To IaaS or Not to IaaS…That’s the Question for Today’s Organizations

The advantages of moving to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solutions are well documented, spurring continued growth in this area of cloud technology. For 2017, Gartner research predicts that IaaS spending will grow by 36.8% to $34.6 billion.

Any technology solution has benefits and potential drawbacks, of course. With IaaS solutions, organizations can enjoy flexibility, lower costs, faster service and better business agility. Balanced against these advantages are potential data security and privacy concerns, business disruption and changes in architecture and processes.

Organizations considering a move to IaaS solutions need long-term thinking. What criteria should a company use to determine if an IaaS solution is the right decision for its current and future business needs?

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Joint input from both IT and the business decision makers

As with most technology buying decisions, astute enterprises solicit input from both the IT and business points of view. When deciding to move to IaaS, examine an organization’s overall big picture goals and make sure the ultimate decision lines up with both IT and business strategies. From the IT side, the decision-making process takes into account not only costs, but should also include enterprise-wide considerations, such as the value of business agility and rapid go-to-market capabilities. On the other side, business units should look at whether a solution fits into the existing IT infrastructure, thus minimizing implementation costs and overall disruption, as well as thinking about new capabilities or competitive advantages.

Spiceworks research shows that IT and business owners often work in sync “to create a tech-decision duo.” Each side brings its unique perspective to the decision-making process. For example, IT researches compatibility with existing technology, implementation considerations and recommends optional solutions. The business side, which usually holds the purse strings, takes into account practical solutions, but also seeks innovation and technology advantages that will push the business forward.

Bottom line: IT brings deep insight to the buying decision and provides valuable input throughout the purchasing process. Meanwhile, the business unit looks at overall company strategy and adding a distinct point of differentiation, as well as improving customer service.

To learn how IaaS impacts areas throughout the enterprise, check out this post.

Build a trust with your IaaS Provider

An important part of any IaaS adoption is to have confidence in the chosen IaaS solution provider. Implementing an IaaS solution is not as simple as procuring additional processing or storage capability. Smart organizations also want a reputable IaaS partner that maintains the same levels of compliance, privacy and security when handling and storing customer data. Any agreements for IaaS solutions should include provisions for data privacy, security and governance that line up with the purchaser’s requirements.

Vendor lock-in is always a concern, too. Before signing the dotted line, determine how easy (or how difficult) it would be to migrate data and applications back to on premise or to another provider if the service level agreements are not maintained or costs no longer make sense. Take care to engage with an experienced IaaS provider who will work with you in the long term, particularly as business needs change.

Impact on in-house IT staff and resources

Saving on IT costs is one of the biggest advantages of an IaaS solution. However, most organizations will still maintain an IT staff that is responsible for managing the apps and determining how data are handled—either in-house or through the IaaS vendor or a combination of the two.

Organizations should consider which apps will move to the cloud, how application development and testing may have to be modified, and how new disaster recovery processes may affect liability and compliance. Keeping only core functions on premise enables the purchaser to focus on what’s most important to the business, while allowing the IaaS provider to manage capacity and handle more routine applications.

Cloud services must enable an organization to consume the right amount of the right IT services, on demand and at the right time. The ability to scale up or scale down is extremely important. An advantage of IaaS solutions is not having to worry about having too much or too little hardware on site as the business needs fluctuate seasonally, or even day-to-day.

Another important check point is to make sure the organization’s internal data communications resources allow adequate access to data and apps to and from the vendor site. It’s a real problem if internal and external clients can’t access IaaS because of internal internet service outages or clogged data pipelines.

Still on the fence? Check out Data Center Basics, Comparing Costs and Security.

Pricing

Two questions to consider are “how much is it going to cost” and “what’s the pricing structure?” When purchasing IaaS solutions, determine if pricing will be pay-by-use or on a monthly subscription. Think about surcharges that occur during peak times, which can be costly depending on the type and timing of business transactions. A “try before you buy” pilot program is a good option to help a purchaser determine what it’s like to work with an IaaS solutions provider.

Have budget constraints? See how NEC Financial Services can fund your IT needs.

IaaS is not just outsourcing

Making the move to an IaaS solution involves more than a simple shifting of IT assets. The process affects an organization’s data and applications architecture, and will change the way IT work across all business and support functions. IaaS solutions impact security, compliance, customer service and even insurance policies, so these business components must be taken into account when making the move to IaaS.

Developing a strong relationship between the solutions partner and the purchasing organization can help ensure success of an IaaS implementation. Consider which applications to outsource and which to maintain in house. Take into account the organization’s big picture business strategy. Finally, to secure the best solution and provider for their organizations, wise IT and business decision makers need to work together to balance the benefits with any potential challenges.

