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Ready, Waiting And Compelling: A Resource For Communications ASPs.

The Internet is propelling the transformation of both the traditional call center and the manner in which effective sales and marketing efforts are delivered. Competitive business pressures and customer demands mandate communications delivery over every medium in addition to superior customer-facing services with blended agents. For many businesses, the expense versus the ROI in the technologies (and support personnel) makes it difficult or impossible to adopt chat, Web callback, intelligent e-mail routing, VoIP, ACD voice mail or Web collaboration. Similarly, stellar CRM software solutions, application integration, workforce and workflow management, automated IT and help desk support or general business applications can be too expensive for all but the largest enterprises to license and operate on premise-based systems, let alone to provide the warm bodies to staff an operation. Then, too, the increasing complexity of the software (and multiple users within large enterprises) makes both the cost of ownership and the cost of upgrading increasingly expensive, including the attendant associated distribution and administrative costs. Enter the application service provider.

An application service provider (ASP) can be defined as a company that provides and manages applications and computer services to individuals or companies over the Internet or through a private network. The ASP owns and operates applications and servers and employs the staff for maintaining the operation. Services provided by an ASP are billed on a variety of plans, including pay-per-use, subscriptions and licenses. ASP services are an important alternative not only for smaller companies having to cope with smaller budgets and fewer technology resources, but also for larger companies wishing to outsource a portion of their business process. In fact, there are many services available to SOHOs and individuals: data storage/retrieval, instant messaging, office management, phone call notification, graphics and more.

While investigating the myriad benefits your company can potentially derive through hosted applications and services, having several questions at the ready may assist you in "comparing and contrasting" potential service providers. A few important issues include data and connection security, moving data from your applications/systems to the ASP application, application access (such as through software or a browser), procedures for handling hardware failures (i.e., sufficient system redundancy) and service issues, application training and support for your staff, data backup methodology, service level agreements and business processes that may be affected by the hosted application and how they will be affected.

ASPs come in all sizes, and their offerings run the gamut from specific, targeted applications to megasolutions. The following companies are representative of that remarkable range: an array of effective, efficient and affordable hosted applications and services that can pay dividends to you and your customers.
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Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Customer Interaction Solutions
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2001
Words:439
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