NEC and Star Alliance are redefining the travel experience with the use of a unique Digital ID that can provide a seamless customer experience from reservation to destination. Star Alliance Biometrics, powered by NEC I:Delight, allows frequent flyers to opt-in to the application and unlock access to a personalized, touchless travel experience.
Frequent flyers create a secure, biometric-enabled Digital ID in just a few easy steps. First, simply download the airline’s app from the Apple Store or Google Play, then opt-in to the platform by scanning your passport or government issued ID and snapping a selfie. Once the profile is complete, travelers can select exactly which airlines and airports they allow to access their designated information. Travelers also choose how to use, or share, their Digital ID throughout their travel journey.
At the airport, passengers can check-in for a flight, drop off luggage, and board the plane using their Digital ID. The authentication process is fast and intuitive, by quickly verifying passenger information against flight manifest data and producing a prompt for the traveler to continue seamlessly through his or her journey. In the future, passengers will be able to enjoy additional services using their Digital ID, such as, passing through security checkpoints, accessing VIP lounges, and shopping at retail stores.
What is NEC I:Delight?
NEC I:Delight is a highly secure and scalable digital identity management platform that effortlessly brings touchless experiences to countless use cases. It 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. The platform streamlines both physical and digital identities into a secure, privacy-driven ecosystem for a seamless, secure, more personalized, and intuitive customer experience.
To see how Star Alliance Biometrics, powered by NEC I:Delight, is transforming the customer experience, take a minute to watch this short video.
For more information about NEC’s aviation solutions, visit necam.com/aviation or complete the form below to schedule a virtual tour to see how we are refining the travel experience. Click here to book your appointment today!
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Epic Web Studios is a full-service marketing agency headquartered in Erie, Pennsylvania. A customer of NEC since 2010, Epic started out using the SV8100 platform but migrated to NEC UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD SERVICES after seeing the increasing need for more unified communications to support its growing workforce.
Marc: Tell me about Epic Web Studios. How did you get started?
Epic Web Studios is a full-service marketing agency that does it all for clients, no matter the size. From Website Design and Development, Social Media, Digital Marketing, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO), our goal is to help clients compete in today’s ever-changing marketplace through a viable digital marketing strategy.
Headquartered in Erie, Pennsylvania, Epic Web Studios started in 2009 as a small, single-client web-site development firm. Today, we are a full-service digital marketing firm with over five hundred clients in North America and more than sixteen full-time employees.
Marc: Wow! That is quite the achievement. In the past decade or so since you started the company, what has changed?
As time and technology progressed, the need for more unified communications features became increasingly apparent. Epic was growing rapidly and needed a system that could keep up. With more clients and the large shift towards remote working, we needed a flexible, cloud solution to allow us to communicate with clients, collaborate cross-functionally and be productive from anywhere, at any time.
Marc: You’re not alone. Now more than ever, businesses need the ability and flexibility to communicate and collaborate from wherever they may be. Can you share further insight into some of the challenges Epic Web Studios was facing?
With our on-premises system, our teams were restricted to only using voice and email to communicate. Unanswered calls were forwarded to one general voicemail, and emailing back-and-forth became inefficient as the primary mode of communication.
Our employees needed greater control over how calls could be made, forwarded, and received; they also needed more flexibility in their business communications and more variety in their communication methods.
In addition, we relied on various communication and collaboration tools, which was inefficient, costly, and difficult to manage. We needed a communications system that was fully-integrated and secure so that we could go from online meetings to instant messages to phone conversations and everything in between very easily and seamlessly.
Marc: It sounds like you came to the right place. However, I know there are plenty of different vendors in the market. What made you ultimately choose UNIVERGE BLUE?
With other options reviewed, costs were too high, functionality was missing, or the solution just didn’t meet Epic Web Studio’s needs. Luckily, NEC launched UNIVERGE BLUE as I was researching new platforms.
Ultimately, we chose UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT because the features were the strongest, the transition was going to be easy, and the price point was extremely competitive. We also chose UNIVERGE BLUE because of the local support that NEC provides with a large network of Channel Partners. Our technology partner was instrumental in getting our system set up and is always there to answer provide any support that we need. Most of the larger cloud companies and service providers do not offer this kind of local support.
