NASA Adopts RightNow Cloud Service for Shared Services Center

NASA Shared Services Center is using RightNow CX as part of its cloud effort to improve the Website experience as well as to cut costs for maintaining live phone operators.

NASA has moved its citizen-support center to the RightNow Secure Government Cloud, RightNow Technologies said Jan. 27. The support site will be using the RightNow CX customer experience platform to improve Website efficiency, the company said.

The NASA Shared Services Center is a public/private partnership with Computer Sciences Corporate Service Providers that provides financial management, human resources, IT and procurement services to the space agency. The contact center last year on average handled over 7,000 calls a month, the company said. To handle the customer queries, NSCC added RightNow CX, a suite of customer-experience applications, to implement Tier 0 support. This refers to self-service, or letting users find online answers to their questions instead of talking to someone in a call center.

NASA could reduce costs of maintaining a customer support call center by making it easier for users to find relevant answers online, RightNow said.

RightNow provides cloud services to more than 170 federal agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy and Department of State, the company said. The U.S. General Services Administration's site is hosted in RightNow Secure Government Cloud. The site also uses RightNow CX, and "nearly every U.S. cabinet level agency" relies on the suite, according to RightNow.

RightNow CX manages incoming Web inquiries and efficiently routes them to appropriate experts or directs users to useful results, the company said.

RightNow acquired natural language search solutions provider Q-go earlier this month. The company integrated Q-go's Natural Language Search technology into RightNow CX Intent Guide and RightNow Natural Language Search, the company said. While available immediately, these two products will not be integrated into RightNow CX until next month, according to the company.

RightNow CX Intent Guide understands the intent behind what Website visitors are searching for and delivers highly relevant content by adding question matching to existing site search, creating a virtual assistant to handle frequently asked questions without tying up live operators, and including a Web form assistant to pre-fill Web forms with previously entered information, the company said. RightNow Natural Language Search integrates natural language search right onto RightNow CX Cloud, using intent matching to understand two phrases that really mean the same thing, industry-specific dictionaries and foreign language support.

RightNow didn't respond in time to queries as to whether Q-go technologies are included onto NASA's support site.

The federal government has been moving forward with cloud deployments to cut costs and improve efficiency. In December, United States CIO Vivek Kundra announced a "cloud first" policy for all federal agencies, requiring each agency to move at least one system to a hosted environment in 2011. The Treasury Department recently moved its Website to Amazon EC2.

NASA has embraced cloud services, but has been fairly vendor-neutral to date. It has its daily activity-planning software for the Mars Rover program on Amazon EC2, the "Be a Martian" educational Website on Microsoft's cloud computing platform, and is working with RightNow. The agency also has its own private cloud, Nebula, which will be available to other agencies as part of NASA Cloud Service. The prerelease of the infrastructure-as-a-service offering, with storage and computing resources, is currently available to all NASA personnel.

The RightNow Secure Government Cloud is compliant with the Federal Information Security Management Act, a National Institute of Standards and Technology security standard for IT products deployed in the federal government, RightNow said. Defense agencies such as the U.S. Air Force Personnel Center use the highly secure Department of Defense Cloud, which complies with the department's own security requirements as well as offering a 24/7 dedicated security and information assurance team.