NEC Salutes SMBs this Holiday Season

nec-shop-local-small-business-saturday-communications-uc‘Tis the season for shopping, and three of the U.S’s favorite shopping days—Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday—are just around the corner. This is one of NEC’s favorite times of year, and it’s at this time that we give thanks for our small and medium-sized dealers and customers.

NEC would not be the successful organization it is today without the help of small businesses—the remote workers, the startups, and the established retail shops, doctor’s offices, and all the people who sometimes get overlooked during this time of year.

You may think that, with a whole week devoted to celebrating small businesses in May, that small companies don’t need us to say how great they are and that we value what they bring to the economy. But they do need focus—a little attention and a polite “thank-you”—during this time of year.

So to say “thank you” to our small business customers, NEC wants to remind everyone about how valuable SMBs are to our communities.

What is Small Business Saturday?

We all know what Black Friday and Cyber Monday are—the big-box retailers’ opportunity to get us out (or online) to kick off the holiday season. And while these are important days for the U.S. economically speaking, one day that’s relatively new to our history, Small Business Saturday, may get overlooked by holiday shoppers.

In 2010, American Express founded Small Business Saturday to help small businesses with their most pressing need—getting more customers. The day encourages people to shop at small businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The day has grown into a powerful movement, and more people are taking part each year. In fact, an estimated 5.5 Billion dollars was spent on Small Business Saturday in 2012, and 1,450 “neighborhood champions” signed up to rally both local businesses and local shoppers in their towns in last year.

According to the National Retail Federation, SMBs make 20 to 40 percent of their yearly sales during the last two months of the calendar year.


The Economics of SMBs

With so many businesses depending on holiday sales to make or break the bank as it were, it becomes easier to understand why Small Business Saturday matters so much to so many.

The United States was built on the backs of small business entrepreneurs. And even in today’s economy, which is much more geared toward achieving “big business” status, small businesses remain a critical component of and major contributor to the strength of local economies. Even with large corporations making the bulk of the country’s money (which they could not do without their small business partners), the real driver behind the success of the economy is small business. Firms with fewer than 500 employees drive the economy by providing jobs for over half of the nation’s private workforce. The most recent figures from the U.S. Small Business Administration show that small businesses with fewer than 20 employees lead job creation, and have contributed to 63 percent of net new jobs created since 1993.

Small businesses comprise what share of the U.S. economy?

Small businesses make up:

  • 99.7 percent of U.S. employer firms,
  • 63 percent of net new private-sector jobs,
  • 48.5 percent of private-sector employ¬ment,
  • 42 percent of private-sector payroll,
  • 46 percent of private-sector output,
  • 37 percent of high-tech employment,
  • 98 percent of firms exporting goods, and
  • 33 percent of exporting value.

2014 Holiday Shopping Statistics

Supporting your local businesses should be of the utmost importance this holiday season. To show you just how important the holidays are to small businesses financially, here are some of Twitter’s Small Business Holiday Insights:

  • On average, survey respondents said they planned to spend nearly $800
  • 7 in 10 respondents said they will purchase gifts for everyone on their list, and a few for themselves
  • 8 in 10 consumers say they want to support SMBs, particularly during the holidays
  • Consumers only plan to spend $3 out of every $10 they have budgeted with SMB retailers and on SMB e-commerce websites

Helping Small Businesses Grow With Smart Communications

If what you’re shopping for happens to be a new communications solution, then NEC’s Smart Communications for SMBs might be what you are looking for. NEC’s Unified Communications solutions are designed to help businesses respond more quickly and efficiently to customer requests to drive loyalty and ultimately grow a small business into a big one. When you shop locally, you give money back to your own community—you help create more jobs, stimulate economic growth, and keep more people open for business.

Contact us if you’d like to talk to your local NEC dealer, and remember we want consumers to #ShopSmall this Saturday—and for the rest of the holiday season.

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Can Teams Collaborate Effectively While Working Remotely?

nec-remote-workforce-telecommuting-technologyIt’s estimated that telecommuters will total 3.9 million people by 2016.The question remains though—can work-from-home teams collaborate effectively with the help of technology?

