Collaborative Education Empowers Young Minds

Few things are more emotional than debate regarding our educational system. Parents want the best for their children, teachers want to provide creativity for their students, and students want to be empowered to be a part of their own learning process, while also having access to the latest tools, technology and information. All this must be wrapped up in a system that ensures learning objectives are met, and students are absorbing information that will prepare them for their next steps in life.

Recently we caught up with Gregory Alvarez, senior manager, Education Vertical Market, for NEC Corporation of America, to learn more about the changing landscape of education and how NEC’s Collaborative Content Management Solution (CCMS) creates solutions to solve challenges in the collaborative education model. Here’s what Gregg had to say:

Q: What are some of the shifts you see in education that are driving the need for new learning solutions?

A: Education is moving more toward a “creator” versus consumption environment. In the past, students were given textbooks. Now, they often consume their assignments on a tablet or laptop, which allows for more elements such as video, presentations, and audio files to be included.

Social interaction is also becoming a large part of the educational experience, particularly since students are so accustomed to using social media to interact with friends. Educational environments are working to provide that same level of interaction via blogs and discussion feeds to keep students more engaged. Furthermore, students can now have access to virtual learning environments, allowing for more progressive learning environments such as flipped classrooms while also supporting learning at home. If students are out of school due to weather, injury or extended illness, they can continue studies with minimal interruption, ensuring they stay abreast of their studies while also keeping them engaged.

Higher education, while ahead of the curve with student technology use (the average college student has three-to-five networked devices), is looking to redesign the classroom and improve students’ interaction. Now these institutions are moving towards work group, project-based learning where students create workgroups and collaborate on class assignments. The goal is to prepare students for today’s work environment where collaboration and teaming are the new norm.

These schools see a need to get students more engaged, as well as provide professors the flexibility to go beyond the core curriculum and expand teaching elements. By providing the flexibility for educators and students to collaborate on learning objectives, everyone has an improved educational experience.

For example, if a teacher is providing a history lesson and students can collaborate on the curriculum by uploading videos from current day events that tie-in with the lesson, then not only are students more engaged, but teachers are able to help them draw conclusions in a real-life manner that was not available before.

Q: What is NEC’s Collaborative Content Management System (CCMS) and how does it support this new educational shift?

A: It is a learning management system (LMS) solution for higher education and K-12 that is powered by the cloud software platform PassTheNotes (PTN).  As a technology leader, NEC takes pride in anticipating market changes and the impact that technology will have on society. NEC recognized that educators were looking for a solution that provided a tool to help faculty expand on course curriculums through the addition of content. This helps engage students in their educational experience with a service and methodology they are most comfortable with (the Internet and social media), giving students the ability to be a part of their educational experience.

Our collaborationwith PTN enables NEC to offer a cloud-based learning management solution that leverages the best of the PTN content management/educational solution with NEC collaboration and communication solutions. PTN is a dynamic, innovative company of veteran educators who understand and process customer feedback to continually improve the offering. We view our working together as a way to improve education for students, thus better serving the community.

The NEC CCMS provides benefits to educators and students they cannot find in other learning management systems today, including:

  • Immediate access via a non-proprietary platform providing technology-agnostic solutions.
  • Single sign-on access with popular applications such as Dropbox or Drive.
  • Collaboration within the platform so students can invite students to create modules for enhanced learning opportunities.
  • Built-in application for taking and hosting notes.
  • Social interaction leveraged via discussion feeds and peer reviews and grading.
  • Seamless integration of additional technology such as unified communications or biometric facial recognition.

Q: What other educational trends are on the horizon?

A: We see a number of trends that are quite interesting, including:

Biometrics and Facial Recognition -While traditionally seen in law enforcement or security, biometrics is making its way into schools and campuses to address specific use cases. The most obvious use case is for security, where facial recognition can capture an image match against a database to determine if the individual belongs on campus.

We’re also seeing more interest is using facial recognition for verification of course completion for accreditation. Facial recognition is being considered as a tool to address attendance taking as well. This becomes a time saving solution in K-12 and for higher ed use to support class attendance requirement for course credit.

Learning analytics is an educational application of “big data,”a method used by business to analyze individual activity. In education, learning analytics is being used with the aim of improving student retention and providing learners with a superior personal experience. Learning analytics uses student data to build better pedagogies, identify at-risk students, and assess whether programs aimed at student retention are successful.

In the future, we see the introduction of other technologies and teaching methodologies that could take hold, such as.

