To IaaS or Not to IaaS…That’s the Question for Today’s Organizations

The advantages of moving to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solutions are well documented, spurring continued growth in this area of cloud technology. For 2017, Gartner research predicts that IaaS spending will grow by 36.8% to $34.6 billion.

Any technology solution has benefits and potential drawbacks, of course. With IaaS solutions, organizations can enjoy flexibility, lower costs, faster service and better business agility. Balanced against these advantages are potential data security and privacy concerns, business disruption and changes in architecture and processes.

Organizations considering a move to IaaS solutions need long-term thinking. What criteria should a company use to determine if an IaaS solution is the right decision for its current and future business needs?

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Joint input from both IT and the business decision makers

As with most technology buying decisions, astute enterprises solicit input from both the IT and business points of view. When deciding to move to IaaS, examine an organization’s overall big picture goals and make sure the ultimate decision lines up with both IT and business strategies. From the IT side, the decision-making process takes into account not only costs, but should also include enterprise-wide considerations, such as the value of business agility and rapid go-to-market capabilities. On the other side, business units should look at whether a solution fits into the existing IT infrastructure, thus minimizing implementation costs and overall disruption, as well as thinking about new capabilities or competitive advantages.

Spiceworks research shows that IT and business owners often work in sync “to create a tech-decision duo.” Each side brings its unique perspective to the decision-making process. For example, IT researches compatibility with existing technology, implementation considerations and recommends optional solutions. The business side, which usually holds the purse strings, takes into account practical solutions, but also seeks innovation and technology advantages that will push the business forward.

Bottom line: IT brings deep insight to the buying decision and provides valuable input throughout the purchasing process. Meanwhile, the business unit looks at overall company strategy and adding a distinct point of differentiation, as well as improving customer service.

To learn how IaaS impacts areas throughout the enterprise, check out this post.

Build a trust with your IaaS Provider

An important part of any IaaS adoption is to have confidence in the chosen IaaS solution provider. Implementing an IaaS solution is not as simple as procuring additional processing or storage capability. Smart organizations also want a reputable IaaS partner that maintains the same levels of compliance, privacy and security when handling and storing customer data. Any agreements for IaaS solutions should include provisions for data privacy, security and governance that line up with the purchaser’s requirements.

Vendor lock-in is always a concern, too. Before signing the dotted line, determine how easy (or how difficult) it would be to migrate data and applications back to on premise or to another provider if the service level agreements are not maintained or costs no longer make sense. Take care to engage with an experienced IaaS provider who will work with you in the long term, particularly as business needs change.

Impact on in-house IT staff and resources

Saving on IT costs is one of the biggest advantages of an IaaS solution. However, most organizations will still maintain an IT staff that is responsible for managing the apps and determining how data are handled—either in-house or through the IaaS vendor or a combination of the two.

Organizations should consider which apps will move to the cloud, how application development and testing may have to be modified, and how new disaster recovery processes may affect liability and compliance. Keeping only core functions on premise enables the purchaser to focus on what’s most important to the business, while allowing the IaaS provider to manage capacity and handle more routine applications.

Cloud services must enable an organization to consume the right amount of the right IT services, on demand and at the right time. The ability to scale up or scale down is extremely important. An advantage of IaaS solutions is not having to worry about having too much or too little hardware on site as the business needs fluctuate seasonally, or even day-to-day.

Another important check point is to make sure the organization’s internal data communications resources allow adequate access to data and apps to and from the vendor site. It’s a real problem if internal and external clients can’t access IaaS because of internal internet service outages or clogged data pipelines.

Still on the fence? Check out Data Center Basics, Comparing Costs and Security.

Pricing

Two questions to consider are “how much is it going to cost” and “what’s the pricing structure?” When purchasing IaaS solutions, determine if pricing will be pay-by-use or on a monthly subscription. Think about surcharges that occur during peak times, which can be costly depending on the type and timing of business transactions. A “try before you buy” pilot program is a good option to help a purchaser determine what it’s like to work with an IaaS solutions provider.

Have budget constraints? See how NEC Financial Services can fund your IT needs.

IaaS is not just outsourcing

Making the move to an IaaS solution involves more than a simple shifting of IT assets. The process affects an organization’s data and applications architecture, and will change the way IT work across all business and support functions. IaaS solutions impact security, compliance, customer service and even insurance policies, so these business components must be taken into account when making the move to IaaS.

Developing a strong relationship between the solutions partner and the purchasing organization can help ensure success of an IaaS implementation. Consider which applications to outsource and which to maintain in house. Take into account the organization’s big picture business strategy. Finally, to secure the best solution and provider for their organizations, wise IT and business decision makers need to work together to balance the benefits with any potential challenges.