Telecommuting seems to be a business trend that thrived during and survived the recession. There’s been an abundance of news articles on this very topic since Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced almost two years ago that the company’s new policy would only allow telecommuting occasionally. Yahoo’s human resources chief, Jackie Reses, announced the telecommuting change in a memo, saying, “To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side.”

The indication here seems to be that collaborating and communicating from multiple locations and across technology doesn’t work nearly as well as in-person collaboration—a bold statement which many critics claimed was unfounded and misguided. With most businesses using some form of communications technology like Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) that have applications and features like presence, unified messaging, and video collaboration that have been proven to make teams more efficient—the decision to re-route two decades of Yahoo and HR modernization and improvement seems like a giant step backwards.

The teleworker discussion seems to be a small piece of a much bigger conversation—whether or not technology actually brings people together, and how best to define the new workplace and teleworkers’ individual roles in it.

“No one would disagree that the U.S. work force is increasingly mobile,” said the Telework Research Network in a 2011 paper on the state of telecommuting. “But, beyond that broad statement, we know little about the rate of increase in mobility — how often people are out of the office, where they are, and what they’re doing. For that matter, there’s no agreed-upon method of defining who they are.”

The Challenges Facing the Remote Workforce

It’s clear that the remote workforce discussion was taking place long before Marissa Mayer and team entered it. And they certainly aren’t the only ones to question the effectiveness of a constantly remote work-force.

In an article by Gallup Business Journal author Steve Crabtree, Google’s Chief Internet evangelist Vint Cerf emphasizes the importance of frequent casual interactions between coworkers.

Tools like instant messaging and video collaboration can help create opportunities for these interactions for remote workers—provided of course that UC and communications solutions are evenly distributed and widely used throughout the given organization.

Dr. Cerf, one of Gallup’s senior scientists, is widely regarded as one of the fathers of the Internet for his seminal work on the TCP/IP protocols that form its underlying architecture, and the networking tools he helped make possible now allow many people to do their jobs from almost anywhere.

Google has faced its own challenges with employees working together remotely. “‘We had people participating in teams, [and] they would almost never see each other face to face. Often they were in different time zones, which meant they had to work harder to stay in sync,’” Dr. Cerf said. “‘So we started recompiling groups to make them, if not co-located, at least within one or two time zones of one another so that it was more convenient to interact.’”

Many similar challenges are faced by organizations that have large telecommuting populations. As more workplaces become dispersed and reliant on remote workforces, more companies will experience the tension of helping employees work together effectively while allowing them to do their jobs from disparate locations.

Modesty is Key to Higher Telecommuting Success Rates

One of the top telecommuting questions that most people want answered is: “How does telecommuting affect employee engagement?” On the one hand, working remotely offers employees a measure of autonomy, helping them feel better equipped to do their jobs. On the other hand, employees must have positive, trusting relationships with their managers and coworkers to stay engaged, and such relationships become much more difficult to sustain with less face-to-face interaction.

Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report suggests that the ability to work remotely corresponds with higher engagement, but, primarily among those who spend less than 20% of their total working time doing so—a pattern that makes “intuitive sense,” according to Dr. Cerf.

Jennifer Glass, a professor of sociology at the University of Texas, Austin, who has studied teleworking for two decades, said her research shows that much of what managers and professionals call telecommuting occurs after a 40-hour week spent in the office. These people check email, return calls and write reports from home, but in the evenings and weekends.

Flexibility is a remote work benefit that will elicit a positive response while it remains a benefit, but beyond that it becomes less useful. In terms of the limits to the utility of telecommuting, it seems that studies and statistics suggest that the strategy involved in managing in-office and remote work is as important, if not more so, than the tools used while telecommuting.

Solutions are found in Balance

Balance is needed between utilizing the advantages of online collaboration tools and the need for the personal and informal interactions that boost workplace morale/cohesion; a balance which depends on the nature of the job being done and specific situations.

