Knott’s Berry Farm – How Does a World-Famous Theme Park Make a Great First Impression?

Upon entering the Knott’s Berry Farm theme park in Buena Park, California, you’re immediately immersed in another time. My first impression was of the charm of the place, its friendly “olden days” feel with a sense of Old West adventure. Even with the drama of live-action shows, the addition of its famous wooden roller coaster, exciting rides, shops, and dining choices, Knott’s Berry Farm has managed to retain its historical feel. But is all this history and charm really typical of a customer’s very first impression?

Actually, my first experience with Knott’s Berry Farm began online, followed by a phone call for more information. Just as most people these days would go online to purchase tickets, or book a full vacation package.

The Knott’s Berry Farm theme park is just one part of a larger brand experience. The company also offers the convenient on-property Knott’s Hotel lodging for guests, and the nearby “Soak City” Water Park. As a potential customer, my first impressions could well have been formed by speaking with a contact center representative who assists with guests’ vacation arrangements.

I dare say we’ve all experienced long hold times, and struggled to navigate prompts on an older phone system, trying to reach a live agent just so that we can solve a problem or simply make arrangements to pay for goods or services. Knott’s Berry Farm sought to solve this exact challenge for its customers.

With three distinct Knott’s entities to consider, all struggling with older systems that had long since passed end-of-life and support, Knott’s Berry Farm was faced with some big decisions. Decisions about how to make essential and long overdue changes in their communications system without incurring critical downtime, or disrupting their daily operations, or causing staff re-training headaches—and, since it would impact thousands of end-points, what is the most dependable yet flexible solution with the most efficient network?

Basically, how do you select the right new technology and then transition over from the old, while still maintaining ongoing operations of a giant multi-faceted entertainment enterprise?

Our Knott’s Berry Farm story will share with you the challenges, solutions, and successes of their recent strategic migration to two (2) UNIVERGE SV9500 communications platforms, complete with NEC’s UC for Enterprise (UCE) suite of unified communications (UC) and contact center applications. They chose this flexible, comprehensive UC solution that is fully networked, highly intuitive for staff, provides critical operations information, simplifies administration, has built-in disaster recovery–and was actually cost effective. In their own words, “It was a seamless transition”.

By providing routing assistance and delivering effective toolsets for the newly networked call centers–as well as basic features such as Caller ID, Collaboration, and Mobility for other Knott’s personnel, the upgrading from their existing NEC systems that have served them well, not only helped to enhance customer service between the hotel and park operations, it effectively improved the operation’s internal communications as well, simply by enabling much-increased functionality.

First impressions are important for this kind of Entertainment/ Retail/ Hospitality industry, and are really all about a happy workplace, providing a worry-free environment that can create great memories, for guests and staff alike. Knott’s Berry Farm can now deliver an improved guest experience, from the very first “Thank you for calling Knott’s Berry Farm”, to the last fond farewell.

If you’d like to learn more about this historical venue’s modern day move to state of-the-art communication solutions just let us know, and we can provide you with a free consultation with one of our hospitality experts.

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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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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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