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NEC communication technologies that support "Work Style Reform"

Combine an aging population with a low birthrate and the result is what you would expect — a shrinking workforce. With fewer workers working longer hours and increased demands on workers outside of work, such as having to leave work to take care of children or elderly relatives, Japan is faced with a rapidly deteriorating "work style" that is taking a toll on both workers and businesses alike. To solve these issues, a joint public-private sector initiative called "Work Style Reform" has recently launched. The goals of this initiative are to promote a better work-life balance, to improve productivity, and to facilitate career paths that accommodate a wider range of lifestyles by creating a variety of new "work styles" that complement the different needs of different individuals. At the NEC Group, we have been conducting research and development for more than three decades in technologies and solutions that support "Work Style Reform," while building systems intended for creation of a worker-friendly environment. These efforts, though particular in nature, will ultimately have an impact on society as a whole and contribute to solving issues faced by society as a whole.

In this issue, we have selected featured articles and papers from past NEC Technical Journal issues to provide a retrospective look at the technologies and solutions we have introduced that support "Work Style Reform."

"Working whenever and wherever" in a safe environment is the basis of "Work Style Reform"

In "Work Style Reform," it is necessary to provide an environment that allows people to work comfortably anywhere, anytime according to their individual circumstances and the needs of their businesses. Since 1977, NEC has focused on the integration of computer and communications technologies under the concept of what is known as "C&C." In November 2003, NEC announced the UNIVERGE — which would achieve C&C offices by integrating the computer and network technologies based on this concept.

Using IP technology to seamlessly connect business systems with communication systems, the UNIVERGE creates an environment where workers enjoy secure access to business systems and are able to collaborate with coworkers no matter where they are or what time it is. Over the years, the UNIVERGE has continued to evolve new solutions to keep pace with advances in IT and changing social needs, as well as incorporating new developments in smart devices and adapting to diversifying work styles while adding various solutions. Today the UNIVERGE stands as one of NEC's main products.

Cover of NEC Technical Journal, Vol. 7, No. 3
Cover of NEC Technical Journal, Vol. 7, No. 3

NEC adopted teleworking on a company-wide scale on July 1, 2008. This was made possible only because we already had the UNIVERGE solution. In the years following it quickly became clear that a "bring your own device (BYOD)" policy was an especially powerful way to effect "Work Style Reform." To facilitate the implementation of such a system on a wide-scale basis, we developed the UNIVERGE Mobile Portal Service.

By making it possible for workers to securely access the in-house system with their own devices even when in transit or at home, the UNIVERGE Mobile Portal Service established itself as a powerful solution that could provide a solid foundation for a new style of work.

UNIVERGE Mobile Portal Service: A Smart Device Utilization Platform Optimized for BYOD

The dissemination of smart devices is rapidly increasing the need for BYOD ("Bring Your Own Device"), the use of individually-owned terminals in business. The UNIVERGE Mobile Portal Service allows a variety of smart devices owned by individual employees to safely use the e-mail, address book and groupware systems of their offices without leaving data on their smart device terminals. As it can be started as a trial involving a small number of users, this paper introduces it as an ideal service for customers who are considering the use of BYOD.

KIMURA Satoshi, YOSHIDA Kazumi
(NEC Technical Journal, Vol.7, No.3 March 2013)

While the popularization of BYOD helped provide an environment where commuting was no longer necessary for working, there was another problem to deal with — the unusability of business applications on home computers or smart devices. That's why we developed Remote Desktop Software that simulates the business desktop on devices used outside the office.

With the Remote Desktop, workers can execute the same tasks as they could in the office thanks to the ability of the software to produce a virtual display of their office desktop on devices on which business applications are not installed. Only screen information is displayed on the device outside the office while the actual data remains in the in-house system at the company. Since this can prevent the risk of information leakage, it has attracted significant attention as one of the most promising solutions for "Work Style Reform."

Remote Desktop Software That Supports Usability of Smart Devices

An increase in the introduction of enterprise based smart devices has been highlighting issues regarding their introduction, such as effective utilization of existing assets, inheritance of user interfaces and avoidance of the risk of information leaks. The Remote Desktop for Smart Devices is a software product designed to solve introduction issues by taking advantage of the three main features, which are quick start, easy to use and safety. This paper describes the functions for implementing these three main features and discusses the prospective usage scenarios.

(NEC Technical Journal, Vol.7, No.3 March 2013)

Even when an environment is provided that allows you to work on your own anytime and anywhere, actually completing the work is not always possible on your own. You will need to interact and collaborate with your fellow workers from time to time. For example, meetings are of critical importance when multiple members are involved in a project. And if meetings can't be held without making the involved members feel distant from each other, then "Work Style Reform" cannot succeed.