  • 3D printing
  • Gaming and gamification
  • Making online learning more natural

Thanks to Gregg for providing a fascinating overview of current and future educational trends, while explaining how technology provides #SolutionsforSociety in education. You can learn more about NEC’s educational solutions, as well as see demonstrations of other innovative solutions such as unified communications, cloud contact center and SDN by visiting booth 1121 at Enterprise Connect 2015.

 

Photo by NEC Corporation of America on Flickr and used here with Creative Commons license.

5 Features to Look for When Differentiating UC Solutions

Unified communications is an increasingly important investment for organizations looking to improve productivity and responsiveness while reducing their IT costs. UC and it’s convergence of voice, video, and applications, is bringing benefits to enterprises and SMBs in every industry across the globe.

But if you’re undertaking a UC upgrade, it can be hard to know how to differentiate between all the many UC solutions that exist on the market today. Unified communications technology evolves so rapidly that it’s becoming more difficult for organizations to predict which requirements they might need now and in the future. What are the implications on your IT infrastructure?  Will the technology become obsolete too quickly?

In fact these fears are consistently on the list of the many reasons that organizations tend to sweat legacy investments for too long.

The key to differentiating the right UC solution is to search for and ultimately adopt a solution that’s built with/on:

  • Sufficient Flexibility – As office applications change, desktop and IT experiences evolve, and system requirements grow an enterprise-grade UC solution should offer multiple choices to adapt. The right UC solution will be flexible—with choices for both premises and self-managed deployments, subscription models with cloud services, or a hybrid with private cloud option—and accommodating  of  new requirements as your business needs evolve over time. Solutions that extend the value of your existing IT investments and promote end-user adoption should be high on the list of anyone looking for flexible, agile communications.  Core elements of a flexible solution should include: use of open, standards based protocol interfaces, Web Service orientation, the ability to add complimentary solution components including devices (IP phones, smart phones, etc.),productivity applications (plug-ins for email clients, or web portals), and even purpose built applications to automate certain business processes.
  • All Inclusive Licensing – All-inclusive licensing gives technology and financial decision makers the ability to anticipate user costs while ensuring that their end users have full access to the UC productivity apps and tools they desire. The inclusive structure makes purchasing UC easier by eliminating complexity associated with mapping licenses for specific apps or features to individual users or groups of users.
  • Variety of UC apps and services such as mobility – Often users throughout an enterprise adopt varying work styles which best suit their roles and responsibilities.  Offering a range of UC applications allows users the ability to choose the apps that best suit their particular needs and work styles.  These may include some, or all, of the following:  desktop UC apps for windows MAC users, browser based applications for cross platform use, mobile device apps for smartphones and tablets, plug-ins for other productivity tools like email and calendar apps or document management and related groupware systems.  Ideally, all of these various UC oriented applications will have uniform features delivered with a common look and feel to simplify transition from one to another.
  • Software-based solution – software-based UC and collaboration platforms operate across premises, cloud, or hybrid environments (flexibility). With a variety of software apps, operating across multiple devices (PCs, smartphones, and tablets), software-based UC systems fit naturally into an enterprise’s IT systems environment, leveraging common operating principles and practices.  This lowers overall operating costs, and maximizes the possibility for integration into an enterprise’s business processes maximizing the return on investment.
  • Vendor Maturity – vendor maturity is incredibly important when choosing a UC solution. There are multiple types of vendors in the marketplace today. There are those whose background is in network convergence. There are others whose background is strictly telephony. But for today’s modern communications—that work consistently in co-operation with other enterprise technologies—you need a vendor whose strengths are in both telephony and IT infrastructure. You need more than a Gartner Magic Quadrant leader—you need a challenger, an innovator, a customer-focused vendor building next-generation unified communications and collaboration experiences that reduce IT complexity and delivers superior reliability, scalability and robustness.

Enterprise Connect 2015

Each year at Enterprise Connect, a mock Request for Proposal (RFP) session is held. The mock RFP is a simulation of the requests that enterprises and government agencies put out when looking for a new unified communications solution.

The session, led by independent consultant David Stein, Principal at Stein Consulting Group, assesses the most common unified communications and collaboration that SMBs and enterprises alike typically differentiate between.  Each of the vendors that participate is required to answer questions related to their solutions’ architecture, features, and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) over a 3-5 year period.

