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Comparing call center technology: SaaS vs. on-premise applications

If you're building and launching a call center from the ground up, SaaS offerings are great options, says Steve Raye in this expert tip. Read his advice for call center managers choosing speech analytics or self service software.

What's your opinion of Software as a Service (SaaS) vs. on-premise software for call center technology such as speech analytics or self service? Does it depend on the size of the company and call center?
If you're building and launching a call center from the ground up, SaaS offerings like those from Talisma Corporation and RightNow are great technology options. You'll get built-in multichannel support capabilities including compelling self-service functionality. This would save you time and money vs. working with a (likely) more heterogeneous set of on-premise applications. Also, SaaS is a natural fit for smaller call centers that want enterprise-type support capabilities, including self service.

If you already have an established call center systems infrastructure, I don't believe there is anything unique about SaaS offerings that would make delivering self service any easier. In fact, you may be better off with more specialized on-premise applications like those from Knova Software or InQuira, Inc. as platforms to support your self-service initiatives. These enterprise-grade packages would better support your integration requirements and would provide more flexibility in working with disparate content sources.

With regard to speech analytics, this is still an emerging technology and a rapidly developing area. I'm aware of at least one SaaS offering for speech analytics, but nothing that's part of a more comprehensive SaaS call center solution. If you're in the small and midsized business category (SMB), SaaS could be a good way to test the value of speech analytics to your organization without a large upfront investment. If you have a large call center operation, I would probably point you toward best-in-class on-premise applications at this time for speech analytics.

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