I've been to this event a few times, and there's a lot to like about how they run it, along with what NEC is doing in the collaboration marketplace. Will have more thoughts to share later, but the main takeaway is that NEC continues to build quality products, continues to innovate on all fronts, and continues to compete successfully. On the other hand, being more sale-driven than marketing-driven, their story is not so well known in North America. Of course, I could help them fix that, but the call hasn't come yet.
I'll continue to patiently wait for that moment, and for now will just say that it's refreshing to hear about a company building around a different value proposition than everyone else. Cloud seems to be the only message coming from vendors now, but that's not the story here. They're very much on that path, but clearly, there's still a big chunk of the enterprise market that is premises-first, telephony-centric and still using a lot of hardware. This may not be the long-term scenario, but it's going strong, and NEC has a good handle on what makes these businesses buy.
UNIVERGE Blue is very much about UCaaS, but their view of collaboration is closer to the voice-centric legacy model. Yes, they have contact center - including CCaaS via partnership with Enghouse Interactive - but video and team messaging aren't that much in the equation. Same story with AI - their contact center offerings are definitely voice-centric, and it doesn't sound like AI is much on the roadmap.
Funny, you wouldn't know it based on Tiffani Bova's opening keynote about becoming "customer-led". She's with Salesforce, and we're very much on the same page about the need for culture change and how data and analytics are the new currency for creating customer value. However, I'm not so sure this is the highest priority for this audience, but am glad NEC is getting the message out. Now, they just need to fast track their contact center offerings, and all will be right.
Aside from what's overly familiar, the clear standout from a solid product portfolio is NeoFace Watch. They have long been leaders in biometrics, and NFW takes things to another level. Real time identification and authentication can definitely streamline workflows, so it has some tangential value for collaboration. However, it has much greater enterprise value for safety and security, both of physical assets and employees. There's definitely a Big Brother element to all this, but being able to pick faces out of a moving crowd and instantly matching them against a watch list to keep the bad actors out has its place as surveillance becomes ever-more the norm. Am not a fan, but there sure are tons of valid use cases.
That's the update for now, and here are a few photos from the event.