In inclement weather or other crises, cloud computing services such as remote desktops, softphones that can be accessed from home or at work, and video collaboration tools can help organizations ensure that everyone continues working even if they cannot physically get into the office. The benefits in this situation are great, and often allow employers to keep employees safe without losing, what many times can end up being weeks of, productivity.

“The ability to set up a collaborative environment literally within seconds is an extraordinarily powerful tool,’ Dr. Cerf says, ‘as opposed to having to coordinate everybody’s calendar and waiting two weeks before we can all put our heads together [in the same room].’”

But it’s still just as important to interact directly with co-workers on a regular basis. According to Dr. Cerf, face-to-face conversations help “cross-pollinate” talent and creativity among varied workgroups and departments within an organization.

The Flexibility of Modern Communications

In the end, companies will have to devise policies that meet their own needs and values. As we mentioned before UC&C, video collaboration, presence, instant messaging etc., can help organization scale communications more appropriately to affordably allow telecommuting as needed/wanted.

But UC&C does a lot more than that. UC&C integrates real-time and regular communications with business processes and requirements based on presence capabilities, presenting a consistent unified user interface and user experience across multiple devices and media types. UC also supports each organization when managing various types of communications across multiple devices and applications, and across geographies, with personalized rules and policies, while integrating with back-office applications, systems and business processes.

UC&C can help you re-define what “remote work” means for your business by helping you eliminate many of the social issues typically associated with long-term work outside of the office. How? UC&C enables people to connect, communicate and collaborate seamlessly to improve business agility and results. These results include better user and group productivity, dynamic collaboration and simplified business processes—all goals that need to be met to keep remote workers connected to each other and the home office.

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Digital Disruption: Colleges and Schools as Publishers

7k0a0879Digital Publishing is a contentious subject among educators. The transition between paper and digital has created gray areas and thoughts/opinions on the transformation to digital range widely and evolve consistently. With the kick-off of the 2014 EDUCAUSE Conference under way it’s a good time to take a look at the arguments presented. Do we burn the textbook? Does digital serve a higher purpose?

Digital vs. Print Publishing

Until November 2007 when Amazon introduced the Kindle, the only viable means of book distribution was paper. Any author who wanted to reach a mass audience needed a paper distribution partner. Any author could hire his or her own editor and his or her own cover design artist; he or she could even hire a printing press to create the actual books. The one service he or she couldn’t hire out was distribution. And publishers didn’t offer distribution as an a-la-carte service. The package service was always the best value, and there was no viable alternative otherwise.

In textbook publishing, there has been little alternative to buying a traditional book from the publishers—particularly in Higher Education. Each professor expects their students to have access to the required text. Knowing that professors require specific texts, publishers are able to control the market (in an effort to stop borrowing and downloading illegal versions, etc.). They do this by publishing “updated” editions to their texts fairly frequently. It’s an effort on their part to “force” students to buy new textbooks—whether the content needs refreshing or not.

Textbook costs increased an average of 186 percent from 1986 to 2005—a jump that saw several students dropping out of college simply because they couldn’t afford the books they needed for classes. Digital publishing clearly posed a solution to the issue and has pushed the industry ever-closer to its tipping point.

Major publishers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the past few years buying up software companies and building new digital divisions, betting that the future will bring an expanded role for digital publishers in higher education.

So far, publishers are only producing a limited number of titles in these born-digital formats, and the number of professors assigning them is relatively small. Only about 2 percent of textbooks sold at college bookstores are fully digital titles, according to a survey of 940 bookstores run by Follett Higher Education Group.

As these new kinds of textbooks catch on, they raise questions about how much control publishers have over curriculum and the teaching process. It seems that the time has come for a different publishing model, and with it, real disruption.

Colleges as Publishers

Publishers shouldn’t be the only organizations building these new textbooks. In fact, the most qualified organizations to be writing said texts are colleges themselves.

Modern digital content management technologies can help universities not only transition from print to digital, but can also help the transition into self-publishing as well. Implementation is always key when it comes to new technology and, particularly with digital publishing, rash or jumpy behavior can kill the vision before it’s realized.

