NEC’s 30th AFIS Internet User Conference

Having been at NEC for the last five years, I can honestly say – what an exhilarating ride! We just celebrated the 30th anniversary of NEC’s AFIS Internet User Group conference, held this year at the Omni Atlanta CNN Center.

I wish to express my highest gratitude to the AFIS Internet Board, the organizers of this conference and for the special efforts and leadership of Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Atlanta Police Department, our host agencies.

The AFIS Internet Conference leads the way for the professional forensic community, and highlights the latest NEC developments that are impacting the law enforcement industry.  This year’s event drew our largest international attendance to-date, with attendees from Australia, Greece, Mexico, Bangladesh, Vietnam, China and Saudi Arabia.

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As expected, the event did not disappoint. Below are a few of my favorite take-away thoughts and ideas from AFIS 2016.

  1. Body language matters!  Word choices and how our body moves as we talk can tell people a lot about us. Our keynote speaker was Janine Driver, CEO of the Body Language Institute and a former trainer for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Janine’s talk helped me understand the impact that my non-verbal communication has on others’ perceptions of me. She also showed our audience a few cutting edge body language secrets to help us develop better relationships in both our work and personal lives.
  2. Georgia is a hotbed of law enforcement leadership and talent.  With this year’s event being in Atlanta, we had access to some fantastic talent from the Georgia Bureau of Investigations.  We heard from Vernon Keenan, director of the GBI, who spoke about leadership in law enforcement and how to transition your career out of “survival” mode and into a strong position of leadership.  Mr. Keenan should know, as he has been promoted to every sworn rank in the agency since joining law enforcement in 1972.  We also learned the GBI has ties to the very roots of AFIS Internet, as we heard from Debra Brown, who retired from that agency in 2014.  She gave is an excellent history of AFIS Internet and certainly taught me things I didn’t know about this very special group of people.
  3. All hail the Federal Bureau of Investigations!  Rachel Pastorial from the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Systems division has probably forgotten more about the use of facial comparison technology than I will learn in a lifetime.  She provided us with a highly useful overview of the face comparison discipline, which should come in handy for many AFIS Internet members as they transition into additional biometrics disciplines outside of fingerprint and ten print identification.
  4. The greatness of The First 48. We had the absolute pleasure of hearing from John X. Kim, senior executive producer and co-creator of “The First 48,” who is also the brain behind a laundry list of popular real-life crime shows, such as “Crime Scenes Uncovered,” “Steven Segal Lawman,” “Dallas SWAT,” “Detroit SWAT,” and much more. “The First 48” is a highly acclaimed real-life homicide investigation series now in its 16th season on A&E.  Mr. Kim gave us the inside scoop on how that TV series came to be created, plus he provided some fascinating anecdotes about some of their most popular cases.

Of course, NEC also showcased its latest identification technologies, including our newest innovation, Multi-Modal Integrated Biometric Workstation (IBW), which is NEC’s latest MBIS platform.  Watch Kris Ranganath from NEC provide the newest advancements in ID technology in this video.

Also, one of the more popular attractions was the demo of SmartScan, our next-generation livescan solution launched earlier this year.  John Dowden, senior product manager for NEC’s biometrics business, wowed audiences with the capabilities of a livescan station designed with a sleek footprint, intuitive Windows 10 user interface and high-horsepower capabilities for a variety of applications both in-house and out in the field.

So that’s it – if you missed AFIS Internet this year in Atlanta, you missed out! Of course, you can catch a glimpse or relive the excitement by checking out our photo library.

 

2016 Annual AFIS Internet User Conference

2016 Annual AFIS Internet User Conference

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At Advantage 2016— We Discovered the Power of the Smart Enterprise

More than 400 attendees from the NEC community – top channel partners, consultants, analysts, sponsors, and staff from North America and South America, all met this last month in Ponte Vedra, Florida,near Jacksonville, to “Discover the Power of the Smart Enterprise.” This was the overarching theme of NEC’s 2016 Advantage Executive Conference (Advantage).

Advantage is a highly anticipated annual 3-day conference event where NEC’s key players, dealers, sponsors, vendors, guests and top industry consultants get together to learn and share their interest in business enterprise technology.  Hands-on demonstrations of the latest product and service developments are available, along with opportunities to participate in informational and inspiring sessions led by the “best of the best” in the industry.

NEC’s Smart Enterprise

This year, the spotlight was on Smart Enterprise communications and IT Infrastructures, with a range of sessions focusing on current workforce environment trends, the latest in NEC unified communications solutions, the stability of NEC’s high availability servers, Contact Center challenges being met, and presentations on the importance of real relationships with our customers and why Smart Enterprise solutions make sense for them.

