10 STRATEGIC DRIVERS THAT WILL RESHAPE BUSINESS IN 2022

Digital Transformation is redefining business models and changing the way customers and employees function, altering entire industries. Social and business values surge when people, devices, and resources are connected. The pandemic has been a tremendous catalyst for organizations worldwide to embrace digital transformation in support of business continuity, dynamic service delivery, and realizing the new normal of hybrid working.

As an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) leader with over 120 years of expertise and experience, NEC is sharing its views on leading and emerging trends and technologies to navigate through these changes to simplify your organization, realize workforce efficiencies, and gain competitive advantages.

In this blog, we will explore the Top 10 Strategic Drivers that NEC distinguishes will shape an organization’s operations the coming year and beyond:

Digital Transformation

The integration of new technologies is changing the business world and has altered not only how businesses are seen, but also how they operate and deliver value to customers. It’s also a cultural change that requires flexibility and creativity in revisiting business models and operational processes.

Digital Transformation is key for enterprises to enrich their operations in 2022 with innovative solutions and technologies like cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT), data analytics, mobile internet, artificial intelligence, voice recognition, and application convergence. In doing so, they recreate their business model, enhance customer and employee experiences, and realize the always-on enterprise.

Connectedness

Making staff omnipresent and ‘always on’ is key for smart enterprises to operate efficiently and effectively in today’s business environments. Successful organizations are capitalizing on mobility solutions to enable employees to get work done no matter their location.

Mobile technologies extend communications, data, and business applications to mobile devices, ensuring employees remain fully integrated with their organizations, colleagues, and customers.

5G and LTE connectivity will transform laptops into ACPCs (Always Connected PCs) to ensure tasks can be performed anywhere on the go. 5G and Wi-Fi 6 technology will drive factors in wireless growth, bringing increased bandwidth and higher internet speeds along with more reliable networks.

Collaborative Workspace

The global pandemic has made companies rethink their workspaces and in 2022, we will see more investment in technology that allows distributed workgroups to communicate and collaborate easily, regardless of location.

Hybrid work has become the preferred model and makes tools that support a more flexible, open, and agile way of working, like Unified Communications & Collaboration (UC&C), a mandatory part of running a successful business. These technologies are dynamic, flexible, and user-centric, and provide easy access to tools like click-to-call and video conference capabilities, file sharing, and digital whiteboarding while driving productivity and reducing latencies across organizations.

At the office, touchless access and integrated environmental control, digital signage, motion sensors, people counting, desk and room scheduling, and voice activation will all support the ‘New Normal’.

From Experience to Engagement

The battle among enterprises for tomorrow’s customers is fought and won on Customer Experience (CX). Companies are pushing hard to deliver connected CX across channels, processes, and departments – making contact easy and pleasant, lowering thresholds, and ensuring swift response. Smart enterprises will reinvent their customer engagement models to deliver customers a unique, personalized experience and ensure a long-lasting relationship.

New tooling is introduced to enhance the Employee Experience (EX) for better business outcomes. Applications and workflows become user-centric instead of device-centric, tools become intuitive, and interactions are swift and simple.

Dynamic Delivery As A Service

Today, people acquire information, products, and entertainment instantly and on-demand. Accustomed to immediate accessibility, this “On-Demand” generation is forcing businesses to be agile and responsive, changing business dynamics dramatically.

Deploying As a Service model dramatically reduces CapEx investments in equipment, space, and resources. Modular services allow businesses to invest in just what is needed now, trimming up-front costs with full options for future expansion. In 2022, more companies will deploy programmable communications to embed voice, messaging, and video into business applications and workflows via simple-to-use APIs.

Cloud-Centric Accelerates

Cloud computing has redefined IT and software system delivery, making it easier than ever for users to signup, access, and draw on solutions available on-demand and within minutes. Adopting new technologies, functionality, and driving innovation is much easier and faster with cloud-based deployments.