Want to learn more about IaaS and high security data solutions? Check out this recent post.

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Understanding Purpose Over Place in Retail

Choice is a good thing—especially if you’re a shopper. Today’s consumer seamlessly moves from online, in-store or a combination of the two when making purchases. For the traditional retailer, shopping options beyond the bricks-and-mortar store can feel intimidating.

Want advice on how to enrich your customer experience?To survive and thrive in this environment, in-store retailers must provide an experience that is different from the traditional, staid and disengaged experiences of the past. To bring shopping into the 21st century, retailers can take advantage of the latest technology to make shopping more convenient, secure and enjoyable for customers.

Changing the In-store Experience

To create a unique in-store experience, retail has become more niche and product-focused. Technology continues to play a big role in retail success by providing real value, not just cool hype.

Data visibility in the store also helps retailers dive deeper into captured data to uncover buying intentions. Stanchion™ Store software from NEC strives to help retailers better Know Your Customer to understand their objectives — or their purpose for being in the store — to make it easier for retailers to meet their needs and provide unique shopping experiences. Based on previous in-store shopping behavior or experiences, retailers can predict a shopper’s intentions.

Combining a 360-degree camera to monitor shoppers’ movements with video analytics helps retailers track gender, ages and number of visitors in their locations. This data enables stores to manage staff better, making sure the proper number of associates are on hand during peak traffic times.. Checkout how we enabled Becker’s Central Canada (Couche-Tard, Inc.) store owners to see up to-the-minute sales information for smarter product ordering and overall improved store efficiency.

NEC is working on a solutions to take store analystics a step further, by tyingdemographic data to POS transactions to allow retailers to better understand the kinds of customers they’re serving and what products are purchased. This information improves merchandising, store operations and customer interactions, such as determining which product displays appear to be most effective and which areas of the store experience the most traffic.Retailers can also use heat mapping to track a customer’s product engagement and “dwell times” at a particular display or locations in the store.

Improving the Omnichannel Experience

Consumers tend to want a combination of technology and human interaction while shopping. Research shows that many purchases begin with online browsing, followed by an in-store interaction. Improving a seamless omnichannel purchasing experience is one way traditional retailers can connect with their customers. In-store associates can provide more personalized service by knowing preferences through browsing history and offering convenient payment options.

Get a closer look at the Connected Consumer with this Infographic:

Cashless AND Card-less Payment Options

Easier payment processes are another important component of a seamless customer experience. One of the advantages of online shopping is easy check-out. As retailers turn to new methods of accepting and processing payments, the concept of waiting in a check-out line to pay may become obsolete.

Check out NEC’s mobile POS solutions

NEC’s facial recognition technology, can take it a step further toward eliminating not only cash payments, but even credit cards. Your own face becomes your currency. Payment through facial recognition offers several advantages. Authentication using facial images helps reduce potential fraudulent payments (added security) and eliminates the need to carry multiple forms of ID (more convenience). Since facial data is stored in numerical data, it’s difficult or even impossible for a data thief to actually the identify the faces. Additionally, facial recognition information can be stored in a way to make it accessible at a retailer’s multiple locations around the country.

Another shopping option uses an interactive projection system to enabling ordering, research or payment without a physical device being present. This is a perfect solution for restaurant tabletops or counters in hotel lobbies.

Future of Retailing

With increased consumer confidence, shoppers will continue to spend, both online and in store. In the near term, high-tech solutions will improve supply chain efficiency. Artificial-intelligence-powered chatbots and faster checkout through improved POS and other mobile devices will continue to improve the shopping experience.

To remain a viable option for shoppers, traditional retailers must continue to use technology to gain a deeper understanding of their customers’ preferences and shopping habits to provide a seamless, enjoyable in-store experience for their customers.

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Enriching the Customer Experience

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Retailers Need to Focus on Point-of-Service over Point-of-Sale for More Personalized Shopping Experiences

Online retailers are offering consumers a personalized shopping experience. As Americans desire fast turnaround and convenience, traditional retailers have an opportunity to beat out digital retail stores that require a day or two for delivery. If the in-person experience can fulfill the same needs, and the physical reward is instant, will a reinvention of the in-store concept lead to less empty stores?

Find out about how we see The New Era of Customer Service and Convenience.

Is it possible to offer a personalized shopping experience with point-of-service over point-of-sale?