NEC’s Smart Enterprise is best described as a platform of solutions focused on improving safety, security and operational efficiency for our customers.  In the UC and IT space, it’s a broad set of technologies, products and solutions that are truly empowering for our enterprise customers. Smart Enterprise provides an IT communications infrastructure and application layer that allows a more predictive business that customers can also operate at a lower cost, and so empowers them to be more competitive.

Smart Enterprise solutions help our customers solve their real-world business issues, and will streamline and even innovate business processes. Basically, Smart Enterprise delivers a stable and reliable ICT solution, freeing our customers to focus on their productivity and on meeting and exceeding their business goals.

And the Winner Is…

Advantage is a multi-purpose event for learning, experiencing, sharing, socializing, and recognizing extraordinary partners, so always climaxes with NEC’s Sales and Marketing Leadership Awards, presented to the Top Ten Channel Partners.  This recognition is not only for outstanding business performance, but also their relationship and involvement level within their local communities. The Awards are an important part of NEC’s “Orchestrating a Brighter World” mission, honoring successful partners who have achieved a high level of customer satisfaction and are making a notable difference in the lives of those around them.

Once more, we’d like to applaud this year’s NEC SML Award honorees:

  • Advanced Communication Solutions (ACS)
  • Arrow SI
  • Business Communications Systems, Inc.
  • Epitome Networks
  • Forerunner Technologies
  • Hawaiian Telcom
  • nDataStor
  • NetServe365
  • Okanagan Telephone Company
  • Positive Business Solutions, Inc. (PBSI)
  • Scharfstein, South America

 

In Conclusion

NEC’s 2016 Advantage Executive Conference was an uplifting time of learning, fun, and inspiration, an opportunity to concentrate on the latest technology for business communication, workforce productivity, and reliable business continuity, with a successful blending of education on customer needs and NEC solutions, great social interaction, and receiving the positive messaging of NEC’s Smart Enterprise.

Essentially, the message is that Smart Enterprise brings together and orchestrates the best, specifically tailored solutions, to meet our customer’s individual business needs, and, ultimately, to help brighten their world. And that’s the real NEC mission.

If you want to hear more on the conference, many of the consultants and analysts who were in attendance – including Dave Michels, Jon Arnold, Steve Leaden, and more – gathered for a UC Strategies podcast

NEC at Enterprise Connect 2016

Enterprise Connect always attracts technology innovators and creative disruptors in cloud solutions (UCaaS, IaaS, CCaaS, etc.), Unified Communications, the Internet of Things and more. This year’s event was again abuzz with powerful keynote presentations, lively panel discussions, and distinctive product demonstrations and exhibits. As a proud platinum sponsor, NEC helped attendees “Discover the Power of SMART Enterprise”, attracting an impressive crowd to our booth and winning a prestigious award for the second year in a row.

Ram Menghani - Enterprise Connect 2016“Last year, we introduced our Smart Enterprise approach to helping companies work more efficiently,” said Ram Menghani, vice president of product management and development, NEC North America. “This year, we demonstrated how our Smart Enterprise solutions are making a difference in all parts of our customers’ organizations, from the reception area and data center, through other areas like customer care centers and conference rooms, along with mobility solutions that enable seamless communications from any location.”

Showcasing the SMART Enterprise

On the show floor, visitors enjoyed a tour of the SMART Enterprise. Our display represented different departments within a company, highlighting how NEC solutions, such as UNIVERGE 3C and UNIVERGE BLUE, help unite every area of a business.

Examples of what visitors experienced:

  • Our SMART Receptionist, a touch-screen that allows someone to work remotely while managing the lobby, greeted guests in the reception area. Security protocols then went into effect as visitors were screened by one of our biometrics solutions.
  • A jaunt to the SMART Conference Room allowed visitors to work at individual stations, such as laptops or tablets, while seamlessly sharing information (even across several rooms or locations).
  • The SMART Customer Care Center displayed how UNIVERGE BLUE’s multi-channel interaction – voice, email, chat, video and voicemail, remote agent support, and analytics in the cloud – improves customer service and productivity.
  • The SMART Data Center showcased high availability infrastructure, including NEC’s unique Fault Tolerant servers that provide up to 99.999% uptime.

UNIVERGE BLUE Wins Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS)/Hybrid RFP Award

Each year Enterprise Connect holds a mock request for proposal (RFP) session. Every vendor that submits a response is required to answer questions related to their solution’s architecture, features, and total cost of ownership over a five-year period.