Want to learn more about IaaS and high security data solutions? Check out this recent post.

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Understanding Purpose Over Place in Retail

Choice is a good thing—especially if you’re a shopper. Today’s consumer seamlessly moves from online, in-store or a combination of the two when making purchases. For the traditional retailer, shopping options beyond the bricks-and-mortar store can feel intimidating.

Want advice on how to enrich your customer experience?To survive and thrive in this environment, in-store retailers must provide an experience that is different from the traditional, staid and disengaged experiences of the past. To bring shopping into the 21st century, retailers can take advantage of the latest technology to make shopping more convenient, secure and enjoyable for customers.

Changing the In-store Experience

To create a unique in-store experience, retail has become more niche and product-focused. Technology continues to play a big role in retail success by providing real value, not just cool hype.

Data visibility in the store also helps retailers dive deeper into captured data to uncover buying intentions. Stanchion™ Store software from NEC strives to help retailers better Know Your Customer to understand their objectives — or their purpose for being in the store — to make it easier for retailers to meet their needs and provide unique shopping experiences. Based on previous in-store shopping behavior or experiences, retailers can predict a shopper’s intentions.

Combining a 360-degree camera to monitor shoppers’ movements with video analytics helps retailers track gender, ages and number of visitors in their locations. This data enables stores to manage staff better, making sure the proper number of associates are on hand during peak traffic times.. Checkout how we enabled Becker’s Central Canada (Couche-Tard, Inc.) store owners to see up to-the-minute sales information for smarter product ordering and overall improved store efficiency.

NEC is working on a solutions to take store analystics a step further, by tyingdemographic data to POS transactions to allow retailers to better understand the kinds of customers they’re serving and what products are purchased. This information improves merchandising, store operations and customer interactions, such as determining which product displays appear to be most effective and which areas of the store experience the most traffic.Retailers can also use heat mapping to track a customer’s product engagement and “dwell times” at a particular display or locations in the store.

Improving the Omnichannel Experience

Consumers tend to want a combination of technology and human interaction while shopping. Research shows that many purchases begin with online browsing, followed by an in-store interaction. Improving a seamless omnichannel purchasing experience is one way traditional retailers can connect with their customers. In-store associates can provide more personalized service by knowing preferences through browsing history and offering convenient payment options.

Get a closer look at the Connected Consumer with this Infographic:

Cashless AND Card-less Payment Options

Easier payment processes are another important component of a seamless customer experience. One of the advantages of online shopping is easy check-out. As retailers turn to new methods of accepting and processing payments, the concept of waiting in a check-out line to pay may become obsolete.

Check out NEC’s mobile POS solutions

NEC’s facial recognition technology, can take it a step further toward eliminating not only cash payments, but even credit cards. Your own face becomes your currency. Payment through facial recognition offers several advantages. Authentication using facial images helps reduce potential fraudulent payments (added security) and eliminates the need to carry multiple forms of ID (more convenience). Since facial data is stored in numerical data, it’s difficult or even impossible for a data thief to actually the identify the faces. Additionally, facial recognition information can be stored in a way to make it accessible at a retailer’s multiple locations around the country.

Another shopping option uses an interactive projection system to enabling ordering, research or payment without a physical device being present. This is a perfect solution for restaurant tabletops or counters in hotel lobbies.

Future of Retailing

With increased consumer confidence, shoppers will continue to spend, both online and in store. In the near term, high-tech solutions will improve supply chain efficiency. Artificial-intelligence-powered chatbots and faster checkout through improved POS and other mobile devices will continue to improve the shopping experience.

To remain a viable option for shoppers, traditional retailers must continue to use technology to gain a deeper understanding of their customers’ preferences and shopping habits to provide a seamless, enjoyable in-store experience for their customers.

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Left of Boom – Defeating the Threat Among Us

It’s no secret the world has become a much more dangerous and complicated place in the 21st century. Terrorism itself has evolved, and so has the way our federal government is combatting and defending against it.

What has become clear is that violent extremist groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda have evolved to become influencers and master manipulators online and abroad. They’re not as focused on becoming an army of covert foot soldiers attempting to penetrate U.S. borders. The result of this is the evolution of the lone wolf attacker, a typically misguided and desperate soul who loses touch with reality and is somehow convinced or brainwashed into inflicting maximum damage through violence. We’ve seen this play out recently in the United Kingdom.

