Why Unified Communications Is Essential to Remote Work and Business Continuity

As business leaders implement new policies for returning to work, they are also reevaluating plans for enterprise resilience. The COVID-19 pandemic and shutdowns caused businesses to react quickly, testing their agility and ability to recover. During this stabilization period, there will be a pivot towards flexibility and improved business continuity plans for the “next normal.”

Business Continuity While Working Remotely

No one could predict that organizations would have to quickly embrace remote work due to the potential spread of employee illness. As a case in point, a Gartner Business Continuity survey revealed that only 12% of organizations felt that their business continuity plans were prepared for the impact of COVID-19. Without these plans in place, revenue has been affected, some businesses have shuttered, and others are unable to reopen.

With the continuation of the pandemic and the uncertainty of a vaccine, 74% of CFO’s are planning to permanently shift to remote work in order to manage costs. The onus is now on IT and security leaders to consider what employees need to successfully work from a remote location so that business can continue as usual. Leaders are looking to cloud-enabled services and unified communications to minimize future business disruption and support remote collaboration.

Built on NEC’s award-winning infrastructure, UNIVERGE BLUE® offers affordable services to ensure business continuity and employee productivity and collaboration while working remotely.

Why Unified Communications is Essential for Business Continuity

Remote work and telecommuting options have steadily been increasing, with 159% growth in the past 12 years, driving an increase in UC implementation. As some organizations were considering unified communications before, there is now an added benefit of increased business continuity and disaster recovery, post-COVID-19.

Moving to a UC solution takes services such as telephony, file storage sharing, video conferencing, contact center and data backup to the cloud so they are accessible from anywhere at any time. Cloud-enabled services create an additional layer of security to real-time work processes, guaranteeing availability beyond weather events or pandemics. Systems and collaboration tools remain available to remote work locations, often at higher speeds, to enable workflow and increased productivity outside of the normal office environment.

Since the unexpected impacts of the pandemic, work and team collaboration have been changed for good. It is imperative that a disaster recovery plan account for remote work options. Organizations must include UC in their contingency plan to be agile and continue business as usual.

Remote Collaboration and Effective Communications

As more employees are expected to work from home, remote teams must find new ways to work together. Unfortunately, remote communications can be easily distorted or misinterpreted with delays and a lack of physical and social interaction. Another frustration is when remote teams choose ad-hoc services, creating more complexity, security holes and maintenance challenges for IT and security teams.

Streamlining communication complexity is the key to improving remote collaboration, enhancing security and productivity, as well as saving time, finances and resources.

It’s important that employees don’t lose the power of face-to-face meetings while remote. The good news is they don’t have to! With NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE® MEET Video Conferencing solution, you and all of your colleagues have access to powerful virtual collaboration tools to help keep your business moving forward—even when employees aren’t in the office.

What’s more, NEC is giving MEET Video Conferencing and Collaboration to existing customers and new UNIVERGE BLUE® customers for FREE for the rest of the year!

*Some Restrictions Apply*

Responsive Remote Contact Center

One of the challenges with remote work is continuing to provide a high-quality customer experience. Implementing unified communications optimizes contact centers, offering increased control and simplified maintenance through a single platform. Instead of working through multiple tabs or applications, contact center agents are more agile, with one interface to handle customer needs efficiently, from anywhere at any time.

Contact center performance can be measured through monitoring, recording and analytic reporting. The use of unified communications for contact centers also allows for easier scalability and deployment for remote workers. With a streamlined remote contact center, organizations can hire agents in any location and ensure top-notch customer responsiveness.

Secure Disaster Recovery

No business continuity plan is complete without secure backup and recovery to manage and protect critical proprietary information and data. Working remotely can increase security and compliance challenges, as sensitive data may be stored unencrypted on remote workstations, especially if there is no singular platform for accessing company resources.

When moving to cloud-enabled services for responsive communications or collaborative work practices, IT and security teams require simplified and more secure data storage. The cost-savings of implementing a secure, cloud-enabled data backup and recovery platform also include ongoing access to the latest hardware and software without the need to maintain the infrastructure or personnel.

Why Choose NEC UNIVERGE BLUE® for Remote Work and Business Continuity?