NEC was awarded the highest overall score in the annual UCaaS/Hybrid mock RFP session for the second year in a row when NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE Business Cloud Services UCaaS solution was selected as Top Cloud Solution with Lowest Total Cost Ownership.

“NEC has consistently ranked at or near the top in delivering value to its customers, said Menghani, “and the back-to-back, top-mark results from this mock RFP analysis further validates the value of an NEC solution.”

We’ll have a whitepaper of the 2016 results available soon. You can review the specifics of last year’s win by clicking here.

Session Speakers

NEC and its partners were featured speakers in several sessions throughout the week.

Menghani took part in the first general session of this year’s conference, the “UC Summit: Is the Path to UC Changing?”.

Watch video of the UC Summit

It was a lively panel featuring NEC and execs from Google, Cisco, Mitel, Microsoft, Avaya, and Unify.

“The communications market is changing aggressively,” Menghani said during the summit. “Having a combined infrastructure of UC and IT plays a very important role because they go hand and hand. It’s a wonderful benefit.”

Other featured speakers at this year’s Enterprise Connect included:

  • Gail Kasek, senior manager of SMB Product Management, hosting the breakout panel,  “Your Next Endpoint Deployment: Getting to Specs and Costs”
  • Kurt Jacobs, director of Internet of Things solutions at NEC Enterprise Communication Technologies, featured in the panel, “Disruptor Panel: Internet of Things and Enterprise Communications: Is Convergence Coming?”
  • NEC customer Steve Molander, chief information officer of Frandsen Financial Corporation, as a panelist for the “Driving End User Adoption for UC” session
  • NEC customer Roger Bruszewski, vice president for finance and administration at Millersville University of Pennsylvania, featured in the “EC Summit: Is There a New Model for Enterprise Communications and Collaboration?”

“When looking for an enterprise communication solution,” Bruszewski said to his audience, “there are plenty of vendors out there. However, you don’t want just a vendor. You want to find a partner who will take time to understand your needs and thoughtfully integrate their solutions within your company.”

Thank you to everyone who visited us during Enterprise Connect 2016 – our customers, partners, consultants, analysts, and media. We look forward to connecting with you again next year as we continue to evolve the SMART Enterprise.

NEC at NRF16 – The New Face of Retail

NEC brought the latest in point of sale, biometric, analytics, and display technology to this year’s National Retail Federation EXPO (NRF). Nicknamed “Retail’s BIG Show,” NRF presents visionary leaders and game-changing ideas to the retail industry, and the NEC display made a lasting impression with show-goers.

Face the Future

A great deal of that talk in the booth centered on NEC’s revolutionary face recognition technology and how it’s helping to make stores more secure while providing valuable analytics to retailers.

Today’s shoppers want a more personalized experience and the best possible price. That’s exactly what the NeoFace Engage™ solution can provide – in real time. Integrated with the Microsoft’s Azure IoT Hub, Azure Stream Analytics, Power BI and KAIT, the solution could benefit retailers by tailoring in-store advertising based on shoppers’ age and gender using real-time data and content to make offers and educate shoppers, all while capturing valuable shopper analytics.

Another biometrics-based solution, NeoFace® Watch, presented a dramatic leap forward for store security. By integrating with video surveillance systems, NeoFace Watch immediately captures images and matches them against a watch list. Store personnel are alerted to any threats through push notifications to their Apple or Android devices.

Enterprise Video Analytics™ (EVA) is one of NEC’s newest biometrics solutions. EVA captures age and gender analytics to track in-store shopper demographics. Attendees of the NRF16 EXPO saw EVA integrated with NEC’s latest point-of-sale(POS) retail options.

A Thousand Points of Service

NEC’s Stanchion® 3.0 retail suite includes hardware, software and services to enable store managers and staff greater access to data, improved communications and increased productivity within their store environments. As store owners know, consumers have more buying options than ever – too many! It has never been more important for retailers to capture a sale at the moment a consumer is ready.

That’s what attendees at NRF16 experienced live with InPosition. This mobile solution takes POS where it’s needed most – to your shopper on the store floor. InPosition also offers instant item look up and detailed product information to deliver top-notch customer service.

Many NRF attendees commented that NEC’s Interactive Projection System was a fun, “futuristic” way to order in restaurants. This solution uses projection technology to offer interactive, direct table ordering and can even push coupons and promotions to customers’ mobile devices while in the restaurant itself.

Restaurants and grocers were also shown a new approach to fresh item management. NEC’s Fresh Food Optimization solution helps reduce waste and save money by leveraging in-store data to accurately predict fresh food purchases.

