The Post-COVID Future of Quick Service and Fast Casual Restaurants

As we start to think about life in a post-COVID world, one of the main questions is what part of our revamped lifestyles are here to stay? Financial crises, natural disasters, and societal developments always lead to innovation and transformation, and COVID-19 is no different. Among the trends that will be long-lasting is the shift away from touch-based interactions toward touchless ones. We believe that the future is touchless everything.

In the quick-serve restaurant (QSR) industry, touchless everything means the whole experience from ordering, menus, payment, drive-thru and pickup. As dining in has been limited, the demand for drive-thru and pickup has increased exponentially. Increased demand, though, has its downsides. Long lines mean poor customer experience and lost sales opportunities as drivers may be deterred from waiting.

In fact, according to one study, the use of digital menu boards, which shaves off 12.3 seconds of throughput, can result in nearly $28,000 in savings per location, equating to hundreds of millions of dollars for large QSRs. The reverse is true in an industry that saw wait times increase by nearly 30 seconds across the board. This means that digital innovation is key to removing friction from the ordering, payment, and pickup interactions so brands can serve more customers, faster and safer.

In addition to digital menus, the use of mobile technologies paired with biometrics provide other opportunities for improved customer experiences. For example, with facial recognition, a guest may simply drive-up to the digital menu and be automatically identified to gain access to personalized special offers, recall a previous order, redeem loyalty rewards and make a payment. This saves time and gives the customer the type of experience that drives incremental sales and creates strong brand loyalty.

Creating Wow Experiences with Facial Recognition

The NEC I:Delight platform is specially designed to create these wow experiences. Adding the I:Delight platform to new or existing apps is simple. Users can easily register by taking a quick selfie for their online profile to create a Digital ID. Once registered, they can simply log-in to the mobile app with their face, or in store at a kiosk, to place an order and approve payment using their secure Digital ID. If a guest is picking up their order in-person, a simple glance at a tablet can alert staff that they have arrived to ensure they receive their order quickly and safely.

Drive-Thru Ordering and Payment

The NEC I:Delight platform can also be incorporated at the drive-thru for enhanced, personalized service and operational efficiency. When a customer pulls-up to the drive-thru, the platform recognizes their Digital ID and alerts staff to the customer’s arrival. Stored preferences and targeted promotions appear on the digital menu screen, and staff can greet the customer by name. If a payment method is saved in the customer’s loyalty account, face verification or a saved PIN is all that is needed to complete the transaction.

According to a recent study commissioned by the Kellogg School of Management, Columbia Graduate School of Business and Harvard Business School, every 7 seconds saved in drive-thru wait times equates to about 1 percent increase in sales. This makes both the customer experience and business value benefit of the NEC I:Delight platform hard to overstate:

  • Increases throughput of customers with a more personalized experience.
  • Easily monitors customer purchasing behaviors to better anticipate customer needs and offer targeted promotions.
  • Brings up pre-order or previous order for faster transactions times, minimizing the time for order customizations.
  • Offers seamless, contactless payments for a faster and safer experience.

NEC is a trusted leader in facial recognition, ranked number one in biometric innovation by NIST for five consecutive years. With over 1,000 deployments in 70 countries around the world and $2.6 billion invested annually in research and development, NEC is the preferred partner for fast-casual restaurants looking for facial recognition-enabled solutions for an enhanced customer experience.

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NEC Visionary Week: Insights from Global Problem Solvers and Tech Influencers

For 20 years, NEC’s iEXPO showcased solutions for society, attracting more than 30,000 attendees from around the globe.

This year, NEC is reimagining the iEXPO and introducing NEC Visionary Week as a virtual event, Tuesday, December 1 – Friday, December 4, 2020. In addition, NEC is making the highly relevant conference free to attend as a gift to clients and industry colleagues. With greater access, safety and convenience, the flagship forum is expected to draw a record number of attendees worldwide.

Agenda Highlights: December 1 and 4, 2020
Packed with powerful insights that will fuel future decisions, registration is open now for NEC Visionary Week. Be inspired by ideas for conquering COVID-19 and carving out a new normal, harnessing AI, 5G and digital transformation to improve economies, business operations and our societies.