That's why we developed the "ComforMeeting" series — which makes it possible to hold an intimate web meeting with multiple members that transcends distance. This system features unmatched convenience that enables you to share materials on screen and write on them, in addition to real-time meeting capability while connecting multiple locations.

ConforMeeting: A Real-time Conference System Compatible with Smart Devices for Conducting Paperless Meetings

The recent increase in the diversity of work styles demands changes in our working environments. People are expecting to work in their favorite places and at their most convenient times, rather than working in a certain place like an office during certain hours. The "ConforMeeting" series resolves this issue. By developing it to be compatible with smart devices, the usage scenarios of the "ConforMeeting" series have been significantly expanded. It is now available for use outside offices and it can also be a great tool for seminars, etc. This paper introduces the ConforMeeting series and its innovative usage scenarios.

YOKOYAMA Kensuke, SAITOU Hiroyuki
(NEC Technical Journal, Vol.7, No.3 March 2013)

Sophisticated security measures are indispensable to the achievement of "Work Style Reform"

The most crucial issue in a mobile work environment that allows you to work anytime and anywhere is how to attain reliable security measures. NEC has thus far implemented a variety of security measures. Nonetheless, because threats to security are becoming more and more sophisticated and complicated day by day, countermeasures need to be continually revised by implementing the latest technologies. To enhance security measures for mobile work, NEC is supporting "Work Style Reform" by offering enterprise mobility management (EMM) solutions. EMM solutions integrate the functions of three mobile systems: mobile device management (MDM), which manages device conditions and system settings; mobile application management (MAM), which manages mobile applications; and mobile content management (MCM), which manages local data and content.

Secure Mobile Work Solutions That Exploit EMM

To promote the Work Style Reform proposed by Japan's Abe administration, an ICT environment must be created that will allow people to work flexibly using various devices no matter where or when. However, it is expected that such a work style will increase the risk of cyberattacks, which makes sophisticated cyber-security critical to this endeavor. In this paper, we will discuss enterprise mobility management (EMM) solutions that ensure safe, reliable mobile work using smart devices. To illustrate how such a solution would work, we will review our own in-house case study, in which EMM was introduced at NEC.

OIKAWA Tsuyoshi, YOSHIDA Kazumi
(NEC Technical Journal, Vol.12, No.2 January 2018)

Increasing productivity through the use of robots and AI

Another important theme of "Work Style Reform" is to change the way of working per se to better suit the needs of the times. For example, tasks such as processing and data aggregation will be performed by AI and robots, while employees are shifted to advanced tasks such as analysis and strategy planning. Maintenance and security guarding tasks that operate around the clock can be performed by surveillance cameras and robots that incorporate facial recognition systems, while physical distribution tasks and construction machinery operation can be handled by employees without advanced operation skills or physical strength by taking advantage of autonomous driving technology. When technology is fully utilized, the productivity of each individual can be increased and even elderly or physically challenged individuals will be able to cope with a much wider range of tasks.

NEC launched a robot development project in 1997 and announced a communication robot called PaPeRo in 1999. As for facial recognition technology, NEC started R&D in 1989 and has gained international recognition for its leadership in the field as evidenced by its receiving the highest performance evaluation in the facial recognition technology benchmark tests conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) four times. We are striving to make full use of this kind of advanced NEC technology in "Work Style Reform."

Advancing Customer Communications via AI-Robot Linkages

The use of robots in various settings to support human lifestyles has recently been gathering momentum. In Japan, the reduction of workforces brought about by the falling birth rate and the increase in the aging population is attracting attention to the use of service robots in the fields of customer reception and caregiving. This paper proposes methods of utilizing service robots based on NEC's authentication technologies, such as that of face authentication. In addition, advanced customer communications that can be implemented based on linkages with the authentication technologies are also introduced.

YAMADA Yasuhiro
(NEC Technical Journal, Vol.11, No.2 June 2017)

What's more, NEC is actively supporting the promotion of Japan's "Work Style Reform" by providing various technologies and solutions such as the Work Style Visualization Service which performs data collection and visualization of working conditions in offices as well as teleworking at home and in transit, the Kinkakuji which is a cloud-based system for management of employees' attendance/absence using GPS and facial recognition technology, and the Workplace Environment Improvement Support System which uses the stress check results to coordinate the processes of flows of operations with a view to improving the environment of workplaces.

(Published March 19, 2018)