This year’s UC RFP and Review session will, again, look at premises vs. cloud-based communications platforms. The session is a long running tradition and the ideal way to provide potential customers an objective way to learn about the top vendors in the industry. The session includes discussion of:

  • Overall findings/trends as of Q1 2015
  • The system offerings currently available from leading suppliers
  • Strengths and weaknesses of leading vendors’ offerings
  • The subjective rankings based on architecture, functionality and cost
  • Product Differentiation (what really matters?)
  • UC Procurements (should enterprises focus on platform or use cases?) and more.

There are a number of factors to consider in evaluating Unified Communications RFPs—high availability, voicemail, unified messaging, and unified communications are just some of the features of modern communications technology.

If your organization is starting the process of looking for a new UC solution to replace your existing IP/PBX, I invite you to join me during the session and listen to how each vendor ranks.

For a comprehensive look at weighting, factors and TCO evaluations from 2014, download the UC RFP whitepaper by David Stein.

American Ingenuity and NEC Technology Combine to Provide the Cape Cod area with Improved Service

A unique geography plus increased seasonal demands put a strain on a New England community served by NEC customer Verizon.

Cape Cod, MA, has a year-round population of about 220,000, but each summer starting on Memorial Day and ending on Labor Day,the area experiences its heaviest tourist season when the local population increases to more than 500,000. The Cape Cod area includes the island of Martha’s Vineyard, located seven miles off the coast of Massachusetts.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Cape Cod Blizzard
Photo by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center on Flickr and used here with Creative Commons license.

To provide service to the Cape and the surrounding islands, Verizon uses microwave radio technology. This technology is ideally suited for the geography with the ability to carry network circuits through the use of line-of-sight radio signals.  When the population swells in the summer, though, additional capacity is needed to provide Verizon’s customers with high-speed connectivity.

Here’s where the American ingenuity comes in. April Yalenezian, a Verizon network engineer from New England (and NEC customer), used creative thinking to develop a way not only to provide increased network connectivity to the area, but also to maintain the critical network connectivity on which the Cape relies, all while maintaining high network reliability.

To meet the increased demands, Verizon upgraded the existing Falmouth to Vineyard Haven line with the new NEC XPIC 5000S radio system using the 11GHz frequency spectrum.  However, the existing radio system still needed to be in operation while the new system was put in place.

Upgrading the microwave network was critical to providing high quality service to the Cape Cod area and supporting strategic growth services. The reliability of the microwave radios is essential to Verizon’s network as it’s the only means to serve the island.  The new radios will provide increased capacity needed for the demand of circuit growth on Vineyard Haven and Nantucket.

Verizon needed to maintain the integrity of the network and continue to provide service for its customers (E911, DSL and other hi-capacity sensitive services).

April developed a creative method and procedure to maintain the existing radio system and antenna while turning up the new radio at the same time. And she was able to accomplish this within the available defined radio frequency spectrum restrictions.  April and NEC network engineer Mark Cowles worked together to test the procedures in NEC’s Lab in Manassas, VA, and make sure the transition worked without a glitch.

Together Verizon and NEC, an industry-leading microwave radio supplier, installed the 5000S radio system, which is designed for long-haul capacities. The 5000S has proven to be a very stable and reliable system and is used around the world for transporting TDM traffic.

Using April’s plan, installation took approximately three months once the radios arrived and the Verizon team had the new system up and running by the end of 2014.

Recently, the new system was put to the test when the Blizzard of 2015 hit Cape Cod and other parts of the Northeast with a vengeance. During the storm, the new NEC microwave system stayed up and running, even when other carriers went down. Nantucket Island was particularly hard hit by the storm, but Verizon and NEC were able to maintain a microwave link that kept service up during the worst of the winter storm.

The collaboration between Verizon and NEC is another great example of how a service provider and its vendor work together to provide improved customer service under adverse conditions.

Law Enforcement with the Best ‘Toys’ Keep Us Safe

Cop dramas, comedies and buddy stories rule the airways. From the newest TV cop show Backstrom to Brooklyn 99, Criminal Minds to Law and Order: SVU, there is no shortage of shows, detectives, and characters to choose from. If you wanted to be a cop or detective, which character would you choose—a no-nonsense, straight-talking detective or someone with more of a quirky personality?

 

 

Regardless of your choice, one thing is certain – you want the latest and greatest technology available. How boring would an episode of CSI be without the great tech? The same holds true for our men and women patrolling our streets. Keeping us safe can only happen if they are equipped with the best tools for the job. NEC understands the critical nature of this need, which is one of the reasons we dedicate so much time and energy to developing strong tools for law enforcement, such as the new NeoScan 45™ mobile fingerprint collection device.

