Black Friday Sales Tanked?

According to this business reporter, Walmart is the reason Black Friday sales were down this year. While that is probably not the case, or at least not the whole picture, the results from Black Friday have proven interesting. The in-store sales numbers were down, while the online numbers were up 14.3 percent over 2013. Many retailers, including Walmart, chose to mark down items in the weeks leading up to Black Friday, giving consumers an opportunity to bargain shop in advance. Plus, the convenience of online shopping is difficult to overcome. It’s easy to grab a tablet and shop while lounging in your favorite chair.

So how does a retail brick and mortar establishment compete with this type of convenience? Create an amazing in-store experience!

Did Your Customers Have the Best Experience?

Customers have opinions about how you do business, and if you don’t succeed in fulfilling their expectations, they will shop somewhere else. A big part of what they want is an innovative, personalized experience that enables them to utilize online technology and access inside a brick-and-mortar store. That is a tall order!

Making reasonable and strategic efforts to fulfill customer expectations is important for 2015, particularly for those retailers who spent time this year analyzing the customer journey. To truly appreciate the importance of having a point-of-sale (POS) system that empowers customer expectations, consider who is actually doing the shopping over this holiday season.

According to a new report by Bankrate.com, a majority of Americans did not plan to shop on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.  They expect to find deals throughout the holiday season. The report also stated that Millennials were expected to be visiting stores on Black Friday in higher numbers than older Americans, and we are very aware of the tech-savvy, mobility centric ways of this generation.

As reported by the U.K. publication Retail Systems, a study by 1010data shows many Americans prefer to shop in stores because they do not want to wait on shipping. Additionally, 97 percent of study participants claimed they would purchase gifts early this year, with half of those starting before Thanksgiving and one in five participating in Black Friday. The reason? They want to ensure product availability.

Fully Connect with Your Shoppers

Whether catering to Millennials, bargain shoppers or early-birds who want to make sure they get that perfect gift, there are ways to improve the experience by embracing technology that your customers really want.  First, let’s discuss what that actually is:

Going Mobile

Shoppers are price and comparison shopping from the floor of your store. They are constantly connected now, and want to have that experience enabled in their brick-and-mortar store experience. This constant connectivity also changes the behavior of a shopper. They are no longer willing to wait in line to make a purchase. They believe they can find what is needed online and will simply exit your store if they are made to wait.

In addition, shoppers have significantly more information at their fingertips, so they are able to not only price shop, but feature compare as well. If the item you have in stock is not what they want, they will go find it somewhere else.
Fortunately, you can update your current POS to include mobility solutions that allow you to achieve the following:

  • Real-time access to data on the selling floor – Now you know what merchandise is in-stock, so you can serve customers more effectively.
  • Better up-selling and cross-selling – Get that key data to sales associates to help them to make better recommendations to customers.
  • Improved communication – Your team can collaborate from the sales floor, again better serving customers without sending them all over the store.

Dynamic Advertising

The ability to deliver real-time information and highly targeted messages is available now. Customers really want to feel like you care about them and are appreciative they shop in your store. Adding digital signage to a POS system provides you the opportunity to:

  • Reach customers where they shop
  • Increase sales volumes of higher margin merchandise
  • Suggest add-on merchandise to increase average purchase volume
  • Incorporate real-time data to present timely and relevant offers to customers at the point they make the buying decision
  • Customize messages for local storefronts easily

Now you can easily get that “wow” factor in your store and enhance the customer shopping experience.

Time to Go High Tech

Retailers who are able to cater to the connected nature of their shoppers will win the in-store experience, and have the ability to better compete with online retailers. However, to do so requires adding a strategy to improve mobility, interactivity and information by empowering the sales staff to access data and sell from the floor. Fortunately, NEC has retail solutions available now and can support you in implementation so you can stay focused on your business.

This is just the beginning. There are many more exciting technology trends coming that improve the customer experience, support better data analytics and increase security. Retail is in for some exciting innovation!

Did You Consider This in Your 2015 IT Budget

Your IT budget planning is most likely well underway and you are probably putting the finishing touches on it. Or perhaps you work for one of those organizations that has a fiscal year that does not align with the annual calendar, and you are in research mode. Either way, deciding where money will be well spent is a significant planning process. The word “budget” can be such an intimidating and restricting word to many…but it’s an essential annual process and perhaps could be viewed as a way to limit unnecessary expenses and maximize the value of the investments to enable your business.

