Gartner’s UC Magic Quadrant is Losing its Luster

The Gartner Magic Quadrant has long held a place of reverence in the Information and Communications Technology industry as a go-to resource for large enterprises seeking a short list of vendors to consider for technology purchases and projects.

As you may know, NEC is regularly included in a number of Gartner reports, most notably the recently updated 2018 Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications.

Frost and Sullivan Report NEC Smart Enterprise

Despite the fact that NEC is the world leader in lines shipped – with a 14.3 % market share in Global Call Control Licenses Vendor over Q1 2018 according to MZA Consultants – and despite the fact that we offer a full portfolio of UC solutions for businesses small, medium and large, Gartner has decided to place us in the “niche” category.

I’d like to share a few points of fact that I think you should consider when reading this year’s updated UC Magic Quadrant.

“Unified” No More

Let’s start with the name. I believe the widely accepted phrase “unified communications” is reaching its end of life. I’m not the only person who believes this, in fact there are several prominent industry analysts who share this opinion.

A recent NoJitter article by Sorell Slaymaker – a former Gartner analyst who was the lead author on the Corporate Telephony (CT) magic quadrant – makes a compelling point that the Gartner UC Magic Quadrant is “reaching the end of its usefulness.”

In Slaymaker’s opinion, “the idea that an enterprise will use a single platform for all communications is dead. Business communications is increasing an embedded capability in applications, and no one vendor does all things well across all regions of the world.”

His point is valid. We live in a highly customized world. Different business processes drive unique requirements, and we in the vendor community have learned that we must be able to integrate to survive. This is what we as NEC successfully demonstrate and are widely recognized as doing with our smart and integrated solutions across many vertical market sectors such as Hospitality, Healthcare, Government and Education.

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Positioning in Quadrant Highly Questionable

Slaymaker furthermore does not agree with the positioning given by Gartner to several major vendors, including NEC.

As he states: “It’s hard to see NEC move to a niche player this year since it arguably sells more phones than anyone else; has a full feature set; is doing some leading edge things, including incorporating facial recognition into communications; and gets decent reviews.”

Many of our largest customers run multi-vendor, multi-cloud communications environments, just as many also run only NEC. We embrace them all. And I doubt any of them would consider us “niche.”

Furthermore it is worthwhile noting that, not unlike the market overall, a significant portion of our customers are categorized as ‘midsize businesses,’ while analysts like Gartner tend to be disproportionately impressed by major firms with larger marketing budgets. The strong marketing influence of American-based vendors like Cisco, Microsoft and Avaya is another aspect to consider when evaluating Gartner’s latest Magic Quadrant.

Smart Enterprise is the Future

The truth of the matter is there’s no perfect Magic Quadrant that can accurately capture the essence of NEC’s enterprise technology business. As a result, you’ll find NEC products, services and solutions captured in 11 different Gartner Magic Quadrants, at last count.

Today’s large businesses run highly customized IT and communications environments, and rather than seeking point solutions to react to specific problems, they’re becoming more strategic about their buying decisions.

NEC believes this strategic approach is best achieved by focusing on the four value pillars of the Smart Enterprise. These pillars are business agility, cloud delivery, collaborative communities and assured services.

NEC supports these four pillars by delivering the industry’s strongest and most innovative portfolio of IT and communications solutions built on 118 years of excellence and expertise.

You can learn more about the Smart Enterprise on our Web site.

The Bigger Picture

Gartner’s library of Magic Quadrants is constantly evolving. For example, the company retired its Corporate Telephony Magic Quadrant a few years ago. Many believe the same will be true for the UC Magic Quadrant before too long.

In the meantime, NEC will continue to pursue optimal positioning with Gartner and other industry influencers with all available facts, vision and information regarding our products, solutions and implementations, as we’ve always done.

And while the era of optimal usefulness may be coming to an end for the UC Magic Quadrant, NEC maintains a healthy rating over on the Gartner Peer Insights Web portal.

If you’re not familiar, Gartner Peer Insights is where you can find customer testimonials on numerous IT vendor solutions. NEC has numerous positive reviews in numerous categories. I encourage you to check it out.