Edge computing will help IoT systems to significantly lower connectivity costs and reduce bandwidth requirements, which in turn will boost the widespread availability of services and insights across businesses and society.

While cloud-based deployments can adopt new technologies more seamlessly than their on-premises counterparts, the need for existing infrastructure to co-exist within this new environment remains. Therefore, many enterprises will adopt hybrid and multi-cloud models.

Ensuring Data Security

Capturing, processing, and analyzing data offers tremendous opportunities for businesses to drive better business intelligence, product development, and customer service. However, our dependence on IT systems makes cyber security a key topic and data protection requires rigorous data security management.

As data sets grow, storage solutions will become more flexible and scalable in order to store, protect, and manage all collected information. Real-time business processes and workflows will also require swift retrieval of data. Embedding work-from-home in company operations creates a greater need for data security management during online collaboration.

Secure end-to-end network services are indispensable in supporting digital business transformation, edge computing, and workforce mobility. Companies will therefore increase investments in flexible and scalable storage solutions.

Holistic Business Continuity

The upsurge of remote working urges enterprises to ensure IT infrastructure and application security when allowing staff to integrate collaboration capabilities into their workflows. Choosing the right disaster recovery strategy will be a key investment in the future of stability for every organization. Lock-step fault tolerance and geo-redundancy technology protect critical data that will help ensure business operations.

The unprecedented supply chain disruption of 2021 has prioritized a holistic and proactive strategy to navigate future disruptions, including closer collaboration between suppliers and customers than in the past.

Augmented Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) will continue to be one of the top strategic drivers in the coming decade – with applications ranging from recognition, prediction, and optimization, to reasoning.

AI and machine learning enable systems that are self-educating, self-healing, and proactive. Augmented Intelligence (AUI) focuses on enhancing rather than substituting human involvement. Extended Reality (XR) combines real and virtual environments with human-machine interaction.

In 2022, AI and AUI tools become widely available through cloud platforms and open-source software with adoption across all industries, i.e., government, healthcare, retail, manufacturing, and finance. Developers at midsize companies will start using off-the-shelf AI technology.

Digital Inclusion

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how important digital connectivity is when physical presence is not possible. Virtual and augmented reality technologies are removing the distance between people, information, and experiences. As technology advances, digital inclusion will encourage all people to participate in society, offering more potential for individuals to bloom and realize a brighter future for all.

Important steps are being made towards building smarter societies – with Information and Communications Technologies playing a vital role in ensuring energy efficiency, sustainable economic development, enhanced safety, and security, along with wise management of natural resources.

As more organizations become increasingly digital, it’s up to the technology partners to provide tools and stay adaptable to help support those businesses during their transformation. NEC has a wide breadth of core UC and IT products and each stands on its own to help solve common business challenges. Our broad portfolio encapsulates multiple solutions into one powerful enterprise approach to meet the demands and digital transformation needs of today’s organizations.

To learn how we can help your organization embrace and capitalize on the Digital Transformation, contact your authorized NEC Representative, or get in touch with us at: https://www.univergeblue.com/get-in-touch

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9 Ways an Aging Phone System Could be Putting Business Success on Hold

Prior to the advent of Cloud Communications, companies relied upon on-premises hardware to deliver their communications. The trouble with continuing the use of an on-premises phone system is the architecture of conventional phone systems dates to a time when going to work meant going into an office. Many were even designed when smartphones were considered nothing but science fiction. Today’s workers require more agility and capabilities than these systems support.

Traditional On-Prem PBX with UC vs. UCaaS

Unified Communications (UC) systems can take two forms: On-Premises and in the cloud, which is referred to as Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS). So which is best?

With on-premises UC, you own the phone system, the infrastructure and host all hardware on-site, paying for it as a capital expense. For businesses with multiple locations, PBX hardware must be installed in each location. To implement a new application, you typically have to buy new hardware/software, install it, get your resources trained on how to support it, and then go through a series of tests.

