Enterprise Connect: A Recap

Enterprise Connect gathered together the industry’s finest corporations, vendors, analysts and media to learn about the newest enterprise-focused communications and collaboration technology and the best approaches for implementation. Not only did we meet with analysts to gather insight, we met with partners and other industry experts to discuss the current landscape and what each of us as leaders could do to propel the industry forward.

Role- and Location-Based Demonstrations

Throughout the session, both channel partners and end customers visited booth #1200 to learn how NEC products such as UNIVERGE 3Cand UNIVERGE Cloud Services UCaaSare utilized within home, office and remote environments.

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A Toast to Innovation

To cap off day two at the conference, NEC celebrated its 50thanniversary in North America with an upscale soiree during the Tuesday evening booth crawl, replete with booth staff in black tie attire and a toast to celebrate 50 years of innovation.  While sipping champagne and sparkling water, attendees were able to enjoy NEC’s demos to the sounds of a harpist.

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Sessions

In sessions such as “Is UC Moving Towards A New Plateau or Towards a Cliff” and “Enabling the Nomadic Workforce” NEC’s Todd Landry discussed the factors that are affecting the ever-changing environment at today’s enterprises, such as mobility, on-demand collaboration, virtual workspaces and more. He addressed ways that companies can meet the needs of the various constituents among their workforces.

We also showcased the healthcare vertical through the market leaders’ presentation “UC Challenges in Healthcare,” and included ways healthcare companies can address the changes that are on the horizon through technology and innovative solutions.

Throughout the conference, we spoke in order to garner insights that will not only propel the industry forward, but also strengthen our channel program and provide results for our end customers. NEC’s forward-looking remarks during the sessions were well received, often sparking lively debate and opinions on how the enterprise network is evolving and the role of emerging technologies such as cloud solutions.

Overall, Enterprise Connect 2013 was an excellent opportunity to explore new ideas, share insights and look forward to future innovation in the communications and collaboration technology space.

To learn more about empowering your workforce visit: http://necam.com/empowered

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10 Trends in Enterprise Communications & IT

Part I

nec-enterpirse-trends-uc-mobility-cloudCompeting in today’s business environment is about meeting challenges, making decisions and innovating rapidly while using the best and most current technologies, tools and information.

Cloud services, mobile applications and virtualization are just a few components of a rapidly evolving technology foundation.  Check out this list of trends and technologies that we believe will drive productivity and provide businesses with superior customer service, a more flexible work environment and a competitive edge.

I. Unified Communications and Collaboration Reduce Latency and Drive Productivity

With organizations becoming increasingly fragmented, departments more flexible and employees more mobile, collaboration is a means of enabling them to work together in real time. Unifed Communications & Collaboration (UC&C) is a major breakthrough in enterprise communications, as it will drive productivity and increase flexibility across an organization. Latencies in all areas will be reduced as well, from development to logistics and customer response, thereby creating an informed and connected workplace. Advanced collaboration tools such as shared workspace, calendar coordination, and rich presence will support many business processes. As a result, collaboration between individuals and teams will intensify and improve in quality.

II. Mobile Connectivity is Key

In today’s fexible and fast-moving business environment, employees are never in one place for very long. Workers can be just about anywhere: at the offce, between appointments, on business travel or working from home. In many business settings, it has become more important to reach a specifc person regardless of their location. Additionally, more employees need a mobile device that supports all business telephone features and provides access to the Internet as well as business applications. Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC) capabilities offer communication services independent of the access technique. With FMC, employees can use smartphones anywhere in the world as an integrated extension of the company network, enabling access to the central directory and switching from a cellular network to a Wi-Fi network. In addition, personal devices can be used in conjunction with enterprise security credentials – securing enterprise information and supporting ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) policies.