What Does NeoScan 45 Do?

Many different law enforcement agencies require rapid, positive identification while in the field.  Police officers need the ability to confirm identities during patrol stops and field arrests. Homeland security officers require the capability to verify and screen identities against a watch list while patrolling the borders.  These public safety officials need compact, fail-proof tools that are portable and easy to use in the field.

To meet these demands, NEC developed NeoScan 45, the thinnest and lightest Fingerprint Acquisition Profile (FAP) level 45 multi-fingerprint capture device available today. The device is .68 inches thin and weighs only 9 ounces. At approximately the same size as many cellphones, it is small and light enough to be used in one hand.  It can then be slipped into a pocket or clipped on the belt without being a distraction.

 

Equipped with a sensor that can capture single and dual, plain and roll fingerprint impressions, NeoScan 45 also has been successfully tested against the FBI Image Quality Specifications (IQS) Appendix F and Mobile ID FAP45 specifications. Larger fingerprint sensors with higher FAP levels, such as NeoScan 45, are more accurate, reduce sequence errors, and offer a higher rate of identification.

NeoScan 45 provides multiple benefits that enhance the ability of law enforcement professionals to do their jobs quickly, including the following.

Intuitive User Interface

The intuitive and easy-to-use interface helps reduce capture errors and wrong finger sequence captures.  The ease of use also makes skipping over missing or scarred fingerprints simple.  Easy-to-see indicators provide scanning prompts and confirmation while fingerprint images are validated as high quality by the built-in FBI NIST Fingerprint Image Quality (NFIQ) fingerprint image test prior to the green scan acceptance light.  NeoScan 45 offers a battery life that surpasses other comparable devices (minimum of 200 scans per day and 24 hours of standby time).

Streamlined Processing

ADD, NEW, and SCAN buttons help speed the process of scanning multiple individuals while in the field.  Also, the built-in magnetic card stripe reader allows rapid downloading of demographic data by swiping ID cards.  Unlike older fingerprint capture devices, the NeoScan 45 can work with Android® and Apple® iOS smart phones and tablets and is compatible with wireless protocols such as Bluetooth or WiFi networking.

Integrated Suite of Tools

In addition to the built-in support to provide immediate feedback on the quality of captured fingerprints, the unit can be easily configured to support multiple fingerprint capture profiles including simultaneous capture of two fingers (e.g. right index and middle fingers) or four fingers (right index and middle fingers followed by left index and middle fingers), or 10 individually rolled fingerprints.  NeoScan 45 also supports capture and storage of multiple fingerprint sets from different individuals that that can later be downloaded to a host tablet or smart device.

Once captured, the fingerprint images are quickly downloaded to a host computer to interface with most Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems (AFIS) solutions, including NEC’s Integra-ID® Multimodal Biometrics Identification Solution (MBIS), as well as NEC’s NeoFace® Smart ID and Smart LC applications.  These applications provide a multimodal solution for face, finger, latent and voice recognition.  Smart ID aids in field identification by using descriptive data entry as well as enabling the user to search or enroll captured biometrics and data.  Smart LC facilitates evidence and latent collection and also enables remote AFIS latent searches.

When in the field, law enforcement professionals do not have the luxury of time. Making the proper identification quickly and easily is important.  Whether it is serving warrants, securing the borders or making a routine traffic stop, quick, accurate identification is key.  With modern technology such as the NeoScan 45, a single person in the field using a device smaller than a paperback book can now do in real-time what once took a team of people days to complete. When seconds matter, it’s nice to know that law enforcement can be equipped with technology that is accurate, fast and mobile!

 

NEC Introduces: NeoScan 45™ mobile fingerprint collection device

NEC Corporation of America (NEC), a leading technology integrator of advanced IT, networking, communications, and multi-modal biometric identification solutions, today announced release of the NeoScan 45™ mobile fingerprint collection device.

Designed for public safety applications in the field, NeoScan 45 delivers the highest degree of speed and accuracy for mobile fingerprint roll and plain capture,including simultaneous two-finger capture. This innovative solution from NEC is simple to use, and features a large (1.6” x1.5”) scanning platen for better image quality and greater accuracy,as proven by NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology).

The NeoScan 45 mobile fingerprint collection device is a Fingerprint Acquisition Profile (FAP) level 45 device and at .68 inch (17.3 mm) thin and only 9 ounces (217 grams), it is the thinnest and lightest fingerprint capture device on the market today. Compatible with wireless communication protocols such as Bluetooth and WiFi, the device can be integrated with smart devices with Apple® iOS and Android® operating systems, including the latest Apple iPhone 6, 6 Plus and Samsung Galaxy models.