A cloud phone system with UCaaS combines many different communications applications and features into one platform, hosted in the cloud. You can choose to rent or own the phones, and in a lot of cases, phones are offered free by service providers, and you pay a monthly subscription for all maintenance, features, upgrades, and support. UCaaS takes phone system management and maintenance off your plate. All you need is an internet connection to access a cloud service, making it easy to link different branches and integrate mobile devices.

A modern cloud phone system not only provides highly reliable connectivity and call quality but is also easy to deploy and simple to maintain. Plus, the cloud delivers the agility and advanced features your business needs to keep pace with consumers and mobile workers.

In this blog post, we’ll uncover the 9 ways an aging phone system could be putting your business success on hold.

Too Costly

ROI CalculatorWith a cloud-based phone system, you enjoy one flat-rate for all your calls nationwide. For one predictable monthly charge, you also get a range of additional services without the complexity of multiple bills. Contrast that with traditional on-premises systems where, even when the hardware is paid for, you still incur ongoing costs for things like software upgrades, maintenance, and support. You may also need expensive expansion cards for adding new users or costly private business exchange (PBX) lines for connectivity between multiple locations.

Low Customer Satisfaction

A study by the respected research firm Gartner also found that when it comes to making a purchase, 64% of people find customer experience more important than price. This means businesses must quickly put customers in touch with exactly who they need.

This can create problems for businesses still using traditional on-premises phone systems. When a traditional on-premises PBX phone system is not built to integrate with your teams’ mobile devices, you leave yourself open to a poor customer experience unless your sales representatives happen to be sitting at their desks right when the customer calls. A modern cloud phone system gives your employees the ability to answer a call from any device and stay in touch with customers anytime, anywhere, and from virtually any mobile device.

Unreliable Phone Service with Traditional PBX

First and foremost, every business needs reliable phone service and good call quality. Of the many shortcomings of traditional PBX systems, their lack of adequate disaster recovery and business continuity may be the most serious. On-site legacy systems are not designed to provide continuous connectivity in the event of outages from natural disasters and other events.

With UCaaS, your communications and collaboration solutions run in the cloud, in redundant datacenters, not on on-premises hardware. This means business continues even in the event of a fire, power outage, or natural disaster.

Weak Security and Compliance

With a cloud-based system, data is backed up to secure datacenters that employ dedicated security personnel to monitor networks and server rooms at all times and are built to withstand natural disasters. With on-premises phone systems, servers are located in your office, which is more susceptible to break-ins and unforeseen weather disasters, which pose threats to your servers containing your data.

With the right cloud provider, robust security protects your data. This is particularly important for small- and medium-size businesses, which typically lack the dedicated IT and Security staff of larger businesses. The right cloud service provider experts can provide world-class security, which includes compliance with government regulations like HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).

Not Mobile Friendly

Most traditional PBX systems, with their hardwired infrastructures, can’t easily accommodate the needs of an increasingly wireless, mobile world. A cloud phone system provides apps for mobile devices and desktops to support your workers anywhere they roam. This mobility allows mobile employees to access conference calls, video conferences, faxing, and team chats from a mobile device. Meanwhile, your customers can reach your employees from a single company phone number.

Hard to Scale

What happens when your business grows, and you need to add more users? With traditional PBX with UC, more phones and UC licenses need to be purchased and installed. You’ll also need to ensure that sufficient voice channels will be provisioned, which involves significant lead time that could severely impede your ability to react in a timely manner. Cloud-based communications provides users with on-demand scalability and bursting capabilities. This means you can increase your seat count in record time – or quickly scale down during slower seasons to control costs.

Difficult to Set Up Branch Offices and Remote Workers

As businesses undergo mergers and acquisitions, move offices, launch new international locations, and hire new teleworkers, your communications must be able to adapt quickly. With traditional communications platforms, adding a PBX to each location can be slow, labor intensive and expensive. This limits an organization’s flexibility to easily adopt new features, functionality, or process improvements.