75% of consumers prefer shopping in person. #cx Click To Tweet

Traditional Retailers Are Feeling the Pain

Daily news mentions of brick and mortar retailer layoffs or store closings are not uncommon these days. Bloomberg estimates that traditional retailers are on a record pace for closings or bankruptcy in 2017. Shopping malls across the nation are left with empty storefronts and soon-to-be-empty halls if they are unable to convert the space to other uses.

Meanwhile, U.S. retail sales continue to rise and consumer spending is expected to grow, as gas prices remain relatively low. Cowen and Company retail research shows that high-end malls are still faring well and 75% of consumers prefer shopping in person. The key is to create an experience that is much like online retailers: personal and customer-focused.

Learn more about Retail Solutions from NEC.

Explore NEC Smart Retail Solutions.

Clicks and Bricks

Online and omnichannel innovator, Amazon, ensures a hyper-personalized shopping experience and customer journey. For each loyal customer, Amazon knows what kind of computer the shopper owns, which hobbies, music, and books have been enjoyed on past visits.

NEC empowers retailers to “Know Your Customer” similar to Amazon. At NRF this year, we debuted our facial payment solution, which allows registered shoppers to pay for their products with their face. No cash, checks or cards are necessary!

Reinventing the In-Store Experience

Brick and mortar retailers have another opportunity to attract consumers with the same personalized shopping experience offered by online retailers, including instant gratification rather than the delay that comes with shipping.

POS systems, once the only interaction when making a purchase, must now be modernized to enhance in-store customer encounters with the business. Inventory must be instantly tracked and replenished and the supply chain must be efficient to keep up. Infrastructure and applications need to be agile enough to withstand changes, updates all while the company stays up, and running 24 hours a day.

Learn about NEC’s POS Hardware and POS Software solutions to boost productivity and enhance customer service.

Point-of-Service in Action

By analyzing shopper preferences, a store suggesting complementary items through digital signage could increase sales during the customer visit. NEC has collaborated with Brierley+Partners to provide seamless loyalty and CRM capabilities using NEC’s facial recognition technology and Brierley’s robust CRM platform hosted Microsoft Azure Cloud.

Before arriving in the store, it’s likely that the customer may have already shopped for an item online. If the retailer has this information, the store can offer loyalty points, highlight coupons, offer education or entertainment around the item or similar items so the customer is drawn back and stays longer. Staying “in store” is just as important as staying “on page” on a website.

In-Store Shopping Isn’t Dead

While online shopping is increasing, a majority of shoppers are still walking into brick and mortar retailers. The challenge facing retailers is that shoppers are expecting a different experience. If retailers already have the data and the POS hardware, the next step is reinvention. Analyze the data. Make the information usable to create customized, personal, and creative experiences for the customer. Customers want to be loyal. Shouldn’t retailers make it easier for them?

To stay in the know about the latest advancements for retailers, follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter and check out Keeping Pace with the Retail Revolution Using Integrated Solutions.

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Diving Deep: How Advantages of Infrastructure as a Service Solutions Spread through the Enterprise

As cloud computing has rapidly become mainstream, more and more companies understand the value that it brings to their organizations overall. Even the most cautious and conservative of companies are turning toward cloud computing, particularly private clouds, which address potential security risks, lack of control issues, and offer an alternative to the public cloud.

Private cloud solutions such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provide the elasticity, flexibility and scalability of a public cloud, but can be dedicated to one account, thus providing greater peace of mind. IaaS solutions offer the enterprise advantages such as cost savings, compliance, seamless technology upgrades and more control. So, can these benefits trickle down to the individual job level? Can IaaS solutions make life easier for the various departments throughout your organization?

Check out Data Center Basics, Comparing Costs and Security.

A Trusted Resource for Your IT Department

The office of the CIO and the IT department are probably the most visible areas of the company to be impacted immediately with an IaaS solution. No longer will the IT staff handle repairs, upgrades and replacements of hardware devices. These functions are now delivered by the cloud provider, freeing time from routine IT activities so company engineers can focus instead on more value-added efforts, such as creating new applications for greater mobility or developing data analytics for better insight into business operations. As a bonus, the IT department immediately sees the benefits of the latest and greatest hardware and software through regular technology refresh, rather than waiting for budget that may not come until “next year” or even later.

Check out this free resource guide to Private Cloud.

For the CFO, it’s all about the bottom line

Maintaining your own data center comes with a hefty price tag. Ongoing costs include staffing, real estate and facilities, utilities, hardware and networking equipment, and software. Additional costs include providing for redundancy and business continuity. If there is a need to expand due to new business, continue adding a few more zeros to the costs.

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With an IaaS solution, these ongoing functions are handled by the cloud provider. The flexibility of IaaS lets your company scale up or scale down immediately as business conditions change. In addition, financing options can help the CFO support an organization’s important investment in IaaS solutions to enable business continuity and growth.

