NEC & Black Box: Enterprise IT Solutions on a Global Stage

As any information technology (IT) professional knows, you need an IT infrastructure that’s secure and trustworthy, one that’s robust enough to achieve your current needs and agile enough to grow as a company expands. Well, the same can be said of an IT solutions partner.

Black Box Corporation is a leading technology solutions provider that’s helped its customers build, manage, optimize, and secure IT infrastructure for more than 40 years. Also, for the majority of that time, Black Box has been a trusted collaborator with NEC as a leading North American dealer of NEC solutions.

“NEC and Black Box’s relationship goes back 30 plus years,” said Mike McAndrew, CEO of Black Box Corporation. “Throughout that entire period, one of the key attributes that has lent itself to the success that we’ve had together is the clarity and commitment of the NEC team to the channel partner.”

McAndrew continued, “I think back to our first significant (UNIVERGE) 3C client. I got an email from one of the client representatives who remarked on how the Black Box and NEC teams were working together on a major cutover as if they were one company. And I was really proud of that note, because it was us working together, but in the client’s eyes we worked as a single unit.”

Recently, this partnership took a huge step forward as the two companies expanded their North American agreement into a global distribution channel.

“Essentially, we have two global companies that have been operating effectively outside of North America on their own,” said Larry Levenberg, vice president of NEC Corporation of America. “This agreement brings together new global capabilities for both companies.”

The new arrangement means that Black Box can now offer NEC’s unified communications and collaboration (UCC) solution, UNIVERGE 3C, to its global clients, as it has for its North American clients. UNIVERGE 3C integrates multiple media types to ensure that employees have the information they need anywhere, anytime, and from any device.

Our clients are looking to simplify their IT and communications environment, while at the same time bring more capabilities to that environment relative to collaboration tools, network management, and other aspects. So, UCC has been a crown jewel for us,” said McAndrew.

NEC’s UCC solutions unleash productivity by combining IT and voice to facilitate mobility and “anywhere” communication. As more and more companies increase their global footprint, they require an IT infrastructure that is:

  • Agile enough to be accessed anywhere and evolve as needed
  • Resilient enough to handle the pressures of a global workforce
  • Secure enough to withstand the threats of today and whatever may come tomorrow

It’s an approach NEC calls Smart Enterprise.

“The commitment to a positive client experience from NEC and Black Box is really tremendous,” said McAndrew. “Listening to the clients and what their needs are and finding unique solutions for them is the hallmark of a successful channel partner, systems integrator, and partnership moving forward.”

For nearly four decades, NEC and Black Box have collaborated to provide North American companies with agile, resilient, secure, and united IT and voice solutions. This expanded agreement will ensure global availability to the powerful, converged business applications of UCC – solutions that empower a workforce from virtually anywhere.

“We have put together a very cohesive and full portfolio of solutions, and having an integrator like Black Box that can go out there and put all those pieces together, make the commitment and serve those clients both from a sales perspective and operations as well as installation really means a lot. I’m glad that our views are so closely aligned going forward, and I think we’re really going to see a lot of success in the future,” said Levenberg.

Flipping The Educational Script

When it comes to our current educational system, there is certainly no shortage of opinions. Realistically, we need a more efficient, better way of educating young people and adults. Fortunately, there are some forward-thinking innovators who are up to tackling the task of improving how we educate and teach.

For many students, and instructors, memories of the classroom are comprised of boring lectures and staring at the clock waiting for the torture to end. Traditionally, the classroom experience has been very linear with the instructor providing lectures, students taking notes, and of course, the dreaded pop quiz or exam. However, with the continued adoption and advancement of technology, learning experiences are changing for the better. A recent article in Fast Company magazine covered the information provided from the world’s most innovative companies in education, which outlines some of the innovations we can expect over the next five years. These include:

  • Students will interact with others remotely.
  • Success of technology in the classroom will still rely on skilled instructors.
  • Degrees will be unbundled, and we’ll think about diplomas differently.
  • Students will have a voice.
  • Educators and institutions will be forced to adapt.

Many of the innovations these companies expect to see are available now, including the advent of collaborative learning and online communication for the classroom. The progression of learning is now a multi-dimensional process where teachers and students pull together to enhance the learning experience. It is critical for learning management systems (LMS) to begin working toward how individual students learn, rather than a providing a traditional classroom format online.

For these reasons, NEC has created a collaborative tool that literally flips the classroom, thereby allowing students and teachers to collaborate in a way that is powerful while really improving learning opportunities.

