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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A New Vision for NEC’s Smart Enterprise

As the enterprise environment changes, it’s up to technology partners to provide tools and stay adaptable to help support those businesses. NEC has a wide breadth of core UC and IT products and each stands on its own to help solve common technology dilemmas. Our NEC Smart Enterprise encapsulates those multiple solutions into one powerful enterprise approach to meet the demands and complex needs of today’s end users and IT executives.

With Paul Kievit expanding his role to SVP of Enterprise and a new Frost & Sullivan report, we’re building out a new vision for NEC’s Smart Enterprise.
Paul Kievit’s New Vision for the Smart Enterprise

In an effort to respond to market forces and transform Enterprise operations across both the Americas and EMEA, I am pleased to announce that Mr. Paul Kievit, Head of EMEA Enterprise Solutions, will assume the additional role of Senior Vice President of Enterprise for NEC Corporation of America.

Under Paul’s leadership and passion, his team helped develop the NEC Smart Enterprise go-to-market message and approach, which has been adopted by NEC businesses globally. Paul’s vision for NEC Smart Enterprise is to continue to develop and sell solutions around the customer experience:

• Addressing unmet customer needs
• Implementing best practices
• Creating excellence in the customer purchase experience
• Building brand equity and adopting NEC solutions to customer demands

NEC Smart Enterprise Explained

Built on four key objectives, NEC Smart Enterprise helps executives face the complex needs of enterprise users head on:
• Architecture flexibility
Software-defined anything
• Business continuity
• Internet of things

These elements allow businesses to improve how their employees communicate and collaborate, as well as improve the security of the information that is shared throughout the organization.

Moving to the Cloud
As IT executives adopt cloud-based IT and communications services, they hope to solve the challenges of data storage and scalability, maintenance requirements and multi-vendor platform integration. Decision makers, concerned with quality control, security risks, reliability and installation challenges, need to work with a provider and cloud model that addresses their unique needs. A hybrid cloud architecture can combine the best of a public and private cloud, allowing the organization control where they need it and outsourcing other components. Customizing the cloud environment strategically adds architecture flexibility and prepares for future business needs while improving business continuity and compliance.

Meeting the Workforce Where They Are
Business agility helps a mobile workforce respond to customer and business challenges on the go. The legacy focus on hardware has given way to a more flexible architecture of software services. Users and applications expect to work together in an ecosystem that should be available everywhere at any time. Virtualizing networks, through software-defined-anything, relieves the burden of time, real estate, and manned resources and therefore decreases the cost to the enterprise. The benefits of software-defined environments are simplified management, security, ability to scale, and less staff requirements with business continuity built-in.

Preparing for the Worst
While IT departments can “pray for the best” during their primary activities of rolling out new technology or resolving end-user quandaries, business continuity is not just an option anymore. Traditional business continuity solutions involved red tape and budgetary challenges to pay for the expensive hardware requirements. We have finally reached an era of business continuity/ high availability (BCHA) affordability through nearly always-up service level agreements, and users are demanding nothing less. Today’s enterprise technology partners must provide reliable data access through a variety of elements such as virtualization, load-balancing server software, fault-tolerant servers, Software-Defined Networking (SDN), scalability, security and threat management.

Improving Security
The internet of things (IoT), while adding a layer of security through connected devices and biometrics, can also build business value through analysis of the captured data. Law enforcement, higher education, and enterprise organizations leverage video monitoring and multi-factor authentication to prevent theft, monitor crowds, and create more secure areas and access control. Retail, hospitality, and healthcare also rely on video and biometric recognition to increase customer loyalty, improve record accuracy and reduce operational costs. Executives want to invest in IoT technology and need a partner who can maximize the benefits while easily accessing the data through reliable servers with nearly unlimited storage capacity.

The NEC Approach
The Frost & Sullivan vision of a technology partnership that solves enterprise challenges is reflected in NEC’s capabilities and product solutions. Our fault-tolerant servers, the full line of general purpose storage products–including our high-end HYDRAStor product which scales to almost unlimited data, work together with NEC’s SDN and UC solutions to build a quality Smart Enterprise solution for the enterprise marketplace. By condensing the amount of data center space required to run critical applications, and including biometrics into the mix, the new vision for NEC Smart Enterprise reduces costs for organizations and continues to add value, even to existing infrastructure.

