6 Reasons for IT Pros to be Thankful

It’s the time of year when we express our gratitude. Just check any social media platform and you will see various countdowns of thankfulness or 40 days of gratitude. People share all types of things, from being thankful for family and friends, to how their dog makes them happy, to how they love a certain food. Let’s face it – we have a lot to be thankful for! And one of those is the way our lives can be positively impacted by innovation and technology.

OK, so it might not make the top 10 list at your Thanksgiving dinner, but for IT professionals, technology is not only their means of making a living, it’s the one thing that can make their lives easier, provide them an opportunity to make a positive impact, and support their organizations in reaching goals.

We asked some IT professionals what they had to be thankful for regarding certain NEC technology solutions, and here’s what they said:

  1. Unified Communications + Software-defined Networking UC is great because I now have a single platform to handle all communications, making it easier to administrate. This improves efficiency while also being more reliable, especially when you add SDN. I never worry about losing connectivity or being out of touch because SDN reconfigures on the fly. There is no concern about missing an alert or important voice mail with this solution.
  2. Retail Solutions for Improved Customer Experience Before being able to combine powerful solutions such as biometrics, analytics and unified communications, I had to work with disparate systems to provide good customer information. Now, I am able to improve both security and our customer service programs using biometrics. Plus, the information we receive is actionable. We can empower sales associates to provide a much better customer experience in the store. And our loss prevention has never been stronger. These are both goals we have strived to reach for a while, and I am happy to see us making big strides in both areas.
  3. Biometrics Support Law Enforcement While I may be in the background, I take my position very seriously. It is important that our men and women serving our communities on the front lines have the best tools available to safely and effectively do their jobs. That is why having biometric solutions such as NeoFace® and NeoScan 45® are so important. They give us accurate information quickly so we can take proper action. Getting the bad guys off the street is important, and making sure we make the proper identification is crucial. These tools empower us to do so, and having the opportunity to support law enforcement teams is powerful.
  4. Network Solutions: SDN, Servers & Storage Empower IT By enabling my organization to use virtual machines much more efficiently, I don’t have to physically reconfigure the network. Plus, I don’t have to hard code as I used to. It minimizes finger pointing between vendors and lets us troubleshoot more effectively. In case of mergers or acquisitions, I can easily integrate two networks while still maintaining administrative capability in an OpenFlow network.
  5. Business Analytics tell the Story Before business analytics were so readily available, we were unable to provide empowering data to our customers. Using business analytics gives me information to more efficiently do my job. For example, with the ability to see historical data, we can now ascertain that the sales spike we are seeing is temporary, so I can use my existing infrastructure more effectively. I can analyze the data usage by every department, and because business owners can see information on their trends, together we can ensure we are deploying resources to accommodate their critical business goals and initiatives. It’s seamless to our internal customers, and ensures that everyone has what they need from a computing power standpoint.
  6. Uniquely NEC – #SolutionsforSociety We have a tendency to take technology for granted now, having it so readily at our fingertips. However, NEC’s major initiative to use technology to innovate Solutions for Society is a prime example of how we can use technology to create a better world. With solutions focused on transportation, water conservation, improved communication and quality of life, we are orchestrating a brighter world through technology. That is something to be thankful for!

Thanks for stopping by and we would like to wish our IT professionals, friends, and families a warm and Happy Thanksgiving.

Black Friday Sales Tanked?

According to this business reporter, Walmart is the reason Black Friday sales were down this year. While that is probably not the case, or at least not the whole picture, the results from Black Friday have proven interesting. The in-store sales numbers were down, while the online numbers were up 14.3 percent over 2013. Many retailers, including Walmart, chose to mark down items in the weeks leading up to Black Friday, giving consumers an opportunity to bargain shop in advance. Plus, the convenience of online shopping is difficult to overcome. It’s easy to grab a tablet and shop while lounging in your favorite chair.

So how does a retail brick and mortar establishment compete with this type of convenience? Create an amazing in-store experience!

Did Your Customers Have the Best Experience?

Customers have opinions about how you do business, and if you don’t succeed in fulfilling their expectations, they will shop somewhere else. A big part of what they want is an innovative, personalized experience that enables them to utilize online technology and access inside a brick-and-mortar store. That is a tall order!

Making reasonable and strategic efforts to fulfill customer expectations is important for 2015, particularly for those retailers who spent time this year analyzing the customer journey. To truly appreciate the importance of having a point-of-sale (POS) system that empowers customer expectations, consider who is actually doing the shopping over this holiday season.

According to a new report by Bankrate.com, a majority of Americans did not plan to shop on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.  They expect to find deals throughout the holiday season. The report also stated that Millennials were expected to be visiting stores on Black Friday in higher numbers than older Americans, and we are very aware of the tech-savvy, mobility centric ways of this generation.

As reported by the U.K. publication Retail Systems, a study by 1010data shows many Americans prefer to shop in stores because they do not want to wait on shipping. Additionally, 97 percent of study participants claimed they would purchase gifts early this year, with half of those starting before Thanksgiving and one in five participating in Black Friday. The reason? They want to ensure product availability.

Fully Connect with Your Shoppers

Whether catering to Millennials, bargain shoppers or early-birds who want to make sure they get that perfect gift, there are ways to improve the experience by embracing technology that your customers really want.  First, let’s discuss what that actually is:

Going Mobile

Shoppers are price and comparison shopping from the floor of your store. They are constantly connected now, and want to have that experience enabled in their brick-and-mortar store experience. This constant connectivity also changes the behavior of a shopper. They are no longer willing to wait in line to make a purchase. They believe they can find what is needed online and will simply exit your store if they are made to wait.

In addition, shoppers have significantly more information at their fingertips, so they are able to not only price shop, but feature compare as well. If the item you have in stock is not what they want, they will go find it somewhere else.
Fortunately, you can update your current POS to include mobility solutions that allow you to achieve the following:

  • Real-time access to data on the selling floor – Now you know what merchandise is in-stock, so you can serve customers more effectively.
  • Better up-selling and cross-selling – Get that key data to sales associates to help them to make better recommendations to customers.
  • Improved communication – Your team can collaborate from the sales floor, again better serving customers without sending them all over the store.

Dynamic Advertising

The ability to deliver real-time information and highly targeted messages is available now. Customers really want to feel like you care about them and are appreciative they shop in your store. Adding digital signage to a POS system provides you the opportunity to:

  • Reach customers where they shop
  • Increase sales volumes of higher margin merchandise
  • Suggest add-on merchandise to increase average purchase volume
  • Incorporate real-time data to present timely and relevant offers to customers at the point they make the buying decision
  • Customize messages for local storefronts easily

Now you can easily get that “wow” factor in your store and enhance the customer shopping experience.

Time to Go High Tech

Retailers who are able to cater to the connected nature of their shoppers will win the in-store experience, and have the ability to better compete with online retailers. However, to do so requires adding a strategy to improve mobility, interactivity and information by empowering the sales staff to access data and sell from the floor. Fortunately, NEC has retail solutions available now and can support you in implementation so you can stay focused on your business.

This is just the beginning. There are many more exciting technology trends coming that improve the customer experience, support better data analytics and increase security. Retail is in for some exciting innovation!