows, perhaps more frequently indulge in English ales, Yorkshire pudding, shepherd’s pie and English Premier League football games? I think that’s a safe bet, since I’ve already been doing it for years.

Migrate Act! to Hubspot

Smoothly Migrate Act! to HubSpot
for Advanced Sales and Marketing Capabilities

Migrate Act! to Hubspot

To migrate Act! to HubSpot can be a significant step forward for your business.  We built our practice on Act! and supported Act! since 1997, and we realize some clients will eventually change.  Or, you found us here, but we never supported Act! for you.  Since we’re product agnostic, we provide a service to migrate Act! to Hubspot.

Our Act! export service will prepare get the Act! contacts, notes, histories, activities and opportunities ready for Hubspot.    Act!, by itself, won’t export the history or notes so it can be imported into other systems as cited by their knowledgebase. Once your data is ready for import, you can begin the process of setting up your HubSpot account. This will involve creating custom fields to match the data from Act! and setting up any necessary integrations with other tools your business uses.

Need a Hubspot Partner?
We'll hook you up in the USA or the UK.

Migrate Act! to Hubspot Partnership

Since we’re not certified in Hubspot, we can refer you with a Hubspot certified partner in the United States or United Kingdom if you don’t already have someone in mind.  We recommend working with a certified Hubspot partner because it’s a meticulous process.  Furthermore, Hubspot does not offer an “undo” option if a mistake was made on the import.  You will have to delete those records assuming they are easy to find; then, start over.

No matter which CRM you choose after Act!, it’s important to train your team on how to use HubSpot effectively. This may involve setting up training sessions or providing access to online resources. You should also plan to have a support team in place to assist with any issues that may arise during the migration process.

In summary, when you migrate Act! to HubSpot, you will provide your business with advanced sales and marketing capabilities and access to powerful analytics and reporting features. By following a structured approach and properly preparing your data, you can ensure a smooth transition and start taking advantage of the benefits of HubSpot.

How We Work

  • Give us a backup of your Act! database.
  • We'll send you a sample set of 100 records from your database.
  • If you like it, we'll finish the export.
  • Once our fee is received, we'll email you a link to download the ZIP file for the rest of the contacts.

Our Fee:

  • Budget $600 per database.


On October 29th, 1997, I had hair. Or at least some of it, anyway. I operated off Windows 98, floppy discs, and dial-up modems. Broadband speeds were painfully slow and remote work was only a dream as I drove everywhere to client appointments and sales calls. Troubleshooting involved sleepless nights and deep dives into phonebook-sized user manuals for software and hardware. The World Wide Web had few websites on it and Google had not yet “organized the world’s information and made it universally accessible and usable.”

Act! for Mac

But I felt like we were part of a technology revolution. In fact, we were. We rode the wave, experimented, and learned a lot, sometimes fixing glitches by what seemed like scotch tape and trip wire. It would take 4 more years for the dot-com bubble to burst, but Moore’s law has proven valid repeatedly, what was once novel, “gee-whiz” technology became ubiquitous and much more than we could have ever imagined has become commonplace.

Retarget Audience

As sales funnels evolved into customer journey maps, retail establishments morphed into eCommerce juggernauts to accommodate the anywhere, anytime customer, delivering seamless experiences via the touchpoint of their choosing. Customer data became measurable currency, igniting consumer expectations and privacy concerns alike.

Artificial intelligence, social networks, cross-platform personalization, enterprise analytics, microtargeting, business process engineering are all branches from the same tree: CRM. The first mainstream CRM product was Act! software, and Mondo was one of the first Act! Certified Consultants. Since, we have acquired other CRM consultants’ practices when attractive opportunities were presented.

We have accomplished some good things over the years. MondoCRM is one of 90 Act! consulting firms remaining in the North America and one of 3 in Chicago. WiredContact was founded by former Act! engineers and Mondo is its #1 reseller in the United States. To deliver on the promise of customer-centricity and provide continuity across all business operations, we are also a Zoho-authorized Partner and Certified Consultant. Zoho? Imagine Salesforce, only less expensive and easier to customize across the enterprise.

