Creating a Communications System Built for Hybrid work: How existing customers can transform their on-prem solution with cloud-based flexibility

Survey after survey keeps telling us that the in-office workplace is a thing of the past. Offices are not obsolete, but most companies admit that remote work didn’t cause any collapses of infrastructure, operations, or productivity. In fact, 83 percent of employers and 71 percent of employees call remote work a success according to PwC’s Remote Work Survey.

Hybrid work models involve flexibility on where someone works, whether remote, on-site, or anywhere in between. However, this model is creating challenges for businesses with existing on-premises phone systems as they look for a seamless transition that keeps operations moving forward.

Introducing UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT BRIDGE – Your BRIDGE to the Cloud

Up until now, the options on-premises NEC customers had in response to remote and hybrid work was limited. On-premises users had two options: continue utilizing an existing on-premises phone system with disparate applications or abandon the on-prem investment and move to a completely different solution.

NEC recognized the need to provide another option to meet the needs of our customers in this new work environment. That’s why we created UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT BRIDGE. This new option extends existing NEC phone systems with cloud-based communication tools via desktop and mobile apps, creating a seamless, all-in-one communications experience.

Protect Your NEC Phone System Investment, Extend Its Capabilities

Many on-premises NEC PBX customers are choosing to keep their existing on-premises system due to its’ long shelf life, despite the hybrid work benefits of cloud communications; and this is why we have differentiated our strategy from other competitors in this space. NEC will continue selling and supporting premise systems for many years to come, and enhance their capabilities through integrations into the cloud. This is great news for NEC premise customers! If your on-premises system continues to work well for your business, there is probably not an immediate need to migrate to a full cloud-based unified communications (UCaaS) solution. You already paid the capital expense for your on-premises system, so it’s understandable for businesses to opt out of a full cloud migration to see their investment through its end-of-life.

With UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT BRIDGE, existing on-premises NEC customers no longer have to choose between the flexibility of cloud communications or protecting their current phone system investment.

UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT BRIDGE was designed specifically for NEC customers. It seamlessly integrates with:

  • UNIVERGE® SV9100
  • UNIVERGE® SV9300
  • UNIVERGE® SV9500
  • UNIVERGE 3C®

CONNECT BRIDGE enables inbound and outbound calling via desktop and mobile apps, PLUS includes an integrated suite of collaboration services.

Consolidate Multiple Standalone Solutions – Reduce Complexity and Costs

To keep up with the needs of the workforce during the pandemic, businesses with on-premises phone systems turned to standalone collaboration services with the intent of empowering employees to stay connected and maintain productivity from dispersed locations. While this approach may have worked for the short term, as a long-term solution, there are many drawbacks.

Leveraging multiple disparate systems cause productivity and efficiency challenges. Lack of integration results in these standalone tools living in silos, leading to significant issues for the business at the user level. Additionally, using multiple standalone solutions often means juggling multiple vendors and bills. This can result in billing complexities and higher costs than consolidating all your tools into one application, which is traditionally a benefit of migrating your entire solution to the cloud.

UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT BRIDGE brings together your existing NEC phone system with the critical collaboration tools your teams need – all in one single application from the provider you already trust with your business communications, NEC. By extending your existing NEC phone system with cloud-based tools via desktop and mobile apps, employees enjoy one seamless solution with all the collaboration tools they need to get work done. The days of switching back and forth from one application to another are over. Now, employees receive a seamless, all-in-one communications experience for one low per-user monthly fee.

How To Solve Collaboration Issues In A Hybrid Work Environment

Allowing for remote flexibility is good for business and retaining high-value employees. They have different expectations now, with 92 percent of employees requesting to work remotely at least one day a week.

How do you manage a hybrid workforce and all their communication and collaboration needs? Regardless of where your employees sit, they should have the same experience with access to the technology required to do their jobs well. Now, on-premises NEC users can leverage their existing platform to be the ideal solution for hybrid teams. With UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT BRIDGE, employees can collaborate in the office, at home, or anywhere in between with integrated video conferencing, chat, and file sharing/backup.

Hybrid work requires advanced tools such as video, chat, messaging, and file sharing to enable seamless and quick collaboration. For businesses with existing on-premises NEC phone systems, depending solely on the voice features with an on-premises PBX could result in a disadvantage when it comes to hybrid working and attracting new talent who expects flexible working environments.

Enhance productivity and collaboration through seamless cloud UC integrations with NEC’S UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT BRIDGE, keeping your team connected anywhere they are.