III. Open Architectures and Standards (such as SIP) provide Greater Flexibility

Globalization of business and technologies leads to solutions being comprised of components from multiple sources. UC&C solutions should be built on an open architecture that lets organizations leverage existing technologies. SIP is the foundation for integration of media modes, network devices, and applications across a common infrastructure to deliver advanced services and applications. SIP is a core communication component, which integrates with other advanced protocols to support a multimedia architecture and supports advanced communications across any device. It also enables virtual applications to be delivered from the cloud to support conferencing, messaging, voice, and collaboration.
The move to SIP trunking is signifcant because it enables organizations to reduce costs and offer new services. SIP trunking is beginning to replace local PRI lines and route external traffic to centralized data centers, allowing enterprises to lower the operating costs of IP technology while using their existing network resources more efficiently.

IV. Beyond Virtualization

Many organizations are turning to virtualization as the solution to their IT challenges. Virtualization accelerates deployment of new capabilities without needing to acquire new hardware. A virtualized infrastructure can improve your business through the minimization of capital expenses and operating costs.
It also helps reduce application testing requirements and compatibility issues while simplifying disaster recovery and mission critical solutions. Virtualization provides components to address end-to-end scenarios, like datacenter consolidation, business continuity and virtualized desktop solutions – ultimately providing you the benefits of a lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

V. Hybrid Clouds

There is a bright future in the midst of hybrid clouds. Cloud computing is changing the enterprise’s approach to IT and communications, with more fexible architectures and cost structures. Modular applications enable you to pay for only those applications your business needs for a specifc period of time. These on-demand services allow businesses to better manage costs. Businesses are also turning to the cloud to enable more scalable and flexible business processes. While they use public clouds for less sensitive tasks, they prefer to use private clouds for their most vital processing tasks.

Then there’s hybrid clouds, which are designed to quickly scale to a company’s needs. It makes it the ideal solution to load heavy projects, which cannot be easily handled by a company’s in-house servers. Hybrid clouds can be operated at all times, from any part of the world.

In part two, we’ll cover additional technology trends.  Download the eBook now for more details on empowering your workforce with these leading technologies.

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The Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) Competitive Edge

nec-ucaas-competive-edgeUnified Communications (UC) technology is rapidly evolving, and with this change, there is an ongoing pressure for CIOs to stay current if they want to remain competitive. As technology continues to evolve, CIOs have the added pressure to update existing technology or deploy a new solution in half the time, with half the budget – and in some cases with half the resources available to them. With only one to two years to adapt before what’s “current” becomes yesterday’s technology, you certainly want to implement communications technology solutions that rapidly adapts to changes in order to provide your business with the most current communications software and applications available for your business to stay competitive and productive. Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) could be the solution to address this critical business need.

UCaaS is a complete service offering that can be implemented into your IT strategy over a defined period of time. With UCaas, services are delivered from the cloud, enabling your business to quickly and easily scale communications as needed and choose your preferred deployment model, be it a private, hybrid or public cloud environment. UCaaS allows for flexibility based on your requirements, and puts you in a position to make decisions based on your business practices and specific needs – not the needs of the manufacturer. The following are just a few ways deploying UCaaS prepares you to face IT challenges that may come your way.

  • Empowers your business’ workforce

With UCaaS, businesses of all sizes can make a significant impact to their overall costs, IT efficiencies and individual productivity. Because UCaaS delivers a complete set of voice features and unified communications (UC) and collaboration applications, you can consolidate your communications staff. What implications does this have for your business? For starters, consolidating helps decrease overall spending. What’s more, you can simultaneously increase individual productivity, responsiveness and accessibility. Deploying UCaaS helps leverage the abilities of your IT staff to focus on other business issues. With UCaaS, gone are the days when your IT team ties up a majority of their time dealing with testing, scheduling and installing new software updates.

  • Enables True Collaboration

Ideally, all departments and levels in a corporation should interact with one another to collaborate toward a common goal – UCaaS helps make this possible by offering the ability for you to achieve on-demand access across any device. With a comprehensive suite of powerful UC and collaboration applications, your business will quickly and easily be able to streamline communications and information delivery. Deploying UCaas in your organization will provide a consistent user experience across multiple devices which, in turn, minimize the need for training so the user’s time can be dedicated to other tasks. The evolution of UCaaS has spanned from basic features such as Unified Messaging, Presence and IM to an ever expanding set of new capabilities. UCaaS enables your employees to tailor their communications to the specific needs of their role, plus gives total control over how, when and where they choose to be reached.

