What’s “More Personal” Than Your Face?

Personalizing the Customer Experience with a Unified Biometric Key

The path to a frictionless, personalized customer experience begins with something unique and individual—your face. Using facial recognition technology, a single unified biometric key  enables a seamless experience as you move through an environment, whether it’s a sports stadium, entertainment facility, airport, hotel or casino. Facial recognition technology is the key that unlocks a contactless customer experience in a wide range of venues and situations. What could be more convenient or more secure?

Recent developments in facial recognition solutions are not only enhancing security in airports, stadiums or hospitality locations, but also making access to public spaces more convenient, effortless and personal for patrons. Today, consumers are enjoying the speed and security of unlocking their phones using facial recognition, without the bother of passcodes. These demonstrable user benefits have made face-driven technology more common and acceptable as a secure and time-saving part of our day.

Increasingly, consumers are looking for this same easy, contactless and convenient experience in other areas of their daily lives. Benefits of biometric technology are applicable to other situations that require secure access and easy transactions. Here are a just few ways NEC, a leading global provider of Advance Recognition Systems technology, is changing today’s customer experience through facial recognition.

Removing Bottlenecks at Large Events

A game day experience can be exciting and fun. However, you may have to navigate through a few long lines before you can get to your seat to cheer on your team. Sports arenas handle large crowds on a regular basis. In fact, in 2017, the NFL alone had more than 17 million spectators attend its regular season games, while the NBA averaged 17,830 visitors per game in 2017 and 2018. With large crowds, come inevitable “pinch points” as fans move through the venue. What if advanced facial recognition technology could eliminate some of those stress points and create a more pleasurable and hassle-free fan experience?

Everything from dropping your car off in a parking garage, entering the gate, purchasing concessions or swooping into a VIP suite is made easier by using a unified biometric key as a virtual parking pass, wallet and secure entry ticket. Guests no longer need to juggle parking permits, paper tickets, cash or credit cards. They don’t even have to remember where they stored their electronic tickets or try to recall app passcodes or loyalty numbers. Best of all, no more waiting in long, annoying lines. Let’s be honest, who wants to wait 20 minutes just to buy a water at the concessions?

Personalizing the Customer Experience Yields Positive Results

From the point of view of a sports venue, hotel or theme park, facial recognition solutions enhance the customer experience and can have a positive impact on the bottom line as well. Some examples include:

  • Providing concierge alerts when a VIP enters a facility
  • Enhancing guest services protocols
  • Providing crowd density estimates to allocate staff more efficiently
  • Offering opportunities for personalized sales and services on site

A single unified biometric key triggers concierge alerts when a VIP enters a hotel or casino, prompting enhanced guest services and special offers to the valued patron. Front-desk staff can greet returning loyalty guests by name, further personalizing the check-in experience.

Stadium VIP patrons enter suites seamlessly using facial recognition. Enhanced services are delivered in a more personalized way. Theme parks quickly admit season pass patrons through the gates using facial recognition, with the ability to provide special offers and services geared to loyal guests. Often the technology can be integrated with and deployed using existing venue systems, making the installation an even easier, more cost effective situation.

Since customers’ purchasing during an event is faster using a single unified biometric key, this increases the number of transactions that can be processed in the finite duration of an event. Not having to bother with cash or credit cards speeds up purchases and enables staff to serve more customers more quickly.

Facial recognition technology also captures crowd estimates at venue entrances, concession areas, hotel lobbies or retail areas so additional staff can be deployed immediately where they are most needed.

On-site offers can enhance the customer experience. Facility managers don’t really know who is attending a sporting event or musical performance. They know who bought a ticket, but not much information about the purchaser. Facial recognition provides real-time demographic data about attendees or guests to enable a venue to further shape the customer experience with on-the-spot offers and services.

For instance, if a stadium has facial recognition data that shows it has a large percentage of young men ages 21-29 in attendance for an event, it can prepare by stocking more beer at the concession stands, or change the advertising on retail shop displays to appeal to this demographic, or even alter music choices in the common areas.

Marketing partners and sponsors are able to curate offers in real time to appeal to a certain type of guest—enhancing the customer experience and positively affecting brand recognition and potential sales as well.

Transforming Transportation Processes

Stadiums, theme parks and hotels are not the only facilities being transformed into more efficient and secure places. The transportation industry is also seeing new uses for NEC’s facial recognition technology, considered to be the world’s best in search speed and accuracy according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).Transportation should be about getting to your destination quickly and with as few problems as possible.

Today’s airports are busier, more congested and more stressful than ever. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, more than 821 million passengers boarded U.S. airline flights in 2016—and with the demand for air travel expected to double over the next 20 years, this will certainly make for some very crowded airports.

Free eBook on Facial Recognition Systems for Aviation and Airports

In the United States, facial recognition technology is being tested to permit passengers to board flights quickly, and also for fast access to airline lounges. Since the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency started testing NEC’s NeoFace® Express facial recognition solution in U.S. airports in 2016, it has registered a success rate of close to 99%. Other airport-related potential uses of a single unified biometric key include:  passenger check-in counters, bag drops, in-airport entertainment, boarding, retail and monitoring baggage claim areas.

The cruise ship industry is finding that a single unified biometric key can be used for everything from terminal queue management and effortless check-in to frictionless embarkation and debarkation, and for seamless payments and onboard purchasing.

Enhancing Security Through Technology

Security concerns have invaded almost all aspects of our lives in recent years—from travel to entertainment and sporting venues to retail spaces. Unfortunately, when people gather in public places, there is automatically the awareness of an increased threat, forcing security concerns to be uppermost in our minds.

Our reality is the tension between the heightened focus on keeping public places safe while not having a negative effect on the actual customer experience. The ability to create an excellent customer experience requires balancing both efficiency and security.  Authorities responsible for the safety of public places are extremely concerned, and debates over how best to address security concerns are ongoing. At the same time, increased usage of facial recognition in consumer products is making the technology more acceptable as consumers recognize the convenience it provides: frictionless, personalized and secure experiences.

Facial Recognition from NEC

Solutions that combine surveillance cameras with facial recognition software can elevate the level of public security in airports, stadiums and other public places. Also, enterprises can ensure only authorized personnel have access to their facilities, while retailers and sports and entertainment venues can secure their facilities and protect their customers.

 

Changing the ‘Face’ of the Customer Experience

Deploying a single unified biometric key based on facial recognition technology helps deliver a superior guest experience. Our unique face is rapidly becoming the universal key to replacing our usernames, passwords, paper tickets, parking permits, payment options and even more.

Whether at a stadium or a major transportation facility, NEC’s Advanced Recognition Systems solutions are at the forefront of reinventing the customer journey by melding the optimal combination of convenience and security.

Learn why NEC is a leading facial recognition provider, and find out more about our biometric solutions by visiting https://www.necam.com/AdvancedRecognitionSystems/

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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.

Is #Gartner UC Magic Quadrant Losing its Luster? #magicquadrant Click To Tweet

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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