And if you’re an NEC customer, please do us a favor and leave a review! After all, in the customer’s buying journey, there’s very little information that’s more useful than hearing from a peer who has walked a mile in your shoes.

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Advantage 2018: Bringing the Smart Enterprise to Life

Sharing stories of transformational success

Hundreds of attendees converged on the Gaylord Texan Resort to attend the 25th anniversary of NEC Corporation of America’s 2018 Advantage Executive Conference . The three-day gathering brought together top-performing NEC partners and solution integrators, along with distributors, resellers and IT and UC consultants.

This year’s conference agenda emphasized sharing success stories of transformation—through selling and implementing Smart Enterprise solutions in businesses of all sizes. Playing off a theme of “Exchange. Transform. Experience.” keynote presentations focused on how Digital Transformation is altering today’s business landscape. Paul Kievit, head of NEC’s enterprise business for EMEA and the Americas, noted that the integration of digital technology permeates all areas of business, causing a cultural shift in which organizations increasingly challenge the status quo with technology and innovation. NEC’s success comes from delivering IT and communications to create customer solutions for digital transformation.

*Full General Session Playlist*

Partners Take the Spotlight

Opportunities for attendees to network, exchange lessons learned and share new ideas expanded this year with the addition of expanded breakout sessions and solution demos.

“We listened to feedback from our partners and transformed our conference to include more breakouts, unique sessions, customer stories and partner experiences,” said Larry Levenberg, vice president of sales.

One of the highlights this year was the “Proud to Partner” session with presentations by a panel of partners Guyette Communications Industries, ServiceMark Telecom, Matrix Communications and Magna5. Representatives from each company described their organizations’ own recent transformational experiences, sharing advice and lessons learned with partners planning to embark on a similar path.

Vision for the Future

NEC executives also shared the company’s technology vision and strategy updates during keynote presentations. NEC’s Smart Enterprise technology strategy consists of a three-pronged approach, as outlined by Ram Menghani, senior vice president, UC/IT products and support:
1. Maintain unified communications and hybrid IT at our core
2. Grow intelligent-edge solutions and business models by incorporating biometrics, artificial intelligence, IoT and dynamic workflow into our offerings
3. Create additional value for individuals, enterprises and societies

“Since we first launched our Smart Enterprise initiative in 2015, we’ve converted many of our solutions to software-based platforms and converged our IT and communications channels. We created hybrid cloud offerings, building Platform Solution Integration Centers across the globe,” said Menghani. “Moving into the future, these centers will evolve into Centers of Excellence and key competency centers that will further fuel the creation of innovative solutions based on local and global trends, as well as emerging factors in society.”

He went on to say that this past year NEC expanded its strategy by functionally combining operations in NEC America with those of NEC EMEA. This combination propels innovation and simplification of the company’s products, resulting in greater support for both partners and customers.

Channel Partner Excellence Award Winners

Each year during Advantage, NEC recognizes partners who are leaders in marketing and selling the NEC portfolio. The 2018 recipients of the Channel Partner Excellence Awards included:
American Telephone
Batts Communications
Brookfield Group
Connecticut Communications
Design Communications (DCI)
Forerunner Technologies
Interwest Telecom Services
IPNET S.A.C.
Matrix Communications
Résotel
SETEL UC
Target Distributing

Advantage also provided an excellent opportunity for partners and consultants to meet directly with NEC solutions experts and the management team. The expo area featured demos of NEC’s IT and UC solutions for both SMB and enterprise, including cloud, biometrics and analytics. Valued partners who provide joint solutions with NEC also showcased their demos in the expo area.

To learn more about NEC’s Solutions for Smart Enterprise visit the website.

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Latest Moves in UC Landscape Reinforce Need for Customer Choice

Market disruptors are commonplace in the unified communications (UC) industry, particularly over the past decade. We’ve seen the advent of BYOD, demand for more mobility, a plethora of new apps, better efficiencies through integrated technology, as well as an ever-increasing movement to the cloud. The industry is evolving due to consolidations, mergers and acquisitions and the emergence of new niche players. The latest announcement by Mitel that it’s going private and accelerating its move to the cloud adds yet another element to the competitive landscape.