  • Eases Budget and Management Concerns

We’d all like to reduce, and if possible, eliminate hardware costs altogether but still receive all the features and benefits of our applications, right? Gartner predicts that by 2015, 35% of technology spending won’t be controlled by IT but by the business. So, with that in mind, remember the following about UCaas: (1) Since UCaas is consistently upgraded, there is no need to budget, purchase, and install hardware upgrades, so critical IT resources can be dedicated to other projects that help your business to compete better in the market. (2) With UCaaS, you have upfront clear per-user costs, which simplify the service you offer your organization. You decide what you need and when. For example, you can purchase communications as an Operating Expense (OPEX) for a fraction of the upfront costs that you’d incur in a traditional Capital Expense (CAPEX) model – simply choose the solution(s) that best suit your needs at limited or no upfront cost (3) UCaas is also offered at consistent and predictable costs, which reduces the headache of searching for additional budget to fund costly projects.

 

  • Offers flexible UC options

With UCaaS, standard UC features (with varying functionality) are offered on a per-seat basis. This means that the monthly seat cost includes system requirements needed to for you to leverage the functions of your UC system. Just because UCaaS consists of a standard set of offerings, you can still implement an offering that doesn’t require all users to be at the same level. For example, a phone in a public area for general use shouldn’t cost the same as the applications delivered to your CEO. The flexibility to customize these options, along with the ability to add on additional features to meet specific needs, ensures that you’re delivering a service that’s valued by the organization.

Check out the CIO.com webinar to learn more about how implementing UCaaS can help your business successfully overcome technology challenges without risking your ability to stay competitive.

Top Business Benefits from Unified Communications as a Service

nec-infographic-cloudIf you’re implementing Unified Communications, you can likely attest that it’s a great communications facilitation tool.  But the cloud has opened new opportunities to merge communications networks with critical data needs by providing Unified Communications as a Service, or UCaaS. With UCaaS, dial tone, data, conferencing, and a host of additional features and applications can be delivered directly to your business, and all managed from the cloud. Ideally, all departments and levels in a corporation should interact with one another to collaborate toward a common goal. UCaaS helps make this possible.

UCaaS, provides a unified, centralized location for multiple communications mediums such as email, VoIP, mobile phones, office phones and home phones. In deploying UCaaS, you eliminate your business’ need to purchase and maintain on-premise servers and equipment for communications, resulting in significant up-front cost savings. UCaaS not only increases employee productivity, but can also save your organization thousands on capital costs. This Accenture report cites research from Gartner stating that by 2014, the cloud-based market will be worth $55 billion annually. Do you think your business can benefit from deploying UCaaS? We do, read on to find out why.

Increased availability and efficiency of IT staff

When you deploy UCaaS, you consolidate your communications systems, which helps leverage the abilities of your IT staff to focus on other business issues. For example, UC as a Service automatically includes updates new features that are released. What does this mean for your IT team? It means there is no longer a need for their time to be tied up dealing with testing, scheduling and installing new software updates There is also no need to budget, purchase, and install hardware upgrades, so critical IT resources can be dedicated to other projects that help your business run faster, jump higher, and be more competitive in the market.

You are also likely to have staff that rely heavily on mobility and remain accessible through their mobile phones, softphones, or other wireless devices when out of the office. UC helps employees remain productive even when they are not in the office.  Now that UC capabilities are delivered through the cloud, mobile workers can check the availability of resources in the office with a UC client on their mobile device. Knowing that status information is updated automatically, whether they’re on the phone, in a meeting, or on vacation, allows everyone to remain productive– even when they’re away.

