NEC Introduces Scalable, Software-Based Communications Solution for Hospitality

IP Communications solution for hotels offers feature-rich hospitality functionality with an affordable price tag

IRVING, TX, March 31, 2009 — NEC Unified Solutions, Inc. (NEC), a leading communications solutions integrator, today launched an affordable, pure software-based IP communications solution designed to provide hotels with basic and advanced communication solutions that support hotel staff efficiency and productivity while enabling self-service voice applications to the guests they serve.

UNIVERGE® Sphericall for Hospitality, a 100-percent software-based solution built on the Sphericall enterprise softswitch platform, offers substantial ownership cost savings and productivity benefits. In addition, Sphericall for Hospitality allows for the integration of advanced features seldom made available in an economical and cost-effective communications solution for small- and medium-sized hotels. The solution integrates out-of-the-box with many existing Property Management Systems (PMS) and third-party hospitality in-room telephone handsets providers, and provides a rich, service-oriented architecture to integrate to a broad range of business applications.

“Operators and developers of small- and medium-sized hotels have been asking us for an IP communications solution which does not require new devices, scales to support their changing requirements, can be easily implemented and is easy to manage,” said Jay Krauser, General Manager, Portfolio Management at NEC Unified. “With the introduction of Sphericall for Hospitality, hotels will be able to take advantage of the latest innovations in communications previously unobtainable in an integrated bundle, even in today’s challenging economy.”

VoiceCon Orlando attendees should visit NEC booth No. 609 this week for a look atSphericall for Hospitality and its advanced features for hotel guests, managers and employees. Enhanced guest services include:

  • Self-service wake-up calls in seven languages with snooze option
  • Direct-room dialing
  • Streamlined guest check-in and check-out processes through integration with popular third-party PMS solutions
  • Safety and security features with direct E911 connection from guest rooms
  • Automated notification of hotel management and call recording when emergency calls are made

The solution’s user-friendly and simple-to-manage features for hotel management and staff include:

  • Integrated Unified Communications consisting of:
    • Unified messaging for email, voicemail and fax
    • Click-to-dial calling and conferencing
    • Presence with IM and texting capabilities
  • Customized reporting for room status (through integration with PMS solutions) and wake-up call status
  • Broad support for an array of IP voice solutions, on-property wireless networks and property management systems

Because the UNIVERGE Sphericall for Hospitality communications solution is standards-based software operating on industry-standard servers and IP terminals, hotels can easily expand and reconfigure their communications options as properties grow.

NEC begins accepting orders for Sphericall for Hospitality today. For more information on the hospitality solution, visit www.necunified.com/hospitality. Follow NEC on Twitter @NEC.

About NEC Unified Solutions
NEC Unified Solutions helps companies unify their business communications through innovative software, applications, development tools, and services. NEC offers a complete portfolio for unified communications, wireless, voice, data and managed services, as well as systems integration and application development. NEC Unified Solutions serves as the North American communications integration arm of global giant NEC Corporation for Fortune 1000, as well as small to mid-sized businesses in vertical markets such as hospitality, education, government, and healthcare. For more information, visit www.necunified.com.

Wichita Public Schools Personalize Parent-Teacher Communications Using NEC’s Unified Messaging

UNIVERGE UM8500 helps teachers shorten response times to parents’ queries

IRVING, TX, March 31, 2009 — NEC Unified Solutions, Inc. (NEC), a leading communications solutions integrator, today announced that Wichita Public Schools, a Kansas-based leader in urban education, is benefiting from more personalized parent-teacher communications and higher technology utilization rates thanks in part to UNIVERGE® UM8500 unified messaging.

“Over the years we’ve come to trust NEC as being innovative and more of a partner in our long-term success. In this instance, UM8500 gave us advanced, easy-to-use voicemail integrated with Microsoft ® Outlook®, which makes it a powerful tool that enables a closer relationship between parents and teachers,” said Cathy Barbieri, CIO, Wichita Public Schools. “This solution makes it effortless for our teachers to check their voicemail via email and forward, categorize, save and delete messages with a click of the mouse. As a result, over time, the communication culture here has improved greatly.”

An NEC customer for more than 10 years, Wichita Public Schools is the educational home to nearly 50,000 students and employer of approximately 4,000 teachers, 3,000 support staff members and 240 administrators. Prior to implementing NEC’s UM8500 unified messaging, voicemail usage by teachers at Wichita Public Schools was low or non-existent. Teachers and parents communicated almost exclusively through the school office and some e-mail, and in some cases the lag-time between initial contact and response was lengthy. Today, Wichita Public Schools teachers and administrators receive voicemails directly from parents and other contacts by e-mail, increasing the district’s usage of voice technologies and facilitating a more personal connection between parents and teachers.

Because the district relies heavily on email communication, and considered its previous voicemail system inefficient and difficult to use, NEC recommended UM8500’s unified messaging capabilities to integrate both functions into one solution. Telephony solutions installed at each school in the district allow teachers to have a single-line phone and voicemail in the classroom, which has increased adoption. Additionally, an auto-attendant has been added, which has enabled consistent communications for parents and staff across all of the district’s campuses.