Key sessions featuring solutions from NEC Corporation of America, include:

How Star Alliance Biometrics Will Significantly Improve the Travel Experience
December 1, 4:50 – 5:25 p.m. CST
This fireside chat spotlights the newest technologies elevating customer experience, while focusing on safety and security to rekindle the love of travel and restore travelers’ confidence in the post-COVID 19 world. Learn how Star Alliance, the world’s largest airline alliance, and NEC are working together to speed airport transit touchpoints, including seamless, touchless airline check-ins.

Join an enlightening discussion about the latest facial recognition technology and encrypted personal identification. Find out how the biometrics solutions protect personal data and maintain compliance as the customer journey becomes more enjoyable and hassle-free.

Speakers:
Jeffrey Goh, Chief Executive Officer, Star Alliance
Raffie Beroukhim, SVP & Chief Experience Officer, NEC Corporation of America
Jason Van Sice, Vice President, NEC Corporation of America

Cloud Communications Helps U.S. Major League Soccer Club Bring Fans Back to the Stands- VIRTUALLY
December 4, 12:40 – 1:15 p.m. CST

Despite the pandemic, one Major League Soccer team has been able to stay connected with fans. How? Using advanced cloud communications solutions.

NEC and Intermedia Cloud Communications have partnered to bring cloud communications and collaboration solutions. From business phone and chat to video conferencing and file management, the solutions are flexible and scalable in bringing teams and people together.

Join the lively panel discussion about keeping fans engaged and excited! Experience the cloud services and how the tools empower communications and remote collaborations.

Speakers:
Michael Gold, Chief Executive Officer, Intermedia Cloud Communications
Ram Menghani, President, NEC Enterprise Communication Technologies Inc.

The robust speaker lineup also includes:

How Artificial Intelligence Will Conquer the Coronavirus, And Beyond
December 1, 11:35 a.m. – 12:10 p.m. CST

Keynote speaker, Dr. Michi Kaku, Professor of Theoretical Physics at City College of New York, says AI will conquer the coronavirus. Analyzing vast quantities of raw data from social media, cell phones, drones and search engines, AI will detect super-spreaders and stop the virus in its tracks. Dr. Kaku will describe the Fourth Stage in technology with artificial intelligence and biotechnology. Join us to find out why Dr. Kaku is promising a brighter and more prosperous economy and way of life!

5G Open vRAN: Delivering Innovative Digital Services & Sustainable Social Life
December 1, 3:30 – 4:20 p.m. CST

As 5G networks become more widely deployed, operators are looking at the Open & Virtualized RAN architecture to better support next-generation networks. Learn how Telefónica is creating social values based on Open RAN that will increase automation, bring services to market faster, improve security and enable business efficiencies.

Speakers:
Enrique Blanco, Chief Technology & Information Officer, Telefónica
Akihiko (Kiko) Kumagai, Senior Executive Vice President, NEC Corporation
Nozomu Watanabe, Senior Vice President, NEC Corporation
Mayuko Tatewaki, Service Provider Solutions General Manager, NEC Corporation

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NEC Future Creation Forum: New Commons – New Values Towards a Sustainable Future
December 1, 5:30 – 6:25 p.m. CST

Mr. Jeremy Rifkin, American economic and social theorist and author of The Zero Marginal Cost Society, presents the “NEC Future Creation Forum.” Join an eye-opening discussion on the new value standards. Envision a future that achieves a prosperous human society, while maintaining a sustainable planet—beyond the next normal.

NEC Visionary Week will offer insights from global problem solvers, technology innovators and thought leaders. Join us to propel our world and industries forward!

For more information and to register, visit https://global-event.nec.com/nvw2020

From Vision to Fruition: Creating Biometric CX Solutions

NEC is looking at ‘reopening’ from the perspective of returning stronger!