• NEC offers hybrid cloud solutions customized to best fit the need of the enterprise, even those with regulatory and compliance challenges.
• An industry leader in the SDN space, NEC’s open architecture enables a flexible and simpler approach to the network design and provides business agility to the workforce.
• Disruptions to business, planned or unplanned, can be damaging to any size business in today’s climate. NEC’s secure fault-tolerant servers–as well as Active-Active communications with multiple software instances balancing the load in real time for high availability, provide true business continuity, even in hybrid environments.
• NEC’s facial recognition, biometrics and behavioral analytics solutions create the ability to gain business intelligence and maximize IoT solutions, creating a forward-thinking smart enterprise.

With new focused guidance and leadership, our NEC solutions for Smart Enterprise and passion for improving the customer experience helps to meet and exceed the needs of technology leaders, preparing them for the future.

To learn more about NEC’s Smart Enterprise, download the Frost & Sullivan Report. (Companion Piece) or the full report here.

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Healthcare: Seeking Better Tools to Improve Safety and Security

Providing a safe and secure environment for patients, staff and visitors is top of mind for healthcare facilities. This commitment extends beyond physical safety and includes the information that they manage and safeguard. As healthcare organizations move more of their information and business operations to the cloud, cyber threats and unauthorized access become important security concerns. Patients, too, are concerned about their health information. Who has access to my sensitive data? Can I easily access it when I need to, without compromising security?

Recent studies show that increased threats of cyberattacks have an adverse effect on business transformation, slowing innovation, increasing potential fraud and affecting the cost of doing business. A comprehensive approach of seamlessly integrating solutions to address IT, communications and collaboration, identity and access control will help healthcare organizations improve the safety, efficiency and reliability of their operations and service delivery.

Deploy Facial Recognition for Safety and Security

The healthcare industry is increasingly turning to biometric solutions to help combat not only fraud, but also medical identity theft. Research predicts that the healthcare biometrics market could reach $2.8 billion by 2021, with North America seeing the largest increase among regions. Fueling this growth are HIPAA and other regulations affecting the handling of healthcare data.

Facial recognition can be used to ensure that only authorized healthcare staff get access to critical patient data, particularly when used as part of multi-factor identification. Facial recognition combined with either a passcode or key card helps make ID more secure. Administrative staff can more quickly process admissions and discharges by using biometrics for patient identity. Healthcare providers are able to access the right patient information when they need it.

For patients, facial recognition gives them access their personal health information, reducing the chance for identity theft of healthcare records. Another application of facial recognition or other biometrics method (finger or palm prints, vascular palm/vein pattern, etc.) is patient identity within a healthcare facility. Secure identification improves safety and security, helps prevent errors and lets staff quickly identify allergies or pre-existing conditions in patients’ records in case of emergency.

Efficient Communications Improves Responsiveness

Things move fast in a healthcare facility — especially during times of emergency. Healthcare officials need a contingency plan to ensure the ongoing safety of patients, staff and visitors during a threat situation. Emergency notification solutions quickly communicate the source and severity of a developing situation and ensure an adequate response by both hospital staff and public safety officials.

Hospitals and other healthcare facilities also experience day-to-day health emergencies, which require responsive communications as well. Mobile communications systems provide for anywhere, anytime communications, which could save precious minutes. Nurse Call and messaging solutions help alleviate alarm fatigue by making sure the right messages get routed to the right staff members

Infrastructure Key Component to Secure Data Access

Privacy and protection of patient information is central to reputable healthcare organizations. The data must be secure, but easily accessible when needed. Comprehensive data management and storage solutions provide protection along with secure accessibility of patient data and information.

Cloud infrastructure offers a reliable solution needed to support information-intensive workflows within a healthcare facility. A secure and resilient infrastructure is a suitable option for highly connected healthcare facilities and the dynamic caseloads they manage on a daily basis. A high availability infrastructure from NEC delivers a multi-tiered resilient environment that recovers quickly in times of disaster, by using Five 9s Fault Tolerant servers, disaster recovery software and SAN and Scale-out Grid Storage options.

Peace of Mind for Patients and Healthcare Organizations

Technology solutions can go a long way toward providing a sense of security and safety for patients and healthcare organizations. The right integrated solution that includes IT, unified communications and collaboration and biometrics can:

  • Increase security of sensitive patient data by controlling access and preventing fraud and ID theft
  • Provide greater levels of patient satisfaction by reducing wait times and helping ensure more efficient and error-free information management
  • Improve physical safety for healthcare personnel and patients alike, especially during emergencies

Check out NEC’s smart comprehensive healthcare solutions.

