Federal efforts to improve biometric identification and authentication increasingly center on facial recognition. Facial recognition technology has already improved mission delivery in dynamic situations such as:
In each case, the speed and accuracy of the identification is critical to the success of the mission.
To meet these challenges, recent significant advancements in facial recognition technology have made it more efficient and accurate from much greater distances. Ultimately, the value proposition for facial recognition comes down to people, patterns and predictions, according to Benji Hutchinson, Senior Director for Washington, D.C. Operations at NEC Corporation of America.
We are living in an ever-present, data-driven economy. Connected devices and IoT are driving up the collection and distribution of data and creating capacity and management challenges like never before. Not only does the data need to be securely stored, it needs to be available within seconds and 24/7. CIOs and IT directors must identify and face these data management challenges with an efficient, scalable and customizable solution.
Let’s identify these challenges and key questions IT leaders must face to uncover a powerful answer to the enormous influx of data growth.
Platform Scalability and Customization
In 2017, The Economist declared data as the world’s most valuable resource, over oil. With the rise of smartphones and the use of the internet in our daily lives, data has become a valued resource for governments and businesses alike. Every prediction of new future-forward technology involves the collection, dissemination and long-term storage of data, no matter the size of the organization.
The Questions: How can a business effectively store the growth of such a valuable resource? What about legacy systems already in use for storage?
A robust platform is required that can be scaled and customized for both small-to-medium business and enterprise growth. The storage scalability, including upgrades and technology refreshes, must also be seamless and non-disruptive to be a competent solution to this challenge.
The Answer: NEC’s HYDRAstor easily handles the data needs and growth of SMB and enterprise businesses, scaling from 1 to 165 nodes, and managing petabytes of data through compression and deduplication. Upgrades are non-disruptive with the ability to add up to 3 generations of hardware, simultaneously in the same system. The grid architecture features two different node types: hybrids (HN) for expanding both performance and capacity or storage (SN) for expanding capacity only. Data deduplication is distributed globally, across all nodes, and resources required for more power and more capacity are aggregated through the grid. Depending on the needs of the organization, the platform can be configured as required for near unlimited data growth.
Backup Performance, No Failures and No Disruption of Service – NEC/Segue Case Study:
Data Reliability, Availability and Protection
Healthcare organizations rely on accurate data to make life or death decisions for patients. Autonomous vehicles rely on data access to operate safely. Digital financial transactions are monitored for criminal activity and must be available almost instantly. With these and other organizational shifts to the cloud, data must be easily accessible, dependable and secure.
The Questions: Can data be both accessible and secure? Is there a high availability solution that can handle inevitable disk failures or other data disruptions?
The Answer: With no single point of failure, NEC’s HYDRAstor grid architecture offers advanced data protection with erasure-coded resilience. Erasure coding involves distributing the data across the entire storage grid, tolerating up to six concurrent disk or node failures with no disruption. Data resiliency is ensured by the automatic rebuilding of only the lost data, enabling a faster data rebuild than traditional RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks).
HYDRAstor offers data encryption prior to being written to disk, securing it from unauthorized access to lost or stolen disks. Classified and unclassified data can also exist within the same node, boosted by HYDRAstor’s Write-Once-Read-Many (WORM) capability and data-shredding for regulatory compliance.
Legal Services Company Turns to NEC:
Simplification of Management
Data migrations are a common pain point among IT departments. Managing a complex data storage solution can be convoluted, especially with the challenge of fork lift upgrade of legacy systems and disparate data backups.
The Questions: How can a storage solution be introduced into an existing environment and still be simple to manage? Is there a need to replace the current systems and software already in place?
The Answer: NEC’s HYDRAstor offers simplified intelligence management software and works with existing backup applications such as Net Backup, Veritas, Veeam, Commvault and more. The system dynamically allocates storage capacity as needed, without user intervention or configuration, through auto provisioning. It also provides a simple, non-disruptive ability to replace legacy hardware and add additional capacity without interruption of data access.
NEC’s Data Storage Partners:
NEC’s HYDRAstor: A Cost-efficient Solution for Data Growth
In 2013, Science Daily predicted that 90% of the data in the world had been generated in the previous two years. Many predict that data will continue to grow exponentially as far into the future as we can imagine. CIOs of small, medium and large organizations must be prepared for the long-term storage and backup of this data, but are understandably concerned about the costs.
The BIG Question: Can a storage platform be all this and cost efficient too?
The Answer: NEC’s HYDRAstor storage platform is well-equipped to handle these data challenges and help create cost-efficiencies in the process.