Preparing appropriate digital initiatives, trainings, and continued professional development are all essential to creating buy-in and getting users to feel comfortable using the content management technology to begin creating digitally powered course curricula.  But the payoff is definitely worth it.

Self-publishing is great for universities and students alike. With universities as publishers, Higher Ed institutions start regaining control of the content used in their courses. Additional benefits include new revenue streams and the ability to provide students much better rates for books than students were able to get on their own, even for used textbooks.

Plus, with the right technology, those who wanted to read the textbook on paper could print out the electronic version or pay an additional fee to buy an old-fashioned copy—a book.

Communication, Collaboration, and Reciprocity

In readying myself for the conference, I had the opportunity to read The Other End of the Scale: Re-Thinking the Digital Experience in Higher Education on the EDUCAUSE Review. The article is full of conversation-starters, but one key message stood out.

“It is time to rethink the digital experience in higher education: we have a chance not only to reimagine our encounters with the large scale but also to embrace our opportunities at the other end of the scale.”

The move to digital learning has been defined by the “rhetoric of openness,” meaning the success or failure of any digital movement in higher-education is going to depend on collaboration—between faculty, students, and IT professionals. The same can be said of digital publishing. Failure on the part of textbook publishers to advance digital publishing could be attributed to the lack of collaboration between the publishers and the institutions, as well as the institutions and the students in order to determine which digital texts work properly and which don’t.

Improved communications are often a key factor in facilitating this type of collaboration. Continuing to ask “what kind of engagement do we want from our students,” and simultaneously, “how are they engaging with us now,” can help create the communicative foundation universities need to be able to collaborate properly with students.

As the landscape of learning continues to grow and change, and more of our communications become mobile, institutions will need to be able to provide easy, immediate access to all forms of communication on all devices.

Rather than using an old communications system that requires University IT departments to support each device individually, wouldn’t it make sense to employ an agnostic system—something that can be tailored to different users, and one that can be re-used repeatedly?

A Unified Communications-enabled solution can be that device agnostic system for which you’re looking. Not only can it effectively tie professors, students, and faculty together across devices, it can also simultaneously create a recurring revenue model for your institution—licenses can “rented” and then easily re-used as students graduate.

The technologies that will be most successful, however, are those that can combine the collaboration and digital publishing features to provide one, self-sustaining, self-informing communications solution. A collaborative content management system can centralize all processes  and give universities one location from which students can get all requisite information and content,  can access university-oriented social sharing/collaboration tools, and can be directly connected with faculty and professors through advanced UC functionality.

A collaborative content management system can effectively tie everything together, giving universities total control so students and teachers can continue making the same sort of epistemological advances that are today, made in the traditional classroom with the traditional textbook.

To learn more about Collaborative Content Management, check out our webinar and demo recording below. If you happen to be at EDUCAUSE this week, stop by booth 709 to chat with an NEC expert during normal Expo hours.

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BYOD and BYOA: The State of Mobility Adoption

BYOD and BYOA: How Devices and Apps Function Together to Improve Business Productivity and Employee Efficiency

nec_byod_employeesMobile devices are completely ingrained in our daily lives. They entertain, remind, socialize, and manage us. They are our personal authentication key to the world around us. They are an extension of ourselves. Handheld mobile devices are just extremely personal, more so than any other device we interact with during the day. When asked, most people will say that they’ll give up food or sleep before they’re deprived of their mobile device, and for most there is a discernable level of anxiety when their device isn’t actively with them.

BYOD: The Device is King

nec_byod_mobilityThe personal dynamics of mobile devices and, in turn, mobile device management, has made adoption of mobile technology a tricky business across the board. For most organizations, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies are still complex and perceived as risky. But, with the global workforce’s rapid adoption of the mobile work style, integration of BYOD policies have been necessary for most organizations to maintain the high levels of productivity needed to sustain business success. In fact, only businesses with high-level security concerns and strict privacy needs—like financial organizations—can succeed in today’s marketplace without some form of acceptance of BYOD in their mobile policies.

