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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Personalizing the Customer Experience at Sea with Advanced Recognition Systems

According to the Cruise Lines International Association 2018 Cruise Industry Outlook (CLIA), 27.2 million passengers are expected to cruise with 27 new ocean, river and specialty ships to launch this year. 2018 is also the year that CLIA predicts a rise in traveler-friendly technology to enhance their customers’ travel experiences.

The question on the minds of progressive cruise line market leaders is how to securely process increasingly larger numbers of passengers while adding more customer ease into the cruise experience. Many in the cruise line industry are considering the use of biometrics technology.

How a Single Unified Biometric Key Creates Seamless Experiences

Biometric Key

Passwords, loyalty cards and other forms of ID are used in every encounter, from shopping at the grocery store to listening to your favorite playlist to boarding a cruise ship. Enterprise leaders are recognizing the amount of information consumers have to carry, either physically or mentally, in order to access personalized experiences. Allen Ganz, Director of Advanced Recognition Solutions at NEC America offers a different take: “Your face is a unified key.”

NEC’s facial recognition solutions, ranked #1 after performance testing by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), identify individual faces of people as they move in real time, without stopping to look at a camera. This technology allows each individual to use their face as a unified biometric key, in many different situations, to create seamless and personalized experiences.

Specific to the cruise line industry, early adopters have found that a unified biometric key can be used for:

  • Biometric Passenger Manifest
  • Cruise Terminal Queue Management
  • Effortless Check-In and Bag Check
  • Frictionless Expedited Embarkation and Debarkation
  • Intelligent Customized Displays
  • Seamless Payment
  • Access Control
  • Data and Video Analytics
  • Command and Control

Cruise Terminal Queues and Check In

Embarkation day can be hectic for the traveler who is ready to get away from it all. The lines to board the ship can be excruciatingly long unless the traveling couple or family has purchased priority embarkation through the cruise line loyalty program. However, this process does not need to be time consuming. With the use of a unified biometric key, the queue to board the ship–even for those travelers who are not VIPs, can be more efficient.

Since the Customs check-in typically slows the process of boarding the ship, travelers can speed this up by self-enrolling in the ship’s system using facial recognition; they simply take a quick selfie using their smartphone, and opt in. Now, with a simple scan of their face, they have created a unique and unified biometric key to also use aboard the ship. Rapid access authentication quickly matches the traveler to the ship’s guest list, enabling the guests to come aboard faster. Onboard, baggage can also be matched to the traveler’s profile using only their face, so they can quickly access their luggage upon arrival or departure.

VIP Treatment

Once passengers have enrolled themselves and created their own unified biometric key, they can now use their face to unlock personalized VIP experiences tailored to their interests and manifest. Using intelligent customized displays, guests will be able to walk up and see their personalized itinerary and other entertainment options. Facial recognition technology can also open guest room doors, and purchase items on the ship through facial payment, creating a simple and frictionless experience. With a system that automatically matches each guest to their individual preferences, all travelers feel welcomed and recognized on a personal level.

Implementing facial recognition can also benefit cruise lines by prompting their staff to enthusiastically welcome loyalty guests and to personalize birthday, anniversary and other special occasion greetings.

Disney and Carnival ships are currently using biometrics to sell their passenger’s vacation photos taken during the cruise. Instead of presenting guests with a card or having, them review the photos on a wall, the system sorts through the photos by matching them to their face, and presents them on a personalized display or through a mobile app.

Read also: The Security Solution is Staring Us in the Face

Frictionless Embarkation and Debarkation

Cruise ships have 2,000 to 4,000 passengers and over 1,000 employees on board, which means embarkation and debarkation at ports may take hours to complete. With the use of an individual’s unified biometric key, passengers and employees are recognized for that particular cruise, which reduces passenger-processing by 40% or more, adding efficiency to the port embarkation and debarkation experience.

The process is simple. When passengers or employees disembark from the ship, their face is scanned using facial recognition, and is matched to the image from the initial enrollment process. Without the need to stop, travelers can exit and re-enter the ship in record time, giving them more time at their port of call. In fact, Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, Georgia is already relying on facial recognition technology and Washington, D.C.’s Dulles International Airport is also participating in biometric testing with NEC’s NeoFace® Express both with much success.

Improving Safety and Security

Because a unified biometric key is unique to each individual, it can be used to improve the safety and security for everyone on board, ensuring only those persons who should be on the ship are on the ship. Facial recognition can also be used for access control, to allow cruise staff to secure employee-only areas with a scan of their face. Cruise line security can track guests, color-code traveling families, and easily create different settings for particular travelers or families.

NEC: The Leading Facial Recognition Provider

Early adopters in the cruise line industry have already begun using facial recognition to create a positive, effortless experience for their guests. NEC offers the most advanced identification matching technology today. For ten consecutive years, NEC’s facial recognition technology has been awarded first place from the U.S. National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST). Some of the standards met during the testing included:

  • Recognizing one individual at a time, as they walked through a crowded area without stopping
  • Detecting suspicious individuals at an indoor stadium
  • Accuracy and speed of matching to photos already in a database

NEC’s NeoFace® Express uses facial recognition to transform the travel experience–or any hospitality experience that involves large groups of people. The system interfaces with on-board video systems for easy integration. Adding facial recognition and other biometric technology allows cruise lines to offer a first-class journey with security, frictionless access, and to give passengers a personalized experience using a simple, unified biometric key.