As technology evolves, NEC is always on the cutting edge of new ways of working to make our communications more convenient and secure. This bevy of new features included with UNIVERGE BLUE offers us new opportunities to become even more efficient and productive with our business communications – all at a reasonable cost.
Another bonus was the ease of deployment. It was pretty much effortless. When we moved from our on-premises solution to UNIVERGE BLUE, we were up and running in a matter of hours. It was incredible.
Marc: Well, we are certainly happy to have Epic Web Studios as a part of the UNIVERGE BLUE family. Here’s my final question – what results have you seen since deployment?
For starters, our employees have been able to communicate with clients more effectively. We have seen a significant decrease in the number of back-and-forth emails thanks to UNIVERGE BLUE. Our clients call us directly and we can have one-click video-conferencing meetings with them. We have also seen a major increase in our productivity because of UNIVERGE BLUE.
As a result of both the streamlined communication and increased productivity, we have also been able to scale our business and grow our client base. Because we were able to provision more users very quickly, we’re able to take on more projects, and that has led to the growth of the company, which has been phenomenal recently thanks to UNIVERGE BLUE. I can’t recommend UNIVERGE BLUE enough!
For more information about UNIVERGE BLUE, NEC’s full portfolio of “As-A-Service” Solutions, visit www.univergeblue.com. For questions about the products or to meet with a UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD Representative, submit your information to us and we will get back to you shortly.
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The company offers 5 key services — Phone/VoIP, Carrier Services, Network Solutions, Structured Cabling and 24/7 Customer Service — and handles everything from purchasing and deployment to networking and troubleshooting.
Folkerson Communications became an authorized NEC Channel partner almost 25 years ago, and for several decades that meant providing clients with NEC’s on-premises communication servers and IT technology. Around 2015, Folkerson responded to a growing demand for VoIP and non-traditional communications technology.
I recently met with Greg Folkerson to discuss the partnership with NEC and his experience being an early adopter of the New Generation UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD SERVICES.
As cloud and hosted solutions grew in popularity, Folkerson knew that it needed a rock-solid cloud solution that would provide the reliable and dependable services that his clients had come to associate with Folkerson. Before UNIVERGE BLUE, Folkerson tried other cloud vendors, but finding a highly reliable solution that met Folkerson’s stringent standards, and one that allowed them to own their customer relationships, proved to be nearly impossible. NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE Customer Ownership Partner Model was unique in allowing Folkerson to maintain full ownership of billing, bundling, adding services, and supporting a customer’s environment — preserving the customer confidence upon which Folkerson has built its reputation.
Greg Folkerson explains some of the challenges he faced with other cloud providers, “The industry is changing. There are now non-interconnect companies selling voice services, and many of these vendors do not understand that for most of Folkerson Communications existence we were a traditional interconnect company – we have technicians, we roll trucks, we train customers – and we built a reputation around providing this type of hands-on customer service. While selling cloud services has immensely simplified the programming and implementation, the need for human-like customer service has not gone away, and that is what our customers expect from us. NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE Partner Program has been great for us because it allows us to own our customer relationships, and NEC is always there to provide significant sales, marketing, and service support. NEC always answers our questions and is always there when we need them.”
Greg continues, “Our customers trust us and the relationship we have built with them over the years. It was imperative that we offer a reliable and dependable solution that meets our customers’ needs and one that reinforces our reputation of providing exceptional customer support.”
While customers certainly enjoy ENGAGE’s full-featured contact center (CCaaS) capabilities and CONNECT’s (UCaaS) features, which includes a full-featured phone system, video/web conferencing, team chat, file sharing & backup — Greg says the flexibility and simplicity that UNIVERGE BLUE provides is key. “Many of our customers found it challenging to manage the complexities associated with maintaining a phone system in multiple locations – with UNIVERGE BLUE, we were able to solve these challenges by offering our customers a centralized, fully managed, and scalable phone system hosted in the cloud.”
