The Post-COVID Future of Quick Service and Fast Casual Restaurants

As we start to think about life in a post-COVID world, one of the main questions is what part of our revamped lifestyles are here to stay? Financial crises, natural disasters, and societal developments always lead to innovation and transformation, and COVID-19 is no different. Among the trends that will be long-lasting is the shift away from touch-based interactions toward touchless ones. We believe that the future is touchless everything.

In the quick-serve restaurant (QSR) industry, touchless everything means the whole experience from ordering, menus, payment, drive-thru and pickup. As dining in has been limited, the demand for drive-thru and pickup has increased exponentially. Increased demand, though, has its downsides. Long lines mean poor customer experience and lost sales opportunities as drivers may be deterred from waiting.

In fact, according to one study, the use of digital menu boards, which shaves off 12.3 seconds of throughput, can result in nearly $28,000 in savings per location, equating to hundreds of millions of dollars for large QSRs. The reverse is true in an industry that saw wait times increase by nearly 30 seconds across the board. This means that digital innovation is key to removing friction from the ordering, payment, and pickup interactions so brands can serve more customers, faster and safer.

In addition to digital menus, the use of mobile technologies paired with biometrics provide other opportunities for improved customer experiences. For example, with facial recognition, a guest may simply drive-up to the digital menu and be automatically identified to gain access to personalized special offers, recall a previous order, redeem loyalty rewards and make a payment. This saves time and gives the customer the type of experience that drives incremental sales and creates strong brand loyalty.

Creating Wow Experiences with Facial Recognition

The NEC I:Delight platform is specially designed to create these wow experiences. Adding the I:Delight platform to new or existing apps is simple. Users can easily register by taking a quick selfie for their online profile to create a Digital ID. Once registered, they can simply log-in to the mobile app with their face, or in store at a kiosk, to place an order and approve payment using their secure Digital ID. If a guest is picking up their order in-person, a simple glance at a tablet can alert staff that they have arrived to ensure they receive their order quickly and safely.

Drive-Thru Ordering and Payment

The NEC I:Delight platform can also be incorporated at the drive-thru for enhanced, personalized service and operational efficiency. When a customer pulls-up to the drive-thru, the platform recognizes their Digital ID and alerts staff to the customer’s arrival. Stored preferences and targeted promotions appear on the digital menu screen, and staff can greet the customer by name. If a payment method is saved in the customer’s loyalty account, face verification or a saved PIN is all that is needed to complete the transaction.

According to a recent study commissioned by the Kellogg School of Management, Columbia Graduate School of Business and Harvard Business School, every 7 seconds saved in drive-thru wait times equates to about 1 percent increase in sales. This makes both the customer experience and business value benefit of the NEC I:Delight platform hard to overstate:

  • Increases throughput of customers with a more personalized experience.
  • Easily monitors customer purchasing behaviors to better anticipate customer needs and offer targeted promotions.
  • Brings up pre-order or previous order for faster transactions times, minimizing the time for order customizations.
  • Offers seamless, contactless payments for a faster and safer experience.

NEC is a trusted leader in facial recognition, ranked number one in biometric innovation by NIST for five consecutive years. With over 1,000 deployments in 70 countries around the world and $2.6 billion invested annually in research and development, NEC is the preferred partner for fast-casual restaurants looking for facial recognition-enabled solutions for an enhanced customer experience.

Below is a three-page preview of our eBook. Click here to lean more about our touchless solutions or complete the form below to download the entire eBook.

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NEC Welcomes Mike Lesko as Sr. Director of Government Technology & Services

Mike brings with him a diverse and prestigious work history and background within the public safety industry space, including service on numerous national policy boards, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Advisory Policy Board (APB), the National Crime Prevention and Privacy Compact Council as well as SEARCH, the National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics.

Mike LeskoNECAM is proud to announce that Mike Lesko has joined our team as Senior Director of Government Technology and Services. Mike comes to us from the Texas Department of Public Safety, where he served as Division Director, overseeing the Law Enforcement Support Division (LESD).

His familiarity with NEC is unmatched. He has served as Chair of the AFIS Internet Board (recently renamed to International Biometrics Association—an annual conference of NEC AFIS/MBIS users), as well as being well known among our user community. We are excited to share that his role within NEC will concentrate on three strategic objectives:

  1. Strengthening our public safety and law enforcement product roadmap
  2. Enhancing ARS’ strategic direction of extending our services beyond identification bureaus.
  3. Representing NEC in key national and Federal policy boards.

Mike and his family live in Austin, Texas, where he enjoys cooking Texas barbeque, the occasional round of golf, and cheering on the Texas Longhorns.

Join us in welcoming Mike Lesko to the NEC team!

Leidos Rolls Out NEC Face Recognition at Alabama Army Post

Starting today, when drivers approach the gates of the secure Redstone Arsenal military base in Huntsville, AL., registered users will be able to pull up slowly, then pass right on through with virtually no stopping.

With the window rolled down, facial recognition technology will verify they are a registered user in the system and can access the probable future home of the U.S. Space Command.

