U.S. government agencies can now consider the Genesys Cloud CX SaaS communications platform safe for use.
The CX vendor has been Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) certified, making it more attractive for use by public sector organizations.
While the FedRAMP certification, revealed on July 6, is not an official requirement for tech vendors doing business with government agencies, obtaining it ensures significant safety measures are in place to help avoid data breaches.
In addition, it is a trustworthy authorization representing strong security, according to Gartner analyst Daniel O'Connell.
"Nothing is absolute," O'Connell said. "But most of the federal government wants their suppliers to be FedRAMP [authorized]."
Genesys Cloud CX is the vendor's contact center for managing voice and digital customer interactions from one main platform.
Moderate Impact level
FedRAMP offers three levels of authorization: Low Impact, Moderate Impact and High Impact. Genesys Cloud CX is authorized at Moderate Impact, which aims to protect customers against attacks that would drastically affect assets and internal operations.
Low Impact is for public sector organizations that would be less affected by a breach of confidentiality. High Impact is for government organizations such as law enforcement and emergency services, which hold the most sensitive data with the severest consequences if breached.
Most authorizations are Moderate Impact, according to O'Connell.
Higher security, higher cost
Obtaining a FedRAMP certification is an expensive and lengthy process that can take 18 to 36 months, O'Connell said.
The vendor needs a sponsor from a U.S. government agency such as the Social Security Administration or the National Institutes of Health.
Daniel O'ConnellAnalyst, Gartner
Also, FedRAMP's added security layer drives up the vendor's security expenses, according to O'Connell. In fact, there is a 20% to 25% price premium.
"The vendor has a higher cost, and therefore, they charge the government more," O'Connell said.
For vendors such as Genesys that have the resources to devote to the FedRAMP authorization process, the payoff is also significant, as the public sector represents about 20% of the market, he said.
In addition, government agencies are big customers that often lock into yearslong contracts, and they are less likely to switch vendors on a whim, O'Connell said. They also tend to pay their bills, he added, and they never go out of business.
Descending on the public sector
In the contact center category, Genesys is the only vendor to become FedRAMP certified, with competitor Lumen currently in process, according to the FedRAMP Marketplace.
However, in the customer service and CRM categories, Salesforce leads with 64 FedRAMP authorizations for its Salesforce Government Cloud, with Microsoft close behind at 49 authorizations for its Azure Government platform including Dynamics 365.
Last month, Cisco revealed that its Webex Contact Center Enterprise for Government platform is also FedRAMP certified.
While Genesys, Lumen, Salesforce, Microsoft and Cisco are among many vendors that see the public sector as fertile territory, government agencies likewise require updated technology -- including moving from on-premises to the cloud -- to keep up with data protection best practices.
In other words, they need to modernize.
"In the old days, the platform would be run on site," O'Connell said. But now, since a lot of data is in the cloud, cloud vendors must manage the data, rather than a third-party communications vendor such as AT&T or Verizon, he said.
In addition, the on-premises equipment was designed 20 to 30 years ago, so it's less efficient than cloud technology, according to O'Connell.
"It's kind of clunky," he said. "The cloud solutions are a lot more agile, and they're better suited to adding on digital channels."
But the real catalyst for moving data from on-premises to the cloud -- and partnering with a FedRAMP-authorized vendor -- is dissatisfied customers, according to Opus Research analyst Dan Miller.
"It has less to do with the move to the cloud and more to do with the crying need for government agencies to improve customer support over digital channels," Miller said.
Mary Reines is a news writer covering customer experience and unified communications for TechTarget Editorial. Before TechTarget, Reines was arts editor at the Marblehead Reporter.