Greg continues, “UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT has reduced complexity for our customers, minimized telecom costs, improved communication and collaboration, and even enabled remote work environments, which would have been difficult to do with a hardware-based solution.”
On Folkerson’s end, the UNIVERGE BLUE Administrative Portal has allowed Folkerson to easily monitor and troubleshoot customers’ voice services and contact center features. Greg was able to retrain his existing staff to handle UNIVERGE BLUE UCaaS and CCaaS implementations.
“Because of the competitive solutions UNIVERGE BLUE offers, the great sales, marketing and service support NEC provides coupled with the ability to set our own margins, we are able to focus more on selling and building relationships with our customers and less on other ancillary activities often associated with hardware that cut into our profits. The margins with BLUE are very attractive, and it didn’t take long to adjust to a monthly recurring revenue model.” Folkerson explains.
Folkerson Communications is now an exclusive NEC dealer, “Becoming an exclusive NEC dealer was a no-brainer decision based on the success we have seen with NEC’s hardware solutions and now with the business growth we are seeing with UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD SERVICES.”
Folkerson Communications is embracing a new role – a complete cloud technology provider who offers end-to-end cloud solutions, committed to being a trusted advisor, adding value across every customers’ lifecycle. Greg notes, “The UNIVERGE BLUE Cloud partnership has allowed us to keep pace with the external marketplace and everchanging demands of our customers. We are starting to see significant growth in our cloud-business and do not see it slowing down any time soon.”
NEC and Folkerson will continue to partner together to provide solutions to customers’ unique needs. The future of Folkerson’s business includes a combination of both cloud-based and on-premises solutions, creating a hybrid IT and UC portfolio that balances the scalability and flexibility associated with cloud and the security associated with hardware. NEC will continue to be an integral part of what Folkerson does in the IT and Communications space.
Introducing UNIVERGE BLUE® Early Adopters Series – Where NEC Corporation of America (NEC) honors Channel Partners who were early adopters of UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD SERVICES and are improving customer care, employee engagement, and business operations. Hear the stories of why our early adopters chose UNIVERGE BLUE for their customers.
MDCOM was first incorporated in 1979 and currently employs staff with over two centuries experience in business communications and technologies.
I recently met with Eric Lutz, President and CEO of MDCOM to discuss the partnership with NEC and his experience being an early adopter of the New Generation of UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD SERVICES, which is NEC’s portfolio of cloud services.
MDCOM has a long and rich history of offering NEC’s on-premises communications platforms and systems including NEC’s UNIVERGE® SV9000 and the SL2100 Communications Systems. As a long-standing NEC Channel Partner, the decision to be an early adopter of the New Generation of UNIVERGE BLUE was an easy one. Eric explained, “Based on the level of attention we have received over the years and the success our business has seen from selling NEC’s hardware solutions, expanding our relationship with NEC was an easy decision – so we adopted UNIVERGE BLUE as soon as it was released – we came on right out of the gate”.
MDCOM had previously offered hosted telephony to their customers but realized that there were some significant disadvantages to the vendor they chose. Eric described, “The problem that we ran into is that there was way too much heavy lifting based off our infrastructure. We also noticed that we were gaining customers very easily, but we would lose those customers just as easily”. MDCOM wanted to own more of the customer relationship and maintain a strong and close bond with customers, like the way they do with their hardware customers. They wanted to do so without being overwhelmed with backend IT management and implementations.
The Solution: NEC’S UNIVERGE BLUE COUD SERVICES Partner Program
The Ability to Choose a Revenue Model
Eric appreciated the three options of partner models that NEC allowed him to choose from, but ultimately decided to go with the Revenue Share partner model which allows Channel Partners to stay involved with the customer and even set the sell prices for each customer. “As you know it doesn’t matter if you are selling hardware, software, or services, the technology industry is competitive, so you really have to be aware of your market and your price points. We’re able to adjust our price points based on the market demands with the Revenue Share Model. I think that is number 1 in terms of advantages,” Eric explained. By being able to adjust the margin on the monthly revenue, UNIVERGE BLUE has provided MDCOM’s sellers with more attractive margins and better commissions.