Originally, the largest motivation for BYOD was the desire to get rid of the traditional corporate device and its restrictive user experience which contrasted sharply against the newer, smarter consumer devices providing more personal experiences. The result for many early BYOD adopters was the increased employee satisfaction, productivity, and improved competitive advantage that they were searching for.

We’ve talked about BYOD for what seems like too long, but it continues to be a hot topic as employers allow employees to utilize their own devices at the office. But, as many of us know, giving employee-owned devices access to the corporate network increases risk and is difficult for businesses to manage. Many IT departments don’t have the time to deal with the challenges inherent with BYOD; the co-existence of personal and business data, multiple operating systems, and problems with backup, recovery, security, and compliance.

In fact, the 2014 Executive Enterprise Mobility Report released by Apperian and conducted by CITO Research, helps shed some light on how important the issues are that executives at a range of companies embracing these mobility strategies face.

For example, 77% of the respondents highlighted security as a major concern with mobile device management—not much of a shocking discovery if you’ve ever dealt with mobility in the past. What is shocking? That 70% of respondents are still unable to detect data or device loss, which highlights a starteling lack of mobile security initiative in today’s businesses despite security being a key concern.

What is clear, is that companies understand the inherent risk surrounding BYOD and many are still struggling with how best to address their concerns.

Some of the challenges of managing BYOD programs have re-invigorated a “bring-your-own” trend that dates back to the 1980s—Bring Your Own Apps (BYOA). BYOA can be used as a way to preserve the productivity benefits of BYOD while reducing the capital costs associated with managing a BYOD program.

BYOA: The App is Queen

The BYOA trend centers on employees’ use of third-party applications in the workplace. But BYOA is really the key driver of a much larger trend that’s growing in popularity; IT consumerization. Why? Because BYOA and its associated benefits for employees include greater engagement and satisfaction, and improved productivity, the chief cornerstone of the IT Consumerization movement.

Since BYOA employees choose their own applications, each employee can use the apps that he or she is most comfortable with. Not only does this improve productivity by allowing employees to have more control over the software they use, it also enhances efficiency by letting each individual person use the tool that best matches their work style. This gives you the opportunity to provide more software and business process features to your team than you could logically provide while employing a BYOD or other corporate mobility strategy. IT Consumerization essentially allows businesses to create endless opportunities with multiple new ways to get work done—which would likely have a positive effect in terms of employee morale and efficacy.

But the greatest strengths of the BYOA policy are also its greatest weaknesses.

Most consumer apps being used in the enterprise are cloud-based in order to allow user access from multiple devices, laptops included. Many organizations are finding that the combination of cloud-based document sharing and cloud-based business process solutions are meeting a growing number of their business requirements.

As employees are increasingly under pressure to do more with less in terms of budget and IT resources, they often turn to BYOA to get the job done. While this can be rationalized as a means of reducing the capital expenditures and licensing costs associated with using corporate-issued file storage, document sharing, and business process software, all budgetary benefits that come from reducing capital costs are often negated because of one thing—sacrificed security. Your prized corporate data is now sitting in someone else’s cloud.

There is no ace in the hole when it comes to security policies. The simple fact is that SMBs must absorb certain types of risk out of necessity when competing with large enterprises—which is why you’re likely to see higher BYOA adoption among SMBs than enterprises.

But for those who can’t absorb that risk, or simply don’t want to, there’s good news—that risk can be managed.

Security and Mobility: Striking Common Ground

nec_byod_securityThe key challenges for businesses of all sizes adopting cloud and mobility applications is finding the right balance between usability and data security. In an ideal world, users would like to have one-click access to an increasing number of apps without needing 12 digit passwords for each app. Since users are bringing in their own devices, and these devices are the primary means to app access, they must be “trusted” within the organization and secured.

“Perimeter Security” no longer exists in the enterprise. Network boundaries are slowly disappearing—and many IT departments are still trying to control all facets of off-premises application access from roaming mobile endpoints. But this is, quite simply, impossible to do. And so a shift in the way we think about security may be in order.