But what we are most proud of are the relationships we’ve built over the years. MondoCRM has performed 400+ platform builds for over 600 clients spread among more than 80 industries. Our favorite statistic? Our average client relationship lasts more than 10 years.

What have we learned from all this? Plenty.


  • We have learned the value of speaking human. Industry jargon doesn’t solve problems; empathy, acumen and collaboration do. We can’t grow our practice very well if we are not approachable.
  • Customer churn kills companies, so laser-focus on delivering great customer experiences is essential for sustainable growth. Keeping existing customers happy is always more profitable than earning new ones. To wit, it costs 7x more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing one…the average customer lifetime value is 10x greater than their initial purchase.
  • Customized, highly calibrated CRM is essential for delivering memorable customer experiences. After all, how can we deliver great customer experiences if we don’t know much about them?
  • Measure what matters. Every decision is based on the best information we have at a given time. Therefore, success is directly informed by the quality, clarity, and timeliness of the information at hand.

We have been blessed by our client relationships over the years and have built an organization well beyond the one-horse shop MondoCRM once was. Abstaining from faceless tech support from platform providers, I have built a crack team of platform experts to support our clients on demand, including assigned reps and deep client history records for insight and to keep clients from having to repeat themselves.

Our customers frequently report highly personalized experiences every time because that’s the way we approach things from the jump. While CRM buyers often feel ghosted after their purchase, we are all about what happens next: calibrating the platform to meet each business’ unique strengths, objectives, challenges, and market positioning.

Our stellar crew also frees me up to focus on vision and strategy with our clients. All those projects over the years provided me the best MBA I could have ever dreamed of. Working mostly with small to medium-sized businesses, I am almost always collaborating with founders and C-suite people, often helping solve their most pressing, highest-level issues.  After all these years, I find this deeply trusted, sleeves rolled up, high-level strategy work the most rewarding. I especially enjoy aligning marketing, sales, and service, as well as refining business processes to meet enterprise objectives. For me, this is the fun stuff, and it never gets old.

At MondoCRM, everything begins and ends with our commitment to helping our clients grow their businesses for the long term, and it has been a privilege to help. Schedule a discovery call to explore ideas how we can impact your bottom-line performance.

Compare Act! Vs. Zoho

Compare Act! vs. Zoho

To compare Act! vs. Zoho, solely on a list of features and pricing isn’t adequate.   For that reason, you need to determine whether the platform could be customized to match your business process, not the other way around.

Our backstory

In addition to supporting Act! and Zoho for our clients, we applied the programs at MondoCRM.  Currently, we utilize Zoho One to operate MondoCRM which includes: CRM, Books, Forms, Cliq, Workdrive, Social, Analytics and SalesIQ .  Comparatively, our Act! experience started in 1989 by operating it for a family business, and we made it the cornerstone to start MondoCRM in 1997.

Act! & Zoho Backstory

Act! invented the CRM industry in 1987 when they released Act! for DOS. Presently, SFW Capital Partners owns Act!, LLC.  with headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona and an office Newcastle, United Kingdom.

Zoho CRM, published in 2005, creates the cornerstone to 50+ office productivity applications known as Zoho One. They are privately held with their main office in Chennai, India with US offices in Austin and Pleasanton, California.

Are there differences between privately and investor-owned software companies? Absolutely! I wrote about this a couple years ago.

Money Spending

Important Price Considerations

When you compare Act! and Zoho, consider these details:

Features Gained when you migrate Act! to Zoho

Zoho CRM doesn't require paid 3rd party CRM addons for these features:

  • Creating custom tables
  • Automating workflow and standardizing data entry processes
  • Integrating accounting software
  • Integrating with Zoom
  • Integrating with 40+ applications of the Zoho One ecosystem.
  • Creating advanced reports
  • Creating formula fields

Features lost when you migrate Act! to Zoho

Act! converts to Zoho will lose a few items as a tradeoff:

  • Act! offers offline synchronization while Zoho is only available with internet access.
  • Act! can be installed and managed on your own server while Zoho cannot be locally installed.
  • Act! works with Microsoft Word for mail-merge while Zoho is optimized to work with Zoho Writer.
  • Act! can be installed in a hybrid environment with Act! for Web users and Act! for Windows working on the same database.
  • Zoho users will lose right-click shorts used extensively in Act!.
  • Zoho users cannot take advantage of keyboard shortcuts like Act! for Windows can.


