No Budget to Replace or Upgrade Your IT Technology… No Worries!

In today’s environment of constant change, you may find yourself needing to replace or upgrade your IT/communications technology due to circumstances out of your control. For instance:

  • Vendor may have announced end-of-life for the system you currently have
  • An unexpected event has occurred that has compromised your system
  • Vendor has filed bankruptcy  and you don’t know what the future holds
  • New functionalities are being requested by end users that your system is not capable of
  • IT cannot expand and support the growth of your company’s communications requirements

When these situations arise, more often than not, it is not in the budget. And, as long as there is dial tone, it’s hard to convince the powers that be of the necessity of spending dollars on replacing their communications system. So, what are your options?

  • Do nothing and run the risk of your system going down or not being able to support your end users with the services they require
  • Look to see where you can find dollars in the existing budget and where you can make cuts on other projects

Or…

  • Consider financing or leasing options for your technology acquisitions

Financing is a great alternative to traditional funding sources. It lets you act quickly and does not negatively impact your budget. When choosing this path, you need to consider carefully the funding source. You need a source that is responsive and understands the nuances of acquiring new technology and has the expertise to meet your exact needs. One such company is NEC Financial Services.

NEC Financial Services has provided IT/communications finance solutions for more than 30 years and during that time has supported many companies in getting all their technology needs through flexible financing options. They start with a transaction team and use underwriting and financing contracts that are customizable to their clients’ needs. Their unique system enables them to create a better solution that ensures their clients have what they require to grow their business.

NEC Financial Services team offers several options for the financing and leasing of technology acquisitions. And, the best part? You can purchase various IT hardware, software and associated items from multiple vendors and have NEC create a financing package customized to your specific needs.
Some examples of the different financing and leasing approaches they offer that you will find are very different from a more traditional lender or bank:

  • Programs based on customer requirements – most organizations face the same business challenges that are not easily resolved with standard finance transactions. NEC Financial Services provides different types of programs based on customer requirements. From a purchase to own arrangement to an OPEX finance option, the program is designed to fit the business need. Including:
  • Terms to Protect Against Technology Obsolescence – for clients where obsolescence is a real issue, they can structure shorter terms so they can keep up with important technology updates to grow their business.  
  •  Maintenance Financing – option to finance one of the more expensive, yet critical components of a new technology purchase – maintenance.
  • Tech Refresh Lease – clients can get technology updated with a simple schedule as an addendum to the master lease or finance agreement. It’s easy and gives a customer an opportunity to keep on top of technology changes.
  • Software Financing an option for leveling out investment costs versus having the initial capital investment cash flow impact the budgeting cycle.
  • Off Balance Sheet – many organizations find it more attractive to acquire technology as an operational expense, giving them additional financial benefits.
  • Driven by cash flow – if an organization has a specific budget amount they need to meet, NEC Financial Services will work to structure financing to accommodate that number.
  • Our job would be to align the budget expense to the cost of that technology over time. For example, with a $10K budget a month – the goal would be to get that number to $10K or less.
  • Beyond the traditional – NEC Financial Services designs financing options to ensure that clients can receive funding for their technology upgrades and investments, even during the installation or implementation phases. Many times this can be accomplished through various offerings that include direct and working capital loans or structured financing.

In addition to the financing options, NEC Financial Services also provides asset tracking. They find that many of their clients require a more robust asset tracking system than they have in-house. They can track assets by jurisdiction, county, state, and zip code, taking the burden from their clients while providing added value.

NEC Financial Services goal is to support their clients’ ongoing business growth through long-term relationships. They make great efforts to understand client’s business requirements and growth strategies so that they can structure finance options to meet their needs and successfully implement their plans.

Technology is in NEC Financial Services DNA – especially since they are a division of NEC which was named as one of the 50 most innovative companies in 2016. They are truly committed to providing excellent service to their clients to ensure they are able to get the technology they need to remain competitive.

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NEC Enhances STEM Initiatives with Its Educational Offering

We live in an age of wonder where technological advances have made our everyday lives resemble science fiction movies from just a few years ago. What seemed fantastical then has become commonplace – and technological revolutions continue to occur at a rapid pace.

However, according to the U.S. Department of Education, only 16 percent of high school students are interested in or preparing for a technology–focused career, such as engineering or computer science.

Many schools are hoping to reverse this trend by instituting a STEM curriculum, which is a focus on the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and math.

NEC hopes to contribute to this reversal by supporting STEM initiatives. Recently, the NEC Foundation of America endowed $250,000 to the STEM program of the Irma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School.

NEC also supports STEM curriculums through its educational platform that is designed to align with any school’s STEM initiative.

