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Call Center Software Buyer's Guide - Hosted VS Local Call Center Solutions

Call Center Software Buyer's Guide - Hosted VS Local Call Center Solutions

Published: 03/27/2011

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Hosted VS Local Call Center Solutions

There are two ways call center solutions can be set up. You can choose an in-house setup, where you run the software in your own data center. Alternatively, the software vendor can run the software for you in their data center and connect to your agents through a broadband Internet connection. This remote delivery is referred to as an on-demand, application service provider (ASP), or hosted call center solutions.



Hosted call center solutions have made great technological advances in recent years, and so the ASP model has become very popular for various enterprise applications. While some very high-end capabilities may not be available in the hosted model, by and large all the features you’ll want are available in both.





Local solutions

Most business software used today is locally hosted – the application runs on a server in your office that your IT staff maintains. This familiar setup, sometimes called a client- server solution, gives you the greatest control over every aspect of the system.



Having this total control can be a drawback, though. It requires a considerable investment in servers and staff – you’ll need quite a bit of IT expertise to maintain and update the system.



If you choose this route, you’ll pay a large lump sum up front to buy and set up the system, including software and servers, and usually a small annual fee for access to upgrades and customer support.




Hosted solutions


In hosted solutions, the application resides on the ASP vendors’ servers and most of the processing is done there. Calls are delivered over the Internet to your agents’ desktops using VoIP.



The main advantage of hosted call center solutions is how easy it is to get started. With a hosted service, you can get access to enterprise-level features even if you have only a handful of agents. You can add agents any time with just a phone call, and instead of a huge capital investment, you’ll pay a much more manageable monthly bill.



In addition, hosted vendors offer very robust systems. Multiple layers of firewalls and security, uninterruptible power supplies, fail-over (instant switching from one computer to another in case of a crash), and reliable backups are all standard operating procedures. Together they virtually guarantee that your call center will always be up and running – without taxing your internal IT staff.



The downside of hosted call center solutions is that no Internet connection works 100% of the time. Your internal network may fail, your ISP may experience an outage, or an Internet worm may cause congestion – so even though the hosted call center is running, you could lose access to it. These types of outages are quite rare, but you should be aware that the possibility exists.




Which is right for you?


Many business executives are more comfortable with in-house solutions. However, next-generation IT staffers who are most familiar with the benefits of hosted solutions are gaining more of a voice in many companies, so the balance is expected to swing towards ASPs in coming years. Here are some areas you should consider:




IT staff. If you have in-house IT staff, a client-server solution may be your best option – but make sure you involve IT in the purchasing decision. Smaller businesses with little to no computer expertise are probably better off choosing an online solution.


Customization. ASPs can easily make basic changes in appearance and functionality, in effect giving you more control over the application than you would get from an internal IT team. However, if you need extensive customization and integration, in-house call center solutions give you the most control and flexibility.



Finances. An in-house call center solution requires a large capital investment; a hosted solution does not. For cash-strapped or risk-adverse companies, this alone can make the decision fairly easy.