To gauge consumer traffic, In-Store Analytics utilizes heat mapping to track dwell times at specific products and store locations. If we used this solution at NRF16, the NEC booth would have glowed red-hot.

On Display

You can’t attend “Retail’s BIG Show” without bringing a really big show, and that was achieved with NEC Display Solutions of America’s breathtaking selection of commercial LCD display and projector solutions.

Show-goers were captivated by NEC Display’s video wall solution using X554UNS 55-inch displays. These impressive arrays utilize Impinj RAIN RFID technology to create a unique in-store customer experience. And for a store that wants a huge, ultra-high definition splash, NEC Display showcased the impressive X981UHD 4K 98-inch display. Or for a more interactive presentation, a new interactive kiosk utilizing a 55-inch V552 display with integrated multi-touch technology was on display.

All Digital Signage solutions were powered by NEC Display’s new Intel Open Pluggable Specification (OPS) computing solutions designed to enable easier installation, use, and maintenance of digital signage.

Based on the booth traffic and attendee response, NRF16 was a tremendous showcase for NEC’s innovative solutions.

“The show was incredible,” said Gary Price, director of sales at NEC Corporation of America. “We were delighted to see a record number of people experiencing our innovations, participating in demos and asking questions about the ways the technologies can enhance their businesses. With our recent recognition as a top 50 most innovative company by Boston Consulting Group, we will maintain our focus on technology advancements to support our retail clients.”

Want Consumer Loyalty? Get Smart About Hospitality Innovation!

At the recent 2015 HITEC event, the hospitality industry got a taste for industry highlights and overviews of things to come, and the event certainly did not disappoint. Among some of the more innovative solutions were concierge-style robots that provide more basic services like room service delivery, and of course NEC’s own Kylie!

Always top of mind for hospitality is customer loyalty. How do you reward those who are loyal to your brand? And how do you keep them loyal? One way is to ensure they feel welcomed and valued, as demonstrated through NEC’s VIP facial recognition avatar, Kylie.

Using NeoFace® face recognition technology and pulling from the secure database your organization collects, Kylie greets visitors, provides them with information pertinent to their stay and helps them with everything from getting checked into a room to getting to their return flight information. She is always on, always friendly, and always ready to greet customers to ensure a strong customer experience.

It’s More than Bells and Whistles

Of course, greeting VIP customers helps ensure a positive experience, but it’s only the beginning. Also important is an overall customer experience that couples the desired convenience with the required security. NEC’s Smart Hospitality Solutions are designed to provide both enhanced guest experiences with increased efficiency of hotel operations.

NEC Smart Hospitality Solutions consist of key solutions related to hotel operations, including communications platforms, Unified Communications (UC) applications, Property Management Systems (PMS), facial recognition systems, digital signage and guest room management systems. As the solutions are based on a modular approach and can be tightly integrated, customer information and other data can be easily shared throughout the portfolio of applications. As a result of this seamless integration, hotel owners and operators can provide highly value-added guest service and improve the productivity of hotel staff.

For example, NEC’s facial recognition solution makes it possible to use cameras at hotel entrances to identify VIP guests in real-time using previously registered data in a PMS. This enables the provision of personalized services and greetings to coincide with the arrival of a VIP. The guest experience can also be enhanced by enabling hotel check-ins and check-outs and room service orders and other requests to be accessed from tablets or guests’ smartphones.

NEC plans to continually strengthen the NEC Smart Hospitality Solutions portfolio while promoting its “Hotel IT in a Box” approach, which offers hotel solutions consolidated into a single server platform. Based on this approach, NEC launched its Application Platform for Hotels, a vertically integrated solution platform optimized for the hospitality industry. Moving forward, NEC plans to further integrate new solutions such as PMS into the Application Platform for Hotels.

NEC Smart Hospitality Solutions

A Glimpse into the Future

Of course, no event would be complete without a demonstration of futuristic technology. During HITEC, NEC demonstrated its  Interactive Projection System. This easy-to-use touchpad device connects with customers’ cell phones and provides information of their choosing, including property maps, coupons, and entertainment information. Giving customers the opportunity to self-serve actually improves the experience with quick access to information that can be uploaded to their mobile devices for access at the exact time they want it, a big bonus for those people on the go.

Customer loyalty is critical in the highly competitive hospitality industry, and comes down to the experience. Utilizing innovative solutions such as Kylie or the Interactive Projection System will create a positive visitor experience. Couple this with solutions that improve productivity, and both the customer and the hospitality organization win.

For more information on the NEC Smart Hospitality Solutions, please visit our website.