The new remote work challenge for IT and security teams is managing multiple types of software, infrastructure and other platforms across many locations. UNIVERGE BLUE offers secure, cloud-enabled unified communications and collaboration solutions that are fully integrated, scalable, cost-effective and easier to maintain than on-premises hardware. The streamlined communications platform improves employee and customer experience with secure access from anywhere for team collaboration and a centralized hub for information.

NEC also offers a phased approach and flexible delivery model for organizations moving to unified communications. Consider UNIVERGE BLUE solutions to:

  • Improve remote employee productivity and collaboration through greater mobility and communications
  • Reduce IT costs through integration with other cloud-based applications and simplified management
  • Reduce risk with secure, compliant data backup and recovery

Contact your NEC Account Manager or visit the UNIVERGE BLUE website to learn more.

A Post-COVID Touchless World for Federal Agencies

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began to affect the United States, the private and public sectors have started working remotely and have moved their operations almost completely online. Federal agencies began to accelerate the adoption of remote and work-from-home strategies to stay connected to employees and stakeholders while ensuring the health and safety of everyone. Even the Supreme Court hosted teleconference hearings for the first time in history to maintain social distancing.

One positive outcome that will last well beyond the pandemic is the wide-spread adoption of new technologies. Digital Transformation (DX) is occurring faster than ever and will continue to accelerate as we look for ways to reopen our country, establish a new normal, maintain a healthy society, and stimulate economic activities.

NEC’s proven touchless technology and expertise support the ongoing mission of a new, safer and hygienic experience.

DX is inevitable in the ever-evolving landscape of keeping citizens informed and safe. As the country begins to reopen and employees head back to work, federal agencies need a partner to make their DX journey easier, discovering paths forward to using the cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), and automation. Challenges lie ahead for federal agencies as they seek to ensure ongoing delivery of essential public services while minimizing potential impact to its workforce.

With over 50 years of successfully supporting a diverse range of U.S. federal missions, NEC offers proven touchless services and expertise to support a DX mission for federal agencies that will improve processes, deliver touchless experiences, and make interactions seamlessly safe.

Reduce Risk When Returning to Work

One example of how NEC can help address post-COVID challenges is our secure access management solutions. Gaining physical access to public sector facilities in a contactless and hygienic manner is challenging. Federal agencies, government buildings, military installations, and border ports of entry/exit, just to name a few, are troubled with cumbersome keypads or equipment for ID card scanning, both of which require users to touch several surfaces to gain access. These chokepoints also slow the traffic flow. All these increase the risks of infectious diseases.

Elevated Body Temperature (EBT) Screening

thermal scan exampleBuilt on NEC’s Digital Services Platform with industry-leading sensors and top-ranked NEC biometrics algorithm, the NEC NeoFace® Thermal Express delivers elevated body temperature (EBT) screening that can simultaneously verify identities with face recognition while detecting body temperature – even with face masks on.

When offered standalone and without built-in facial recognition, NEC’s NeoFace Thermal Express simply provides rapid, contactless and hygienic physical access and temperature screening across demanding, high-throughput environments. The solution can help federal agencies hygienically monitor employees and civilians for possible elevated body temperatures, mitigating the potential spread of disease.

Secure, Hygienic Access Management

thermal scan exampleAccess management helps ensure federal employees and private citizens have the appropriate access to secure buildings or other restricted environments.

Our technology can identify whether someone is not wearing a mask in a mandatory area, thereby ensuring federal employees are safeguarded. Combined with elevated body temperature screening, the system identifies not only the individual, but also determines potential health risks before the individual enters a facility.

NEC is Committed to Innovation and Transformation

NEC’s award-winning solutions are backed by rigorous research and development including more than $2.6B invested in R&D annually. NEC’s touchless services powered by our Digital Services Platform can address many issues in a variety of environments, helping government entities adopt DX faster while minimizing the health risk of its employees and private citizens they serve. Ranked #1 for our biometrics algorithms five times in a row by NIST, NEC has the top-notch solutions that make touchpoints touchless in response to the post-COVID world.

To see how our touchless solutions can transform operations for federal agencies, click here to learn more.

Start Your Touchless Journey with NEC!