Easily Integrated into all Business Environments
Trying to integrate hardware into customer environments has become increasingly more complex and challenging. According to Eric, “When you talk about IP Communications and networking multiple systems, there is a great deal of complexity which forces you to continually upgrade your technician skills- but as much as you do- you are always turning the corner to a new issue”.
After explaining some of the challenges MDCOM faced with being a hardware provider, Eric went on to highlight ease-of-use and simplified management that UNIVERGE BLUE has to offer. Eric expressed, “[UNIVERGE BLUE] CLOUD has been a breath of fresh air from the technical and implementation perspective. We now have insight down to the button level of a customer’s end points. We can control the users, passwords, automated attendants, time zones, and call recording. We log in from anywhere and we have insight into every single customer and user device, and we can make changes or add services for a customer at any time.”
A Better Bond with Customers
Eric compared the relationship that he now has with his UNIVERGE BLUE customers to the relationship that he has with his hardware customers. When you provide hardware to a customer, you are with them for a very long time due to the long lifespan of on-premises systems, NEC’s in particular. With UNIVERGE BLUE, MDCOM was able to maintain a strong bond with their customers, like the bond they have as a hardware provider. Being able to provide the first line of support and continue to manage the relationship with the customer has created a “stickier” long-term relationship with customers, according to Eric.
Feature Capabilities and Easy Implementation
Another aspect of UNIVERGE BLUE that has benefitted MDCOM and their customers is the ease of implementation when it comes to feature enhancements. With on-premises hardware, if a customer wanted to add a feature or update endpoints, the process could be highly labor intensive and expensive. With cloud services, Eric can simply go into the UNIVERGE BLUE management portal to add any specific feature to every endpoint in a customer location as well as scale up or down as needed. “That type of feature invigoration has really been a huge plus. The deployment could not have been simpler,” Eric said.
MDCOM launched UNIVERGE BLUE in April 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic lock downs. During this time, MDCOM did not have their normal complement of field technicians out on the road, but according to Eric, they were still able to deploy systems. “Phones were getting drop shipped to customer locations and it was very easy for them to plug in the instruments; we did everything in the back office. Being able to install over a dozen systems without having a technician cross a customer’s doorway was a huge benefit to us,” Eric explained.
Quick and Painless Quoting
With the BLUE quoting tool, the ability to provide a customer with a very professional looking proposal with accurate pricing is seamless according to Eric. Adding one-time services and/or monthly services is as easy as a click of a button. Once you create and confirm the quote, the tool will automatically send your customer proposal via e-doc, the customer signs the doc, which then allows the sales rep to immediately create and provision the account. “It’s just been one of the most seamless deployments that we’ve been able to be a part of,” according to Eric.
MDCOM has found that selling UNIVERGE BLUE is very easy. It’s robust feature and solution capabilities make NEC a one-stop-shop for fully integrated cloud services. “Customers appreciate having everything integrated into one single application. UNIVERGE BLUE has solved much of the application fatigue that customers are facing as they switch back from countless different applications daily”. In addition to this, “People know that NEC offers the most reliable and secure communications and IT solutions, they trust the name brand, and they trust that they will be taken care of with NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD SERVICES. When I walk into a customer account that has used NEC in the past, they are excited to have a conversation about NEC”. Overall, NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD SERVICES has allowed MDCOM to improve their revenue stream, expand their solution offering into customer accounts, and control their customer relationships.
“The UNIVERGE BLUE launch has been the best rollout that I have been a part of as an NEC partner for well over 10 years now. NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE has been our easiest adoption of any new program, product, or solution by far.”
– Eric Lutz, President of MDCOM.
What Will the Future Bring for NEC UNIVERGE BLUE and MDCOM?
MDCOM will continue to sell UNVERGE BLUE CLOUD SERVICES while owning their customer relationship in addition to offering NEC’s on-premises portfolio as they adjust to a Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) model with cloud. MDCOM is excited to see what other features and solutions are released within the UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD Portfolio down the road.