With this latest move, Mitel is signaling a focus on growing its cloud business. Though the company states that it will still offer on-premises options for now, it’s easy to assume that less R&D will be focused on that line of business going forward. Fewer choices will be available, especially for customers that are not ready or interested in moving to the cloud at this time. Channel partners selling both on-premises and cloud solutions could also be negatively impacted.

UC customers benefit more by having options, be it cloud, hybrid cloud or on-premises, depending on their current business situation. A provider that can optimize the technology already in place, while helping to create an effective ongoing UC strategy, is more important than ever.

History of Understanding Customers’ Needs

NEC has demonstrated an ability for knowing what customers need when they need it and bringing value to help improve their businesses. We pride ourselves on giving customers options. Throughout our nearly 120-year history, NEC has proven to be much more than a voice communications and UC provider. Analyst firm Frost & Sullivan noted in the 2016 Enterprise Communications Transformation Strategies Company of the Year Award , “As organizations seek business transformation, they often wish to upgrade or implement their networks and IT infrastructure for integration with business systems and processes, as well as communications systems.”

Frost & Sullivan pointed specifically to NEC’s Smart Enterprise strategy when recognizing the company for this award. The Smart Enterprise approach brings together communications, networking and IT solutions to help people work and communicate better.

NEC’s approach is not to combine disparate components. Instead, we tap into our services-based offerings of cloud UC, analytics, biometrics, IaaS and software-defined networking (SDN) technologies to design communications and IT solutions that meet on-demand requirements. Our broad portfolio brings the agility, flexibility and efficiency required for business transformation. A wide range of technologies and services helps us create solutions that address customers’ current and future business needs and challenges by driving safety, security and operational efficiency. Our competitors really can’t offer that range of capabilities.

Additionally, here in the U.S., we have NEC Financial Services which delivers extraordinarily customizable leasing structures to customers nationwide. This allows customers to enjoy the benefits of an on-premises solution while taking advantage of the OPEX financial model which is the same as a cloud solution.

It’s a Matter of Choice

Each organization has its own requirements and aren’t easily configured into a “one size fits all” mold. They want options, and NEC has a track record of offering customers more choices. When moving to new UC solutions, customers benefit from being able to re-use or add value to their existing investments in communications technology. We can assist by offering on-premises, cloud or hybrid solutions. Our vast portfolio of solutions enables us to offer broader solutions to solve both IT and communications challenges.

Technology will continue to evolve. NEC has shown throughout our history that we have the capability of understanding customers’ needs and evolving our solutions to meet those needs.

Want to know more? Download this eBook for more on how NEC can help you.

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NEC Advanced Recognition Systems Showcased at Connect:ID 2018

The connect:ID Conference and Exposition held April 30-May 02 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C. continues to grow in size and significance as governments, the private sector, and consumers increasingly realize the importance of secure identity recognition solutions. The three-day event drew together significant representatives and thought-leaders from around the world, and offered end users practical advice, examined current government policies, and provided thought-provoking insights into the future of identity through the use of biometrics technology.

NEC showcased its world-class biometrics solutions for multiple federal audiences and departments, and spanned a wide range of biometric technology, including face recognition, video surveillance and analytics, finger print, and multimodal biometric enrollment. Where biometric identification is concerned, we had something for everyone.

Nearly everyone who came to our booth wanted to see NeoFace Express, which is our rapid-access face recognition system. NeoFace Express is currently being tested at eight major airports by U.S. Customs and Border Protection for the Department of Homeland Security’s Biometric Exit pilot program.

Biometric Exit is the federal government’s way of tracking outgoing international travelers so that U.S. officials can screen foreign nationals for potentially overstaying their travel visas.  Another popular demo was the NEC EVA (Enhanced Video Analytics) solution with state-of-the-art analytics, including object detection, crowd detection and estimation, queue waiting times, tracking and suspicious behaviors. Video Analytics is used to identify people, objects and events with:

  • Access Control and Identity Management
  • Digital Criminal Analysis
  • Digital Evidence Management
  • Real Time Surveillance and Watch List Monitoring

We also showcased other innovative identification technologies including SmartScan, NeoScan45 and Integrated Biometrics & Forensic Workstation Solution (iBW5).