“NEC’s STEM education offering, CCM Education powered by an organization called PassTheNotes (PTN), directly supports the federal strategic plan of STEM,” said Gregg Alvarez, education vertical practice manager at NEC Corporation of America. “Teachers and students have the ability to upload content. They can make it searchable and tag it to national standards, state standards, keywords, and a particular topic. It creates an interactive content repository that drives toward an enhanced educational experience. And the benefit of being a cloud-based offering is that students don’t necessarily have to be in school to have access to all the material and content they need for their projects and lessons.”

Today’s classrooms are evolving as quickly as the rest of the world. Concepts like STEM and teaching approaches such as project-based learning are transforming the traditionally rigid view of learning one subject at a time into a more cohesive learning experience.

“For example,” said Alvarez, “let’s say there’s news in Florida about a 16-foot, 800-pound alligator that was caught. A teacher can build off this news by creating a project on the ecosystem and environments of the Florida alligator. Through the CCM Education platform, students can reach out to educational websites and YouTube.edu to pull in specific, relevant content. However, they can go further and conference in a field researcher that was involved with the team that captured the large predator. This creates a community where students and working scientists and researchers can connect and engage. It obliterates the question of, ‘Where will I ever use this?’ because students get invested in real-world applications of science and technology.”

Naturally, an essential component is a teacher that is able to use technology and STEM concepts to engage and motivate students. That’s why STEM initiatives focus on preparing teachers to succeed in this new learning environment. NEC’s offering provides platforms and communication features to support STEM teachers in both their classroom preparation and professional development.

“Research shows that top performing teachers make a difference in the student’s academic success,” said Alvarez. “Achievement gaps narrow significantly for students who learn from these teachers year after year. That’s why our CCM education solution enables teachers to design content, create assessments that can be aligned to standards, and really encourage student collaboration and interaction between social learning features.”

In addition, teachers, administrators, and parents can rest assured that NEC’s educational platform delivers a safe learning environment for every student, including adherence to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

“All content that students can access in the classroom is secure,” said Alvarez. “Teachers and administrators can denote elements that can be accessed. They have total digital rights management and total control of content. Students cannot pull material in from unauthorized websites. Our offering supports all the FERPA standards and has 256 SSL encryption to ensure the safety and security of the users in the environment.”

The ability to collaborate and work on projects as a team is essential in today’s workplace. STEM initiatives provide students with skillsets they will use as they move through school and ultimately in the job force.

“Students today are so tech savvy,” said Alvarez, “that maximizing their educational experience by giving them an equally tech savvy learning environment that incorporates real-world events and habits they are used to, such as social media and social sharing, provides them with the best chance moving forward.”

Orchestrating a Brighter World Fuels NEC’s Sponsorship of the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout LPGA Tour Event

NEC’s official brand message, “Orchestrating a brighter world,”   has multiple meanings, but it originated as a way to showcase our global identity and value as a provider of technology and solutions for a better society.  We also promote this value by supporting altruistic causes and organizations.

Our brand message was on full display as NEC Corporation of America was a primary sponsor and the proud Official Technology Partner of the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout LPGA Tour event, held April 26th  through May 1st at the Las Colinas Country Club.

It was an exciting event, especially for Jenny Shin, who claimed her first LPGA tour win with a two-stroke victory. Plano resident Gerina Piller tied for second place with Amy Yang and Mi Jung Hur.

The Volunteers of America is a faith-based organization dedicated to helping those in need. The group provides affordable housing to low-income individuals, long-term nursing care for seniors, and human service programs for veterans, seniors, people with disabilities, at-risk youth, homeless individuals and families, men and women returning from prison, and those recovering from addictions.

“The Volunteers of America Texas Shootout aligns with our company values and we are delighted to support a world-class sporting event that benefits the community where our employees live and work,” said Shinsuke (Shin) Takahashi, president and CEO of NEC Corporation of America.

The Volunteers of America Texas Shootout is the only LPGA Tour event in the state of Texas and featured 19 of the top 20 female golfers in the world.

The tournament also provided a unique opportunity for high school and college amateur female players to tee it up against the best players in the world through two qualifying “Shootouts.” The top two finishers from each shootout qualified for a spot in the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout.

“We are extremely excited to have NEC as our Official Technology Partner,” said tournament director Kristy Nutt. “Their products and services are second to none and we will benefit from NEC’s LCD display technology. It is great having a sponsor that has offices in Irving and has the same drive to engage and support the community.”

To volunteer or donate to the Volunteers of America, please click here.

LPGA Volunteers of America Golf Event Lunch

“NEC and golf have been linked for many years and this opportunity in our back yard uses a high profile stage to help improve societal standards of living,” said Takahashi.  “At NEC, we practice a core value we refer to as “orchestrating a brighter world,” and this is a wonderful way for our employees to be involved and express it.”