Ready to learn more? Fill out the form below for a simple consultation with one of our biometric subject matter experts or visit us online to for more information on our biometric solutions.

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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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U.S. & APAC Companies Pay Attention: The GDPR Deadline Looms for the EU

With Facebook under scrutiny for sharing users’ data with third-party data brokers, more internet users are questioning the privacy of and access to their personal information. European Union businesses and citizens have been concerned since at least early 2012 when the proposal for General Protection Data Regulation (GDPR) was released. The official GDPR regulation was adopted by all member states and the European Parliament in 2016. Beginning May 25, 2018, any organization that has a presence in an EU country or houses the personal data of EU citizens will have to comply with the GDPR standards.
GDPR also pertains to any businesses that:

  • Has operations in the EU
  • Is doing business with an EU company or a US company that has operations in the EU
  • Has any level of data involvement with EU companies

The penalties for GDPR non-compliance are severe. Should North American or APAC businesses be concerned?

What Lead to the GDPR Proposal?

Until the 2012 proposal, countries in the EU had their own regulations due to each individual nation’s interpretation of the Data Protection Directive from 1995. The patchwork of inconsistent rules caused organizations to rely on additional resources to comply with different national procedures and laws, especially as more data was collected in the decades since.

Although each nation had its own data protection laws, the enforcement of those laws was negligent. EU businesses were given security guidelines to follow and were self-regulating, but PwC’s 2018 Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey states that only 54% of global organizations have conducted a fraud assessment in the past two years. One in ten had not performed any type of risk assessment in the same time frame.

With the implementation of GDPR, the EU market will save an estimated 2.3 billion euros or $2.85 billion every year. However, they are also held liable for data security and fraud protection.

What Does GDPR Require?

GDPR sets minimum standards for data protection for any business that:

  • Has a presence in any EU country or
  • Processes personal data of EU citizens

GDPR compliance applies to any business that:

  • Has 250 or more employees or
  • Processes sensitive or large amounts of personal data

Personal data is defined as any PII or personally identifiable information such as name, identification number, location data, email address, photographs, social identity, economic status, physical abilities or anything that refers to that individual.

Users have specific rights under the GDPR including:

  • The right of transparency including clear data consent forms, which data is being collected, access to that data and how it is being used
  • The right to rectify inaccurate data
  • The right to be “forgotten” including withdrawing consent and deleting all personal data from a business
  • The right to object how the data is being used
  • Data portability to transfer data between companies upon request

Companies must report data breaches within 72 hours and specify the number of exposed records, the types of data breached, what has been done to address the breach and mitigate any adverse effects, and the consequences of the breach.

Companies must also perform assessments to identify and address the risk of fraud or breaches. If the organization meets any of the requirements of 250 or more employees, processes highly sensitive or large amounts of EU citizen data, regularly collects or monitors data subjects or are a public authority, they will need to hire a data protection officer to oversee compliance.

Depending on the type of non-compliance, penalties could be from 2% or 10 million euros  up to either 4% of the business’ annual global turnover(based on the previous fiscal year) or 20 million euros.

How Will Companies Comply with GDPR?

5 Critical Features of a Long-Term Data Storage InfrastructureThe penalties and stringent requirements of GDPR have organizational leaders worried about compliance by the May deadline. Although the regulation was adopted by the EU, global organizations could be at risk for punitive fines. Over 70% of U.S. businesses have begun preparing for GDPR and have spent $ 1 – 10 million to prepare. Some businesses have opted to reduce their EU presence temporarily until they meet GDPR standards.

Companies can prepare for GDPR compliance by:

  • Documenting what data is collected, who has access, and where it is stored
  • Creating rules and processes for data access and use
  • Building security controls for protecting data
  • Establishing protocol for responding to data breaches
  • Assessing the risks of data fraud and GDPR non-compliance

How Can NEC Help?

GDPR compliance challenges are prompting business leaders to lean heavily on their technology partners for solutions. A provision within the data protection regulation is “privacy by design” which requires technology solutions to natively build in data security from the onset. The good news is that NEC has a robust data platform that is built to secure data and help make data manageability easier: NEC HYDRAstor.

HYDRAstor offers a scalable and customizable platform for small-to-medium and enterprise businesses, including the ability to upgrade with no disruptions and expand to almost unlimited data growth.

NEC’s erasure-coded resiliency eliminates a single point of failure, keeping data protected and secure on HYDRAstor’s grid architecture. Erasure coding distributes data across the storage grid, so disk or node failures don’t disrupt the availability of data. Data resiliency automatically rebuilds only bad sectors, enabling a faster disk rebuild than traditional RAID.

HYDRAstor’s encryption technology protects data from unauthorized access to lost or stolen disks by encrypting data prior to being written to disk. Data that may need to be classified can exist in the same system as unclassified data due to HYDRAstor’s Write-Once-Read-Many (WORM) capability for regulatory compliance.

NEC’s HYDRAstor backup partners such as Veritas, Veeam, Commvault, and more, are also preparing for GDPR compliance, offering simplified management interfaces for data protection managers.

Concerns about data availability, security, and the deletion of user’s personal data can be handled seamlessly with NEC’s HYDRAstor. To learn more about NEC HYDRAstor, visit www.necam.com/HYDRAstor.

In a dynamic and global economy, our experts anticipate that GDPR compliance will be universally adopted in the near future.

If your company has presence in any EU country, please contact us today for a complimentary consultation on your data storage and security requirements.

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