The cloud, e-commerce, solutions and services, and a sustained focus on print define Toshiba’s strategic initiatives.
Above: TABS President & CEO Larry White presents a Toshiba financial update and more during the LEAD Beyond conference in Las Vegas.
It was a real pleasure to attend Toshiba’s 2023 LEAD Beyond conference and exhibition, September 12-14 in Las Vegas. LEAD Beyond had a rough start which we learned about shortly after arriving at our hotel. The event was held at the Bellagio, an MGM property. Every MGM hotel was hacked, and the computers were shut down, creating mass confusion. It was still a problem when we left Las Vegas four days later.
Toshiba rose to the occasion and created a special check-in line and CJ, and I received our rooms in about 20 minutes while people were waiting for up to two hours to get checked in.
There’s Something About Larry
Above: Larry White kicks off the General Session.
We have known Larry White, Toshiba America Business Solutions (TABS) president and CEO for more than 30 years. He has grown to be one of the leading executives in our industry. During a pre-show LEAD Beyond press conference, Larry fielded every question, even the most sensitive, addressing the joint venture with Ricoh. He continued to stress how positive this partnership is for both companies.
During the LEAD Beyond General Session, Larry revealed how well Toshiba has done in recovering from the pandemic, reporting that 2022 revenue was up 26% over 2020. His opening message was all about print being far from dead. He described print as a $65 billion opportunity and that “Toshiba is bucking a trend with our largest share ever recorded since 1998. There are issues, but still there are opportunities. We are diversifying our revenues.”
Larry explained this as the rationale for Toshiba’s emphasis on services and solutions along with digital signage as the vehicle for dealers to seize opportunities. He then turned our attention to Toshiba’s efforts in MPS where he said, “We have more MIF under contract than ever before, adding 7,000 new devices last year alone and so far for 2023 we are averaging 1,000 new devices per month. In our direct operations, the non-Toshiba devices we manage are now greater than our Toshiba MIF. Even more impressive is the client retention rate of 98% for customers that have an MPAAS agreement with us.”
Larry identified Aric Manion of Kelly Connect as a dealer who is taking the consultative approach and optimizing print with MFP sales, packaging, e-commerce, and thermal printing. Kelly Connect has achieved double-digit growth, including a $100,000 success with thermal printing. Look for an upcoming episode of Fridays with Frank taped at LEAD Beyond with Aric.
Key Takeaways from Larry White’s Presentation at LEAD Beyond
During Larry’s General Session presentation, he identified five strategic initiatives that Toshiba is embarking on that will be critical to the success of Toshiba and its dealer partners. Those included:
- Helping dealers grow print and diversify. Toshiba pledged to be an easy partner to do business with.
- Creating a streamlined organization and processes with a targeted dealer focus using new e-commerce software.
- Providing dealers with the right products and support.
- Working with a singular focus where clients and partners come first. Toshiba survived supply chain issues and learned how to better handle that type of situation.
- Investing in its client partners and the communities where they reside by empowering people and information. Larry emphasized that philanthropy is all about what you give back.
We asked Larry for a quote about the general business approach of adding more capabilities to the MFP. During the meeting, it was described as a form of diversification. In retrospect it is. Here is how Larry responded to my question.
“Our vision is to improve print and digital communications for today’s anywhere workplace using Toshiba’s Elevate Sky™ platform. Elevate Sky™ leverages the cloud to bolster print management and workflow automation, making operating in the cloud as easy and natural as every other part of your business.”
Embracing the Cloud at LEAD Beyond
Above: Kerstin Woods discusses the viability of print with Larry White.
Larry then introduced Kerstin Woods, vice president, solutions and outbound marketing, and the two had a discussion to support the message about Toshiba’s strategic initiatives that he had delivered earlier. Kerstin pointed out that four years ago print-from-anywhere was the top desire of customers. By 2024, 54% of IT spend will be on the cloud, which is directly connected to the ability to print from anywhere.
All of this requires access to older documents, print from anywhere, scanning integrated into workflows, printing integrated into workflows while providing security and sustainability. We also called upon Kerstin to wrap it up in a quote.
Kerstin stressed that Toshiba would continue to invest in the cloud. Recognizing that digital transformation (DX) strategy is a hot topic, she added that there is a lot more to DX and that Toshiba does not want digital transformation without print.
This requires access to older documents, print-from-anywhere, integrating scanned information and print into workflows while providing security and sustainability. We also called upon Kerstin to wrap it up in a quote about the relevance of print.
“From our end-user surveys, it’s evident that print is critical for employee productivity and effective communication, which means print cannot be left out of a successful digital transformation strategy. Whether converting paper-to-digital, empowering clients with the ability to print from anywhere, or integrating print into digital workflows, Toshiba is helping clients address their top areas of interest in the convergence between print and digital.”
Security, Hybrid Work, and E-commerce at LEAD Beyond
Above: Bill Melo discusses Toshiba’s initiatives in e-commerce and cloud services along with a variety of other innovative solutions.
Bill Melo, vice president, marketing, discussed customer concerns with security in today’s virtual environment with employees working at home introducing software to the network and the concerns that brings. He reminded us that the demise of print was promulgated a long time ago by showing a headline from a 1975 publication about the paperless office. He also added that Toshiba has enjoyed consecutive double-digit growth in label printing.
According to Bill, Toshiba’s answer is a broad program that adds solutions for e-commerce, translations in 16 languages, eight service-oriented cloud services, and more. For example, predictive service for fleets, and the ability to create service tickets for every business function will be available through a subscription and license management portal. “It is as easy as subscribing to Netflix,” he said.
Bill also laid out why Toshiba has made significant investments in these areas. “The last five years have changed so many facets of the business,” he said. “The key is you first need to understand what has changed and how to deal with it. Security, sustainability, and the cloud are top priorities. We are introducing seven new models and addressing what we need to have as tools to deal with what has changed.” One of the changes he alluded to is that 53% of software revenue employs a subscription model. He also referenced Encompass managed print services which was first employed by Toshiba.
We asked Bill how he would define the e-commerce part of his discussion for our audience.
“Elevate Sky Commerce allows dealers to provide each of their clients what an entirely unique marketplace with just the items, pricing, and terms that they contracted for. It’s easy to implement and a great way to earn incremental business and secure customer loyalty.”
Final LEAD Beyond Takeaways
Let me end with another quote from Kerstin as to what she thought was a key takeaway from the event.
“From our end-user surveys, it’s evident that print is critical for employee productivity and effective communication, which means print cannot be left out of a successful digital transformation strategy. Whether converting paper-to-digital, empowering clients with the ability to print from anywhere, or integrating print into digital workflows, Toshiba is helping clients address their top areas of interest in the convergence between print and digital. And to further meet client needs, we’re investing heavily in the most requested delivery mechanisms – cloud and subscription.”
Frank’s Final Thoughts on LEAD Beyond
LEAD Beyond 2023 was extremely important to Toshiba and its dealers. It was clear to us that there is a very strong relationship between the two. That was reinforced by our 38th Annual Dealer Survey when the dealers gave Toshiba a 4.63 rating on a 5.0 rating system.