There are, when you think about it, many similarities between car leasing and buying technology on a hosted basis. People lease cars for a lot of reasons: they're not sure what their lifestyles will require in three or more years and don't want to be stuck with a purchased vehicle that doesn't suit them. Some people lease because they like having the latest and greatest cars and car options, and few people can afford to replace their automobile with a newer model every two to three years. Many people are attracted by the fact that leasing generally requires less money up front. Leasing can also lessen mechanical and maintenance headaches, as the term of the lease will almost always coincide with the period in which the warranty is the strongest (first 35,000 miles, etc.). Finally, many people choose leasing to prevent themselves from being stuck with an old car at the end of its useful life; with a choice of either junking it or trying to sell it to a non-choosy college student.
Many people choose hosted delivery of call center technologies for the same reason: hosted delivery requires less up-front investment and is much more conducive to easy technology upgrades. In terms of maintenance, that headache is removed entirely. If you have a limited or nonexistent IT budget or department, you needn't worry, as administration stays off your shoulders and rests on those of the technology provider. And with hosting, there is no 'end of life' in the technology's life-cycle; in fact, there is no life-cycle. You're never stuck with a technological jalopy you need to either turn into a door-stop, send to a museum or try to pawn to a garage business.
It's important to note, however, that there is one area in which car leasing and hosted technology differ: in scaling usage up and down according to need.
Many people don't lease cars because the amount of driving they do is unpredictable and can widely vary from month to month, year to year. Leasing a car works best when you have a solid estimate of how much use the car will get while it's in your possession. If you go over your 'allotment,' it's likely to cost you a great deal of money.
Hosted technology, on the other hand, is perfect for companies that cannot or do not wish to predict their level of business in the future. Most consumer catalog companies do a steady stream of business throughout the year and then experience a strong spike at the holidays. They need to be able to accommodate this spike; it's the bulk of their annual business. But during the rest of the year, they're left with unused licenses that waste money. With the hosted option, these call centers can scale up or down depending on need, and nothing goes to waste.
A final notation to my analogy: whereas car leasing isn't a great choice for slobs (most dealerships don't want to get a grubby, smelly car back after two or three years), it's impossible to leave candy wrappers, broken ice scrapers, coffee stains, single gloves without mates and melted crayons inside a hosted technology solution.
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