To prioritize your 2015 IT expenses, it is important to consider the following to ensure you have allocated enough budget dollars. Not only will considering these as priorities help set up your IT team for success, but the addition of strong strategic partners for managed services will place your core team in the driver’s seat for more strategic and revenue-generating activities, leaving other less-strategic IT tasks to a value-added partner.

The Complexity of Big Data

Big data is here, and will continue to be an important part of every organization’s IT department. It is important to recognize that multiple aspects of a big data strategy enable your access to the best information. These include:

  • Acquiring and storing data securely
  • Analyzing data effectively
  • Ensuring your team has the right skills to manage this process

Fortunately, you do not have to go it alone. NEC offers complex Analytics and Big Data that turn your data into valuable insights for your business. Think of these insights as priceless intellectual information your business can use to make smarter decisions. Maximize your business potential by using analytics to decrease costs, improve revenue, drive profitability and increase customer satisfaction.
While your team is focused on the core of your business, the NEC team will partner with you to bring big data to life, unlocking the intelligence hidden in the data, while also supporting any planning and implementation. Our solutions work in the NEC Cloud, on-premise and hybrid deployment models and leverage multi-vendor strategies.

How Do You Cloud?

Cloud services provide an excellent way to empower a mobility strategy, as well as ensure rapid provisioning of seasonal and temporary employees. In fact, enterprise mobility removes many barriers for employees who are either on the road or in remote locations, ensuring they can access enterprise applications quickly and easily. However, the use of cloud in your organization is something that requires strategic thought.

There are many concerns about cloud applications, including security and reliability. What applications should you actually use in the cloud? Are there some that should remain on-premises? Can you be certain that the cloud services will meet your needs?

This is an area where the NEC team can bring broad experience to your table. Our Cloud Services team provides solutions that transform your business by bringing together people, applications and smart devices to deliver communications and collaboration solutions through the cloud. For example, Desktop-as-a-Service or DaaS is a cloud service that deploys virtual desktops that users can access from any device, anywhere. Talk about flexibility for your business! One of the benefits of DaaS is that it enables your business to step into cloud usage in a strategic manner, while giving you peace of mind regarding security and access, all without touching critical enterprise applications, such as financial software.

The NEC team offers a solid strategy that meets your specific environment, from on-premises to hybrid to public cloud services. The important thing is that your business requirements are considered and met without interruption through a seamless integration. Our team is well-versed in creating this environment so you can utilize the cloud to maximize your business while minimizing any risk.

Finding the Best Managed Services Partner

Knowing which services are core to your business or simply routine, but still important, is a key decision to be made…so that leaves the question: Do you have all the expertise in-house to properly evaluate the many aspects of IT and then make the best decision for your organization? With the ever-changing landscape, particularly in the areas of security, cloud and virtualization, it is extraordinarily difficult to have all the talent in-house you need to make the best decisions and implement the right solutions while still contributing to the company bottom line.

Our Managed Services teams understand all these complexities, and have built a strong talent pool to execute our offerings. We believe that rather than trying to do it all on your own, you should have the option to align with experts who act as an extension of your existing IT team.

Our managed services offering, NECommand, enables business through important IT solutions in three key offerings: nBuild™, nMaintain™, and nManage™. These services provide you with the level of expertise for your particular environment, whether it’s implementing a new system, providing administrative functions and maintenance to free up your internal IT talent, or managing those complex systems such as security, we have created services to align with your business needs.

Budgeting and Beyond

The typical budgeting process often means “take what you have done, add or subtract by percentages and submit the number.” However, with the consistent fluctuations in IT, you should probably ask yourself is it better to rely on historical experiences alone to make important business decisions? Instead, consider working with NEC to help you manage your IT future and make solid business decisions that can enhance your bottom line.

You can learn more about our Analytics and Big Data, Cloud and Managed Services by visiting our web site, where you will find white papers, videos and other information to help you make the right adjustments to your 2015 IT budget.

Armchair Quarterbacks Rejoice! Big Data is In the Game!

When it comes to football, everyone has a favorite team. The fans not only cheer their hearts out, but they feel as if they are an integral part of their team. Well, now thanks to big data, fans will feel like they are an even bigger part of the game!

Have you ever found yourself yelling at the television, trying desperately to tell the players what their next critical move should be? With the emerging advancements of big data and analytics, armchair quarterbacks will have up-to-date information and statistics at their fingertips. And it’s coming to you this season!

Big Data enters the NFL

Photo by AJ Guel on Flickr and used here with Creative Commons license.

The National Football League (NFL) announced that in-game player tracking technology will be available for the 2014 season in 17 stadiums. Using RFID tracking chips on every player, the NFL will now be able to measure player orientation. This initiative, called “Next Generation Statistics,” will provide insights that will be available primarily on Thursday Night Football games shown on the NFL Network.