For more information on how you can become a UNIVERGE BLUE Channel Partner and begin realizing the unlimited benefits and high-margins that come with being a cloud provider, visit https://www.univergeblue.com/partners today. For any questions about the program or to meet with a UNIVERGE BLUE Partner Program Representative, submit your information to us and we will get back to you shortly.
Over recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of cloud-based services offered to businesses of all sizes within all industries. The flexibility of being able to access your business software from any location, and the scalability and cost-effectiveness of cloud services are the reasons for the high cloud adoption rates. For certain industries including government enterprises, traditional/non-traditional banks, hospitality, research centers and other mid-large sized organizations a standardized public cloud offering might not be ideal to satisfy unique business needs and requirements. A private cloud is ideal for those organizations with business-critical operations and seeking enhanced control and security over their IT Communications environment.
What is a Private Cloud?
A private cloud, also referred to as an internal or corporate cloud, is an on-demand solution accessed via the internet built exclusively for one business or organization. An organization who selects a private cloud model can choose to have their infrastructure hosted by a third-party service provider. In a private cloud, services and infrastructure are always maintained on a private network and all hardware/software is dedicated to one organization.
NEC’S UNIVERGE BLUE SV9500 PRIVATE CLOUD
With NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE SV9500 PRIVATE CLOUD, organizations receive the benefits of both an on-premises and cloud-based communications solution without having to choose. NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE SV9500 PRIVATE CLOUD Business / Hospitality offering is a complete turnkey, private communications solution hosted in secure and resilient cloud data centers. Organizations receive their own single, dedicated instance with ensured geographic redundancy making it easier to customize resources to meet specific IT requirements.
UNIVERGE BLUE SV9500 PRIVATE CLOUD allows fast provisioning of new applications and features and provides users with an unparalleled level of agility. Voice, Unified Messaging, and Unified Communications are fully integrated and includes a wide variety of customizable mobility apps and advanced contact center features to meet all business communications needs. By deploying a private cloud solution, organizations eliminate the burdens that come with developing, maintaining, powering, and securing their own IT infrastructure by reducing on-site equipment and allowing NEC to handle maintenance.
Benefits of NEC’S UNIVERGE BLUE SV9500 PRIVATE CLOUD Unified Communications Include:
Enhanced mobile presence and UC features
Instant Messaging between colleagues or group chats
Ability to set contact rules and view presence and status change
Complete call control with IP, TDM, and SIP options
Seamless call transferring between devices and single-number reach
Supports Microsoft® Exchange and Office 365® (fully integrated calendars)
Enterprise-grade voicemail and unified messaging platform
Record of communications history updated with call information
One number, one voicemail, one complete call history
With the reputation for reliability and security that the UNIVERGE SV9500 offers, paired with NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD SERVICES, UNIVERGE BLUE SV9500 PRIVATE CLOUD is ideal for medium to large-sized enterprises wanting the ease and cost-effectiveness of a cloud solution while maintaining the security and privacy they get with an on-premises system.
The Best of Both Worlds
While the choices of unified communication solutions in the marketplace are vast, the available options for a dynamic and comprehensive delivery model are limited. It is essential to choose a solution that offers you the flexibility to customize around your workforce needs and provides your business with the agility it requires to adapt to ever-changing customer demands. With NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE SV9500 PRIVATE CLOUD solution, enterprises can implement their unified communications system the way that best fits their business and industry needs while always keeping teams and customers connected and allowing employees to focus on their core business instead of hardware maintenance.
Whether you choose a hosted on-premises-based system, fully hosted in the cloud, or hybrid system, UNIVERGE BLUE SV9500 PRIVATE CLOUD is an opportunity to switch from a capital expense (CAPEX) model to an operating expense (OPEX) one, eliminating the need for a large upfront investment. Pay only for the capacity you need with a single monthly bill for system hardware, phones, and phone services plus SIP Trunking with UNIVERGE BLUE SV9500 PRIVATE CLOUD.
If you are interested in a private cloud solution for your organization, reach out to your NEC representative today or visit NEC’s website! For more information on NEC’S UNIVERGE BLUE Public Cloud offering, visit www.univergeblue.com.
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