How Organizations Need to Respond to Shifting Communications Needs

Business communications needs are different than they were during the in-office work era. While businesses had to pivot to address communications and collaboration quickly, many did so in haste; hence, the standalone applications model. Now, you need business communications tools that address current and future work models. Futureproofing the work model will be a priority for every business that wants to grow and thrive. Thankfully, there’s a way to do this while leveraging your investment with your existing NEC phone system through NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT BRIDGE.

Now is the time to look for a consolidated approach that extends your business phone system to remote workers, protects your current investment, and adds on additional voice and collaboration tools that your employees need to stay connected and productive. To learn how NEC can help, reach out to your Authorized NEC Representative, or visit the CONNECT BRIDGE website to learn more: www.univergeblue.com/connect-bridge

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NEC National Security Systems Showcases Digital Identity Solutions

NEC National Security Systems (NEC NSS) showcased its robust, cloud-native digital management platform, body worn solutions and iris recognition capabilities at the connect:ID 2021 conference, October 5-6 in Washington, D.C.

Enlightening Speeches & Future-Focused Conversations

NEC speakers presented and participated in illuminating interviews and discussions during connect:ID, including company leaders: Dr. Kathleen Kiernan, the newly appointed president of NEC NSS; Raffie Beroukhim, SVP and Chief Experience Officer and NEC NSS board member; and Kris Ranganath, Chief Technology Officer.

  • Dr. Kiernan delivered an opening keynote focusing on “Putting a Face on the Digital ID Generation.”
  • Ranganath presented “Decentralized Identity” during a summit speech regarding the benefits of decentralized identity management solutions.
  • As a board member of the International Biometric Identity Association (IBIA), Raffie participated in a panel discussion on key topics in advanced recognition for government agencies.

In addition, Allen Ganz, Vice President of Customer Experience, was interviewed on the topic of “The Future of Digital Travel.” Ganz, who has implemented biometric solutions in the aviation industry, shared information about the first curb-to-gate system for a commercial airline in the United States, which was unveiled at Atlanta’s Terminal F in 2019.

Authentication & Digital Identity Solutions

At the conference NEC NSS hosted a prominent booth showcasing their digital identity management and body worn solutions, that provide identity intelligence, by combining NEC’s best of breed matching algorithms with cutting edge wearable cameras.

They also displayed NEC Digital Platform, a highly secure and scalable digital identity management platform that effortlessly brings touchless experiences to countless use cases. The platform provides a unified experience for a variety of services and transactions by using a unique, multi-factor Digital ID based on biometric authentication and AI technology. It streamlines both physical and digital identities into a secure, privacy-driven ecosystem for a seamless, secure, more personalized, and intuitive customer experience.

Also featured was the new iris-face combo kiosk that seamlessly matches a user’s iris or face—or both modalities simultaneously—against an existing document. Using NEC’s proprietary eye detection technology and remote gaze detection, this solution provides biometric authentication under a variety of conditions.

To learn how NEC NSS provides vital biometric, AI and computer support to U.S. government agencies, please visit the website. You can also follow NEC NSS on Twitter at @NECNSSFed and on its LinkedIn page.

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ID Authentication Protects People and Social Programs

States can protect people and government programs from ID theft and fraud losses with quick and accurate photo analysis.

Everyone is born unique, and we have reason to protect our individual identity. Our identity opens doors—to travel, employment and public benefits. A stolen identity can cause serious damage and longstanding consequences to a person’s finances and reputation.

As more citizens require social services benefits, fraudulent payments to ineligible recipients of state social services are compounded every year on a state and national level. Thus, directly harming people whose identity is stolen for these fraudulent payments, this theft negatively affects all taxpayers.

According to the Federal Trade Commission1, COVID-19 triggered a higher risk of identity theft.2 In 2020, the FTC fielded 394,280 reports of government benefits fraud, by fraudulently filing applications in someone else’s name to collect unemployment and federal stimulus payments, or to obtain government-sponsored loans. Identity thieves stole funds intended for people who were financially hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Better Way

Is there a more cost-effective solution available for state and local agencies to identify and reduce fraud? The answer is YES – by using one of NEC’s fast and accurate biometric authentication solutions this can be achieved.

Take a look at this current example and proof point with the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT).

Arizona’s Department of Transportation adopted NEC technology to authenticate new driver’s license applications at the beginning of applicant process.3 When someone applies for a new license or ID card, their biometrics are analyzed against an entire database of issued ID photos to ensure they are not duplicate, or fraudulent IDs.