Scales to fit your business
With UCaaS, you are putting the service to work for you, meaning you only pay for what you need. Since you’re paying for services on a per user/per month basis, you won’t be wasting resources on unused capacity. So what happens if the size of your business changes? No problem. If your business is growing, many UCaaS providers give you the flexibility to add more seats to accommodate growth. What about the flexibility to decrease if needed? Should it become necessary to reduce staff, you shouldn’t be stuck in a long term contract, and with UCaaS, you’re not. You can reduce your users on a per month/per user basis. You can gain from the elasticity of utilizing the cloud model – a major benefit of UC as a Service.

Increased Reliability

With the right design, UCaaS can offer higher levels of resiliency and redundancy than you will find with a typical on-premises system cost effectively. There are different designs to fit your business needs. For example, your data can be instantly backed up and replicated in multiple data centers for disaster-proof business communications. Be sure to select a UCaaS provider whose data center not only meets the highest requirements for physical security, but can also be monitored 24×7, offers the latest encryption and security protocols available and undergoes constant scrutiny to protect your company’s data from intrusion and security violations.

With UCaaS, Disaster Recovery applications are also an option for your communications and data. With these applications, you can choose delivery methods including: public, hybrid or private cloud models. For the highest level of redundancy you could even choose to have a 100% redundant, on-site backup of your entire communications platform, ensuring no downtime in the unlikely event of an emergency. The level of redundancy is up to you, but the increased reliability of UCaaS provides rock-solid design at a fraction of the cost you’d incur if you built it on your own.

You’ve likely assessed the impact moving to the cloud will have on your organization. We hope this has helped you take another step toward preparing for that change to allow your business to work faster, collaborate faster and communicate faster with UCaaS.

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For additional stats and benefits of cloud communications download the infographic.

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NEC Customer Technology Expo in Review

We recently concluded our first annual Customer Technology Expo (CTE) in Tampa, Florida. Held back-to-back right after the NEC Advantage Conference for our dealer community, the new, expanded conference, complete with a new name, built upon the success of the NEC Users Group and added additional NEC technology to the mix. A variety of information sessions were available that covered NEC Servers & Storage with the award winning ProgramableFlow, NEC Displays, the latest in facial recognition software from Japan.  There was also a surprise appearance from our good friend PaPeRo.

Day 1

NEC Users Group president Mark Reynolds opened the conference, followed by the first keynote speaker Michael Vickers’ “Becoming Preferred” presentation.

A unique aspect of the expo is that attendees are provided with the opportunity to talk with NEC executives first-hand. The executives were in attendance to outline the company’s roadmap for the future and the importance of the North American market as we begin the transition to software and cloud offerings.

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To elaborate on how NEC is preparing for the transition, Ram Menghani, NEC Vice President of Product Management, gave a detailed outlook on the recent UNIVERGE 3C and UNIVERGE Cloud Services (UCaaS) announcements.

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There were breakout sessions galore, with topics ranging from “Can We UC&C with BYOD?” to “Software Assurance 101,” and, as usual, the technical training sessions proved to be a big hit.

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For those looking for insight into rolling out UC and the software based UNIVERGE 3C in their enterprise deployments, there were customer-led planning and implementation best practices sessions with great planning tips provided by Northwest College.

All of this was just day one…

Day 2

Day two started off with the “New Standard for Business Communications” presented by Marty Parker. No stuffy presentations here – an exciting feature of the day was a live, interactive demo of the UNIVERGE 3C Client, with a multi-continent collaboration session provided by Senior Vice President Todd Landry.

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Following the demo was a series of breakout sessions which included Martha Buyer’s breakdown of E911 risks and tips on how to minimize them.

Day 3

After all was said and done, it was time for the final sessions. The Expo wrapped up with Gail Kasek’s “Outside In: SMB Solutions for Remote Workers” which was both beneficial and informative, given the number of remote workers in organizations is on the rise. All in all, the expo proved to be just what it promised: customer-led and customer focused. We are already looking forward to the 2nd annual event in 2013! To stay informed and learn more about next year’s event subscribe to the blog.