– Replication to and from disaster recovery sites with encrypted and deduplicated streams ensures data is safe everywhere, is stored cost-effectively, and is moved as fast as possible between sites.
– Storage capacity consumption is reduced through inline global deduplication offering near unlimited storage for data growth.
– For small-to-medium businesses, HYDRAstor is available on virtual appliances using VMWare ESXi or Microsoft’s Hyper-V.
– For enterprise organizations, HYDRAstor can be built out from one to 165 nodes, reaching up to six petabytes of throughput per hour.
– HYDRAstor supports all main backup software vendors and multiple generations of hardware, reducing the need for rip and replace or forklift upgrades.
– Grid architecture and erasure coding distributes data across all nodes for no disruptions in the case of disk or node failures.
Schedule a hassle-free strategic consultation below to learn more about how NEC’s HYDRAstor can help your organization.
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Last month, our own VP of Retail Solutions, Matt Worley predicted some emerging retail technologies he expected to see at NRF 2018 Retail’s Big Show in New York City. He described five technologies that, when combined effectively, will let in-store retailers create a frictionless, more personalized experience for their customers, all while making their operations more efficient and cost-effective.
Now that the show is over, I can confirm Matt’s prediction of where in-store retail is headed this year, namely that retailers will apply these technologies to make the entire store more customer-aware.
Store and Customer Analytics
When a shopper visits an online store, the retailer knows where they clicked, what they looked at, what they read, how long they stayed on each page—and that’s just for starters. The site collects data on the items you put in your “cart,” the ones you removed, and what you replaced them with. All this data is analyzed to reveal the customer’s behaviors and underlying preferences, allowing the experience to be customized on future encounters.
So, why shouldn’t brick-and-mortar retailers gain the same type of insights? It’s all about analyzing and applying the data collected in the store.. Retailers can use it to optimize inventory management and store personnel scheduling—traditional back office functions—but also to elevate the customer’s shopping experience to levels they are only accustomed to finding online.
Shelf Analytics and Order Optimization
Show attendees were very excited about potential applications of shelf analytics. For example, a fresh foods store can keep track of how long items have been on the shelf or in the cooler, to better maintain freshness levels of the inventory. Today, many retailers use RFID tags—to better manage inventory levels and loss prevention. Using RFID tags isn’t practical. Not only are they expensive from an investment standpoint they are wasteful, as tags typically get thrown in the trash when the customer discards the packaging at home.
A less expensive and more environment-friendly alternative is NEC’s machine-learning order optimization application that helps retailers predict sales numbers to reduce inventory or overstock shelves. Shelf inventory and digital signage solutions can identify an item as the customer removes it from the shelf, then determine whether the customer puts the item is the basket or returns it to the shelf. Once in the cart, nearby displays can offer helpful tips, related videos, coupons or other shopping assistance, all based on the item selected.
By tracking all the items in the basket, the solution helps manage inventory control, ordering and stocking, not to mention preparing the customer for the checkout counter.
Such solutions can be adapted to a wide range of retail verticals and applications, to promote additional purchases, reduce waste, automate and optimize inventory orders, and more. All the while, they promote a healthier bottom line, make operations more efficient, and improve the customer experience—just like an online experience does or better.
It’s All About Data, Analytics and Intelligence
This year the focus of the show was less about hardware and more about artificial intelligence, data gathering and mining and analytics. Yes, you need hardware devices to perform all these things. Interactive kiosks, IP cameras, smart tags and displays and so on, not to mention the enterprise software and storage. What it really comes down too, is the ability to connect all that data to the back office, taking and using it to make data-driven decisions based on actionable insights in the store.
Here retailers can see actual, functioning AR and AI retail solutions like CaliBurger. If NRF 2018 was any indication, this year’s retailers will be focused on data, analytics, and intelligence. From the customer perspective, it’s all about the store experience and convenience these solutions bring. From the retailer’s perspective, it’s about bringing customers back from online and into the store. But what it’s really about, is making the entire store smarter and more efficient.
What’s does retail intelligence run on? A robust foundation on which to gather, store, analyze and act upon the resulting insights. Watch this space for articles about the NEC Smart Enterprise solutions that provides a secure foundation for retailers and other industries.
Free White Paper Digitizing the Shopping Journey
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Extreme weather events have caused massive destruction across North America in recent months. In early 2018, the eastern part of the U.S. experienced a “bomb cyclone” consisting of severe cold temperatures, massive amounts of snow and lots of misery. Last summer and early fall, the Gulf Coast and Caribbean were hard hit by hurricanes during one of the most severe tropical storm seasons in years. Parts of Puerto Rico still are struggling to even get the power back on and other services.