Protecting data directly, not the device, guards your data at the source rather than the endpoint, ensuring the safety of your businesses’ information regardless of your employee’s location. Information Rights Management and other such technologies directly embed access rules into documents by way of cryptography. With this method, the rules are applicable to documents regardless of location or device, allowing effective security measures for multi-device environments.

This pattern also allows for “detecting, logging, and blocking” data that leaves enterprise premises. Having the capability to follow the transmission of sensitive data solves part of the problem that has become apparent in Apperian’s Mobility report—understanding where, when, and how users are transferring information out of the corporate network.

Secondly, the drive to demand better security from consumer app providers needs to be spearheaded by SMB and enterprise businesses. Since most businesses are embracing some form of BYOD/BYOA, and most of us spend at least 40 hours a week in the workplace, the burden of changing app security—and consequently cloud stability—really falls on businesses, not consumers.

Finally, securing critical business communications can solve a lot of data leakage from the start. Unified Communications (UC) can help keep your company keep its contacts and other data safe and secure when an employee’s device is lost or stolen.

With the right UC app, your IT administrator can secure data loss easily. Unified Communications lets employees bring their own devices while still maintaining high levels of corporate security. The best UC platforms let you support multiple devices through one single approved UC app, meaning your employees can have access to their favorite communications tools without your IT department having to support each device individually.

In regard to other security issues, many organizations that have started implementing consumerization policies are establishing acceptable use standards for use of consumer technologies in the workplace. Acceptable use policies (AUP) stipulate requirements that must be followed to be granted network access.

To learn more about how BYOD policies empower smart enterprises, along with other trends impacting the workforce, download the Smart Enterprise Trends eBook.

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NEC’s Annual Drivers Day Highlights Similarities between UC and F1

nec-sauber-drivers-day-unified-communications-f1What does Unified Communications have in common with Formula One racing?

Well a lot more than you might think. There’s nothing like the combination of speed and technology—a blend that is key to success for both technologists and Formula One (F1) teams.

Speed sells, and it sells well. Speed—or lack thereof—is the main reason that many technology innovations take off. It’s also the reason why many fail. Speed is the reason why dial-up internet was replaced by DSL, horses by automobiles, and why F1 racing continues to grow in popularity year over year.

All of that is fairly obvious.

But what isn’t always obvious—is that NEC invests in speed and innovation in areas beyond IT technology.  In fact, NEC is heavily invested in F1 racing—a sport where speed and technological innovation are necessary to succeed.

NEC is a premier partner of the  Sauber F1 Team, and yesterday we hosted our annual F1 Drivers Day event at our European headquarters. It’s a fun day for NEC and is just four days before the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Drivers Day was celebrated locally for NEC business partners, employees, and any F1 fans that could make it to the event. But in a truly innovative and unique fashion, partners, employees, and fans from multiple cities across the globe were able to attend via NEC’s award-winning Unified Communications & Collaboration platform UNIVERGE 3C.

Those who attended had the opportunity to meet Sauber F1 Team driver Esteban Gutiérrez and test driver Giedo van der Garde in person. The rest of us were invited to a question and answer session through the live UNIVERGE 3C broadcast, which gave the event a truly authentic flair (we are technologists after all).

After general introductions by NEC Global Marketing Executive, Todd Landry, Sauber Motorsport AG Marketing Director, Alex Sauber, came to the stage to discuss the role that technology plays in F1 racing.

Racing technology has indeed changed a lot over time—which was evident in the pictures that Sauber brought with him of some of the original computers and equipment that has been used by the team. Sauber is one of the oldest F1 teams on the grid today—and was founded in 1970. So they’ve had a front row seat as F1 technology has grown and changed over the last 40 plus years (the picture below is an excellent example as it shows how much the steering wheel changed over the course of just one year).

