There’s a lot more to Toshiba TEC than putting marks on the page. Today, it still sells MFPs – in greater numbers than ever – but it also provides an ever wider range of supporting services, including, for the last year, managed IT services. James Goulding finds out more from Marketing Director Jeremy Spencer
Since the adoption of PCs in the 1980s, the copier industry has continually evolved to meet the changing needs of customers. Print devices have changed – from analogue to digital, from standalone to connected, from single-function to multi-function, from mono to colour – and so have the software and services provided with them.
Today, MFP vendors offer a host of solutions, on-site and in the cloud, with which customers can further their digital transformation, drive business efficiencies and improve security and compliance. These cover not just printed output, content management and document workflow, but broader IT services.
Toshiba TEC is a case in point. In addition to an ever-changing line-up of MFPs and label printers, it supplies a growing range of services, including managed print services (MPS), data capture services and document workflow design. Twelve months ago, it extended the service offering available through its direct sales channel to include managed IT services.
As well as expanding its portfolio organically, through the creation of its IT service offering, Toshiba has gained additional capabilities through acquisition, notably that of IBM’s point of sale (PoS) business, now known as Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions (TGCS).
Toshiba TEC Marketing Director Jeremy Spencer, who is responsible for Toshiba printing solutions and the company’s market-leading retail business, says that as well as extending Toshiba’s reach into new product areas, the acquisition has provided significant opportunities for Toshiba and its channel partners to cross-sell.
“We are the Number One player by volume in PoS and all our retail customers have a requirement for print – front of house or back of house – so there are opportunities for us to introduce PoS customers to our print solutions as well,” he said.
“Having a diverse offering makes sense because it allows us to support customers we already have in other areas of their business, like talking to a print or retail customer about IT services or visual communications. Having a broad portfolio also makes us more attractive to new customers, as they can outsource non-primary activities to a single company and not have to deal with multiple suppliers, which is beneficial both financially and in terms of efficiency.”
Toshiba TEC is not the only MFP vendor to diversify in this way – they are all doing it – but unlike some competitors it benefits from its parent company’s strong heritage in IT (Toshiba invented the portable computer and solid state NAND storage) and its expertise in many other technologies. In EMEA alone there are 79 different Toshiba companies and as many as 400 across the globe.
This gives Toshiba TEC access to a broad range of solutions and technologies that it can draw on when developing its own products, one example being the inclusion of ultra-secure self-encrypting Toshiba hard disks in its MFPs. As Spencer explains, it also allows Toshiba to create complete solutions for customers that could, for example, include Toshiba MFPs, barcode printers, PoS equipment and large format displays, all integrated and optimised to work together.
“The breadth of Toshiba gives us a holistic view of business processes and how information is shared, instead of being blinkered and focusing solely on trying to sell a copier.” he said.
According to Spencer, the expansion of Toshiba’s offering also reflects developments in the way information today is created, distributed and shared.
“In 2014/2015, we changed our go-to-market strategy with the ‘Together Information’ message,” he said. “This reflects our belief that the most successful businesses of the future will be those that share information in the most efficient way. Because that information can be physical, virtual, printed or digital, our offering now includes hardware to put marks on paper, solutions to get information into business processes, digital signage to display that information and IT services to support all the elements involved.”
Spencer added: “The primary function of our customers could be legal or education or logistics. It is not printing, information sharing, gathering and collating. They rely on other technologies to facilitate that, which is what we do.”
Earlier this year, Toshiba TEC redesigned its website to reflect these changes. Information on TGCS is due to be added in the coming months, but already this is a great place to find out more about what Toshiba can offer, especially in the following areas:
1. IT Services. Bespoke IT services optimised for each customer’s specific needs ensure a resilient and secure IT infrastructure and free in-house IT teams to focus on other areas. Services include: consultancy and architecture design; remote monitoring; backup and disaster recovery; real-time helpdesk; cloud solutions, including backup and storage; mobile device monitoring; cyber security; and best practice IT policies.
2. Managed Print Services. Toshiba’s MPS starts with an analysis of a customer’s existing print infrastructure to identify how the printer estate can be optimised to cut costs, reduce waste and improve efficiency within the context of a customer’s wider business processes. Service elements include bespoke cost modelling; print tracking and control; print authentication; cloud print services; document security; environmental sustainability; and support.
3. Process optimisation. Taking MPS to the next level, Toshiba can optimise an organisation’s internal processes and help them digitise workflows. Automating processes with established recognition technologies and recent advances like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning enables customers to improve efficiency and save time and money. Toshiba workflow experts can help optimise processes and workflows, enhance business analytics and personalise customer communications.
4. Capture & Workflow. To get maximum value from the mass of structured and unstructured data flowing in and around an organisation requires fast and reliable image capture technologies. Toshiba can identify the best way to capture information, in whatever form it is received by an organisation (i.e. paper, email, PDF, EDI etc.) and deploy intelligent tools like Drivve | Image to automatically classify content, extract key information and integrate it into existing systems and workflows for rapid, secure processing.
5. Visual Communications. Toshiba digital displays provide an engaging way for organisations to share information with colleagues, customers and the wider public. As well as providing the displays themselves, Toshiba can deliver end-to-end visual communications technology via the cloud so that anyone with a PC, tablet or smartphone can, edit, manage, deploy and report on digital content, including live business intelligence, digital signage, eye-catching promotions or interactivity with customers.
6. Point of Sale. Toshiba is the market leader in point of sale equipment including tills, receipt printers and displays for retail signage. All elements can be integrated and, like Toshiba’s office devices, they can be wrapped up with managed services, professional services and consultancy.
The breadth of Toshiba’s products and services is impressive, but on one level all it is doing is ensuring that customers continue to be able to benefit from the evolution of office technology.
“Toshiba TEC continues to perform well – in FY17, we had a record number of MFP placements – because at every stage we have given our customers the tools and support needed to benefit from advances in technology, starting with the transition from printers to MFPs; then the introduction of solutions relating to cost control and document management; then MPS and process optimisation. Now, AI is coming in and bringing automation and efficiencies to repetitive tasks in the office. We are already using that to help customers manage and make sense of all the data that comes into their business by email, telephone, paper (scanning) and social media. And we are supporting customers’ infrastructure with IT services, which is the newest part of our offering,” explained Spencer.
Toshiba TEC’s existing customers have benefited from the evolution of its offering and are making use of its wider solutions and services to improve the efficiency of their operations. If you thought Toshiba TEC was just an MFP supplier, maybe it’s time you took a closer look at their offering to see how your business could benefit too.
To find out more, please visit www.toshibatec.co.uk or call 020 7735 9992