NEC Adding Cloud-based Value

by Sandra Gustavsen

NEC has been steadily adding cloud-based business applications to its UNIVERGE BLUE portfolio of business communications services, most recently adding the UNIVERGE BLUE ONDemand Collaboration video conferencing cloud service based on technology from Vidyo. Under this partnership, NEC channel partners in North America can resell the VidyoConnect online meeting solution as an add-on subscription service for the company’s UNIVERGE BLUE hosted telephony and unified communications as-a-service (UCaaS) offering. They can also offer the solution as-a-service for NEC’s premises-based telephony systems (the SV9000 telephony servers or the UNIVERGE 3C software-based solution) and even sell it as a stand-alone product for non-NEC phone systems.

NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE ONDemand Collaboration can support as many as 200 video conferencing participants per room and enables content sharing, group chat and recording, among other collaborative features. Users can join the virtual meeting using a desktop or mobile device, a web browser (WebRTC), a telephone, a Vidyo Room System or a third-party legacy video conferencing system. As for pricing, all NEC cloud services are sold through channel partners using NEC’s NET Pricing model which allows dealers to purchase user licenses from NEC at a fixed cost and then set the pricing according to their own local market economics and competition.  (NEC does not sell cloud services directly to end customers).

The new video collaboration solution adds to a growing list of cloud-based business applications already available from NEC for customers with either cloud or premises-based telephony/UC deployments. This includes NEC UNIVERGE BLUE Cloud Contact Center (based on technology from partner Enghouse Interactive), Mass Notification, Emergency Conferencing, Disaster Recovery and SIP Trunking that replaces traditional telephone lines with less expensive broadband connections.

An application for team collaboration is coming soon, with beta testing of a third-party solution set to begin in July or August. Read more here on how this fast-emerging category is already evolving from stand-alone tools for teamwork into new integrated solutions that incorporate team capabilities into other business communications applications. Also, look for upcoming solutions from NEC related to Software-defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN), hardware-as-a-service and artificial intelligence (AI).

Adding Value for All

NEC’s suite of cloud-based business applications adds value for all NEC partners and their customers. Cloud applications, like the new ONDemand Collaboration, are available as a monthly subscription to all customers whether they opt for a telephony/UC deployment on-site or in the cloud, making it easy to try out new innovations and technologies – including those that will emerge in the future.

Additionally, while some NEC UNIVERGE SV9000 and UNIVERGE 3C customers are migrating to UNIVERGE BLUE UCaaS, others are opting to keep their premises-based system. For them, the option to easily add contact center, video collaboration and other business productivity applications as a subscription service brings value to an existing telephony system without the hassle of installing additional hardware or software on-site and without requiring any technical personnel for ongoing management. These hybrid arrangements, with a mix of on-site equipment and cloud-based services, are a growing preference and also make a good migratory step to an all-cloud solution in the future.

Vendors like NEC that can offer a full spectrum of deployments, including cloud, premises and hybrid arrangements, are covering all bases. They help customers protect existing telephony equipment investments, while giving them the option to take advantage of pay-as-you-go hosted services for new locations or to add advanced applications.

“The Art of the Possible”

We’ve noted before that while many vendors are participating in the UCaaS and contact center as-a-service (CCaaS) space, NEC goes beyond with its expertise across a broad spectrum of technologies — a differentiator for the company that makes for some really unique integrations and innovations. This varied expertise, along with strategic partnerships, puts NEC in a good position to address the challenges and requirements of an increasingly digital and connected world.

Along with reselling NEC-branded Vidyo services, for example, NEC is also integrating the Vidyo technology within its own solutions to create new vertical applications for healthcare, hospitality, education, financial, retail and other industries. NEC can leverage Vidyo technology with its biometrics solutions to provide a second level of authentication in point-of-sale scenarios and at ATM machines, or to verify time and attendance in distance learning applications, among other use cases.

At the recent NEC ADVANTAGE 2018 partner and consultant conference in Grapevine, TX, NEC revealed a number of impressive developments that demonstrate, in NEC’s words, “the art of the possible.” New solutions involve facial recognition for sentiment analysis, kiosk applications for hotel guest check-in and verification applications for unstaffed areas within casinos. Looking forward to hearing more. Stay tuned.