NeoScan 45 mobile fingerprint collection device is equipped with a larger size Integrated Biometric Sherlock Sensor, with Light Emitting Sensor (LES) technology that effectively captures single, dual, plain and roll fingerprint impressions… Read the Full Press Release Here

What is The Big Picture for Retail? Customer Faces!

Brick-and-mortar retail establishments have fought hard to recover from the consumer transition to online buying. Even standing in the middle of a store aisle, a customer is likely to participate in “show-rooming,” which is to research online and purchase the very item you have right there on your shelf for less money from an online retailer. Fortunately, there are ways retailers can fight back, such as “web-rooming,” where you can enable the customer to find the item online, and then pick it up in your store. But that is barely scratching the surface to what is possible today.

In order to be more effective, as well as improve the customer experience, retailers have moved well beyond the basic point-of-sale into a full ecosystem. In this environment, a retailer can deploy end-to-end solutions that increase revenue while lowering operating costs and improving the customer in-store event. At NEC, we have devised a state-of-the-art retail ecosystem that ensures retailers can complete in today’s online purchasing world. So what is the ecosystem, exactly?

Point of Sale

Of course, point of sale (POS) systems are a given in today’s retail stores, but they don’t have to be the cashier, front-of-store type that we’ve used in the past. Today’s POS embraces the mobile environment, allowing payment via mobile wallets and purchasing applications. In addition, you can run on multi-purpose, smaller devices that are eco-friendly and have a smaller footprint (leaving more room for product merchandising). The smaller all-in-one compact POS terminals, such as the new NEC TWINPOS G5, are so easy to use and feature high-resolution displays and better processing power.

Mobility / Cloud

As we have already discussed in previous posts, customers will engage in show-rooming to look up reviews, price points and shop for better deals. In addition, consumers have become less patient, not willing to wait in line to purchase when they know they can order a comparable or even that exact product online at the click of a button. Ideally, your sales team has the ability to provide check-out services from the floor with mobile devices, ensuring that lines aren’t a hindrance and that the customer is served immediately. NEC’s Stanchion® integrated retail solution combines software, hardware and services to effectively improve the POS system and provide mobility solutions.

Back Office

It would not be an ecosystem if the store operations were not included. That is why NEC’s solution includes back office in the mix. By adding the ability for sales teams to access inventory information on the fly, customers are served more efficiently. Data integration is critical to giving the best information to the customer and keeping the sale. Using NEC retail software, you can now optimize data management so you gain access to information from warehouse to shelf. This level of data management improves loyalty programs as well as retains sales, all at the touch of a button.

Life-Cycle Management

Consumers live in real-time, and expect that information they receive from your own online channels is up-to-date and true. If a customer enters your store expecting to find a product listed on your website, but instead learns that product is out-of-stock, then that customer is frustrated and may not give you a second chance. The reality is that customers expect a fully-integrated online and offline experience, and if you do not provide one, they will find a retailer that does. They are looking for seamless experiences, which require you to have seamless integration for full life-cycle management.
NEC has a fully integrated solution that improves shopping experiences so you can get more satisfied customers and improve your bottom line.

The Big Picture

The NEC Retail Ecosystem puts you on the right road to great customer experience, and improved bottom line. That’s powerful, but can’t be the end. After all, technology consistently changes and as a partner to retail chains, we believe in supporting you through the next wave of technology. So what is that next piece to put you in front of the competition?

Biometrics!

We recognize the power of face recognition in loyalty programs, security, and overall improved shopping experiences. That is why NEC has developed solutions that integrate biometrics into the retail experience. With the NeoFace® Watch system, which uses proprietary face recognition technology, retailers can identify individuals such as VIP shoppers or loyalty club members, as well as track buyer activities at retail displays and capture demographic data on shoppers – the next game changer.

Come visit us at the NRF Big Show at Booth #3653. You can see the ecosystem first hand, and experience the power of facial recognition and take a peek at new retail solutions.  Make plans to also stop by booth 2803 to learn about NEC’s collaboration with Microsoft on an exciting new retail signage solution that combines NEC face recognition technology with Microsoft’s Kinect camera system to create a next-generation shopping experience. The solution serves up digital retail signage based upon an individual’s age and gender, and archives in-store demographic and engagement data in the cloud for later analysis by the retailer. This solution will be demonstrated in Microsoft’s booth during the NRF event.

