Boost Productivity, Streamline Workflows, and Increase Revenue with UNIVERGE BLUE® EXTEND Integrations for CONNECT & ENGAGE

Business environments have evolved significantly over the past decade. Enterprises are moving at a relentless pace with new technologies, applications, and CRM tools playing a vital part in the customer and employee experience. Thanks to this digital transformation, successful companies must embrace integrated technologies, applications, and tools in order to be competitive.

Employees now have the option to communicate and collaborate with their co-workers, customers, and other business counterparts in a variety of ways across their preferred platforms with methods such as chat, SMS, video collaboration, voice, social media, and more. Customers also have multiple ways, such as those listed above, to communicate with companies making it easier to reach out and connect.

With increasing availability of new technology, cloud applications, and customers that demand information in real time, there are more and more applications and tools that need to exchange information constantly. The risk of not engaging with these tools is high and the opportunities afforded by integrating them could be great.

Juggling multiple applications can be time consuming and extremely hard to manage if the tools are not properly connected, which is why it is in the best interest of companies of all sizes to determine how to integrate their systems so they can work together as a functioning, well-oiled machine.

Introducing UNIVERGE BLUE EXTEND Integrations for CONNECT (UCaaS) and ENGAGE (CCaaS)

The new UNIVERGE BLUE EXTEND integration platform allows organizations and their employees to take advantage of UNIVERGE BLUE’s powerful communication, collaboration, and contact center functionalities within and in combination with everyday business applications. The UNIVERGE BLUE EXTEND integration platform was designed specifically to help organizations boost productivity, streamline workflows, and increase revenue. EXTEND is built into NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT Unified Communications (UCaaS) and ENGAGE Contact Center (CCaaS) and is available to all CONNECT and ENGAGE customers without additional licensing or cost. With EXTEND, employees can communicate and collaborate more effectively no matter their geographical location.

The Value of EXTEND Integrations for CONNECT Unified Communications

Effective, integrated communications are essential to enabling employees and increasing their productivity. Deploying EXTEND integrations directly influences the behavior of employees, their level of performance, and the speed it takes them to find the right information and provide the best possible customer service – every time.

According to a survey conducted by Gartner, 74% of companies plan to permanently shift to more remote work post COVID-19. As telecommuting becomes the new reality, organizations will need to ensure their systems are tightly integrated to prevent slowing productivity in their remote workforce.

With UNIVERGE BLUE EXTEND Integrations, organizations can embed UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT Unified Communications into their everyday business applications and CRM tools across various teams to streamline workflows, improve communication speed, and maximize employee productivity, no matter their location.

EXTEND Integrations allow you to leverage CONNECT’s 100+ enterprise-grade calling features including auto attendant, call queuing, automatic company-wide call recording, and more. Click-to-call phone numbers from contact or web pages, quickly and easily add virtual meeting details with UNIVERGE BLUE MEET to any new or existing calendar event and click to start virtual meetings with MEET directly from the web browser or calendar event.

EXTEND integrations are readily available for commonly used business applications like O365®, Outlook®, G Suite™, Microsoft® Teams®, SugarCRM®, ZOHO®, Slack®, Salesforce®, Zendesk®, ServiceNow®, Oracle® Netsuite® and Microsoft Dynamics®. Don’t see your business app? Easily deploy custom screen pops to virtually any web-enabled application with UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT (UCaaS) EXTEND Integrations.

  • Increase productivity: Embedding UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT into productivity applications helps automate business workflows and maximize employee efficiency thus generating revenue or protecting your existing customer relationships. Additionally, integrations allow you to enhance the CONNECT unified communications solution for remote workers in home offices and other dispersed locations, transforming the way employees get business done.
  • Drive customer retention and increase revenue: Combine powerful communication capabilities with relevant customer data to ensure sales and support teams have the right information at the right time. Contact Center Agents and general business users can offer an improved customer experience when they are more insightful and efficient.
  • Streamline workflows: EXTEND integrations for CONNECT and ENGAGE help to improve the speed and performance of employee’s work as well as their responsiveness to customer inquiries. With the different functionalities tightly integrated to scale to a higher level of efficiency, less time is spent switching between applications and a greater amount of work can be accomplished faster.
  • Easy to use: Deploy and use with no extensive training or implementation costs. With such easy deployment and simplicity, IT processes are seamless which allows your IT staff to focus more on the core business and allows users to quickly access important data.