Weather wreaks havoc not only on daily life, but disrupts businesses as well. Lack of power, paralyzed transportation and infrastructure damage have a definite impact on “business as usual.” Over the past several years, the Ponemon Institute (https://www.ponemon.org/), which conducts independent research on privacy, data protection and information security policy, has launched three studies since 2010 on the cost of data center downtime. In its latest study (2016), the research shows that the average cost of a data center outage was $740,000, an increase of 38% since the first study in 2010.
The cost of one outage can be measured in many ways—loss of revenue and productivity, damage to an organization’s reputation in the market, customer churn and loss of future opportunities. Depending on the timing and duration of an outage, some industries may be more adversely affected than others. Think about a resort hotel that is unable to book rooms online during the height of the tourist season. Potential customers quickly lose patience and head to the competition or give up entirely. Or consider a transportation organization—outages cause inconvenience for passengers and loss of revenue for carriers, but might be a safety concern as well.
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
Two elements of business planning, business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR), are especially critical during a disaster or outage. Continued business operations depend on an organization’s ability to replicate its systems and data quickly. The ability to plan ahead and adapt during a crisis to restore business operations — without long-term or permanent negative effects — are crucial to an organization’s success. Business continuity goes beyond staying up and running during a disaster. It also means keeping all parts of the business running effectively and efficiently, not just the technology systems.
It’s important to keep a BCDR plan updated as IT changes occur, such as when new applications are added, new technologies become available, or when moving applications to the cloud, for example. By keeping the BCDR plan aligned with the business plans, the IT team won’t be caught off guard when an outage occurs.
Fortunately, technology provides solutions that help mitigate the effects of a disaster, natural or otherwise, and keep businesses online.
Keeping Data Center Operations Humming
For years it’s been a common practice for companies to maintain backup copies of data at an off-site location, usually within a short driving distance of the primary data center. While this practice works for many outage situations, a natural disaster such as a snowstorm, earthquake or mud slide could have a widespread geographic impact that affects not only the location of the main data center, but the backup location as well.
Deploying a cloud solution mitigates that disaster scenario. Cloud-based services support an organization’s ability to plan for disaster recovery and benefit ongoing business continuity. Cloud solutions come in three major deployments—public, private and hybrid. All have pros and cons, depending on the organization’s needs. For instance, private cloud solutions such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provide the elasticity, flexibility and scalability of a public cloud, but can be dedicated to one account, thus providing a more personalized and secure solution.
IaaS solutions offer advantages over a public cloud, including seamless technology upgrades and more control. Advanced compute, storage and network technology can combine in a private cloud offering such as IaaS, but no solution is “one-size-fits-all.” It’s important to work with a service provider who can create a solution that fits the organization. IaaS lends itself to customization that caters to the unique needs of an organization.
The advantages of a private cloud are numerous:
Lower costs than maintaining a private data center
Maintain standards of regulatory compliance
Access to the latest technologies making it easier to stay current
More control than a public cloud, including a more secure solution
Standard billing so there are no “surprises”
Less burden on internal IT teams and staff
During a natural disaster, IaaS can be the ideal solution for BCDR. By providing an off-premises, hosted environment, the data center continues to operate from a location far removed from the disaster. Data is secured and transactions with customers and partners continue without interruption. Fault-tolerant servers offer five 9s of uptime and scalability. A grid storage system helps ensure redundancies to protect a company’s mission-critical data. Using grid storage, a company can replicate its data at an off-site location. During an outage or natural disaster, the master site can be recovered by using the data at the remote site, by means of an Optimized Copy, without having to import backup images.
NEC partner Iron Mountain maintains its National Data Center, located 220 feet below ground in Western Pennsylvania and considered one of the most secure, compliant and energy-efficient data center complexes in the world. As a technology infrastructure provider and part of Iron Mountain’s Data Center Marketplace, NEC is able to provide additional value-added services such as Disaster Recovery as a Service from this secure location.
Learn how NEC teams up with its partner Iron Mountain to provide an IaaS solution housed in one of the most secure locations in the world, the Iron Mountain National Data Center.
Location of the ‘Office’ No Longer Matters
When a weather event or other natural disaster strikes, the ability to enable employees to work from anywhere becomes critical. Working remotely means staff can perform their jobs as seamlessly as if they were in the office, supporting business operations, serving customers, suppliers and partners, and getting their work done.