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Digital Healthcare Starts with a Better ‘Customer Experience’ for Patients

As a consumer, your customer exprience often drives your purchasing decisions. This edict holds true whether you’re having dinner at a restaurant, upgrading to a new smartphone or buying a new pair of running shoes.

Why should the consumption of heathcare services be any different? Unlike many purchases, healthcare customers usually have less mobility in how and where they receive healthcare services. It’s relatively easy to go to a new restaurant if you encounter bad service or to switch retailers when you have a negative experience. It’s not so simple to change insurance carriers or go to a different healthcare facility. The delivery of patient care is made even more complex when considering regulations, compliance and privacy issues. That’s why improving the healthcare “customer experience” has become so important.

Making the patient experience better and enabling healthcare staff to be more efficient falls to the healthcare provider. Fortunately, providers have a myriad of technology options that can help them improve service delivery.

Enable Better Calling Experiences

Digital transformation creates environments to help patients make more informed decisions about their healthcare. One of consumers’ biggest complaints is the inability to easly communicate with their healthcare providers—the phone line is always busy or it rings and rings before someone finally picks up the call. As if being sick weren’t bad enough!

A communications solution designed to rapidly and efficiently handle large call volumes is an ideal option for healthcare providers. A more efficient call system enables more individualized interactions between patients and caregivers and reduces wait times. Contact center and attendant solutions provide the ability to direct calls based on rules that route calls to personnel who have the skills and training to respond to certain inquiries. Calls from patients with similar questions also can often be handled through automated systems, further reducing wait times.

The Ability to Deliver Personalized Treatment…Remotely

Sometimes it’s not possible or convenient for a patient and a caregiver to be in the same place at the same time. Long-distance services such as telediagnosis, telemonitoring, self-monitoring or e-prescriptions use technology to extend the reach of heathcare providers. Video conferencing solutions expand facility services to offsite and remote locations so that dispersed team members are able to connect and consult more seamlessly. Video conferencing can*:

  • Promote knowledge sharing in real time
  • Reduce travel costs
  • Enable faster decision making
  • Build value-based service models
  • Increase care collaboration

*Before video conferencing is used in a healthcare setting, check HIPAA compliance requirements to avoid potential violations.

Further, a unified messaging solution enables healthcare facilities to better manage the flurry of alerts, texts, messages, calls and notifications being sent out. Unified messaging ensures that the right information and alerts are sent to assigned personnel, reducing alarm fatigue and enabling focused care delivery to patients without unnessary distractions.

Helping Caregivers be More Responsive and Collaborative

Being responsive to patient needs is one of the critical aspects of a caregiver’s daily routine. A comprehensive healthcare-focused unified communications and collaboration solution such as NEC’s Nurse Call system brings together voice and messaging to enable anytime, anywhere availability that puts patients first.
Being mobile ensures that healthcare staff can commuicate easily with colleagues and patients within the demanding environment of a healthcare facility. With mobile handsets and software-based clients, caregivers stay connected so that they can share information or request assistance immediately. A seamlessly integrated healthcare environment helps ensure better interactions with patients and improves delivery of attentive care where and when it’s needed most.

A Reliable Infrastructure to Back Up UC&C Capabilities

Since they often deliver critical life-saving and emergency services, healthcare facilities cannot tolerate service outages. By deploying a high-availability infrastructure, healthcare providers have a strong operational foundation to prevent potential service disruptions. Comprehensive protection of critical applications along with communications and collaboration give providers peace of mind as they provide ongoing patient care. A multi-tiered environment that recovers quickly should disasters occur provides added reassurance for healthcare providers. A high-availability solution supports a healthcare facility’s mission-critical capabilities and provides backup and recovery as necessary.

Consumerism will Continue to Drive Healthcare Delivery

As it has in many of industries, rising consumer awareness continues to have a profound effect on healthcare delivery. Using technology to improve service—from setting up an appointment to enabling staff communication to video diagnosis—will go a long way toward improving the patient experience, ultimately resulting in better patient outcomes.

Learn more about NEC’s smart healthcare solutions.

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