The new access control system rolled out today, for more than 44,000 workers and guests who use the facility.

Special facial recognition lanes for single-occupancy vehicles, will be clearly marked and available to those who opt into Redstone’s automatic installation entry program in advance.

Once users are registered and authorized to use the facial recognition lanes to enter the base, they’ll be able to "buzz into" work, simply by approaching the gate at 3-5 mph with two car lengths between themselves and the vehicle in front, showing their face until the light turns green.

Redstone Arsenal is a key United States Army post, which serves as a critical military base for those across various government agencies including, the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, and NASA. 

Like most federal facilities of this type, Redstone houses some of the most sensitive information and materials, including the nation’s missile and rocket programs and technology. As many personnel already have secret-level clearances, access control ends up being a regular task they must perform several times per day.

The new biometrics system allows them to minimize the time-consuming checks and gives security personnel an added tool to verify identity with greater assurances. Guards will still be in the loop to perform visual checks and verify vehicle occupancy.

Implemented at Redstone by NEC’s prime partner, Leidos, NEC’s biometric face recognition technology is used by organizations worldwide to help prevent fraud, secure public safety, and improve customer experience across a vast range of industries. NEC’s product quality is highly tested and recognized far and wide. Independent testing from the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology repeatedly confirms NEC’s NeoFace recognition and matching capability as the world’s fastest and most accurate across all benchmarks and conditions, including on demographic differences like race and gender.

Test results from the recent Department of Homeland Security Biometric Technology Rally confirm that the system is able to achieve accuracy matching rates of 99.9 percent or higher.

The speed and reliability of facial recognition that NEC is known for comes from their ability to combine both real-time identification with verification and situation analysis resulting in faster decision making, preemptive security, and smoother delivery of services.

NEC is honored to leverage its technology to serve the hardworking servicemen and women who call Redstone Arsenal home. To read more about Redstone’s automatic installation entry program, you can visit Team Redstone’s Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @TeamRedstone.

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How Can a Visitor and Employee Management System Redefine Safety and Productivity as Your People Return to the Workplace?

In today’s security and highly health-conscious environment, businesses must offer a safe and comfortable experience for employees returning to work and visitors who will soon be entering on-site offices. In some areas, organizations are legally required to implement workplace policies to limit transmission of viruses to maintain healthy business operations and work environments.

While many businesses remain remote, those who decide to reopen do so with the health and safety of their staff and customers as their highest priority. Enabling contactless processes in your lobby can go a long way toward reducing the spread of infectious diseases and making your visitors and employees feel more comfortable as they enter your office building and check in.

NEC’s Robust Visitor and Employee Management System

NEC Front Desk Assistant (FDA) employee and visitor management system is an easy to use solution that manages the flow of on-site visitors and employees, from check-in to check-out, helping to create a safe and health-conscious environment for employees and visitors in your building.

Read on to learn how FDA is taking on a new role in safety and productivity at the workplace.

Thermal Scanning for Elevated Body Temperature

Many businesses are screening the temperature of employees and visitors to help detect and identify those that have fevers and may be sick – a high-contact and labor-intensive task. With Front Desk Assistant’s thermal tablet, this can now be automated, private and touch free.

FDA’s optional thermal tablets include a built-in thermal imaging camera to identify individuals with elevated temperatures. When the Front Desk Assistant application is loaded onto a thermal tablet, the application integrates with the tablet’s thermal imaging capabilities resulting in touch-free screening and temperature monitoring.

Pre-Registration

Allowing visitors to pre-register their visit helps prevent congestion of people in lobby areas, reduces unnecessary human interaction, and speeds up the overall check-in/out process for visitors and employees.

FDA offers pre-registration QR access codes for visitors, employees and other individuals who plan to enter your building. Visitor codes are valid for a single visit while employee and others can be set to never expire for touch-free single or repeat visits. Bulk invite preregistration can be sent to up to 500 people for large meetings and events.

Contactless Check-in and Check-Out

FDA utilizes NEC’s leading biometric facial recognition technology or QR codes along with thermal screening to provide safe, touchless and fast identification of employees, visitors, guests, patients and/or students entering an organization or event.

Those employees or visitors who have preregistered simply display their code or face to the tablet’s camera upon arriving at your building. Once the person is checked in, a notification is automatically sent to the person that they have come to meet with. Facial recognition and QR codes eliminate manual processes during check-in and out for a truly contactless check-in method.

Capacity Limits

Keeping track of how many individuals are in your facility is just as important as knowing who is in your facility. The Front Desk Assistant (FDA) allows you to input a maximum occupancy rate and keeps count of check-in activity. When the occupancy rate reaches the maximum number, alerts are immediately sent via Email and/or SMS. Additionally, at maximum occupancy no additional check-ins are permissible.

Activity Logs

Creating a more health-conscious environment in your organization includes defining the number of allowed individuals into the facility, capturing individuals’ temperatures, presenting company compliance agreements, tracking and monitoring access to a facility and keeping records of visitor’s and employees time spent on the premises. However, tracking all of these processes manually can be very time consuming and negatively affect your receptionist’s productivity.