Knowledge is Power

NEC recognized that educators were looking for a solution that provided faculty a tool to expand upon course curriculums through the addition of content. Currently, teachers are working to flip the classroom using multiple resources and platforms such as YouTube, Google Drive, and Schoology. They need a way to provide a cohesive student user experience while minimizing the amount of time students spend visiting multiple sites. Therefore, NEC constructed the Collaborative Content Management Solution (CCMS) and has joined with PassTheNotes (PTN) to offer cloud-based learning management and leverage the best existing educational solutions.

It’s an integration of technology that empowers both students and instructors to “flip the classroom” in a way that now incorporates students in the process of creating curriculum. Using the foundation of PTN, NEC embeds the collaboration solution into our user interface, providing an efficient method for faculty and students to use the entire solution easily and seamlessly.

The effect is a “flipped” classroom, where students and teachers collaborate during classroom time (either in person or online) and students not only listen to lectures during their own time, but they can also contribute to the next class lecture by uploading content into an online folder. Think of it like this – what was normally lecture now becomes an interaction between students and faculty to really drive home learning, and what was normally homework time is spent listening to faculty lectures and allowing students to add their own input to the next classroom experience.

Today, the Internet and social media are a huge part of almost everyone’s daily life. Younger generations are constantly glued to their multiple portable devices. NEC is giving students the ability to be a part of their own educational experience by gathering existing industry knowledge to develop integrations to meet the ever-changing educational needs.

The benefit to faculty and students is tangible and already being realized for those institutions adopting a flipped classroom model.

Collaborative Learning

Teachers and faculty are not only able to follow the core curriculum in a more organized and simplified manner, but also are provided with the flexibility to add and expand upon their teaching elements. NEC helps faculty expand on course curriculums through the addition of content that better connects with students. In addition, NEC’s CCMS includes comprehensive training and professional development so that teachers can focus on education rather than the technology.

Students are developing a desire to be more engaged in their education. Through the flipped classroom, students can make this desire a reality. For instance, if a student is browsing the Internet and comes across a blog, video, or article that reminds her of something she is  learning in school, it can easily be uploaded into the class folder. If a teacher is providing a history lesson, students are given the opportunity to collaborate on the curriculum by uploading videos from current day events that tie in with the lesson. Then, not only are students more engaged, but teachers are able to help them draw conclusions in a real-life manner that was not previously available. Through this process of sharing information, students are actively participating in their education. This creates a more personal learning experience whereby students can relate events in their life with classroom material.

 

Content Management and Collaboration
Free Content and Collaboration Webinar

Flip the Script

Education is rapidly becoming a #collaborative interaction between teachers and students.  It is now moving toward a workgroup team dynamic that is focused on the educational experience and leveraging technology to increase student engagement. Students are now finding that the subjects they are studying are not only interesting, but are also relevant in everyday life.

Plus there are additional benefits beyond the improved learning environment. Students are learning to work in a virtual environment, something employers will desire in future employees. In addition, they learn valuable teamwork and collaboration skills that will help them with their future endeavors.

If you desire more information on NEC’s CCMS and how we are flipping the classroom, check out the information on our Collaborative Content Management Solution page.

Under the Sea…with Internet?

Can you imagine a world where ANYTHING is possible? Science fiction movies have depicted it: people living on the moon, on a planet, or under the sea. But now, are we coming closer to fantasy becoming a reality? Perhaps so!

Case in point – recently Fabien Cousteau, the grandson of the late Jacques Cousteau, famed underwater photographer and scientific researcher/oceanographer, announced he will make his home under the sea for 31 days, which would outdo his famous grandfather’s record of 30 days, which was set nearly 50 years ago.

Stay connected with NEC solutions

But the challenge is not just some “Harry Houdini” personal challenge the 46-year-old wants to take on. Cousteau will be there will a full team of scientific researchers to study the underwater environment, in an attempt to understand its challenges and unique issues.

When interviewed, the younger Cousteau stated that there would be a number of challenges, both physically and psychologically, but that “the backyard will be infinite.”

But perhaps the most interesting thing about this scenario is the fact that, with all of the new technologies available, Cousteau will still be connected to the world through the use of modern communications systems now available to a global market.

NEC’s UNIVERGE 3C™ UC system enables people to communicate “anywhere, anytime from any device.” 3C handles the seamless integration of multiple devices and platforms, and is truly an all-in-one solution to communications in the 21st century.

Some of the features of this innovative technology include:

A software-based solution that allows integration of multiple media aspects, communication, and collaboration is a Godsend for any industry  that needs a way to communicate at different times or even across different time zones. The built-in recording capability is a big plus, as it allows people to record and document events at a moment’s notice, no matter where they are located.

It also offers some security, and peace of mind, that, should something go wrong, one could easily alert people from the outside world without having to go to another location.

