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IP contact centers: Hosted vs. premises-based

Pros and cons of a hosted IP contact center vs. premises based

Convergence & VoIP Alert By Steve Taylor and Larry Hettick, Network World
December 11, 2006 02:50 PM ET
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VoIP, unified messaging, products and services

Following last week’s newsletters about why the IP contact center is the technology that’s coming up after VoIP, today we’ll look at the pros and cons of a hosted IP contact center solution vs. a premises-based contact center.

First, we’ll start with the pros of a hosted alternative. Like the hosted IP-PBX or “IP Centrex” model, when businesses subscribe to a hosted contact center solution, the service provider can assume all the headaches of integration with both enterprise equipment and with the PSTN networks. The service provider also should assume the responsibility for system upgrades.

As for the premises-based solution, the advantages are similar to the IP PBX that is premises-based. The on-site IP contact center can be more feature rich than the hosted solution because hosted systems rely on a “mass market” feature set and the (smaller business) hosted alternative also typically rely on the service provider’s automated back-office systems support. While both premises-based and hosted alternatives can theoretically offer customization to each enterprise by using the supplier’s development tools, carriers may limit the kinds of changes an enterprise can make to a mass-market hosted solution.

We award a “tie vote” to both the hosted and on-site solutions for scalability that can suit the full range of small to large enterprises.

A third alternative that could give the “best of both” alternatives can be found with a managed contact center solution where the service provider or equipment supplier provides integration and management with an on-site system. A similar advantage can be found for larger enterprises when the carrier offers a mix of hosted and premises-based connections, much the same way that larger enterprises find this approach advantageous with an IP telephony.

The bottom line: just as with the IP telephony options, we suggest any enterprise considering a contact center upgrade or addition should consider hosted, premises-based, or the hybrid alternatives.

Next time we’ll wrap up the contact IP contact center topic (for this year) with some reader feedback and a few resources for those want to know to more.

Read more about voip & convergence in Network World's VoIP & Convergence section.

Steve Taylor is president of Distributed Networking Associates and publisher/editor-in-chief of Webtorials. Larry Hettick is a principal analyst at Current Analysis.

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