A top priority for businesses today is to create touchless touchpoints that deliver a frictionless, personalized, secure and seamless customer experience.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many industries around the world to change their best practices. Now more than ever, it is imperative for businesses to have a clear reopening plan that isn’t just “reopen the doors” and “return to normal.” Instead, these plans need to address customer and employee concerns simultaneously.

The first step toward creating a unique customer experience is understanding the current business challenges and new innovative possibilities. NEC has partnered with Fresh Consulting to deliver a “Design Thinking” process that reduces risk and maximizes the opportunity to deliver an improved customer experience.

Throughout the discovery process, we will work with your organization to determine how to align internal stakeholders, capitalize on opportunity, mitigate risk and deploy efficiently to maximize ROI.

This proven process includes the following methodologies:

  1. Research
  2. Strategy
  3. Rapid Prototyping
  4. Evaluation
  5. Deployment
  6. Future Roadmap Development

NEC has been a leader in advanced biometric recognition solutions for more than 50 years. Our touchless technology portfolio is used across multiple industries.

Solutions such as contactless payment and face authentication, thermal screening for elevated body temperature (EBT) for customers entering a store or employees entering a warehouse, along with hygienic protocols, can all make a difference when returning to work.

NEC, along with Fresh Consulting, can help drive long-term success for your organization. To learn more and download our white paper visit www.necam.com/fresh.

Below is a three-page preview of our white paper. Click here to learn more or fill out the form below to download the entire whitepaper.

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Hawaii Department of Transportation selects NEC thermal solution for screening travelers

Business and travel shutdowns and mandatory 14-day quarantines have proven to slow the spread of COVID-19, albeit at great cost to local economies. States are now challenged with reopening commerce without causing a spike in infections, which could again overwhelm hospitals and lead to further lockdowns.

Looking for a safe way to bring travelers back into the state and reduce delays and bottlenecks in the deplaning process, the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) ultimately chose an NEC-led team for deployment of a thermal screening solution at all five state-run airports. The HDOT project award includes equipment, installation and a 10-year maintenance plan that will keep airport traffic flowing safely into the future. Approximately 90 percent of the deployment and maintenance will be completed by local Hawaiian businesses.

The NEC solution leverages thermal sensing and facial recognition technologies to detect elevated body temperature (EBT) and alert screeners to anyone with a temperature of 100.4 or greater. The system, which is being deployed in three phases before the end of 2020, can detect faces wearing masks covering the nose and mouth, allowing a thermal sensor to screen passengers for elevated body temperature so that they can be called aside for additional health screening.

Prior to deployment, members of the Hawaii National Guard were manually scanning deplaning passengers for elevated body temperature. The new thermal screening system speeds the process and reduces potential exposure of pathogens from infected passengers to human screeners.

As travel volumes ramp up in Hawaii, the facial recognition component of the system will temporarily and anonymously track passengers who screen positive for elevated body temperature until a human screener is able to meet the passenger for a secondary evaluation. Passenger image and temperature data collected by the system is deleted after 30 minutes.

NEC NeoFace® Thermal Express technology empowers both government agencies and private commercial entities to check temperatures of foot traffic, without having to create long lines or bottlenecks for individual identification and temperature checks. In a time when social distancing is needed, the flow-through system promotes safety and hygiene by isolating EBT and identifying the source on the move.

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Livescan That’s Truly More Efficient, Hygienic, and Affordable

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a higher priority has been placed on creating more hygienic workplaces and public spaces to prevent the spread of the disease. Corrections and law enforcement officers, public safety workers, courtroom professionals, and all employees supporting law enforcement and legal systems must take greater measures to protect themselves and the public.

For instance, potential COVID-19 outbreaks in our nation’s jails and prisons can put incarcerated individuals, the correctional workforce and surrounding communities at risk. In response to this danger, leaders and employees of correctional facilities have been tasked to combat the crisis in a way that protects the health, safety, and well-being of all individuals.