Rather than requesting a service call or waiting for the phone company to provision lines, a cloud phone system lets you simply send phones to new offices or remote workers.

Aging, Out of Data PBX

Premises-based PBX systems can quickly become out of date as keeping up with updates and new feature enhancements can become costly and time consuming. Moving traditional software models to the cloud helps ensure employee access to the communication tools they need, while also helping you stay up to date with the latest versions.

A top-tier cloud service provider will automatically upgrade your calling and other features in the cloud so you won’t have to worry about upgrades or added fees.

Cumbersome and Complicated

A cloud-based phone system eliminates the need to pay for collaboration services such as video conferencing, chat, file storage, internet fax, backup, and other stand-alone services from different suppliers. This not only reduces procurement and billing complexity as with a traditional PBX but also dramatically improves employee productivity. For example, with an integrated cloud communications service, employees collaborating in a group chat can instantly elevate the session to a video conference or web meeting without leaving the application.

Ready to Move to the Cloud?

The days of waiting for the phone company to deliver, set up, and connect on-site business phone hardware are gone. With NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT, you will have a reliable, full-featured cloud-based phone system up and running almost instantly.

If you’re ready to make the move, chose a cloud company with superior call quality, proven reliability, and a track record for stellar customer service and support. The fully integrated UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT solution provides a premier business phone system to meet your needs.

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NEC, Star Alliance and SITA Team Up to Accelerate Seamless, Touchless Travel

NEC Corporation of America, Star Alliance and SITA are accelerating the future of touchless travel through a recent partnership agreement. Coming soon, loyalty customers of Star Alliance member airlines will be able to use their unique Digital ID across participating airlines and airports.

Star Alliance Biometrics, powered by NEC I:Delight, is an opt-in service that allows loyalty customers to create a unique Digital ID to unlock a personalized, touchless travel experience from reservation to destination. By connecting Star Alliance Biometrics to SITA’s Smart Path solution, the platform will be able to use SITA’s shared airport infrastructure already available in more than 460 airports.

NEC I:Delight platform, which is currently in use by Star Alliance member airlines at several airports in Europe, can be easily integrated with SITA Smart Path. The opt-in solution can quickly identify passengers with a high degree of accuracy, even when face masks or PPE are present.

Interested in learning more about this teaming agreement? You can read the full press release here.

You can also get a first-hand look into how Star Alliance Biometrics, powered by NEC I:Delight, is transforming the customer experience by watching 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.

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Three Principals for Effective Hybrid Communications and Collaboration

Succeed with the New Hybrid Work Model

It’s been called everything from the “biggest shift to how we work in our generation” to “the new norm in 2021,” and many are sure it is here to stay. One thing is certain ― preparing for the new era is a business imperative.

One aspect of hybrid work is certain—the need for communication and collaboration tools that support continued productivity and business operations. Over 70% of executives expect to raise spending in this area, according to the PWC study. But along with the technology, you’ll need a vision for how your business’s hybrid work model supports communications and collaboration.

What is a Hybrid Work Model?

Let’s first define and examine the component parts of a hybrid work model—one that supports any and all combinations of worker types while ensuring no lapse in communication and collaboration either internally or with customers.

Your company’s breakdown of worker types will be different from that of companies in other industries, and the mix of worker types will constantly shift. Employees with shorter tenures may be required to start as in-office workers, while experienced veterans may find Work-From-Home (WFH) makes them more productive. As employees change roles, their work location may shift, and there is no doubt that worker types will evolve along with it.

Worker types could include:

  • In-Office Workers
  • Employees who choose to work at a remote location (such as coffee shop or library)
  • Work-From-Home Employees
  • Workers who are part time in the office and part time at home
  • Workers in Transit (working on the go)

The Keys to Hybrid Success

Designing a communications and collaboration solution for your hybrid work model shouldn’t be difficult, and won’t be if you keep three principals at the forefront: Flexibility, Business at the Center of All Communications, and Crazy Simple Communications and on-line meeting tools.