‘COMMUNICATE ANYWHERE, ANYTIME – UNDER WATER, ACROSS LAND OR… ACROSS THE LOBBY’

The hospitality industry embraces the ease of use, mobility and robust capabilities available with this technology and others. The average traveler is constantly connected, consistently mobile and expects to be plugged in all the time. Or at least have the option to stay in contact while on the move.

Many hotels and motels, resorts, and other locations are starting to implement this technology by offering not only wireless, but integrated communications solutions that allow you access to your virtual desktop from your mobile devices and other portals through the use of Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS)and 3C solutions.

DaaS provides access to your desktop from the cloud, no matter your location.  It is a virtual solution to access information and functionality without physically being at the location where the data resides. NEC’s DaaS offering creates a secure gateway between the individual’s location and the virtual desktop, then passes the information back to the person, no matter where he is.

Some newer hotels even have ways for guests to control the room technology without ever leaving their beds, such as thermostats and cooling systems, lights, and even security systems. The ability for guests to interact with technology in their room seems almost space age – but is already here.

THE JETSONS ARRIVE

There’s no doubt the world is changing and new technologies enable amazing things which would only have been dreamt of in the past. So, when Jane and George check into a hotel, instead of having to fumble around for their ID and their credit card, a facial recognition solution, such as NEC’s VIP guest recognition system, NeoFace® Watch, will recognize them as they walk up to the front desk. They can use an app to check into their room and may have the option to pay their bill by scanning their fingerprint at the checkout area.  Once inside their room, our couple will be able to control the thermostat, security system, and lights with only a click, while ordering room service with another app on their smart devices. This technology is here and it is an exciting time for anyone wanting to enjoy all of the amenities of home while away.

The future technology available for hotels and other hospitality venues will be on display at the HITEC technology show in Los Angeles from June 23 through 26. We’ll be there showcasing some of these amazing innovations, so please stop by NEC’s booth If you cannot attend, please visit our hospitality solutions page to learn more about technology that helps make your guests more comfortable, and your staff more efficient.

 

 

Enterprise Connect: A Recap

Enterprise Connect gathered together the industry’s finest corporations, vendors, analysts and media to learn about the newest enterprise-focused communications and collaboration technology and the best approaches for implementation. Not only did we meet with analysts to gather insight, we met with partners and other industry experts to discuss the current landscape and what each of us as leaders could do to propel the industry forward.

Role- and Location-Based Demonstrations

Throughout the session, both channel partners and end customers visited booth #1200 to learn how NEC products such as UNIVERGE 3Cand UNIVERGE Cloud Services UCaaSare utilized within home, office and remote environments.

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A Toast to Innovation

To cap off day two at the conference, NEC celebrated its 50thanniversary in North America with an upscale soiree during the Tuesday evening booth crawl, replete with booth staff in black tie attire and a toast to celebrate 50 years of innovation.  While sipping champagne and sparkling water, attendees were able to enjoy NEC’s demos to the sounds of a harpist.

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Sessions

In sessions such as “Is UC Moving Towards A New Plateau or Towards a Cliff” and “Enabling the Nomadic Workforce” NEC’s Todd Landry discussed the factors that are affecting the ever-changing environment at today’s enterprises, such as mobility, on-demand collaboration, virtual workspaces and more. He addressed ways that companies can meet the needs of the various constituents among their workforces.

We also showcased the healthcare vertical through the market leaders’ presentation “UC Challenges in Healthcare,” and included ways healthcare companies can address the changes that are on the horizon through technology and innovative solutions.

Throughout the conference, we spoke in order to garner insights that will not only propel the industry forward, but also strengthen our channel program and provide results for our end customers. NEC’s forward-looking remarks during the sessions were well received, often sparking lively debate and opinions on how the enterprise network is evolving and the role of emerging technologies such as cloud solutions.

Overall, Enterprise Connect 2013 was an excellent opportunity to explore new ideas, share insights and look forward to future innovation in the communications and collaboration technology space.

To learn more about empowering your workforce visit: http://necam.com/empowered

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UNIVERGE 3C Client – How it Works

Today is the day! NEC Corporation of America (NEC) has announced the general availability of its UNIVERGE 3C Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) software.  Originally announced in March, NEC's product team has been working diligently to test and deploy the solution so that it is ready for prime time. 

Meanwhile, our sales support team produced a great module overview of the UNIVERGE 3C UC Client, its features, how it works, and overall benefits to end users.

This video module overview is part of NEC's Focus On UC series now available on our YouTube channel (youtube.com/interactivenec).

We hope you'll take a few minutes to check it out!