RightAnswers Sees Web 2.0 in Knowledge Management's Future

Amazingly, an all-too-common problem with many corporate technology projects -- including CRM initiatives -- is the failure to actually complete the implementations. As the current economic climate drives companies to rethink large investments, some new deployments are only getting the green light if they can assure rapid deployment and quick, measurable return on investment (ROI). Bearing this in mind, RightAnswers, a Clark, N.J.–based provider of corporate help-desk solutions, has unleashed Support Analyst and Self-Service Portal version 5.0 for its Unified Knowledge Suite.

According to Jeff Weinstein, the company's president and chief executive officer, the main thrust of the updated offering is to drive content effectiveness and to prove the worth of the knowledge management (KM) application by ensuring that more agents are using it. "We've simplified the architecture around portal management so it's easier for users to design and configure their own environments," he explains.

The simplified interface relies on Web 2.0 functionality built into its design, a sign that RightAnswers has an eye toward the future, according to Lisa Erickson-Harris, research director at Boulder, Colo.–based IT research and consulting firm Enterprise Management Associates.

Erickson-Harris says that RightAnswers is certainly not alone -- many management technologies are increasingly incorporating these emerging capabilities -- butn that RightAnswers is well-suited to cater to this growing trend. "[The company] seems to have taken a pragmatic approach to utilizing a Web 2.0 strategy to accommodate its architecture and ease capabilities such as customization and integration," she says. "I would not say that it was a requirement for it to go down this path. However, [the release] does show forward thinking, and will enable RightAnswers to incorporate other Web 2.0 capabilities down the road."

The latest release from RightAnswers boasts more than 100 enhancements, including:

  • advanced search options;
  • enhanced survey functionality;
  • expanded reporting;
  • multitenant architecture;
  • out-of-the-box solution template support; and
  • a redesigned administration console.

Weinstein also takes great care to point out version 5's improved analytic capabilities. "One of the things our clients tell us is that IT support groups are being asked to handle more than just technology questions," he points out. "This includes standard operating procedures and other inquiries that have business-related flavor."  

Erickson-Harris also believes RightAnswers' analytics functionality -- including reporting features that show linkages between incidents and solutions in addition to search-analysis reporting -- is a significant differentiator. "Understanding how knowledge articles are used is key to being able to manage the content...cleaning up those [articles] that have proven to be ineffective, and creating visibility for others that have worked well," she says. "These analytics are geared to provide insight into the adoption of knowledge and its effectiveness in solving problems. Ultimately, it can help to improve problem-solving by providing more-accurate, useful information to analysts."

All of this may help RightAnswers stand out in what has become an intensely competitive space. "There are lots of solutions on the market.... Most are part of broader service-desk applications," Erickson-Harris says. "[RightAnswers] is taking a different tack in how it approaches KM by providing content and guidance along with technology for managing knowledge."


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