The implementation of RFID tracking chips will provide a statistical link between the players and the fans. The technology measures distance within motion-based systems. These chips will track players’ movements and positions wherever they are on the field. Talk about an interactive fan experience! This level of “Next Generation Statistics” occurs in real-time and provides a wide-range of data types which include:

·         Precise positioning data

·         Velocity

·         Acceleration

·         Run distance

·         Impact measurements

This data can be collected, processed, and presented to the audience in a matter of seconds, ultimately enhancing the football experience. It makes you wonder…could this information potentially create a more perfect game of football?

The players and coaches will have the ability to see exactly what occurred in any particular play, and giving them information to make the necessary changes for improvement. No more questions about who made a mistake because information will be broken down into statistics that can be analyzed and dissected by coaches and fans alike. It will make for an exciting, interactive 2014 season for sure!

Big Data – Most Valuable Player                                                                                        

The NFL initiative is following both the NBA’s and NASCAR’s foray into using big data to augment the fan experience. In the case of the NFL, fans will have access to statistics previously unavailable, but also broken down in a spatially oriented way so the fan can actually understand what happened, to whom, how and where.

Converting huge volumes of collected data transforms the information into a meaningful set of numbers, revealing unexpected patterns and correlations. This provides an opportunity for fans to be more informed, as well as coaches and players who can make better decisions going forward.

However, just like any winning team, big data needs a quarterback. In this case, it would be analytics. Frequently we talk about big data as a singular “event” where data comes in and then back out as a usable source of information. However, without analytics, big data is well, just large amounts of data.

The winning team of big data and analytics has been a focus for NEC for some time. The combination helps make sense of the abundance of available data that reside within the enterprise and transforms it into trustworthy insight and advanced analytics for sustainable intelligence.

For the NFL, the use of big data and analytics will provide new perspectives from a variety of viewpoints right after the play takes place. Now, the game will be viewed from the inside out and millions of eyes will not only be watching, but they will be in on the action as well.

The technological advances of big data and analytics are providing us a more in-depth glimpse at the world we live in. Experiences that could never be fully understood before are now being displayed in detail through real-time big data and analytics.

To learn more about big data and analytics and how they can be used in your industry, check this infographic provided by NEC and Aberdeen Group – Predictive Analytics and Big Data: A Powerful Combination.

Power-Up Your Summertime Reading List

Recently the Irving (TX) Public Library reported a 35% increase in its summer reading program from a year ago. This is good news for kiddos wanting to keep their minds active over the summer break. So that you can also keep your mind active, and because we did not want you to feel left out, we’ve compiled our own summer list of powerful informational topics. You can read or listen to great content and bone up on all things innovative, technical and positive for the society! Check out our sessions:

Solutions for Society

Solutions that make things better for society as a whole. Think about how much safer we are by being able to identify bad guys quickly with our NeoFace® facial recognition solutions. Many innovations positively impact society, from big data to healthcare innovation. Check it out…

From NECToday

What Do Intel’s Youngest Intern and NEC Have in Common?

Joey Hudy is the youngest intern in Intel history. At 16 years old, he has achieved multiple accomplishments including a solar-powered computer submitted at a recent science fair. His personal credo – Don’t be bored, make something – is a commitment from NEC as well.

Biometrics Can Improve Customer Experiences

According to a report from research firm Frost & Sullivan, biometrics is just beginning to gain recognition as a viable solution for customer experience in the retail and hospitality industries.

The biometric market is expected to be worth $6.2 billion by the year 2019, primarily due to the continued adoption of the technology for applications beyond the law enforcement and government arenas. For example, the banking industry has found biometric facial recognition to be quite useful in ATMs.

Big Data to the Rescue

What do Lady Gaga, the FIFA World Cup committee, and major communication companies have in common? Big data! Check out these real-life use cases to learn how big data significantly impacts the lives of just about everyone.

Healthcare Innovation for Improved Patient Experience

The primary objective of any healthcare provider is to focus on the patient. Whether it’s a private practice or a large medical conglomeration, the healthcare system needs improved patient communication in order to ensure positive patient experiences.

From NECAM Soundcloud Channel

JPS Heath Network

JPS Health Network is the public healthcare system for Tarrant County and surrounding areas in Texas. Its flagship facility, JPS Hospital, is in Fort Worth and is the only Level-I Trauma Center in the county. The network also includes 42 primary and specialty clinics and health centers throughout the county to serve its population of approximately 2 million citizens. NEC helped JPS upgrade its communications platform to help staff and doctors deliver quality care to its patients.