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Compassion and innovation can be a positive force for the social justice movement

As a technology industry leader with deep research and development roots, NEC is guided both by strong principles around scientific exploration, as well as the ethical implications of our projects.

I wrote recently that a brighter world “will never exist while systemic racism and other forms of social injustice continue to oppress the Black and other marginalized communities.”

Globally, NEC Corporation President & CEO Takashi Niino has stated previously that as a supplier of public safety technologies, we are committed to maintaining an open and broad dialogue with employees, customers, partners, citizens, civic leaders and our colleagues in government.

NEC is a company with developed core values, including AI & Human Rights Principles, and we are committed to helping to end racial injustice in our society. Our efforts to operationalize our values and AI & Human Rights Principles help us responsibly develop and sell biometric technologies, including face, iris, fingerprint, palm print, finger vein, and others.

Today in the United States, many law enforcement agencies use our technology as a tool for investigative decision-making and determining possible leads in a case. As noted by numerous legal experts and scholars, a match using facial recognition alone is not a means for positive identification. Additional police work is required.

police in the communityAlthough current events have brought the topics of social justice, law enforcement and technology to the forefront of national discourse, NEC, through continued research and development, has long thought about the ways in which facial recognition algorithms can affect people of color. We have gone to great lengths to ensure our facial recognition algorithms are accurate across racial and other demographic groups.

For over a decade, our algorithms have ranked highest in accuracy in tests by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), widely considered a global authority on testing of biometric algorithms. Unlike many facial recognition algorithms that in last year’s NIST report, showed a pervasive problem with demographic disparity, NEC’s high-performing algorithm did not demonstrate this issue. As the matter of fact, our algorithm was singled out for being “on many measures, the most accurate algorithm we have ever tested.” This holds true across the diverse array of races and genders represented in the image test database.

This brings me to what NEC believes on the issues.

We believe it is possible to have compassion and actively work to improve conditions for America’s vibrant communities of color, while supporting our law enforcement customers and supporting reforms that encourage responsible use of our technology by law enforcement.

Furthermore, we believe that public safety agencies should responsibly use advanced facial recognition and other innovative technologies to help correct inherent biases, protect privacy and civil rights, and fairly and effectively conduct investigations for social justice.

On the topic of policy and regulation, we have and shall continue to support the development of legislation that provides and enhances existing guidelines for the responsible use of facial recognition technology.

We are dedicated to working with our law enforcement customers, the diverse communities they serve, and the policymakers who represent those diverse communities to find the best possible path forward. As we continue to work toward a brighter world, we plan to find ways to participate in ending systemic racism in America, and to use the best technology to do so.

Sincerely,
Mark Ikeno
President & CEO
NEC Corporation of America

Touchless Transformation – Creating a New, Safer and Seamless Customer Experience, Post COVID-19

I live and work in New York City, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. As a matter of fact, the first reported case of COVID-19 in the city was a relative of someone in the same grade as my own child, so this crisis hit home very early on with me.

I immediately began to think how to bring 25+ years of experience in biometrics to help address some of the challenges that have emerged in this pandemic. Fortunately, I did not have to look very far. The fact is, NEC has a wide range of cutting-edge biometric solutions that support a touchless transformation already deployed to help protect employees and consumers. In fact, we are already working with our customers to help reopen airports, airlines, hospitals, casinos, restaurants, stadiums, entertainment establishments and other customer-facing venues.

NEC’s mission is to enable touchless customer experiences. We do this via our new digital service platform, NEC I:Delight, that allows our customers to provide more hygienic and secure customer interactions.

Our customer experience platform provides the ability to validate an individual’s identity using pre-enrolled or opted-in identity information, for example, from a driver’s license or a passport. Once their identity is validated, they have the option to leverage their digital identity by accessing their personal profiles, which is fully encrypted and under the user’s control, for contactless permission-based interactions.

NEC’s proven identity management technology and expertise creates new, safe customer experiences.

Our face-based identification platform can be leveraged during travel, while attending events or shopping. Customers can simply use their faces as proof of identity at point of sale and access points  ̶  without physically touching other devices or surfaces, reducing transmission risk to them and the people around them.

Now, more than ever, we need to rebuild confidence in returning to public spaces, for employees and consumers alike. At NEC, we have the experience and proficiency to help support you moving forward.