The Value of EXTEND Integrations for ENGAGE Contact Center

According to a SelectHub Article, 84% of customers consider the experience with a company as important as the product or service and 66% of customers will actually pay more to get a top-notch customer experience. Clearly organizations need to offer the best possible customer experience in order to be competitive in their market – relying solely on a product and/or price will no longer keep businesses afloat.

With UNIVERGE BLUE EXTEND Integrations for ENGAGE Contact Center, it is easy for businesses to leverage popular business applications – or even home-grown apps – to deliver smarter and more efficient contact center customer experiences.

By connecting the powerful contact center capabilities of UNIVERGE BLUE ENGAGE with your existing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or Helpdesk systems, you can help drive customer retention through enhanced customer experiences and drive revenue with increased agent productivity.

With EXTEND Integrations you can easily annotate and capture key details from a call and save the call outcome/classification to the customer’s account. Screen pops for incoming calls provide agents with existing customer account records for a better customer experience.

Take notes and log call details for new or existing customers directly within an application or CRM while on an active call. Route customer calls more efficiently by using advanced call routing and IVR with UNIVERGE BLUE ENGAGE Cloud Contact Center. View presence of contacts along with screen pops of existing customer information for incoming calls.

The ability to capture audio and screen recordings of interactions with customers and automatically store them in their account contact record helps ensure a complete history of interactions. Your agents will also be able to access case status for clients or build a call flow that lets them self-serve.

  • Alert and adapt in real-time: Keep an eye on the overall pulse of the ENGAGE contact center by delivering alerts and updates from applications to agents. With UNIVERGE BLUE EXTEND integrations for ENGAGE, customers will have the ability to deliver time-sensitive alerts and updates to selected channels that allow them to take rapid action before situations become problematic.
  • Increase agent productivity: Streamline workflows and maximize agent efficiency as UNIVERGE BLUE EXTEND Integrations embed ENGAGE contact center functionalities into everyday business applications. Combining streamlined workflows and simplified data retrieval processes allow agents to focus on resolving the customer’s issue rather than spending time searching for customer data.
  • Easy to use: Deploy and use with no heavy training or implementation costs required. This allows agents to quickly adapt and begin offering exceptional customer experiences as soon as the solution is implemented.
  • Improve customer journey and experience: Access relevant customer data quickly and at the right time to deliver a more personalized and seamless experience to each customer. More effective and efficient call center systems result in more effective customer contact scenarios, which leads to the desired result of customer satisfaction.

NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE EXTEND Integrations allow organizations to seamlessly connect with the most well-known tools being used today such as Salesforce®, ZenDesk®, Microsoft® Dynamics®, Zoho®, ServiceNow®, NetSuite®, SugarCRM®, and more. We also offer easy-to-implement custom integrations using custom API’s for the ENGAGE Contact Center solution.

Get Connected with UNIVERGE BLUE EXTEND for CONNECT & ENGAGE

Don’t let your business suffer due to not having the proper connections between important business systems. You can enhance employee productivity and customer engagement with additional communication functionality built into the everyday business applications you are currently using.

UNIVERGE BLUE is designed to meet the needs of business of all sizes. Whether you’re a startup of 10 employees or an enterprise of thousands around the globe, NEC specializes in providing flexible options and integrations for every type of business. We will grow with you and provide a comprehensive unified communication and contact center solution for the future.

Contact Us Today

Ready to get started on your journey to the cloud? Schedule a demo and speak with one of our cloud experts today!

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.

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.

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Introducing the New Generation of UNIVERGE BLUE

This week, I’m extremely excited to share that NEC has entered a global partnership with Intermedia, a leading provider of cloud-based communications solutions.

Together, we are introducing an NEC-branded suite of fully integrated, born-in-the-cloud solutions to help businesses communicate and collaborate from anywhere at any time. It’s the new generation of our UNIVERGE BLUE™ cloud communications portfolio, built on Intermedia’s innovative and proprietary technology and backed by its world-class support.

The way businesses work has changed.

The COVID-19 pandemic will forever change the way businesses think about work. It’s not enough for businesses to accommodate a few remote workers. Businesses now must be flexible and ready to adapt to teleworking at a moment’s notice.

Today, more than ever, businesses need the ability to communicate and collaborate from anywhere at any time, both internally and externally. While recent headlines may highlight a seemingly smooth transition to a remote workforce at global scale, there are still tens of millions of workers who do not have the ability to work remote. This is largely because many businesses are still using on-premises solutions and haven’t found a partner that could help them seamlessly transition to the cloud.