In one extreme case, ADOT discovered one man had 87 unique IDs issued with a single photo. NEC biometrics algorithm and digital platform make it possible for the professionals screening the photos to accurately detect nearly 200 instances of potential fraud among the 8,000 new records processed each day.

How It Works

Here’s a quick description of the customer and user experience:

  1. Enrollment begins with NEC’s SmartScan® Biometric Capture System (BCS), which can capture and manage all enrollees’ images needed for an ID, including faces, fingerprints, and signatures.
  2. Authentication of the enrollee is accomplished by comparing the new image captured with the existing biometric records in the agencies database, using NEC’s NeoFace® Reveal solution this can be done fast and accurately, even with older low-quality images on record.
  3. Finally, NEC’s digital platform creates a unique Digital ID to be used for authentication, thus allowing people to use their personal mobile devices for secure and contactless enrollment with participating agencies.

For more detail check out this three-page preview our whitepaper that provides more in-depth information about NEC’s ID authentication platform and fraud prevention solutions.

Click here to learn more or fill out the form below to download the entire whitepaper.

1 Identity Theft Awareness Week starts today | FTC Consumer Information
2 Identity Theft Awareness Week starts today | FTC Consumer Information
3 https://www.necam.com/Docs/?id=f3345766-0dba-4ded-89d0-e95dfea65cdf

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Please use the form below to download the NEC Digital Platform for State and Local Governments whitepaper.

Blazing Trails in Biometrics and Digital Identity for Law Enforcement at the 35th Annual IBA User Conference

Recently, we hosted our annual International Biometrics Association (IBA) Users’ Conference at The Westin Dallas Fort Worth in Irving, Texas. My sincere gratitude goes out to everyone who helped to plan an exciting ‘comeback conference’ post COVID-19 that included an educational program, interactive exhibit showroom and informative product updates and presentations.

As a side note, I would like to point out how much I enjoyed that the conference was in person with almost 80 new and longtime attendees. I think we can all agree that we accomplish so much more with in-person meetings and networking!

This year’s conference focus was on the new risks and challenges faced by law enforcement and public safety officials. Now, officers and first-responders alike must have their health and safety protected on-the-go. Several conference attendees have faced tremendous adversity in recent months. The awards and evening activities were an opportunity to recognize their hard work and dedication to public safety.

Awards and Evening Activities

These award recipients were nominated by their peers with their cases being solved using NEC technology. Please join me in extending another round of congratulations to the following individuals:

IBA Biometric Hit of The Year Award Recipients:

  • 2020, Detective Earl Fisher, Arizona Department of Transportation
  • 2021, Shannon Pounders, Virginia State Police
  • 2021, Detective Dennis Luis, Phoenix Police Department

NEC Employee of The Year:

  • 2020, Dennis O’Neil, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department
  • 2021, Jessica Fuchino, NEC

Technology Solutions and Products Highlights

At the conference we were excited to share updates to help solve or minimize these challenges. Our conference sessions included updates on the latest technology trends such as facial recognition, personal safety and the rapid collection of DNA during livescan arrest bookings and contactless fingerprint capture. With the announcement that NEC Face Recognition has again ranked first in the world by NIST, biometrics technology was the hot topic of the conference.

Product highlights revealed NEC solutions for:

  • Mobile-friendly contactless capture and rapid multi-agency search of biometric databases with NEC Mobile WAY
  • Livescan biometrics technology for multimodal images with NEC SmartScan including integrated Rapid DNA Collection
  • Field-tested id management and scene processing with NEC Digital Platform
  • Faster identification of offenders and greater precision of latent investigation for effective crime-solving with NEC Integra-ID Biometric Workstation

Please take a minute to watch the video recap and view the picture gallery from the conference.  

I would like to give a special thanks to the Irving Police Department for serving as the host police department at this year’s event. They were instrumental in creating an inviting environment for conference attendees and brought a Texas-sized level of southern charm and hospitality.

We look forward to seeing everyone at the 2022 IBA Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana where we plan to continue to partner and bring innovative solutions to law enforcement agencies and invest in biometrics, digital identity and multimodal recognition solutions.

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UNIVERGE BLUE is not just a suite of services, it’s a strategy for NEC’s Channel Partners

As a global leader in communications solutions with over 75 million global users, NEC relies on a large Channel Partner network to drive the best results for those customers. NEC started offering services for products well over a decade ago in response to the service-model demand from customers.