NEC’s Front Desk Assistant records all visitor and employee entries and can easily be downloaded in a detailed report in Excel. This information is easily retrievable for occupancy compliance confirmation, employee management, and verification of visitor status. Easy to read dashboards delivers information instantly and accurately, helping to improve workplace productivity and safety.

Front Desk Assistant is the ideal solution for organizations with employees returning to the workplace that are committed to preventing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting the health and welfare of employees and visitors. With NEC’s Front Desk Assistant, you can offer peace of mind for your employees and visitors at your workplace.

If you would like more information about NEC’s Front Desk Assistant and how it can help your organization, reach out to your NEC representative today or visit NEC’s Front Desk Assistant website.

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2020 Disruptions Propel NEC’s Digital Transformations

NEC’s 2020 Innovations Increase Safety, Business Continuity and Digital Transformations

Challenging and chaotic are choice words to describe 2020. But during the healthcare crisis and weather emergencies, everyday heroes emerged.

We applaud the frontline workers, healthcare providers and first responders. We also recognize IT and telecommunications professionals, network administrators and data managers who supported critical technology infrastructures.

The immense disruptions in 2020 propelled innovations in the way we live and work. While NEC is continuously advancing in the areas of communications, security, collaboration platforms and customer experience, we redoubled our efforts last year.

Safer, secure contactless touchpoints
As we move forward, public health and safety remain top priorities. For individuals and organizations, technologies that support both frictionless access and social distancing measures are now more important than ever.

That’s the reason we prioritized development of “touchless” touchpoints to reduce the spread of infectious diseases. Our revolutionary approach to Digital Transformation (DX), NEC I:Delight, includes an advanced, secure and scalable platform to support contactless, yet robust customer experiences.

Although we began our journey toward touchless technology long before the current crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic reinforces our commitment to continue advancing our biometric and AI solutions for aviation, immigration, retail and hospitality industries, healthcare, education and more.

Screening travelers to ensure health and security
A highlight of 2020 is the Hawaii Department of Transportation selecting an NEC-led team for deployment of a thermal screening solution at all five state-run airports.

NEC NeoFace® Thermal Express leverages thermal sensing and facial recognition technologies to detect elevated body temperature (EBT) and alert screeners to anyone with a temperature of 100.4 or greater.

In addition, we introduced a partnership with SITA, a global provider of IT and communications infrastructure for 80% of the world’s airports. NEC’s Advanced Identity Matcher – Edge Source (AIM-ES) technology uses the most accurate face matching algorithms as validated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

In combination with our NeoFace algorithm, we deliver an all-in-one solution capable of creating recognition galleries and templates as well as providing identity matching and scoring. It easily integrates with the SITA Smart Path whole-journey identity management solution, which creates a specialized application for airport travelers. Because NEC’s I:Delight uses an individual’s unique ID, it is more secure than other online money transfer services.

New generation cloud communications and collaborations
The way businesses work has changed. Corporations must be flexible and ready to adapt to teleworking at a moment’s notice.

For 120 years, NEC has pioneered Information and Communications Technologies, including Smart Enterprise cloud computing and Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS). As the current global market share leader in on-premises business phone systems, we were pleased to announce a global partnership with Intermedia, a leading provider of cloud-based communications solutions.

Our collaborations with Intermedia launched a new generation of our UNIVERGE BLUE® cloud communications portfolio. The new UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT and UNIVERGE BLUE ENGAGE solutions are reliable and easy to deploy, while remaining highly scalable and extremely cost-effective.

In addition to advancing business continuity, more employees will be able to work safely from home while increasing their productivity. The new UNIVERGE BLUE is also easy for channel partners to sell, install and support.

Resellers, check out 8 Great Reasons to Become a UNVERGE BLUE Channel Partner.

Reduce telecommunications costs
With the surge in network connectivity requirements, businesses are looking for ways to control costs while maintaining reliability and security.

We launched Network Connect to help cut enterprise telecommunications costs up to 30% or more annually. The intelligent call routing solution uses AI and machine learning to establish the most optimal call path from hundreds of global carriers.

You don’t need to invest in additional infrastructure or change anything about your business operations. NEC’s Network Connect is the first call-routing solution that gives enterprise access to the wholesale telecom market.

NEC Visionary Week
Another area that we reimagined in 2020 is NEC’s iEXPO. NEC Visionary Week was a virtual event packed with powerful insights to fuel future decisions. Featuring global problem solvers and tech influencers, the agenda included ideas for conquering COVID-19 and carving out a new normal, harnessing AI, 5G and digital transformations to improve economies, business operations and our societies.

If you missed Visionary Week in December, you can still watch the enlightening content on-demand until January 30th. Click here to sign-up now.

As we look forward to 2021 and beyond, we thank you for your partnership. Our commitment to innovations, digital transformation, safety, security and business continuity remains steadfast. Working together, we can build greater agility and resilience in enterprise systems to create a healthier future. Happy New Year!

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