Since 2001, the United States has suffered over 40 lone-wolf terror attacks perpetrated by a diverse array of personality types. Although there is no single, universally accepted definition of a lone-wolf terror attack, academics generally define a lone wolf as a single attacker who plans and commits violent acts alone, outside of any command structure and without material assistance from any group.

The perpetrators of these terrible atrocities may be influenced by extreme political ideologies claiming religious motivations, or they may be disgruntled or mentally ill. In many cases, a combination of these factors are at play. The point is, profiles for these lone-wolf terrorists are consistently challenging to identify, which therefore makes prevention of individual attacks particularly difficult. The threat, needless to say, is even greater with those in positions of trust. Airport or airline employees and contractors with access to military installations with secure credentials are examples of individuals who are sometimes susceptible to these downfalls.

Since 2001, the U.S. has suffered over 40 lone-wolf terror attacks. #homelandsecurity Click To Tweet

Where lone wolves or any violent threats are concerned, the goal is to stay “left of boom.” Popularized in military circles during the months and years after 9/11, the phrase “left of boom” refers to the moments before an explosion or attack – a period when you still have time to prepare and avert a crisis. Right of boom, by contrast, includes the chaotic and deadly moments after the explosion or attack.

Law enforcement, public safety, and military officials associated with the people who perpetrate these terrorist acts. Research suggests early detection through preventative measures like situational awareness, monitoring Internet and social channels, and if needed, psychological screenings and interventions, are the best approaches to thwarting lone wolf attacks.

Individuals who carry out these attacks do follow a similar path from ideological influence to radicalization to violence. This path begins with a grievance that leads to moral outrage and anger projection, which leads to some sort of trigger point or justification for violence. At this point in the process, most people do not act.

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However, for the few who do act, either alone or in a group, the perpetrators tend to wade into an ideological end-state culminating in a terror attack. The fact that a process exists provides officials with some map to begin gathering information that might lead to prediction and prevention. Our public servants want to get left of boom in order to disrupt the chain of events that could lead to an attack.

At NEC, we’re passionate about the safety and security of all citizens. We are committed to providing solutions that assist our clients in identifying people, patterns, and predictions. For over 40 years, NEC Corporation has provided screening and background check information for purposes of law enforcement and applicant background checks. Our systems have cast the widest nets in identifying these individuals from searching local, state, FBI, DHS, Interpol and other biographic and biometrics databases.

NEC adheres to FBI, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and other industry standards for data exchange, as demonstrated by our customer install base. These deployments could allow law enforcement agencies to receive immediate notification of fault. Other random and frictionless screening with use of facial recognition may provide clues on relationships, associates and more. Such existing services can be augmented with publicly available biographic data including travel and purchase patterns to form the foundation of a collective dataset that would assist in analysis and identification of suspicious patterns leading to a prediction.

If we can look at an individual’s identity, patterns of life, and associations – among other data points – we can help our clients get closer to predicting and preventing lone-wolf attacks. We pride ourselves on being passionate problem solvers with an eye toward cutting-edge solutions that deliver precise and trusted results. If you’d like to hear more about our solutions and how we are solving the challenge of the threat among us, please contact us today.

People. Patterns. Predictions.
NEC Corporation of America’s Advanced Recognition Systems team is committed to developing and delivering public safety solutions that keep people safe.

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Retailers Need to Focus on Point-of-Service over Point-of-Sale for More Personalized Shopping Experiences

Online retailers are offering consumers a personalized shopping experience. As Americans desire fast turnaround and convenience, traditional retailers have an opportunity to beat out digital retail stores that require a day or two for delivery. If the in-person experience can fulfill the same needs, and the physical reward is instant, will a reinvention of the in-store concept lead to less empty stores?

Find out about how we see The New Era of Customer Service and Convenience.

Is it possible to offer a personalized shopping experience with point-of-service over point-of-sale?

75% of consumers prefer shopping in person. #cx Click To Tweet

Traditional Retailers Are Feeling the Pain

Daily news mentions of brick and mortar retailer layoffs or store closings are not uncommon these days. Bloomberg estimates that traditional retailers are on a record pace for closings or bankruptcy in 2017. Shopping malls across the nation are left with empty storefronts and soon-to-be-empty halls if they are unable to convert the space to other uses.

Meanwhile, U.S. retail sales continue to rise and consumer spending is expected to grow, as gas prices remain relatively low. Cowen and Company retail research shows that high-end malls are still faring well and 75% of consumers prefer shopping in person. The key is to create an experience that is much like online retailers: personal and customer-focused.

Learn more about Retail Solutions from NEC.