SmartScan®, NEC’s livescan solution, helps improve and verify the quality of biometric images, including fingerprints, palmprints, faces, irises, and even scars, marks, and tattoos (SMT). In addition to providing law enforcement with the most accurate and easy-to-operate solution in the industry, SmartScan also offers a hygienic user experience through our optional NEC NeoFace® face recognition technology for biometric logon and identity verification. With multiple configuration options to meet various budgetary requirements, NEC’s SmartScan truly is the most affordable, hygienic, and intuitive solution on the market today.

DID YOU KNOW… NEC’s SmartScan has a proven track record in numerous livescan deliveries, including Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Texas Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, Alabama Huntsville Police Department, Alabama Atmore Police Department, and Alabama Mobile County Sheriff’s Office!

Automated, Accurate, and Efficient

The problem with livescan systems today is that they haven’t changed much in 20 years. They suffer from an obsolete design, outdated user interface, lack of security features, and poor maintainability.

NEC’s SmartScan is different. It has an intuitive user interface leveraging the built-in capabilities of Microsoft® Windows® 10, such as modern pinch-and-zoom and swipe features that effortlessly guide livescan operators through the image capture process. Other benefits include:

  • Auto-capture function – Dramatically speeds up the image capture process.
  • Superior image quality – Captures high quality images for accurate search.
  • Rapid processing – NEC’s biometric image processing tool provides immediate feedback, making it easy and fast for operators to review and ensure the quality of captured images.
  • Intuitive user interface – Visually guides operators through the capture process, making it easier, faster, and more automated.
  • Easy integration – Can be integrated into existing criminal history, records management, and jail management systems.
  • Convenient and flexible web client – Facilitates system administration and configuration management.

A closer look at NEC’s SmartScan

DID YOU KNOW… NEC’s SmartScan offers face recognition as an option to create a touchless, more hygienic experience, even with face masks on!

Hygienic and Safe

With the awareness brought about by COVID-19, public safety workers are seeking potential ways to reduce the spread of coronaviruses and other pathogens that may surface in the future. NEC’s SmartScan supports this goal by offering a more hygienic approach, including:

  • Flat (4-4-2) fingerprints instead of rolled fingerprints – Speeds the process and reduces contact time for livescan operators and the individuals being processed.
  • Responsive touchscreen – even while wearing gloves.
  • Optional use of face recognition to avoid contact
    • Operator biometric logon
    • Subject verification
  • Built-in foot pedals – Provides another option in the capture of fingerprints, palmprints, and other biometric images instead of touching screen, making it more sanitary for operators.

Affordable and Solid Return on Investment

Most agencies are facing budget constraints during the COVID-19 pandemic. NEC is proud of the affordability of our SmartScan solution, offering flexible options to meet budgetary and operational demands. For example, SmartScan is available in multiple configurations, including a ruggedized cabinet with a large display. Desktop and portable options are also available to meet all funding requirements.

Taking it one step further, through our flexible leasing programs, NEC can not only help eliminate the need for a large upfront payment, we can also help deliver the solution with affordable monthly payments. Furthermore, NEC offers GSA pricing and other intermediary pricing schedules to avoid the cumbersome procurement process, making it easy to own a SmartScan.

Working within your funding constraints, NEC offers flexible customer support and service options, including onsite, remote, or assist-as-needed, to better meet your operational and budget needs.

Why NEC’s SmartScan

NEC’s award-winning solutions are backed by rigorous research and development (R&D), including more than $1.2 billion invested in R&D annually. Our biometric algorithms have been validated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in comprehensive evaluations, including:

  • Eight consecutive wins in NIST evaluations for fingerprint matching
  • Five consecutive wins in NIST evaluation for face recognition
  • Ranked number 1 in NIST evaluation for iris recognition

As a Fortune Global 500 company with 120 years of experience and technology expertise, NEC offers the fastest and most accurate face recognition and fingerprint matching algorithms. In addition, our face recognition technology is the most resilient for low resolution and poor-quality images. We currently have over 64,000 patents and over 700 large-scale biometric solutions installed in more than 70 countries. We are here today and tomorrow to support your mission-critical operations!

NEC’s SmartScan solution streamlines processing and captures superior quality digital biometric images in far less time and with fewer rejected scans. To learn more about SmartScan, you can explore here.