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania – Justice Network

The Pennsylvania Justice Network (JNET) is a collaborative effort of 16 state agencies to build a secure, integrated justice system that promotes information sharing through the use of its applications, services, architecture, outreach and training.

Case Study: Children’s Hospital of Orange County

Named one of the best children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report (2013-2014), CHOC is exclusively committed to the health and well-being of children through clinical expertise, advocacy, outreach and research that brings advanced treatment to pediatric patients.

Software-Defined Everything

The “Internet of Everything” taken to the next logical step – software-defined so it’s proactive, interactive and positive for companies who want to save time, money and improve productivity. Learn more about next-gen systems…

From NECToday

Continuous Availability at an Affordable Cost for Today’s Business

For IT organizations with mission-critical data, as well as large retailers needing to maintain and access data quickly, the requirements for server uptime and processing are even more important. Trying to achieve five nines (99.999%) of uptime is feasible in a clustered data center environment, but often these organizations are better served through the implementation of a fault tolerant (FT) server.

An Introduction to IERS and NoSQL / New SQL

NEC Corporation of America recently announced the general availability in North America of the InfoFrame Elastic Relational Store, a high-performance database built for high availability and flexible scalability.  IERS is a key value store that provides high-speed transaction processing and SQL (structured query language) capabilities through a JDBC/ODBC interface.

An Interview with Atsushi Kitazawa of NEC Japan, the “Father” of IERS

Everything you wanted to know about IERS, from its position in the world of next-generation databases to its design goals, architecture, and prominent use cases.

From NECAM Soundcloud Channel

The Path to Five 9s of Availability for SQL Server

Get an overview of the different SQL Server high availability technologies from the lowest to the highest levels of availability.

Stay In the Know While On the Go

Mobility is only becoming more prevalent, so check out these great options to learn more about how to keep your mobile workforce productive, secure and well, mobile! Explore on the go…

From NECToday

Under the Sea…with Internet?

Can you imagine a world where ANYTHING is possible? Science fiction movies have depicted it: people living on the moon, on a planet, or under the sea. But now, are we coming closer to fantasy becoming a reality? Perhaps so!

How to Stay ‘Mobile’ During a Severe Weather Event

Enabling employees to do their jobs even when they can’t get into the office keeps them safe during dangerous travel conditions, but it also means not losing employee productivity over the course of the weather event.

Get the Best of All Worlds with In-Store Mobile

In-store mobility is the most efficient and accurate way to create the type of retail experience a consumer expects. Plus, it supports associates in providing a rapid response to a shopper’s needs, ensuring that the sale goes to your retail establishment. To understand the power of in-store mobile, first let’s understand the current consumer shopping behavior.

From NECAM Soundcloud Channel

Case Study: Schenectady City School District

Schenectady City School District (SCSD) is located 12 miles from Albany, New York. The district offers hundreds of courses and programs to nearly 10,000 students throughout the city of Schenectady, and has more National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT) than any other district in the state, with the exception of New York City.

It’s In the Cloud

Isn’t everything? Truth is that cloud solutions have significant practical applications for most businesses, if you understand how to apply them correctly. Do you need a hybrid, cloud or on-premises solution? Find out the answer to that question and more with these sessions:

From NECToday

Is Your Company Seeking Business Agility? Uncovering the Business Value of SDN

Hear first-hand SDN thought leaders from NEC, IBM and featured analyst firm Gartner Research talk about the business benefits of software-defined networking.

NEC Teams with Microsoft for Flexible, Open, Standards-based SDN for the Cloud

Mike Schutz, general manager of Microsoft Product Marketing for the Server and Tools Group, talks about the collaboration between these strategic partners and the benefits customers can expect in this new video.

Unified Communications: As-a-Service vs. On-Premises – What’s Best for You?

Simplifying communication and collaboration is the hallmark of UC and UCaaS. The good news is you don’t have to choose.

ONF Honors NEC as First Vendor to Certify for OpenFlow 1.0 Conformance

The Open Networking Foundation (ONF), a user-driven organization focused on the promotion and adoption of Software-defined Networking (SDN) through open standards development, has awarded NEC Corporation (NEC) with the first Certificate of Conformance offered through the ONF’s OpenFlow Conformance Testing Program. A Certificate of Conformance from ONF is the highest level of assurance available in the market today to confirm OpenFlow specification compliance.

NEC Collaborates with Microsoft to Transform the Data Center with Software-Defined Networking

Microsoft and NEC joint customers will command new levels of IT flexibility and automation with dynamic management and allocation of pooled network resources, as well as their compute and storage pools, all from a central point of control.