With Esteban running late as a result of a British Customs snafu, Giedo took the first round of questions from the global audience. The first question was about F1 steering wheels, which to a layman looks like the lunky musclebound brother of an Xbox controller.

nec-sauber-drivers-day-unified-communications-f1-technologyThe steering wheels are incredibly complicated. The buttons and knobs do everything from controlling the radio, to managing the brake systems, shifting, clutch system, oil intake, brake fluid—and so on. The lights, and now screen, serve as warning mechanisms—letting the driver know when something has gone awry. With the car going up to 340 kilometres per hour (about 211 miles per hour) it becomes increasingly evident that making an error can be dangerous.

That’s why the drivers are given their own tech—simulators, which keeps their reflexes honed during the off season. For Giedo, the newest Sauber team driver, the simulator technology is even more important, as each car is customized to the team and the team’s drivers.

The discussion then turned to racetracks, with a viewer asking where the Silverstone track was most challenging, and which track was the most difficult overall.

Giedo memorizes each track. The real challenge, according to him, lies within the curves. Curves are the most technically difficult parts of the race for the drivers to execute. Even with the stable car, the high speed corners require serious backbone—as the changes in down force and torque make the car more difficult to handle—like an incredibly powerful dog pulling on a leash.

F1 in general requires serious backbone, which signals the part of the event where the discussion turned toward the racers themselves. It bears mentioning for those who are not fans that Formula One racing is one of the most physically demanding sports there is.

As Giedo kept talking, he named Singapore track as his toughest, both physically and mentally. “It’s basically made up of non-stop corners,” he said. Singapore is a two hour race, during which his average heart rate is 158 beats-per-minute—putting immense stress on the driver’s body. This is most evident when you compare the number to the average healthy man’s heart rate, which is typically around 60 beats-per-minute.

The physical stress of driving takes a toll on the racers, which led Giedo to discuss the difficulties of not being able to drink in the car. With so few pit stops, it can be easy to get dehydrated. Racers can lose up to 3 litres or more of fluid (about 0.8 gallons) in a two hour race—three times more than what’s required to lose concentration.  So dehydration becomes even more dangerous than usual in a sport where concentration is literally required to keep the participants alive.

The human element, as it seems, may be one of the most dangerous facets of F1 racing. In fact, the cars themselves are one of the safest, as they are engineered to be highly stable and include some of the best technology the world has to offer. But when asked by one NEC F1 fan whether or not there was a future where robots would be driving the cars, Giedo flatly said, “No,” indicating that the robots wouldn’t be able to make the quick decisions the drivers themselves have to make during every race.

As Esteban arrived and got settled, the discussion turned to fitness, as a viewer asked about exercise needed to sustain the racers’ bodies during the grueling races.

F1 racers must have immense physical resistance to heat and other stresses, as well as the ability to cope with potentially catastrophic fluid loss. In fact, experts say the loss of one per cent of body fluid is enough to cause serious lapses in concentration. And a Grand Prix driver will lose up to three and a half liters of fluid in the course of a two-hour race.

During an F1 race a driver will experience up to 5G under braking and cornering  and 3G under hard acceleration, meaning that his neck has to support up to 24 kilograms (53 pounds) during a long corner—the equivalent of having a sack of spuds slammed into the side of your head while you’re driving.

During the off season, Giedo and Esteban said they will work out about for about three hours in the morning, and two hours in the afternoon to stay in shape. During the season, the drivers have a varied schedule, so while they try to average two hours a day, it can change.

When Esteban was asked what matters most, the skills of the driver or the technology in the car, he answered very matter-of-factly, “Well the car has to be quick. But driver has to drive as quick as possible with the car that’s fast. It’s a combination.”

So there you have it. Speed and technology, paired together to make a successful F1 racer as well as the car he drives.

And as the live UNIVERGE 3C broadcast came to a close, Esteban thanked the NEC team saying that UNIVERGE 3C gave them the ability to talk to all of the NEC fans more easily. “Thanks to the technology, we don’t have to travel all over to talk to you,” he said.

Which given his issue with Customs, is probably a relief.

If You Missed the Event

Interested in learning more about Sauber? Want to see how well NEC’s UNIVERGE 3C works in a truly global application? Just love F1? Check out NEC’s F1 Drivers Day video below.