Instead of stating a product preference, we’ll highlight differences on how they approach essential features needed for a good CRM.

Lead Management

  • Act! puts it all in one database.  Then, you use fields to segment the database between leads and customers. It's easier to setup, but the drawback for some is the database gets clogged with dead weight, and there isn't an easy way to archive it unless it's deleted.
  • Zoho dedicates a module to leads.  This way, you can keep stuff separated until it's a qualified lead and use different workflows or blueprints to ensure this data gets its own rules.  The disadvantage is you must customize an additional set of fields and map out a lead conversion process.

History and Notes Management

  • Act! puts it all in the history table.  Whether it's a phone call completed, e-mail sent, a meeting held or an opportunity updated Act! records in one place to make it easy everything that happened with the contact.
  • Zoho separates e-mails from completed events.  Zoho's advantage here is you can easily relate an event to either a lead, contact, opportunity or an account.  The Zoho drawback is it's not easy to pull a report of e-mails sent by user over a timeframe.

Account Centric vs. Contact Centric

  • Act! sees the core relationship with a person first; then, it has options to connect people to accounts (Companies in Act! parlance).   The disadvantage here is if you work with several contacts at one account, you need a process to designate the primary contact and main account details.
  • Zoho sees the world "account first" then you add multiple contacts against it.  This model suits the b2b account-centric sales model where the accounts' contacts are more transient.  It's also easier to manage opportunities against the account rather than one more contacts.  The disadvantage here is you need a process to automate copying data from the account level to the contacts so target mailings are done correctly.


  • Act! offers a banded contact report writer, so it's easier to make reports that reflect the "Crystal Reports" era of report writing.  If you wanted to see contacts, opportunities, notes and activities on one printed page, Act! makes it easier.
  • Act! uses a built in report writer, and you can extract most list views to Excel.  For complex reporting, we work with third party tools for optimal business insight.
  • Act! offers a customizable label template.
  • Zoho CRM offers a built report writer to build list views and charts.  Advanced users can easily tie Zoho CRM to Zoho Analytics to report against multiple data sources simultaneously such as Zoho CRM + Zoho Books.
  • The Zoho CRM report writer doesn't require any scripting knowledge to create reports.

E-mail Management

  • Act! can make e-mail part of the Act! history table. Great for the rolodex model of CRM where every conversation is easily documented and reportable in one table. It cannot retrofit emails from the past automatically.   We field tech support problems because Act! needs to keep up with more changes in Microsoft technology or work with local desktop security policies.  If you need to run reports against the number of emails managed as a report metric, Act! has the upper hand versus Zoho as well.
  • Zoho uses IMAP integration to make hyperlinks to the original email messages. This simplifies the integration, and it will easily go back to all emails from your sent items or inbox. We have fewer tech support problems, but it's harder to do a report against e-mails if your metrics are measured against the quantity of e-mails sent and received.

Data structure

  • Act! offers a "tag" mode to easily hand pick a lookup and an "edit mode" where inline editing of a list of contacts is done in one step.
  • Zoho ensures data remains structured.  For instance, a text field can be a free-form text field, single pick list or multi-select pick list (not all 3).  When it's a single pick list, this allows Zoho to make proper workflows for business process mapping and automating workflows.


To compare Act! vs. Zoho just listing feature checkbox charts and pricing isn’t enough to know which product is better for your business.  Occasionally, we teach our Act! clients a new feature, revise a process or buy an addon to solve a problem.  In conclusion, before make any changes we offer a complementary discovery call using our unique approach to see if we can help you leverage your current Act! installation before you commit time and treasure to changing CRM systems.