And while you’re at NRF 15, we invite you to take part in our #BigPicture Twitter contest. Simply take a selfie in front of the NEC signage at the expo entrance and Tweet “I was @NEC#Big Picture” for a chance to win up to $500. Full contest rules available here.

The Big Picture puts a face on your customer. See how you can make that happen by visiting us at Booth #3653!

TechKnowledge: The Best of 2014

As we look back at 2014 to prepare for 2015, we thought it would be great to provide you with some of the best tips from our NEC Today series. So sit back, relax and prepare to be informed!

MOBILITY – COMMUNICATION

Creating a strong mobile platform provides flexibility for your workforce, but must remain secure in order to protect company assets. Take a look at these posts on the subject:

  1. Get the Best of All Worlds with In-Store Mobile
  2. How to Stay ‘Mobile’ during a severe Weather Event
  3. Healthcare Innovation for Improved Patient Experience
  4. Under the Sea…with Internet?

SDN

Software-defined networking supports business agility through architecture that is dynamic, manageable, and adaptable. Are your ready for some transformative technology?

  1. Is Your Company Seeking Business Agility? Uncovering the Business Value of SDN
  2. NEC Teams with Microsoft for flexible, open, standards-based SDN for the cloud

BIG DATA

A critical component and potential differentiator for businesses going forward, big data and analytics are showing up in every industry and business type, as you can see in the posts referenced below:

  1. Big Data to the Rescue!
  2. Armchair Quarterbacks Rejoice! Big Data is in the Game!

IERS

Our guest blogger, Matt Sarrel, provided us with many good posts on InfoFrame Elastic Relational Store, so if you are in need of information on high-performance databases building for high availability and flexible scalability, look no further! Here is a sampling:

  1. An Introduction to IERS and NoSQL/NewSQL
  2. An Interview with Atsushi Kitazawa of NEC Japan, the “Father” of IERS
  3. IERS is Built for Elasticity

We hope you enjoyed some of our best posts from 2014. We look forward to providing more compelling information in 2015, so check back regularly to see what’s going on with NECToday!

Warning Calgary Criminals: You Can Run…But You Can No Longer Hide!

Every day, members of law enforcement risk their lives and spend long, grueling hours trying to catch criminals. They make these sacrifices to protect law-abiding citizens, so shouldn’t they be provided with useful technology that would aid them in their investigations?

Calgary Police Service: Investigative Experts Choose NeoFace®

Recently, the City of Calgary (Canada) and the Calgary Police Service (CPS) made the conscious choice to enhance their investigative capability by choosing NeoFace® Reveal facial recognition software. This decision did not come without a rigorous review process of multiple face recognition-based criminal identification systems, but nothing less should be expected from investigative experts.

The implementation of NeoFace Reveal will reduce investigation times and lighten the caseloads through more efficient methods of analyzing images. Additionally, quicker identifications inform investigators of a criminal’s identity immediately following a crime, thus preventing the criminal from gaining a significant head start while fleeing. CPS will be able to confidently solve higher volumes of crime in a much more timely and efficient manner. Ultimately, this facial recognition solution gives the  Calgary Police Service a valuable tool to serve public safety and security needs.

View Demo:

Bio-Metrics | Life-To Measure

Some may wonder…what is biometrics exactly? Simply, it is the study of identifying and verifying individuals based on their physical characteristics. Not so simply, it includes a person’s recognition through biological measurements such as their fingerprints, voice, DNA, the iris of the eye, hair and facial features.

These are but a few examples of characteristics that police departments use to verify and identify persons of interest. The sphere of the characteristics used in law enforcement investigations expands to more specific kinds of measurements, although facial characteristics can be examined and identified much quicker than the other factors. NEC recognizes the importance and usefulness of facial recognition, and through years of experience has developed NeoFace Reveal into a go-to resource for law enforcement.

NeoFace, Revealed!

Facial recognition techniques have existed for some time, but NEC has perfected the process through advanced technology. Investigators are able to process and analyze images rapidly and with unsurpassed accuracy and matching speed. Standard imaging enhancements, such as crop/rotate, brightness, contrast, intensity, smooth, sharpen, histogram equalization, noise reduction, aspect ratio correction, and de-interlacing, are combined with additional highly developed processing methods that allow for superior image quality and matching ability.