Raffie Beroukhim, Senior Vice President, NEC Advanced Recognition Systems was a participant in the Fishbowl Session, Hardening Soft Targets with ID. Cultural centers like stadiums, arenas, and concert halls, along with other high traffic locations and critical infrastructure, have become top targets for terrorists, criminals, and other bad actors. This session centered on how protecting a large and porous venue or event poses unique challenges, and how governments and the private sector are partnering with technology companies to implement solutions such as facial recognition to help secure these soft targets.

 I was a panelist for Defense: ID in Theater. In this session, we examined technology advancements in biometrics, advanced neural networks and machine learning, computer vision and data analytics, and how they are being used to protect lives and maintain strategic advantage both on and off the battlefield. I also participated in the Getting to the Gate on Time session in which we discussed the status of key biometric pilot projects across the aviation industry. An interesting finding in the 2017 Global Passenger Survey (GPS) conducted by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) confirms that travelers are ready to embrace biometrics in air travel. In this extensive survey, IATA received over 10,000 responses from around the globe. Among those respondents, “biometric identification systems were the technology of choice with 64% favoring biometric identifiers as their preferred travel token”.

 Finally, Matt Pruitt, Chief Federal Solutions Architect, NEC Advanced Recognition Systems, was on the session panel Securing the Internet of Things. With 5G comes a new set of challenges involving high reliability for a greater diversity of mission-critical IoT services and devices. This session explored the vulnerabilities posed by these IoT devices, and provided insight into how the industry can partner to address these challenges.

We enjoyed showcasing how NEC’s world-renowned advanced recognition systems are addressing today’s national security challenges. This is definitely an exciting time for our industry!

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

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How Criminal Investigations Can Be Expedited Using Facial Recognition

Across the nation, Law Enforcement Organizations (LEOs) are inundated every day with photographic and video evidence in their Criminal Investigation Divisions (CID). Numerous agencies have shared with me that in more than 30% of their CID cases the ONLY evidence they have is a photo or video of an unknown suspect, received from a variety of sources, including surveillance cameras, RING doorbells, and smartphones. Typically, law enforcement resorts to sharing these images via social media, in hopes that someone will recognize the individual. Hoping for a random identification is not the most solid investigation strategy, but there is now a way those same images can become viable leads for Investigators to pursue, to catch the offenders and get them off the streets.

NEC’s NeoFace® WideNet is designed to assist law enforcement agencies by turning their mugshot repositories interfaced with our NIST award winning Facial Recognition solution into Facial Recognition as a Service for Law Enforcement. For the first time, multiple agencies will be able to share their mugshots with each other, AND utilize NEC’s powerful NeoFace Facial Recognition–the industry’s fastest and most accurate face matching algorithm. A key benefit to the criminal case investigation is the advantage of quick processing of facial evidence coupled with its ability to rapidly generate a list of persons of interest. Speedy identification means NEC’s NeoFace WideNet-hosted service saves valuable time in the investigations of cases containing facial video evidence, thus reducing the investigator’s caseload.

Designed to be highly scalable as well as affordable, NeoFace WideNet is for small, medium, and the largest of law enforcement agencies. Because this service changes the model for this purchase from CAPEX to OPEX, this lowers acquisition costs and is enabling agencies of all sizes to utilize the technology.
NeoFace WideNet customers see an immediate return on investment with the reduction of investigation time and reduced investigator workloads. But most importantly, this crime fighting solution helps turn those previously unusable images into hard evidence to solve crimes and help close cases.

Now agencies will be able to share their mugshots with each other, utilizing the powerful NeoFace #FacialRecognition #software--the industry’s fastest and most accurate face matching algorithm Click To Tweet

Just as AFIS revolutionized fingerprint evidence over 30 years ago, NeoFace WideNet is poised to positively impact law enforcement by effectively doing the same thing with photo and video evidence.
If your organization is interested in solving more crimes and arming your investigators with the tools to be more efficient, check this out.

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