From NECAM Soundcloud Channel

Webinar: Real-Life SDN Use Cases

This webinar, Real-Life SDN Use Cases, features noted network experts Ivan Peplnjak of iosHints and NEC’s network architect Samrat Ganguly. They present real examples of OpenFlow-based SDN at work, and use the NEC ProgrammableFlow® Networking Suite as the market leading vehicle to achieve transformative results.

There is plenty of other great content at your fingertips. Simply check out any one of our content channels and enjoy your own personalized summer reading program!

www.NECToday.com
http://www.youtube.com/interactivenec
https://twitter.com/nec
http://www.facebook.com/NECAmerica
http://soundcloud.com/necam
https://www.linkedin.com/company/nec-corporation-of-america

Big Data to the Rescue!

There is serious buzz surrounding big data that may make one wonder if it really is all that we hope. Fortunately, there are plenty of scenarios that showcase how big data makes a significant impact in the daily lives of just about everyone. Let’s take a look at a few…

 Competitive Big Data

big-data-nec
* Photo by infocux Technologies on Flickr and used here with Creative Commons license.

Football, or soccer as it’s known in the U.S., is the most popular sport in the world, making the 2014 World Cup one of the most important sporting events of the year. It will be watched by millions as Brazil and Croatia go head to head. Many of those avid fans won’t even stop to think about what is behind their ability to access information regarding the spectacle that is sure to be the World Cup. But it’s a lot of planning and preparation. Think of it this way:

Joseph and his buddy Sam are in Ireland, betting on the game with their friend Luke, who was lucky enough to attend. They are all posting on social media, gathering statistics on the two teams, the players and the weather. After all, outdoor sports are definitely impacted by weather. The three buddies are able to gather all this information at the “touch of their fingertips” because somewhere, someone thought to gather the information, parse into usable bits and serve it up for anyone to access.

Let’s review another scenario – professional sports are big, global business. An important aspect of that is recruiting. Just how much data would you have to collect in order to have a player’s stats just to see if he’s worth the money he wants. Now apply that business. There are massive amounts of data we want to harvest. Unfortunately, most of that data is unstructured. Fortunately, there are bigger and better servers to crunch that data into something usable. Couple that with services provided by experts such as the team at NEC, and you can really make big data work for you.

Speaking of NEC and the FIFA World Cup, the company will provide information and communications technologies to the Arena da Curitiba in Brazil, including security via technologically-advanced monitoring, IP and wireless infrastructure for telephone, as well as sophisticated sound systems, giant screens, lighting and air conditioning. These systems are all fully integrated by NEC, whose know-how in providing integrated solutions for stadiums is supported by projects spanning a variety of countries.

 

 Little Monsters of Big Data

When we think about big data it conjures up images of large conglomerations churning away at all sorts of analytics in order to build a better mousetrap. But “business” is not necessarily corporate, suit-and-tie, in-office operations. In fact, there are interesting uses for big data cropping up everywhere. Case in point, Lady Gaga’s business manager, Troy Carter, is a big data fan. In fact, he created a fan-centric community called www.littlemonsters.com by mining the singer’s 31 million plus fans on Twitter and 51 million on Facebook.

 

Big Data Bring Back My Internet!

There you are, rushing around to update your web site with the latest, communicate with your store, and ensure that not only are customers served, but you have plenty of product in stock when BAM! Everything goes dark. No, it’s not the next zombie apocalypse; it’s just another service outage. But, what if, before you even called your service provider company, it knew about the outage. How? Big data. It is the hope of many communications industry leaders that appropriate mining of big data will help manage outages and even disasters. By looking for other patterns when customers begin to notify them of a problem, or even mining social media, it is possible for these providers to become more proactive. This spells fewer outages and more control for the communications companies to provide better service. Not to mention less interruption of your digital life and your bottom line.

Bottom line – big data impacts just about every company, organization, law enforcement agency and gaming company on the planet. Because gamers are so engaged, being able to mine their data provides interesting information regarding their behaviors. In fact, that is the very business model of Badgeville, which sells gamification technology for measuring and influence user behavior. The truth is the more they know about your behavior, the better companies can fulfill your needs, wants and desires.

 

Big Data Means Finding the Right Partner

The truth about big data is its immense power when in the right hands. This requires major computing power, as well as a partner that can ensure the large amounts of unstructured data are compiled into a meaningful metric. Fortunately, NEC has solutions for your big data needs that fully encompass the requirements to make the most of your big data. You can find more information on NEC’s big data solutions here.