NeoFace advanced enhancements include:

·         Pose correction on off-centered images improves facial matching score

·         Consolidation of multiple images creates the most accurate frontal face image

·         Illumination allows correction of shadows from off-center light sources

The images acquired during an investigation do not always provide law enforcement with the clear-cut evidence or positive identification needed in an investigation. Whether the image is too dark or taken at the wrong angle, a number of potential things can slow down an investigation. NeoFace easily addresses these issues. Poor quality images, outdated criminal photos, or images that appear to be unusable are no longer setbacks associated with facial recognition technology when using NeoFace Reveal.

For more information on NeoFace, visit our web site where you can find more information on this solution as well as case studies and white papers. We are proud to serve law enforcement by providing solutions for society that help keep us safe.

Black Friday Sales Tanked?

According to this business reporter, Walmart is the reason Black Friday sales were down this year. While that is probably not the case, or at least not the whole picture, the results from Black Friday have proven interesting. The in-store sales numbers were down, while the online numbers were up 14.3 percent over 2013. Many retailers, including Walmart, chose to mark down items in the weeks leading up to Black Friday, giving consumers an opportunity to bargain shop in advance. Plus, the convenience of online shopping is difficult to overcome. It’s easy to grab a tablet and shop while lounging in your favorite chair.

So how does a retail brick and mortar establishment compete with this type of convenience? Create an amazing in-store experience!

Did Your Customers Have the Best Experience?

Customers have opinions about how you do business, and if you don’t succeed in fulfilling their expectations, they will shop somewhere else. A big part of what they want is an innovative, personalized experience that enables them to utilize online technology and access inside a brick-and-mortar store. That is a tall order!

Making reasonable and strategic efforts to fulfill customer expectations is important for 2015, particularly for those retailers who spent time this year analyzing the customer journey. To truly appreciate the importance of having a point-of-sale (POS) system that empowers customer expectations, consider who is actually doing the shopping over this holiday season.

According to a new report by Bankrate.com, a majority of Americans did not plan to shop on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.  They expect to find deals throughout the holiday season. The report also stated that Millennials were expected to be visiting stores on Black Friday in higher numbers than older Americans, and we are very aware of the tech-savvy, mobility centric ways of this generation.

As reported by the U.K. publication Retail Systems, a study by 1010data shows many Americans prefer to shop in stores because they do not want to wait on shipping. Additionally, 97 percent of study participants claimed they would purchase gifts early this year, with half of those starting before Thanksgiving and one in five participating in Black Friday. The reason? They want to ensure product availability.

Fully Connect with Your Shoppers

Whether catering to Millennials, bargain shoppers or early-birds who want to make sure they get that perfect gift, there are ways to improve the experience by embracing technology that your customers really want.  First, let’s discuss what that actually is:

Going Mobile

Shoppers are price and comparison shopping from the floor of your store. They are constantly connected now, and want to have that experience enabled in their brick-and-mortar store experience. This constant connectivity also changes the behavior of a shopper. They are no longer willing to wait in line to make a purchase. They believe they can find what is needed online and will simply exit your store if they are made to wait.

In addition, shoppers have significantly more information at their fingertips, so they are able to not only price shop, but feature compare as well. If the item you have in stock is not what they want, they will go find it somewhere else.
Fortunately, you can update your current POS to include mobility solutions that allow you to achieve the following:

  • Real-time access to data on the selling floor – Now you know what merchandise is in-stock, so you can serve customers more effectively.
  • Better up-selling and cross-selling – Get that key data to sales associates to help them to make better recommendations to customers.
  • Improved communication – Your team can collaborate from the sales floor, again better serving customers without sending them all over the store.

Dynamic Advertising

The ability to deliver real-time information and highly targeted messages is available now. Customers really want to feel like you care about them and are appreciative they shop in your store. Adding digital signage to a POS system provides you the opportunity to:

  • Reach customers where they shop
  • Increase sales volumes of higher margin merchandise
  • Suggest add-on merchandise to increase average purchase volume
  • Incorporate real-time data to present timely and relevant offers to customers at the point they make the buying decision
  • Customize messages for local storefronts easily

Now you can easily get that “wow” factor in your store and enhance the customer shopping experience.

Time to Go High Tech

Retailers who are able to cater to the connected nature of their shoppers will win the in-store experience, and have the ability to better compete with online retailers. However, to do so requires adding a strategy to improve mobility, interactivity and information by empowering the sales staff to access data and sell from the floor. Fortunately, NEC has retail solutions available now and can support you in implementation so you can stay focused on your business.