In the “NEC UNIVERGE BLUE is a Strategy, and a Suite of Services” Podcast, I sat down with NEC’s Director of UNIVERGE BLUE Sales Strategy,Mike Mitsch to discuss NEC’S UNIVERGE BLUE Partner Program. In the podcast, we learn how UNIVERGE BLUE helps NEC’s end-users successfully meet their cloud migration plans while enabling the Channel Partner to remain close to the customer and effectively “own” the relationship, even as the customer moves to the service model.

What is UNIVERGE BLUE?

NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE offers a comprehensive set of unified communications, collaboration, backup/disaster recovery, and contact center services. UNIVERGE BLUE incorporates all the clients’ business communication methods and devices into one integrated, easy-to-manage system.

According to Mitsch, UNIVERGE BLUE not only delivers enterprise-grade cloud communications and backup as a service, but it’s been tailored to the needs of the Channel Partners who historically, literally, installed the NEC base, and that base’s customers.

“UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD SERVICES Channel Partner Program was designed to give our Channel Partners choices” explains Mike. NEC understands that partner programs are not “one size fits all” – and that is why NEC lets Channel Partners choose from three, robust Channel Partner models based on what’s right for their business and their customers, and how they want to make money.

  • Customer Ownership Model: In this model, the customer contracts with the Channel Partner who has full ownership of billing, bundling and support. They take top line revenue on a Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) basis.
  • Agency Model & Revenue Share Model: In these models, the customer contracts with NEC through the Channel Partner. Channel partners are still fully involved with the customer during the sale and on-going support, while NEC handles billing if that’s what the partner prefers.

UNIVERGE BLUE – A strategy for Channel Partners

The ever-changing cloud services industry doesn’t just have an impact on service providers and their customers, but the people in the middle of the sales cycle too. For years, NEC has been committed to delivering solutions that appeal to their channel partner’s target audience and deliver bottom line revenue. Now that the cloud model is growing in desirability, NEC is helping Channel Partner’s rethink the way that they go to market with cloud services, so they can continue to provide personalized support to end-users while accessing the same value.

“There can’t be just one way to adopt cloud-services. NEC’s customer base is comprised of many on-premises PBX users, so we developed our program to provide these partners a bridge into a hybrid environment.” Mike explains that by offering flexible deployment models, Channel Partners can appeal to any audience – those who want to stay on-premises, take a hybrid approach, or migrate entirely to a cloud environment.

Why should new Channel Partners consider NEC?

Mike shared a few reasons why new Channel Partners should consider the UNIVERGE BLUE Channel Partner program. The first reason is self-service. The program was tailor-made for Channel Partners to sell, install, and support. NEC designed UNIVERGE BLUE from the ground up with input from their Channel Partner community and with the goal of making it easy for them to sell cloud services profitably.

NEC also offers a variety of onboarding education and support, so when new Channel Partners are brought on, they can quickly start adding value and displacing their competition.

Additionally, Mike points out NEC’s longevity in the IT market and their large customer base. “NEC’s brand recognition and large following gives new Channel Partners access to our PBX customer base – the ability to choose a Channel Partner model that is best for them is the icing on the cake.”

Synergistic suite of services, combined with excellent partner training

Mitsch explains that UNIVERGE BLUE was built to coexist – customers need their communications to integrate with other commonly used business applications. Mitsch describes UNIVERGE BLUE to be a synergistic suite of services, combined with excellent Channel Partner training. Mitsch also points to NEC as being one of the early adopters to have Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) integration with Microsoft® Teams, signaling to the Channel Partner community that NEC Corporation of America is a path into the Teams market, with a package that’s designed to anticipate an on-premises network and the adoption of cloud by the customer.

Cloud Services for Any Industry

A few significant industries that will remain conducting business in person are healthcare, hospitality, and education. These verticals have a long history with NEC and UNIVERGE BLUE is now helping major organizations to move to the cloud. “We leveraged our industry expertise and verticalized our UNIVERGE BLUE Solutions, making it much easier for our channel partners be competitive within these industries” Mitsch shares.

Whether it is doctor’s office or a government agency, there are innumerable vertical and horizontal opportunities for NEC’s Channel Partners to deliver UNIVERGE BLUE to companies looking to offer a better experience to their customers. By working with NEC, Channel Partners can look to the future and focus on expansion to help customers stay competitive as cloud services become central to a greater customer experience.

To learn more about the NEC UNIVERGE BLUE Channel Partner Program, visit www.univergeblue.com/partners and visit the Channel Partner Success Story page to hear what NEC’s Channel Partners are saying about UNIVERGE BLUE.

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Please let us know if you have any questions about the program or to meet with a UNIVERGE BLUE Partner Program Representative. Fill out the form, and we will get back with you.