Flexibility

A hybrid work model requires your solution to stretch and expand, ebb and flow as the model takes shape and changes. Hybrid work isn’t a static concept—by nature it implies that where people work will change over time, so your communications solution has to embody elasticity.

Employees should be able to quickly and seamlessly collaborate with each other regardless of their physical location. Elastic communications technology doesn’t care about “where.” Location of either employee or customer is a nonissue. And it needs to be a central feature of your hybrid work model. Elastic communications and contact center solutions also support the unpredictability of a hybrid work model—when employees decide to move to a rural location where your business doesn’t have an office, customers and employees can still reach that employee without awareness of the move. A cloud-based contact center and unified communications allows your business to engage and support customers, no matter where agents or employees may be.

Keep Business At The Center

When your hybrid work model communications technology puts your business at the center of all communications and collaboration, customers reach you the same way they always have. Your business phone number doesn’t change, nor do your employees’ business phone numbers. Employees should never have to share personal phone numbers, because their business phone travels wherever they go. And all communications should be unified in the cloud such that you or your IT leader can measure, secure, and manage them regardless of location.

Management capabilities should let you add phone lines for unexpected growth or remove them when no longer needed. You should enjoy one console to manage permissions, set up hunt groups, set up auto attendants, and more, regardless of employee and customer locations.

Crazy Simple Communications & On-Line Meeting Tools

Let’s illustrate a bit further what we mean by “crazy simple,” at least for your communications and collaboration technology. One suite of tools should deliver all that you need—a business phone system with desktop and mobile applications, the ability to conduct virtual meetings with video, webinar, contact center solutions, security, chat capability, even secure and easy file storage and productivity applications. A central, single management platform and a service record that makes deployment easy. Uptime so good, so reliable, that the system rarely goes down. One system that delivers on whatever communications and collaboration need your employees may have, wherever they are.

NEC UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD SERVICES – Designed for Hybrid Working

Flexible, business-centric, simple communications and collaboration technology is what NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE offers. A cloud-based unified communications and collaboration platform, UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT enables users to be more productive and share ideas and content though a single system, regardless of location. CONNECT seamlessly integrates all your communication tools—desktop and mobile phones and computers voice; video conferencing, on-line webinars, and chat; secure file sharing, and contact center— into one easily manageable solution oriented around your hybrid work model and its employee’s needs and workstyles.

Are you ready for the world of hybrid work? Don’t waste time and money on servers, app install, and security patches. With NEC’s cloud-based business productivity suite, your business is your focus, not your IT. UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD SERVICES can help define your hybrid work model and ensure your employees have the tools they need to work better, from wherever they might be.

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NEC’s Keith Terreri on the Intersection of CFO & CIO

Recently, Keith Terreri, NEC Corporation of America’s CFO and SVP of Corporate Operations and IT, spoke with Dan Larson, host of the ‘Count Me In’ Podcast from the Institute of Management of Accountants.

In his role, Keith has the unique advantage of overseeing finance and IT for NECAM. In this podcast episode, Keith describes the convergence of these two pivotal roles and provides important tips on cybersecurity that any organization can benefit from.

Key takeaways from the podcast include:

  • How converging the role of CIO and CFO helped increase collaboration, communication and visibility between finance, corporate operations, and IT teams.
  • Why cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility, not just IT, and why cyber liability is a financial risk to all organizations.
  • How adopting the slogan, “We’re all IT now,” helped increase collaboration between finance, corporate operations, and IT and shift to a “one team” mentality.
  • Why cybersecurity awareness and good business judgement must be communicated to employees on a frequent basis
  • Why all businesses, no matter the type or size, need to prioritize cybersecurity and Keith’s four steps to get started.

Listen to the podcast now!

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