This is just the beginning. There are many more exciting technology trends coming that improve the customer experience, support better data analytics and increase security. Retail is in for some exciting innovation!

Did You Consider This in Your 2015 IT Budget

Your IT budget planning is most likely well underway and you are probably putting the finishing touches on it. Or perhaps you work for one of those organizations that has a fiscal year that does not align with the annual calendar, and you are in research mode. Either way, deciding where money will be well spent is a significant planning process. The word “budget” can be such an intimidating and restricting word to many…but it’s an essential annual process and perhaps could be viewed as a way to limit unnecessary expenses and maximize the value of the investments to enable your business.

To prioritize your 2015 IT expenses, it is important to consider the following to ensure you have allocated enough budget dollars. Not only will considering these as priorities help set up your IT team for success, but the addition of strong strategic partners for managed services will place your core team in the driver’s seat for more strategic and revenue-generating activities, leaving other less-strategic IT tasks to a value-added partner.

The Complexity of Big Data

Big data is here, and will continue to be an important part of every organization’s IT department. It is important to recognize that multiple aspects of a big data strategy enable your access to the best information. These include:

  • Acquiring and storing data securely
  • Analyzing data effectively
  • Ensuring your team has the right skills to manage this process

Fortunately, you do not have to go it alone. NEC offers complex Analytics and Big Data that turn your data into valuable insights for your business. Think of these insights as priceless intellectual information your business can use to make smarter decisions. Maximize your business potential by using analytics to decrease costs, improve revenue, drive profitability and increase customer satisfaction.
While your team is focused on the core of your business, the NEC team will partner with you to bring big data to life, unlocking the intelligence hidden in the data, while also supporting any planning and implementation. Our solutions work in the NEC Cloud, on-premise and hybrid deployment models and leverage multi-vendor strategies.

How Do You Cloud?

Cloud services provide an excellent way to empower a mobility strategy, as well as ensure rapid provisioning of seasonal and temporary employees. In fact, enterprise mobility removes many barriers for employees who are either on the road or in remote locations, ensuring they can access enterprise applications quickly and easily. However, the use of cloud in your organization is something that requires strategic thought.

There are many concerns about cloud applications, including security and reliability. What applications should you actually use in the cloud? Are there some that should remain on-premises? Can you be certain that the cloud services will meet your needs?

This is an area where the NEC team can bring broad experience to your table. Our Cloud Services team provides solutions that transform your business by bringing together people, applications and smart devices to deliver communications and collaboration solutions through the cloud. For example, Desktop-as-a-Service or DaaS is a cloud service that deploys virtual desktops that users can access from any device, anywhere. Talk about flexibility for your business! One of the benefits of DaaS is that it enables your business to step into cloud usage in a strategic manner, while giving you peace of mind regarding security and access, all without touching critical enterprise applications, such as financial software.

The NEC team offers a solid strategy that meets your specific environment, from on-premises to hybrid to public cloud services. The important thing is that your business requirements are considered and met without interruption through a seamless integration. Our team is well-versed in creating this environment so you can utilize the cloud to maximize your business while minimizing any risk.

Finding the Best Managed Services Partner

Knowing which services are core to your business or simply routine, but still important, is a key decision to be made…so that leaves the question: Do you have all the expertise in-house to properly evaluate the many aspects of IT and then make the best decision for your organization? With the ever-changing landscape, particularly in the areas of security, cloud and virtualization, it is extraordinarily difficult to have all the talent in-house you need to make the best decisions and implement the right solutions while still contributing to the company bottom line.

Our Managed Services teams understand all these complexities, and have built a strong talent pool to execute our offerings. We believe that rather than trying to do it all on your own, you should have the option to align with experts who act as an extension of your existing IT team.

Our managed services offering, NECommand, enables business through important IT solutions in three key offerings: nBuild™, nMaintain™, and nManage™. These services provide you with the level of expertise for your particular environment, whether it’s implementing a new system, providing administrative functions and maintenance to free up your internal IT talent, or managing those complex systems such as security, we have created services to align with your business needs.

Budgeting and Beyond

The typical budgeting process often means “take what you have done, add or subtract by percentages and submit the number.” However, with the consistent fluctuations in IT, you should probably ask yourself is it better to rely on historical experiences alone to make important business decisions? Instead, consider working with NEC to help you manage your IT future and make solid business decisions that can enhance your bottom line.

You can learn more about our Analytics and Big Data, Cloud and Managed Services by visiting our web site, where you will find white papers, videos and other information to help you make the right adjustments to your 2015 IT budget.