Reduce Risk When Reopening or Returning to Work

As states start to reopen public areas and businesses begin opening their doors, retailers, restaurants, airlines, casinos, hotels and other businesses must take precautions to ensure a safe environment for their employees and customers. NEC can play a big role in reducing health risks when reopening or returning to work.

Touchless Access Management is a key challenge in responding to COVID-19 to maintain business continuity. NEC’s access management solution uses face-based biometric authentication to enable employees to enter secured buildings or restricted areas without requiring identification cards or touchscreens.

Contactless Facial Payment uses NEC’s award-winning biometrics technology to simultaneously verify the identity of individuals, without contact in-store or online. Additionally, customer loyalty is improved with personalized offers that are suggested to an individual based on their preferences or previous purchase history.

Elevated Body Temperature screening provides rapid, touchless, hygienic physical access in congested high throughput environments. Built with industry-leading thermal sensors and top-ranked face recognition software, NEC’s NeoFace® Thermal Express achieves fast results with exceptional accuracy. Powered by NEC’s artificial intelligence (AI)-driven video, thermal sensing and analytics, we can deliver a secure experience that does not involve physical contact.

NEC’s NeoFace® Thermal Express:

  • Detects elevated body temperatures (EBT) that may indicate a fever and alerts operators
  • Identifies personal protective equipment (PPE), including face masks
  • Leverages advanced analytics to enhance performance and throughput
  • Equipped with the most accurate and proven face recognition technology*
  • Improves customer experience and decreases or eliminates lengthy queues

Scene Processing using AI analyzes and extracts data to identify people, objects and events. For example, it can ensure employees and customers are maintaining appropriate social distancing, capacity limits are being monitored and masks are being worn in mandatory areas.

NEC: Committed to Innovation and Touchless Transformation

NEC I:Delight, combined with our AI-driven analytics and identity management solutions, help create experiences that are seamless and safe. For decades, NEC has been delivering scalable, end-to-end solutions that enable safety and security.

NEC - Fresh

We are proud to work with Fresh Consulting, our strategic partner known for designing innovative experiences for top global brands. Using a comprehensive collaborative discovery process, we will work together with your organization to determine how to:

  1. Design your biometric customer journey
  2. Align key stakeholders and customer personas
  3. Capture technical and operational constraints
  4. Create a prioritized roadmap and ROI determination

Our commitment to innovation and touchless transformation is paramount!

*NEC NeoFace face recognition algorithms have been ranked #1 by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for nine years – https://www.necam.com/AdvancedRecognitionSystems/NISTValidation/FingerprintFacial

Start Your CX Transformation Journey with NEC!

Simply fill out the form, and we will get back with you.



A Message from the Office of Mark Ikeno, President and CEO of NEC Corporation of America

As events have unfolded this past week, many of us have gone through a spectrum of emotions. Sadness, anger, grief, frustration, and a strong desire for change all come to mind.

George Floyd’s death is unfortunately just one recent event in a long history of similarly tragic incidents across the country, and we recognize that the current increased focus on systemic racial justice issues is long overdue. We stand with those who are grieving and hurting and support those working to eradicate racial injustice in our society.

We understand that the brighter world we strive to orchestrate will never exist while systemic racism and other forms of social injustice continue to oppress the Black and other marginalized communities.

To those of you powerfully explicating and combatting these complex problems, we appreciate your work, we are paying attention, and we are committed to being part of the solutions.  Although we do not yet know exactly what those solutions will entail, we are listening, we are watching, and we are broadening and deepening our ongoing dialogue about the multifaceted issues at the intersection of racial justice, human rights, and technology.

To our law enforcement, first responder, and public safety customers who are dedicated to protecting and serving individuals of all races, religions, genders, and sexual orientations, we recognize the challenges you face and how difficult it must be to see so many of our communities so divided. We are committed to continuing to partner with you and the communities you serve to cooperatively ensure that our efforts to make society safer equally make society more just and inclusive.

We are here to support our employees, our customers, and all those taking a stand against injustice as we all band together, the way we must, to employ our individual and collective skills and resources to shape a better future for the world.

Sincerely,
Mark Ikeno
President & CEO
NEC Corporation of America