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.

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

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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

What’s New with UNIVERGE BLUE? Now Announcing General Availability for U.S. Partners

Last month, NEC announced the launch of the new generation of our UNIVERGE BLUE™ cloud communications portfolio.

Today, I am extremely excited to share that UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT and ENGAGE are now generally available for NEC’s U.S. Business Channel Partner Community. This is phase 1 of a global rollout during 2020 that will ultimately include partners around the globe by 2021.

What is NEC UNIVERGE BLUE™ CONNECT and UNIVERGE BLUE™ ENGAGE?

Businesses need the ability to communicate and collaborate from anywhere at any time, both internally and externally. They need tools that are easy to deploy and use, and provide users with an integrated experience. The need for a flexible and adaptable solution to support a remote workforce will extend beyond the current COVID-19 pandemic and we built this solution with this in mind.

UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT and UNIVERGE BLUE ENGAGE are born-in-the-cloud solutions designed specifically for businesses of all sizes and the channel partners who serve them. Built on innovative and proprietary technology, the solutions are elegant, reliable and easy to deploy, while remaining highly scalable and extremely cost-effective.

Our cloud-based unified communications platform, UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT, combines a full-featured cloud-based phone system, team chat, video conferencing and online meeting plus file backup, sync and share, all available to users through desktop, web and mobile applications. CONNECT helps improve the communications and collaboration of businesses, while being easy for channel partners to sell, install and support.

Our fully featured Cloud Contact Center as a Service solution (CCaaS), UNIVERGE BLUE ENGAGE, combines robust functionality with carrier-grade reliability and world-class deployment and support services. It’s designed to fit business needs from the small, single channel to the large and sophisticated omni-channel environment, and can help any business differentiate from the competition where it matters most – the customer experience.

Brought to Market Exclusively through NEC’s Business Partner Community

NEC prides itself on its commitment to building strong relationships with our channel partner community and delivering true innovation, and our new generation of UNIVERGE BLUE strengthens this commitment.

Last month, we spoke with industry analyst Elka Popova, Vice President at Frost & Sullivan, about the news. “NEC has the opportunity to accelerate the conversion of its vast and entrenched customer base to cloud services such as UCaaS, CCaaS, meetings, and file sync and share,” said Popova. “The partnership will also greatly improve NEC’s and its dealers’ competitive positions as they will be able to capitalize on the ongoing customer migrations to cloud services. This will result in new revenue opportunities, more predictable revenue streams and stickier customer relationships for NEC and its channel partners.”

Available today through NEC’s Business Partner community, UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT and ENGAGE complement NEC’s existing offerings, while creating new opportunities for partners to earn increased revenue through new programs designed to facilitate deeper customer relationships.

NEC Channel Partners can choose between three different go-to-market models:

  • Customer Ownership
  • Revenue Share
  • Agency Model

The Customer Ownership and Revenue Share models are now available for Channel Partners located in the United States, with the Agency Model being available in June. For NEC’s loyal Canadian Channel Partners, a launch date will be announced very soon.

Here’s What Our Partners are Saying

NEC gave a handful of exclusive partners early access to UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT and ENGAGE. The partners were able to test the product first-hand and get it in front of select customers. In just the past month, NEC has received overwhelmingly positive feedback. Here’s what they had to say:

  • “Forerunner Technologies is extremely excited about NEC UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT and the NEC/Intermedia relationship. Our clients have a pent-up demand for this dynamic delivery model and the migration to the cloud with advanced collaboration applications. This model is unique in comparison to other UCaaS offerings and allows Solution Integrators better ability to control the end user experience while keeping costs in line. Congratulations to NEC on this move!” – Paul Diesu, CEO of Forerunner Technologies

  • “We’re excited to take part in the full launch of the new NEC UNIVERGE BLUE! This will be a turning point in the future of NEC UCaaS solutions and sales, and looking forward to presenting the fresh new look to our current customers and new prospects.” – Scott Ellman, Director of Sales, Advanced Communication Solutions

  • “NEC Blue delivers a complete public, private and hybrid cloud offering to NEC SI Partners. The NEC Blue allows the SI to deliver this offering in an Ownership, Revenue Share or Agency Model. NEC Blue Team provides Inside Sale Support, Marketing and technical support to the SI, allowing the SI to engage in any opportunity. DTC has engaged NEC Blue Team in multiple call center opportunities. NEC Blue can provide a simple to very advance call center solution. A truly SI centric model.” – Gordon Maccani, President, Digital Telecommunication Corp

I couldn’t be more excited for NEC and our partners as we deepen our roots in the UCaaS and CCaaS markets and help our customers transition to the cloud. So come join us, it’s going to be a fun ride! For more information on UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT and ENGAGE, visit http://univergeblue.com. Or, if you’re interested in learning more about our Channel Partner Program, reach out to us via the form below.

Become a Partner

We welcome your interest in our products, solutions and services. If you have any questions about the Channel Partner Program, please submit your query below.