As the current global market share leader in on-premises business phone systems, NEC understands the obstacles that many of these businesses face. We chose Intermedia because their platform offers our customers a seamless integration between premises-based and cloud solutions.

NEC’s commitment to cloud-based communications

Business communications is in our blood. For 120 years, NEC has transformed the way the world works through Information and Communications Technologies. As mentioned before, we are the global market share leader in on-premises business communications systems. In 2015, we launched our Smart Enterprise initiative which is committed to helping businesses meet the demands of today’s digital workforce, and helping customers migrate to the cloud is cornerstone to that initiative.

Businesses have been migrating to the cloud for years now, and the pace at which they are migrating only gets faster. While we had developed and deployed our own Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) solution in the United States, we came to understand that supporting and expanding this home-grown offering globally at the current rate of market expansion was unrealistic. We needed to align with a born-in-the-cloud provider, like Intermedia, and focus on expansion through our long-established global channel partner network, currently more than 2,000 strong.

We selected Intermedia for many reasons. For starters, our market research, channel partner feedback and customer feedback all conclusively pointed to Intermedia as the trusted market leader in cloud communication services. Additionally, Intermedia’s cloud platform is highly scalable with frictionless deployment options and simple user administrative tools, meaning a frictionless experience for our customers’ employees and better customer experience overall. Intermedia’s platform also provides seamless migration from on-prem to cloud – perfect for NEC’s customer base.

NEC and its global network of channel partners are already going the extra mile for our customers working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. This partnership with Intermedia will allow us to do even more to advance business continuity and allow more workers to work safely from home while increasing their productivity.

Introducing NEC UNIVERGE BLUE™ CONNECT, UNIVERGE BLUE™ ENGAGE

Businesses need tools that are easy to deploy and use, and provide users with an integrated experience. We built the new generation of UNIVERGE BLUE with this in mind. 

Built on Intermedia’s innovative and proprietary technology, 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. The solutions are elegant, reliable and easy to deploy, while remaining highly scalable and extremely cost-effective.

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

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

UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT and ENGAGE will be brought to market through NEC’s robust Channel Partner community. For more information on UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT and ENGAGE, visithttp://univergeblue.com or reach out to us via the form below.

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Tech Advancements in 2019 and Looking Ahead to 2020

Cloud computing, security and collaboration top the list of enterprise technology trends in 2019. Gartner estimated early in the year that cloud services would grow 17.5 percent over 2019 and infrastructure services would be the fastest growing segment. In 2019 and 2020, business leaders must consider the cost of scalability, communications adaptability and how to help increase efficiency for IT staff.

NEC led the charge with a banner year of new releases, updates and development in the cloud computing and unified communications market.

As we close out the year, let’s review technology trends firmly established in 2019 and what to expect from NEC in 2020.

Reduce the Complexity of Data Center Management

A 2019 Spiceworks survey found that 46% of enterprise organizations planned to adopt hyperconverged infrastructure solutions by 2020. With the complexity of datacenter applications, virtualization and other cloud-based services, IT staff is challenged with managing it all. Each application or service typically involves installing its own server, requiring more storage, networking and skill requirements. Inefficient resource utilization and disorganization leads to unnecessary purchases, the inability to innovate and increased downtime.

In 2019, NEC released a new HCI solution powered by Scale Computing’s HC3 software. HCI consolidates and streamlines IT processes, bringing the hardware costs down and making management easier through one virtualized system and interface. A more stable and simplified environment means that IT staff can be proactive, with far less downtime, and the ability to scale easier.

Solve Communications and Collaboration Challenges

Unified communications helps businesses of all sizes to collaborate from across the globe. As more employees work from remote locations, team communications must be adaptable and easily accessible for reliable availability and a better employee experience. Unified communications requires technology that is easily integrated into current IT environments, cost effective, flexible and scalable.

NEC continues to be a world leader in UC research and development. In 2019, NEC was proud to announce the latest evolution of UNIVERGE-SV9000 series for communications and collaboration.

Securely Prioritize UC Network Traffic

When enterprises rely on unified communications, they are challenged with delivering cost-effective bandwidth while helping critical applications coexist securely and efficiently. In 2019, NEC announced a partnership with Infovista that combines Infovista’s Software defined WAN (SDWAN) capabilities with NEC’s software defined unified communications services. This partnership helps to reduce WAN operating costs while delivering optimal voice quality and dynamic routing of voice traffic based on real-time network traffic and conditions. By leveraging multiple WAN links and centralizing management, application performance is safeguarded and operational efficiency is improved.