Cloud-based applications enable employees to keep things running from remote locations. With unified communications and collaboration tools such as softphones, instant messaging, and audio and video conferencing, dispersed teams collaborate and work on projects even when the weather outside slows transportation to a crawl. Enabling employees to do their jobs even when they can’t get to the office keeps them safe during dangerous travel conditions as well.
Virtual desktops can be linked through a private network connection to a secure, remote data center far from the bad weather or natural disaster. Best of all, desktops in the cloud look and behave as if they are part of a corporate IT environment. Customers and employees won’t notice a difference in the quality of service.
Software-defined networking (SDN) simplifies network management, proactively addresses network performance and quickly re-routes network traffic as needed—all critical functions during a severe weather occurrence or natural disaster. An SDN solution centralizes control of the network and automatically monitors and prioritizes network traffic, distributing it according to pre-defined policies and constantly updates network resources and traffic conditions.
When the blizzard, mud slide, earthquake, wildfire or hurricane strikes your location, the right solutions and technology enable business as usual. Consider private cloud solutions when developing your business continuity and disaster recovery plans to help create a safe and secure environment that protects data and applications, and keeps your business running.
Free Ebook 5 Reasons You Can’t Ignore the Private Cloud Anymore
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Last year, our show theme at NRF 2017 was Know Your Customer. This year, we think it’s time to use that knowledge to transform brick-and-mortar retail once again, helping it compete with online retailers.
How can in-store retailers create a frictionless, more personalized experience for their customers, while still making their own in-store processes more efficient and cost effective? At NEC we believe it’s by applying key technologies to make the entire store more customer-aware.
Here are five of those technologies we expect to see on display at NRF 2018.
#1 Data and data analytics in full swing
Think about it. Big online retailers seem to know more about you than you do.
They know what to show you and recommend to you, what you’ve looked at, “liked” or bought before—even what you’re likely to want next. By crunching all that collected data with demographics, preferences and social media data, they can predict what shoppers will best respond to.
#3 In-store digital signage becomes customer aware
Digital signage is nothing new in retail, but when paired with facial recognition and big data analytics, it can become customer aware. That means shelf tags and screens can display messages or ads to the nearest customer, calling attention to nearby items or specials that past behavior indicates might appeal to that customer.
But smart signage can also utilize object recognition to enhance the customer experience. This technology can detect when the shopper picks up an item (or puts it back) and direct the signage to display personalized information. For example, more product information, available options, upsell ads, or even warning about potential allergic reactions—and make alternate recommendations.
#4 Chatbots with AI and AR help both customers and staff
What if a coffeemaker needs a filter change or a checkout printer needs the ink cartridge replaced? Little things like this can bring operations to a halt, and in turn affect how well associates take care of their customers.
Instead waiting on a repair, a store associate could quickly use a tablet at the malfunction to virtually chat with a robot (artificial intelligence) about how to fix the issue. Augmented reality (AR) can even show the associate how to get the device back up and running “live”—so they can get back to serving customers.
Shoppers could benefit directly from AI/AR chatbots, too. Pointing a smartphone at an item, the chatbot could answer questions, show the customer what’s size and colors are in stock, even show the shopper wearing the items before trying it on. Of course, a chatbot can also summon an associate over to help them personally.
#5 POS and check out becomes fast, easy and automatic
And let’s forget not the checkout experience. For single-item and multi-item purchases, using biometrics and object recognition-augmented POS systems allow for an efficient, frictionless checkout experience.
How would this work? Using both facial and object recognition, the POS solution identifies both the shopper and the items as she puts them on the counter. The system quickly totals the bill—applying the appropriate discounts and rewards based on the shopper’s loyalty status—and the customer pays with a mere glance at the camera. Now that’s convenient for the customer—and efficient for the store, too.
Which technology trend will be the winner this year?
Do you see five separate technologies in our NRF 2018 predictions—or one huge opportunity for transforming brick-and-mortar retail once again?
In each of our scenarios, it’s difficult to see these applications as separate technologies. At NEC, we think the key is unifying them to make the whole store customer-aware, from end-to-end.
At NRF 2018, you’ll see how our retail and advanced recognition solutions work together, to provide more efficient store operations, and for customers, a seamless, frictionless and more personalized experience.
True, technology helps retailers get shoppers in-and-out of the store more quickly—if that’s what they want. But more importantly, NEC retail solutions allow them to spend more time enjoying the actual shopping experience. And isn’t a personal, in-store experience what brick-and-mortar retail has that online shopping simply can’t provide?