“Unified Communications comes in many forms. The benefit of NEC’s UNIVERGE360 role-based approach is that the customer can choose what makes sense for their organization,” said Don Fiorentino, Vice President of Western Regional Sales, NEC Unified Solutions. “For Wichita Public Schools, this means unified messaging and voicemail that improves communications efficiency between staff, parents and teachers.”

For more information on NEC’s communications solutions, visit www.UNIVERGE360.com.

About NEC Unified Solutions
NEC Unified Solutions helps companies unify their business communications through innovative software, applications, development tools, and services. NEC offers a complete portfolio for unified communications, wireless, voice, data and managed services, as well as systems integration and application development. NEC Unified Solutions serves as the North American communications integration arm of global giant NEC Corporation for Fortune 1000, as well as small to mid-sized businesses in vertical markets such as hospitality, education, government, and healthcare. For more information, visit www.necunified.com.

NEC and UNIVERGE are registered trademarks of NEC Corporation. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.

About Wichita Public Schools
Wichita Public Schools, USD 259, is the largest school district in Kansas. There are close to 50,000 full-time students and 8,000 full-time and part-time employees. The district has more than 100 buildings and support facilities and includes K-12 schools, special programs and special schools. Wichita Public Schools parents and staff work together to create a learning environment that is safe, caring and challenging for each student.

Great article from Garry Laxdal of WBM Office Systems

I was reading the latest issue of CrossTalk, a publication for NEC Associates, and ran across this great article from Garry Laxdal, who is the president of NECSI (a leadership council of NEC Associates).  I hope you have a great time reading.

Interview with Jeff Kane, president of NEC Unified

Reprinted from NoJitter.com
Interview: NEC Unified President Jeff Kane
Posted by Eric Krapf, Editor | Mar 12, 2009

Remember the press tour? Every so often, vendor execs, with their PR reps in tow (or vice versa) would sojourn across the country, visiting the offices of trade publications and analyst companies, sometimes with a product announcement, but frequently just to press the flesh and update us folks on what their companies were doing and thinking.

The press tour is a luxury for vendors in this economic climate, and probably seems increasingly anachronistic anyway at a time when more and more interactions take place over the Web every day.

Still, would it kill you to visit once in awhile? You never come see us anymore.
That’s why it was nice to see Jeff Kane, president of NEC Unified, show up in our conference room, together with Kris Kozamchak, NEC’s excellent director of corporate communications. Jeff always comes across as a pretty straight shooter, so it’s always useful just to sit around talking with him for an hour. When we did that recently (before, I should point out, the most recent news on a potential Nortel breakup), here’s some of what Jeff had to say:

* On the economy: NEC Unified’s edge in this time of turmoil is its lighter exposure to verticals like banking, in favor of strength in health care, which is a better place to be right now, relatively speaking, according to Jeff Kane. NEC also has strong positions in state governments and in federal departments including Veterans Affairs and the Department of Agriculture.

Being part of a Japanese company also lends some perspective, Jeff said. His Japanese counterparts aren’t as fazed by the prospect of a bad year or two: “They say, ‘Our last bad year was the ’90s.'” As in, the whole decade.
He does say, however, that SMB spending is all but dead for now–“On the small business side, there’s no money.”

* On Unified Communications: Jeff Kane said that 30% of NEC’s systems go out with some Unified Communications applications enabled. SMBs’ rates of UC implementation had been growing at 125% per year before the crash. More importantly, he said, “Customers are starting to ask really good questions” about UC. The 3 questions he said every customer should ask their vendor about UC are:
1. How long will this technology last?
2. What do I have to do to actually manage the technology?
3. What can I do with it?

I think that’s a really interesting order to put things in, and probably right–no matter what a vendor is promising, you as a customer need to know the most basic thing about the technology: What does it cost me? And you don’t really know what it costs you until you know how long it will last.

And there’s nothing wrong with trying to extend this lifespan rather than shorten it, according to Jeff Kane. “Customers continue to get as much as they can out of what they’ve purchased,” he said, approvingly.

Then, putting management second jibes with the suggestion we had in this recent blog by Gary Audin. Once again, this really goes to the question of what the technology costs you.

The final point, What can I do with it? is of course critical, and I like the way Jeff poses the question: Not, What does the technology do? but What can I do with it? Jeff Kane described this as “letting the business drive the technology,” and it relates directly to how he sees NEC Unified’s role in a customer’s UC future. Jeff kept coming back to the idea that service and support, adding capability and managing the pace of change are critical to implementing UC in a way that actually delivers on the promise.

So we appreciate Jeff and Kris dropping by. And the rest of you: The door’s always open.

NEC Display Solutions/JetBlue Win Digital Signage Expo Apex Award

JetBlue’s spectacular “Digital Signage Ring” is comprised of 43 40-inch NEC LCD monitors installed in the shape of a giant oval suspended from the ceiling. This deployment creates great visual appeal for the new Terminal 5 at JFK and enhances the travel experience for JetBlue customers. JetBlue selected the NEC MultiSync® LCD4020 model based on reliability, video-wall capabilities and its thin bezel, which creates a more seamless picture. Read the entire article at necdisplay.com.