Move to More Cloud-Based Solutions

2019 saw the increase in use of as-a-service options including infrastructure, unified communications, collaboration and backups, and this increase will continue throughout the New Year. In 2019, NEC expanded the UNIVERGE BLUE cloud portfolio to include Team Collaboration and BaaS (backup as a service).

NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE Team Collaboration improves workforce communications and cooperation, anytime and from anywhere. By simplifying the complexity of voice, video, screen sharing and meetings, the employee experience is enhanced and employee retention improves.

BaaS solutions can reduce the likelihood of data loss and save money on the cost of backup infrastructure. Built on NEC’s powerful distributed grid platform, HYDRAstor®, and secured in Iron Mountain® data centers, this backup as a service solution securely backs up onsite data centers cost-effectively with advanced encryption and easy scalability.

NEC continues to deliver excellence in cloud computing, business continuity, infrastructure and unified communications.

Tech Trends to Look for in 2020

Research shows that IT budgets will continue to increase in 2020, much of it to be spent on new technology as well as hardware replacement. According to a survey of 1,000 North American and European companies conducted by Spiceworks, 44% of businesses plan to increase IT spending in 2020 (vs. 38% in 2019). Gartner also predicts increased worldwide IT spending in 2020 with a growth rate of 3.7% overall.

Here’s a look at some of the trends for 2020 and beyond.

Cloud Computing and Everything as a Service

Installations of cloud-based computing will continue to grow at a record pace as organizations become more familiar and comfortable with the advantages it offers to a mobile workforce. Cloud infrastructure is maturing beyond being separated into public, hosted private and on premises buckets to instead becoming more portable and mobile as well as more standardized.

Spending-wise, Spiceworks’ IT spending survey found that hosted and cloud-based services are expected to make up about 22-23% of the total IT budget in 2020 (for NA and European companies). Online backup and recovery services will represent the second largest budget allocation in cloud services, with larger companies allocating more money toward desktop-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service than smaller organizations.

Edge Computing and IoT

Another leading-edge trend that is gaining momentum is edge computing. Defined as distributed computing, edge computing moves computation and data storage closer to where these services are needed, improving latency and saving bandwidth. Spiceworks reports that 68% of large companies plan to use edge computing by the end of 2020.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are no longer part of science fiction. Spiceworks estimates that businesses using AI-powered tech is going to triple by 2021. As an example, AI/ML can be used to help reduce costs by increasing the efficiency of cloud computing. Workplace efficiency can also be improved by using AI to sort through volumes of data to find the information that is most pertinent. AI also is making its way into collaboration and communication within the enterprise. Both internal and external teams continue to become dispersed, so better and more intelligent collaboration is needed to provide information and insight for decision-making.

Facial Recognition

NEC has paved the way for the use of facial recognition in aviation, government entities and retail and in 2020, use of NEC facial recognition will continue to expand across all industries including healthcare, education and hospitality to increase security and improve the customer experience.

NEC Face Recognition Technology Ranks First in 2019 NIST Accuracy Testing

In retail, NEC facial recognition will continue to be expanded as it’s used to personalize the online and in-store experiences for shoppers. Retailers also use it to fight retail crime and shoplifting.

Several new applications for using facial recognition in healthcare are in development. For example, rather than waiting in line to be seen, a virtual assistant can scan a face and assign a patient to a doctor. In education, administrators will be able to take attendance with the help of facial recognition. Facial recognition will be used to enhance identity management and verification systems within healthcare, education and hospitality. NEC’s goal by developing cross-industry facial recognition solutions is to help businesses enhance their employee and customer experience by enabling seamless, frictionless, and more efficient environments by automating operations with this technology.

Star Alliance and NEC Sign Partnership to Enhance Passenger Experience

Technology will continue to improve in hospitality, including security and access, payment authorization and customer service. Hotels, cruises, airports and restaurants are using facial recognition to personalize the customer experience, including using their face to pay for a meal, check into a flight, get recommendations or receive special offers.

Which of these trends does your organization plan to embrace in the coming year? Talk to an NEC expert to learn more about our award-winning research and development and we can customize a solution for your technology needs.

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