NEC Strengthens Its Biometrics Solution by Partnering with Expert Dr. Anil Jain

As a society, we’re increasingly comfortable with cameras being a part of everyday life. They’re built into our phones, hanging over every traffic light, and placed behind most cash registers. Still, for law enforcement, a perfect image of a face can be hard to come by, especially when suspects intentionally try to obscure their identity.

It was this issue that Dr. Anil Jain, distinguished professor of computer science and engineering at Michigan State University (MSU), set out to solve Using a database of unconstrained images – also known as “faces in the wild” because pictures are pulled from sources like social media – Dr. Jain and his team (Dr. Dayong Wang, a postdoctoral researcher, and Charles Otto, a doctoral student) created an algorithm that quickly generates a list of candidate matches to help identify unknown faces from surveillance camera footage or crime-scene images.

NEC recently partnered with Dr. Jain and MSU to license this large-scale face-search system and will use it to enhance its current facial recognition solutions.

“NEC has a very powerful face recognition software called NeoFace that was primarily designed for mug shot to mug shot matching,” said Dr. Jain, “and it has performed extremely well compared to its peers in that kind of scenario. So, they were looking for a solution for the problem where query images have rather large variability in terms of pose, illumination, and expression, and still need to be searched against large face databases.”

“NEC is committed to maintaining its leadership position in facial recognition solutions,” said Raffie Beroukhim, vice president, NECAM’s Biometrics Solutions Division. “In addition to our own continued research, partnerships with academia, in particular Michigan State University, is an important aspect of this commitment. We look forward to the fusion of MSU large-scale face-search algorithm with our industry-leading NeoFace facial algorithms to offer more compelling solutions to address ever-increasing security threats and enhance public and national security.”

“What we provided is a prototype,” said Dr. Jain. “NEC will modify the algorithm that we provided, integrate it with their existing systems, and improve the overall face recognition performance.”

Since joining MSU in 1974, Dr. Jain has received numerous recognitions for his contributions to the field of pattern recognition and biometrics, including his February 2016 election to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), one of the highest professional distinctions bestowed on an engineer.

Interestingly, he didn’t set out to specialize in biometrics. His career took a turn when the U.S. government engaged Dr. Jain, about 25 years back, to find civilian applications for a government-designed hardware, the Splash 2 processor, that was based on FPGA technology.

“They didn’t tell me to work on biometrics, but the hardware that they provided us made us realize that it was extremely suitable for a generic image processing operation, called point matching, where we extract landmarks from two separate images and put them in correspondence or alignment. And since fingerprint matching is done by using point (minutia) correspondence … it was like serendipity.”

For years, biometrics was primarily used for law enforcement and government applications. Over the past five years or so, we’re seeing more consumer applications of biometrics. We use fingerprints to unlock smartphones. There’s even a facial recognition application that can estimate a subject’s age and gender for targeted advertisements. According to Dr. Jain, the rise of biometrics in our everyday lives has had an element of serendipity as well – where market forces have had to align with high usability and low cost to facilitate adoption.

“Who would have imagined just four years ago that everybody would be using a fingerprint to unlock their phones? Biometrics for mobile devices had been available earlier, but it didn’t really become popular until Apple introduced the Touch ID fingerprint sensor in 2013. This shows that sometimes, even though the technology may be ready, the technology doesn’t lift off unless it’s packaged properly – like Apple putting the fingerprint sensor in the home button.”

Dr. Jain and his doctoral students continue to use their research laboratory to investigate real-world issues and address long-standing research problems. In addition to the large-scale face-search system, recent topics include a study on the persistence of fingerprint recognition accuracy over time and methods to prevent printed photo and replay attacks on a face recognition system.

“We’re really proud of the work we did on fingerprint persistence and face spoof detection because these fundamental problems needed to be answered,” said Dr. Jain. “And these are the issues that need to be addressed for every biometric modality. The impact of the problem is what we keep in mind when we choose which topic to work on. Sometimes, more than technology advancement, we take pleasure in advancing fundamental scientific work.”

NEC is proud to collaborate with visionary leaders like Dr. Jain. NEC already has one of the strongest biometrics offerings available, and as we continue our own research and forge partnerships with biometric leaders, the future of biometrics is something to look forward to.

Free eBook: Achieving Higher Availability in UC

Decisions based by expert insight increase the probability of more successful outcomes.  This is why we at NEC are pleased to offer you Achieving High Availability In UC, an informative ebook/white paper by communications and security consultant Gary Audin, president of Delta, Inc.

 

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In addition to a comprehensive look at unified communications (UC) and the importance of system availability, this 22-page report also examines the key components needed to put together and sustain a UC-enabled communications environment.
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This free offer will help you to educate your stakeholders on how best to deliver a 24×7 solution capable of supporting today’s need for ongoing business continuity and connectivity.. It also serves as a reminder that when backed by NEC, your organization can more readily realize the benefits of an UC-enabled workplace.
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