Put compliance concerns to rest

Compliance and regulatory requirements keep legal and risk teams up at night. Managing and securing data requires meeting regulations such as PCI and HIPAA. A public cloud requires sharing servers, storage and network access, making compliance nearly impossible. On the other hand, a private cloud IaaS solution means dedicated hardware for your company, making compliance much easier and less expensive to manage.

Make doing business with you easier for customers and employees

Instead of your IT staff configuring and managing servers, team members could be building mobile apps or other options for customers to easily engage with your company. Self-service options in turn reduce the workload of your customer service reps, decreasing staffing costs. Cloud-enabled mobility allows your service teams to be on the ground to help customers in person, improving customer service as well.

Creating sales Super Stars

IaaS also puts customer data immediately into the hands of your sales teams. A salesperson will have simplified access to the data he or she requires to tailor conversations with customers, enabling a more effective sales process.

Turning over the administrative tasks and staffing needed in maintaining a data center to a cloud provider can produce a positive effect throughout an organization. Your best IT engineers are free to focus on the unique aspects of your business. Fewer capital expenditures and a more predictable monthly operating cost helps the CFO manage the bottom line. Private cloud services give the enterprise better security and control and instant access to the latest technology. IT staff is free to focus on value-added services—such as greater mobility and improved business insights through data analytics—which benefit departments throughout the organization.

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To learn more about the benefits of a private cloud, check out 5 Reasons You Can’t Ignore the Private Cloud Anymore. Fill out the form to download the ebook.

 
 
 
 
 



People. Patterns. Predictions. Meet the new NEC Advanced Recognition Systems.

This week I am celebrating my sixth anniversary with NEC. I recall that my original trip to visit the Headquarters in Tokyo was postponed by the unfortunate events of the 2011 Tsunami and earthquake.

Since then, we have established our Center of Excellence in North America and extended our offering to U.S. Federal clients. We also introduced a number of products and services, including ground breaking cloud-based Identity as a Service (IDaas), and we solidified our position as the premier provider to Law Enforcement and public safety clients in the United States.

These days, rather than thinking about the past I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the future. A future where I see continued proliferation of biometrics use, increased emphasis on crime prevention and a convergence of “identity” with access management. Through advancements in data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), our biometrics technology can evolve from technology used to determine where people have been and what they may have done, to predict where people will go and what they will do.

In response to these emerging market trends, today I’m proud to announce that we have rebranded our former biometrics solutions division to NEC Advanced Recognition Systems. I believe that biometrics coupled with high-powered analytical engines can predict and positively alter our travel experiences providing easier access, shorter lines and improved utilization of resources; recognize patterns for real-time monitoring, threat assessment and escalation and through it all provide tools for improved planning and forecasting.

Want more information about a Safety and Security solution from NEC?
Want more information about a Safety and Security solution from NEC?

To underscore our mission and align our products and services the new Advanced Recognition Systems group will give emphasis to three key words: People, Patterns and Predictions.

People. Our primary mission is to serve citizens and the people who protect them. Whether keeping the public safe at home, supporting troops overseas, improving the experience of travelers, or providing the right identity at the right time, our advanced recognition systems supply trusted intelligence to help build safer and brighter communities.

Patterns. From fingerprint pattern recognition to arrangements of accessible data, sequences of critical information are everywhere—you just have to know where to look. Our cutting-edge advanced recognition systems can pinpoint valuable patterns for solving crime, strengthening national security, and identifying trends and efficiencies for tech-savvy businesses. All to help enable diverse missions and realize the possibilities.

Predictions. Our advanced recognition systems can transform the efficiency of your team. Instead of simply gathering and reporting data, our technologies analyze intelligence to predict public safety threats, alert agencies to emerging global concerns, pinpoint potential risks in high-traffic venues, and provide invaluable input to critical business decisions.

Our new name better aligns our extensive local and global capabilities in meeting the all-encompassing needs of our clients. Using our systems integration approach to the market we are committed to understanding our clients’ challenges first, and assist them with a full solution implementation in comparison to any specific biometric technology or tool.

While finding success in reaching these new markets, we remain committed to our roots and will continue to consistently provide high-quality, accurate solutions for government and public safety markets.


I’d like to thank everyone who has participated in NEC’s success in the past six years and who have also contributed to the study and launch of this new vision. I hope you’ll take a look around the new Web site and help us spread the word.

Here’s to the future!

Advanced Recognition Systems
People. Patterns. Predictions.
Raffie

Advanced Recognition Systems and Solutions

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