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Clicks and Bricks

Online and omnichannel innovator, Amazon, ensures a hyper-personalized shopping experience and customer journey. For each loyal customer, Amazon knows what kind of computer the shopper owns, which hobbies, music, and books have been enjoyed on past visits.

NEC empowers retailers to “Know Your Customer” similar to Amazon. At NRF this year, we debuted our facial payment solution, which allows registered shoppers to pay for their products with their face. No cash, checks or cards are necessary!

Reinventing the In-Store Experience

Brick and mortar retailers have another opportunity to attract consumers with the same personalized shopping experience offered by online retailers, including instant gratification rather than the delay that comes with shipping.

POS systems, once the only interaction when making a purchase, must now be modernized to enhance in-store customer encounters with the business. Inventory must be instantly tracked and replenished and the supply chain must be efficient to keep up. Infrastructure and applications need to be agile enough to withstand changes, updates all while the company stays up, and running 24 hours a day.

Learn about NEC’s POS Hardware and POS Software solutions to boost productivity and enhance customer service.

Point-of-Service in Action

By analyzing shopper preferences, a store suggesting complementary items through digital signage could increase sales during the customer visit. NEC has collaborated with Brierley+Partners to provide seamless loyalty and CRM capabilities using NEC’s facial recognition technology and Brierley’s robust CRM platform hosted Microsoft Azure Cloud.

Before arriving in the store, it’s likely that the customer may have already shopped for an item online. If the retailer has this information, the store can offer loyalty points, highlight coupons, offer education or entertainment around the item or similar items so the customer is drawn back and stays longer. Staying “in store” is just as important as staying “on page” on a website.

In-Store Shopping Isn’t Dead

While online shopping is increasing, a majority of shoppers are still walking into brick and mortar retailers. The challenge facing retailers is that shoppers are expecting a different experience. If retailers already have the data and the POS hardware, the next step is reinvention. Analyze the data. Make the information usable to create customized, personal, and creative experiences for the customer. Customers want to be loyal. Shouldn’t retailers make it easier for them?

To stay in the know about the latest advancements for retailers, follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter and check out Keeping Pace with the Retail Revolution Using Integrated Solutions.

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NEC Advanced Recognition Systems Launches NeoFace® Express at Connect:ID

The connect:ID Conference and Exposition held May 1-3 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C. has grown in size and significance as governments, the private sector, and consumers, increasingly realize the importance of secure identity recognition solutions. The three-day event drew together the world’s leading minds and offered end users practical advice, examined current government policies, and provided thought-provoking insights into the future of identity through the use of biometrics technology.

This year, NEC’s Advanced Recognition Systems was a Silver Sponsor at the conference. We demonstrated our fully integrated end-to-end identification solutions from collection to matching to enabling diverse missions. Our open architecture solutions integrate with other COTS technologies to seamless support customers.

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One of the most popular attractions was the demo of the newly launched NeoFace Express, a rapid-access biometric solution based on NEC’s world-renowned facial recognition technology. This solution represents a new class of facial recognition system setting the stage for the future of travel, secure access and identity recognition. Its unique capabilities are the result of NEC’s years of research and global deployment experience in high-throughput identity authentication. With its robust capture process and sleek design, it delivers frictionless, seamless enrollment, verification and identification in a variety of settings, such as airports, border crossings, ports of entry/exit and other high-demand, high-traffic areas.

NEC also showcased other innovative identification technologies including SmartScan, NeoFace Watch, NeoScan45 and Integra-ID iBW5. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) matching algorithm recognition benchmarks have consistently proven that NEC’s biometric technologies have the fastest and most accurate face and fingerprint recognition algorithm and have the most resilient facial recognition technologies to viewing low angles, low-resolution images and poor image quality. View Our Complete NIST Rankings.

On Day One, I presented Airport Screening and Security of the Future. In his session, he covered the recent and future technology trends expected to bring change to screening and security at airports across the United States – from reservation to the traveler’s final destination. He examined video surveillance, multimodal biometric solutions, e-tickets, and pre-registration programs all geared toward enhancing security and convenience of passengers in airports. The same day, Benji also chaired a panel discussion, Disruptive Global Trends and the Role of Effective Identity Technology. The panel discussed the threat of terrorism, mass displacement and movement of populations, and political implications.

After a long day on the show floor, NEC hosted a private networking event at Casa Luca, where over 90 event attendees enjoyed a relaxing evening with their colleagues and the soulful cuisine from the Marche region of Italy’s central Adriatic coast.

For additional information and to stay up on the latest, follow us on Twitter and check out our NEC Advanced Recognition Systems page online.

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